Better Call Saul / Television

Better Call Saul Recap: Episode 303 (“Sunk Costs”)

Written by Gennifer Hutchison; Directed by John Shiban.

This episode is all about alliances—for better or worse. We see the beginning of the working relationship between Mike and Gus, and we see Kim team up with Jimmy to help fight his legal battle against Chuck. We know how the first alliance ends. The second remains to be seen.

The episode begins with a short cold open showing a Pollos Hermanos truck headed toward the US border and a pair of weathered shoes drop from a power line (This scene takes place in the future, at some point during the Breaking Bad timeline.) Then we pick up in the present, where we find out that it was in fact Gus on the other end of the call at the end of the last episode. Gus shows up with his muscle (Victor and Tyrus) and Mike finally comes face-to-face with the man who has been tracking him.

303 mike and gus

Photo Source: Better Call Saul AMC

Gus and Mike aren’t men who mince words so they get right to the point. Gus tells Mike that he needs Hector Salamanca alive (for now…) and wants Mike to back off. Gus seems to know all the details about what went down between Mike and Hector and wonders why Mike didn’t drop the matter after he ripped off Hector’s truck. In addition to the threat against his family, Mike’s guilt over the death of the innocent bystander in the truck robbery is fueling his vendetta against Hector and he’s not ready to let it go, so the two come to an agreement that benefits both of them: Mike is going to keep going after Hector’s trucks. That way he can stick it to Hector in a way that benefits Gus’s business. Win-win.

Jimmy is outside Chuck’s house, waiting for the police to come arrest him, and he digs out some ancient cigarettes from his glove compartment. (The cigarette brand is Wilmington—the same brand Jesse used for the ricin cigarette in Breaking Bad.) He calls Francesca to let her know that he’s not going to be in and to cancel his appointments but he doesn’t tell her what’s happening, presumably to keep Kim from finding out. Chuck comes out to have a Come To Jesus chat with Jimmy with a whole spiel about how he’s just trying to help him and it’s all for the best. He even has the audacity to claim he’s not pressing charges to punish Jimmy for what he did but to show him he needs to change his ways.

sure jan

Jimmy shuts him down quick and spits some truth of his own. He tells Chuck that he’s inevitably going to get sick again, but this time nobody is going to be there to help him. He’s going to live out his last days in agony in some electricity-filled hospital room where he will die alone. From the look on Chuck’s face, this is his worst nightmare.

303 chuck die alone

GIF Source: heisenbergchronicles / via heisenbergchronicles.tumblr.com

The cops finally arrive and take Jimmy to the station for booking. DDA Oakley has come down to see if the rumors he’s heard about Jimmy’s arrest are really true and he seems to get a real kick out of the whole thing. It’s not malicious, but you can tell he’s still jealous that Jimmy moved up in the world (even if he’s no longer at Davis and Main) and seeing him getting arrested is, at the very least, the most exciting and entertaining thing that has happened to Oakley in months, maybe even years. The guy doesn’t have a lot going on. Jimmy has decided to represent himself which is a terrible idea and Oakley tells him as much. Even though Oakley is enjoying the show, he seems genuinely concerned for Jimmy and willing to do what little he can to help.

303 oakley jimmy booking

Photo Source: Better Call Saul AMC

We are treated to an excellent Kim montage which shows her morning routine. She wakes up at 5:30am, having slept in her office, makes some coffee and then goes across the street to the gym. She doesn’t actually work out. She just uses the locker room facilities to shower and get ready for work. Kim is so busy with Mesa Verde (and all of Jimmy’s bullshit on top of it) that she doesn’t even have time to go home and is basically living out of her office. The only disappointing thing about this montage is that it didn’t show how Kim gets that perfect curl in her ponytail. Will I ever learn her secret?

With her game face on, Kim crosses the street to start her day when she sees Ernie’s car in the parking lot. He tells her that Chuck fired him and that he feels like what happened to Jimmy is his fault. Kim finally learns that Jimmy’s been arrested and promptly heads to the courthouse. Kim walks in in the middle of Jimmy’s hearing where he is representing himself in front of the judge, who knows him from his days as a public defender. Kim tries to get Jimmy to let her represent him but he refuses her help. She looks crushed and leaves the courtroom.

303 kim rejected

Photo Source: Better Call Saul AMC

Jimmy makes bail and goes back to the office where he apologizes to Kim and tells her the circumstances surrounding his arrest. He tells her that he didn’t tell her because he didn’t want her to take time away from her Mesa Verde work to clean up another one of his messes. He wants to take full responsibility for what he did and fix it on his own. Kim reluctantly agrees to let him handle things himself but she doesn’t look at all convinced that it’s the smartest move.

