Previously on Better Call Saul, “Slip”
In another subtly written, yet heavy handed episode, virtually every character managed in “Fall” to sink even further down the emotional rabbit hole, revealing their darker natures. Faced with seemingly insurmountable odds this week, nearly every lead displayed an eagerness to place their needs over others, even if it meant foregoing their own well-being.
Just like their characters, the writing staff of Saul enjoy using sleight of hand to lower the guard of their viewers, and we fall for it every time. One week we’re given an episode that played to the vulnerabilities of either McGill or cast Mike in a sympathetic light… the following airing? Pure emotional bedlam. During this outing, Jimmy couldn’t let a sleeping dog lie and followed through with his golden goose favorite client Irene Landry (Jean Effron), the lead plaintiff in the Sandpiper class action suit he filed for Davis and Main.
Though McGill could face severe penalties and jail time if anyone found out about his “helpful advice” with Irene, the prospect of receiving a big payday was enough to risk it all. The only problem to his grand plans were Howard and Irene’s reticence in collecting a lump sum now; although Sandpiper is willing to settle with a substantial payoff, Ms. Landry under D&M’s advisement believes they could get even more if they bide their time. Obviously, Jimmy wasn’t going to have any of that.
In an ridiculously labyrinthine sequence of events staged in an elaborate montage, Jimmy proved he’s an irredeemable sleaze as he wormed his way into Irene’s good graces and effectively obliterated her reputation among the entire retirement community for the sake of his cut. While Jimmy was willing to lead a woman straight to her grave via total and complete heartbreak for a million dollars, his brother Charles was more than ready to risk it all to satiate his precious ego.
It took nearly three years, but we finally gained more insight into the personal life of Howard Hamlin (via Charles’ brief exposition on the history of HHM) but also a hint of his frailty as lead partner since McGill’s mental breakdown. For the most part, Hamlin has always come off as alpha type with sociopathic tendencies, however in “Fall” his suggestion for Charles to retire didn’t appear to be said with calculation so much as genuine concern for this former mentor and friend. Naturally, Charles wasn’t going to let anyone tell him what to do or when to give up practicing law. Rather, he does what every red-blooded American does to get his point across these days: filing a motion to sue the very firm he built from the ground up. Charles may not have Jimmy’s indomitable ability to do whatever’s necessary to run a successful con, but the older McGill can be equally vicious thanks to his boundless legal acumen.
Ironically, the only person who displayed a genuine conscience in “Fall” was Ignacio. Knowing he was unable to sway Hector’s mind on using his father’s business as a front, Nacho did what he could to prepare his father for the hell he’ll endure for an indeterminate time. Salamanca may have assured Nacho that the scheme would be a temporary measure, but now that he and Gus’ operations are intricately entwined, everything is off the table. Let’s be honest though: Hector isn’t a man of sterling reputation even among the cutthroats he calls friends, so even if things were in his favor, the odds of him keeping his word to Nacho would be infinitesimally small.
Sadly, Ignacio’s terrible life choices and inability to push back for fear of reprisal led to his father disowning his son. Hopefully Nacho’s warnings did not fall on deaf ears as the son knows quite well what Hector would do to prideful men who don’t recognize his power.
Ultimately, no one could escape the glaring faults and dangers that have plagued them all season, especially poor Kim Wexler. The rising star was already reluctant to open a small practice with Jimmy and despite the rocky start, things were good for an all too brief period. McGill’s suspension and his increasingly erratic behavior coupled with the mounting responsibilities from Mesa Verde and now Gatwood Oil were the perfect ingredients to tip Kim over the edge and suffer an extreme lapse in judgment. All season long Wexler has been running at top speed with nary a moment’s rest and at the worst moment possible her body overrode her brain and managed to get a few seconds rest …before crashing into an embankment. Like Kim’s startling experience, “Fall” left viewers disoriented and unsure of each lead’s moral and professional standing. Everyone is at an extremely critical impasse in their respective journeys. How they react to their challenges ahead will certainly determine their tenacity in overcoming adversity. The crux of the issue is how much of themselves are they willing to sacrifice to achieve their goals.