Rapid reaction: Better Call Saul episode 310: Lantern

Better Call Saul’s season finale, Lantern, features resolution, redemption and relapse.


Tonight’s finale kicked off with a rather short cold open. In fact, the scene came in around a minute in length. As for its contents, the scene featured a single slow zoom-in shot. That shot was of a backyard tent containing the McGill brothers many years ago. With G.I. Joes and candy scattered, Chuck reads to Jimmy from The Adventures of Mabel. This book was discussed fondly between the two brothers during the season’s opening episode. However, the camera passes them by and instead focuses on the lantern inside the tent.

Back in present day, Jimmy comes to visit Kim in the hospital after her accident. Despite her broken arm and cut-up face, the doctor says that she’ll be admitted today. Later that night we see Jimmy and Kim at the sight of the accident as Jimmy gathers the papers that were thrown from the car.

Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) and Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) in Episode 10 Photo by Michele K. Short/Sony Pictures Television/AMC

At HHM, Howard and Chuck sit across from one another and discuss the next steps for the firm. Specifically, whether or not Chuck will be moving forward with his plan to sue the firm he helped to create. Chuck calls it an embarrassing situation for HHM and proposes three solutions. These solutions are to either buy him out, go to court or simply act as if nothing has happened and allow Chuck to continue practicing. The latter solution is obviously the one Chuck prefers as he approaches Howard to seal an agreement with a handshake.

Instead, Howard clears the room and offers his plan, which is to buy Chuck out. HHM is unable to afford this however, so Howard has decided to front the money himself. Despite Howard claiming that Chuck has won, Chuck’s face reveals that the opposite is true. Additionally, Howard has one more gut-punch planned; he’s gathered all of HHM’s employees to announce Chuck’s departure. After a brief and somewhat cold speech from Howard, Chuck walks out to a round of applause. It’s worth noting that Howard is the first one to stop applauding. This split has been a long time coming, and he has come out on top.

At Kim’s home, Jimmy is present and has taken it upon himself to dote on her. He brings Gatorade and offers to make Kim breakfast in bed. She accepts, but follows Jimmy into the kitchen and appears to be in good spirits. Jimmy offers a choice between ibuprofen or “the good stuff.” Kim opts for the latter. Jimmy then puts forward his plan for them to drop out of their office lease. Kim offers some mild objections but quickly agrees. She then reveals how bad she feels about the accident, citing that she went across three lanes of traffic and doesn’t remember it, she could have killed someone. Jimmy puts the blame on himself, something that we predicted earlier this week. Kim doesn’t see it that way but Jimmy claims that he’ll fix things.

Before the season started, many prognosticated that it would include the downfall of jimmy and Kim’s relationship. However, with the finale in the rear view, its stronger than ever. #Goals

After the break, we return with the sneak peek scene that we examined earlier this week. The continuation sees Mr. Varga’s response to Hector saying that they’re friends, “get out of my store.” With that, Hector’s attitude shifts from antagonistically playful to pure anger. After warning his father to remember family before acting dramatically, Nacho meets his boss outside. Nacho claims that his father will eventually come around, but Hector gravely claims that he doesn’t trust him.

Nacho Varga (Michael Mando) and Hector “Tio” Salamanca (Mark Margolis) in Episode 10 Photo by Michele K. Short/Sony Pictures Television/AMC

With the Wexler-McGill lawfirm closing down, the proprietors say farewell to their receptionist. Francesca lets Kim know that she’s lucky as she has seen many fatal crashes on that highway. As good as she is on the phones, that probably isn’t something you want to say. However, it does spark Kim’s next move, to have Francesca cancel all her future appointments. Additionally, she asks for a ride. To where? What’s the most 2003 place you can think of? That’s right, Blockbuster! The two walk around the now-defunct video rental franchise as Francesca makes cancellation calls and Kim makes a variety of movie choices. Always a fan of the show referencing its time period, maybe next season Nacho will get caught up in American Idol fever.

