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Better Call Saul Sends Jimmy Slipping Downhill

After a week off for Memorial Day, Better Call Saul returned with yet another excellent episode in an increasingly impressive third season. Stupid show. I didn’t get Memorial Day off from work, why do they? Of course, last we saw Jimmy he was struggling to find any work at all. This week was little different. Let’s dive in.

Spoilers for “Slip” below

Recap

“Slip” begins with a flashback to Jimmy and Marco. They break into Jimmy’s father’s store, long abandoned, and grab Jimmy’s old coin collection to pull off a coin scam. Jimmy tells Marco about taking unique coins from the cash register after his father tried to return one to the person who paid with it. He also talks about the reasons the store failed.

Back in the present day, Mike takes a metal detector out to the desert. He finds the body of the man killed for helping the cartel member Mike tied up last season. He places a call to the cops to alert them. Meanwhile, Chuck gives a highly positive progress report to his doctor about his efforts overcoming his illness. He tells her about the Bar hearing and envisions a future without his illness. She warns him not to push too hard.

Over at the music store from the previous episode, business is booming because of Jimmy’s commercial. However, one of the owners called the TV station and found out the price of a commercial spot. He doesn’t want to pay what Jimmy wants to film the commercial and the two owners decide to renege on the deal for 7 commercials. Jimmy has his crew film while he slips on a drum stick in order to blackmail them.

Kim goes about business more ethically, attending a meeting with Paige and Kevin at a restaurant. Kevin offers business with another client and Howard arrives with clients of his own. He checks in and says some insincere kind words about Kim. Kim in turn writes a check for the loans HHM gave her to attend law school and approaches Howard’s table to give it to him. They argue outside the restaurant afterwards about the Bar hearing and Kim’s exit from HHM.

Kim also decides to talk to Kevin’s friend despite Paige’s worries. She has a box of files ready to go when she hears Jimmy playing a guitar in his office. Turns out he got it on top of selling his commercials after “slipping” in the music store. He tells Kim about slipping but tries to downplay it. Kim responds by taking on the business of Kevin’s friend rather than referring him elsewhere.

Chuck makes a tough visit to the grocery store which visibly tortures him. Over at his house, Howard waits for Chuck to come home from shopping. Turns out there is an issue about his malpractice insurance after Jimmy’s visit.

Over at his father’s shop, Nacho makes some fake pills replicating Hector’s medication and practices slipping them unseen into a jacket. Nacho begins executing his plan by breaking the air-conditioner at Hector’s restaurant. Hector takes off his jacket and Nacho uses the pretense of a fake bill to approach him and take his pills. He then switches the fakes into the bottle and slips them unseen back into Hector’s jacket. Well, probably unseen. More on this later.

We catch up with Jimmy doing community service again, where another person wants to duck out early because his kid is in the hospital. Jimmy identifies the guy as a drug dealer and offers help in exchange for payment. He successfully uses the threat of a lawsuit to scare the man in charge into letting the drug dealer leave and gets his payment for it.

Finally, we end with Mike taking some money of his own to Gus. He needs a way to launder the money so his family can use it. Gus has an unspoken idea how to do so and the two come to an agreement.

It’s not Schwarzenegger and Carl Weathers, but close enough.

Review

“Slip” is a rather fitting name for this episode. While Jimmy began slipping into Saul Goodman last time around, this episode saw him begin fully embracing his downslide. Marco’s appearance should have been an immediate sign where Jimmy was heading over the course of the hour. He has always represented the worst side of Jimmy. He was the one Jimmy ran his scams with, the one who pulled Jimmy back into scams after the confrontation with Chuck in season 1. Jimmy still wears Marco’s ring as a reminder.

Desperate times often bring out the worst in people, and Jimmy is in desperate times. His attempts to sell his commercials failed. No other job can provide the immediate cash he needs to hold up his end of the shared expenses with Kim. Of course he fell back into scamming. It’s what he knows best. Even worse, he now has the knowledge of his law career to aid him.

The community service scene was everything Chuck feared when standing in Jimmy’s way. Here was Slippin’ Jimmy with the ability to use the law to his personal benefit. Whether his threats held any water in practice ultimately don’t matter. He knows the system and how to game it. He knows how a prolonged legal battle would worry someone financially. And what’s worse, he used his legal knowledge to benefit a drug dealer. A drug dealer who will now have Jimmy in mind next time he might need the help Jimmy can offer.

I worry Jimmy McGill as we know him will soon vanish forever. And as I’ve said before, I am not looking forward to the day Saul Goodman emerges for good.

Contrast this was his brother Chuck, who has accepted what happened during the Bar hearing and taken steps to overcome his illness. This should come as no surprise, either. Chuck and Jimmy seem incapable of moving in the same direction in life. While Chuck was becoming a highly successful lawyer, Jimmy was pulling cons and performing Chicago Sunroofs. When Chuck’s illness began, Jimmy earned his law degree and began down the right path.

Then he failed and began back down a bad path just as Chuck began reentering the legal world and working again. All throughout the show we’ve seen Chuck and Jimmy rise as the other falls, or vice versa. Jimmy’s success in his Bar hearing could only occur by bringing Chuck to his lowest point. I find it ironic how the Bar hearing was a victory for Jimmy, but has now sent the McGill brothers in opposite directions. Jimmy’s position only becomes worse by the episode while Chuck has used it as motivation to improve his life.

It only makes sense that as Jimmy slips again into his conman past, Chuck finally begins overcoming his illness. And you know what? Despite everything, I hope he succeeds. He really wants to.

What’s more likely is that he pushes too hard and suffers a serious relapse. Even more likely, this relapse will occur as Jimmy’s fortunes improve, and even possibly because of something Jimmy does. Whatever happened with Chuck’s malpractice insurance was serious enough for Howard himself to visit Chuck. Could the full extent of Chuck’s illness lead to him losing his insurance and being unable to practice law? That’s for those more knowledgeable about this stuff than me to decide.

Whatever the case, the McGill brothers continue to have one of the best relationships on television right now. It’s a relationship that carried Better Call Saul as it figured itself out. It has now been the highlight of this fantastic third season.

Other Thoughts:

  • Kim is burying herself in work to avoid confronting the truth about Jimmy. Paige sees it. I hope she can convince Kim before she screws up and loses all her business.
  • Speaking of Kim, the restaurant scene with Howard was amazing. I love this newfound rivalry. Both have legitimate points and legitimate reasons to dislike each other. Obviously I’m rooting for Kim, but Howard continues to be one of the most nuanced characters in the show despite his limited appearances.
  • Michael Mando was excellent throughout this episode. All the nervous tics and hand-shaking as he plotted and executed the pill switch were amazing. Did the chef notice what he did, though? He had a perfect view from the kitchen.
  • I wonder if the drug dealer Jimmy helps is connected to anyone we know. Jimmy has to start making the connections which lead Walt and Jesse to him at some point.
  • On the same note, Mike eventually had to hook up with Gus in some capacity. Needing Gus to launder his money is a good way to make it happen.
  • Mike digging in the desert was one of the coolest shots this show has ever done.
  • For real, though, what happened to the music store owners’ honor? You made a deal. The business Jimmy brought them was worth the money he asked for.
  • Turns out Jimmy’s father wasn’t the only one bleeding the store dry. His mother was doing the same. The failure of the store becomes more complicated with everything we learn.

Images Courtesy of AMC

Bo
Written By

Bo relaxes after long days of staring at computers by staring at computers some more, and feels slightly guilty over his love for Villanelle.

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