TV REVIEW: ‘Better Call Saul’ – ‘Lantern’

In the Finale, difficult decisions and game-changing twists make for an epic conclusion to the season.

| June 21, 2017

Spoiler Warning for the Season 3 Finale of “Better Call Saul,” as well as all seasons of “Breaking Bad.”

Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill and Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler. (Photo credit: Michele K. Short/Sony Pictures Television/AMC)

Without a doubt, Season 3 is the best season of “Better Call Saul” thus far, managing to place it self on the same level as “Breaking Bad.” The complex characters and their interactions with one another make for some truly compelling storylines and allow for the show’s universe to feel all the more full of life. This season saw the return of several iconic characters while the established players were pushed further than ever before. The finale is both game-changing and powerful, but also places the series at a crossroads; are the characters about to break bad or do they still have more to go through before that happens?

The opening scene of this episode confused the hell out of me and it wasn’t until the episode ended that I fully understood what it was all about. A flashback from Chuck and Jimmy’s childhood is shown and there is a similar relationship that exists between the brothers, but it’s clear that they were far closer to each other then than they are now; the camera focuses in on a gas lantern, chilling use of foreshadowing there. This episode isn’t all about Chuck and Jimmy’s collapsing relationship though; Jimmy is also dealing with the aftermath of Kim’s shocking accident in the previous episode. She’s rushed to the hospital with some cuts and bruises, as well as a fractured arm, but a nurse tells Jimmy that she will be discharged soon. Jimmy is kinda the MVP when it comes to helping Kim this episode, as he assists in her recovery. That being said, Kim isn’t looking for help with everything and that doesn’t surprise me one bit. One of the things that make Kim a favorite of mine is her independence and this episode proves how strong she really is. Still, Francesca shows up with a complete schedule of meetings and other work-related stresses for Kim to get caught up on, but she has different plans in mind. Kim has worked hard and paid for it, so she decides to treat herself to a binge of Blockbuster movies; she has been under an insane amount of stress so she absolutely deserves this.

Michael McKean as Chuck and Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill. (Photo credit: Michele K. Short/Sony Pictures Television/AMC)

As Kim enjoys a day of relaxation, Chuck causes more drama at HHM as he continues to threaten a lawsuit against the company he helped to build. Howard calls Chuck out for being irrational, but ultimately offers to pay him off using his own personal funds. I never expected Howard Hamlin to be the one of the most good-natured people in the series, but here we are. That being said, he does create an awkward and humiliating atmosphere as he announces Chuck’s exit from the company to the entire staff, leading to a painfully long shot of Chuck leaving the building as his co-workers clap and cheer for him. Later, Jimmy stops by Chuck’s house to check on him, but he is completely stunned when he finds out that the home has been returned to some sense of normalcy with appliances and electricity restored; it’s almost like Chuck never had the disorder and he seems completely unaffected. Jimmy seems genuinely upset about what happened between them and essentially apologizes for betraying him, but Chuck doesn’t care about anything and appears completely emotionless; he really proves how terrible of a person he is by telling Jimmy that he never actually cared for him. We’ll talk about Chuck more in a moment, but this gut-wrenching jab at Jimmy is a sign that things aren’t okay and are only getting worse.

I just HAVE to talk about Nacho because he impressed the hell out of me this season, more so than ever before. He isn’t a bad person, but like many other characters in the “BB” universe, he found himself getting involved with bad people to better his own situation/that of his family. We’ve seen Nacho conspiring against Hector, but it really hits a critical point this episode as the evil drug lord pays a visit to Mr. Varga’s shop to get a feel for his newest acquirement. Mr. Varga clearly hates Hector and the fact that his son is involved with him and isn’t afraid to let Salamanca know this. Nacho tries to apologize for his father, but Hector flat out states that he doesn’t trust him; why even bother using the shop if you can’t trust the owner? A meeting between Hector, Gus and Juan Bolsa takes a dramatic turn as the drug smuggling business becomes more complicated; Hector is losing power and he isn’t happy about it, leading to a tense rant that ends in him having a heart attack and quickly taking the pills before collapsing to the ground. The shocking moment comes when Gus saves Hector by performing CPR and demanding that an ambulance be called; just imagine if Gus hadn’t done this, maybe the Season 4 Finale of “Breaking Bad” would have had a different outcome, if you know what I mean. There is some exciting set up for the next season as Gus gives Nacho a look before Hector is loaded into the ambulance; does he know what Nacho has been up to? It certainly seems like he might.

