Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler on "Better Call Saul"

‘Better Call Saul’ Recap: Kim and Howard Just Collateral Damage in McGill Brothers’ Maneuvers

“Better Call Saul” presented “Fall”, the penultimate episode of season three, and the only person doing a happy dance was Jimmy McGill. The person he wanted to join him refused the offer. Kim Wexler had a new client she needed to serve and was running late to meet them. Unfortunately, her car ended up in a ditch, her work product flew around in the New Mexico breeze and her injuries were about to land her in a hospital.

Kim’s been working around-the-clock, sleeping very little and it all caught up with her. It comes under the category of no good deed goes unpunished. Jimmy’s paid his half of the monthly expenses to keep open that large office, but Kim knows he isn’t to be counted on. When he came in with a bottle and news to celebrate she was putting the finishing touches on the binders of material she would distribute at the client meeting.

Francesca, who’s watched this dynamic for a while tried her best to get Kim out the door on time. She’s not perfect that Francesca, which works just fine for McGill, but the buttoned-up and conscientious Kim wants perfection. How did she end up with Jimmy McGill? Hey, he’s charming, they both came up the hard way through the Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill mail room and Jimmy was nothing if not persistent.

“Better Call Saul” used the New Mexico landscape for Kim’s comeuppance. Each week we’re treated to the creative team giving us the mood for scenes via their locations. Kim nearly crashed her car into an oil rig earlier in the episode, probably not far from where she ended up. The rigs and the fields surrounding them belonged to the new client, Gatwood Oil. The owner stood among the dusty fields as Kim pitched her idea to get him out of a regulatory mess; he loved the approach.

Grateful to be hired, she gulped hard when she learned she had only two weeks to get the matter resolved. On top of her Mesa Verde work, she would have to find even more waking hours. The new client said that his pal at Mesa Verde called Kim a miracle worker. She rarely takes compliments well, but this one was more difficult than usual. Kim knows that but for Jimmy’s document caper she wouldn’t have won the bank’s business. That isn’t to say that once she got the opportunity she didn’t excel, but it feels like Kim looks at that as a tainted win at best.

Jimmy’s behind the scenes maneuvering with the seniors at the Sandpiper nursing home brought him what he wanted. Still in the mix for a percentage of the ultimate settlement in the class action against the home’s parent company, he needed the money, like yesterday. His Saul Goodman Productions wasn’t bringing in the dough and there was only so much he could get from his fellow community service workers to scam the officer on duty.

What he didn’t know was Howard Hamlin came around to his way of thinking, but not because he agreed with Jimmy’s reasoning. The two argued over taking the settlement offer on the table rather than prolonging the litigation. Howard knew Jimmy was in it for himself and didn’t truly care about the litigants, but Jimmy knew Howard’s game too. Drive the billable hours up as negotiations continued.

Howard’s firm was facing a financial crisis thanks to Jimmy’s back door maneuvering with Hamlin’s malpractice insurance company. Howard hoped to solve it by convincing Chuck McGill to resign.

The insurance company met with the two men and laid out the options. The firm could pay the huge increase in premiums, or avoid it by having Chuck supervised at all times. None of his work product could see the light of day without consent of others at the firm. Chuck didn’t see Howard’s solution coming. The humiliation and anger were too much for Chuck and he gave Howard his own two options: get tied up in litigation over a forced resignation, or pay him his entire partnership share of $8 million.

After Jimmy waltzed into his own office crowing about the settlement, you realized Howard changed his mind with good reason. settling the class action would fill the coffers of the firm nicely. Jimmy’s share of the settlement offer would net him more than $1 million, so Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill firm would be flush with cash. The only open question is if Howard wants to rid himself of all McGill drama by paying out Chuck, or keep him on and pay the huge insurance premiums. Sounds like he believes his partner is more trouble than he’s worth.

Speaking of more trouble than he’s worth, might we see Kim jettison Jimmy from her life in the season finale? In sneak peek scenes we saw him enter her hospital room as she sat there all bandaged up. It’s not Jimmy’s fault she chose to drive herself into exhaustion, causing her to zone out and crash her car on the side of the road. It’s just more of what we’ve come to know about the McGill brothers. No one leaves unscathed who is close to them. They damage each other first and foremost, but there is always collateral damage.

Notes

Watching Jimmy manipulate the situation with the nursing home residents/clients was straight-up Saul Goodman. The ends justify the means, and if an elderly woman named Irene had to be emotionally broken for the Sandpiper litigation to be settled, so be it. Jimmy will argue that even she came out a winner, because a check cures all.

Nacho’s crushingly sad scene with his dad left us wondering why the pill switching maneuver hadn’t worked. Don Hector needed one after a humiliating call from the cartel boss in Mexico. The Salamanca shipments were not to be commingled with Fring’s product on the fast food company’s trucks. He took a capsule from the pill bottle in his jacket pocket and survived.  It meant Nacho’s father would have to submit to the needs of Don Hector. The proud man threw his son out of the house, not certain of how he would handle it. Nacho feared his father would buck the system, which would mean death to him or to both of them.

Mike met the corporate brains and money behind Gus Fring when he came face-to-face with Lydia at the Madrigal corporate office. His street toughness didn’t allow him to trust her white-collar money laundering scheme. He balked at handing over his Social Security information that comes with any type of formal employment deal. Mike feared a corporate audit would ensnare him, as Lydia scoffed at his $200,000 being insignificant in the scheme of things for an international conglomerate the size of Madrigal.

Not only did she promise he would never be implicated in a thing, she vouched for the employment-laundering idea. His twenty-week consulting deal would net him $10,000 a week and they’d be done with each other. Fring would gross up the amount to cover all taxes and other deductions normally listed on a real paycheck from a company of that size. Mike would hand Fring cash and get back his money squeaky clean. Biggest surprise in this scene? That Gus Fring never offered this arrangement to anyone else. Mike’s special, and will owe loyalty to Gus out of obligation and respect. It’s Crime Boss 101.

Any guesses for the finale? Chuck vs. Howard. Kim vs. Jimmy. Nacho vs. Don Hector. Chime in below.

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

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