Better Call Saul S03E09 Recap: 'Fall'

My issues with Better Caul Saul ever since the series-defining "Chicanery" a few weeks back have been fairly clear. Without the driving force of Chuck and Jimmy's relationship to drive the show forward, there's been somewhat of a lack of focus as Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould plot where the show needs to go as it heads towards the end of its third season. Despite the tremendous legal maneuvering on Jimmy's (and Kim's) part, the events of that episode wound up breaking both McGill brothers. It just so happens that the show needed a few episodes to show us exactly how both Chuck and Jimmy were in a bad way as a result of all that.

As it turns out, the way to get the show out of this mini rut was for most of its characters to take a deep dive into the thing that got them in this situation in the first place; that thing being complex legal proceedings. With Jimmy looking to other schemes to make things meet, Chuck trying to make himself better, and some of the focus of the show being shifted to Nacho's efforts to get rid of Hector, there hasn't been much time for the Mesa Verdes and Sandpipers of the world. "Fall" remedies that on several fronts.

Most notably, Jimmy stretches the limits of his suspension by coming into contact with one of his former clients, Irene, carefully prodding her for details about the class action lawsuit against Sandpiper, her former old folks home. He finds out that Irene, being the key claimant, has been offered a sizable settlement, but her lawyers have advised her to sit on it, thinking they could get more. When Jimmy realizes how much money the settlement is for, he tells her she should take it, likening it to taking the lump sum when you win the lottery, and how money now at her age is better than a little more money later. But Irene is hesitant, and Howard, both pissed at Jimmy and his brother (more on that later) won't even hear it.

So Jimmy resorts to some Saul-like tactics in order to get the ball moving, and this is where he's truly going to start seeming villainous to some. He orchestrates an elaborate plan in which Irene gets shunned from her circle of friends for not taking the settlement by badmouthing her to her friends, giving her a nice pair of expensive shoes, even going as far as to rig a game of bingo in her favour. At this point Irene has had enough of her new status as a social pariah an breaks down, asking Jimmy for advise, who lightly pushes her in the direction of the settlement. Between this, playing games with small businesses, and vengefully sabotaging Chuck's insurance, Jimmy's starting to become somewhat irredeemable. In fact I might even go as far as to say that making an old lady cry for personal gain might be completely unforgivable. But this is the path we've been sent down.

Speaking of Chuck, just when we thought he was starting to redeem himself, he's right back to his old tricks. Jimmy's stunt at the insurance company catches up with him, and faced with having to pay double in premiums and more in order to keep Chuck on, Howard suggests it be best for him to retire. Chuck is unsurprisingly offended and responds by suing his own law firm for breach of contract, even going as far as to stage a scene in his house to trick Howard into thinking he's better, that he can handle electricity. He painfully uses an immersion blender just to prove a point, which is so vindictive and unnecessary that it's almost funny.

As for Kim, she's throwing herself into a second client, worried that Jimmy won't be able to make his share of their expenses. She pushes herself too hard, and at the end of the episode, winds up in a bad car accident on her way to her meeting with Gatwood Oil.

Elsewhere, Mike meets Lydia in order to set up a fake job as a security consultant to launder his money, where he learns that, compelled by Gus, this is the first time she's done something like this for someone. Gus and Hector have a meeting where Hector is upset to learn all his product has to go through Gus' transport, and Nacho, in a heartbreaking scene, has to tell his father to let Hector run his business for a little while.

I still feel like there's a gap the show is trying to cross. Maybe the arrival of Saul Goodman is nearer than we think, maybe it isn't and the show has to keep all these elements separate from each other for some time longer. But these growing pains were offset by a significantly stronger episode than the last couple of weeks. I hated both Chuck and Jimmy this week, for example, but that was clearly by design. I felt bad for Kim, for Nacho, and anxious in several scenes for many of these characters. The show has acting, pace, character development and tone all locked pat. Now it's just a matter of waiting for that plot to come together.

"Fall" sets a lot of stuff up for next week's Better Call Saul season finale, and delivers a relatively strong episode, enough for 8.5 cases of plantar fasciitis out of 10.

Notes & Quotes:

  • It's really a shame that the writers couldn't figure out what to do with Michael Mando earlier in the season, because Nacho has been a revelation in this second half, giving another great performance this week in the scene with his dad, where you could feel both of their hearts breaking; Nacho's for having to tell his father what's going on, and his father for finding out what his son is caught up in.
  • Despite how upset I am with Jimmy for making Irene sad, he really is at his best when he's interacting with old people. His lines while running the bingo game are expectedly amazing.
  • Notably: "B9! Let's hope that biopsy comes back b9!"
  • "Drug dealer? If that's all you think he is then you don't know Gustavo Fring."
  • "Is this about Chuck?" "Who?"
  • "Who needs money when you got the moral high ground?"