In the ‘Better Call Saul’ season finale recap, Jimmy tries to make amends, Chuck faces a harsh reality and Hector comes face to face with fate…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
One of the best yet most tragic parts about ‘Better Call Saul’ have been all the new characters that were introduced over the past three seasons yet knowing that most of them wouldn’t survive to be seen again on ‘Breaking Bad’.
Of course some iconic characters who have reappeared have been a sight for sore eyes — maybe none more so than the return of Gus Fring this season — but the sad truth was many people introduced through ‘Better Call Saul’ were going to disappear for one reason or another before Saul Goodman received a call to represent a half-witted drug dealer named Badger.
It appears one such tragedy has already occurred at the end of ‘Better Call Saul’ season three as Chuck McGill at the very least attempted to take his own life at the end of the final episode after a relapse where all things electrical made him itch and burn like he had just been soaked in poison ivy. Chuck appeared to be on the road to recovery, but it was all just an act as he tried to convince himself as much as anybody else watching that he could cure himself of whatever mental illness caused him to think he was allergic to electricity.
Instead, Chuck was suffering on the inside because no matter how much everyone else told him this was all in his own head, the physical reaction he had near any light fixture or electric socket told him a much different story. It all culminated in a truly heartbreaking scene as Chuck tore apart his home looking for that last electrical outlet that was still sparking a charge until he sat in a chaotic room filled with the torn up pieces of the life he left behind after he was first afflicted with this illness. Rather than face the world again, Chuck decided that he’d rather turn it all to ash — himself included.
On top of that, the ‘Better Call Saul’ finale also featured the demise of Don Hector Salamanca, the end of Jimmy’s elder care law firm and Kim Wexler putting down her legal briefs long enough to enjoy “Relax-a-thon 2003”.
With that said, let’s recap the ‘Better Call Saul’ season finale titled ‘Lantern’…
Relax, Don’t Do It
In the aftermath of Kim’s car accident, she’s laid up with a broken arm, cuts and bruises with a lot of sympathy from her two clients that desperately need their lawyer back. Kim ran herself so ragged lately while operating on approximately six hours of sleep per week that she blacked out on her way to a meeting, crossed three lanes of traffic before crashing on the side of the road.
Jimmy takes care of Kim when she returns home, but her will to work is just too strong although she’s still feeling a lot of remorse because while she was banged up in this accident, her careless driving could have killed someone else.
To help ease the financial strain on Kim while she’s out of action, Jimmy decides to shut down their law office once and for all. He knows Kim can operate out of her home and he was just holding onto that office as a branch to further tether him to their relationship but he knows it’s been an anchor weighing her down while he’s been on the sidelines without a law license.
Meanwhile, Francesca shows up at Kim’s house with papers in order to get her back into business while setting up meeting so she can still handle the Gatwood Oil tax problem, which is exactly where she was headed before careening off the road and nearly dying in that accident. Just as Francesca is offering Kim a solution so she can make the meeting to finish the case, which would mean even more all nighters over the next week, she puts down the paperwork and instead asks her assistant for a ride.
The two of them end up at Blockbuster where Kim rents 10 different movies while Francesca explains to Mr. Gatwood that she will no longer be able to handle his case. Instead she refers him to a different law firm before Kim heads home to enjoy some serious down time on the couch.
When Jimmy comes back, Kim insists on watching her favorite film — “To Kill a Mockingbird” — while lamenting about how she wanted to grow up and become just like the lead character, Atticus Finch. Kim became a lawyer because she wanted to fight the good fight and not necessarily end up with her greatest achievement as helping a mid-level local bank turn into a mid-level regional bank.
It seems Kim Wexler is at a crossroads and change is imminent.
There was a general consensus last week where ‘Better Call Saul’ fans finally turned on Jimmy McGill.
Through all he’s done for the past two plus seasons, nothing rang more hollow or purposefully destructive than Jimmy tearing down the relationship between one of his former elderly clients and all of her friends just for the sake of cashing in on his part of the settlement deal with Sandpiper Crossing.
What started out as Jimmy’s attempt to convince Irene Landry to forgo a lengthy court battle in favor of a quick cash out turned into a full blown assault that ended with the woman losing all of her friends after he put them at odds in order to get the settlement.
