Better Call Saul Recap: Assault, Battery

Need to catch up? Check out our previous Better Call Saul recap here.

Better Call Saul shelved all the drug-trade stuff this week and went full-on courtroom drama, building to a climactic brother-vs.-brother showdown between Jimmy and Chuck.

We start off with a scene-setting flashback: Chuck prepares an elaborate gourmet dinner by lantern light after Jimmy ominously warns him, “The bigger the lie, the harder it is to crawl out.” (And he should know.) The big lie here is Chuck’s condition: He’s invited over his ex-wife Rebecca for dinner, but makes up a story about his electricity getting accidentally shut off to explain all the candles. Things go OK… until Rebecca answers her cell phone. When she walks close to Chuck while talking, he grimaces and gasps for air. Finally, he grabs her phone and throws it across the room. He blames it on her “bad manners,” but she quickly says good night and flees. And he still never told her the truth.

Better Call Saul Season 3 Episode 5 Jimmy VetBack in Saul‘s current time frame, Chuck prepares to testify against Jimmy at his disbarment hearing. The hearing room has been prepped for his arrival, with all the lights turned off — except those pesky exit signs. Howard asks him if he’s sure he wants to testify, but Chuck insists he has to: “He deserves disbarment. Not some slap on the wrist.” Meanwhile, Jimmy and Kim prepare in their own way: Kim diligently double-checks all her documents, while Jimmy heads to a shady veterinarian to recruit “a real pro” for a job that needs doing. “Does he need to fit into a tight space?” the vet asks. (Ah… we know who that means, don’t we, Breaking Bad fans?)

At the hearing, Kim tells the bar review committee this case isn’t about Jimmy lying, but about “two brothers whose relationship, after years of strain, finally broke.” And she’s sharp as a tack while cross-examining Howard; when he says hiring Jimmy at his firm would’ve constituted nepotism, she asks who the other “Hamlin” in Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill is. “My father,” he’s forced to admit. Meanwhile, Jimmy’s nervously glancing back at Francesca in the gallery, who tells him, “Flight’s delayed.” Oooh! Who’s flying in? A surprise witness?

Chuck arrives to take his seat on the witness stand, and the committee accommodates his illness, with everyone agreeing to surrender their cell phones. (They even take the clocks off the walls!) Jimmy claims he left his phone in his car, though. And on his way into the hearing, Chuck innocently bumps into a guy on the stairs — and it’s Huell! He later becomes Saul’s fast-fingered bodyguard on Breaking Bad, so we know that wasn’t just an innocent bump.

Better Call Saul Season 3 Episode 5 ChuckOn the stand, Chuck explains his strange affliction — electromagnetic hypersensitivity, or EMHS — and admits he played it up to lure Jimmy into confessing: “What you heard was theater.” He also pompously states that while he doesn’t hate his brother, he does want him to lose his law license because “the rule of law is too important to toy with.” His face falls, though, when Jimmy’s secret weapon walks in: It’s Chuck’s ex-wife Rebecca. She assures him she’s just here to help, but Chuck scoffs at that: “You’ve been sold a bill of goods.” She notices he’s not exactly happy to see her.

Now Jimmy steps in to cross-examine his brother, saying the tape recording is evidence that “my brother hates me.” He needles Chuck about his affliction, and wonders why he never shared it with Rebecca. Chuck laughs this off an attempt to rattle him, to “split me apart at the seams, like a murderer confessing on an episode of Perry Mason.” But Jimmy persists, nodding to Francesca while quizzing Chuck about the symptoms of his disease. Chuck describes a burning pain whenever he’s around electricity just as Francesca brings Huell in to watch. Jimmy’s trap is set.

He asks Chuck to identify where the closest source of electricity is… and then reveals he still has his cell phone while standing next to him, tossing it to Chuck. It’s supposed to be a “gotcha” moment, but Chuck opens the phone and finds no battery inside, exposing Jimmy’s ploy as a “sorry little trick.” Jimmy’s not done, though: He asks Chuck to look inside his jacket pocket. In there, he finds… the phone battery! Jimmy triumphantly shouts that Huell can testify he planted the battery on Chuck an hour and 43 minutes ago, “and you felt nothing!”

This sends Chuck into full meltdown mode, with him literally screaming, “I am not crazy!” He rants about his brother’s past misdeeds, practically spitting out his contempt: “He’ll never change!… And he gets to be a lawyer? What a sick joke. I should’ve stopped him when I had the chance.” When he’s done, the bar committee (and the whole room) are left in stunned, embarrassed silence. Chuck stammers out an apology, Jimmy says he has nothing further… and all we can hear is the persistent buzz of those exit signs.

Sidebars:

* No Mike this week — or Gus Fring, for that matter. But the McGill-vs.-McGill fireworks were so good, I didn’t even miss them.

* Huell, of course, would pull off another sleight-of-hand trick years later on Breaking Bad, infamously snatching the ricin-stuffed cigarette out of Jesse Pinkman’s pocket while patting him down in Season 4.

* Those shots of Jimmy and Kim waking up together, brushing their teeth and going over their case were very cute. Makes it all the rougher to contemplate what horrible thing must be about to happen to split them up for good.