At Chuck’s home, there’s a very unexpected visitor, Jimmy, who has stopped by to check on his brothers health. After begrudgingly being let inside, Jimmy is floored by the state of the home “how…” Chuck claims that Jimmy never believed he’d get better, and now he is. Chuck asks what Jimmy’s really here for. Without going into specifics, Jimmy mentions that something terrible has happened and he wants to share his regrets over what happened at the hearing. He mentions that there aren’t many McGill’s left and that they should stick together. Chuck rejects this olive branch, and instead, opts to take shots at Jimmy. He claims that “you’re going to keep hurting people” and that he wishes Jimmy would learn to accept that. Jimmy doesn’t have anything to say, so Chuck proceeds with an extremely poignant statement:

“I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but the truth is, you’ve never mattered all that much to me.”

After Jimmy silently walks out, we jump to later that night. Chuck awakes in his bed, breathing heavy. He takes a pill, does his calming exercises and shuts the light off, but it’s not enough to calm him. His next curative measure is a drastic one, he proceeds downstairs and shuts off the circuit breakers. Still, Chuck lies in his bed and stares at the ceiling. It’s safe to say at this point that Chuck has relapsed. We theorized in an article earlier this week that there was a huge risk for this to happen, but we didn’t think it would stem from an interaction in which he hurts Jimmy.

Chuck McGill (Michael McKean) and Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) in Episode 10 Photo by Michele K. Short/Sony Pictures Television/AMC

Speaking of Jimmy, he’s paying another visit to Sandpiper crossing, once again to meet with Irene Landry. However, instead of bringing pain and suffering, he’s brought balloons, pastries and cat supplies. Despite coming into money, Irene appears to be emotionally drained. She reveals that despite taking the settlement, she’s still be ostracized from her friend group. Jimmy then proceeds to meet with said friend group, who reveal that “Irene” has done irreparable damage. To them, she has shown her true colors in addition to a total lack of integrity. Despite Jimmy’s pleas on behalf of Irene, they won’t budge.

Back at Chuck’s, the elder McGill is coming apart at the scenes. Despite turning off everything in the home, his power meter continues to tick, indicating that something in the home is still running on electricity. The electric company lets Chuck know that they won’t be able to send someone for a few days. Naturally, Chuck takes matters into his own hands. Over the next few minutes, Chuck’s rapid mental deterioration is exhibited, all with Chuck saying just a few words. First, he removes every light bulb in the home. Afterwards he makes a call to Dr. Cruz, canceling his appointment but promising to come in next week.

After unplugging the phone, his search for the electrical source grows more and more desperate. Eventually, he opts to bashing in his walls. With hours having passed, and dozens of holes created, Chuck finds a cable and removes. Still, the meter continues to run. His response? Bash the meter itself. As I mentioned, this minutes-long scene contains just a few words. That being said, it left me the thought “boy, Michael McKean is a treasure and HAS to be up for an Emmy this year.” If season three doesn’t at least net McKean a nomination, the award show is a sham.

We then join Nacho, alone in his car, with a gun. Hector then pulls into the lot, which I believe is the one at Nacho’s father’s shop. Nacho watches Hector enter and follows from a distance. The music swells as Nacho strides toward the door, gun drawn, but it’s ultimately interrupted by an arriving car.  A car which holds Cartel reinforcements. Hector exits and alerts his men that “they’re coming;” they, is Juan Bolsa with Gus Fring in tow. Bolsa emerges and lets everyone know that Don Eladio’s decision is final, all things will continue to move through Gus. He also says that Eladio wants Hector to settle his issues with Gus. Instead, Hector lashes out, claiming that Eladio should be kissing his ass, that this is the Salamanca’s business. Bolsa posits that this isn’t personal; Hector disagrees before his heart problem surfaces.

Unlike last week, the attack doesn’t pass after Hector takes the medicine. Instead, he keels over. With that, Gus springs into action, he advises those present to call 911, stash the guns and leave before proceeding to administer CPR. During his fall, Hector’s pills were scattered to the ground, as everyone rushes around him, Nacho begins to pick up the pills, obviously realizing that he doesn’t have much time to make the switch back. With the ambulance on hand, and a catatonic Hector being wheeled away, the EMT asks about Hector’s heart problems. Nacho is quick to hand over the pill bottle, indicating that he was able to make the switch. A quick glance from Gus reveals that he likely knows what Nacho is up to. Perhaps Mike warned him beforehand or he was simply able to intuit from Nacho’s collecting of the pills.

