Close to the end of episode S5E4 of Better Call Saul Lyle, an assistant manager, is closing the restaurant after a shift and saying bye to the workers of Los Pollos Hermanos. One of them mentions that he forgot to cover the fryers, Lyle responds that he will take care of that. He locks the door and goes into the restaurant kitchen to find Gus Fring checking the fryers. Fring asks whether the state of the fryers is acceptable to Lyle and indirectly pressures him to clean them again.

All of this is happening while Fring is awaiting a phone call about the DEA capturing his drug money from the dead-drops, which were exposed by Lalo Salamanca's plan. The plan was revealed to Fring by Nacho.

The scenes cut between Lyle's vigorious, tense cleaning of the fryers and

The DEA's operation to intercept the money and arrest the person carrying it

which in my opinion is a really peculiar mix.

What I found very perplexing about this scene is the choice of the events shown and Fring's side of the dialogue:

Lyle: Everything alright, Mr. Fring?

Fring: This is acceptable to you?

Lyle: I thought Deshawn did a good job. Uh... I'm not seeing anything. It's...

Fring: I understand.

Lyle: Uh, you know, like, now that I look closer... Yeah, I think I see maybe... Yeah. Okay. I'll take care of it, Mr. Fring.

Fring: All right.

Lyle: Yeah. I'm sorry about that, sorry.

My thoughts:

Both of the events represent the two sides of Fring's life. Both people shown work for him.

Fring seems very harsh, it's as if he was letting his frustration out on Lyle, who complies to clean the fryers against his will, as at first he deems them clean. Fring disapproves of the result repeatedly and Lyle cleans them again. This is very unlike Fring, who usually is highly professional and does not take out his emotions on others.

Is there any other significance in this scene? How can the choice of the scenes shown be explained?

  • 1
    The whole "My thoughts:" part feels to me like it should be an answer instead of being part of the question.
    – BCdotWEB
    Commented Mar 13, 2020 at 10:32
  • 2
    @BCdotWEB I felt like those were basic level observations and not quite the full picture of what the scene ment, and some context was lacking.
    – B.Swan
    Commented Mar 13, 2020 at 14:36
  • Think this scene also helps set up the later events in S5E7, making sure the audience is familiar with the restaurant, Lyle, and how what happens is hard for Fring who clearly cares about his restaurant/cleanliness.
    – shim
    Commented May 2 at 15:40

5 Answers 5


Gus Fring is a very fastidious and put together sort of man. He's very controlling of every single aspect of both his criminal and public facing careers. This extends to his control of all those who work for him as well. What looks, on the surface at least, to be some form of OCD here, is clearly far more nuanced and far more about how he's had to develop such a focus over the years to become an acceptable asset within the Cartel. An organisation that will always see him as the Chilean outsider, no matter how much money he brings in...

Having to wait for the call from his people has him in a very uncomfortable state of impotence. He's also about to lose a great deal of money, which won't go over well with Juan Bolsa et al.

Just as the human kicks the dog - the dog bites the cat - and the cat finds a mouse to swat at - poor Lyle is the mouse... although, more accurately, he's really just collateral damage to Gus's pressing need to, at the very least, get his kitchen appearing spotless; and so feel a little more in control of things.

  • 4
    I really like that you put the events in the perspective of Fring's relationship to the Cartel, as this whole plan is ment to damage it. Also Fring's lack of control leading to his frustration explains why he acts overly controlling towards Lyle, it makes perfect sense. Thanks for sharing!
    – B.Swan
    Commented Mar 13, 2020 at 14:32

Kenny Herzog's interpretation @ Vulture:

At Gus’s unusually steely suggestion, Los Pollos Hermanos’ eminent employee takes repeated turns toiling away at the fryer until it’s glistening to his boss’s satisfaction. Lyle is, through no fault of his own, bearing the brunt of Gus’s muted frustrations. While Lyle furiously takes Brillo to basket in a tightly wound flop sweat, Gus stoically awaits word from Victor that their plan—sacrificing $700K of their own dead-drop deposits to stay one step ahead of both Lalo and the law—has been seen through. Only then is Lyle’s work deemed “acceptable.” The execution of their strategy, though precise, is the outcome of an operation that is, at best, acceptable.

