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‘Better Call Saul’ Recap: “Chicanery”

Cameron Lee ’20 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Spoiler Alert: This recap contains spoilers for season 3 episode 5 of Better Call Saul 

Jimmy’s (Bob Odenkirk) and Chuck’s (Michael McKean) relationship has been the crux of this whole series since the latter half of season one. This episode in some ways concluded this running storyline in a heartbreaking and painful manner but also opened the door for Better Call Saul to perhaps go into a new direction; all of this in one of Better Call Saul’s finest hours yet.

We begin with a flashback: Chuck is trying to reconcile his relationship with his ex-wife, Rebecca (Ann Cusack). He invites her to his house for dinner and Jimmy is there to help him out. The flashback confirms that the Chuck and Rebecca divorce was amicable and that Rebecca was unaware of Chuck’s illnesses as shown clearly in the flashback. The date goes well until Rebecca takes out her cell phone to answer a call. Chuck’s electrical hypersensitivity starts to kick in and Jimmy tries to tell Rebecca to hang up but the damage is already done. Chuck throws Rebecca’s phone away and gives her a rather poor excuse for doing so. The date is ruined and Rebecca takes a cab home.

Back in the present, Jimmy meets up with Dr. Caldera, the man who handles his dealings with Mike, to ask him for someone “with a light touch” to do a job for him. Kim (Rhea Seehorn) meanwhile comes out of a successful hearing regarding the Mesa Verde case. She tells her clients the situation regarding Chuck and Jimmy but they brush off the allegations claiming that Chuck just doesn’t admit to being wrong about something. Howard (Patrick Fabian) consults with Chuck about the idea of Chuck not testifying in court as they already have a solid case against Jimmy and he risks ruining their firm’s reputation, but Chuck turns down the idea. The rest of the episode is just the hearing; we don’t check on Mike’s story line with Gus at all in this episode. This episode, however, benefits tremendously by focusing on this event.                 

Kim and the bar’s attorney make their opening statements. Chuck arrives and bumps into a familiar face on the way to the hearing room: it’s Huell. Jimmy’s confession tape is played in its entirety; after that Howard is up to testify first. After Kim is done questioning Howard, the panel requests that all the lights be turned off and all electronics must be removed from the room. Chuck then enters the room and this is where the climax of the whole episode begins. Chuck begins to testify but is distracted when Rebecca enters the hearing room. Chuck asks for a break and goes to greet Rebecca where she explains that Jimmy called her up and told her about his electrical hypersensitivity and is here to support him. Chuck doesn’t believe her thinking that it’s just Jimmy trying to set him off.

Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn in ‘Better Call Saul’. Photo courtesy of AMC.

The hearing resumes and Jimmy begins to question Chuck about his condition. Jimmy asks Chuck to identify the nearest source of electricity which is his cell phone. Chuck calls him out and says that Jimmy had removed the battery, so there’s no actual electric current. Chuck is surprised to find out, however, that his pocket has a full battery in it and drops it to the ground. Jimmy reveals that Huell planted it on Chuck when he was arriving and also that Chuck has not been affected by this at all even though he claims that he can tell when he gets sick. Chuck then snaps and loses control giving a rage-filled monologue as the camera brilliantly slowly moves closer to him. He says, “I took him into my own firm! What was I thinking? He’ll never change. He’ll never change! Ever since he was nine, always the same! Couldn’t keep his hands out of the cash drawer! ‘But not our Jimmy! Couldn’t be precious Jimmy!’ Stealing them blind! And he gets to be lawyer?! What a sick joke! I should have stopped him when I had the chance.”

Chuck looks around and sees everyone shocked by what he just said. Rebecca is crying next to Howard who looks defeated and stunned. Chuck apologies for the outburst, but it’s all over and Chucks knows it. The camera slowly zooms out to a bright neon exit sign and the episode cuts to black.

Episode Grade: A

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