This Better Call Saul review contains spoilers.
Better Call Saul Season 3 Episode 6
After last week’s stellar and dramatic hearing in front of the New Mexico State Bar, Better Call Saul spends this week reshuffling its deck. The battle between the Brothers McGill propelled the first half of the season, and its fallout now finds both Jimmy and Chuck searching for what comes next. In the long run, the professional stakes for Jimmy, being suspended for 12 months from practicing law, are not as important as the personal toll that the trial’s results will have not only on his and his brother’s relationship, but on Chuck’s mental health.
Being embarrassed in a room full of his peers and Rebecca, having the illusion of his illness shattered right in front of his eyes, may have been more impactful to Chuck than him not seeing Jimmy get the book thrown at him. Seeing him lifeless and defeated, it was easy to assume that Chuck was just being dramatic about Jimmy’s lenient punishment, but then we see Chuck testing his faculties by clutching a battery, the very same electronic component that made him look foolish at the hearing. Afterwards, Chuck ventures out into the neon-lit streets of Albuquerque to use a payphone to call Dr. Cruz, the physician that had insisted that Chuck’s condition was psychosomatic. Even though he technically didn’t lose his case, it appears that his experience at the hearing has made Chuck seriously consider the possibility that he may be having a mental breakdown. The revelation might be inspired by circumstances that Chuck sees as less than ideal, but it’s still a step in the right direction.
Meanwhile, Jimmy has to figure out exactly how he’ll spend the next 12 months away from the law. Initially, Jimmy celebrates the results of the hearing by popping champagne, but Kim quickly brings Jimmy back down to earth, asking him how he plans to alert his clients and pay the rent on their now impractical office space. After individually calling each of his clients and delivering a slightly different story each time as to why he is disappearing for a year, Jimmy’s next order of business is canceling the airing of his commercials. Not willing to surrender the four grand he spent on the ad space, yet unable to resell the time, Jimmy decides to make a foray in the advertising business. Using his commercial team and his natural charisma, Jimmy makes a commercial selling his services as an ad director who includes the ad time for free as a loophole. Thus, Saul Goodman, ad man extraordinaire, is born.
The birth of the Saul Goodman name feels a little anti-climactic. It plays out just like a lot of natural prequel problems; the anticipation of this major event for fans would logically lead to a letdown if the reveal wasn’t grand enough. It’s not the only prequel silliness we get in the episode. As excited as I was to see the introduction of the twitchy, business savvy Lydia Rodarte-Quayle, I’m not sure I need to see her and Gus buy the laundromat that will eventually house Walt’s super lab. I guess what I’m saying is not every rock needs overturned. Are we going to get to see a young Combo get his nickname after enjoying a big bag of pizza-flavored Combos?
I’d rather spend time with the characters whose lives aren’t already mapped out by Breaking Bad. That’s why I was happy to see more of Nacho this week. I’m interested in him solely because I don’t know how his story will end. We get to see Nacho living almost a dual life, a hardened gangster by day and a hardworking, devoted son at his father’s furniture store at night. Late in the episode, Nacho is put in the uncomfortable position of Hector asking to use his father’s business as a front for drugs, something that makes Nacho visibly uncomfortable. It’s during this scene that we finally notice the early signs of Hector’s ailing health and Nacho notices too, taking a particular interest in the medicine that Hector drops on the ground. Nacho covers up the pill with his foot so Hector doesn’t notice it and so he can get a closer look. Maybe now that Hector is crossing the line and putting Nacho’s family in danger, Nacho will make a move to sabotage his health further. We already saw him turn on Tuco, what’s stopping him from secretly going after Hector?
This was certainly a slower episode, but one that seems to set up the remainder of this season’s episodes. It will be fun to see if Jimmy will get carried away in his new identity and role as an ad man and there’s new interesting angles developing in the battle between Hector and Gus. Also, just like Nacho, we have no idea just how Chuck’s story will end. Chuck coming to grips with his mental health has a ton dramatic storytelling potential and a cured Chuck could be a hell of an enemy for Jimmy. Regardless of what the future holds, Better Call Saul continues to be an expertly made treat even when it’s light on the action.