Mark Margolis as Hector Salamanca. (Photo credit: Michele K. Short/Sony Pictures Television/AMC)

There has been a lot of discussion about whether or not Jimmy crossed a line last episode when he manipulated the elderly residents of Sandpiper Crossing; short answer…yes, he did. Seeing heartbroken Ms. Landry being outcast by her friends was enough proof to me that Jimmy selfishness was becoming a problem, but in this episode, he tries to redeem himself. Irene’s friends still don’t want anything to do with her, even as Jimmy pleads for them to forgive her. Instead of sitting all of the ladies down to talk, he concocts another elaborate plan; we all know how much Jimmy loves to make ridiculous plans. While volunteering to teach a yoga class, Jimmy is conveniently called outside by Davis & Main lawyer Erin (Jessie Ennis) to discuss the settlement; Jimmy purposefully speaks into his microphone while revealing his ulterior motives for getting involved with the elderly clients. He shatters his close relationship with his clients at Sandpiper to assure that Irene gets her friends back; Jimmy still does have a heart and while he may act immature at times, he does find himself haunted by his actions. This decision doesn’t go without consequences and Jimmy realizes that his time working in elder law just may be over. Also over is Kim and Jimmy’s time at their office as they decide to find something new; Francesca is let go, but…we all know she will be back, just not as peppy and full of life as before.

I said we would talk about Chuck again because I need to emphasize how INCREDIBLE of a character he is; this season has quickly pushed him up on my list of all-time favorite television characters. Following his unsettling meeting with Jimmy, Chuck completely loses it and literally tears his house apart searching for a single source of electricity that isn’t linked to the main system; he has already unplugged everything in the house and won’t rest until there is no electricity whatsoever. The powerful cinematography of Chuck using a variety of tools to anxiously break down his walls adds to the greatest of these scenes. He’s not well and even though Chuck is a piece of shit to nearly every person he comes across, I can’t help but feel bad for him. He does have a point about Jimmy not always being sincere, but ultimately Chuck is a sick man who isn’t content with the imperfections of others. This culminates into the major cliffhanger of the season as Chuck sits silently in his destroyed living room, repeatedly kicking a gas lantern before it falls to the ground and ignites a fire. Did Chuck actually just commit suicide? Is he dead or will he survive the fire? How will Jimmy react if Chuck is actually dead? While the demise of Chuck seems like natural story progression, part of me really hopes that he lived so we can witness more of Michael McKean’s genius performances.

Season 3 of “Better Call Saul” is prime television and really can’t be described with a single word. Each of the characters are complex and entertaining to watch, in part to the writing and performances, but also out of the desire of the viewer to see how they link up to “Breaking Bad,” if at all. That isn’t to say that this series is only gripping to watch because of its endgame; “Better Call Saul” absolutely stands as its own show and could definitely be enjoyed without the sister show to be compared to. This conclusion episode perfectly wraps up many of this season’s stories while setting everything up for the next set of episodes. Across the board, the performances have blown me away with Bob Odenkirk, Rhea Seehorn, Jonathan Banks and Michael McKean standing out as Jimmy, Kim, Mike and Chuck, respectively. My theory about Kim didn’t come true this season, but I do still believe that her end is near. What will Season 4 hold? That question will be answered sometime in 2018 when “Better Call Saul” returns.

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Category:Arts and Entertainment, Television

Jeffrey Kopp is the Arts & Entertainment Editor of the Niner Times. He is a sophomore double majoring in Communication and Political Science, with a minor in Criminal Justice. His interests include writing and keeping up with an excessive amount of television shows. He is also the go-to expert on all things “The Walking Dead.”

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Jeffrey Kopp is the Arts & Entertainment Editor of the Niner Times. He is a sophomore double majoring in Communication and Political Science, with a minor in Criminal Justice. His interests include writing and keeping up with an excessive amount of television shows. He is also the go-to expert on all things “The Walking Dead.”

Twitter