Previously on Better Call Saul, “Expenses”
Per Saul’s custom, the episode’s title is multitudinous in meaning and intent. Every one of the leads is currently dealing with the bad hand they were dealt; between the McGills’ respective doldrums, to Kim’s exceeding urgency to rid herself of guilt and Nacho’s ill-conceived plan to rid the world of Hector Salamanca, life within the Land of Enchantment is far from the vibrancy its name implies.
The honeymoon period is officially over for Jimmy, who is constantly reminded that life has its boot firmly pressed against his neck. The inability to practice law has become a greater burden to Jimmy’s quality of life than expected and McGill has begun to turn back to old habits. It all stems from the flashback that opened “Slip”, as James and his best pal Marco (Mel Rodriguez) broke into the old McGill store sometime before his incarceration in New Mexico. Looking to run a new con on a room full of convention goers, Jimmy discovered his tin full of rare coins was still hidden away in the ceiling tile. Curious, Marco asked why they’re creeping about their old haunts for a handfuls of old coins, which allowed Jimmy to vomit out his frustrations about his “soft” father.
Often a contentious subject between Chuck and Jimmy, the seemingly compassionate nature of their father appeared to be a shared concern between the siblings. However, as Jimmy was the youngest and spent more time around the store, he saw firsthand how friends and neighbors took advantage of his father’s better nature. Jimmy regales Marco about the time a customer paid for his items with a George Washington silver, and after telling his father how special the coin is, Mr. McGill ran after the patron to return the rare currency. After that moment, Jimmy managed the till and removed any coins that had additional value for fear his dad would sabotage himself yet again.
Though Jimmy was already on a crooked path, witnessing his father give up his best years without anything to show for it motivated McGill to make sure his actions were compensated for their maximum value. Sure he had a couple bumps along the way – and continues to do so in the most recent episodes – but now he’s able to handily outsmart most folks in nearly any situation, as seen in his with the music store owners (Randy and Jason Sklar) and his Parks supervisor.
This state of quiet confidence in the face of adversity was also felt by Kim during a lunch meeting with her clients and the unexpected appearance of Howard Hamlin. Knowing she still owes him for her education – and he, being a complete sociopath, not one to let others forget – Wexler believed she finally put the nail on the coffin in regards to her association with HHM by writing Hamlin a check for monies owed. Despite Howard’s emotional tirade outside the restaurant, Kim finally appears to have at least one monkey off her back, knowing she did the right thing even though it wasn’t accepted.
The same cannot be said of Chuck. Although he’s made significant strides in his therapy with Dr. Cruz (Clea DuVall), his ability to maintain that level of progress is shaky and his plans for the immediate future are lofty at best. Dr. Cruz tries to lower the expectations of her patient but Charles is far too hopeful for so little to have been accomplished. Perhaps the most illuminating moment in their conversation was Chuck acknowledging the very real possibility that his condition is all in his head. After Jimmy made a fool of him at the hearing, Chuck cannot deny what occurred to his person, how he never felt the stinging pain of battery until it was in full sight. Again, they play the sympathy card on Charles and for the moment he appears genuine and contrite. That could always change once Jimmy comes back into the picture.
It’s in the final act of “Slip” that we’re given the scene we’ve been eagerly anticipating, as Ignacio musters up the courage – and heaps of flop sweat – to switch Hector’s meds in an intricate series of moves. The entire sequence, the manufacture of the duds to the close-up of Nacho’s jittery hands after his successful switch, was enthralling to watch. Thanks to Mike’s sound advice in “Expenses”, Ignacio developed the wherewithal to keep Hector’s pills to make another switch in the near future so no one can suspect a thing. Hopefully Ignacio doesn’t get too confident with his newfound skills and slip up at the worst possible moment. It wouldn’t be too surprising if this incident may have been the beginning of his end in the Salamanca family. There’s a reason he’s mentioned but once in Breaking Bad.
By episode’s end it appears nearly everyone has gained a small victory but it’s a fleeting moment compared to the long hard road many of them will endure in the coming years. If one were to look at it from a certain perspective, save for Gustavo, Kim Mike and even Chuck owe their recent successes to Jimmy. Only problem is their luck could turn any time due his increasingly objectionable behavior.
Better Call Saul S3E8
Better Call Saul – S3E8 – Slip | Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Rhea Seehorn, Patrick Fabian, Michael Mando, Giancarlo Esposito, Michael McKean | Writer: Heather Marion | Director: Adam Bernstein