This Better Call Saul review contains spoilers.
Better Call Saul Season 3 Episode 9
The conversations surrounding the latest season of Better Call Saul seem focused on Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould’s decision to present the season’s most climactic moment, the hearing between brothers Jimmy and Chuck, in episode five. By getting to the point early with the battle between the McGills, the latter half of the season has been searching for a plotline to take center stage. Jimmy adjusting to life away from being a lawyer hasn’t been meaningless, but it did seem like we were waiting for something new to suck Jimmy into its orbit. This week, it appears like the writers have found that next thing, and they’ve found it by going back to Better Call Saul’s beginnings.
The Sandpiper Crossing case from Season 1 returns in a big way this week when Jimmy visits one of his old clients, Irene Landry, the class representative for the case, to find out the details of the settlement. Due to the deal Jimmy made with HHM and Davis and Main, he’s entitled to 20 percent of the settlement, or as he learns from Irere, $1,600,000 if the case were to be settled now. Irene’s lack of legal knowledge coupled with the involved firms’ desire to draw the proceedings out for more money means that a settlement has yet to be reached.
Knowing that he could be in for a big pay day, Jimmy goes to Hamlin to try and convince him to settle the case. Jimmy claims that he’s only interested in the Sandpiper residents getting the money that they deserve while they can enjoy it, but Hamlin sees right through him. Hamlin knows that Jimmy is desperate for a payday, and even though he could sabotage the case so that Hamlin would be forced to settle, that would mean jeopardizing his own payout. Left with few options, Jimmy decides that he needs to convince Irene to go against the advice of her lawyers and sign the settlement.
Donning his Matlock suit and Marco’s ring, Jimmy begins laying down a dastardly con, even by his standards. By giving Irene a fancy new pair of shoes, Jimmy convinces the other Sandpiper ladies that Irene is flushed with cash and ignoring their needs by not taking the settlement. To make Irene a social pariah, Jimmy goes as far as rigging Bingo. It’d be sad if it wasn’t so funny in Saul’s slimy, signature way. Jimmy is so desperate to solve his financial woes and manufacture a happy ending for himself and Kim that he’s willing to seriously hurt and manipulate an old woman’s feelings. Jimmy is a lot of things, but damn if he isn’t tenacious.
Speaking of tenacious, it must run in the family, because Chuck displays some staunch persistence himself. When Chuck’s condition threatens to drastically inflate the price of malpractice insurance for HHM, Hamlin finally cracks. He requests, then firmly demands, that Chuck step away from the firm due to his deteriorating mental health and judgement. Frankly, it’s impressive that Hamlin has accommodated Chuck for this long, but that doesn’t matter to Chuck; he takes the Hamlin’s request as a serious insult and storms out of the office. Later, Hamlin receives notice that Chuck will be suing the firm for his stake of the company. Rather than accept the realities of his condition, even if he’s learning to manage it, Chuck would rather tear down the firm he built in prideful, stubborn contempt.
Meanwhile, things are getting serious for Nacho. Hector almost has a health scare while receiving disappointing news, but nothing fatal occurs, and it’s now a near certainty that Hector will be looking to use Nacho’s father’s business as a front. A tearful Nacho must confess his connection to the Salamancas to his dad. He repeatedly begs his father to follow Hector’s orders and assures him that the arrangement will only last a short time, but Nacho’s father is disgusted and asks him to leave their home. It’s another standout performance for Michael Mondo as Nacho, who’s having a break-out year just like Rhea Seehorn had last season.
While we’re on the topic of Seehorn, Kim has a terrifying wakeup call this week. Taking on Billy Gatwood as a client, Kim wears herself thinner than ever, stressed and over-tired. When Jimmy comes back to their shared office triumphant after duping Irene, Kim can’t be bothered by his desire to celebrate. She barely looks up from her work and blows right out the door before Jimmy can even get upset about the way she’s treating him. It would appear that the two would end up coming to blows next week, but Jimmy will be too worried about Kim to get angry. The concern will be over Kim’s injuries, after she falls asleep at the wheel on her way to meet Gatwood and crashes her car. The editing of this scene is excellent and jarring, even if the moment did seem a tad predictable.
Lastly, Mike meets with Lydia at Madrigal about laundering his money. Playing the big shot, Lydia assures Mike that his money on the books will be just a blip on Madrigal’s massive radar. Still, Mike doesn’t feel too comfortable even as Lydia talks up Gus and their operation. It’s the beginning of what is sure to be an uneasy working relationship, as Mike’s demeanor towards Lydia in Breaking Bad alluded to a messy, untrusting relationship.
Besides Kim having to face the fact that her unhealthy work habits stem from her feelings of guilt toward Chuck’s hearing, I’m unsure what next week’s finale will hold for our characters. Will Jimmy get his payday? Will Chuck follow through on his threats of litigation? Will Nacho’s pill swap work out or come back to bite him? And what will Gus task Mike with first? All tantalizing questions, but even if they’re not answered, this will still be considered an brilliant third season of a truly remarkable series.