“Better Call Saul” gave us the showdown two seasons in the making between the McGill brothers. Jimmy vs. Chuck, under oath in front of three members of the New Mexico Bar with Jimmy McGill’s license to practice law at risk.
Jimmy and Kim created a defense built around creating doubt in the minds of the people who would make that critical decision. Kim handed the reins of the defense to Jimmy when Chuck’s time on the stand came. Howard attempted to keep Chuck from testifying for business reasons, fearing that clients would see the firm as negligent for allowing documents to be unsecured at Chuck’s home, rather than in the law firm.
Were Jimmy’s statements on the tape an admission of guilt or merely words to calm his very sick brother at that moment to get him to shut up about the Mesa Verde document tampering? Jimmy needed to create the picture in the minds of those sitting in judgment, of what Chuck’s house looked like the day the tape was made, Jimmy’s concern for his brother’s health and how Chuck feigned how ill he was during the trap he set to catch his brother.
Jimmy was well known for coming to his brother’s aid after the worst of their fights, as well as the insults of a lifetime, including his decision to keep Jimmy out of the Hamlin firm once he passed the Bar. Why didn’t it make sense that if Jimmy believed Chuck to be in one of his worst episodes, he would just agree to the accusations, hoping to calm Chuck.
Painting that picture was one long slide down a hill of humiliation for Chuck, but he made matters worse. When he defended his condition, Jimmy pulled the trigger on the setup that involved Huell Babineaux. Yes the big guy who was one of Saul Goodman’s most trusted aides bumped into Chuck in the Bar Association building and slipped a fully-charged cellphone battery in Chuck’s suit pocket. After getting Chuck to insist that his condition was real, despite no doctor being able to diagnosis it, Jimmy demonstrated that for at least 90 minutes, his brother had a battery on his person, not just near him, and he was functional and symptom-free.
There for the take down was Chuck’s ex-wife Rebecca. She had been part of the long opening segment in the episode titled “Chicanery”. Some years prior Chuck entertained the thought of rekindling something with her and Jimmy assisted in setting up Chuck’s home for a dinner party as if he were a man in charge of his faculties, just without electricity. A billing snafu was Chuck’s excuse, and Rebecca bought it, stayed for dinner and had a lovely time…until she didn’t.
When her cellphone went off and she remained on the phone for a long while with a business associate Chuck went through hell, and we were along for the ride. “Better Call Saul” does more than a good job of having us feel Chuck’s symptoms along with him and this was no exception. When he couldn’t stand it any longer he slapped the phone out of Rebecca’s hands and she promptly left.
Her presence in the courtroom was preceded by Jimmy informing her of Chuck’s condition, explaining that he was too embarrassed to tell her that night. Rebecca was understanding and during a break in court, even consoled her ex, chiding him just a bit about keeping it all from her. That made it even worse for Chuck when he went off on the witness stand when the battery came out of his suit pocket.
You could hear a pin drop as Chuck McGill was undressed in public as a troubled man who while brilliant about the law, couldn’t manage daily life without being a sociopath. Howard Hamlin feared client concern over the boxes of documents offsite, but now, he would have to defend his partner’s break with reality.
Boom! Mic drop complete, except, nothing is ever truly over in the world of the McGill brothers. While we know Jimmy retains his law license, it remains to be seen how the decision to change his name is made and when the brothers see each other for the final time.
“Better Call Saul” airs Monday on AMC beginning at 10 p.m. ET/PT Image credit: AMC, used with permission