A flashback to Chuck prior to his illness finds him living a very comfortable, quiet life with his wife Rebecca. Though when Jimmy comes to dinner, Chuck clearly feels overshadowed by Jimmy’s charisma and charm.
In the present, though, Jimmy isn’t feeling very charming. Instead, he’s trying to get back in Kim’s good graces. Kim, however, isn’t interested in his help, telling him to focus on obeying the rules while she works on her own to get out of the doghouse at Hamlin Hamlin & McGill. Her solution, to drum up new business for the firm, seems to work… until Hamlin sticks her back in in the dungeon. However, there’s a glimmer of hope for her after a conversation with Chuck leads to a promise that he’ll try to get Hamlin to stop “wasting” her talents.
Oh, and Mike (still bearing the bruises from last week’s breakfast) had an unexpected guest join him for breakfast. Don’t worry — we’ll get to that.
Opening Credits Extreme Close-Up
It’s Saul Goodman’s old bus bench ad! Oh, the “Breaking Bad” memories that brings up.
The Least Legal Move
It’s an episode of bribes big and small, and the big one wins the prize here: the humble suggestion that Mike lie to the cops about what happened with Tuco, so that his felony conviction for gun possession gets reduced to simple battery. Of course, technically Mike’s encounter with Tuco was already built on subterfuge (per Nacho’s request that Mike find a way to get rid of him), but a lie about a lie doesn’t really improve matters. Especially given who’s making the request…
Remembering What Hasn’t Happened Yet (The “Breaking Bad” Tie-In)
Hector Salamanca in the house, y’all. With Tuco going to jail, it makes sense that another Salamanca would make an appearance, and seeing the bell-ringing stroke victim in his prime was a relatively pleasant surprise…until, that is, we remembered just how scary Hector Salamanca is.
Mike prides himself on doing his research, which means Mike knows exactly who’s sitting opposite him in the diner, and Mike’s also smart enough to pick up on the fact that Hector knows an awful lot about him. As a result, in the final moments of the episode, you can tell he knows just how deep into the shit he’s gotten — and isn’t sure what to do about it.
Lady Sings the Blues
This is easily the most estrogen-powered episode of “Better Call Saul” to date, thanks to the on-screen introduction of Rebecca, plucky and focused second-year associate Erin (Jessie Ennis) and most especially Kim; tough, smart and dedicated Kim, busting her ass to solve her problems on her terms. The writers and Rhea Seehorn have always been committed to crafting Kim as a character who stands out as a fully formed person, not just a potential love interest, and it was a thrill to see her really get a chance to shine here. At the beginning of “Better Call Saul’s” run, did we expect that the series would morph from the Bob Odenkirk show into an ensemble drama? The honest answer is no, but we’re thrilled to be proven wrong by episodes like this, which let the supporting cast shine as brightly as its star.
Oh, That’s Right, It’s a Period Piece
Jimmy’s attempt to “bribe” the courtroom clerk with a Beanie Baby inspired us to do a little checking on the cute understuffed toys; specifically, when they went from being incredibly popular and valuable collectors items to novelty gifts. According to Mental Floss, the craze began dying out around 1999, when Ty shut down production, but it’s believable that in 2002 a fan of the toys — like Jimmy’s favorite unnamed contract counsel administrator (played by Nadine Marissa) — would still want to add a new adorable face to her collection. Too bad Erin’s a stickler for the rules… though Erin might end up being the best thing to happen to Jimmy in a while, if she can help him learn what the straight and narrow path looks like.
What’s Up With Chuck?
This season, we’re truly getting a look at the psychology of Chuck, who’s proven to be a more complicated character than we ever anticipated, especially thanks to this week’s revelations. Of course, because it’s “Better Call Saul,” we get information, but we don’t get answers.
The episode’s title comes courtesy of Chuck’s now-absent wife, played by the lovely Ann Cusack (who also recently appeared in “Fargo” Season 2 as Judge Mundt). If you were paying attention during Season 2, Episode 2, “Cobbler,” you’ll have noticed that the sheet music that Chuck was playing at the beginning had the name Rebecca Bais handwritten at the top of the page. With clues like that, it feels like a safe bet that the end of Chuck’s marriage was not an agreed-upon parting, but maybe not something that was Jimmy’s fault.
We say that because if whatever happened to Rebecca had been Jimmy’s fault, Chuck would be sure to mention it constantly. How do we know that? Because in Chuck’s final scene with Kim, he’s not shy about implying that the death of his father was Jimmy’s fault, after Jimmy ruined the family business by lifting from the till. Chuck’s a man with deeply held grudges, especially against Jimmy. “My brother is not a bad person. He has a good heart. It’s just he can’t help himself, and everyone’s left picking up the pieces.”
On The Journey From Jimmy to Saul
Jimmy’s return to his home turf — the Albuquerque courthouse — shows him leaning into his old tricks, but it also comes with a sobering reminder of what awaits him, should he quit Davis and Main. An encounter with an old colleague from his public defender days descends into Jimmy admitting to all the perks his current job comes with. You know, like not having to worry about a client’s vomit on your suit. We’re waiting to see how exactly that will impact things down the line.
Chicago natives (or Chicago Cubs fans) will be thrilled by the sight of Jimmy bringing Chuck a six-pack of Old Style, the significance of which might be a little lost on the rest of us, which is why we’re lucky to have Indiewire’s Ben Travers on call:
Anyone who grew up within the radio waves of WGN Chicago is well versed on the significance of Old Style when it comes to the Chicago Cubs — so why get into it? Instead, let’s all take a moment to remember what is perhaps the beer’s most prominent placement outside of Wrigley Field and certainly its most meaningful: “Mad Men,” Season 7, Episode 7, “Waterloo”: a.k.a. the beers Peggy swipes for her and Don to drink during the moon landing.
True story: When first watching the episode, the second those words passed through Kim’s lips we knew we had a winner. Between the power of the delivery and Kim’s subsequent dedication to make those words more than lip service, it was a character-defining scene, made all the more powerful by how unshowy it was.
“It’s From a Movie!”
“The first rule of ‘Fight Club,’ right?” is Jimmy’s reaction to seeing Mike’s battered face, and yes, in the world of “Better Call Saul” that’s a reference that’s only a couple of years old. But man, it speaks to the power of the 1999 David Fincher film, that it’s a reference which still feels relevant and timeless today. That’s how you know you’re iconic.
In Conclusion, Your Honor
This is another “Better Call Saul” episode where, on balance, not all that much technically happened, where the dramatic climax came in the form of an off-screen soy latte and a cameo by a guy we’re used to seeing in a wheelchair. But the magic of “Saul” is that while installments like this don’t leave us gasping for air, we’re never, ever bored. The nuances that come out thanks to the show’s quiet and measured approach end up truly elevating each scene, as we wait to see just how bad things are going to get.