Better Call Saul

Better Call Saul ‘Nippy’ Recap: Gene Starts Slipping

In this week's episode, we're back to Gene's story in the post-'Breaking Bad' timeline. What's in store for everyone's favorite Cinnabon manager?
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We’re back in the future (or present, I guess?) with the latest episode of Better Call Saul. Our intrepid criminal lawyer found himself at the mercy of menacing cab driver Jeff during the Season 5 flash-forward, and he briefly considered calling Ed the Vacuum Repair Man to request an emergency relocation. 

However, after considering his options, “Gene” sprang into action and cooked up one of the tastiest scams we’ve seen him run on the show. Here’s what Gene Takovic has been up to in sleepy, snowy Nebraska. 

Meeting Marion

The episode opens on what audiences will initially believe is a cold open, following an older woman in a motorized scooter as she picks out groceries and brusquely tells another shopper that she doesn’t need help. She harangues the deli manager over giving her more cold cuts than she ordered last time before tasting and spitting out a nearby sample of Wisconsin sharp cheddar cheese. (“You can keep it, Wisconsin!”)

As Marion continues home after shopping, her wheel gets stuck in ice. She sees “Gene,” the man who once went by Jimmy McGill and then Saul Goodman before going on the run, hanging up flyers to try to find his missing dog, Nippy. Gene strikes up a conversation with her and wins her over, agreeing to help her home with her groceries–after secretly cutting the battery wire on her scooter.

While Gene eats dinner with Marion, Jeff the Cab Driver returns home to check on his mom. He’s stunned to see Saul Goodman at his dinner table. He confronts the man outside, and “Gene” tells him that there’s no reason to blackmail him and that he can help Jeff break into “the game.”

Plotting Something

Gene sets up his elaborate plot by ingratiating himself with the security guards at the mall he works in as a Cinnabon manager. Each night, he brings both of the guards a cinnamon roll and times how long it takes for the night watchman to eat his tasty treat. Once he’s got a good feel for how long the guard will be distracted, Gene measures one of the mall’s department stores to determines its exact dimensions. 

Working with Jeff and another accomplice, Gene sets up a makeshift version of the mall for Jeff to practice stealing from. Once he’s got the routine down, Jimmy has Jeff get into a crate that their accomplice delivers to the mall near closing time. After some smooth talking over the phone, Jimmy convinces the department store manager that the package is just an erroneously delivered industrial component and that his driver will be back the next day to pick it up. 

Gene hands off the cinnamon roll to his security guard pal, distracting him from looking at the security feeds as Jeff exits the box and starts stealing suits, shoes, handbags–whatever he can grab. He loads the loot into the crate in the backroom, and everything looks great up until he slips on the floor and cracks his head on the tiles. This knocks Jeff unconscious. The security guard finishes his meal, ready to turn to the screen and check on his charge.

Quick Thinking

Gene thinks swiftly, bursting into fake tears and confiding in the security guard that he’s so lonely, and worrying that his life is meaningless. The guard is unsure how to take Gene’s outburst and tries to console him. Gene slips in a few details that belie his origins as Jimmy McGill, including his brother’s death, that make the audience wonder if Gene isn’t acting so much as channeling real emotions in a moment of crisis.

Finally, Jeff wakes up and stumbles out of the mall, salvaging their heist plan. Gene drops the act, apologizes to the guard for his outburst, and heads outside. When he meets up with Jeff and their accomplice later, Gene drops an ultimatum on him. While Jeff might know that Gene is really wanted lawyer Saul Goodman, Gene knows that Jeff committed a felony theft from the mall. He leaves Jeff and their friend with the loot but warns them to not come after him again. 

The episode closes with “Gene” looking longingly at a shirt and tie combination in the department store he helped Jeff rob. The clothes look shockingly similar to his attire when he practiced law as “Saul Goodman.” Maybe this self-preservation scheme has reignited that spark that he thought he lost after escaping from the law in the events of Breaking Bad? There are only three episodes of Better Call Saul left, and with the action now fully transpiring in the “present,” the outcome is anyone’s guess.