Episode 2×10: In which the con man gets conned and an unseen hand changes Mike’s course.
Episode 2×10: “Klick” (written by Heather Marion and Vince Gilligan; directed by Vince Gilligan)
I hate that there are only 10 episodes per season of Better Call Saul. It feels like, just as soon as it begins, it is over. I want to complain about it, but then I remember that the team behind this show creates some of the most visually stunning and engaging television there is, and that kind of quality takes time and effort. So, alas, here I am recapping the season 2 finale, and oh what a finale it was.
The teaser brings us back in time to poor Ruth McGill’s deathbed. Jimmy and Chuck are in a Chicago hospital at their mother’s bedside. She is unconscious and has been for quite some time and the brothers McGill haven’t even taken the time to eat. Jimmy suggests to Chuck that they take a bit of a break to go get some hoagies but Chuck seems to think this is callous. How dare Jimmy even suggest that they leave their mother’s side? But hey, people need to eat, so Jimmy offers to bring Chuck back some food and off he goes for some much needed sustenance.
Once Chuck is alone with his mother, he begins to sob uncontrollably. He refuses to show any signs of vulnerability when Jimmy is there, but the second he is gone, the floodgates open and we see that Chuck is absolutely destroyed by his mother’s impending death. Mrs. McGill returns to consciousness just long enough to call out for Jimmy twice. She doesn’t seem to recognize or acknowledge Chuck is there with her, and then she flat-lines. She has a DNR, so Chuck sits there with the nurse as his mother passes away.
When Jimmy gets back he finds the room empty. Chuck is sitting in the hallway and tells him their mother is gone. When Jimmy asks if she woke up or said anything, Chuck lies and says no, so we can add “withholding their mother’s last words” to the list of Chuck’s unforgivable crimes against his brother. He’s probably convinced himself that he is sparing Jimmy the guilt for the oh-so-heinous crime of getting himself a sandwich, but deep down this is just Mommy Issues, pure and simple. Chuck is bitter because Jimmy was his mother’s favorite and he lies to Jimmy out of spite and jealousy. What a peach.
Back in the present day where we pick up where episode 2×09 left off: Jimmy is across the street from the copy shop after Chuck’s collapse. He decides that he has to help his brother, consequences be damned, so he runs across the street and gets them to call 911. I don’t know why on earth it took Jimmy busting in the door to get them to call 911 after the man hit his head and passed out, but it is what it is. Chuck comes to just long enough to register that Jimmy is there.
The scene of Chuck being treated in the ER is absolutely excruciating to watch, and I mean that in the best possible way. It is done upside down and in close-up of Chuck, who is just in absolute agony and trying to get them to stop what they are doing. Through his obvious pain, Chuck is fighting them every step of the way, explicitly stating that he does not give consent, telling them that he has a condition—doing everything he can to get them to stop. But it’s all pointless. They carry on with their routine tests and nobody listens to him; he is completely powerless and at the mercy of the doctors and nurses and all the electricity they want to expose him to. To Chuck, this is a physical and legal violation. He has been completely stripped of his agency. It’s torture, and the viewer—no matter one’s opinion of Chuck—can’t help but feel for him.
Once Chuck is out of the ER, he is tended to by Dr. Cruz, who was his doctor when he was hospitalized in season 1. Chuck is refusing the tests that he needs and Dr. Cruz wants Jimmy to commit him. Jimmy agrees to a temporary emergency guardianship, which will allow them to perform the necessary tests. He wants to tell Chuck himself but when he goes into his hospital room, Chuck is all ready to grill him. “Well if it isn’t Johnny-on-the-Spot,” Chuck says, and I know Jimmy is busted. Chuck calls for Ernie, who is in the hallway looking pretty traumatized by the whole experience, and he starts grilling him on the timeline of events, trying to catch Jimmy in a lie and prove he bribed Lance the copy shop guy.
