Better Call Saul Recap: Episode 3×06 (“Off Brand”)

Written by Ann Cherkis; Directed by Keith Gordon.

In which we meet Saul Goodman, Chuck takes a few steps toward recovery, and I learn what a star wipe is.

With Tuco in prison, Nacho is in charge of the collections at El Michoacano. Hector is there to supervise/intimidate while Nacho counts the cash. Nacho is not nearly as frightening as Tuco was, but he’s doing his best to keep things all business with his dealers. Hector is reading a newspaper while Nacho conducts business, but he’s obviously listening to every word to make sure Nacho is doing things right. Enter Domingo (known as Krazy 8 during the Breaking Bad era) who is being a little too friendly and familiar with Nacho. Domingo even brings up Nacho’s dad and his upholstery business, which crosses Nacho’s line.

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Photo Source: Better Call Saul AMC

If Hector wasn’t lurking, I think Nacho would have been mostly fine with having a friendly chat, but it’s really not a good look for Nacho to be too buddy-buddy and forgiving with his dealers. Especially someone who has come in short for the week. Nacho initially tells Domingo to make it up next week and lets him go, but after he leaves, Hector makes a simple-yet-effective comment to Nacho: “Who works for who?” Nacho doesn’t particularly want to do it but he ends up beating the crap out of Domingo. He needs to show Hector he’s not a pushover. No more Mr. Nice Nacho.

The McGill v. McGill showdown ends in a 12-month suspension for Jimmy, which is a major win considering what could have happened. Chuck is completely devastated by what happened at the hearing and won’t answer the door when Rebecca tries to see him. Jimmy and Kim are at the office celebrating with some champagne when Rebecca shows up and interrupts an otherwise lovely McWexler moment.

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GIF Source: kimwexler / via kimwexler.tumblr.com

Rebecca tells Jimmy that he needs to go see Chuck, that he owes it to him, that he’s still his brother—blah blah blah—but Jimmy’s not having it. He’s done with Chuck and he refuses to help him anymore. Rebecca begins to see Jimmy as Chuck sees him and I can’t really blame her since she has a very limited knowledge of their relationship. I also can’t blame Jimmy for his refusal, given what he’s been through with Chuck over the years. I think Kim can see both sides of it, too, and while she’s solidly on Team Jimmy, Rebecca’s visit takes the wind out of her sails a bit.

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Photo Source: Better Call Saul AMC

Stacey and Mike attend a group grief counseling session, which is maybe the most un-Mike thing I can think of, but he does it for Stacey because he’ll do anything if it will benefit her and Kaylee. Stacey wants him to come to another meeting and has volunteered him to help build a playground. She just sort of assumed that he knows how to pour concrete (and to be fair, I also just assume Mike knows how to do everything). Mike isn’t super stoked about it but it doesn’t take much to change his mind. He’s got a massive soft spot for his daughter-in-law.

Howard goes to Chuck’s place and Chuck lets him in after a while. He has come bearing a bottle of ridiculously expensive 1966 Macallan scotch to celebrate Jimmy’s suspension. Howard considers it a win for them, even though Chuck clearly does not. Howard believes that there’s no way that Jimmy can go a year without fucking up (and, honestly, fair enough), and when Jimmy does inevitably do something, the PPD terminates and he will be disbarred anyway. Howard is really trying to work Chuck here, comparing him to Clarence Darrow to stroke his ego and get him to snap out of it. I’m not exactly sure what Howard’s endgame is but I can’t imagine he actually wants Chuck back at HHM full-time. Perhaps he just wants him to get treatment for his illness so he can retire in good standing. Either way, he doesn’t want him sitting around in the dark, alone, hating Jimmy because, as he tells Chuck, Jimmy isn’t worth it.

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Photo Source: Better Call Saul AMC

Finally Chuck agrees to toast “to new beginnings” and they drink up. When Howard leaves, Chuck takes out the tape recorder, removes the batteries, and holds one in his hand for as long as he can. For Chuck to truly have a new beginning, he is going to have to accept the fact that his condition is mental and not physical, and it seems like he is really trying to come to terms with that.

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Photo Source: Better Call Saul AMC

Jimmy has to call all his clients to tell them he will be taking a year off, and there’s a nice montage of Francesca transferring calls to Jimmy, with Jimmy getting increasingly irritated the more calls he makes. All his clients will be receiving a letter with the details of the suspension and by the end of the alphabet, Jimmy just wants to tell his clients to read the damn letter and be done with it. Let’s be real: a lot of them will be dead by the time he’s back to practicing law anyway, so what does it really matter if he gets snippy on the phone?

On Jimmy’s last call, he ends up talking about his “Gimme Jimmy” commercial with the client, and after Jimmy hangs up he realizes that his commercials are still airing. He needs to get them pulled right away or he will violate the terms of his suspension. Turns out his contract does not allow him to resell the time and he has nine airings left, which means he is out $4,000 unless he can figure something out.

Kim is under the impression that, during Jimmy’s suspension, they will downsize, which includes firing Francesca and breaking the lease on the office space, but Jimmy isn’t ready to give up the dream. Per usual, Kim is looking at things practically and Jimmy is letting what his heart wants get in the way. He tells her that nothing has to change and that he will come up with his half of the money every month. She agrees, for the moment, maybe because he’s been through a lot and she thinks he’ll change his mind once he’s thinking clearly. Or maybe she actually believes he’ll figure out an above-board way to make his share of the money.

