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‘Better Call Saul’ Review: Brace for Impact, It’s the Penultimate Episode of Season 3

Season 3 Episode 9, "Fall," puts a little too much focus on Jimmy than we'd like, but we're fascinated nonetheless.

Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler - Better Call Saul _ Season 3, Episode 9 - Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Michele K. Short/AMC/Sony Pictur

LAST WEEK’S REVIEW: Set-Ups and Slip-Ups Abound in the Beginning of the End

Case Summary

Jimmy may not be practicing law, but he hasn’t forgotten about his clients — specifically those involved in the Sandpiper case, which he’s surprised to discover hasn’t been settled yet. Desperate for the cash, he first tries confronting Hamlin over the lack of a settlement… but is eventually reduced to manipulating the elderly in order to get what he wants. It is… not a proud moment for him.

Meanwhile, Chuck and Howard finally have the confrontation that Howard’s clearly been wanting to have since Chuck’s breakdown during Jimmy’s hearing, spurred on by the malpractice insurance issue. But it goes sideways on him, because Chuck refuses to retire quietly, and is now planning on suing HH&M. Maybe it’s what Chuck thinks is the right thing to do, but it also costs him his one remaining legal ally.

And poor Nacho — Don Hector’s on the war path, determined to create his own distribution route separate from Gus’s, and this means Nacho’s father will be getting conscripted to help. Nacho, to protect his father, has to confess that he’s been working with Don Hector, and the resulting scene is heartbreaking. Hopefully it does in fact blow over soon. Don Hector does, after all, look a little shaky.

Achievements in Filmmaking

Lots of stunning sequences this week, but the way that the rainy confrontation between Don Hector and Gus is shot, with the oranges and yellows signifying danger, is a scene unlike anything we’ve seen before on this show. Also worth noting is the brutal cut that comes when Kim drifts off while driving — it’s just as shocking the second time around.

Michael Mando as Nacho Varga - Better Call Saul _ Season 3, Episode 9 - Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

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

We get another encounter with Lydia Rodarte-Quayle, plus a visit to the corporate offices of Madrigal Industries. The paranoid exec we remember fondly from Season 5 of “Breaking Bad” gets Mike officially “on the books” to launder his money, while also alerting us to the fact that there’s a lot more to Gus than meets the eye.

Oh, That’s Right, It’s a Period Piece

Just one small thing: The iMac G4 spotted on Lydia’s desk is perfect for the time period, popular as it was from 2002-2004. It’s those kind of details that really sell the show’s authenticity.

Lady Sings the Blues

Blink, and you’ll miss the telltale bottle of No-Doze crammed underneath Kim’s dashboard — between that and her visible exhaustion (beautifully played by Rhea Seehorn), it’s clear she’s headed for the titular “fall,” but the actual impact of the ending (so to speak) still left us reeling. Is this the moment she needed to have, in order to take stock of the choices she’s been making lately? It’s not quite hitting bottom, but it definitely feels like a wake-up call.

READ MORE: ‘Better Call Saul’: Why Saul Goodman, According to Bob Odenkirk, Is More Than ‘Just A Name’

On The Journey From Jimmy to Saul

Um, if your heart didn’t break for poor broken Irene at the end of this episode — and if you weren’t furious at Jimmy for putting that nice lady through emotional hell — then the existence of your soul might be suspect.

Normally we’re fans of the sequences that spotlight the characters at the height of their scheming, but Jimmy’s manipulation of both the elderly and the bingo game was a bit off-putting, and perhaps (in the case of the bingo game) a little overly complicated. Not that we’re encouraging any of this behavior, but there has got to be an easier way to humiliate a woman in front of her friends. Saul would probably have figured it out faster.

Cocktail Hour

It’s the return of Zafiro Añejo, our favorite fictional tequila brand originally seen poisoning the Juarez cartel in Season 4 of “Breaking Bad,” and later enjoyed by Jimmy and Kim during their “Better Call Saul” Season 2 “date.”

Patrick Fabian as Howard Hamlin - Better Call Saul _ Season 3, Episode 9 - Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Best Quote

“A drug dealer? If that’s all you think he is, you don’t know Gustavo Fring.”
— Lydia

There’s a lot loaded into that one statement — the kind of statement that could easily power another few seasons of “Better Call Saul.” We learned a fair amount about Gus during “Breaking Bad,” after all, but there’s still a lot more to unpack, especially when it came to Gus’s interests beyond meth production. All we know for sure is that Guy plays a very long game.

“It’s From a Movie!”

For once, the movie references comes not from Jimmy but from Howard: “It’s like talking to Gollum — it’s transparent and pathetic.” It’s not as accurate as it could be, but it at least feels period-accurate. In 2003, the “Lord of the Rings” movies were a huge deal.

In Conclusion, Your Honor

It happens more often than you’d think, that the best storyline of a “Better Call Saul” episode isn’t the Jimmy one. But in this episode in particular, the other plotlines were so intriguing that it left us frustrated that we weren’t getting to spend more time with Mike, or Kim, or Gus. There’s only one episode left this season, and some explosive elements are in play to erupt in the finale — hopefully “Lantern” (its official title) features a little more balance for one of TV’s best ensembles.

Grade: B+

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