Previously on Better Call Saul, “Fall”
The third season of Better Call Saul had reached its conclusion, alluding to striking changes in the motivations of and allegiances between characters, further pushing its overarching narrative into bleak territory next year. By now we’ve realized there isn’t any light at the end of the tunnel for any of the leads as every one of them endured a significant blow to their perspective. While a few have used their hardships as an opportunity to acquire a new worldview, others see nothing but darkness and succumb to the asserted inevitability of it all.
For the most part, we know where this is heading for a few characters. Eventually, Jimmy will accept his true nature and Hector will succumb to his angina, resulting in a debilitating stroke. The beauty and genius of Saul is watching each week and not being entirely certain how it will pass despite the future being firmly set in Breaking Bad. This feat of acrobating writing is an impressive talent in itself, but to consistently pen such thoroughly affective and moving episodes is a rarefied thing in contemporary television. Season three of Better Call Saul effectively signaled the beginning of the end for Jimmy, Charles, and Mike. The once colorful pastiche that made up the first two years of the series has lost its vibrancy along the edges; a sure sign that dark times are steadily approaching and wholly unavoidable.
Thankfully the worst appears to be behind Kim. Considering the potential outcomes from driving on that treacherous stretch of road, Wexler was lucky to have walked away from the accident with only a few cuts and bruises and a clipped wing. As with any traumatic incident, it opened Kim’s eyes to what’s most important to her and at the moment, it was piles of nacho cheese Doritos dipped in queso. Wexler didn’t waste any time to Make it a Blockbuster Night™ and reacquainted herself with the benefits of leisure, a necessity in life she gave up who knows how many years ago.
Kim’s accident was also an eyeopener for Jimmy, who finally experienced pangs of guilt for his treatment and subsequent dismissal of Charles, as well as his obscenely inhumane grift on Irene (Jean Effron) and the rest of Sandpiper. Try all he did to bring Irene back into the fold, the ladies still believed she was a turncoat and Jimmy was an angel sent from Heaven. It took a damnable offense – and the assistance of McGill’s former assistant Erin – to finally jar the seniors back to their senses. The damage was finally undone at the expense of Jimmy’s reputation. A small price to pay knowing his former clients will eventually get the entirety of the settlement and he can spend his free time looking after his girlfriend (?) slash law partner.
For all his dedication and labor towards neutralizing Tio Salamanca covertly, Ignacio suddenly had no other choice but to risk his life after Hector acknowledged he didn’t trust Nacho’s mulishly proud father. While this story line has been one of the more alluring narratives this season, it was damn near infuriating to watch Manuel (Juan Carlos Cantu) stand his ground so defiantly. A commendable effort but an extremely foolish and egotistical one, nonetheless.
The elder Varga knew his son was back in the game (what made him leave it for a time?), he certainly was aware of Salamanca’s reputation… yet Manuel still decided to stand his ground even though he had to have known Hector would eliminate his entire family line for defying him? Señor Varga’s choice to wield his inflexible moral code over insuring the safety of his bloodline was crazy ridiculous. Still and all, he and the family wouldn’t be in such a dangerous position if his son wasn’t in the business. If not for the spontaneous meet with Gustavo, Nacho was ready to sacrifice himself for the good of his family… and indirectly for Fring and his associates.
It was obvious Gus picked up on Nacho’s unusual behavior during and after Hector’s incident. Now Fring may have his greatest opportunity to further exact his revenge. The only obstacles Gus face are confirming his speculation about Ignacio’s waning loyalty, and discovering how to use their undeveloped alliance to his advantage without risking his operation and Nacho’s relationship with Salamanca. Sure, I read a lot into the few seconds when Gus stared at Ignacio… but this is Fring we’re writing about. The man is always twelve steps ahead of everyone.
Unfortunately for Charles, a man who believes himself to be the smartest guy in the room, he has overplayed his value among his supposed friends and colleagues. In the last couple episodes of the season, we were finally given deeper insight to Howard Hamlin through Chuck’s startling “recovery” and vehemence in wanting greater control of his old firm. It’s always been alluded that McGill was a real pit bull in the courts and now that he experienced the smallest bit of progress for his condition, the old Charles is back and eager to bite any hand that stays his path.
Threatening to sue the very firm you founded never sounds like a good idea, and Hamlin made Charles know it was a huge mistake on his part when he bought him out of the practice with his own money. It’s a difficult scene to stomach. Although we’ve seen both men display a faint amount of genuine fragility, they prefer to bury their emotions deep and maintain their cutthroat personas even amongst themselves. Whereas Charles would almost always have the upper hand with Howard, Jimmy and any other board member as recently as weeks ago, that time has now passed.
After sinking the dagger even deeper into Jimmy’s heart by admitting he couldn’t care less about him, Charles burnt virtually every bridge left connecting him to the outside world. He won his little war against his alleged detractors, but the attrition was far more costly than McGill could have anticipated. Now he’s a man with nothing save his mental condition, and he immediately descends into an endless mania to cut all sources of electricity in his home. What first began as the soon regressed into a day-long obsession to pull out the one wire Chuck could “sense” behind the walls. By the end that wasn’t enough. Now trapped in a world of his doing, only the gentle glow of Charles’ lantern reminded him of the disorder he created around him.
With a few weak kicks, the lantern fell and engulfed his study in flames. A chilling portent for the oncoming chaos that will assuredly overtake every player come next season.
Better Call Saul S3E10
Better Call Saul – S3E10 – Lantern | Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Rhea Seehorn, Patrick Fabian, Michael Mando, Giancarlo Esposito, Michael McKean | Writer: Gennifer Hutchison | Director: Peter Gould