Summary: A flashback shows Rebecca meeting Chuck again. Chuck tries to conceal his illness and as a result ends up getting Rebecca to leave in disgust after he swats her cell phone out of her hand. Jimmy meets with Caldera before the trial with Chuck. Howard and Chuck plan for the upcoming trial. On the day of the trial, Kim and Jimmy fight their case and Chuck is eventually called up to the witness stand. After using Huell to slip a battery into Chuck's pocket, Chuck's illness is proven to be mental, which causes Chuck to have a breakdown and throw accusations unprofessionally towards Jimmy, effectively allowing Jimmy to win the trial.
The Good: This was a rare focused episode of Better Call Saul. This was all Jimmy/Chuck, no Mike, no Hector, no Nacho and no Gus to be seen here. And that was perfect for this. Better Call Saul's most engaging plot line has easily been Jimmy and Chuck's feud, so it works very well to give a full episode to look at their conflict. The focus, engagement and more which will be discussed below made this episode into the best of the series for sure.
I'll start this review by talking about the preparation for the courtroom battle, which was very enjoyable. Chuck and Howard's conversation was very good and also highlighted Howard's standings in all of this: he really doesn't care as much about getting Jimmy disbarred as he does making his firm look good. That's very curious to know, because surely Chuck may have brought on some bad publicity to HHM after his breakdown. Howard didn't look too happy at the end of the episode, and I'm very interested to see how his relationship with Chuck will be affected. Kim warning Paige and Kevin was great too. It hints at a little bit of guilt on Kim's part as well which makes sense because she knows Chuck wasn't wrong about Jimmy but his reputation is being completely tarnished by everything, and he hasn't exactly done anything wrong. Kim did not look satisfied after Chuck's breakdown at the end of the episode which also brings up the idea that she may not be happy with what happened. I like how Kim and Howard's characters got set up extremely well n this episode for what I would assume is a future storyline. Lastly, I really enjoyed Chuck trying to come up with good lines for the judge, and it's telling that he mainly focused on the part of saying he loves Jimmy. After all, lies usually take the most practice to say in a truthful way. It was a very nice and interesting little detail, which I'll elaborate more on later (see: The Unknown).
The best part of the courtroom set up in my opinion was absolutely Jimmy's part though. His scene with Caldera was lovely and very funny, with lots to love. But most importantly, this led into the best cameo of the whole series in my opinion. The moment Caldera mentioned tight spaces, it clicked right into my head who was coming, and it ended up being a great joke and an excellent way to hype up Huell. The scene where Huell bumped into Chuck was a downright pleasure and Huell is the perfect loveable character to bring back for a brief role like this in Better Call Saul.
And now finally, onto the fantastic courtroom battle. Now I'm going to divide this into two parts: part 1 is Howard on the witness stand and part 2 is Chuck, so that I can organize my thoughts accordingly. Of course, I'll start with part 1. I thought this was fantastic and was a very exciting way to bring us into the court battle. None of the major cards were played at this point, no tape, no EHS talk. This was all build up with a lot of exciting information being drawn, which is essential for something as detail-oriented as a courtroom battle. We need to learn as much as possible and to have logical questions and exchanges to make the courtroom scenes work. This was done fantastically in the first half of this episode as Kim battled with Robert Alley when questioning Howard. There were nice moments throughout with both sides offering a lot of big moments which were treated excellently; there were no dramatic moments or shots, simply a subtle change in facial expression managed to convey these major moments, which I found impressive. The highlight for me was Kim scoring a win over Howard by making his "nepotism" excuse completely fall flat. It was an early victory for the heroes and it was nice to see Howard look a little satisfied with Kim doing well for herself in court. It's the little touches which really make this show special. I also really like that the idea of mental illness was dropped early in the court trial, which was great set up for the climax later on.
