Last week, Call Saul hit a stunning new high. Odenkirk winning an Emmy, probably, with a burst of florid hallway egomania. "I travel in worlds you can't even imagine!" Jimmy screamed at Howard (Patrick Fabian). "I'm like a god in human clothing! Lightning bolts shoot from my fingertips!"
This week's episode, "Bagman," veers far in the opposite direction. It's an often wordless survival tale, shot on location along desert horizons. Lalo sends Jimmy to pick up $7 million in bail money. "You're the right guy for this," he explains. "You're nobody." That line cuts Mr. Lightning Bolt down to size, and one day later he's barely a bacterium. Fancy courtroom acrobatics hold no power out here on the moral borderlands of the criminal frontier. Jimmy gets the money from Lalo's cousins. Then he's staring down the barrel of too many guns, victim of a bit of inter-cartel espionage. Rescued by Mike (Jonathan Banks), he's doomed to a hike through nowhere.
If "JMM" was a full expression of all the ways Better Call Saul has become its own unique entity, "Bagman" feels a bit like an undiscovered Breaking Bad scroll. There are narrative echoes back to the original show. The destruction of Jimmy's Esteem suggests the junkyarding of Bad's own mascot vehicle, the meth-cooking RV. The concept of guys trying not to die slow in the desert recalls "Four Days Out," best Breaking Bad episode. And as the weight of drug cash weighed Jimmy down, I thought about Walter White ( Cranston) in "Ozymandias," another wannabe God in Human Clothing rolling his little cash barrel away from another unmarked graveyard.