This Better Call Saul review contains spoilers.
Better Call Saul Season 3 Episode 8
It’s been hinted at before, but Jimmy McGill’s conning ways seem to stem from Daddy issues. Afraid of ending up like his father, a hardworking, decent, well-liked man who fell victim to the schemes of others because of his “soft touch,” Jimmy prefers to exploit every advantage that’s handed to him. Jimmy’s father “wouldn’t do what he had to do” to be successful, and Jimmy’s not going to make the same mistake. Somehow, Jimmy has allowed himself to sink lower than his life in the back of the nail salon, all because he was duped by his brother while acting well-meaning. Now he won’t make that mistake again.
After a cold open set during the Slippin’ Jimmy days, Jimmy resorts to his old routine. The owners of the music store decide to renege on their verbal agreement about buying Jimmy’s commercial services, and unable to suffer another setback, Jimmy utilizes a loose drum stick to discover if the twins have solid liability insurance. The spill works and Jimmy is even able to score that coveted Ritchie Blackmore guitar, but ol’Jimmy’s body doesn’t seem cut out to handle the bumps these days. Steadfast and stubborn about paying his share of the rent, and no longer needing to cut commercials, Jimmy’s next mark falls right into his lap.
While doing community service, Jimmy witnesses a fellow laborer get shut down by the mean supervisor when he asks to cut out early to visit his sick kid. Jimmy sees right through the guy’s fake sob story, pinning him as a drug dealer, but he tells him that he’ll make the supervisor change his mind for $700. Suspicious but desperate, the guy takes the deal and Jimmy begins to work his magic like a more self-serving version of Robin Hood. Threatening the schlubby supervisor with a litany of lawsuits, Jimmy is able to free the drug dealer from his duties for the day and even score some time to rest his back. Using legal mumbo jumbo to help a criminal out of a tough spot sounds like this lawyer I know. If I didn’t know better, I’d say we just watched Saul Goodman take his first case.
Meanwhile, Nacho finally makes a desperate move to protect his family against Hector Salamanca. From creating the fake pills to practicing the bait and switch to tactically disabling the air conditioning, every step of Nacho’s plan is meticulously thought out. He’d make Mike proud. However, the swap itself is so tense. Everything goes according to plan, but the scene is shot with maximum dramatic effect, so suspenseful that the audience’s heartbeat syncs with Nacho’s shaking hand. Alas, knowing this show, there’s no way it can be that easy.
Speaking of easy, both Kim and Chuck appear to glide through this episode with ease. Kim almost lets herself get bent out of shape about Hamlin passive aggressively holding his generosity over her head, but she fires right back at him, cutting him a check for her law school tuition and forcing him to consider his role in Chuck’s courtroom embarrassment. Feeling powerful and competent, Kim decides to take on another client. The decision is also motivated by her pity for Jimmy. Professionally, things are going swimmingly for Kim, but she won’t be able to ignore Jimmy falling into his old ways for too long.
Personally, Chuck is making just as big of strides. After calling Dr. Cruz, he’s begun an intensive therapy program to rid himself of his “electro-magnetic hypersensitivity.” The most impressive part is that he’s finally acknowledged that his condition could be psychosomatic and he feels guilt about not accepting that possibility earlier. Besides a moment in the freezer aisle at the supermarket, Chuck is taking big steps toward recovery. He’s full of positive energy and setting goals about getting his home in order, kickstarting his social life, and returning to work. Unfortunately, Chuck’s professional designs are about to take a hit as we hear Hamlin begin to tell him about the situation with his malpractice insurance.
Finally, after discovering a body while doing some literal digging on the Salamanca’s operation, Mike begins to consider his own mortality. Holding money that he couldn’t possibly spend and determined to leave it to his family should something happen to him, Mike realizes he’ll need some help if he’s going to secure his family’s nest-egg. Turning to the most professional and reasonable criminal that he knows, Mike officially goes into business with Gus. It’s a handshake that ties them together and seals their Breaking Bad fate, a moment with such gravitas that the episode decides to end on that note.
This week, all of our characters decided to make important decisions for their own well-being, but it won’t work out for all of them. In Jimmy’s case, it likely does mean the beginning of a transformation, but one that’s sure to drive Kim away. Only two episodes of this incredible season of Better Call Saul remain and I’d wager we’re not heading for a happy ending.