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Better Call Saul recap: season six, episode 10 – buns of steal: it's a

Better Call Saul recap: season six, episode 10 – buns of steal: it’s a ...
Cinnabon’s finest has still got game – if not much else – in this welcome, fun-packed interlude from all the horror

Spoiler alert: this recap is for people watching Better Call Saul season six, which airs on Netflix in the UK. Do not read on unless you have watched episodes one to 10.

Following the horror of the past few weeks, creator Peter Gould promised some laughs before Better Call Saul reached its end, and this week we got some. It was a classic McGill scam for the ages, all shot in poignant black and white. Utilising a mother in a mobility scooter, a mountain of mnemonics and an irresistible cinnamon swirl, it showed that Gene Takavic still has what it takes to play the game, even if he’s missing so much else.

After last week’s exhilarating/unsatisfying smash-cut between timelines, this week we leap forward again to where many of us would like to be: the “now” in Jimmy McGill’s story. We learn that his life was not under immediate threat, as we feared, because Jeff the cabbie is not a cartel contract worker but simply a frustrated middle-aged man, living at home with his mom.

US TV legend Carol Burnett is the matriarch and she has a good skit all to herself in the intro, laying some deep burns on Wisconsin cheddar. But soon we see her being bent around Gene’s little finger like so many civilians before. He’s looking for his cute little dog, Nippy, she’s stuck on the ice. He steps in to help, and by making things worse, extracts her eternal gratitude. When Jeff returns home, we realise not only is Gene not in danger, but he’s worked out what makes Jeff tick.

Better Call Saul recap: season six, episode 10 – buns of steal: it’s a ...
Gene offers Jeff the chance of a lifetime: to see the inside of the game from where all pleasure and self-actualisation is derived. He does that in Jeff’s mom’s garage and, from there, we head into new but familiar terrain. Why is Gene courting favour with security guard Frank? Why is he doing so through the medium of pastry? And why is he timing how long it takes the guy to eat his bun? Hold on, now he’s counting his steps around a department store. And, what? He’s pegged out a mockup of the store in the snow!

The mystery soon becomes clear, of course, and we are back in the heart of Better Call Saul: watching contrived comic set pieces that belie the violence and tragedy elsewhere in this show and its sequel.

Having coached Jeff on how to perform his high-end supermarket sweep with the help of some handy rhymes – “three linen shirts for free, four cashmere sweaters out the door” – Gene moves quickly from dummy runs outdoors to the real thing. It goes swimmingly. Until we realise that Jeff’s raid, timed to last just the three minutes it takes Frank to devour his sweet treat, actually has 20 components. Jeff is up against the clock, and then gets clocked, slipping on Chekhov’s grease stains and knocking himself out on the floor.

This keys up the emotional heart of the episode (maybe even the series itself), as Gene is forced to stall for time and goes deep inside himself for material. He has to keep the guard distracted, and keep talking, to give Jeff time to wake up from his black-out. But after running out of material, Gene starts revealing the truth of why he is there. “I’ve got no one, my parents are dead, my brother … my brother is dead, I have no wife, no kids, no friends,” he says and you can see that Jimmy McGill realises what is happening as he speaks. “If I die tonight no one would care. I’d be a … ghost, I’d be a shadow … I’d just be a nothing … what’s the point Frank?”

The point? The point of course is to have some FUN. And lo and behold, Jeff wakes up on the department store floor, gathers his stolen goods and makes a dash for the exit just in time. It turns out Gene still has the knack and has inducted two more people into the cult of scamming. A day or two later, he walks back into the store to celebrate. Directly crossing paths with the ultimate victim of his crime (the store manager) he leaves an “SG was here” on the shop floor by pairing a garish shirt and tie on a rail.

Better Call Saul recap: season six, episode 10 – buns of steal: it’s a ...
This episode is a nice, self-contained affair and it may well be that we dash off from this timeline again next week (after all, Walter White is not about to turn up in Nebraska). I wonder whether Carol Burnett may yet return, however.

We got a new credit sequence too! An even more abrupt edit to the usual one cuts to what looks like a title screen mimicking a handicam video.

I enjoyed the Oceans’ Eleven-ish split-screen montage that was used as Gene got into his bun bribery routine. I also liked the shot of Frank, abandoned by his false friend Gene, all alone in front of his bank of TV screens …

I am sure the alarm on that kitchen timer sounded familiar. Watch Gene/Saul/Jimmy as he flinches at the echo of Hector Salamanca’s bell ...

Do Cinnabon pay for this kind of positive coverage or not?

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