Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantrout on "Better Call Saul"

‘Better Call Saul’ Recap: Jimmy and Mike Glimpse Their Future in ‘Sunk Costs’

UPDATED: Cassette Tape case settlement, maybe!

Jimmy McGill’s two most important people played their roles to the hilt in episode three of “Better Call Saul”‘s third episode. They would be Chuck, and Kim. Big brother Chuck McGill followed the path towards destroying Jimmy, while Kim had to cajole her boyfriend to allow her to help him.

In “Sunk Costs”, Mike Ehrmantrout met face-to-face with Gus Fring, who impressed him. Yes, it was Gus that arranged for that paper sign reading “Don’t Do It” on the windshield of Mike’s car. And yes, he told Mike that his power knows no bounds, so if Mike can’t let go of his vengeance towards Hector he was picking a fight with a guy who seems to know all and be able to control all.

Fring made it clear that it he understood the reason for Mike’s feelings, so if Mike wanted to interrupt the Salamanca supply chain, that would be acceptable to Gus. Mike went right to work on that. He pulled off that wondrous stunt with the sneakers filled with drugs that he threw up on a wire over the route to the border.

He carefully purchased the package that was “yay big”. He bought the new sneakers, filled them with the powder and had a devil of a time throwing them up on the wire with the laces tied together. He had less trouble using his sharpshooting techniques to put holes in them so the powder spilled on the delivery truck as it passed under the shoes.

Fring and Hector and he are competitors in the drug game, but if anyone was to savage Hector it would be Gus. As we know, from “Breaking Bad”, the senior member of the Salamanca family ends up in a wheelchair, unable to speak. Gus Fring will appreciate the genius behind the Mike’s technique. Perhaps it will be the moment he knows that Mike would be a worthy person to have on the payroll.

On the Jimmy McGill side of the world the episode title was used by Kim Wexler when she carefully and kindly explained why she would take time out of her burgeoning client load to defend Jimmy in his criminal case. After all the time spent to keep Jimmy from going off the rails, or helping him extricate himself when he does, Kim has no intention of allowing him to go under, this time perhaps to jail or to the New Mexico State Bar for the ultimate punishment.

One reason, and it’s a big one, is the fact that his current dilemma began when Jimmy pulled his document stunt to help Kim get the Mesa Verde business. Would she have asked him to do it or even rooted him on if she knew? No, but she looks at Jimmy as a man who harms himself more than anyone else when his big heart convinces his brain that taking chances as he did, is the right thing to do.

The other reason made “Better Call Saul” launch itself into the forest with the proverbial yellow brick road. There’s no wizard to solve anything at the end of it, but there’s a persona named Saul Goodman that will be Jimmy’s final resting place as a lawyer. He won’t have Kim or any partner to deal with, or perhaps more importantly, to disappoint.

That’s the perpetual state of affairs with big brother Chuck, disappointment. It’s also became more of a theme between him and Kim. But he’s in no shape to turn down her help, when once again, his brother manipulated a situation to produce maximum pain for Jimmy. We saw an out-of-town district attorney meet with Chuck who is pressing charges. There’s a felony among a few misdemeanors that Jimmy got charged with. He spent a night in the local jail, remarking with honesty to an old lawyer pal that it was better than the back of a nail parlor.

Rather than go the straight route to a plea bargain session, in which quashing the felony charge would be Jimmy’s goal, Chuck suggested a different way to handle it. After all, his brother’s really a good man, but has to be taught a lesson. The DA knows nothing about the McGill brother feud, so sees no harm in helping Jimmy avoid jail, for nothing more than a family squabble. What she doesn’t know is that Chuck’s years-long plan to rid the legal community of his brother was about to take a more direct route to victory.

Why not recommend a settlement that included keeping all charges intact, but would allow them to be dropped after a year of good behavior? Unfortunately, the State Bar of New Mexico will see it differently because of the felony charge. It will assure Jimmy of at least a suspension, but might very well end up in a disbarment.

His only other choice is to fight the charges, and take a chance that if he’s ultimately found guilty of the felony, on top of disbarment there will be jail. Since we know there’s a legal license to allow the Saul Goodman persona to hang a shingle, or more correctly, advertise on bus stops and benches, we understand there’s more to this than we can see at the present time.

That’s what Kim takes on after she convinced Jimmy to allow her to help. He had studiously avoided entangling her in the arraignment, tripping over himself to apologize for doing exactly what she asked him to avoid when he broke into Chuck’s house. But Kim’s not ready to let it all go.

In business with her lover, she took precautions to prevent a legal partnership that would bring her down along with him. That doesn’t include actions she takes that lead to her own demise, and thus far she hasn’t put herself at that kind of risk. She understands that Jimmy’s life is a string of events consisting of finding ways to skirt the law or violate it in small and in his opinion, harmless ways.

Yet they always harm someone and no one more than himself. She has benefited greatly from it, but at what cost? In for a penny, in for a pound, as they say. She’s well aware of who she loves and what he does, but this time she realized that it could sink the relationship. Since we know that Kim is not a character in “Breaking Bad”, at some point the relationship breaks.

“Better Call Saul” airs on AMC, Monday nights beginning at 10 pm et/pt. Image credit: AMC, used with permission

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