[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for “Better Call Saul” Season 3, Episode 7, “Expenses.”]
After celebrating what felt like a victory last week, it’s now time for Jimmy to accept the consequences for his year-long suspension, which are far tougher than he anticipated. Trying to balance his required community service hours with his fledgling business as a producer and director of local commercials isn’t working out all that well — he’s running himself ragged and going broke in the process. What matters most to him is making sure that Kim has no clue just how bad things are getting… though he’s not above a petty moment of revenge against Chuck, as much as he might say that he’s moving on.
Meanwhile, we get a blast from the more-recent-than-usual past: Nacho decides to pay “Saul” Season 2’s resident prescription drug scammer/baseball enthusiast Pryce (Daniel Wormald) a visit, asking him to get a very specific pill capsule type. There’s been very little mystery to what Nacho’s planning, exactly, but Pryce’s decision to involve Mike in the transaction means that there are now two smart people involved in the potential takedown of Don Hector. Nacho and Mike working together? God help us all.
Achievements in Cinematography
The incredible transition we see on Jimmy’s face as he strides out of the insurance office, from pain to rage to triumph, would be powerful enough on its own. But the way the camera tracks with him, a low-angle close-up that keeps up with his angry stride, is worth a moment of celebration. It’s not so flashy as to distract, but gives the moment an extra punch of power.
The Least Legal Move
Beyond Mike spending his ill-gotten gains — or rather, donating them — this was a pretty law-abiding episode. Nacho probably wins for breaking into Pryce’s house, but it also doesn’t sound like it was that hard to do.
Oh, That’s Right, It’s a Period Piece
Appreciated Pryce’s old school handheld video game (a baseball-themed one, naturally). The kids today, with their PS Vitas and their Zunes, don’t know how good they have it.
What’s Up With Mike?
“Saul” is a show rich with decision points, moments where we see characters make up their minds to take action or not with almost silent consideration. And the first half of the episode, in which Mike donates both time and stolen cash to help fix up a church playground, and then connects with Anita (Tamara Tunie) over their mutual, but not equivalent, tragedies, builds up to a moment that lingers.
What is it exactly about Anita’s story about the husband who vanished that made Mike want to help out Pryce and, subsequently, Nacho? Mike keeps his emotions pretty close to his chest, but our theory: While the scene cuts off before we can hear Mike tell Nacho what kind of favor he’s going to need, the easy guess is that Mike wants Nacho to help him learn what happened to Anita’s husband — a very Mike-esque act of kindness.
Lady Sings the Blues
We learn two important things about Kim this week — the work required by the Mesa Verde case is driving her to the brink of exhaustion, and she’s still deeply bothered by what she and Jimmy did to Chuck. The way in which this all flares up during her meeting with Kim leads to a scene both utterly human and uncomfortable; we’ve all had those moments where we just end up snapping a bit beyond the level of appropriateness, and Kim’s shame and embarrassment felt very relatable.
How aware is Kim that Jimmy is teetering on the edge of failure? It’s unclear, but undoubtedly she is aware that many disbarred and suspended attorneys genuinely struggle without their law license. Just check out this USA Today article from a few years back — it does a nice job of establishing just how brutal it can be, to lose the one thing you worked for years to achieve.
On The Journey From Jimmy to Saul
Jimmy’s — wait, we mean “Saul’s” — Panavision baseball cap is a perfect choice for someone playing director. And to be honest, Saul Goodman isn’t all that bad a director, especially given that he’s working with very, very raw talent.
As good a director as Saul might be, he’s not as good a salesman, at least in the context of the ad time game. Both clients in this episode wriggle out of his proposed deals, which is something we’re not used to seeing happen to Jimmy. Maybe it’s because his desperation is starting to show — never a sexy look, when you’re trying to win people over.
It’s weird to be nostalgic for something that happened a season and a half ago, but Jimmy and Kim’s date at the bar where they first ended up getting together — after a successful tequila con — pulled at our heartstrings a little. Especially when Kim had to remind Jimmy that none of these potential games were ones they were going to play… a sad return to reality for him.
“I just need a break. Just one break… My car won’t start and my gal is disappointed in me and my brother is sick and he’s alone and I spent years caring for him and he hates me and he hates my guts.”
We’re highlighting the beginning of Jimmy’s tearful breakdown, though his entire rambling monologue was captivating because it started off so real, so true. For longer than we should probably admit, we really thought that Jimmy was being, for once, completely emotionally honest… that is, until his choked out muttering about how Chuck’s own courtroom freakout was “in the transcripts.”
What’s most eerie about this sequence is the fact that I don’t think it was likely that Jimmy went into that office with a plan to screw over Chuck — all he wanted was to get a refund on his malpractice insurance. But when he found out that his own premiums would explode once his license was reinstated, all because of Chuck, his tune changed. The fascinating aspect is that there’s no real benefit to Jimmy, if Chuck’s rates also increase. It’s just him lashing out, being vicious for seemingly no reason. The last shot of the episode shows Jimmy on the move with a new energy. We’re scared of where it might take him.
Clearly tee-ing off the end of the season, the only reason the grade isn’t higher is because there’s just a little too much set-up in relation to pay-off. That said, we will be eagerly awaiting Episode 8. EAGERLY.
“Better Call Saul” is available to stream on AMC+ and Netflix.