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Photo Source: Better Call Saul AMC

Jimmy’s got a plan to make the advertising money back and it’s actually a decent one: he will charge a small business to make a commercial but give them the air time for free so he isn’t breaking his contract with the TV station. He tries to convince a couple in the flooring business but they don’t want to go for the full package (all nine airings) so Jimmy tries to sell them just one. They almost go for it but Jimmy doesn’t really have the time to wait for them to make up their minds because he’s got to air something in a few hours. Time for Plan B.

He’s got the whole student film commercial squad waiting for him outside and the makeup girl gives him the idea to make his own commercial: a commercial for commercials. It’s a decent idea and Jimmy runs with it but he feels that doing the commercial as Jimmy McGill is too “off brand” (and none of the students have the acting chops to pull it off) so he decides to go in a completely different direction.

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Photo Source: Better Call Saul AMC

A loaded Pollos Hermanos truck arrives at one of Gus’s facilities and after it is unloaded, Victor and Tyrus come in to finish the job. They take the panels off the bottom to reveal a secret compartment where the drugs are stashed in transport, hidden in what I’m assuming is the Pollos special seasoning. This is a slightly different strategy than the one Gus was employing during the Breaking Bad days, when he placed the drugs in containers of Pollos batter. It may be that he’s using the batter in addition and this is just an extra added compartment to accommodate Hector’s demands.

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Photo Source: Better Call Saul AMC

Nacho and Arturo are there doing a pickup and Nacho purposefully takes six bricks instead of the agreed-upon five. It’s unclear whether or not Hector told him to do this or whether he’s doing it to prove to Hector he’s a badass but either way, he ends up with Victor’s gun pointed at his head. He tells them that Hector is expecting six bricks and he’s not bringing less than that so Tyrus calls Gus to get the OK. Gus says to give it to him but he’s not happy about it. It’s just another in a long series of strikes against Hector in Gus’s book.

Meanwhile, the phone call had interrupted Gus at a location familiar to Breaking Bad fans. One of the best things about this episode was Gus’s slow tour through what will become the industrial laundry/meth super lab. And then, as if that wasn’t exciting enough, we got a surprise guest at the end: none other than Gus’s partner-in-crime, Lydia Rodarte-Quayle.

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Gif Source: raymukada / via raymukada.tumblr.com

Chuck puts on a space blanket under his coat and walks to the closest pay phone, which is in a busy business district, lit up like Christmas with fluorescent lights everywhere. He is trying to get a hold of Dr. Cruz but she isn’t available. I may hate Chuck, but I do have to give him props for taking this kind of action to get himself well. I’m assuming he is ready to have an honest conversation with Dr. Cruz, who has always known his condition is mental, and get the help that he very much needs, and I have to give credit where credit is due because that’s one of the hardest things in the world to do.

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Photo Source: Better Call Saul AMC

Nacho meets up with Hector and tells him what went down with Gus’s guys. He seems pissed that they put a gun to Nacho’s head, I’m assuming because no one would dare put a gun to Tuco’s head and he’s still wishing that Nacho would be as hard as Tuco was. Hector basically tells Nacho that he’s going to start using his father’s upholstery business as a front because his distributor is in Mexico. Nacho tells Hector that his father is “a simple man” who is not in the game and he practically begs him not to use his dad but Hector has already made up his mind.

Arturo gets a phone call and reports back to Hector that Tuco knifed someone in prison and broke a guard’s jaw, which means his sentence just got a hell of a lot longer than the original six months. Hector starts throwing tables around and then has what I think might be a heart palpitation or some such thing. Whatever it is, he’s got pills for it in his pocket and Nacho watches as he takes one out and drops one on the floor unknowingly. Nacho covers it with his foot so he doesn’t see and takes it once Hector leaves. I guess I’ll add Nacho to the list of people who might be responsible for putting Hector in a wheelchair.

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Photo Source: Better Call Saul AMC

Back at Kim’s place, Jimmy is already receiving some business from the commercial he made earlier. He tells Kim about his plan to beat the system: selling his commercial production services while giving away the air time once the commercial is made. She’s impressed with him, both for the idea itself and for the fact that in one day he was able to make and air a commercial. Obviously, she wants to see it, but Jimmy is hesitant. He tells her it’s not his best work, but there seems to be a bit more to it than that, which makes sense once she convinces him to pop the tape in and we are finally introduced to everyone’s favorite sleazeball, Saul Goodman.

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GIF Source: kimwexler / via kimwexler.tumblr.com

This commercial is basically an old-school Mr. Show sketch, complete with terrible fake facial hair and Bob Odenkirk’s particular brand of frenetic energy and excessive gesticulation. There’s also star wipes. Lots and lots of star wipes. This is the birth of Saul Goodman, the first of many ridiculous commercials that he will make, and we start to see why Jimmy was hesitant to show Kim. She’s more confused than amused, especially by the choice of name, which Jimmy tells her is just like, “S’all Good, Man.” Kim’s only real comment is, “That guy’s got a lot of energy,” and she’s certainly not wrong about that. Still, she looks kind of intrigued, and he’s already got a client, so I think Kim is willing to see where this takes Jimmy.

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GIF Source: kimwexler / via kimwexler.tumblr.com

If you think about it from Kim’s perspective, Saul Goodman Productions actually has a lot of merit. Jimmy has shown himself to be creative and resourceful. Maybe running a production company for a year (or even longer) wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for him. If he can turn a profit, they can keep the office and, hell, he may actually end up being better at making commercials than he is at lawyering. At least in showbiz, nobody expects you to be honest.

 

 

 

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Author: Ali Sciarabba

Twitter: @alimscribbles

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