“It’s only a name,” Jimmy says to Kim at the closing of this week’s episode, ‘Off Brand’. He’s filmed a commercial that feels exactly like a Saul Goodman production, complete with more star-wipes than most people have seen in their lifetime (side note: Vince Gilligan loves star-wipes, as he’s admitted a few times on the Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul podcasts, so these were a nice touch). And Kim’s reaction was one of uncertainty. She isn’t sure how she feels about this Saul Goodman character except for that “he has a lot of energy.”
And there we have it. Jimmy has created a persona he will someday ditch his birth-name for, but it’s unlikely he’ll do so before this season’s close. Unless Chuck can somehow manage to sully or tarnish Jimmy’s name or, perhaps, even the name McGill. However, it also appears as if Chuck really has surrendered to hurting his brother; instead, we get to see Chuck forcing himself to hold a battery and then wandering around the streets at night to make a call to his doctor. The neon-lit city matched with the tiny buzzing sounds illustrates Chuck’s perception of the scene perfectly. My favorite shot this episode was where battery rolled across the desk into focus, his hand grabbing it, then his hand taking focus, then his arm, then his face in full clear view again. Maybe Jimmy has created another problem by forcing his brother to declare that he’s not crazy, because what will happen if Chuck overcomes his illness? Season three will likely end in one of two ways: total recovery or total collapse.
Speaking of collapse, Nacho isn’t doing too well. The teaser for ‘Off Brand’ focused solely on his daily life where we got to see his relationships between two influential men: Hector Salamanca and Nacho’s father. With Salamanca, Nacho is forced to play a ruthless role.
At night, sewing in the back of his father’s business, Nacho plays a quieter role, the anger more subdued — it’s a debatable point on whether or not he meant to drive the sewing needle through his hand, especially when we see the gun pointed to his head later on and he handles it almost too well. Maybe in a different television show, Nacho would have been shot and killed. But in Better Call Saul, something much worse happens: Hector Salamanca says he will use Nacho’s father’s business to create a smuggling trade similar to Los Pollos Hermanos. Not only is Nacho under control, but so is his family. And we get a glimpse of Hector’s own collapse as he spirals into an angry fit, pushing over a table then coughing emphatically before shoving a couple pills into his mouth. The way Hector’s mouth moves is a subtle hint for Breaking Bad fans — he is not far from becoming his bell-ringing, wheelchair-bound future self.
‘Off Brand’ accomplished two things: it marked the second-half of season three, and it quit waxing philosophical on choices. The choices have already been made. Instead, ‘Off Brand’ was more about glimpses into the future. Hector’s health is declining. Jimmy donned the name Saul. Gus Fring examined an industrial laundry property, the very site of his future super lab in Breaking Bad. Lydia even appeared in this scene with Gus—another modest character introduction, no grand entrance, all underplayed nicely. And we got see Tyrus Kitt again during the scene when Victor pointed the gun at Nacho’s head. I wouldn’t be surprised if we get to see Gale Boetticher this season.
So the future is just up ahead, and we know what it looks like already, but we could almost categorize the entirety of Off Brand as a teaser for both the end of season three and what’s to expect for season four. Better Call Saul is not wrapping up in four episodes, and it’s looking like the writers may have given themselves enough room to write for five whole seasons again. Jimmy’s been sentenced with twelve months. He can’t play lawyer for one year. That’s one year of Kim working with Mesa Verde, one year of Chuck fighting to overcome his delusions, one year of Hector Salamanca competing with Gus Fring, and one year of Jimmy perfecting his high energy salesman persona, Saul Goodman. That being said, the final question is: what’s this one year with Mike look like? Maybe pouring cement and attending meetings with his daughter-in-law, or maybe being dragged back into the ring somehow with Salamanca and Fring.
One thing is for certain: by the end of this one year, a lot of criminals are going to need a lawyer, and Saul Goodman may just be the right guy for the job.
-Anytime we get to see Jimmy’s camera crew I’m jumping with joy inside. They’re consistently fun to see, and I hope we see more of them this season.
– Another beautiful shot was at the end of the scene where Kim and Jimmy are popping champagne in their office and Rebecca interrupts. Just as Rebecca leaves, it’s that final shot before the scene closes. If you can, go back to that moment and hit pause to admire the reflection of the wall painting on the ceiling. The WM turns into an MW, giving a nice unifying appearance for Wexler-McGill. Indeed, it seems as though things couldn’t get any better for them. Right? Everything is going to be okay?
– Looks like Howard is the only person Chuck will confront. I wish Rebecca had more to do this episode. That’s my only real point of contention with this season so far. Rebecca hasn’t really gotten that key scene that so many other characters have. I’m not sure what it looks like for her. But she needs something. More of something.
– I wanted to thank everyone who reads these reviews. It means a lot to me when I see your messages or comments, whether it’s Facebook or Twitter or email. And I’ll be covering the new Twin Peaks season three which airs on Showtime next week, May 21. If there’s another show you think I’d like, just find me on Facebook or leave a comment below. Again, thank you, from the bottom of my bleeding heart.