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The Real Meaning Of The Plaque In Better Call Saul Season 5 Episode 5

As per usual, Mike Ehrmantraut is in trouble.

The fourth episode of Better Call Saul's fifth season, "Namaste," finds the aging fixer at arguably his lowest point. Estranged from his family and without a job to do, Mike (Jonathan Banks) spends his time drinking away his troubles in Easter egg-filled bars and picking fights with local street thugs. Unfortunately, when one of Mike's attackers pulls a knife and stabs him in the side, he blacks out.

When Mike wakes up, he's in bed on a small, isolated ranch just south of the border, his wound having been treated by a medical professional. That's where the next episode picks up. It doesn't take long for Mike to figure out who put him on the ranch (it's Emmy-nominated Giancarlo Esposito's Gus Fring, of course), and despite orders from his doctor, Mike begins wandering around the small community, taking in the sights.

Along the way, Mike runs into a fountain adorned with a small plaque that reads "Dedicado a Max," Spanish for "Dedicated to Max." It's clearly important — the episode is even named after it — but Better Call Saul never explains exactly what it means. The best the show does is offer a hint. "What is this place?" Mike asks Gus near the end of the episode. Gus, standing next to the fountain, says, "Call it a memorial." He doesn't say what it's a memorial to.

However, like the truth behind the mysterious evidence that Kim found in the same episode, the answer is out there. You just have to go to Better Call Saul's predecessor, Breaking Bad, to find it.

The plaque in Better Call Saul is a reference to Breaking Bad season four

Breaking Bad's "Hermanos," which aired during the show's fourth season, is key to understanding both "Dedicado a Max" and Gustavo Fring. As we learn in the episode, early in Breaking Bad's timeline Max Arciniega was Gus' business partner, his best friend, and, most likely, his lover.

Together, Gus and Max founded Los Pollos Hermanos, the fast food chain that doubles as a front for Gus' drug business (the two of them are the "hermanos" in the restaurant's name). In fact, Max provided both Los Pollos Hermanos' chicken recipe and the formula for the pair's meth supply, the latter of which caught the attention of Juárez Cartel head Don Eladio Vuente. Unfortunately for Max, Don Eladio decided that the criminal duo needed to be taught a lesson and had Hector Salamanca shoot Max in the head while Gus watched.

At that moment, Gus vowed to avenge Max's death — but Gustavo is a patient and calculating man, and he waited a long time before exacting revenge. For the next twenty years, Gus worked with the Juárez Cartel, building his meth empire and making himself an indispensable part of their operations.

Finally, in the Breaking Bad episode "Salud," Gus springs his trap. While visiting Eladio in Mexico with Mike and Jesse Pinkman, Gus brings along a poisoned bottle of tequila. He convinces everyone, including Eladio, to join him in a toast — and then, as the members of the cartel continue to celebrate, flees to the bathroom to vomit up the liquor. Eladio isn't quite as lucky. The Cartel head and his top officers keel over and die, leaving their criminal syndicate in ruins and Gustavo, finally, victorious.

The Better Call Saul plaque tells you everything you need to know about Gus

Better Call Saul is a prequel to Breaking Bad. Aside from Max's murder, the events we just described haven't happened in the show's timeline. Still, knowing the context, you can figure out exactly what's going on in "Dedicado a Max." Gus keeps the ranch well-funded and crime-free to honor his late partner, as well as to remind himself what he's fighting for. Gus' collaboration with the Cartel might be profitable, but he's not in it for the money. He's after vengeance.

Max's murder informs everything that Gus does in both Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad, and helps illuminate the final moments of "Dedicado a Max." Despite Mike's best efforts to turn Gus away, the kingpin seems intent on working with him. Mike asks why. "Because I think you might understand," Gus says.

"Understand what?" Mike asks.

"Revenge," Gus replies.

It takes a while, but with Mike's help, Gus gets it — and from what we can tell, it was worth the wait.