better call saul fall review 2

(Every week, we’re going to kick off discussion about Better Call Saul season 3 by answering one simple question: who came out on top when the credits rolled?)

“Fall” is the sparsest episode of the season so far, in that our main characters occupy separate spaces as opposed to overlapping in any real capacity. It’s the first time we’ve seen the storylines so disparate, and it goes a long way towards emphasizing just how isolated they all are. Nearly three seasons through Better Call Saul, our main characters have driven themselves apart to a point that’s no longer easy to ignore, especially with how they’re laid out in this week’s episode.

On Top This Week: Mike

“On top” isn’t a qualification that means much this week, as each character is stretched dangerously thin and on increasingly brittle ground. Still, Mike (Jonathan Banks) is doing best this week, which seems somewhat paradoxical as he is, of the main cast, currently in the least control of his situation. He’s being put on the payroll at Madrigal under the eye of Lydia (Laura Fraser), and he’s only just beginning to understand whom he’s dealing with in having gotten into bed with Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). The single scene he has with Laura is great in that it’s beautifully understated, i.e. a Breaking Bad connection as filtered through a Better Call Saul lens.

better call saul fall review 3

Dealing with the Devil

Speaking of Gus, he’s now dealing with Hector’s (Mark Margolis) ire as, after Hector forced him to run his shipments as well, Don Eladio decides that Gus’ route is how all of the cartel’s drugs will be run. It’s news that nearly gives Hector a heart attack, but not quite — he seems to recover after taking his medication, or rather, thinking that he has, after Nacho (Michael Mando) swapped out his pills last week.

Suddenly much more aware of the fact that his switcheroo may take longer than he’d hope, Nacho confronts his father (Juan Carlos Cantu) to tell him that Hector will come to him soon with a business proposition. It’s a heartbreaking scene, as his father tells him to get out; you can tell that, unlike the people around him, he’s not a man to be flexible with his morals, especially not with a man like Salamanca. Nacho tells him that if he cooperates, it’ll all blow over soon, but one gets the feeling that it may not be soon enough.

better call saul fall review 4

The Devil You Know

There’s further heartbreak to be found in this episode in just how cruel Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) is capable of being, in this case for the sake of a payday. He spends the episode slowly shifting a settlement into place for the Sandpiper suit in order to collect his 20% of the common fund. After failing to convince Howard (Patrick Fabian) to move the case along, he takes matters into his own hands, manipulating Irene Landry’s (Jean Effron) friends into turning away from her until he is effectively her only friend. Watching the other old ladies gradually begin giving her the cold shoulder, from going on their mall walks without her to refusing to acknowledge her until she breaks down into tears is awful to watch, even more so as Jimmy seems to feel absolutely no remorse. In fact, he’s simply eager to celebrate his success in pushing the settlement forward, bringing a bottle of tequila back to the office, though Kim (Rhea Seehorn) has got her own cases to worry about. His attempts at getting her to celebrate with him are aggressive to the point of being off-putting, as we know the earnest note in his voice has come out of someone else’s intense suffering. He’s starting to lose his soul.

better call saul fall review 5

The Devil You Don’t

Kim, in the meanwhile, has been stretching herself precariously thing as she attempts to make up for the ground she perceives that Jimmy’s inability to practice law has lost. Her new case with Gatwood Oil (fronted by Chris Mulkey) requires a lot of a work and a tight turnaround, and it doesn’t help that she keeps running into troubles. Her car gets stuck in the dirt after an initial meeting with Gatwood, and she takes a fall in getting it moving again and narrowly misses driving it straight into an oilrig. It’s an unfortunate precursor to the episode’s close-out, in which, given how hard she’s been working, she falls asleep at the wheel and runs off the road. The accident is a nasty jolt, just the way the episode is: the whole hour builds on a sense of unease before culminating in this single, shocking accident. Luckily, Kim’s alive, but she’s bruised and bloodied, and she’s utterly alone on the side of the road, her Gatwood papers scattered everywhere.

better call saul fall review 6

The Devil in the Details

Chuck (Michael McKean) is more obviously the engineer of his own loneliness. He takes the news of increased insurance rates due to his outburst at the hearing by threatening to take legal action, and when a concerned Howard tells him he’s no longer comfortable having him as a partner, he takes matters into his own hands there, as well. He’s willing to tear down the company that he built up (at least if what he tells Howard is to be believed) as well as burn bridges in the service of his pride, and though he tells Howard that the motion to sue is simply to call his bluff, he’s bluffing, too. When Howard comes to his house to confront him about the action, he’s got the lights on and is cooking with an immersion blender. But as soon as Howard leaves, he switches to a wooden spoon, grimacing in pain and running through his naming exercises again in order to keep himself stable.

It’s a bleak episode, and with just one more episode left in the season, there’s not a happy ending in sight. Each character is up against the ropes, and we’ve already started to see the worst in each of them.

Cool Posts From Around the Web: