Better Call Saul‘s season 2 finale proved that AMC is capable of doing a cliffhanger right, and the network proved that they do really have the best villain on television, but he has nothing to do with The Walking Dead.
Let’s go back to the start though before we discuss that final scene.
Just like with Breaking Bad, Vince Gilligan and the writers’ use of flashbacks continues to be one of the best devices on the show. The opening, which found Chuck and a (hungry) Jimmy sitting at their mother’s deathbed, was the second time the passing of one their parents came up. Whereas before we only heard Chuck’s side of the story about the death of their father, when he caught Jimmy (or so he thinks, we don’t know for sure) stealing from their father, which forced him to sell his store, which Chuck believes killed him a couple of months later, this time we saw what really happened.
After three days of sitting there, Jimmy proposed they grab something to eat, which Chuck had no interest in. So Jimmy went alone, and sure enough that’s when their mother woke up, but instead of recognizing Chuck’s presence, she called out for Jimmy right before dying.
Keep in mind, it might be easy to think this was about the differences between the two–Chuck as the responsible, unselfish one, and Jimmy as the self-centered jerk–but there is nothing wrong with what Jimmy did. Everyone responds differently in those situations, and wanting to get away for a few minutes doesn’t make him a bad person or a bad son, it just means he needed to take a breath.
What that was really about was showing once again why Chuck hates Jimmy, and it has nothing to do with a respect for the law or being tired of fixing his messes; it’s because people love Jimmy and they don’t love Chuck. Now maybe their mother called out Jimmy’s name instead because she knew he wasn’t there, or maybe she called out Jimmy’s name because she doesn’t worry about Chuck and knows he’ll be okay, but for whatever the reason, Chuck took that as another sign that Jimmy, no matter how many times people have to clean up after him, is the McGill boy people like.
For as much as Jimmy idolized Chuck and wanted to be like him, the irony is Chuck resents that he can’t be Jimmy. People will never love Chuck the way they do his goofball younger brother, no matter how successful, responsible, and selfless Chuck is. Their dying mother called out Jimmy’s name, not his. When Jimmy asked if she woke up and said anything, Chuck didn’t say no to protect his brother, he lied out of jealousy. A jealousy that trumps everything else.
Because make no mistake, there are no real good McGill brothers, but there is a better one and a worse one. We saw what is really in Jimmy’s heart, when he rushed into that copy place to help his brother, even though he risked outing himself as having committed a felony, which would not only ruin his law career but land him in jail.
Jimmy put his own needs aside (yes, he caused the mess) and rushed to help his brother. He could have had Chuck committed (and probably should have, again), but instead he took him home. Everything else aside, Jimmy McGill is a good person, and while his actions against his brother were awful (and the closest to Saul Goodman he’s been in two seasons), when the chips were down Jimmy showed up, at great personal cost.
Jimmy loves his brother, unfortunately his brother is the best villain on T.V.
Yeah, I said it, Chuck McGill is the worst. That final scene, where Jimmy again put aside his own needs to make sure Chuck didn’t quit being a lawyer, played out like the most realistic evil genius scene ever. Chuck wasn’t retiring from the practice, he was preying on his brother’s love for him. He saw what Jimmy did in the hospital, knew what Jimmy risked rushing into that copier center, and he used it all to get him on tape admitting to a felony, something Jimmy only did for Chuck’s own good.
(Also, I believe Jimmy didn’t think altering the documents would be that big of a deal, since he never really thinks these things through, but that just goes to show Chuck’s hatred for him.)
Chuck’s own petty jealousy that his brother is likable and he’s not is so strong he’ll do anything to tear him down. The final scene was as powerful and effective as it was because it felt honest to the characters. Chuck’s an asshole, an evil, brilliant asshole, and his brother’s love for him is just what he needed to finally destroy him.
I’d like season three to start tomorrow.
We know Saul Goodman is coming, and we know that guy is not Jimmy McGill, but man, Saul Goodman really is Chuck McGill’s brother.
–Has there been one bad scene involving Mike in two seasons of this show? If there has been I don’t remember it.
I had no idea who Mike was going to shoot (except for the Cousins obviously), and I was totally into it. I still think Mike could ultimately be responsible for Hector Salamanca’s future condition, but that last moment, with the note (if not from Nacho who else) on his window saying “Don’t” was another great ending that has me eager for next season.
It’s also great to see Nacho and Mike have a weird respect for one another. Arguably they’d both be better off killing the other one, but instead they continue to look out for each other. That one note did a lot to round out who Nacho really is, which is the most interesting, well-developed Salamanca crime family member from either this show or Breaking Bad.
–The shot of Chuck on the gurney in the ER was incredible. Not only was it shot wonderfully, capturing Chuck’s claustrophobia and terror, but Michael McKean‘s performance was also amazing. My bet is Bob Odenkirk‘s nuanced performance (that doesn’t always feel like it is because Jimmy is so big) won’t get the credit it richly deserves come award season, but McKean’s just might. He’s been great from the get go on this show, but that type of scene gets you trophies.
–My only real complaint is there was very little Kim this week. Rhea Seehorn‘s performance is one of my favorite parts of this show, but she was mostly background fodder for Jimmy. Not even really a problem with the script, more just a note that the episode was good enough that it didn’t even need one of it’s best characters.
–I thought Ernie’s lie that he called Jimmy was a little deus ex machina-ish, but at least they gave him some motivation by having him say he was just trying to protect his friend.
–This season dragged in a couple spots (felt like an eight episode season fit into ten), but it was still very, very good, and the characters are all incredibly well-rounded and interesting. That’s how you get such a powerful final moment between the brothers. That’s the payoff to those slow episodes.
Okay, what did you think of this episode? What about the season? Talk about it with us in the comments below.