Meanwhile, Mike is down at a clinic in Mexico to meet Dr. Barry Goodman (the same doctor from Breaking Bad who saved Gus and Mike after they took out Don Eladio and the cartel). We’re not sure how Mike got hooked up with this guy—maybe through Gus, maybe through the Caldera the Sketchy Vet—but he is there to get some meth. Not for personal use, obviously, but as a part of his latest scheme to stick it to Hector.

303 mike and dr

Photo Source: Better Call Saul AMC

The funniest scene in the episode is lunchtime on the courthouse bench with Oakley and Jimmy. Oakley is set up with the world’s saddest lunch—a vending machine coffee and two bags of chips—when Jimmy comes along with a juicy burger and some fries. Oakley is even jealous of Jimmy’s lunch, and he picks at his fries while he tells him what he knows about who is going to be prosecuting him. No one in the Albuquerque office is allowed near the case because they all know Jimmy so they are bringing in someone new named Hay to handle it. All Oakley knows about the person is that they are “tough but fair”—not what Jimmy wants to hear. He loses his appetite and Oakley basically takes his burger.

303 jimmy oakley lunch

Photo Source: Better Call Saul AMC

At Chuck’s house we meet Kyra Hay, the woman who will be prosecuting Jimmy. Hay seems concerned that Chuck might decide to back out because Jimmy is family or that he might not be physically able to testify in court. Chuck assures her that’s not the case and asks her about her strategy. She lets him know that she is not going to go easy on Jimmy, nor is she willing to drop the felony charge. At this point, Chuck seems to have a moment of hesitation but really he’s just working her. Chuck has an endgame in mind—and he has the entire time—and his whole concerned, loving brother act is really about convincing Hay to do what he wants.

303 chuck and hay

Photo Source: Better Call Saul AMC

Mike is in the desert—in the exact spot we saw in the opening scene—putting one of his Classic Mike Plans into action. We see the pair of shoes from the opening, only in the present they are brand new. Mike ties them together and shoves the meth in the toe of one of the shoes, and after a few failed attempts he manages to get them hooked around the power line.

303 red shoes

Photo Source: Better Call Saul AMC

Phase two of the plan finds Mike on a bluff overlooking the intersection, sniper rifle at the ready, waiting for Hector’s Regalo Helado truck to reach the gun drop point. When the driver and another associate arrive, they park the truck under the shoes and head to the drop spot. Mike fires into the air and they hit the deck, but after a few more intermittent shots they decide that it must just be hunters in the distance. They leave their guns so they are squeaky clean at the border crossing, and as they are pulling away in the truck, Mike shoots the toe of the shoe so that the meth spills out onto the truck. When the truck is searched at the border, they get busted by the drug dog and arrested. This one is really going to hurt Hector’s business—and with no innocent people harmed in the process.

Jimmy and Kim share one of Jimmy’s ancient cigarettes outside their office and Jimmy tells Kim that the ADA offered him an unexpected deal: a pre-prosecution diversion, where he has to confess to everything (including the felony and assault, which he didn’t actually do). Kim thinks he got lucky until he tells her it was Chuck’s idea and that the deal comes with one condition: his confession will immediately be sent to the New Mexico Bar Association. It’s what Chuck has wanted from the very beginning—long before Jimmy sabotaged him on Mesa Verde. He wants Jimmy disbarred.

Kim decides that she is going to stand by Jimmy and help him fight the charges. Even after everything they’ve already been though, Jimmy still can’t believe that she would actually put herself on the line for him. But she loves him and she wants to help him. “Let’s just call it the fallacy of sunk costs,” she tells him. It’s a callback to the season 2 premiere, when Kim asked Jimmy how he could give up the law after putting in so much effort to pass the bar. It’s not the most romantic concept—that she’s invested so much in her relationship with Jimmy that she can’t give up on him now—but it fits their relationship perfectly.

303 kim and jimmy end

Photo Source: Better Call Saul AMC

It looks like we’re gearing up for a serious legal battle between Jimmy and Chuck, and there’s a lot of other players involved. Kim, Howard, and Ernie are all tangled up in the McGill brothers’ war of attrition to varying degrees. As far as Mike’s new alliance with Gus goes, we know how their stories end but not how they get there, and I look forward to seeing how their relationship develops and the role Mike plays in growing Gus’s business into what it will become.

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