Alan Sepinwall's interpretation @ Rolling Stone:

The other literal cleaning job happens over at Los Pollos Hermanos, where Gus’ loyal assistant manager Lyle winds up staying long after his shift is done, working his fingers raw with steel wool as he attempts to scrub the deep fryer to his boss’ satisfaction. Poor Lyle has no way of knowing about Gus’ other life as the Chicken Man of Albuquerque, nor that this concern over the fryer is how Gus deals with his anxiety as he waits to see if Victor and Tyrese can complete the con job that Nacho has set up with Hank and Gomez. It’s a striking sequence, not just for the way Lyle’s mundane task is contrasted with the much higher stakes of Victor leading a DEA task force on a semi-wild goose chase. This feels like the first time on Better Call Saul — and one of the few times in Giancarlo Esposito’s entire time playing the role — where we are seeing Gus Fring sweat. He is so used to being master of all he surveys (even when he is playing subordinate to the Salamancas or Juan Bolsa, he is clearly manipulating events) that he seems startlingly vulnerable as he sits in his office and waits for the text, taking out all his mounting frustration on Lyle.


I honestly thought Gus Fring was using Lyle as a front to why the lights were still on in his restaurant and Gus Fring was still there. I thought the whole scene was a set up so no one would question why Mr. Fring was sitting in the restaurant and his office at that late hour. His lowly staff getting punished for a poorly cleaned deep fryer - totally within reason.

But now that I have read these posts, maybe this makes more sense. Fring can't control everything but he can control Lyle and the deep fryers.


I offer this simple explanation: It is absolutely crucial that the restaurant chain thrives. It is would be hard to account for the vast amounts of cash the drug business generates by attributing it to a relatively small number of restaurants, but those restaurants would plausibly make enough to account for Fring's donations to the community.

Almost certainly his goal is to expand, maybe even to the point where he no longer needs to be in the drug business. But bottom line, he takes his chicken business as or more seriously as any strictly legitimate owner does. He was not just being a jerk when he criticized Mike's "plant" in one of his places -- the guy really has to be able to not only fit in in the kitchen but he has to be productive.


The first answer has some good adjectives and mentions a personality trait, well in the context of this it is considerably more of a trait and not a disorder, which is OCD. All of this describes Gus well and in this scene he is able to avoid any reluctant or hesitant behaviour from Lyle, even suspicion was never on the cards because presumably his boss is always very much a perfectionist. He’s professional, paranoid or perhaps extra careful if you like, vigilant and organised in both his illegal and legal businesses.

With all of that said and the fact that as soon as the mission or night had been a success, he sends Lyle home and also proceeds to(now I am remembering) show very little interest in the fryer Lyle had been vigorously scrubbing with plenty of elbow grease for I’d guess a while; is it possible he was just using Lyle as an alibi? After all things could have gone south, whos to know what sort of level on the criminal enterprise ladder that man, who escapes through the culvert and who is also a part of Gus’s organisation is on. Victor’s level?? If so he probably knows Gus’s face or even who he is, The Chicken Man.

It all makes sense, it’s all there.

Yes maybe there was a bit of anger from Gus losing that money(rolling back to a little of the first answer comment) but personally I’m not so sure, even before the days of Breaking Bad, a completed lab and Heisenberg it is established that Gus is making way more money for the cartel than Hector, he has the money to build a ginormous whole in the ground. I’m not sure I’d quite use the words drop in the ocean or pocket change but you get the picture.

This scene to me is about Gus sacrificing pawns to the DEA and not his knight, the man who gets away. Presumably I’d say Gus’s tenseness is due to the fact he doesn’t want him to get caught.

*Sorry to keep it metaphorically accurate he doesn’t want him to get captured I guess lol

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .