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Better Call Saul Season 3, Episode 9: Fall Recap

For all “Better Call Saul’s” seemingly random one word episode names, no episode title better represented the events in the hour it’s named for as “Fall,” the penultimate episode of “Better Call Saul’s” 3rd season.

And no man is more responsible than Jimmy McGill for the fall of so many last night. Or should we start calling him Saul Goodman now? Because Jimmy’s actions in “Fall” are as despicable as any act (with the exception of poisoning Brock) Saul commits in “Breaking Bad.”

Jimmy’s wrath helped take down a prestigious law firm (at least that is where things appear to be headed with Chuck and Howard), a sweet old lady’s final years, and a bad ass lawyer’s career.

Well, maybe that last paragraph was a little dramatic. Irene could still salvage her friendships with the ladies at Sandpiper. And Kim may still have a long career practicing law ahead of her (at least I sure hope she does). But the point is we are finally starting to see the carnage we’ve long expected to follow Jimmy McGill as he follows the dark path to becoming Saul Goodman.

We’ll get to everything laid waste by Jimmy in just a bit. But let’s start with one fall this episode that the future Saul Goodman had nothing to do with.

“The Salamanca’s?”

Last week, Nacho set into motion a plan to kill Hector “Ding Ding” Salamanca by replacing the man’s heart pills with fakes. And during a meeting with Gus (more on that later), Hector has another episode where he must take pills. The Placebo Effect appears to be at work here as the fake pills seem to work just like the real ones. We’ll see how long that lasts.

But Nacho’s mission this week may have been tougher than last week’s as Nacho informed his father that Hector was coming to talk to him.

The late-night dinner table conversation revealed much about the seemingly good relationship between father and son. We learn that Nacho’s father is aware that his son has been a drug dealer (though he doesn’t appear to realize how long Nacho’s been back in the game). We also learn that Nacho’s father knows who Hector Salamanca is.

Nacho meets with his father to discuss Hector’s upcoming proposal.

Nacho tells his dad to do whatever Hector asks because the situation will be taken care of. Then, Nacho’s father sternly asks his son to get out of the house.

“This Is Not What Fine Looks Like”

Meanwhile, over at the law firm of Hamlin, Hamlin, McGill, Howard and Chuck met with representatives from Santa Rosa, the liability insurance company Jimmy met with two weeks ago and spilled the beans to about Chuck’s condition.

Santa Rosa not only wants to raise Chuck’s premiums, they want to raise premiums on every attorney at HHM. Howard wants a deal, while Chuck wants to sue.

Howard and Chuck meeting with representatives from Santa Rosa.

The threat of a lawsuit sends the Santa Rosa representatives away. But Howard is not through with Chuck. He wants the elder McGill to retire, and it’s not a suggestion. Chuck insists he’s fine, picking up a lamp like the crazed pyscho he is and showing Howard just how “normal” he is now. But Howard insists. Of course, Howard still wants to keep the McGill name on the firm and the money owed Chuck should his name be removed.

“You Think I’m Trouble as Your Partner? Imagine Me as Your Enemy.”

Chuck’s response is to sue Howard and HHM. This discussion was first had in the very first episode of “Better Call Saul” when Jimmy tore up a check Howard sent to Chuck. Jimmy wanted HHM to release Chuck and pay him a third of what the firm was worth. At the time, Chuck was reluctant to do that because it would sink the firm and cost many their jobs.

Now, Chuck has no such issues seeing those people suffer. He’s either going to receive the share Jimmy pushed for back in season 1, or he’s going to sue for it. Chuck also reveals the $8 million (so it’s just 8 million now?) he’s owed is a bill the firm cannot afford to pay.

$1,160,000

Now onto Jimmy’s story, which takes us back to the Sandpiper case that launched Jimmy a stretch as a very successful lawyer.

With all the financial concerns he and Kim are having at Wexler, McGill, Jimmy decides it’s time to push for a settlement in the case so he can go ahead and receive the percentage he’s entitled to.

