AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 3, Episode 10: “Lantern”
Directed by Peter Gould
Written by Gennifer Hutchison
* For a recap & review of the penultimate Season 3 episode, “Fall” – click here
* For a recap & review of the Season 4 premiere, “Smoke” – click here
We see young Chuck reading to a little Jimmy by light of a lantern, two brothers once so close. It’s like a marker to show us how far Chuck (Michael McKean) and Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) have come, how deeply tarnished their relationship is at this point. A long, brutal journey. I’m also curious as to how long Chuck’s illness has been going on; were they camping, or was it merely how he liked to read, by lantern?
But more important, back to Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn), who’s in rough shape. Alive, though. That’s the main thing. She’s been pulling way too hard for the business and it isn’t a case of she’s working too much, it’s a case of she has to work that much. Because being in a partnership with Jimmy requires you do the extra work.
What about Chuck? He’s in a meeting with Howard (Patrick Fabian) and a bunch of other lawyers. He lays out what he sees as the only options. He doesn’t want to be the “agent of [the firm’s] destruction” and would like to settle things quickly. With only a handshake between Howard and himself. His partner’s not so keen. Feels that Chuck has let the McGill vendetta takeover his better judgement in regards to the firm. Nor does he like that the old guy went straight for a lawsuit against him after a bit of a disagreement. Howard decides on paying Chuck millions out of pocket to resolve their dispute. Followed by a sort of public shaming, masquerading as gratitude.
Jimmy looks after Kim while she recuperates in bed, unable to move much because of her cast and injuries. She replenishes her electrolytes while he cooks breakfast. He lays out his plans about the office, subletting and such. That she may want to work from home. Kim, instead of feeling happy to be alive, feels guilty for driving off the road. Could have killed somebody. Yet again, I have to say: JIMMY’S FAULT! She’s spent her time picking up after him. Sure, she got in the car herself. Doesn’t change the fact he’s put pressure on the business, as Chuck did with his own, due to a personal, family feud. Everything else stems from that.
Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis) goes to the shop owned by Nacho’s (Michael Mando) father, to check out the whole outfit. The don wants to talk with papi, though Nacho is wary. The two men meet, they have a tenuous meeting. Hector pulls out a load of cash like it’s meant to make an impression; Mr. Varga is not impressed. His son urges him to be reasonable. Family is what keeps him from doing anything unwise. Despite his morals.
Note: Juxtaposition of the two different views of family values, from the Varga family to the McGills, is a truly poignant way to set these stories together throughout the various episodes. Makes for a cohesive flow you don’t necessarily see in the beginning, until the plots open up more.
Francesca (Tina Parker) is also taking care of things for Kim, helping out. She’s rescheduled things and made the workload easier during recovery. Kim is finally starting to slow down. She goes to Blockbuster – still open at this point a few years ago – renting a ton of movies. Is she trying to fill up her time and actually rest?
Meanwhile, Jimmy goes to see Chuck, checking to see if he’s all right. Seems he is, as the place is lit up with lamps and music is playing on the record player. The younger brother is feeling guilty about what’s gone on between them. He has regrets about their relationship. The older brother isn’t particularly enthused with any of it. “What‘s the point?” he asks. No reason to regret. He does not believe Jimmy can change: “You hurt people, over and over and over.” Then he drops the bomb that he’s never actually cared much about his younger brother, in one of the MOST COLD HEARTED LINES I’ve heard in my life. Just, whoa. Knocked my socks off.
Later on by himself, the oldest McGill shuts down all the power. Silent admission of his own inability to change, much as he chastises his brother. He thinks there’s still power flowing, even after disconnecting the breaker. He’s going full loony.
Jimmy drops over to see Irene, bringing her balloons and things for her cats. He’s excited about the settlement. It’s clear she doesn’t share that enthusiasm. The other women hate her now, the relationship has changed. His elaborate and nasty plan has ultimately backfired. The old ladies question her integrity; in reality, it his integrity. What a shit person he is, really. Much as I give him a chance, he’s not a good man. What he did to Irene and those ladies is despicable behaviour.
Chuck is going mad trying to find the source of his discomfort, believing the electrical meter to still be turning even after he’s disconnected everything. And it does turn, only a tiny bit. It’s his mind amplifying it to magnified heights. The stress in his life, the relationship with Jimmy, everything is exacerbating the mental illness. So, he keeps searching, he won’t stop. He feels along the walls, looking for wherever the last bits of electricity are pumping. He starts ripping and beating holes in the walls, looking close as humanly possible. Leaving him and the house a wreck. Then he actually beats the meter off the pole outside to make it all stop.
In other news, Nacho meets his crew and Don Hector. They’re meeting Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) and Juan Bolsa (Javier Grajeda), bringing a message from Don Eladio. “Only one route” across the border from now on, via the Los Pollos Hermanos trucks. Hector gets mouthy with them, getting angry. His heart pumping. Leading to an attack. He hits the ground, passing out. Gus has one of the men call 9-11, sending Juan off and the others hiding guns. Nacho manages to get hold of the fake pills, switching them out for the real ones. And Mr. Fring knows exactly what’s happened.
There’s more to that despicable side of Jimmy. He’s in one of the exercise classes with the ladies again, only this time he’s filling in for the instructor. Erin (Jessie Ennis) interrupts, needing to speak with him. She calls him out on what he did, and he doesn’t realise that his headset is on, broadcasting everything to the class. YOU DONE FUCKED UP, JAMES! He comes across as the monster he is, exposing himself unknowingly to the old folks at Sand Piper. Yet it’s all part of his plan, to get Mrs. Landry to go back on the settlement.
Even though he sort of acknowledges his cruelty, he doesn’t actually accept it.
Kim and Jimmy are shutting down the office for good. Gone as far as they can go, and I wonder how far they’ll go together after this moment. She’s so loyal to him. It’s a car crash this time. What will it be next time?
And over at Chuck’s, the old guy has had enough. He’s littered the place with books, torn the place apart. Now he’s kicking his lantern at the edge of the table. Kicking it to the floor where it breaks, starting a fire that lights his home ablaze.
Christ. I wonder if this is the end of Chuck McGill. If, so, a vicious and wild end, a damned awful way to commit suicide.
What a season! They have to go for a Season 4, if not there’s so much wasted. But you know there will be. I want to see the next phase of what happens concerning Fring and Don Hector and Nacho. Plus, we need to see what will become of Chuck! If he dies, this will truly bite at Jimmy’s heart, no matter how heartless he is; it’ll be the final nail in the coffin of his confidence, knowing then he’s someone who’s contributed in the long, terrible downfall of his brother.
Bring on Season 4!