AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 3, Episode 5: “Chicanery”
Directed by Daniel Sackheim
Written by Gordon Smith
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Sabrosito” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Off Brand” – click here
In a flashback, we see Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) helping older brother Chuck (Michael McKean) settle. Things were obviously in turmoil for the guy at that point. A fine chef, though. He’s having Rebecca (Ann Cusack) for supper, Jimmy, as well. And we see that he hasn’t exactly told EVERYBODY about his issues with electricity.
After supper Rebecca and Chuck talk of Jimmy’s success as a lawyer, then what she’s been up to, jet setting and all. They seem to do well talking together. The younger of the brothers watches on with a sad yet loving looking.
Then we see Chuck start to lose it as her cell goes off, nearly passing out as she gets closer. He tosses the thing across the room. But still can’t admit to his illness. This is the reason Jimmy looks at his brother with those eyes.
Jimmy’s at the vet with a fish, meeting that greasy animal doctor. He’s looking for a “light touch” to help him out with a discrete job. And so the story goes. Meanwhile, Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) is out kicking ass for her clients at Mesa Verde, as usual. Although she has to tell them about the allegations Chuck’s made against Jimmy. They don’t let it drive them away, which is great for Kim. But somewhere down the line she is going to get screwed over so hard. I just know that, sadly.
Readying themselves for Chuck’s testimony everybody is doing what they can to limit his exposure to electrical sources. Particularly, Howard (Patrick Fabian) is doubting his old pal/partner’s usefulness, effectively blaming him for what his brother did; in terms of PR, anyways.
So the legal battle truly begins for Jimmy and Kim. While the older brother goes hard for a disbarment, Kim hopes to do her usual good work for the youngest McGill. She argues that the case is more about a strained personal relationship and Jimmy deserves to remain a lawyer, that he is “an asset” in fact to the community. The testimonies begin with Howard, who gives his account. Then faces Kim in cross examination, as she gets him to eventually show a bias, the relationship between Chuck and Jimmy.
Then comes the tape. But Jimmy stalls the court before it can be played. Only for so long. Everybody hears what he admitted to his brother.
Chuck: “I love my brother, but Ted Kaczynski‘s brother loved him, too.”
The court has to prepare for Chuck’s illness. Cellphones are confiscated. Lights are turned off, clocks taken from the walls. The whole nine yards; except for Jimmy, who says he left his in the car (yeah, right). On the way inside Chuck bumps into a man – a familiar face from Breaking Bad, Huell (Lavell Crawford). Hmm, interesting! And a little bit of an origin as to how he came to work with Jimmy, the man who becomes Saul Goodman.
So Chuck starts telling the court all about his little brother, the tape, so on. He paints himself as some grand investigator, and then feigns love for Jimmy, blah, blah. On cross examination, suddenly Rebecca appears in the back of the room. Chuck needs a break then. The two of them talk. She’s surprised about the illness, him keeping it secret.
When cross examination continues Jimmy takes the lead. He asks about the recorder, how Chuck handled it with his sensitivities to electricity; involved using space blankets and all that jazz. All getting around to Chuck using his illness to lure his brother. Then he breaks out the pictures Mike (Jonathan Banks) took at the older McGill’s home, to show how far his illness has gone.
Jimmy: “You need to see Chuck through my eyes”
This gets them into questions about when the illness first started – the divorce, et cetera. Chuck acts calm and measured, not freaking out like his brother might’ve hoped. Jimmy gets onto the electrical sensitivity, motioning for his secretary – she has Huell come into the court. He’s planted something on Chuck, revealed after Jimmy pulls a little parlour trick to snag him. Chuck spent an hour and a half with a cellphone battery against his chest in a breast pocket.
Prompting an outburst that shows exactly how badly the older brother hates the little one. Finally. An ugly moment for all to see.
What a spectacular episode! In the top three of the series as a whole, absolutely. With no doubt. Loved this, so personal and so intense. Just impressive work.
Next week is “Off Brand” and I’m thinking we’ll see more of Gus Fring, too.