At this point I’m thinking Jimmy is done for. I’m thinking Ernie is a good, honest guy and he doesn’t really understand the big picture of what’s happening—he’s definitely going to tell Chuck the truth. But I’m really happy I was wrong. Ernie is a real bro here, and he tells Chuck that he called Jimmy before he drove Chuck to the copy shop. Basically, Ernie saves Jimmy’s ass and even Jimmy is astounded by it. Chuck is furious, as expected, and kicks both of them out.
Out in the hallway, Jimmy asks Ernie why he said what he said, and we learn that Chuck has been talking some serious shit. Ernie tells him, “He’s really out to get you, Jimmy.” Ernie lied to Chuck because Jimmy is his friend and Chuck is just some guy that treats him (and everyone else) like shit. Ernie and Jimmy have a friendship that stretches all the way back to Jimmy’s mailroom days, which is why Ernie didn’t tell Jimmy about Chuck’s shit-talking until this moment. He wanted to spare Jimmy’s feelings.
Poor Ernie. He never asked for any of this. I really hope that whatever happens between the McGill brothers doesn’t affect Ernie. He just wants to go back to the mailroom. Free him.
The episode moves away from the brothers McGill for a moment and we see Ximenez the truck driver tied up, gagged, and screaming in the back of Nacho’s van. In 2×09 we learned that, even though Ximenez was not in on Mike’s plan, Hector Salamanca thinks that he was and has ordered Nacho to pick him up and get info out of him. Arturo is with Nacho, who looks almost ill as Arturo opens a padlocked gate in the middle of the desert. Nacho knows the driver wasn’t in on Mike’s robbery, but he can’t tell Hector that he knows anything about it, so now he has to watch an innocent man get tortured and killed (and likely take part in both). Poor Nacho. Mike really put him in a pickle with this whole truck robbery situation, and as we know from season 1 in the desert with Tuco, Nacho likes to avoid violent torture and murder if at all possible. Mike has been tailing them the whole time but he stops once they pass through the gate onto what I assume is private, Salamanca-controlled property.
Back in the hospital, Chuck is trying to guilt-trip Dr. Cruz into letting him out of the medical testing by invoking the Hippocratic oath but she isn’t having it. She sedates him and then there is a brief but disturbing scene of Chuck going into the CT scanner. Fun fact: the writers had toyed with the idea of having Breaking Bad’s Marie Schrader be the radiologist in this scene, but ultimately they thought it would take away from what was happening. As much as I adore Marie (and I do), I think they made the right choice because the harrowing thing about this scene is how completely in Chuck’s head the viewer is. That thing is essentially a torture chamber, and even sedated, we know Chuck is in complete distress. I can’t believe I’m saying this again, but Poor Chuck.
Jimmy is in the waiting room and he’s getting restless because it’s been a long time and he hasn’t gotten an update or been able to see Chuck. He was told the CT scan wouldn’t take very long and he’s on edge when Kim arrives to wait with him. Now, I was really looking forward to seeing Jimmy’s TV commercial. Like, REALLY excited, but the way it was finally shown was incredibly anti-climactic, albeit in a very interesting way. Jimmy (and the audience) is so caught up in what is happening with Chuck that it just seems like the absolute wrong time for the world premiere of Jimmy’s latest masterpiece, which includes the absolutely amazing tagline “Gimme Jimmy!” The only person who truly appreciates it while it’s happening is Kim.
She’s so incredibly proud of Jimmy and she loves it but Jimmy can’t think about it at the moment. He’s too worried about his brother. He even turns off his cell phone so that any new business coming in from the commercial will go straight to voicemail. That’s when Dr. Cruz comes out and we learn that Chuck is physically fine, but there have been some complications. Chuck is in what Dr. Cruz calls a state of “self-induced catatonia” and what I call a “spite coma.” Dr. Cruz seems to think that the situation is no different than the catatonic state Chuck was in after he was tazed by the police, but Jimmy blames her for putting him in the CT scanner. Jimmy is determined to stay by Chuck’s side until he wakes up.
