February 26, 2024

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Better Call Saul “Chicanery”

Season Three, Episode Five

There’s another flashback to open this episode, one where Chuck has a dinner set up with ex-wife Rebecca.  He’s trying to hide his disease that may or may not be real from her, and Jimmy advises him not to because sometimes a lie too big becomes real.

Is that a comment on Chuck’s alleged allergy?

It could be, but the thing is, both of the McGills have been less than honest.  Jimmy is something of a master of it.  Chuck, meanwhile, keeps insisting that he’s sick and he loves his brother.

The thing is, for all that Chuck is trying to con Jimmy, Jimmy is a much better con artist, and he has Kim on his side.  Kim’s a better lawyer, and if Chuck knows how to get under Jimmy’s skin, the same holds true in reverse if not moreso.  I watched Jimmy get photos of Chuck’s house and a few other things, and I had some thoughts on where Jimmy was going with that stuff, and I was really, really wrong.

No, Jimmy’s whole plot was to make Chuck lose it on the witness stand while he was testifying against Jimmy.  Various questions to Howard let it be known it was Chuck and only Chuck that kept HHM from hiring Jimmy, and that Howard even somewhat respected Jimmy’s hustle.  But bring Rebecca in to watch Chuck on the stand in a move Kim predicts, no doubt accurately, that Rebecca was going to hate Jimmy for in the end, and then some slight of hand by one of Jimmy’s surprise witnesses, a surprisingly deft Huell Babineaux.

Kinda weird seeing what Jimmy actually hired that guy for originally.  Huell may not make good muscle in the future, but he’s apparently very good at planting something on Chuck.

Now, I don’t want to say too much about what Jimmy did to Chuck.  It was a surprise, but what really got to me was that showed both McGill brothers expressing some level of honesty.  Yes, Jimmy is maybe blowing smoke up the board’s collective ass when he says what’s on Chuck’s tape was something he only said to help his brother, but the look on Jimmy’s face as he does what he does to Chuck says it all:  Jimmy really didn’t want to do this, but Chuck was trying to sabotage him.

The thing is, all Jimmy did was egg Chuck into an outburst, during which Chuck finally said what he really thinks of his kid brother.  It’s not kind.  He thinks Jimmy needs to be punished for a whole range of things going back to a childhood habit of helping himself to the money in the family store’s register to the fact that people just like Jimmy and let him get away with all kinds of things.  It’s Chuck at the breaking point, and it shows the complete disintegration of Chuck’s credibility on all things Jimmy.

The thing is, this is largely Chuck’s fault.  Yes, Jimmy has broken the law more than once, but it seems that Chuck is just so embarrassed by Jimmy, and that rather than admiring him as even Howard admits to doing, he just can’t see that Jimmy is someone trying to make something of himself in the only way he knows how.  Maybe if Chuck had supported Jimmy in his law career, a lot of this wouldn’t have happened.  Jimmy adored Chuck and would have done anything to help him prior to all this.

It’s just a bit of a shame the reverse wasn’t also true.  It seems to me Chuck needed to feel superior to Jimmy even as Jimmy was helping him.  Maybe if Chuck had listened to Jimmy way back in the cold open flashback about how lies become true, well, he might have gotten more done and kept his dignity intact.