Better Call Saul episode reaction: Chicanery

Wow, Chicanery! What. An. Episode.

One of the best decisions the writers made in Chicanery was making this trial the focal point for of the episode. Leaving the compelling Cartel arch on hold for now, while we focus on the McGills, is a decision that worked for me.

It’s only the midpoint of the season, and the series has pushed Chuck and Jimmy’s relationship to the point of no return. For the past two episodes, we as an audience, could clearly see a plan being set into motion by Jimmy and Kim. I just didn’t expect the plan to be so cold, satisfying, and for Jimmy to Breaking Bad’s Huell Babineaux involved. The flashback at the top of the episode has Chuck meeting with his ex-wife Rebecca, we last saw them together in a season two flashback. This sets the tone of the episode and once again reminds us of Jimmy’s tendency for selflessness and Chuck’s inflated ego. Jimmy has Chuck’s back through this entire encounter even going with Chuck lying to Rebecca about his “illness”. It’s weird to see the brothers on the same page after this season’s developments.

Huell Babineaux (Lavell Crawford) in Episode 5 Photo by Michele K. Short/Sony Pictures Television/AMC

Since Sunk Costs, Jimmy and Kim have been prepping for this trial. The lead up to the trial set everything in motion.

  • Mike’s successful covert operation which earns him the honorific “The Ansel Adams of Covert Photography” from Jimmy.
  • Kim confirming there was another tape and that Chuck intended to play it.
  • Jimmy’s visit to Mike’s connect who could put him in contact with a talent for sleight of hand (one whose size didn’t matter).
  • Finally, placing Rebecca in the room, almost as a decoy to distract Chuck from the real plan.

It was a great payoff after watching all the pieces and players fall into place, and even better to see Jimmy pull it off with such expertise.

Rebecca Bois (Ann Cusack) and Chuck McGill (Michael McKean) in Episode 5 Photo by Michele K. Short/Sony Pictures Television/AMC

Additionally, Kim’s satisfying cross-examination of Howard, calling out HHM’s hypocrisy, was a great moment. Chuck’s complete and utter meltdown on the stand was perhaps the best scene of the season. The close up on Chuck as he gave his Jimmy-provoked tirade towards Jimmy was satisfying but equally harsh. For three seasons, only Kim has seen how Chuck’s shadow and disapproval has affected Jimmy. By the time Chuck’s tantrum has concluded, the court is staring at him dumbfounded.It’s as if they all suddenly had their masks pulled off and were finally able to see the real Charles McGill.

Overall, this episode was the culmination of a great amount of build up from previous episodes and seasons, and, for now, it looks like Jimmy has won.

Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) in Episode 5 Photo by Michele K. Short/Sony Pictures Television/AMC

Final Thoughts 

I truly believe that this is one of the best episodes Better Call Saul has produced since Mike’s origins were revealed back in season one’s “Five-O”. The emotional fallout is real and will ripple through the rest of the season, and potentially the whole series. I look forward to how Howard moves forward with Chuck from here on out and how Chuck takes his revenge on Jimmy. The answer to both was teased in this week’s trailer for Monday’s new episode, Off Brand. Next week we’ll also get back to the cartel business, as well as the fallout from the trial. It’s only episode five, and the season shows no sign of slowing down. Combine these story lines with the show’s slow merge into Breaking Bad, and what you have is one of television’s best shows. And I’m not just saying that.