A brief interlude in the saga of the brothers McGill finds Mike in the desert with Lawson the arms dealer. They are taking some target practice and calibrating that sniper rifle Mike cozied up to in episode 2×04. Something tells me this isn’t just a casual day out shooting in the desert. Mike is getting ready to make a big and very decisive move on Hector Salamanca. Nacho wasn’t wrong in thinking that Mike’s super-sized grudge against the Salamancas is dangerous. This Mike is much closer to the version we know from Breaking Bad. He’s done with half measures and he’s ready to pull the trigger.
Chuck wakes up from his spite coma to find Jimmy sleeping next to him. He’s been out for 20 hours and he assumes that Jimmy is there to take him to an insane asylum but Jimmy just wants to take him home. The only reason Jimmy even got the temporary emergency guardianship was so he could make sure that Chuck had no serious damage to his brain, heart, or any other vital organs. He really was just looking out for Chuck’s best interest, hard as that may be for Chuck to believe.
Jimmy takes Chuck home and offers to take care of him but Chuck wants him gone. He’s still angry and doesn’t want anything to do with Jimmy at the moment so he basically kicks him out of the house. As soon as Jimmy is gone, Chuck dons a space blanket and heads out into his garage. It is full of all the old electronics and appliances from his house. He goes to a box labeled “Office” and retrieves some type of electronic equipment.
Out in the desert, Mike is ready to make his move against Hector. He hikes to a spot on a ridge where he has a clean line of sight. In the distance we see a small house, Nacho’s van, and Hector’s car. Arturo is digging a grave and the Cousins come out dragging poor Ximenez. Hector and Nacho follow and Mike prepares to take the shot but Nacho is standing in the line of fire. One of the Cousins shoots Ximenez in the head and he falls backward into the grave. Nacho is still in Mike’s way and even though he could possibly get Hector, he doesn’t. He decides to be patient and wait for the perfect shot. They all go back inside the small house, except Arturo who is burying the driver’s body.
Mike is waiting for his moment when he hears a car horn in the distance. It isn’t Nacho’s van or Hector’s car because there is no movement by the house. They are all too far away to hear the sound. Mike leaves his post and discovers that someone has lodged a tree branch between his front seat and the horn of his car. There is a note on his windshield that simply says, “DON’T.” Mike looks around but whoever put the note there is gone (or very well hidden in the desert landscape).
This is the last we see of Mike this season and even though we don’t get any information about who left the note, there is a fairly obvious answer: this is the work of Gus Fring. There are many people in the fandom who think the note was left by Fring himself but I could not disagree more. While I think that it is definitely from Fring, I don’t think that Gus schlepped out to the desert to put it on Mike’s car. That definitely seems like a task for an employee, perhaps Victor or Tyrus. Regardless, Gilligan and Gould all but confirmed that Gus will be returning when they admitted that it’s no coincidence that the first letter of each of the episode titles can be arranged to spell out a message:
G loves Off
B ali Hai
Don’t get me wrong: I’m totally fine with Gus appearing on Better Call Saul—he is, after all, Mike’s employer during the Breaking Bad years—but I’d rather wait for it a little longer. I would be totally fine if the entirety of Mike’s storyline in season 3 was just building towards Gus’s actual appearance in the season 3 finale. Of course, that’s exactly the kind of thing that fans who want Better Call Saul to be Breaking Bad 2 would complain about, but I really dislike those people so I think that the writers should take their sweet time bringing the man himself back on the scene.
It would appear that the Gimme Jimmy commercial was a success because Jimmy has got a waiting room full of elders. He and Kim haven’t found a receptionist yet (and if God is real, season 3 will give me Francesca at that desk…). Jimmy escorts an especially slow-moving client out the door and before he can bring in the next one, Kim comes out of her office and tells him that Howard is trying to reach him, that it’s about Chuck, and it’s important. Then Jimmy asks Kim to get the coffee and donuts he was just about to give his waiting clients and she makes this face:
Jimmy calls Howard and he’s furious. Howard asks, “Are you behind this?” and sadly that is the only bit of Hamlin in the entire finale. See you next year, Howar (hopefully).
Jimmy heads to Chuck’s in a hurry to sort out whatever situation has got Hamlin’s panties in a bunch. Initially Chuck tells Jimmy that he’s busy and won’t let him inside, but Jimmy refuses to stop banging on the door and Chuck eventually unlocks it. Jimmy enters to find that Chuck is in the process of covering his entire living room/study area (including the windows and the ceiling) in space blankets and some other kind of insulation material.
