Every time I watch an episode of “Better Call Saul,” I try to think of an overarching theme that connects all the events occurring. And for most of the night, “Lantern’s” central theme was just how strong the bond is between Jimmy and Kim.
After “Fall”, I really thought cracks would start to appear. But Kim’s wreck seemed to only strengthen the bond between the two. It also showed that, for all the steps Jimmy has taken towards the dark side this season, there’s still some humanity left in the future Saul Goodman.
Even Hector’s collapse didn’t steer my focus from how close Jimmy and Kim remained at the end of Season 3’s finale.
Then, Chuck knocked over that lantern.
Arrogant Chuck, who pushed everyone out of his life with a false confidence that finally gave way to pure madness.
For all the hatred Chuck held for Jimmy, it seemed his relationship with his brother and his status at HHM kept him anchored. The madness was always there, but Chuck’s contacts in the outside world kept it contained.
But once those ties were severed (and both largely thanks to Chuck himself), the box holding in Chuck’s madness burst open, culminating with Chuck burning himself alive.
We didn’t get official confirmation that Chuck is dead, but I do not see how he survived. And now, Jimmy, Kim, and Howard must wrestle with the part they played in unleashing the madman.
I’ll go over Jimmy, Kim and Chuck’s stories later. But let’s start with another huge occurrence in the season 3 finale: the birth of Hector “Ding Ding” Salamanca.
“I Don’t Trust Him”
Hector’s placebo pills have yet to kick in, so Nacho must allow the meeting with his dad to proceed. And Nacho’s father does not hide his disdain for Hector.
Hector “Shallow” Salamanca thinks he can just throw money at anyone and they will be on board. Principled people are not something Hector understands. So when Nacho’s father refuses to accept the bribe (though Nacho eventually talks him into accepting), Hector’s response is “I don’t trust him” (translation: He needs to be killed so I can take over his business).
This “partnership” seems destined to end with the death of Nacho’s father. But it doesn’t appear like that will be happening now.
Hector’s Going to the Wheelchair!!!
This is the only time in my life I expect to ever put exclamation points behind the word wheelchair. But before we get to the big event, we need to review of couple of subtle observations from this iconic scene.
The first is Nacho’s reason for being there. Hector’s fake pills aren’t working (at least not yet). And Nacho has no way of knowing when they will work, meaning Hector could take out Nacho’s dad before succumbing to his condition.
So Nacho decided to speed the process up and take Hector out himself. He’s tailing Hector and is ready to barge in with a gun and take the Don out when another car pulls up.
The second observation comes from Nacho’s reaction to that second car. Two of Hector’s henchmen get out of the car and believe Nacho has received a text message about a meeting taking place here. Nacho nods his head yes, but clearly was not aware this meeting was happening. Why was Nacho kept out of the loop about a meeting between Hector and Gus?
Gus and Don Bolsa pull up in a third car. Bolsa puts the kibosh on Hector’s upholstery truck plans. There will only be one route used to transport drugs across the border: Gus’s chicken trucks.
Hector’s response is exactly what you’d expect. Hector has felt disrespected all season and it all comes to head right here.
When his heart starts acting crazy again, Hector reaches for and takes some pills, but they have no affect this time. Salamanca falls, hitting his head hard on the pavement.
As Gus is performing chest compressions and 911 is called, Nacho takes the opportunity to scoop up Hector’s pill bottle. Later, when the paramedic asks if Hector was on any medications, Nacho hands her his pill bottle which, we can assume, is filled with the proper pills again.
Hector is taken away in an ambulance, his life forever altered.
“I Am Gonna Fix Things.”
Kim’s ER visit had none of the negative affects I figured it would. Instead, it produced only positives for both Kim and Jimmy.
Kim realizes she’s doing too much. So she drops Gatwood Oil as a client, pushes all her meetings this week to next week, makes a run to Blockbuster (the original “Netflix and chill”), and takes some much deserved time to rest.
The rest of Jimmy’s episode is spent trying to rectify everything he’s done wrong in season 3. He makes arrangements with Kim to move out of their nice office, tries to make things right with Chuck (more on that later), and works to reunite Irene with her friends.
“How Do You Trust Someone Who Bends Anyway the Wind is Blowing?”
