‘Better Call Saul’ Recap ‘Off Brand’: It’s All Good, Man

In the latest ‘Better Call Saul’ recap, Jimmy celebrates his victory over Chuck and Nacho gets in the middle of the war between Gus and Hector…

By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer

For the first time in three seasons, Jimmy McGill has finally taken on the moniker Saul Goodman.

Now it didn’t exactly happen the way anybody expected considering Jimmy used the name to sell commercial space that he already paid for but could no longer use while specifically saying he didn’t want to sully the image he had built as a lawyer you could trust in Albuquerque. Of course, technically Jimmy used that moniker once before in season one during a flashback scene where he was running a con on somebody but this is the first time he’s truly become Saul Goodman — even if it’s not the one we know so well.

This week’s episode saw Jimmy deal with the fallout from his battle with Chuck where he made his brother look mentally incompetent so he could walk away with a lesser sentence from the Bar Association and while there’s still a little turmoil building inside of him, it’s clear he’s ready to cut all ties with the last living relative he has on Earth.

Jimmy did everything in his power to care for Chuck for years only to find out that his brother was working against his own aspirations the entire time. When they were working together, the McGill brothers were a barely functioning unit with Jimmy doing the heavy lifting while Chuck was a weight bearing down on his shoulders. Now that they are at odds, Jimmy and Chuck are more driven than ever before but it’s only a matter of time before there’s a massive head-on collision and judging by the future in “Breaking Bad” only one of them survives.

Meanwhile, Hector’s brewing war with Gus continued to build this week with Nacho getting in the middle of the two factions and a hint at how the mighty don of the Mexican cartel ends up as a wheel-chair bound invalid who can only tap on a bell as a method of communication.

Plus Mike continues to support his daughter-in-law as she grieves for the loss of her husband and the two of them end up with a very interesting conversation that could lend to hints at how a part time fixer becomes a right hand man to a drug kingpin.

With that said, let’s recap the latest episode of ‘Better Call Saul’ titled ‘Off Brand’…

Celebrate Good Times

In the aftermath of Chuck’s testimony, Kim makes her final appeal to the Bar Association about Jimmy’s misdeeds and how he was really a good brother who was burned too many times by a vengeful sibling. It’s an impassioned plea including her almost poetic affirmation how Jimmy cares for the elderly and then asking the question whether New Mexico would really be better off without him practicing law?

The end result of the hearing — Jimmy faces a 12-month suspension from being an attorney.

Considering Jimmy was facing complete expulsion from practicing law, this seems like a slap on the wrist by comparison. Back at the office, Jimmy and Kim celebrate with some champagne while both are ecstatic about the outcome. Of course, Jimmy has to figure out what he’s going to do for the next year while he can’t practice law but that’s a small problem to face after dodging a major legal bullet.

The celebration is cut short when Jimmy receives a visit from his ex-sister-in-law Rebecca, who has been pounding at Chuck’s door for hours after the hearing ended yet she’s received no answer at all. Rebecca tells Jimmy that this is the time that his brother needs him the most but he explains that’s why he brought her here in the first place.

Jimmy is done with Chuck for good and goes as far as saying that he no longer has a brother. Rebecca lashes out and tells him that everything Chuck thought about him was true before she storms out of the office. Jimmy is clearly distraught at the way things ended with his brother, but Chuck made his Mylar wrapped bed and now he has to lay in it.

New Beginnings

As Chuck sits in his house, hunkered down on the couch while still reeling from what happened in the courtroom, he’s not ready to see his ex-wife or anybody else for that matter. When Howard comes calling, Chuck once again refuses to answer the door but his partner refuses to leave until he gains an audience with him.

Chuck finally opens the door and Howard walks in with a bottle of Macallan 66 so they can toast to new beginnings. Howard explains to his old friend that Jimmy getting suspended for one year is still a victory because if he messes up at all during that 12-month period, his law license will be revoked not to mention the pre-prosecution order he agreed to would kick in and felony charges would be enacted.

Howard also reminds Chuck that his vendetta against Jimmy shouldn’t stop him from returning to do what he loves the most and that’s practicing law. Howard goes on a diatribe asking how the world would have lost one of the great legal minds of all time if Clarence Darrow had been mired in family drama rather than engaging in some of the most important courtroom battles this nation has ever seen.

The pep talk seems to work because Chuck shares a few drinks with Howard before sending him off for the night.

But Chuck’s evening is just beginning because he walks into town wrapped in a space blanket so he can find a payphone. Chuck walks under several glaring, neon lights and each one buzzes at home like an insect in his ear and the light burns his skin like sunburn, but he perseveres until he makes it to the phone.

He places his call to Dr. Laura Cruz (played by Clea DuVall) — the same doctor who treated him when he fell ill previously who got Jimmy to receive a court order as power of attorney over his brother. It’s unclear if Chuck is somehow still plotting his revenge against Jimmy or if he’s actually looking for help to this psychosomatic disease he’s been tortured with for years.

Whatever the reason, Chuck is moving with purpose and that usually means bad news for his brother.

The Bad Guy

At a support group for widows and widowers, Stacey Ehrmantraut talks about how tough it’s been on her daughter Kaylee when trying to explain what happened to her father. As Kaylee gets older and older, she’s starting to ask more questions about Matt, how he died and why he’s no longer around for them.

Stacey tells her stories while Mike sits next to her in the support group without saying a word. Outside after the meeting is over, Stacey thanks Mike for coming along with her while she hopes that he’ll attend a future meeting as well.

Mike seems hesitant (no shocker there) but then Stacey admits that she roped him into a project to build a new playground at the church where the support group meets. She offered to have Mike lay down the concrete because according to Matty, he saw his father build an entire carport by himself after not wanting to pay for an overpriced contractor.