Jimmy meets with Irene Landry, the old lady whose bills revealed to the younger McGill the corruption at Sandpiper. She reveals (and a little too freely with the legal council she received) that Davis and Mane are advising her not to accept Sandpiper’s current offer. Irene then shows Jimmy (once again Irene, a little too free with sharing the legal council you received) the amount of that offer.

Jimmy does the math in his head and figures out that, if this offer is accepted, he will receive $1,160,000.

“You’ll Get Your Damn Money, You’re Just Going to Have to Wait For It.”

Jimmy’s first attempt to push for a settlement is with Howard. And, well Howard is in no mood to entertain Jimmy in the parking garage of HHM on this day. He dismisses Jimmy’s push for a settlement as nothing more than a selfish action by Jimmy to get his money now. Of course, he’s correct. But did Howard really think he was going to make “Slippin Jimmy” wait for his “damn money?”

“Listen to Your Heart.”

Nothing shows the complete 180 happening to Jimmy McGill like the scam he runs on Irene.

The whole purpose of the Sandpiper case was to target a company that was blatantly taking advantage of the elderly. Yet, here is Jimmy taking advantage of Irene and her trust in him all so he can profit now.

The first part of the scam involves Jimmy joining the ladies of Sandpiper for mall walking. He strikes up a conversation with Irene and gives her a new pair of shoes (the same kind he’s wearing at the moment).

Step 1: Give Irene a brand new pair of walking shoes.

Then, Jimmy starts talking to Irene’s friends at Sandpiper. He sows the seeds of jealousy and resentment, questioning why Irene hasn’t accepted the settlement from Sandpiper. Though Irene is the main party, her decision to accept would benefit all of them. But she must not need the money since she just bought a new pair of shoes (brilliant but so despicable).

Step 2: Convince Irene’s friends that those shoes are a sign she’s holding out on them by not going ahead and settling the Sandpiper case.

All of Irene’s friend turn against her, setting up the last part of Jimmy’s scheme. He creates a set of rigged bingo balls, making them magnetic from the inside. When Irene enters the room to join the game, her friends continue to shun her. So she finds an empty seat in the back. Jimmy preps a new game right after Irene sits down, handing her the card that will win.

Vince Gilligan and crew are brilliant at contrasting moments. It seemed insignificant at first, but a winner was announced and applauded just as Irene sat down. But when Irene is announced as the winner, nobody claps or cheers.

Irene runs out of the room and into the hallway crying. Jimmy goes to comfort her and tells her the reason the ladies are so mad is because she hasn’t agreed to the settlement yet. Then, Jimmy tells her, “Listen to your heart” when Irene asks what she should do.

We don’t see her actually agree to settle. But Jimmy’s celebratory mood when he enters the office of Wexler McGill indicates she did. But Kim is in no mood to celebrate. She has a pressure packed presentation for a new client she rushes off to take care of.

Jimmy runs into the office to celebrate, but Kim is too busy to partake.

“Kevin Sent me a Miracle Worker.”

Season 3 has convinced me that Kim Wexler is the best and hardest working attorney on the show. It’s clear she’s done great work with Mesa Verde. But her solution for her recently added 2nd client is even better.

The man’s name is Rob Gatwood, owner of Gatwood Oil, and he has a pressing tax issue. He’s been pulling oil from both sides of the Texas/New Mexico border, and now both states want to collect taxes from him.

Kim’s solution: push for a payout with one of the states (I’m not sure which one) for diminishing resources instead of paying yearly tax revenue. It is a brilliant solution. The only problem is Kim has two weeks to get it drafted so it can be presented to whatever board needs to hear the presentation.

Kim meets with Rob Gatwood to discuss his tax issue.

“Our Troubles are Over. Come On!!!!

Kim gets the presentation together with no sleep and runs out of the office just as Jimmy declares their troubles are over (more on the irony of this statement later).

