Better Call Saul wrapped up its excellent third season with a sad, informative, very Breaking Bad-y finale. Lots of things were in motion heading in, between the Jimmy/Kim stuff and the Jimmy/Chuck stuff and the Chuck/Howard stuff and the Nacho/Hector stuff and the Hector/Gus stuff and the Gus/Mike stuff and the… there was just a lot of stuff. Good stuff, all of it, most of it even great. But a lot. The season finale teased out solutions — some temporary, for obvious prequel-y reason — to at least a few of those, and it definitely delivered. Better Call Saul remains a very good show.
As with any good show, though, and especially one that still has a season or two left in the tank (hopefully), those solutions led to more questions about where things go from the end of the episode. Here are six of those questions.
Is Chuck dead?
I mean, probably, right? Between the finality of his breakdown (his feeling that he’ll never be free of his illness, no matter how many holes he punches in the wall) and the fact that he unplugged the phone and put it away, it sure looks like Chuck knew what he was doing and is not in a place where he wants to be saved.
And if that was indeed the end for Chuck, they were setting it up all episode. The truth, whether or not you believe Chuck’s statement about Jimmy not meaning much to him, is that the thing that mattered most to him was the law and the sense of purpose that being The Chuck McGill, big-time respected lawyer, provided. That’s what his lawsuit against HHM was about. If Howard wanted to cut him loose, then Chuck was going to flex his muscles in a show of “king of the jungle” strength. He never really wanted to sue the firm. He just wanted everyone to know he was still a force to be reckoned with, and to be taken back in and given back his throne.
But once he realized the lengths Howard would go to in order to push him out (using personal money and taking out loans to protect the firm), he shattered into a million pieces. I’m still not sure if that realization was a simple “I’ve been cornered and I lost” or if it was a full-on, come-to-Jesus awakening that his protege had lost so much respect for him that the danger of personal financial ruin was worth it to get him as far away from the firm as possible. Maybe a little of both. Whatever it was, his face in that moment spoke volumes.
When Jimmy came in to check on him and offer what amounted to a partial admission of guilt more than an “apology” (to be fair, this is all either of them deserved at this point), that was the Chuck he was seeing, not the one he thought he saw, who was “doing better.” Chuck’s string of hurtful comments — while both true in the moment and accurate going forward — came from a place of fear and exhaustion as much as they did from a place of anger. He did care for Jimmy once, as we saw from the opening segment in the tent, and I think he still cared for him even recently as a protective older brother (although, if we’re being less charitable, we could chalk that up to his savior complex), but in that moment in the end, I don’t think he cared much for anything.
We always knew Chuck had a limited shelf-life in the Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul universe. There were times many of us were itching for his demise, because he was set-up as the villain foiling all of Jimmy’s plans. But man, what a brutal ending, especially the long, extended, futile search for the source of electricity, which was as hard to watch as any of the most devastating scenes from Breaking Bad. And the saddest part of it all is that the line he used to cut Jimmy — ““In the end, you’re going to hurt everyone around you. You can’t help it. So stop apologizing and accept it, embrace it.” — ended up applying just as much to him.