One of the things that I have enjoyed most about Better Call Saul is how the show goes in deeper with characters that I first met in Breaking Bad that, like Saul Goodman, seemed rather cut-and-dried.
I never thought that would work with Gus Fring.
To be clear, Gus Fring has been very recognizable in the episodes he’s appeared in. He still seems like the cold businessman who puts on a friendly face for outsiders, the guy who cares about his restaurant and his employees there (at least to maintain his cover), and can be the ruthless monster that will slit a man’s throat to prove a point without saying a word or even batting an eyelash.
It’s just, at this point, the unflappable Gus Fring is anything but.
So sure, while Jimmy is foolishly getting into a boxing ring with an angry Howard and rehiring Francesca, and while Kim is ironing out the final details on their plan to get Howard, Gus is worried about Lalo Salamanca. It’s to the point where even Mike seems inclined to believe something is up and maybe Lalo isn’t dead.
I mean, Lalo isn’t dead. He’s in Germany, looking for clues as to what Gus is really up to, and his general charm does mask his more dangerous side. He’s a guy who will put a bullet in your head after having a friendly conversation with you, his smile only dipping when the weapon comes out. He won’t stop what he’s doing. He’s just going to do it. He comes pretty close to killing a German widow who came home unexpectedly while he searched for clues, and the only reason he didn’t is because he was able to slip away while her dog delayed her.
But this is the sort of guy who makes Gus jumpy. This guy. Not a Walter White who can be safely underestimated because Walt, more often than not, probably got a lot of what he did through luck and unconventional thinking than anything else. No, Lalo is the guy who scares Gus. Mike doesn’t seem too bothered by Lalo, but he hasn’t know Gus that long either. All he knows is whatever security procedures and the like he has in place are not enough to calm the boss. Seeing a worried Gus is interesting because he still looks a lot like the regular Gus. He just seems a little edgy in ways that don’t make him any less the Gus Fring that Breaking Bad fans known and love. It’s kinda like how Jimmy is still recognizable as a nascent Saul Goodman, but he’s also showing more of who he is to the audience in ways that he never did before. I’m just not used to seeing a nervous Gus. I rather like that.
Mike does, of course, point out that, sooner or later, Lalo will come to Gus. And that side comment may be the one thing that will save Gus’s life from the looks of things.
Of course, Gus will later get blown to bits because he really should have been more worried about Walter White. But that’s a different show.