Kim is practicing what she’s going to say in her car as she’s surrounded by boxes full of files. Suddenly, her car crashes. Kim fell asleep at the wheel. Her lack of sleep this season finally caught up to her. Kim steps out of the wrecked car holding what appears to be a broken arm and stares at all the paper work spread out on the ground as the episode ends.

Of Note

-So Jimmy declares “Our Troubles are Over” the moment before what is likely the beginning of the end for his relationship with Kim?

-More symbolism from the masters of the art last night as Kim nearly runs her car into an oil rig, a little foreshadowing to her wreck at the end of the show.

-Mike was officially hired by Gus in “Fall.” His contract is for 20 weeks. He also met Lydia, and neither seems to be happy to be working with the other.

Lydia discussing Madrigal, the German company Gus’s chicken/drug empire is under, with Mike.

-The consolidated transportation Gus and Hector “agreed” to several weeks ago has been so successful that Don Eladio wants the arrangement to be permanent.

Gus and Hector listen to an announcement from Don Bolsa regarding the continuing cooperation of their respective drug trades.

-I hated Jimmy for scamming Irene, but the forethought to buy numerous pairs of shoes of all different sizes to insure he would have Irene’s shoe size was brilliant.

-Was anybody out there hoping Erin (Jimmy’s babysitter last season) would appear after Irene referenced her to Jimmy? Really? No One?

-Another nice touch by Jimmy presenting the store bought kitten cookies to Irene as if they were homemade.

-Back in season 1, Jimmy though Chuck’s share of HHM was worth $26 million. But tonight, Chuck revealed it would be worth only $8 million. Has the value of HHM diminished that much since season 1? Or has Howard been keeping the company’s true worth a secret all along?

-More fake confidence from Howard this week. After tearing up a $14,000 check last week, he throws bills at Jimmy like he’s loaded (though we know HHM has some financial problems). And then, he gets a letter from Chuck and assumes the elder McGill has decided to retire. Has Howard yet to learn that nobody ever listens to him or does what he asks on this show?

 

Which teetering relationship is blowing up first next week?

-Kim and Jimmy?

-Howard and Chuck?

-Nacho and the Salamancas?

-Or do they all make it still together to season 4?

I can’t believe the season finale is next week. We’ll see you then.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Better Call Saul Season 3, Episode 8: Slip Recap

Three. Before Monday’s “Slip,” that was the number of episodes left in “Better Call Saul’s” 3rd season. Three was also the number of times I stood up and cheered, one time for each of the three key events that occurred Monday night that pushed our characters closer to their “Breaking Bad” selves.

Now, I didn’t literally jump off my couch and start hollering. The subtle nature of these events didn’t call for that. But each of these moments provided viewers with a genuine satisfaction of seeing key puzzle pieces falling into place and vindicated the pace Gilligan has been using to tell the “BCS” story.

The first event was Jimmy representing a “criminal” client for the first time. No, it wasn’t technically a legal representation. And yes, technically Jimmy did provide legal services to Price last season. But Price does not represent the habitual offender we see Saul working with frequently in “Breaking Bad.”

The next moment, and most tense of the three, was Nacho replacing Hector’s pills. We all know Hector’s bound for that wheelchair. But I was still on the edge of my seat, nervous for Nacho as he worked to save his father from Hector’s clutches.

The third moment was “the handshake” that ended the episode. Of the three, this one seemed the most sudden and rushed. But it was still iconic to see Mike and Gus, two legendary “Breaking Bad” characters, officially form their alliance.

I will analyze each of these landmark moments in more detail in the recap. But let’s start with Kim, another character who had a big night picking up a new client and dropping the mic on her former employer.

“If You Were Hiding That From Your Clients, Howard, Well That’s on You.”

Kim’s episode began with a celebratory drink with Paige and Kevin from Mesa Verde. I keep waiting for the moment when Kim’s relationship with the bank will go sour. But it sure didn’t happen Monday night.