At this point, it looks like Chuck has completely lost it. Jimmy tries to talk Chuck down and get him to take a break from his redecorating but he’s completely manic. When Jimmy finally gets Chuck to sit, we learn that the elder McGill has not only quit HHM but has retired from the law altogether. Jimmy tries to stop him from making such a rash decision but Chuck has decided that his one mistake with the Mesa Verde documents is a sign that he is no longer in control of his mind, and since he doesn’t possess all his faculties, he should not be practicing law.
I knew the second Chuck said that he made the mistake that he was faking this whole thing. Others have said they knew from much earlier (and I suppose if you freeze-frame the shot of him in the garage, you can see the tape recorder) but what tipped me off was that Chuck was admitting fault. It was just so out of character for him to acknowledge that he is a human being who is capable of making a mistake that I knew the whole thing was bullshit. Jimmy falls for it hard, though to be fair Chuck really does give an excellent performance here in his hardest role to date: “Actual Human Man with Flaws and Feelings.” Jimmy can’t stand to see his brother in this type of pain and he decides that he needs to tell Chuck the truth about Mesa Verde so he doesn’t think he’s losing his mind. Jimmy admits to a felony to make Chuck feel better about himself, and if that isn’t love then I don’t know what is.
Although the viewer isn’t 100% sure until the final moments of the episode, it’s pretty obvious (especially given the scene from the garage earlier in the episode) that Chuck is taping this whole confession. He is guiding the conversation exactly where he needs it to go to use the tape against Jimmy later on, although exactly what Chuck is going to do with this evidence is unknown. If I had to guess, I would say he’s going to take the recording to Kim and make her listen to it before he does anything else, because if we know one think about Chuck it’s that he can’t stand to see other people love Jimmy. With the proof of Jimmy’s crimes in hand, Chuck will want to show Kim once and for all that Jimmy is bad news and force her to have to disclose to Mesa Verde while he’s at it.
All this time we think that Jimmy is the con artist in the McGill family, but “Klick” shows us that Chuck is no slouch in the bullshit department. Chuck can’t abide the fact that Jimmy has no respect for the law and breaks it whenever it suits him (which is often), and Chuck thinks of himself as this paragon of virtue and honor because he has dedicated his life to upholding the law. But when you really look at Chuck’s behavior relative to Jimmy, his morals are highly questionable. He has no problem lying to Jimmy, sabotaging him or betraying him, but because he does all of it in the name of and inside of The Law, Chuck thinks he’s still solidly on the moral high ground.
The truth is that Chuck may be on the right side of the law, but he’s just as capable of running a scam as Jimmy is. The difference is that while Jimmy scams random people for money, Chuck scams his own flesh and blood out of spite, jealousy, and some long-held grudge. But as much as I hate Chuck—and I do hate Chuck—I feel for him. Not only is he mentally unwell but he is being consumed by his hatred for Jimmy. Carrying that kind of all-consuming obsessive hate is dangerous and it’s not going to end well for Chuck.
Season two leaves all of our main players (with the exception of Hamlin, who always seems to come out unfazed) in very precarious positions. Jimmy has just unwittingly confessed to perjury and Kim is wrapped up tight in all of that mess. Even though Chuck is faking the full-on breakdown, I think it’s safe to say that his mental health is shaky at best. Nacho is keeping a lot of secrets from the Salamancas, which is not the safest course of action if one wants to live to see thirty. And then there’s Mike, who is on the verge of becoming a gun for hire (and probably going to hook up with Gus Fring’s crew soon).
The show is in a very different place and has a very different tone than it did back in season 1. Remember the good old days when Mike was stuck in the parking booth and Jimmy was chasing the Kettlemans through the woods? I can’t believe I have to wait another year for ten more episodes of this effing show, but wait I will because Better Call Saul continues to be the best thing on my television (at least for ten weeks out of the year). See you next year, BCS fandom.