Mike doesn’t seem to have any memory about doing that job but he agrees to help out Stacey if that’s what she wants.

The interaction was unclear but it could be that Matty lied about his father to give the impression that he had a nice, normal childhood despite the fact that Mike was always a bad guy even when he was a cop in Philadelphia. Mike has been conflicted all season long about going straight or breaking bad — but perhaps he’s beginning to realize that he was never the good guy he imagined he was at one time.

Six Not Five

If it hasn’t been made clear through the first two season of ‘Better Call Saul’, Hector Salamanca is not a man who believes in compromise. So when one of his dealers — Krazy-8 looking very clean cut and wearing a Tampico Furniture polo — comes into deliver his money and he comes up short, Nacho is ready to give him a pass until the following week. A not so subtle suggestion from Hector — “who works for who?” — and Nacho is outside beating the living hell out of Krazy-8 for coming up short in his payment.

That’s the kind of tyrannical way that Hector runs his business and he’ll be damned if anyone is going to tell him any differently.

At a meeting later that day, Nacho is sent to meet with Gus Fring’s men, who have just brought in a shipment of heroin from Mexico that needs to be split up so Hector gets his cut. For now, Gus is playing ball with his adversary until he can find a way out of this arrangement but that means catering to Hector’s every whimsy.

When Nacho demands a sixth brick of heroin, Tyrus and Victor aren’t about to let him take it without a fight. Victor holds a gun on Nacho while Tyrus calls his boss.

Gus doesn’t put up a fight and tells his men to hand over the heroin that Hector requested. Nacho exits the tense situation but this can’t be the first time he’s faced down a barrel of a gun for a boss he clearly can’t stand.

As much as Gus would like to tell Victor to pull the trigger before exacting revenge on Don Hector, he’s got more important things to worry about right now. We find Gus looking around an industrial building that’s up for rent. It becomes clear as he looks around the place that this is the building that will eventually become a Laundromat — the same industrial laundry that will serve as the front for Gus’ super lab that will house Walter White, Jesse Pinkman and a whole lot of blue meth.

Outside, Gus closes the gate before getting into a car where he’s greeted by Lydia Rodarte-Quayle. She asks him if the place will serve for their new business venture and he says it just might work. This is clearly the start of a very fruitful relationship for the two of them.

Meanwhile, Nacho returns to Hector with the heroin as his boss barely registers the fact that he nearly died from getting his hands on the drugs. Hector is much more concerned with finding another route into America with his Mexican drugs. Hector then suggests that Nacho’s father’s car upholstery business could be the perfect front to bring in the drugs along with shipments of fabric from Mexico.

Nacho resists — after all he still spends his nights helping to sew up the upholstery that his father uses every day at his auto shop — but Hector is not a man who takes no for an answer. More evidence of Hector’s rage erupts when he receives a message that his nephew Tuco has been placed in solitary confinement after a knife fight in prison. Hector is boiling with anger after Tuco was only supposed to be inside for six-months and now it might be years before he’s released.

Hector tosses over a table and smashes a few things before he starts coughing and shaking. He swallows a prescription pill from a bottle while accidentally dropping another on the ground. Nacho slyly covers that one up with his boot while Hector walks away to recover from this episode. Perhaps Nacho is finally fed up with his foot soldier duties as Hector’s lap boy and he’s ready to send his boss to that wheelchair sooner rather than later.

It’s All Good, Man

With his law practice on hold for the next 12 months, Jimmy has to figure out an alternative means of income while doing everything possible to ensure his partnership with Kim doesn’t fall apart. She’s ready to fire Francesca and get rid of the law office because they can ill afford this place on only her salary from the one client she maintains at Mesa Verde.

Jimmy refuses to give up on the spot they just opened together but he’s got bigger problems to deal with right now.

After placing numerous calls to his clients to tell them he wouldn’t be able to take their cases for the next year, Jimmy realizes that he’s still got a slew of commercials set to play on the local television station advertising his services. That’s a big problem because if the Bar Association gets wind of it, that could be the end of Jimmy’s law license.

Thankfully he stops the local station from playing the remainder of his commercials but now he’s got another problem to solve. His contract says that he still has several spots remaining and they won’t refund the $4,000 that he paid for them. To make matters worse, Jimmy can’t sell his ad space to anyone else per his contract.

So to alleviate the loss of money that he so desperately needs right now, Jimmy comes up with a plan to make quick commercials for other local business with free airtime on the television station as a bonus. So technically he’s not selling airtime because he’s giving it away for free, but making his money from the commercials he’d be producing for the local businesses.

Unfortunately, Jimmy’s ability to close in person isn’t getting the job done so he comes up with another alternative.

What better way to sell his commercial making service than by making a commercial that will air during the timeslot he already paid for.

That night, Jimmy celebrates a few interested businesses who have already called to work with his new commercial making business. Kim is curious about the ad he played on the air, but Jimmy’s almost embarrassed to show it to her because it’s clearly not his best work. Still, Jimmy puts in the tape and lets the commercial fly.

The advertisement features Jimmy in a hat and glued on mustache extolling the virtues of his new commercial making business, guaranteed to increase traffic to any of the companies who work with him. Now Jimmy doesn’t want to ruin his law practice by having his name attached to this cheesy attempt to get back the $4,000 he’s set to lose so he had to come up with an alternative.

Weclome to Saul Goodman Productions…you know cause it’s all good, man.

“It’s just a name” 
~ Jimmy McGill 

Little does Jimmy know that the moniker he created so he wouldn’t have to ruin his good name is the only name anyone will remember him by in a few years.

‘Better Call Saul’ returns next Monday night at 10pm ET on AMC.

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