Better Call Saul Recap: Esteem Issues

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Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy. Photo: Michele K. Short/AMC/Sony Pictures Television
Better Call Saul

Better Call Saul

Expenses Season 3 Episode 7
Editor's Rating 4 stars

Kim can’t shake what she and Jimmy did to Chuck. As she puts it to Paige, who’s surprisingly callous about the whole ordeal, “As far as I’m concerned, all we did was tear down a sick man.” All Jimmy can do is urge her to put the old man behind them and make a fresh start. It parallels the advice Howard gave to Chuck last week. Though as we know, that wisdom went for naught, as Chuck is hell-bent on regaining his state of mind in order to better undo his brother. What he’s not counting on is the degree to which Jimmy deems their business unfinished. Despite all Jimmy’s high-road encouragement, he turns right around and sells Chuck out to Ms. Balko from Santa Rosa Insurance Group, playing her like a fiddle with the sad saga of his woes, before letting it slip about Chuck’s mental state and breakdown at the bar hearing. On the way out, his crocodile tears dry up and he smiles wide, a point scored out of pure spite.

Nacho doesn’t have the luxury of petty rivalry. His beef with Hector has serious implications. As he makes plain to Mike — whose conscience has compelled him to help poor Daniel Wormald make another midnight transaction — either he sneaks a deadly substance inside his boss’s empty nitroglycerin capsules (that’s where Wormald comes in) or watches helplessly while his father becomes yet another casualty of the cartel’s drug war. Though watching sensible men incite their demise appears to be Mike’s lot writ large, whether it’s Jimmy, Wormald, Nacho, or the man they’d soon call Heisenberg.

That’s why he admires Anita. She’s stronger than these men. She’s refused to be a victim, having survived the enigmatic disappearance of her husband eight years earlier, and put her energies toward a meaningful life. He’s downright smitten, you might say, in his own reticent way. Their budding connection would make no one happier than Stacey, who’s so grateful for all he’s done, but wants desperately for his life to be well-rounded again. Breaking Bad fans can project that things won’t shake out for Mike and Anita, no more than Nacho offs Hector and thrives to outlast Tyrus and Victor and the other thugs who pointed handguns in his face. (Let’s just all think wishfully that Nacho successfully escapes the country with his dad and starts over with new identities and enough capital for a booming upholstery business.) But for now, it’s sweet — if a bit corny — to see Mike bond with a possible romantic interest the way he sparks a kind of surrogate paternal kinship with Jesse Pinkman down the road.

Jimmy, depressingly, spends most of “Expenses” staring up at a highway while picking garbage underneath as part of his community service. Though he quickly offsets hours earned by chatting on the phone with prospective clients for Saul Goodman’s commercial-production enterprise. And the effort he musters to grab the bus and make a shoot at ABQ In Tune (did not see the Sklar brothers’ cameo coming) generates diminishing returns when he bargains himself out of a fee. Not to mention that all those good intentions paying up front for a year of insurance backfired even more hazardously than all those ad buys during Murder, She Wrote, and now he’s staring down jacked-up premiums should his license be reinstated. One plus one always seems to equal zero for Jimmy. It isn’t hard to crystal ball this thing and see where the disadvantageous math and his own stubbornness in pressing the issue with Chuck (which is bound to alienate Kim as it did Rebecca) leave him with little choice but to go illegitimate. Unless he and his university crew of misfits find a way to pull a rabbit out of that Panavision hat and fund Saul Goodman Productions for the long haul.

Whatever becomes of the Vargas and Salamancas, Mike and Anita, or even Kim and Mesa Verde, the partnership of Wexler and McGill — both personal and professional — is pained. Jimmy pretends he’s not draining his bank accounts and maxing out credits to keep up his end of their office space and general appearances, and she plays along. Kim realizes his role-playing as Viktor and Giselle has a different edge, but she softens enough to safely indulge his fantasy. In each instance, Jimmy knows she knows, and she knows he knows she knows. Just like Paige knows there’s a there there with all that 1216 and 1261 chicanery, and Kim knows she knows. Everyone has his or her part to play. Or in Jimmy’s case, one or two or three.

Apart From All That

• Quick shout out to Sharon Bialy, Sherry Thomas, and Russell Scott, who continue their casting coups week after week.

• Dave Porter’s score for the scenes of Jimmy changing was perfect. Like if Principal Rooney were playing Ferris Bueller.

• Even Duke City Recliners is slashing prices to get by. (The looming recession will not help.)

• Only BCS can make interstate loan rates sexy.

• Who knew Mike was so well liked by his coworkers?

• Hopefully those five minutes aren’t the only sleep Kim gets.

• Camera guy’s wheelchair sure does foreshadow Hector’s.

• Nice Deep Purple callback.

• Apparently, this Bob Odenkirk–Kevin Costner thing is a thing.

Better Call Saul Recap: Esteem Issues