I miss the mail room.
Better Call Saul’s season 2 finale, Klick, didn’t quite have the staggering impact of season 1’s finale, but it was a very good episode in a very good series. Hey there, people who aren’t watching—what’s keeping you? What’s your hesitation? This is damn fine TV.
Okay, that’s it for communicating to the non-Saul watchers. The rest of this article assumes you’re watching the show. Spoilers ahoy and all that.
I saw a headline of an article I did not read,* suggesting that Chuck McGill is Better Call Saul’s version of Breaking Bad’s Skyler White—the moral voice who is, for some reason, not loved by the fans. After all, Jimmy is a con man, while Chuck obeys the law. Jimmy is, as of this season’s last scene, a confessed felon, and he transgressed against Chuck, his own brother. But it’s a lot more complicated than that, isn’t it?
The McGill brothers are both incredibly slick manipulators. Jimmy used that gift to be “Slippin’ Jimmy”, a con man, a fast-talking angle-finder. Chuck, though, is exactly as manipulative, and I’d argue, much less nice. Jimmy conned Chuck in order to help Kim, and because he thought Chuck would just shrug it off. The minute he understood that it had hurt Chuck, he confessed. And Chuck knew that. He knew that Jimmy’s downfall would be his fundamental kindness, and the solicitousness with which he treats Chuck’s every need and whim.
Chuck is the ultimate conman. He has a racket so complex and persuasive that even people who know it’s full of shit cave into it. Chuck’s “sensitivity to electricity” is so infinitely manipulative that he has turned Ernesto into his personal manservant, that he is able to run Jimmy’s life, that he has an entire law firm kowtowing to bizarre demands. The manipulation is so total, of course, that Chuck has convinced himself, apparently at the cost of his marriage, but it’s still, at heart, a con.
Chuck’s dishonesty, though, serves only Chuck. It takes their mother’s last words out of her mouth. It is about winning, and about being right and being better than everyone else. Jimmy’s dishonesty is often kind, and sometimes money-grubbing, and always imaginative. Jimmy is not a moral guy, but Chuck is worse.
We still know far too little about Chuck, about the onset of his illness, and the end of his marriage. Chuck has stories he doesn’t tell himself, because his illness drowns them out.
*This is exactly why I do my best to avoid reading about my subject before writing. Now I’m writing about someone else’s headline, because the thought is stuck in my head.
Mike, meanwhile, is about to cross over big-time, and gets a mysterious note on his windshield. It’s not Nacho—Nacho was in Mike’s gun sites the whole time the note was being left (no doubt about it, since the note was accompanied by a loud sound). Professor Spouse wonders if this is the introduction (in season 3) of Gus Fring. What do you think?
Mike’s story had powerful impact, but there’s not much to say. This is the kind of thing that this show does very well. A long, silent scene that builds tension through carefully-introduced visuals.
The visuals in general are perfection, but the use of visuals to interconnect moments and ideas is an act of grace. We end last episode with Chuck passing out, and open this one with Jimmy in the hospital, except this time it’s a flashback. There are a dozen of those each episode.
Thanks for your patience in waiting a full week for this recap. Please jump in and let me know your thoughts!