Better Call Saul S3E9 “Fall”
Better Call Saul has often been described as a slow burn and for the most part, I would agree that the show has earned that label. Nothing feels quite as good as watching a slow burn reach its bursting moment and for season three of Better Call Saul, “Fall” is the episode where we reach that moment. So much build up gets paid off in this episode and watching our cast of characters finally reach this point is something that’s great to watch. In “Fall”, Jimmy goes lower than he’s ever gone before just to make a pretty penny, Kim takes the episode’s titular fall out of pure exhaustion, Nacho makes a tough decision for the safety of his father, Howard decides that enough is enough and Chuck arrives at the same conclusion, for a completely different circumstance. Let’s begin.
Considering the money from the slip and fall went towards rent, Jimmy is still eyeing ways to get money in “Fall” and he goes back to the past to help secure his financial future. Remember the Sandpiper case way back from season one? Well Jimmy did because he pays a visit to Irene, the class action representative of the case at her place over at Sandpiper. Jimmy sweet talks his way into asking her about the case and Jimmy is surprised to learn that she’s already been given a settlement offer. Even more surprising is the fact that Jimmy’s share of the common fee comes out to 1.6 million dollars. Jimmy asks Irene why she hasn’t accepted yet and she says that HHM and D&M have told her its best to wait. Jimmy quickly realizes that they told her to wait not because Irene will get more money, but because they will get more money. Jimmy leaves Irene’s and plots his next move.
Over at HHM, Howard and Chuck welcome some officials over from the insurance company to discuss the insurance hike. The hike isn’t only for Chuck though, everyone in the firm is going to have higher premiums. Chuck asks if there’s any alternatives and is told that sometimes the insurance company will assign a supervisor to high risk attorneys, which Chuck would be considered in this situation. Chuck doesn’t very much like either solution and proposes his own. Chuck decides to take them to court and when the insurance company asks if he’s serious, he confirms that he is very serious. With that, the insurance company leaves.
Once they’re alone, Howard does something that has been a long time coming. Howard tells Chuck that now may be a good time to retire and when Chuck reacts negatively to the suggestion, he tells Howard that this isn’t optional. Chuck desperately tries to convince Howard that he’s fine and even turns the lights on and takes one of the table lamps and holds it close to his face, saying “see, I’m fine”. Howard tells him that’s not what fine looks like and assures Chuck that the insurance hike is not the sole reason he’s being fired, this has been a long time coming. When Howard tells Chuck that his judgement isn’t trustworthy anymore, Chuck has heard enough and storms out of the conference room. A very rocky ending if this is it.
I sure hope Howard didn’t get his McGill fix for the day in with just Chuck because when he comes back from lunch, he finds Jimmy waiting for him in the parking garage. Jimmy comes at him asking why they’re holding out for a bigger settlement with Sandpiper when the victims are elderly folk and the settlement process could take years. Howard sees right through Jimmy though and knows that Jimmy is only feigning having the Sandpiper residents’ best interest at heart, he’s just after his share of the money. Howard tells him that he’ll get his money but he’s just going to have to wait for it. We got some real anger out of Howard in both of these McGill brother scenes and you really have to feel for him. These pair of brothers have put him through such a large amount of nonsense and even someone as calm looking as Howard, has a breaking point. It’s more than fair that Howard is snapping at them because enough is enough.
Unfortunately for Howard, he’s still not done with dealing with the McGill brothers for the episode. Even worse, he thought he was going to get rare good news out of them before finding out it’s worse news than he could imagine. When Howard receives a letter from Chuck, he assumes it’s his formal retirement letter and he’s even ready to make preparations for Chuck’s retirement party. He’s going to have to hold off on those preparations though because he doesn’t get a retirement letter, he gets a letter from Chuck announcing his intent to sue HHM for wrongful termination and for the 8 million dollars that he’s worth to the firm. Howard immediately goes over to Chuck’s to ask him if he’s serious and see if there’s anyway out of it but Chuck is relishing the opportunity to be the bad guy to Howard and tells him he’ll gladly talk about any concerns once they’re in court.. The firm has nowhere near that amount of money so things went from bad to worse for Howard who is now staring at a lawsuit from a partner that’s worth more than the firm has to begin with. Is there anyone Chuck won’t make enemies with?
We’ll take a break from the legal happenings of the show and check back in with the drug underworld of Albuquerque. Hector Salamanca has called for a meeting with Gus and the meeting can only be described as unpleasant. Hector has just learned that he has been ousted as the main distributor of drugs in New Mexico in favor of Gus and he is livid. He works himself up so much that he has to reach for those pills of his. Nacho was probably hoping for a less public setting for this to happen but he’s bailed out when the dud pills don’t prove lethal on the first try and the placebo effect kicks in. On the negative side, Hector is alive and will confront Nacho’s father about using his business as his cover. In quite the sad scene, Nacho tells his father that he’s been working “again’ for the Salamanca’s, and his father is far from pleased, indicating that the first go around didn’t end so well. Nacho pleads with his dad to not do something stupid like refuse Hector or call the police but his dad simply tells Nacho to leave his house. It’s sad to see honest and clean people like Nacho’s dad unwillingly get tied up in the drug trade because of loved ones, like his son. Nacho did the right thing by letting his dad know beforehand, but what repercussions does this have for their relationship? Hopefully it’s savable.
