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‘Better Call Saul’ Review: The Details Matter Most in A Tale of Two Schemes

Season 3 Episode 3, "Sunk Costs," showcases "Saul's" one major love story, while another relationship dies.

Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler, Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill - Better Call Saul _ Season 3, Episode 3 - Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Michele K.Short/AMC/Sony Picture

LAST WEEK’S REVIEW: Jimmy Is, Once Again, ‘A Little Bit Crooked’

[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for “Better Call Saul” Season 3, Episode 3, “Sunk Costs.”]

Case Summary

While technically last week gave us our first glimpse of Gus Fring, here we really see the man in action in his first one-on-one scene with Mike. It’s just one scene, early in the episode, but the menace Giancarlo Esposito can bring to one relatively subdued encounter remains a thing of wonder. Not that Mike is any less scary. Consider the calm but firm way he makes it clear to Gus that he is not done with the Salamancas, and his methodical actions over the course of the episode that lead directly to Salamanca henchmen getting arrested at the border.

Meanwhile, the consequences for Jimmy’s outrage get unveiled in stark detail: Chuck is pressing charges, in a deliberate attempt to get Jimmy disbarred — which will very likely happen if Jimmy ends up with a felony on his record. Jimmy’s clearly demoralized and eventually decides to fight back — thanks to some support from Kim.

Achievements in Filmmaking

Plenty of standout shots and music choices in this episode, but when we get a glimpse at Kim’s morning routine, it’s montaged together with the flair of a 70s spy caper. It’s one of those sequences that, in the hands of a lesser production team, wouldn’t have nearly the same level of pizazz.

The Least Legal Move

Jimmy might have been the one who did prison time this week, but Mike was the real criminal. Going to Mexico to buy drugs and then using said drugs to flag actual drug dealers? That’s some next-level scheming right there.

Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut - Better Call Saul _ Season 3, Episode 3 - Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Best touch in the scene in which Salamanca’s goons get arrested? Composer Dave Porter referencing the Season 2 music cue “Border Crossing” — the smooth track underscoring the opening scene of last year’s “Fifi,” which first introduced Salamanca’s Regalo Helado truck sneaking its way back into the United States.

Remembering What Hasn’t Happened Yet (The “Breaking Bad” Tie-In)

It is not in Gus Fring’s interests for Hector Salamanca to die… at this time. One wonders if, a few years later, he might remember this conversation and regret it.

Brotherly Love

Jimmy’s theory about what Chuck was planning for him feels a little overly complicated, especially the idea that Ernie was deliberately set up by Chuck. But there’s no question that, however extensive Chuck’s actual plans were, he was able to take advantage of the circumstances and manipulate Jimmy’s actions to fit his ultimate goal. Chuck’s hatred of Jimmy’s pursuit of the law has always been where his petty heart shines through the most, so it makes sense that getting Jimmy disbarred was the desired outcome here. But that doesn’t make it any less difficult for Jimmy to realize, or for us to see as viewers. The final blow — Jimmy describing to Chuck exactly how he predicts Chuck will die — was chilling on a whole other level. It’s hard to imagine that these two aren’t completely done, at this stage.

Michael McKean as Chuck McGill, Kimberley Herbert Gregory as Ada Kyra Hay - Better Call Saul _ Season 3, Episode 3 - Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Cocktail Hour

No booze, but it’s been a while since we’ve seen Jimmy and Kim share a cigarette (a Season 1 staple). Not the healthiest of habits, but it does showcase their bond.

Best Quote

“Why would you… C’mon, this guy? Seriously?”
“Let’s just call it the fallacy of sunk costs.”
— Jimmy and Kim

So far in Season 3, the nature of Kim and Jimmy’s relationship is unclear. Up until now, we certainly haven’t seen her encourage any physical intimacy between them, and things in general have seemed edgy. That said, the final scene of the episode (which provided the episode’s name) brings the pair closer together than we’ve seen them all year, with Kim even reaching out to take his hand.

Kim’s sign of support comes exactly when Jimmy needs it most. He’s clearly at his most down following the destruction of his relationship with Chuck, something that has haunted him all season. While Kim’s reason for wanting to help him isn’t the most romantic of languages, Kim and Jimmy’s relationship has never been one dripping with romance. What matters is that she’s there for him, at least for now.

In Conclusion, Your Honor

From Kim’s morning routine to every careful detail of the Albuquerque inmate intake process, “Sunk Costs” (like many “Better Call Saul” installments) shines in the on-screen details and subtle moments. It feels like we’ve been saying this a lot this year, but it’s always thrilling to get to watch Mike at work — the way the show reveals its faith in the viewer, by letting his plans slowly reveal themselves without explanation.

While it might not have seemed like much happened beyond Mike executing another trademark Mike plan, it proved to be a major episode for Kim and Jimmy, with Rhea Seehorn and Bob Odenkirk mining every moment of their time together to capture a complicated relationship between two very complicated people. So much goes on between them, unsaid, which makes it all the more rewarding when you really pay attention.

Grade: A-

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