Previously on Better Call Saul, “Witness”
Hubris is a helluva thing.
“Sunk Costs” began with a worm’s eye view of a pair of sneakers dangling off a telephone wire, weathered by the harsh Southwestern elements. After a Los Pollos Hermanos food truck stops at the intersection near the U.S./Mexico border, the shoes drop in an oddly morose fashion. We would soon learn this callback to foreshadowing that was heavily employed in Breaking Bad is the turning point for virtually every lead in Saul.
Mike finally has a face to go with the enigmatic voice when Gus graced him with his presence on an unoccupied stretch of highway. Time is a precious commodity for Fring and Ehrmantraut so their conversation was brief yet consequential. Gus is well aware of Mike’s activities during season two and appreciates his desire to eliminate Salamanca… but it won’t be today. Using Ehrmantraut’s disdain for Hector to his advantage, Fring asked his new friend to sabotage another of Salamanca’s shipments and Mike does in his signature inventive fashion.
Though the two were the ‘B’ plot this week, their brief moment together left me irrationally giddy. The partnership has already become a fruitful endeavor and we know it’s only the start of a beautiful friendship. It’ll be intriguing to watch how Mike’s (former ?) association with Nacho will develop in season three, seeing as Michael Mando has popped on screen yet.
The other shoe finally dropped for Jimmy after his insanely stupid break-in and subsequent meltdown in Chuck’s house. Knowing he’s a pair of witnesses ready and willing to back his account, Charles still has the nerve to convince James that jail is his only hope. Since the first season, we’ve seen the ongoing one-upmanship between the McGills unfold in the present and in a series of flashbacks. It’s been established that the brothers don’t have a simple rivalry but a grudge that’s nearly on the level of Cain and Abel. For all his grandstanding and supposedly “honorable” position in life, Charles isn’t any better than Jimmy. In fact, he’s worse for the mere fact that he wields his influence and superiority complex to repeatedly punch down at his little brother.Granted, Jimmy will never be mistaken for a saint. No chance in France, mon ami. Yet he’s remained true to himself. He tried to fit in at HHM and Davis and Main because Chuck said it’s what best. He attempted to pass the Bar Exam over and again because he wanted to emulate his virtuous brother. Slippin’ Jimmy was nearly out of view but there are few differences between James McGill and his grifter persona, just as there is between Charles McGill and the craven tormenter he’s suppressed for most of his life.
Recall how absolutely miserable Chuck has been for most of his adult life. We may believe it’s attributed to James’ repeated offenses and embarrassing behavior but we’ve only truly seen snippets in their lives. Even in those, they’ve remarked how family members were never too bothered by Jimmy’s antics, which only urged Charles to study law, ultimately acquiring prestige among his peers and family and proving himself the better brother. After spending decades to accomplish, Chuck is devoid of any interests and personal connections outside of work. Save for the malady that may or may not have been subconsciously manufactured, the sole constant in Chuck’s life is his enmity for Jimmy.That’s why despite the fact James is 98.4% responsible for all the crap he’s caught in, listening to his biting retort to Charles’ sanctimonious rhetoric was just damn cold. After dumping the lame excuse that jail will do Jimmy some good (because it totally did before), after a long drag from a ratty cigarette and furl of his brow, the younger McGill reminded the elder that once he’s locked for the foreseeable future, no one will look after Charles like he had for the past year:
“Here’s what’s gonna happen. One day you’re gonna get sick again. One of your employees is gonna find you curled up in that space blanket, take you to the hospital, hook you up to those machines that beep and whir and… hurt. And this time, it’ll be too much. And you will… die there. Alone.”
Damn, Jimmy. Damn.
For the rest of the episode, McGill went through the familiar motions of booking his stay at the grey bar hotel. While being fingerprinted, Jimmy runs into an old face from season one – the obnoxious and perpetually envious Oakley (Peter Diseth). After hearing rumors about Jimmy’s tumble from not one but two respectable law firms, Oakley had to get the deets from the man himself and gloat the entire time. Meanwhile Kim got word of Jimmy’s status through Ernie, who lost his job at HHM. Arriving just in time during Jimmy’s arraignment, McGill attempted to do the honorable thing and stated that he’d represent himself, to the amazement of both Wexler and Judge Arch (Molly Hagan).
If there was one person Jimmy honestly regrets disappointing over and again, it’s Kim. His excuses and bogus outbursts are old hat and have zero value… but Wexler knows that McGill isn’t a bad person. Jimmy wants to do good, but he’ll do whatever’s necessary to fulfill his client’s wishes. Is it bad for business? Absolutely, which is why Chuck set things up with independent prosecutor Kyra Hay (Kimberly Hebert Gregory) to draft a pre-prosecution diversion. If Jimmy were to agree on its terms and confess, the charges would be inactive and he’d be on probation for a year. Of course there’s a caveat: admission of a felony would cost him his license to practice law.
Chuck won’t be getting rid of his brother that easily. It’ll be an steep climb for him and Kim, but seeing how they called themselves by their dubious aliases Viktor and Giselle, the pair are mentally preparing to give HHM a fight they never expected.
Better Call Saul S3E3
Better Call Saul – S3E3 – Sunk Costs | Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Rhea Seehorn, Patrick Fabian, Michael Mando, Giancarlo Esposito, Michael McKean | Writer: Gennifer Hutchison | Director: John Shiban