Spoiler Warning for Season 3, Episode 5 of “Better Call Saul,” as well as all seasons of “Breaking Bad.”
There is just something about a crazy family rivalry, specifically two lawyer brothers, that makes for some truly great television. In each of my previous reviews for this series, I have stated just how much I dislike Chuck as a person, mostly due to his treatment of others. That being said, the slow-building conflict that has been developing between Chuck and Jimmy has been damn near perfect, definitely helping to evolve Jimmy into Saul. While the last episode placed the focus on Gus, this hour is all about the mess that Jimmy is in, but of course, his cleverness leads him to a way out.
Looking back at the second season, you might remember the character of Rebecca (Ann Cusack), Chuck’s ex-wife. This episode opens up with a flashback to a dinner date between Chuck and Rebecca sometime after the divorce, but more importantly, after Chuck came down with his hypersensitivity disorder. Before the dinner, Jimmy helps Chuck to clean up the house and make it appear more “normal” with appliances and less “Chuck-ness;” still, the lights must remain off to keep Chuck comfortable. He flat out lies to Rebecca when she arrives, but their dinner goes fairly well. That is until Rebecca receives a cell phone call and steps out of the room to talk, triggering Chuck to have a breakdown; he panics before grabbing the phone from Rebecca and throwing it across the room, stating that it is rude to speak on the phone around others. So you just ripped someone’s phone from their hands, but they’re the rude one? Whatever, Chuck.
Chuck’s antics put Kim’s future at risk as she decides to warn the Mesa Verde folks that there may be some negative PR about her and the company soon. They don’t seem too worried, but I sure am; the way things are going, I wouldn’t be surprised if everything falls back on her. Across town, Jimmy meets with sleazy veterinarian Dr. Caldera (Joe DeRosa) to recruit some help for Jimmy’s plot; there is also a humorous PSA about the importance of having an adequate tank for goldfish. As everyone makes their final preparations for the hearing, there is a growing sense of tension. Jimmy’s future as a lawyer hangs in the balance and no one knows exactly what is going to happen.
As the hearing is underway, Kim does a decent job at defending Jimmy, but it is clear…Chuck came prepared and the council isn’t all that interested in anything; as a witness, Howard explains exactly what he saw when Jimmy stormed into Chuck’s house. Against Kim’s wishes, the cassette tape is played in the hearing and things aren’t looking all that great for Jimmy. That is until Francesca tells Jimmy that their special guest will be arriving soon, but is running late due to a flight delay. As Chuck arrives to testify, the entire courtroom is darkened and all electronic devices are removed, except for two exit signs, because well…fire code. There’s a brief scene that shows Chuck running into a mysterious man that “Breaking Bad” fans will recognize as Huell Babineaux (Lavell Crawford), also known Saul’s lovable and loyal bodyguard. As Chuck takes the stand, he begins spewing out his bullshit until another surprise guest arrives. It’s Rebecca and Chuck is SHOOK.
Now this is where the trickery begins. Jimmy takes Chuck through an excruciatingly long discussion of the hypersensitivity disorder to show the council exactly what he is dealing with. There is also some testimony about Chuck’s insane house with Jimmy highlighting the fact that there is nothing normal about the way his brother lives. Obviously the council sternly tells Jimmy to stay on topic and he finally gets to his point when he asks Chuck to reach into his pocket. Chuck pulls out a cell phone battery which was strategically planted by Huell over an hour ago. Chuck was not bothered by this electronic device and Jimmy has just exposed him. Chuck goes on a rant about how ridiculous Jimmy is, but the damage is done. The council has clear evidence that Chuck has been lying about his disease and the audience is let in on this big secret. Once again, Chuck is SHOOK.
This episode is very focused, deciding to spend time with Jimmy and Chuck while the story of Mike and Gus is put on pause. Seeing two brothers in such a tense standoff makes all of the build up from the past two and a half seasons all the more special. Bob Odenkirk and Michael McKean really shine in this episode and I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the episode that they submit for Emmy consideration. I am continually impressed at this show’s ability to tell such a fresh and unpredictable story set in such a familiar world. At this midpoint, the conflict between Jimmy and Mike seems to have hit its climax and it will be interesting to see the aftermath of this altercation. Will Jimmy completely turn his back on Chuck? Be sure to tune into “Better Call Saul” next Monday at 10 p.m. on AMC.