Better Call Saul (S05E05) Kim chooses the Dark Side

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“Dedicado a Max” shows life-altering decisions for Kim, Mike and Gus  in a character-driven episode.  Heather Marion wrote while Jim McKay directed “Dedicado a Max”

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I cover episode spoilers, below, so watch “Dedicado a Max” before reading the rest.  Unless you like reading spoilers.

“Why am I here?”

The episode picks up after “Namaste” with Mike (Jonathan Banks) waking up, after his beating, on a ranch Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) owns. Dr. Barry Goodman (J.D. Blanc) shows up to treat him on Gus’ orders.  Mike is isolated, technology-free, but has no idea why. He calls Fring after rigging up his phone but Gus says it isn’t the time to talk.

“Dedicado a Max”

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Mike learns more about the ranch

Mike discovers a fountain on the ranch with a plaque of “Dedicado a Max” or “Dedicated to Max”, the episode title.  When Fring shows up a few days later, he tells Mike he needs to defeat the Salamanca Family. Mike refuses at first, but Fring says Mike understands Gus’ need for revenge.

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Fring dedicated the fountain to his dead lover Max, killed by the Salamanca family

For Fring to share his history with Mike is a huge step of trust. Gus doesn’t discuss his personal life nor Max.   So Mike understands revenge desire with the emotional conflicts over the death of his own son.  Mike knows Gus’ offer will change him forever.

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Gus makes Mike an offer he refuses

Jimmy’s having fun with the Acker case

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John DiMaggio as the construction crew foreman. Saul matches his suit to the construction crew.

“Dedicado a Max” shows Jimmy/Saul delaying Mesa Verde’s eviction of Everett Acker (Barry Corbin).  Saul plants fake Native American artifacts on the property, calling for study of the shards.  So Saul changes the street address of Acker’s property so claims the eviction order is wrong. Next comes planted radioactive materials which delay eviction again. Saul’s best effort is duping people with a spray-painted Jesus on Acker’s home. Religious fanatics and tourists think it’s a miracle. Nope, just Slippin’ Jimmy, living his best life.  Sul even matches his shirt to the color of the construction crew. 

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While Saul is creating his dog and pony shows, Kim (Rhea Seehorn) finds every legal road blocked to her.  “Dedicado a Max” shows Kim’s choice to move from the right side to the dark side of the law. Slippin’ Jimmy has finally seduced Kim and it is heartbreaking.

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Kevin’s daddy raised no wimps- he’s determined to win the Acker case.

Kim tries to remove herself as counsel due to her conflict of interest- her personal relationship with Saul. Kevin (Rex Lin) is just as stubborn. He’s determined to beat Acker and Saul with Kim, whatever the cost.

When that plan fails, Kim tries handing off the Acker work to her associates. Kim knows Acker will be evicted. Her choice is bigger than the Acker case or Mesa Verde. She’s no longer willing to continue being constrained by law’s narrow road. She’s constantly blocked while Saul succeeds due to tricks and cons.

So she joins Saul and together, they hire dirty investigator Sobchak (Steven Ogg) after Mike turns down the gig. They plan to blackmail Kevin into compromising on the Acker eviction.

Sobchak tails Kevin and breaks into his home, but can’t find anything y dirt on him.  Sobchak suggests kidnapping and even murder so Saul dismisses him from the case.  As Kim looks through Sobchak’s surveillance photos, she half-smiles. She’s found something to use against Kevin, something dirty.

“Dedicado a Max” marks Kim’s move over to Saul’s side of the law. As a Kim fan, I’m disappointed she has chosen to join Saul there.  Saul’s results seduced her away from the moral life she wants.  I do think she will find redemption working in a legal clinic by the series finale.

So Kim chooses her path, Gus chooses to share his past while Saul chooses to use every trick he knows to win. Mike is thinking about Gus’ offer and viewers know his final decision. Saul cares about “winning” more than he cares about Acker or any client.  He’s still fighting that ghost legacy as “Chuck McGill’s loser brother”.