Apr 252016
Better Call Saul, "Klick", the silver room

Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/AMC

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.

Gimme Jimmy!

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!


  14 Responses to “Better Call Saul: Klick (Season Finale)”

  1. I think it was Gus who left the note, or one of his slaves, as I doubt that he would want to be trolling around in the heat…..Can’t wait for Gus to show up…one of the best villains ever created! And, you are quite right, Chuck is the real con, and I hate him.

  2. I did read the article you mention, and you didn’t miss anything, it didn’t make its case. As you say, Chuck (rhymes with “schmuck”) is not the moral center of anything. The final reveal of the season clinches it: Chuck is a manipulator and, for all his suffering (which I’m prepared to admit is genuine. The scene where the camera fixes on him writhing in agony on the hospital gurney was plenty harrowing), he’s certainly aware enough of reality to know that his Big Con is based on knowing that Jimmy is a decent caring person who wouldn’t let Chuck throw his life away. No matter how self-righteously he may see himself, that’s a dead giveaway to how truly small and petty a man he is.

  3. I am also eager to get more of the story about Chuck and Rebecca. It won’t surprise me at all if his bullshit and manipulation ultimately causes her to call him on it and walk. Extra Bonus Points if there’s a dalliance with Jimmy somewhere in the mix. She seemed rather charmed and taken with him at the dinner we saw.

    I’m also looking forward to more of the backstory about Chuck and Jimmy. Theirs is a highly dysfunctional version of a Smothers Brothers-esque “Mom always liked you best” routine. Whatever it is that results in their big showdown, it’ll be something that will necessitate the change from the McGill to the Goodman surname, for Jimmy/Saul. However it plays out, it will not be pretty.

    • Rebecca is rather tight-assed, but she wants to loosen up, she enjoys the idea of loosening up, and Jimmy plays to that. Chuck, on the other hand, hates the very concept.

      • I love Rebecca too….had a Moscow mule party in her honor (and those drinks really did suck)….she’s always up for a caper when you get down to it, although she didn’t attempt to cash the check from the last con she and Jimmy pulled after she jumped ship to go and drink some Moscow mules. She is really growing on me, but their love will end in heartbreak, you can just feel it. I really hate Chuck and adore Jimmy, because Jimmy really really is a nice man and Chuck is the true con (to me).

        I miss this show already. But I hope the Lipp sisters are watching The Night Manager on our wonderful AMC…it’s fabulous (so far).

    • I’ll be a little disappointed if the Saul Goodman stage name turns out to be a “necessity”. His line explaining that to Walter White was one of my all-time favorites.

      For context I looked up the entire quote:

      “Faith and begorrah! A fellow potato eater! My real name’s McGill. The Jew thing I just do for the homeboys. They all want a pipe-hitting member of the tribe, so to speak.”

      • Saul’s explanation to Walter about his name, in BB, shows up quite differently now that we can run it through the filter of these two seasons of BCS. The actual motivation behind the name change, quite literally, could be anything!

  4. From the relatively trivial to something a little less so:

    I missed that it was Nacho that Mike was targeting – thought it was the patriarch (who agreed to Mike’s $50k demand and later homicide-bombed Gus Fring)


    On the matter of “ethics” for attorneys – I’d like to bring up some questions that I hope Tilden Katz (aka ScaryLawyerGuy) will pick up.

    On “soliciting” – it seems the opposite of ethical to constrain Jimmy from talking to the retirees – especially when the rest homes are screening the “ethical” direct-mail approach. Really, what is the moral difference between sending a letter and approaching a group on a bus?

    (perhaps I am conflating “ethical” with “moral”)

    Is it really “unethical” for an atty to persuade a clerk with a gift (“bribe”) but ethical to let his client sweat out an extra month in the clink for lack of that gift?

    There was one other – but damned if I can dredge it up now.

    Anyone else interested in legal “ethics”?

    • Mike wasn’t targeting Nacho he was gunning for Tio. Nacho just happened (or intended) to be blocking Mike’s shot at Tio (kinda like Barbara Rush blocked a clean shot at one of the bad guys at the end of HOMBRE starring Paul Newman).

    • Mike was trying to kill “Tio” Hector Salamanaca. He couldn’t get a shot because Nacho was in the way. When I said “it wasn’t Nacho”, I meant it wasn’t Nacho who left the note on the windshield. I suspect Gus Fring, I really do.

      • When the Cousins where going to kill Walter in his bedroom as he showered, they got a cryptic text message that said one word: POLLOS.
        The Cousins immediately disappeared.

        So that one word message Mr. Ehrmentraut saw on that windshield is consistent with a rather omniscient, has-eyes-everywhere villian, that we all are CRAZY about.

        • Glad to see you’re still hangin’ out at the basket, TK.

          No comment on attorneys’ Ethics – codified, customary, or otherwise?

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