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That Ants Scene In Better Call Saul Was Crawling With Hidden Meaning

AMC's "Better Call Saul" stands out as a high point of prestige television for the sheer quality of filmmaking executive producers Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan put into every episode. Its predecessor series, "Breaking Bad," already stands tall as one of the most highly-acclaimed shows in recent decades, and the prequel has managed to employ even more style throughout its run. Episodes of the show often include significant montage sequences as Saul (Bob Odenkirk) and Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) work their way through the legal world of Albuquerque while Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) slowly finds himself in the middle of a simmering conflict between Gustavo Fring's (Giancarlo Esposito) aspiring drug empire and the Salamanca family cartel. The show's specific filmmaking style has led to the series receiving near-universal praise from Rotten Tomatoes critics for all six seasons.

"Better Call Saul" also frequently employs visual metaphors as it chronicles Saul Goodman's journey to becoming the man audiences meet in "Breaking Bad." Whether it's Kim throwing a coffee mug with bullet holes in the trash or the site of Nacho's (Michael Mando) death being revealed before audiences actually see it play out, Gould and Gilligan make room for a visual statement. In one particular episode, they employed a significant amount of ants to draw out a metaphor.

Ants eat away at Saul Goodman's ice cream while the Salamancas eat away at his innocence

At the end of Season 5's "50% Off," Nacho Varga disrupts Saul's productive day when he interrupts the lawyer on the street and demands Saul gets in his car. Nacho makes Saul drop the ice cream cone he is eating on the sidewalk as he gets in, leaving the sweet treat behind as the episode ends. The next episode turns a seemingly odd final shot into a full-on metaphor as "The Guy For This" opens on a horde of ants devouring Saul's ice cream, signifying Saul's oncoming corruption as he finally grows more involved with the cartel.

The rest of the episode firmly cements Saul as a friend of the Salamanca cartel as Lalo (Tony Dalton) coerces Saul into representing Domingo "Krazy-8" Molina (Maximino Arciniega) after his arrest. Though Saul tries to tell Lalo he won't help the cartel again, Saul has no real agency in the matter. By the time Nacho returns Saul to the street where he picked him up, the lawyer sees that his ice cream has melted and been devoured by ants. As Amanda Harding of Showbiz Cheatsheet argues, the ice cream cone itself could be viewed as a metaphor for Saul's former innocence, and the ants a corrupting force that has now totally consumed him.

According to Rolling Stone, the production brought on an ant-wrangler, 2,000 red harvester ants, and an ice cream substitute to create the elaborate — if minuscule — sequence. Sylvester the ant-wrangler told Rolling Stone that regular ice cream was too cold for ants to crawl on efficiently, so a non-toxic version was created just for the scene.