Better Call Saul season 3 finale review – Lantern
The review contains spoilers.
Vince Gilligan’s specialty is creating disgusting and despicable main characters that the audience still relates to and roots for, simply because we have no choice. The reason for that is because he presents us with strong antagonists that involuntarily puts us to the side of the heroes, no matter how vile and immoral they are.
With Breaking Bad we had Gus Fring, Tuco and Jack, all strongly juxtaposed against Walter White, and designed specifically to be powerful enemies to the famous Heisenberg. In Better Call Saul, we have lawyer figures like Howard (in the first seasons) and Jimmy’s own brother Chuck. It’s the latter that Jimmy’s storyline revolves around in season 3.
Jimmy and Chuck’s rivalry had already culminated earlier in season 3, with the intense court hearing in episode 6, and Jimmy won. Since then, Chuck had been burning out (no pun intended), while brooding over the loss, questioning the legitimacy of his condition, and becoming more and more an antisocial hermit. He did manage to seemingly almost overcome his illness at one point, but, as seen in this episode, that did not last long.
The season 3 finale marks the critical point for Chuck, where he completely loses it and begins tearing his house down, before eventually apparently committing suicide by kicking his lantern (the titular item of the episode) down on the floor and setting his house on fire. I personally have always expected that Chuck’s death would be influenced by Jimmy in a much more direct way. In reality, Jimmy’s influence on Chuck’s suicide is very subtle, almost minimal, and yet it is there, marking another step down into the realm of Saul Goodman.
For Jimmy… what that means for Jimmy remains to be seen, as he is caught up in his own thing for now, finishing up his con at the Sandpiper settlement and moving on from the Wexler/McGill business. It’s an important reminder that Kim appears to be one of the only (if not THE only?) people left that still keep Jimmy in check from plunging into the abyss of complete immorality. In this episode, we see Jimmy care for her after the car accident, and it’s clear that he cares about her. And not in the same way he cares about Irene; it’s actual, real affection that we see here.
And that is a scary question that remains – what happened to Kim? She is nowhere to be seen in Breaking Bad, which clearly means Jimmy and her had a falling out of some sort. We can only hope it’s not Kim’s death that brings out full Saul, as it is a plot device we have seen too many times and it would be terribly predictable and insulting to Kim’s character.
The finale also brings us closer to Hector as we know him, as Nacho fails to assassinate him, but he gets a heart attack and gets taken to the hospital, which is getting one step closer to the wheelchair bell-ringing Hector that we remember from Breaking Bad.
Better Call Saul has always been a slow burn, as illustrated by the Hector storyline, as well as every other one – the show takes its time to explore the characters and the settings, often focusing on prolonged metaphorical scenes, visual storytelling and atmospheric shots. But it doesn’t suffer for it. Gilligan’s universe is as engrossing as always, and the writers keep you guessing until the end of each episode, while subtly moving the story forward and Jimmy’s morality downward. Sometimes it’s so subtle so as to be barely noticeable, but comparing the first episode of season 1 and the last episode of season 3, the difference is clear. It’s a lot like watching a child grow up.
And with that, it can only be said that the third season of the Breaking Bad spin-off has been better than ever before – the timeline is slowly approaching the universe as we know it when Walter White decides cooking crystal meth, and the references to the show’s predecessor are becoming increasingly common – season 4 should bring us even closer, with Jimmy McGill eventually becoming the criminal lawyer that we know.
Image credit: AMC