‘Better Call Saul’ Recap: The Chuck Hits the Fan


This episode is titled “Nailed,” and while that evocative title does come to literally pass — within the first few minutes — it also might as well apply to Chuck, who both nails Jimmy and gets nailed by his own determination to… nail Jimmy.

But lets start with the more literal nailing.

As we witnessed at the end of the season’s best-yet episode, “Fifi,” Mike and his granddaughter busied themselves arming a garden hose with nails. We see him deploy this garden tool weapon on a deserted road as a trucker drives by, tires pumped full of cash. Once the truck’s been overturned, Mike hogties the driver — doesn’t hurt him one bit — and takes the money, runs. Later in the episode, Mike’s confronted by Nacho, who, because the driver of the truck wasn’t blown to bits, knows it was Mike who pulled the heist. Mike doesn’t deny it, but he doesn’t confirm it, either. He doesn’t mind that Nacho found out, really. He only minds that Nacho and the Salamancas found the driver, as well as the man who came upon him on the road, and killed them both so that there’d be no witnesses. No matter how clean he tries to be, Mike’s hands always end up bloodied.

While Mike’s story manages to captivate because he’s constantly struggling with his desires and how they force him to act against his will (or, so he thinks), Jimmy’s story is actually moving along because he’s fighting (and winning!) against his instinct to do good when he really doesn’t know how, at least not well enough to succeed. The meat of his plot this week comes as the pay-off to “Fifi”‘s set-up, which involved doctoring all of Chuck’s Mesa Verde paperwork so that the addresses on his files were incorrect, thus embarrassing him in court. When Chuck is finally persuaded by the client (and the court) that he is, in fact, wrong, he decides that he actually isn’t. Having been victim to Jimmy’s scams all his life, he quickly comes to the correct conclusion that Jimmy’s to blame.

He presents this information in a fevered rant to Kim and Jimmy after he’s called them over to his house. Of course, Chuck is right. Jimmy did go through his paperwork and change all of the addresses and then, once Chuck went to court, he did sneak back in to swap in the original paperwork for the doctored ones. The thing is, while Chuck knows this sounds like the accusations of an insane person, Jimmy fails to properly telegraph his own shock, and Kim doesn’t even bother. From the moment she hears Chuck’s story, she knows he’s telling the truth. And that’s not something Jimmy can have.

So later he runs to the copy store where he originally doctored the papers and pays off the clerk to lie to Chuck, and to tell him he was never there. Admirably, the guy does it: when Chuck shows up later — as Jimmy hides outside, just far enough to be out of view but still close enough to see — the clerk insists he’s never seen Jimmy. And here Chuck’s illness, whatever it might be, manifests itself in enough real-life dizzy-ness that he slips and falls and cracks the side of his head on a counter. Bob Odenkirk’s face in this scene is tremendous. When he sees Chuck stumbling, he holds himself back from running in to save him. When Chuck finally falls, he’s shocked, but not entirely disappointed. And that’s where we’re left.

Well, there is Kim, too, who is at least a little bit happy that Jimmy’s sabotage won her Mesa Verde as a client. but she doesn’t know about Chuck and she isn’t really too upset with Jimmy. Though, I’ve gotta say, if she hasn’t admitted to herself that he’s never going to operate by the books, then perhaps she deserves to have him disappoint her time and time again. And that’s exactly what’s going to keep happening, until Jimmy ruins the relationship the way he’s ruined his relationship with Chuck. Hopefully not with her had cracked, but maybe.

Next week is the finale, and we can probably expect to see the actions of Mike and Jimmy finally resolving in unhappy ways. Mike’s season-long attempt to defeat the Salamanca family and provide for his extended family might go to unexpected places, only because we know Tuco and Hector are still alive in Breaking Bad. Nacho, who has become a kind of confidant of Mike’s, just might have suffer to make for a dramatic finale. We also saw Hector enraged and gobbling pills post-heist, so, even if Mike doesn’t beat him into his late-life stupor, he could be to blame for stressing him out to the point of exhaustion.

And Chuck? Well, if Chuck doesn’t die, expect him to try to exact some kind of vengeance on Jimmy come next season. And, if he does? We were given another bright reminder of the origins of Saul in the elementary school playground this episode, where Jimmy poses in front of an unfurled flag for his new promo material. It’s doubtful he’ll go Full Saul while Kim is still around, but if Chuck dies, and his blood is essentially on his hands — and Kim knows it? She probably won’t be around for much longer.