This week, Jimmy tries to make amends by rebuilding the bridge between the ladies but his efforts are to no avail. Even the muffin baskets he sends as presents to the ladies with Irene’s name on the label are rebuffed as a cheap, backhanded way to get into their good graces again.
With a broken-hearted Irene now lonelier than ever, Jimmy decides that there’s only one way to fix this problem and it’s going to cost him everything he’s worked for to this point as an attorney.
Jimmy goes to Sandpiper Crossing where he “substitutes” to lead the chair yoga class but before he can even get through a full cycle of cat-cow breathing exercises, Erin from his own stomping grounds at Davis & Main shows up demanding an audience with him.
Jimmy goes outside to speak with her while “accidentally” leaving his microphone on so their entire conversation is broadcast to the elderly folks sitting inside awaiting yoga instruction. Jimmy proceeds to talk about how he fleeced the old people in order to cash in on his part of the settlement and he was sick and tired of hearing about their grandkids and cats and the latest trip to Bob Evans. Instead, Jimmy just wanted to get paid so he admits to burning the relationship between Irene and her friends in order to get the settlement.
When Jimmy heads back inside, his yoga class is dispersing before Irene tells him the most hurtful words she could muster — she’s disappointed in him. The whole group leaves before Jimmy meets Erin outside — it turns out she was part of this entire plan so they could get the lawsuit back on track.
Jimmy had managed to rebuild the relationship between Irene and her friends, but he’s also singlehandedly nuked his entire business model as the lawyer fighting for senior citizens. This was also a clear sign why Jimmy would eventually change his name to Saul Goodman and focus on personal injury law because nobody over the age of 60 would give him the time of day after the stunt he just pulled.
The Heart of the Matter
Nacho’s plan to eliminate Hector Salamanca is taking longer than expected, which means he was forced to introduce his boss to his father as plans were set in motion to turn his car upholstery business into a way to transport drugs across the American-Mexican border. The initial meeting is a bit unsettling as Nacho’s father at first demands that Hector leave his store but his son reminds him that offending the cartel means that their entire family could be at risk.
Ultimately, Nacho’s father accepts the stack of $50 bills laid out on the counter as compensation for handing his business over to the cartel but Hector notes as he gets into his car that he can’t trust him. Hector saying he can’t trust Nacho’s father is as good as signing a contract for his death.
That forces Nacho to go into panic mode to ensure that Hector can never make that call but since his plans to switch out the heart medication doesn’t seem to be working as fast as expected, extreme measures are in order.
Nacho follows Don Hector home where he plans to shoot him dead but just before he can pull the trigger, two more men show up as well. Nacho is able to play it off as if he just received a message to meet them there because something important is about to go down.
A moment later another car pulls up — this time Gus Fring and Juan Bolsa exit the vehicle.
Juan Bolsa has arrived with a message from Don Eladio to enforce his earlier ruling that all of the drug running would go through the chicken trucks belonging to Los Pollos Hermanos. That means Gus would be the person in charge of all the drugs coming over the border, which effectively puts him ahead of Hector Salamanca in the cartel pecking order.
Of course, none of this sits well with Hector, who goes into a rage while telling Juan Bolsa to pass along a message that the cartel can suck it. In the middle of his tirade, Hector’s heart finally gives out but taking his medication has no effect before he falls to the ground clutching his chest.
Nacho looks stunned while Gus quickly drops down to administer CPR while his soldiers dial 9-1-1. Now why exactly would Gus save Hector considering they have been mortal enemies for so many years? The same reason why Gus didn’t want Mike to kill Hector when he had him in the crosshairs of a sniper rifle.
Gus wasn’t going to let Hector die by anybody’s hands but his own. Sadly we know how that actually played out in the end.
Still, Gus sees Nacho rushing to pick up Hector’s pills on the ground, which lets him know that there’s more to this story than meets the eye. Hector is taken away in the ambulance and there’s a better than average chance the next time we see him, he’ll be strapped to a wheelchair with a ringing bell as his only means of communication.
Fire Walk With Me
Chuck didn’t exactly want to sue his former colleagues at Hamlin-Hamlin-McGill — his name decorates the name of the firm after all — but when he felt like he was being forced out of the business, he didn’t see any other way to exact his revenge than by threatening to burn the whole place down.