When Jimmy goes to visit an unhappy Irene, he’s surprised to learn her friends are still upset with her. Jimmy’s con last week was so effective that Irene’s friends, despite Jimmy’s best efforts, still don’t believe she’s anything but a selfish, greedy bitch.
So Jimmy comes up with a scheme that will have permanent consequences. First, he takes over the instructor spot in chair yoga. Then, he calls in Erin from Davis and Mane (remember her, Jimmy’s babysitter from last season) to “confront” him for what he did last week.
Jimmy leaves the microphone on so everyone in the yoga room can hear Jimmy confess to manipulating Irene and her friends so he could get his greedy hands on the settlement money.
Everyone is walking out disgusted when Jimmy reenters. Irene leaves reunited with her friends, but all of them now hate Jimmy for his betrayal.
So while Jimmy’s scheme worked to reunite Irene with her friends, it also dealt a permanent blow to Jimmy’s chances of working with the elderly when he resumes practicing law.
Chuck’s Last Day
Did anyone else think a long legal battle with the future of HHM at stake was in the cards? Well, Howard squashed that possibility in the first 20 minutes of the finale. Howard gives Chuck a check for $3 million (the first of 3 payments all from Howard’s personal funds) and gathers all the employees at HHM to bid Chuck farewell.
“The Truth is You’ve Never Really Mattered All That Much to Me.”
After his firing from HHM, Chuck must next deal with a conversation from his brother, the first the two have had since the hearing midseason. And never has that smug attitude Chuck carries around been more evident than his likely last conversation with his brother.
I go back and forth on Chuck’s role in Jimmy becoming Saul. Is Chuck the reason Jimmy becomes Saul Goodman, or was Chuck able to see the direction Jimmy was heading in and wise to warn people of his brother’s inevitable conversion?
Well, I will be firmly in the former column on this question all offseason. Chuck’s clear message to Jimmy is don’t bother apologizing. You are what you are, so just embrace it.
Chuck appeared to be a fully functioning asshole when Jimmy left. All the lights are on and Chuck appears as confident as ever. But that all turns out to be a façade. And with everyone who cares for him out of his life, that disguise comes crashing down.
That night, Chuck gives up. He shuts down all the breakers. He cancels his scheduled appointment with Dr. Cruz. He removes every light bulb from every lamp and chandelier in the house.
But Chuck notices that something is still running electricity. So he removes all the outlets. He punches holes in every wall, desperately reaching for wiring that could be that one remaining source. Still unable to find the source, Chuck takes a baseball bat and hammers away at the Kwh box outside his home.
This is the madness Chuck’s been harboring all these years. While he’s always appeared crazy, there was still a sense of control. But as the finale entered its final scene, Chuck’s house had been torn apart by a lunatic.
Chuck sits there shivering in his space blanket with a lantern sitting on the coffee table across from him. Chuck kicks the table gradually, slowly pushing the lantern to falling into vast amounts of paperwork surrounding the table.
The lantern falls, hits the ground, and sets the living room Chuck is sitting in on fire.
-Did Rebecca leave Chuck after a similar conversation to the one he had with Jimmy? And after Chuck’s pompous ass apologized for nothing, did he turn off the lights to cope with the guilt?
-I knew how Howard was desperate to be rid of Chuck. But I did not know he was “spend and borrow $3 million to make it happen” desperate.
-It also appears the Sandpiper case will be reopened now that Irene knows what Jimmy was doing, meaning no money for Jimmy just yet.
-I wonder what impact Kim keeping Jimmy’s rolodex will have in the future.
-Kim mentioned getting only 6 hours of sleep for the week that she got into the wreck.
-So we’ll all have to take a break from Francesca until she and Jimmy/Saul cross paths again.
-I wonder how much more, if any, of the teen Chuck/young Jimmy relationship we’ll get to see in future seasons.
-Did we seriously just have a season finale without Mike? I understand why they didn’t (wasn’t a lot of room for much else), but something just doesn’t seem right about that.
-And what was the purpose of Mike finding that body in the desert two episodes ago?
So now, the big question moving forward is how will Jimmy, Kim, and Howard all handle their respective roles in Chuck’s assumed death.
Thank you so much for checking out my recaps this season. And I look forward to seeing you all back here again when I recap the fourth season of “Better Call Saul.”