Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman in "Better Call Saul" season 3

‘Better Call Saul’ Recap: Saul Goodman Version 1.0 Is Born

“Better Call Saul” introduced us to Saul Goodman version 1.0 during the episode “Off Brand”. He’s a happy guy with a mustache, who runs a production company that promises a quick, cheap way to get an ad on TV. As Kim Wexler asked Jimmy at the end of his first productive day, “You made a commercial for commercials, today?” The answer is yes.

That was the way Jimmy McGill chose to deal with his twelve-month suspension from practicing law, the punishment handed down after closing arguments and deliberation. He was locked into paying for already scheduled commercial air time to the tune of $4,000. He couldn’t sell the slots on that local channel, but he could keep his contract with the station and switch the content of the ads. Bingo!

Of course, he nearly blew the suspension on day one when he almost forgot to pull his law practice ad off the air. He had been a busy boy doing a phone-a-thon to his clients, explaining his leave of absence, promising a formal letter to explain. One misstep around the State Bar’s order and he could lose his license.

By the time Kim got home, Jimmy was able to show her the fruits of his labor, somewhat sheepishly, and tell her that he already received calls from prospective customers. Always the conservative one, she had tried to suggest they negotiate a deal to get out of the office lease and layoff Francesca.

Jimmy refused to be made into an utter failure, and wanted his little brick and mortar empire to remain the way it is. McGill told Wexler that he promised to hold up his end of the 50-50 bargain, and would rethink it only when he didn’t show up with his half. Kim relented and Saul Goodman Productions was born.

Chuck was inconsolable. He barricaded himself in his home refusing to open the door for Rebecca who stuck around to try to ease his pain. She ran to Jimmy’s office where she said what Kim and Jimmy knew would come after they tricked her into traveling to “help” Chuck. But, as steady and dead-eyed as he could be Jimmy McGill refused to assist Rebecca convince Chuck to let her in. She registered her disgust and left after Jimmy said, in essence, that Chuck was dead to him, and he didn’t want to be anywhere near his brother’s repaired door.

Howard managed to get his partner to open the door, and presented him with an expensive bottle of scotch, which he assured Chuck would “come out of my end”, of the business revenue. Oy!  He gave a pep talk about starting fresh, letting Jimmy go his separate way, and tried to spin a one-year suspension as a victory. Jimmy would be sure to screw up in the ensuing twelve months, he told Chuck, resulting in forfeiting his license.

Chuck slugged some scotch, and tried to forget that he had humiliated himself on the stand, showing no symptoms of his condition despite a working battery in his suit pocket. He tested himself, opening the tape recorder, putting the batteries out in plain view. He put on a protective jacket that included a foil-like hood and walked himself to town and the nearest pay phone. There, he called the doctor who offered treatment if and when he was ready. Should be interesting to see how far this goes, since Chuck is testing his ability to believe that his condition is psychosomatic.

Mike attended a counseling session with his daughter-in-law Stacy to please her. She spoke of issues her daughter was having without her dad around. Then Stacy asked Mike to help her fulfill a promise she made on his behalf. A new playground would be built for the kids and she needed him to help pour the concrete for a swing set.  He tried to beg off, which was odd, saying concrete work wasn’t his specialty, but got brought up short by Stacy. She reminded him of a story his son told about his dad, building a carport back in the day. Mike melted – game over.

On the Gus Fring vs. Don Hector front, we saw into the future for Gus as he toured a facility that would become the headquarters for his commercial laundry and meth lab. It would be turned into the place where Walter White manufactured the blue meth that made him famous in the drug world. Gus was still doing as requested by Hector Salamanca, sharing space on his delivery truck, but had to give another inch, which he didn’t care for.

Caught in the middle of a he said-he said, poor Nacho had a gun put to his head by Fring’s men when he claimed that their respective bosses agreed on Hector getting five parcels, not just four. Gus looked disgusted but relented when called by his guys. It was a bad couple of days for Nacho all around.

He doesn’t seem to have the verve for the enforcement business and was shamed by Don Hector into giving someone a beating when he came up short on the weekly take. Worse than that was that his boss wants out of the Fring sharing plan, and is ready to force Nacho to entangle his father in the criminal enterprise to make that work. Nacho asked more than once to spare his father’s upholstery business, but Hector wouldn’t hear of it.

As he spoke to Nacho about it Salamanca began to cough, then seemed to lose his breath and almost choke. He was able to get to his medication bottle and down a pill with water brought to him by one of his henchmen. It worked instantly and he was able to finish his orders to Nacho, who looked defeated. Then Nacho spied one of the boss’s pills that fell on the floor. He almost crushed it with one of his boots, but bent down to get it, instead.

Is it Nacho that turns his boss into a silent, angry man in a motorized wheelchair that features a bell? Stay tuned.

“Better Call Saul” airs Mondays on AMC beginning at 10 p.m. ET/PT  Image credit: AMC, used with permission 

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