While I really enjoyed the first part of this trial, there's no denying that it was mostly set up and there wasn't a whole lot of tension. That completely changed however, once Chuck arrived for the second part. and wow what a great part of the trial it was. The first thing I have to praise here is Michael McKean's performance as Chuck. He really brings the character to life as a pompous and arrogant man, who has tons of intelligence but is completely overly confident. He constantly puts down Jimmy in subtle ways, disguised by the polite tone in his voice. It's hard to play this role as it could just as easily feel too phony, or too detestable, but Michael McKean completely nails it and strikes a perfect balance for Chuck. The fact that he didn't receive an Emmy nomination for his performance here is something which will forever mystify me. The arrogance, confidence and intelligence in Chuck was portrayed perfectly without even a single weak second.
Now that I've sung tons of praise for Michael McKean, let's discuss the actual story here. This was very well done. I love that all the details were touched on that were brought up before, including Kim's involvement, Jimmy possibly denying the voice is his, Kim trying to prevent the tape from being used as evidence and more. They all amounted to some really good moments which continued to satisfy my detail-oriented side. The best part about Chuck on the witness stand was absolutely when Jimmy questioned him though. There was loads of animosity between them and I think that both actors fantastically played their subtle hate towards each other at this point in the story, throwing jabs at each other whenever they could. I also loved how Jimmy was notably less calm and composed than Kim when asking questions, seeing that this is a very personal thing for him to do and it's still bothering him. And then of course, there was that spectacular last scene which took the final 5 to 10 minutes involving Chuck but I'll get to that in detail later (see: Best Moment).
The last big thing about this episode is Rebecca's involvement. We learn that Rebecca is Jimmy's trump card and was why he went through everything in the last episode to ensure this could go as planned. I expected her to do more, but I was pleased that the show went with a bit of a surprise approach by having her only here to boost Chuck's confidence in thinking that he can best Jimmy's best trick. It took away from any generic melodrama and replaced it with he excellent final scene that we ended up getting. But back to Rebecca, I did enjoy her involvement and it seems that she won't be done in the story as she will likely want to help Chuck now. The flashback also did a great job of introducing a possibility for how she could come into play later on and it also gave us a better idea of her relationship with Chuck since she was only briefly seen in season 2 when she was introduced.
The Bad: The only problem that lowers the score a bit was this episode's predictability. At some point it became fairly clear that Chuck wasn't going to win the trial and that took away from some of the tension. Granted it was still very good, but it does hurt to have an idea of where the story is about to go.
The Unknown: What's next for Jimmy and Chuck? Will Chuck keep trying to pursue Jimmy or will he give up? Will Jimmy ever try to be friendly with Chuck again? Also does Chuck actually love Jimmy? We have seen Jimmy be kind towards Chuck but Chuck hasn't really reciprocated in any way. Does he actually completely despise Jimmy for everything he's done?
How will everyone else be affected by this? Will Chuck be able to move on and accept his condition is fake, or will he descend to a worsened state? How about Kim? How will she deal with her guilt? Could her guilt end up losing her Mesa Verde at some point? And how will Howard react to this? Will his relationship with Chuck be put under strain?
Best Moment: The final ten minutes, and especially Chuck's breakdown were outstanding. The build up to Chuck's big breakdown was tense to watch and I love how Chuck's ego was constantly inflated in a secret way by Jimmy to make his realization at the end all the more painful. The constant mentions of mental illness were too much for Chuck to handle, and it was Robert not denying Chuck's mental illness which caused Chuck to finally snap. It was a very tense moment and it was simply fantastic to see Chuck dig himself into a hole as he continued to spit out accusations at Jimmy, making I look like he is mentally unstable and just after his brother. The ironic part here is that everything Chuck said was correct, just his heart isn't at the right place, and it does count for something to have your heart in the right place, like Jimmy. The final breakdown was tremendous and I love that the episode ended right there with a shot of Chuck looking tiny and pathetic after he realized what he just did, under the pressure of electricity from an exit sign.
Character of the Episode: Chuck. That final breakdown was spectacular.
Conclusion: This was an incredible episode of Better Call Saul. Though its predictability lowers the score I want to give, I can't deny that this was a spectacular courtroom battle which exceeded my expectations in just about every way. This is what I love to see in television shows: a cathartic spectacle which hits all the emotional beats it needs to and then some. I can watch this episode over and over, it was really magnificent.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.