Chuck does make an offer to reconcile with Howard by giving him the chance to shake his hand in front of a room full of lawyers as a way to bury the hatchet between them once and for all. Instead, Howard orders the room empty out before he hands Chuck over a check for $3 million. Howard then promises two more installments to pay Chuck the full $8 million he’s owed to buy out his piece of the partnership.
Chuck is stunned because really he just wanted to be invited back to the table, but instead Howard is willing to dip into his own personal funds along with some loans to make sure he never steps foot in this building again.
The way Howard sees it is that he stuck by Chuck through everything — his divorce, his illness, his battles with Jimmy and his thirst for revenge — and this is how he’s been repaid by betrayal. The reality is Howard has been Chuck’s biggest supporter through these three seasons on ‘Better Call Saul’ yet now his friend and partner has revolted against him despite his own illness being the cause of the rift between them.
Howard hands over the check and then with a false smile planted on his face, he has the entire firm offer one last standing ovation to Chuck on his way out as he leaves HHM for good. Howard sends him out on a high note because that’s what’s best for the company —and that’s always been at the heart of every decision he’s made. Howard just wants the best for HHM.
Stunned by the decision, Chuck returns home where Jimmy pays him a visit.
Jimmy is shocked to see Chuck’s house is lit up inside like a Christmas tree, complete with lights on throughout the living room and kitchen as well as a stocked refrigerator humming along with all sorts of electricity surging through it. Chuck explains to his brother that he’s finally been cured, just like he promised would happen all along.
Jimmy then offers an apology while extending an olive branch as he expresses regret about the way their relationship dissolved over the past few months. It all culminated in that courtroom battle where Jimmy exposed his brother’s illness as a mental disorder rather than a physical ailment.
Chuck rebuffs his apology and tells Jimmy that he should stop trying to build bridges because his entire purpose in life is to tear them down. Chuck adds that he’d respect his brother more if he would just give in to his truer nature — another precursor for what’s to come in the transformation into Saul Goodman.
Finally, Chuck closes out his diatribe to Jimmy with the most painful thing he’s said to him over the past three seasons.
“I don’t want to hurt your feelings but the truth is you’ve never mattered all that much to me”
Of course Chuck is absolutely lying because if Jimmy never really mattered to him, he would have been able to ignore him and move on but that never happened. Chuck sabotaged Jimmy at every turn while believing that he was saving his brother from himself. You don’t do that for someone that doesn’t matter.
Jimmy leaves dejected and heartbroken and the sad part is those are probably the last words he’ll ever hear from his brother’s mouth.
Later that night, Chuck lies in bed but still can’t fall asleep. He rolls over and prepares to write in his journal — the one that documents all of his interactions where electricity seems to affect him — but this time he just closes the book and instead runs downstairs to turn off all the circuit breakers in the house.
The next day, Chuck cancels his appointment with the doctor who has been helping his recovery before taking out all of the light bulbs in every socket throughout the house. Chuck is returning to his old ways by removing anything and everything with an electric current running through it.
There’s only one problem — his electric meter outside is still turning over like something is running inside the house.
Chuck then goes on a tirade through his entire home, tearing apart walls, digging behind bookcases and pulling out wires trying to find that one electrical current that’s been left alive. Finally, Chuck goes outside and smashes the electric meter with a baseball bat so it can no longer haunt him.
Later that night, Chuck sits alone in his house with only the flicker of a gas lantern staring back at him. Jimmy is gone and probably never coming back. Howard has eradicated Chuck from the law firm once and for all. And his wife left long ago. Now Chuck is truly alone — surrounded only by reminders of his illness and how it’s never going to loosen its grip on him.
Finally, Chuck kicks at the table until the lantern falls over and bursts into flames. The fire quickly spreads across the house but we can only see from outside of a window. Everybody told Chuck that the illness he was suffering from was only in his head, but he never truly believed it. Perhaps destroying his own home after killing the only relationships he had left with anybody in his life was all the evidence Chuck needed to know that he was never ever going to get better.
In the end, Chuck decided that it was better to extinguish his own flame than to become a prisoner in his own head. And with that we bid Chuck McGill a fond farewell.
‘Better Call Saul’ season 4 will debut on AMC in 2018.