In fact, things are gong so well that Kevin recommends a new client for Kim, Gatwood Oil. Kim is hesitant to take on another client, but she agrees to look at their case and refer them to another law firm.

In the middle of the celebration, Howard walks up and reminds Kim and the folks at Mesa Verde how low on the totem pole she was at HHM.

With Hamlin’s condescending tone fresh on her mind, Kim gets up from the Mesa Verde meeting and hands Howard a check to cover the loan HHM gave her for law school.

But Howard will have none of that. He’s already angry with Kim for exposing Chuck’s “condition” on a public record. Howard is having to work overtime to keep HHM’s current clients on board, and his pride won’t allow him to accept that check. Howard rips it up, but not before Kim correctly points out that Howard should have been informing HHM’s clients about Chuck’s condition all along. At that point, I imagined one of the parking valet’s walking up to Kim and handing her a mic so she could drop it, then spread her arms out scream, “What now Hamlin???”

“My Back Hurts Like Hell and People Suck.”

Meanwhile, Jimmy’s commercial business roles on with another shoot inside “ABQ In-Tune,” the music store that Jimmy shot a free ad for last week. And while Jimmy McGill’s ethics are highly questionable (to put it nicely) most of the time, it may not be as bad as the twins who own the store.

Last week, Jimmy agreed to make a commercial for free for these guys. If it was successful, they would take the deal they reneged on last week.

Well, the commercial was a success, and foot traffic is significantly better this week compared to last week. But once again, the brothers go back on the deal. They think they can just film the commercial themselves and pay for the ad time directly with the network.

Feeling desperate, Jimmy puts a drumstick on the floor when no one is looking. Then, with the camera rolling, Jimmy “trips” and falls (and he did not hold back on the fall).

Now, I don’t know if the twins didn’t have liability insurance (considering how they try to cut cost with Jimmy, this seems likely) or didn’t want to be on the hook for rising premiums once the medical expenses for Jimmy’s fall was paid for. Either way, Jimmy gets them to agree to pay $6500 for 7 commercials.

Jimmy presents the money, and it’s enough to cover six weeks of payment for the office, to Kim while he’s lying on his back playing a guitar he now owns from the “settlement” with the twins. Once again, Kim offers to cover Jimmy’s half so he can get his community service completed. But Jimmy refuses.

Seeing Jimmy on the floor convinces Kim that the soon to be Saul Goodman is having to go through extreme measures to get his end of the bills paid. Feeling she must pull more weight on her end, Kim picks up the phone and calls Gatwood Oil, informing them that she will be taking over as their legal representative.

“Out Here, You Might be the King Douche Nozzle. But in Court, You Are Little People.”

Now, Jimmy’s hurting back is definitely a problem for his next four hour community service stint. But an opening presents itself when Jimmy sees King Douche Nozzle (don’t know what else to call this guy) preventing a guy, Freddy, from leaving community service to go see his sick daughter at the hospital. Jimmy also noticed thousands of dollars in the guy’s socks, so Jimmy offers to get Freddy (a likely drug dealer considering the amount of cash in his sock) out of community service with credit for his full hours if he will pay Jimmy $700.

Freddy and Jimmy discuss a deal.

Jimmy lays down on his back to get Nozzle’s attention. Of course, the king notices and gives Jimmy his opening. Jimmy uses the lawsuit angle (not to sue the state of New Mexico, but to sue Douche Nozzle personally) to get the supervisor to both let Jimmy lay down and let Freddy go to the hospital with a full four hours worked.

Now, I don’t think Jimmy would have been able to deliver in court on everything he told Douche Nozzle he could do. But the key to any slipping Jimmy scheme is to get the target to believe.

Jimmy counts his $700 and looks up at the sky, smiling, feeling way too comfortable in this new element he now finds himself in.

Causing a Stroke, Part 1

Little was said in Nacho’s scenes this week, but some of Michael Mando’s best work on the show so far was in “Slip.”

