After an opening flashback to the day Jimmy and Chuck’s mother died, we pick up right where we left off last week, with Jimmy watching from across the street as Chuck collapsed in the copy store. If you were betting that Jimmy would let Chuck suffer and save himself, you thought wrong. Jimmy immediately rushes into action, getting Chuck to the hospital. Unfortunately, the hospital is pure torture for Chuck, especially after Jimmy signs the paperwork to allow the hospital to administer some needed tests. Chuck lapses into a (self-induced) catatonic state for a spell afterwards, but Jimmy stays by his side until he wakes up, bringing him home. Chuck thanks Jimmy for taking care of him, then asks him to leave. It seems like the trust might be back between them…but Chuck doesn’t give Jimmy a new key, and goes rummaging in the garage for something after Jimmy leaves.
Jimmy’s commercial makes its TV debut, and Jimmy is immediately flush with clients. He’s pulled away from them, however, by the news that Chuck has retired from HH&M and from the law. Jimmy rushes to Chuck’s house to confront him over it, and when a despondent Chuck admits that the mistake he allegedly made over the Mesa Verde documents has him convinced that he’s no longer fit to practice, Jimmy finally properly confesses to everything. When Jimmy leaves, Chuck triumphantly shuts off the tape recorder that captured everything, including Jimmy willingly admitting to committing felonies.
What’s Up With Mike?
Still operating in his own separate sphere, Mike finally resigns himself to the idea that if he’s going to stop Hector Salamanca, it’s going to require bullets. But before he can pull the trigger, he’s pulled away by the sound of his own car horn blaring and a note on the dashboard telling him, “Don’t.” Who left the note? And who’s been watching Mike, without Mike noticing? It’s a safe bet we’ll find out in Season 3.
Opening Credits Extreme Close-Up
The coffee cup crashes to earth, shattering on impact. The fact that it says “World’s Greatest Lawyer” stands in stark contrast to Jimmy’s current “World’s 2nd Greatest Lawyer” mug — Kim’s attempt to keep him honest.
The Least Legal Move
Certainly Mike’s decision to finally purchase a rifle from our old/new friend Lawson wasn’t the most kosher thing — but he never actually did anything with it. So, this week the Salamancas win by increasing the official “Better Call Saul” body count from three to four. Farewell, Mr. Popsicle (as we nicknamed him in our notes awhile back). You made a bad choice in employers.
In case you were wondering, Chuck’s surreptitious recording of his conversation with Jimmy, to the best of our legal understanding, wasn’t particularly nice but wasn’t illegal. Some states in the U.S. do have what’s called “two-party consent” laws when it comes to recording conversations, but New Mexico’s not one of them. We double-checked this fact because we wanted to know just how far Chuck would go to bring down his brother, and while the answer is “pretty damn far,” it doesn’t appear to include breaking the law…yet.
Remembering What Hasn’t Happened Yet (The “Breaking Bad” Tie-In)
So, as we discovered last week, the episode titles this season potentially spelled out a major clue about a special cameo. While, technically, the anagram of “Fring’s Back” didn’t actually deliver an appearance by Giancarlo Esposito as the notorious Gus Fring of “Breaking Bad” fame, it’s not hard to interpret this as an indication as to who left the note on Mike’s dashboard. (Lest you think we’re being conspiracy nuts, the “Breaking Bad” universe has played similar games in the past. These writers love their Easter Eggs.)
In case your memory is fuzzy: When we meet Mike in the “Breaking Bad” era, he might be an associate of Saul’s but his full-time gig is being “head of security” for the Los Pollos Hermanos operation. So he’s due to meet Gus soon. Maybe even as soon as “Saul” Season 3?
Oh, That’s Right, It’s a Period Piece
It makes sense for Chuck’s recording device to be a cassette tape player. He’s that old school. And actually, there have to be a number of hospitals that haven’t upgraded yet to flatscreen TVs. Nothing about this episode was particularly rooted in its time period, beyond of course the characters at this point in time.
On The Journey From Jimmy to Saul
Okay, we got this one totally wrong. Last week we predicted that Kim would find Jimmy’s TV commercial to be a real turn-off, but instead, she loves it (though doesn’t necessarily love the fact that Jimmy turns to her for help getting coffee for his clients). The commercial is actually pretty classy, given the circumstances under which it was made, and seems to represent Jimmy at his very best. Quasi-partnering with Kim has been good for Jimmy, it seems, and that’s where we end the season: Jimmy content with a lady he’s always cared for, and finally operating the legal practice he’s always wanted to run…and poised to lose it all, thanks to Chuck’s need for vengeance.
A Tale of Two Brothers
There’s something quite striking about the opening flashback, in how it captures just how badly these two men misunderstand each other. Jimmy’s attempt to get Chuck to leave their mother’s bedside has nothing to do with Jimmy being hungry for a hoagie, and everything to do with him wanting to take care of his brother. Even at this point in their history, Jimmy’s attempting to be a caregiver by getting Chuck some food and a bit of air. But while Jimmy can’t understand Chuck’s needs, all Chuck can see is Jimmy’s perceived selfishness. That, combined with the slap of their mother calling out for Jimmy with her last breath, goes a long way towards explaining just how deeply felt Chuck’s animosity towards his brother is buried. It’s the sort of ill will that’s only gotten more twisted and vicious over the years, especially since when Jimmy’s at his worst, he keeps proving Chuck right.
“I am saying it to make you feel better. I sure as shit wouldn’t be telling you otherwise.”
– Chuck and Jimmy
Does the crew of “Better Call Saul” now have a Pavlovian reaction to the set for Jimmy’s living room? Does seeing that set on the call sheet immediately trigger an anxious feeling, knowing that some hearts are about to be torn asunder that day? Because it certainly now has that effect on the humble viewer. Chuck and Jimmy’s final blowout of the season wasn’t perhaps as tough going as the scene in 208, because Kim wasn’t there to share in the carnage. But it’s safe to say while most of us figured out exactly what Chuck was up to before the end of the scene, the final reveal of the tape recorder — capturing Jimmy’s well-intentioned but ultimately damning words — was more than painful. Michael McKean, with this episode, came dangerously close to stealing the entire damn show. His performance all season long has been incredible to behold.
Shout-out, while we’re at it, to Ernie’s sad aside as he walks away from having covered from Jimmy, once again. Given all the craziness he’s had to deal with as Chuck’s assistant, “I miss the mailroom” is more than believable.
In Conclusion, Your Honor
A game we’re going to actively avoid playing is, “What would it be like if this was the last episode ever of ‘Better Call Saul’?” — mostly because the question is a terrifying one, given the cliffhangers left for the two major storylines. Sure, we could extrapolate plenty about how “Saul” eventually leads to “Breaking Bad,” but watching this finale without knowing that a Season 3 has officially been commissioned would be a very different experience.
Fortunately, we can look forward to at least another 10 episodes of some truly outstanding television, anchored by writing, directing, editing and acting that turn what could be pedestrian material into something truly captivating. We might yearn at times for a bit more action, a few more answers, but the ride has been incredible.
Below, look back at where Season 2 began…