There are a couple of relationships that won’t be savable as we take a look back at Jimmy’s side of the episode and those relationships are Jimmy and Irene and Irene and her friends. When you’re desperate for money like Jimmy is, it can drive you to do bad things and what Jimmy does is easily the worst thing he’s done in the show. Not wanting to flat out ask Irene to settle due to potential legal ramifications, Jimmy instead decides to get her to settle by turning her friends against her. Jimmy takes up mall-walking, knowing that the Sandpiper residents are frequent mallwalkers, and isolates Irene. He gives her a nice pair of memory foam sneakers and tells her not to say anything to her friends about it. He then plays the other side of it by telling Irene’s friends that those shoes she has are expensive and she hasn’t settled because she already has all the money she needs. Jimmy digs deeper and paints it as Irene not caring about her friends and they slowly begin to turn on her, not talking to her and leaving her out of their activities. We reach the breaking point when Jimmy fixes a game of Bingo to let Irene win in the minimum five turns and when nobody applauds Irene, she breaks down and leaves the room. Jimmy goes to comfort her and for a minute, Jimmy looks like he might come clean, seeing how upset she is. Instead, Jimmy brings up the settlement as a “possibility” for her friends coldness to her and he tells Irene that she should follow her heart. When Jimmy has pulled his schemes in the past, it’s been hard not to root for him, but that isn’t the case here. As you keep watching the episode and slowly realize what he’s up to, it’s hard to want Jimmy to win because he’s ruining someone else’s life for his financial gain. In any case, Irene decides to settle and Jimmy wins from his worst scam yet.
With his common fee in hand, Jimmy is ready to celebrate and heads over to Wexler/McGill with good news and a bottle of that expensive tequila in hand. When he arrives, he finds Kim as far away as possible from a celebratory mood. Taking on the oil client has worked Kim to extreme levels, even by her workaholic standards. Despite her best efforts, she is still running very late and can’t spare more than a brief congratulations to Jimmy on getting the common fee. Jimmy doesn’t take the hint that she’s busy so she tells him to just hold his thoughts until she gets back. Kim can’t even use the drive time to take her mind off of her meeting though, as she runs through what she’s going to say and how she’s going to say it. A big dose of reality hits her when she zones out for a second and finds herself badly injured in a car wreck the next thing she knows. While the camera angle that whole scene gave the crash away, everything else was cleverly done to still make this an effective scene. The editing choice to use a jump cut was an excellent choice and there was plenty of foreshadowing of the crash with her near missed accident earlier in the episode, excessive coffee in the office and energy pills in her car, Jimmy saying it looks like she pulled an all-nighter, and even one from a few episodes back where we saw the very same jump cut for a two minute nap that showed just how little free time she had. The camera pans out to show us she was going down a very well noted curve in the road and she was extremely fortunate to hit the rock she did because the hill that rock is on goes a whole lot further down. After this near death encounter, Kim the workaholic is probably going to be taking a break.
No stopping Jimmy when he’s scheming. That one cat shaped cookie that had its ear torn off wasn’t good enough to present to Irene so he put a “healthy” one in its place. And the shoes, we can’t risk not having Irene’s size so let’s just buy one of every single size of the shoe? Good call Jimmy.
We checked in with Mike as well. Mike meets Lydia who works at Madrigal and has been laundering Gus’ money. Mike is brought on as a “security consultant” to launder his own money. Being a part of a system is something new for Mike, dare I say even uncomfortable. Independence is a big deal for Mike so it wasn’t surprising to see how skeptical he was of the process before eventually agreeing to it.
I wonder if Jimmy took the weighted bingo balls out after Irene ran out. If he didn’t, the same balls are going to be called over and over again. You figure someone might catch on.
The mall featured in the numerous mallwalking scenes looks an awful lot like the mall he works at during the Gene days. Perhaps the same architecture company designed the two malls.
Also at the mall, if you look close enough you’ll see that one of the stores is called Crazy 8. The subtle Breaking Bad callbacks are often the best ones.
Did anyone picture Howard as a Tolkien fan? Lord of the Rings was a huge deal back in 2003 and his comparison of Jimmy to Gollum has some merit so I’ll give a point to Howard.
When Howard was playing nice about Chuck retiring, he suggested to Chuck that he might make a good professor. I beg to differ. Chuck would probably be the strictest law professor imaginable.
“Fall” shows several breaking points that have been a long time coming and delivers worthy payoffs for all the buildup.