First, we see Nacho filling the empty pill casings with what looks like crushed up Tylenol. Then, Nacho practices how he’s going to slip those pills in Hector’s coat.

But in order to be able to slip the pills in, the jacket must not be on Hector. So Nacho sneaks up to the roof one night and breaks the air conditioner. Feeling the heat, Hector slips off his jacket and gives Nacho the opportunity he needs.

In a tense, tense, scene, Nacho walks over to Hector under the guise of “this $50 bill looks fake” and “accidentally” drops all the money. While picking up the fallen bills, Nacho snatches Hector’s pill bottles from the coat pocket.

Nacho snatching Hector’s pills from the coat while Hector looks over the $50 bill.

Now, I’m not sure how Hector doesn’t hear the pills being dropped into a bottle. But Nacho takes the real pills out and replaces them with the fakes. Finally, with sweat pouring down my forehead out of fear he will be found out, Nacho makes a perfect toss, putting Hector’s pill bottle back into his coat pocket with the fake pills.

Hector before he tosses the pill bottle back into Hector’s coat.

“I Was Out With My Metal Detector Looking for Arrowheads.”

Though Mike did not appear very often on screen in “Slip,” both moments appear to be significant.

We can’t be sure just how Mike locating the dead body (I’m assuming it’s that good samaritan Hector killed off screen last season) with his metal detector will come into play. But I imagine there will be repercussions for a certain someone who may be having some major medical issues soon.

Mike with the metal detector he used to find the body in the desert.

But even more important was “the handshake.” Now, as I said earlier, this was the only of the three big moments in “Slip” I have any criticism for. The timing, placement, and execution for Jimmy’s conversation with King Nozzle and Nacho’s plot to replace Hector’s pills were both just about perfect. But when did Mike suddenly realize he needed a safe place for $200,000? Maybe it was the conversation with Nacho last week that increased the urgency of this matter. Or maybe I would have felt better about this if Mike had spent a little time two weeks ago contemplating Gus’s previous offer.

I am really nitpicking here. The relationship between Mike and Gus had been established earlier and it was still a great moment. I would just have liked to see these two interact more before their official partnership officially began.

But as it turns out, what ultimately leads Mike to partner with Gus was the previously mentioned need to protect $200,000 in case something does happen to Mike in his battle with Hector. He wants that money to go Stacey and Kaylee, not be swiped by the Salamancas. Gus agrees to hide it in return for Mike working in secret (as Gus wisely points out, they cannot be seen together openly because the Salamanca’s might catch wind of it) for Gus. The two men shake hands, ending the show with the beginning of an epic partnership.

Mike and Gus shake hands at the end of “Slip.”

Of Note

-An interesting flashback started Monday’s episode with Jimmy and Marco breaking into the old store Jimmy’s dad used to run. We are reminded that Jimmy’s dad ended up losing the store because everyone took advantage of how nice he was.

-I also suspect all those coins Jimmy found in that scene will play a part at some point in the “BCS” timeline.

Jimmy hunting down the coins he hid in the ceiling that contains rare and valuable coins as Marco looks on.

-Chuck seems extremely motivated to get back into practicing law. He meets with Dr. Cruz at his home and buys his own groceries for the first time in a long time. But Howard also brought the news regarding Chuck’s rising liability insurance, which figures to play a major part in the final two episodes of the season.

-Paige’s facial expressions seemed to foreshadow to the audience that Kim’s second client will prove detrimental to her current good standing with Kevin and Mesa Verde.

-Howard has been a real enigma on this show. Unlike Chuck, who’s been the clear bad guy since the end of season 1, Howard has gone back and forth between an asshole boss and a fair-minded man to work for. With Kim, he seems to be leaning back into the asshole part of his personality.

-I thought it was nice shot when the camera caught Francesca looking over a magazine instead of doing the legal work Kim had asked her to do.

Just two more episodes left and I expect a couple of situations to really blow up next week. We’ll see you then.