‘Better Call Saul’ Recap ‘Chicanery’: A Thin Line Between Love and Hate

In the ‘Better Call Saul’ recap, Jimmy fights for his legal life at a hearing where he goes head-to-head with his brother…

By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer

For the past two seasons on ‘Better Call Saul’ one of the underlying causes that we assume transforms Jimmy McGill into Saul Goodman has been the tumultuous relationship he’s shared with his brother Chuck.

Chuck was the successful McGill brother, who was a partner at a lucrative law firm with a wife and all the niceties that go along with a well lived life. Meanwhile, Jimmy was the family screw up, always in trouble and rarely holding down a job outside of scam artist.

It all changed when Chuck got Jimmy out of some legal trouble a decade ago — the Chicago sunroof in case you forgot — and that seemed to turn things around for his wayward brother. Jimmy moved to New Mexico, started working in the mailroom at Chuck’s law firm and quietly worked to get through law school without anyone the wiser to what he was doing. He also became Chuck’s caretaker after his brother fell ill with an electro-hypersensitivity disorder shortly after a break up with his wife.

Jimmy took care of Chuck’s every need while never knowing that his brother was working behind the scenes to sabotage him at every turn, including the fact that he prevented him from being hired as a lawyer at his firm even after he passed the Bar exam.

In one elaborate scene that opened the latest episode, Jimmy even helped orchestrate a rouse when Chuck’s ex-wife Rebecca came into town and decided to have dinner with them. Chuck and Jimmy set up the whole house so Rebecca would never know about his illness before he told a wild tale about a neighbor not paying an electric bill yet his house was turned off.

The scene gave Chuck a chance to reconnect with his ex-wife, but it all unraveled when her cell phone rang and she insisted on answering. When Chuck finally lost his cool and slapped the phone from her hand before going on an innate diatribe about how answering the phone was bad etiquette when around guests, Rebecca decides that dinner is over.

Jimmy begs his brother to come clean with Rebecca but he refuses. Why you ask?

The remainder of the episode tells the entire sordid tale as Jimmy claws for his life in court while tearing his brother down piece by piece in the process.

With that said, let’s recap the latest episode of ‘Better Call Saul’ titled ‘Chicanery’….

Light Touch

Just as Kim wraps up the hearing for Mesa Verde bank — the one that Chuck muffed and she now returned for the save — in a measure of full disclosure she tells her new clients about the wild rumors being spread about her friend and colleague Jimmy McGill. She explains how his brother Chuck has been claiming that Jimmy sabotaged his case files for Mesa Verde and that’s the reason why their original court hearing was such a mess rather than taking responsibility for his own error. Thankfully, the Mesa Verde folks aren’t interested in Chuck’s ravings and prefer to go with the proven asset Kim from here on out.

Meanwhile across town, Jimmy is meeting with our favorite full time veterinarian and part time fixer, who helped set up jobs for Mike when he first came to town as well as getting him the tracking devices he needed just recently. Mike put him in touch with Jimmy because he needs something as well.

Jimmy needs an associate with a “light touch”, which means he needs an experienced pickpocket, and the veterinarian knows just the person for the job — so long as he doesn’t have to fit in tight spaces. This was an obvious clue to the return of a favorite character from “Breaking Bad” who reappeared for the first time tonight on ‘Better Call Saul”.

When it’s finally time for court, Chuck is more than ready to turn the screws on his brother so he loses his law license once and for all.

Howard actually tries to talk him out of it because the result of this hearing could end up damaging the firm, but Chuck insists that he needs to speak out to ensure his brother loses his law license forever.

Howard seems concerned, but Chuck is more than confident he’s got enough to sink his brother for good. Just like always, Chuck has underestimated Jimmy and he’s got a trick up his sleeve that will put this matter to bed once and for all.

Trial and Error

During the proceedings, the prosecution and the defense — led by Kim — question Howard Hamlin about the incident where Jimmy broke into Chuck’s home that ended with his arrest. While the prosecution is content to paint the picture of Jimmy as an erratic and emotional sibling lashing out at his brother, Kim has a different idea in mind.

Kim is able to begin pulling back the layers on Chuck’s hatred for his brother, starting by blackballing Jimmy from working at Hamlin-Hamlin-McGill despite the fact that Howard actually admired him as an employee. Howard claimed it was nepotism as the reason why Chuck was against the hiring yet the firm itself was founded by his own father and now he shares in the vanity of a partnership with his name on it.

