Better Call Saul season 5 features Jimmy representing an imprisoned Lalo, but their meeting mirrors the finale scene of the Joker movie.
Better Call Saul season 5 appeared to copy the closing moments of DC’s Joker, but was the reference intentional, or a happy accident? As the dust continues to settle on Better Call Saul‘s penultimate season, fans of the Breaking Bad prequel are still digesting and deciphering the latest season of Vince Gilligan’s famously layered series. Aside from dropping the almighty twist that Kim was not merely “putting up” with Jimmy’s criminality but actively pushing it further, there remains so much still to uncover in Better Call Saul‘s final season, and mysteries still hang in the air regarding Lalo and how his fate will ultimately tie into the events of Breaking Bad.
Several worlds away from the drug cartels of New Mexico and their crooked legal representation, 2019 was a very good year for classic Batman villain, The Joker, with Joaquin Phoenix giving a refreshingly dark and twisted interpretation of the comic character and leading DC to unlikely awards success. In a similar manner to Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, Joker was dripping in hidden meaning, smart metaphor and subtle references. The film ends with Arthur Fleck imprisoned in Arkham Asylum, laughing to himself and telling the psychologist opposite that she “wouldn’t get it” when asked what the joke is.
A very close parallel of this scene can be found in Better Call Saul season 5. In the fantastic “Bagman” episode, Lalo has been arrested on suspicion of murder, and it’s up to Jimmy to get him out on bail. Reluctantly, Jimmy visits the mob boss as his official legal representative. Somewhat unnervingly, Jimmy finds Lalo Salamanca relaxed, reading a newspaper and laughing to himself. Jimmy asks “what’s so funny?” to which Lalo replies “ah, you wouldn’t get it.” Aside from the eerily similar exchange and dialogue, the setup of the scene is also a mirror of Joker. Where Fleck is in an asylum conversing with his psychiatrist, Lalo is in a prison interview suite sitting opposite his new lawyer. In both cases, the prisoners aren’t taking their situation with complete sincerity, but neither feel compelled to share the joke with their companion.
The parallels between the Better Call Saul and Joker scenes are undeniable, but it’s hard to gauge whether the reference was intentional. On one hand, Better Call Saul is a series where virtually every detail has a purpose, or possesses some deeper meaning. Both Lalo and Fleck are also incredibly dangerous characters and possess an apparent lack of fear, albeit for different reasons. As such, the newspaper scene could absolutely be a homage from Better Call Saul to Joker. On the other hand, Better Call Saul‘s references usually hark back to itself, Breaking Bad, classic movies such as His Girl Friday, or releases that are contemporary for the show’s era. It would be unusual for the prequel to allude towards a modern 2019 movie.
Additionally, the scenes serve very different purposes – so much so that the comparison could be accidental. In Joker, the “you wouldn’t get it” ending is designed to cast doubt on the events of the film, cement Fleck’s transformation into Joker, and highlight his loosening grip on reality before murdering his psychiatrist. As a character, Lalo couldn’t be more different. Not only is the Salamanca boss sane, but he’s ruthlessly calculating, confident and materialistic. Unlike The Joker, Lalo always has a plan. His “you wouldn’t get it” scene seems intended to convey his relaxed attitude to being in jail and his view of “Saul Goodman.” As a lawyer, Jimmy has a purpose, but Lalo doesn’t feel the pair are on the same level, and he wants his new friend to know that. Typically, this (potential) recreation is uncanny enough to notice, but not so much that it couldn’t be a coincidence.
Better Call Saul season 6 is currently without a release date.