* Ann Cusack — yes, John and Joan’s sister — returned to play Chuck’s ex-wife Rebecca; she debuted in Season 2’s “Rebecca.” You might recognize her from Private Practice, The Unit, Castle, Hart of Dixie… and as left fielder Shirley Baker from 1992’s A League of Their Own.

* Kim also met with the folks at Mesa Verde, who congratulated her on doing such a great job — and they didn’t even blink when Kim told them everything about Jimmy doctoring the documents, “in the spirit of full disclosure.” Anyone else still have a sinking feeling, though, that this is all going to blow up in poor Kim’s face?

* Huell looked a lot lighter, didn’t he? Turns out actor Lavell Crawford has lost 120 pounds since his time on Breaking Bad. He could actually fit into a reasonably tight space!

Got thoughts on tonight’s Better Call Saul? Drop ’em in a comment below.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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31 Comments
  1. Cobra says:

    This show just keeps getting better and better.

    • gregk says:

      Terrific attention to detail as always. I did not notice at first but the second time I looked at the scene where they took the clock off the courtroom wall and realized that the time on the clock showed: 12:16. The transposed address (1216/1261) that started the whole thing! Also, as noted on another website, 1216 is the address on the “Dog House” that was a famous eatery in BB.

  2. Joey Padron says:

    New episode was good. Good to see Jimmy & Chuck going against each other in the trial. Good to see Haul from Breaking Bad on the show.

  3. F randy Randy says:

    Great episode! Please tell me Bill Burr’s charachter will make a triumphant return as well!

    • gregk says:

      Love to see Bill Burr back. I will never forget his scene in the “train robbery of meth precursor” scene (filmed about 5 miles from my home) where he asked the train engineer to help fix his engine on his stalled truck on the tracks because “he’s an engineer”.

  4. STEVEN VENSAND says:

    What’s the name of the male, middle judge on the panel?

  5. Pat says:

    Cannot watch this show! Just waaaay too boring & slow-moving. Gave up on it midway through last season. Took a chance and started watching this season…..same thing. Zzzzzz

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  7. LAwoman says:

    A Huell sighting! That was great. I’m kind of dreading finding out how Kim exits Jimmy/Saul’s story. I hope she just moves on to something better.

  8. Don Bertsch says:

    I can’t believe no one corrected the set decorator…the American flag is not placed correctly in the courtroom shots. Looking at the bench it should be to the left. I see this way to often in TV shows…suomeone needs to study flag etiquett.

  9. Bob says:

    Yes, Kim will unravel and commit suicide by roof jump.

  10. What a great episode. I don’t think I want to know what happens to break up Jimmy and Kim because I really like her.

    • George H. says:

      I have a feeling she will show up in the black and white portions, in the now timeline, because Jimmy never changed her from being his emergency contact, lol. I mean he did collapse, will probably end up in the hospital.

  11. George H. says:

    Almost didn’t recognize Huell at first on the stairs. Thought they got a different actor until he showed up in the courtroom. It fits into the BB timeline as one could say he gained weight after working for Jimmy/Saul because the receptionist sure changes too in Breaking Bad, more grizzled. Must be tough, wears you down working for Saul, lol. Anyway, great episode. Glad Chuck got what was coming to him.

  12. JHS says:

    Found it intriguing that Chuck’s explanation to his ex-wife for his power outage was that the electric company misposted his payments based on a TRANSPOSED ADDRESS!!!

  13. Richard Laidman says:

    Personally, I like the show, but it has problems with electrical technology. In the 5/8 episode, Chuck notes that the exit signs draw a small amount of current and are far away, so electromagnetism is reduced by the inverse square law. That’s correct. However, no current is flowing from the unconnected battery in Chuck’s pocket, thus, no electromagnetic field. Furthermore, if connected to, say, a light bulb, the direct current from the battery generates no electromagnetic field, as such fields require alternating current. In fact, it would make perfect sense for Chuck to use all battery-powered lighting in his house. I know, I know, it’s in his mind and he is not en engineer, but he DID understand inverse square law.

  14. That was a terrific episode–so good that when Chuck was done with his talking, I didn’t even realize we were so close to the end of the hour. I thought there were 20 minutes left. That’s a good episode.

  15. Wrstlgirl says:

    I’ll admit I’m way more interested in Mike’s shenanigans because they are so Breaking Bad but watching Jimmy’s early years are interesting. I agree with another poster here that the show just keeps getting better and better. The hour goes by so fast.

  16. Performer of the Week: Michael McKean.

  17. MMD says:

    Best show currently on tv. I hope that we have many more seasons before we catch up to Breaking Bad.

  18. Justin Wward says:

    Stunning scene of Chuck’s meltdown – as good as Humphrey Bogart in “The Caine Mutiny” with the added infinitessimally slow dolly zoom in and then out. Just stunningly good.

  19. Mitchell says:

    A bit of a plot hole in this episode, Chuck says that an electronic device has to have a current flowing through it for it to affect him. Without a current there is no electric field. A battery by itself, not connected to the phone, would not have any current, so Jimmy’s point is invalid.

  20. Diane says:

    Three seasons and he is still Jimmy. How long will it take and how will the story weave to get Jimmy into Saul. Also show seems like 2 shows in one . Mikes story and Jimmys story. When will the twain meet?

  21. Scott Paul says:

    I think Michael McKean deserves an Emmy for his performance in this episode.