It’s the first step in proving Chuck’s true intentions, but that’s when the prosecution decides to play the infamous tape in court. As it turns out, Kim’s questions last week about the tape weren’t an attempt to sabotage it but instead she was making sure he would play it in court for the Bar Association.

As the tape is about to play, Jimmy finds out that a guest he has scheduled to appear in court is 40 minutes later so he’s trying to buy some time. Still, the tape plays in all its glory as Jimmy grimaces in his seat while Howard looks smug as if victory is just around the corner.

At home, Chuck awaits his turn to testify as he practices his lines in front of a mirror. He repeats over and over again that he loves his brother — so he can make sure to sound sincere in front of the panel — yet deep down he feels nothing but contempt for Jimmy.

When it’s finally time for him to testify, Chuck walks into the courthouse while the trial room is prepared for him. Chuck walks up the stairs but accidentally bumps into a man going the other direction. The man apologizes as Chuck continues up the stairs, single minded of purpose that he wants to bury his brother once and for all.

What he doesn’t know is that the man he just bumped into is Huell Babineaux — a confidant that will serve Saul Goodman for years to come.

A Thin Line Between Love and Hate

In court, the prosecution goes over the theft and the nature of recording Jimmy’s confession with Chuck while also having him explain his disease. While there are no medical explanations for Chuck’s hypersensitivity to electricity, he explains that until 1981 no one knew what AIDS was or until two years later that HIV was the carrier of the disease.

Chuck is calm, cool and collected as he goes into detail about his brother’s underhanded attempts to steal away the Mesa Verde account by making him look incompetent. So far his testimony has gone a long way to seeing Jimmy’s law license burned up in a cloud of smoke.

When it’s finally time for cross examination, Kim hands over the reins to Jimmy, who is just about to start his questioning when the guest he’s been waiting for finally arrives. It’s Chuck’s ex-wife Rebecca, which causes him to pause and ask for a moment. The court calls a recess as Chuck panics when he finds out that Jimmy has already told her about his ailment.

Outside the courtroom, Kim tells Jimmy that when this is over, Rebecca is going to despise him but he already knew that going in.

As the court is called back into session, Chuck is already irate because he believes Jimmy called in Rebecca as a way to rattle him but it actually couldn’t be further from the truth.

Instead, Jimmy lays out a vivid picture of his brother’s “disease” and how it’s affected his life for the past few years. He shows the court photos of the mylar sheets covering his entire house and even the lengths his brother went to when trapping him for that confession. Chuck claims he was just exaggerating his illness to get Jimmy to confess but as his brother continues to poke and probe at him, it’s clear there’s more at work.

The final blow comes as Jimmy details the harm Chuck suffers as a result of his illness. The physical torment he feels any time he’s around an electrical current. Chuck falls right into the trap with each word he utters as he explains how being anywhere near electricity is like torture to his body. That’s when Jimmy reveals that for the past one hour and 43 minutes, Chuck has been sitting on the stand with a fully charged phone battery in his pocket.

It was placed there by his associate Huell Babineaux — who just so happens to be on the defense witness list — as proof that Chuck’s illness is all in his head. Jimmy’s elaborate plate was proof that he only confessed as a way to make his brother feel better because that’s all he’s done for the past few years while caring for him.

The incident sends Chuck into a rage as he rails on Jimmy for all his misdeeds from stealing money out of their family’s cash register when he was a child to the Chicago sunroof incident to flaunting his blatant disregard for the law every time he stepped in front of a judge or jury.

Chuck’s rant ends just as he looks over at a stunned panel. Each one of them has just now witnessed a very vivid picture.

Chuck’s illness is a mental disorder and his entire motivation has been fueled by the hatred he feels for his own brother. Chuck sits in stunned silence as he looks up at the only other electricity flowing through the room as a bright red exit sign shines back at him.

As the scene fades to black, it’s clear that Chuck would rather be anywhere but hear as his ex-wife looks at him with pity and sympathy instead of love. The panel deciding his brother’s fate are now seeing him as mentally defective.

And his brother is staring back at him with a look of guilt and remorse because Jimmy never wanted it to go this far but he’s also wearing shades of satisfaction — because Chuck finally got what he deserved.

‘Better Call Saul’ returns next Monday night at 10pm ET with a brand new episode.

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