The relationship between Jimmy and Chuck has been on shaky ground for a while. Ever since the reveal in the first season of Better Call Saul that Chuck had used his influence at HHM to keep Jimmy from getting hired there, the two have been engaged in a kind of passive-aggressive lambada, with each doing his own little things to try to prove himself right and the other wrong. If anyone has been the aggressor in this, it’s been Chuck, because — as he claims — he’s terrified of what his brother could become with the power of a law license. And their personal history appears to back him up there (uh, as does the future we know is coming), especially the things we’ve learned about Chuck saving Jimmy after the Chicago Sunroof incident and Jimmy taking liberties with the funds of his father’s store.
But still, even with all that going on, it never really felt like either of them crossed a line they couldn’t come back from until last night. Jimmy always seemed to at least understand Chuck’s concerns about him, even if he disagreed with them, but Chuck going after Kim was a bridge too far. (We all realized Kim was hosed as soon as she said the paperwork hadn’t been signed, yes? Always bring the papers with you. All of the papers. Two briefcases full, if necessary. To be safe.) And it wasn’t just the fact that Chuck did it, either. It was the way he did it. I think Jimmy probably expected Chuck to help Howard try to retain Mesa Verde in some way. What I think really hurt him was the lengths Chuck went to, putting himself in great physical harm — real or imagined — just to be sure the hammer would fall on Kim.
Which brings us to Jimmy’s betrayal. We tend to root for Jimmy because we like him and he’s funny and he’s still the plucky upstart of the New Mexico legal community, but let’s really look at what he did here, from the view of an impartial observer: He stole legal documents from his ill and incapacitated brother, for whom he had been the primary caretaker for years, and ran off in the middle of the night to falsify and forge them for the purpose of stealing business from his brother’s firm to help his girlfriend. Now, again, we know there’s more history there than that, and we know that one brother has called the other “a chimp with a machine gun,” but even a semi-competent district attorney could have a field day with that set of facts, should it ever come to that.
As far as where we go from here… man, I do not know. Both brothers just inflicted about the deepest cut possible on each other. Chuck went after Jimmy’s beloved Kim, and Jimmy made a mockery of Chuck’s beloved legal ethics. One imagines this will not end very well for at least one of them.
Meanwhile, hey look, Mike picked up a hobby! Sure, most people his age who retire and move from Philly to the Southwest spend their time puttering around some retirement community, but Mike doesn’t seem like someone who would enjoy that. (Picture Mike golfing.) So instead, he went with something a little more active: surveillance on a border-crossing drug smuggling operation. It’s just good to get outside, you know?
As we’ve discussed before, Better Call Saul has almost been two different shows this season: There’s the legal dramedy starring Jimmy and Kim, and then there’s the more serious, more proper Breaking Bad prequel — both in tone and in the way it’s been running familiar characters in and out — starring Mike. After this week’s episode, and partially inspired by last week’s funky montage set to “Scorpio,” I’m starting to wonder if Mike’s not actually starring in some kind of ’70s detective series. Someone please set a supercut of Mike highlights to the Rockford Files theme. It’s the only way to be sure.
Odds and ends:
– Really great thumbs-up moment in last night’s episode, which I have helpfully GIFed above. The double barrel! I mean, at best, it’s still only the second-best thumbs-up from television in 2016, because I really don’t see how this or anything else can top Travolta’s thumbs-up on American Crime Story. That was a thing of beauty.
– I really appreciate Better Call Saul‘s ongoing commitment to montages. We’ve now had three episodes in a row with a really good one. We had Kim calling clients, Jimmy getting fired, and now Jimmy doing some forgery. I hope next week Jimmy and Kim go to Beverly Hills and they do a fancy shopping montage on Rodeo Drive, like in a movie from the early ’90s.
– Real whirlwind of emotions from Howard, swinging from being pissed at Kim because he thought she was leaving for Schweikart, to envious of her for going solo, to full-on shark mode trying to nail down Mesa Verde before she even got past his secretary.
– How cool was that long single shot opening at the border stop? It turns out the whole thing was a tribute to the film Touch of Evil, too. Alan Sepinwall at HitFix has more background on it all, which is definitely worth checking out.
– The whole bit with Fudge the Fake War Hero was a blast, but I’d like to mostly focus on the fact that Jimmy’s film nerds have used Dolly shots in both of his commercials, and they’ve used a wheelchair and an electric chair lift to generate them. That’s ingenuity!