Either way, I have a hunch that this glance could lead to a future partnership. Fingers crossed!

Gustavo “Gus” Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) in Episode 10 Photo by Michele K. Short/Sony Pictures Television/AMC

We then join Relaxathon 03′, which is what Jimmy jokingly refers to Kim’s behavior as. As part of it, Kim is binge-watching movies and notes that they could watch To Kill a Mockingbird again. She mentions that it was her favorite movie growing up and that she wanted to be like Atticus Finch, fighting the good fight. Kim sarcastically states that she ended up achieving that dream, helping a local bank become a regional bank. The talk then shifts to Jimmy’s morality. Specifically his use of Mrs. Landry as a pawn in his quest for money. Based on context, it appears that Kim is all caught up on what Jimmy has done, and surprisingly, she doesn’t seem overly appalled. After talking over the situation with Kim, Jimmy seems to have a plan, one that sounds like it’ll be painful to pull off.

At Sandpiper, Jimmy strolls in wearing “athletic” apparel, he’s on hand to host chair yoga. As he leads the class over headset, an old friend walks in, Erin Brill of Davis & Main. She’s upset and demands that Jimmy speak with her now. Outside, Erin claims that Jimmy manipulated the elderly and misrepresented the case. Jimmy readily admits to this while also making sure to insult the Sandpiper residents. I say “making sure” because this is yet another of Jimmy’s cons. Because he’s still wearing a mic, everyone inside can hear him. When he returns, some are filing out, however, Irene and her posse stick behind to express their anger and disappointment with Jimmy.

Back outside, we see that Erin was in on it, Jimmy assured her that the residents would no longer push for a settlement. However, I wonder if this is actually the case. The vilification of Jimmy doesn’t make his points any less valid. Regardless, I’ve never been more proud of Jimmy. #JusticeForIrene has been achieved!

Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) in Episode 10 Photo by Michele K. Short/Sony Pictures Television/AMC

At Wexler-McGill, it’s time to close the doors for good. Jimmy says his final goodbye to Francesca who’s going back to the MVD. Jimmy says is they ever get back up and running, she’ll be their first call. Francesca doesn’t sound convinced, but fans of Breaking Bad know this isn’t the end. Jimmy then takes his Rolodex and tosses it in the trash, claiming that he’s burned all his bridges in elder law. Maybe next season we’ll see his next law venture, criminal law. Jimmy takes a last forlorn look at his MW wall, with Jimmy feeling low, Kim claims they’ll get another. Kim and Jimmy forever!!!

Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) and Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) in Episode 10 Photo by Michele K. Short/Sony Pictures Television/AMC

Our final scene of the episode is very much like the first, It’s short and features a lantern. However, it’s not as innocent as Chuck reading a story to his kid brother. Instead, we see a glassy-eyed Chuck, stomping. Not stomping, kicking. He’s kicking the table in front of him, a table with a lantern on it. But wh-OH GOD NO.

It’s intentional.

The final shot of the season comes from Chuck’s front yard. We see a blaze consume the room.

Favorite moment

Wow. Never before have there been so many choices. However, as you may have guessed from my above words, Chuck’s decent into lunacy takes it home. The writing, the cinematography, the score, the acting of course, it’s television at its finest. I don’t think I need to make much of an argument here. McKean’s performance in Chicanery received widespread acclaim among fans and critics alike. In my opinion, his performance here was better

Meaning behind the title

Again, not much to be said here. This is about as literal as a title can be. We theorized that this would be the case earlier this week. Unfortunately, we actually theorized Chuck’s entire episode arch correctly. However, the cold open was is something we didn’t see coming. Obviously, it was used to endear the audience to Chuck one last time, as well bring the meaning of Lantern full circle.

Next week… year

Though Better Call Saul has yet to be officially renewed for a fourth season, we’re confident that Jimmy McGill will return in about 10 months. Hopefully, next season isn’t delayed in the same fashion as this one. Regardless of the length, we’ll be eagerly waiting!