Better Call Saul Season 3, Episode 10 “Lantern” Recap


The demise of Chuck, the rise of Saul, and the fall of Salamanca. The season 3 finale of “Better Call Saul” may not have been perfect, but it certainly set the characters up for a tumultuous season 4…assuming it gets renewed.

The story of Saul Goodman is a tragic one. As we come to the end of season 3 of Better Call Saul, the full mosaic of how a good-hearted, caring guy like Jimmy McGill became the sleazeball attorney in Breaking Bad is coming into focus.

Better Call Saul is not the story of a person embracing their inner demons and using them to make money. That was Breaking Bad. Walt was very clear at the end of that series that he liked being the bad guy, and he always had. No, Saul is instead the story of how a good man was painfully and slowly broken, and then eventually reassembled into the kind of person he thought he needed to be to survive. 

As we’ve now talked about multiple times, Saul Goodman cannot fully come to fruition until his past is cut off, and his relationships are gone. The two most important people in Jimmy’s life are Chuck and Kim, and now Chuck is gone. And in classic Chuck fashion, he made sure to plant the seed of fault in Jimmy’s mind on his way out.

Chuck accuses Jimmy of destroying everything around him, but in the final episode, it was Chuck who destroyed his own life and Jimmy who found a foundation in Kim. Chuck can’t operate without being smarter than everyone else, without having someone or something that makes him better than you. For the longest time that was HHM, but not anymore. Chuck thought he had a great plan for outsmarting Howard AND the insurance company, and he kicked his plan off with his classic smarmy douchebaggery.

What Chuck did not count on was Howard’s dedication to the law firm, and to his reputation. Not only did he call Chuck’s bluff, he’s going into personal debt to do it. He is personally buying out Chuck and gave him a personal check to do it. (He may have gotten the idea from Kim earlier in the season.) Chuck is left reeling, and before he can do anything, Howard parades him outside into a sea of applause and well wishes for the now retired Chuck McGill.

Without the law firm, Chuck only has one thing left to control, and that’s Jimmy. And he takes the first opportunity he can to beat on Jimmy. “The truth is…I never really cared much for you at all.” Chuck tells Jimmy, who then leaves without saying another word. All those years of Jimmy helping Chuck with his mental illness, this was definitely a gut punch to our protagonist. But instead of sticking around, Jimmy leaves, and Chuck no longer has Jimmy to lord over. So now Chuck is left with his demons, and they get the better of him.

With nothing to look forward to, no one left to control, and no one left to care for him, Chuck quickly spiraled out of control. Between losing his firm, his colleague’s respect, and his brother’s compliance, Chuck had no reason to try and pretend to be normal anymore. He gutted his house, trying to remove any measurable electricity from his home, but proved unsuccessful. In a moment of rage, he takes a baseball bat to his electricity meter that, along with everyone else in the episode, refuses to do what Chuck wants it to do.

Chuck gutted his family, his friends, and his home…and then set it all ablaze. He was not at peace at the end. His face was tired, and we saw a broken man give up. He lived his whole life as a know-it-all who always made sure to have the upper hand. The last thing Chuck had any control over was the lantern on the table, I suppose.

I’ve spent 600 words now talking about Chuck, and that may seem excessive, but there is so much more to talk about than I can get into here. When the final version of Saul Goodman is assembled, you can bet his guilt around Chuck’s death will be one of the center stones.

Elsewhere in the show, we finally got to see Hector Salamanca succumb to his fake pills that Nacho slipped him, but we didn’t get to see any of the fallout from it.

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We are treated to a sideways glance from Gustavo to Nacho, indicating that maybe Gus is suspicious of Nacho’s involvement in Hector’s current health crisis. But honestly, Don Hector is an absolute jackwagon. The way he put the money on the counter of Nacho’s dad’s store…ugh. He deserves everything he gets, even though we know he eventually gets somewhat even with Gus.

One of the biggest negatives to this episode was the lack of Mike. This whole season has been a little Mike-light, but him not being in the final episode at all was pretty disappointing. It seems like we could have had a couple of scenes with Mike getting used to working for Gus or something.

Finally, we have to talk about Jimmy’s actions with Irene and the ladies from Sandpiper. I was pretty rough on Jimmy in last week’s recap, but I was 100% right. He used that poor woman to get a payday, and possibly ruined her life.

Jimmy gives up his big payday and ruins his reputation as the finest elder law specialist in the state, to get Irene back in the good graces of her friends. And he’s fine with it. He barely struggled with the decision. Mostly because of Kim.

I was concerned last week that Kim would blame Jimmy for her wreck since she was working double time and losing sleep to make sure they didn’t lose the office and she couldn’t count on Jimmy to have the money. Boy, was I wrong.

Instead, it seems that Jimmy and Kim’s relationship has only grown stronger. With Chuck out of the picture (and I don’t mean his death, Jimmy hasn’t learned of that yet), Jimmy needed something or someone to keep him going. He knows that his elder law practice, and probably his ability to practice law under his real name, are toast. But Kim is there. And together, they are going to make it. No need for an office or a Rolodex.

Of course, we know that Kim isn’t in Jimmy’s future…and seeing them so content and dedicated together just means that the future breakup will be that much more devastating for Jimmy and the viewers. But for the time being…Jimmy seems like he’s going to be alright.

Next: Better Call Saul: Jimmy McGill is dying a painful death

Hopefully, we’ll find out more about his character in season 4, which has not bee greenlit yet. I swear to God, if we still have two crappy zombie shows and no Saul next season, I’ll be pissed.