Better Call Saul – Season 3, Episode 10: Lantern Review

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★★★★

It goes without saying that there are spoilers in this review, so don't end up looking like one of Slippin' Jimmy's marks.

As Season three of Better Call Saul wraps up, there is at least one unexpected development. After the seemingly darker path for Jimmy McGill last week, the short, sharp shock of Kim's car accident actually pushes him in a more positive, if penitent (and probably temporary), direction. Concerned with taking care of his injured girlfriend, it feels as though Jimmy's conscience starts weighing on him more than in the last couple of episodes, and he attempts to make amends for what he's done to the likes of Chuck and poor Irene Landry. Of course, he can never quite find what he's looking for from his older brother, and the blistering scene between Michael McKean and Bob Odenkirk that falls midway through this episode is a McGill stand-off for the ages. As Chuck coldly dismisses his earnestly apologetic brother with "you never mattered" after telling him he would be better off embracing his destructive side, we all know what that could do to Jimmy's brain, even if he does spend the rest of the episode trying to make things right with Mrs. Landry.

But Chuck also seems to be feeling his conscience nagging at him. Fresh out of leaving HHM with a rich settlement (funded personally by former partner Howard), there's another chance for McKean to shine this week as he sends Chuck spiraling back into the grip of his condition, shutting down the power and obsessively trying to track down the source of some random electrical activity. His destroying the power meter is effective, but it's outdone by that shocking final moment: after slowly kicking a table on which a lantern rests, the lamp falls and starts a blaze. A typical example of the Saul writing team's favourite trick, we suppose, writing themselves into a corner as an exercise in helping to discover what comes next. But with no renewal on the table just yet, we hope they get the chance to find that answer.

With no appearance from Mike Ehrmantraut this week, the rest of the episode's focus was either on Chuck or Nacho, who is trying to accept that Don Hector is insistent on using his father's business for his new drug smuggling route. But after a superbly tense scene between Papa Varga and Hector, things take a further turn later that night when Juan Bolsa (Javier Grajeda) and Gus Fring show up to inform Hector that he's under orders not to start his transporting side of the business up again. Mark Margolis is handed a spitfire moment of fury (something he does very well) before the rage appears to affect his heart condition and he falls to the ground. It's an amazing moment, and one, we suspect that may finally lead to the Hector we know and lov... Well, fear in Breaking Bad.

As for Kim, she's finally resolved to properly relax, and is raiding the Blockbuster (a more poignant reminder that this show takes place in 2003 we're not sure you could find!) for movies to watch. Rhea Seehorn has done such great work this season, and this more fragile take on Kim is just another nuanced performance.

The big question all this throws up, of course is, where do we go from here? Chuck may end up toasted to a crisp (there's a lovely circular thematic feel to the show with that brief cold open with the McGills camping back in the day), and despite Jimmy seemingly pulling briefly from his dive into the world of Saul Goodman, almost everything that keeps him on the straight and narrow has been taken away. He no longer has the balancing force of the elder law clients, he's had to give up the office after Kim's accident and his actions and now Chuck has totally turned his back on him (and is most likely dead) and he's suffering. Something surely happens to make Kim leave down the line, which will tip him finally into Saul mode.

Yet if we're honest, we'd be happy to push that off until at least the end of the next season (fingers crossed for a renewal), because there are still so many layers left to see with Jimmy. With luck, there's at least a couple of years left in the show, and that we'll continue to enjoy this beautifully shot and superbly acted gem for a while yet.

Better Call Saul airs Mondays on AMC in the US and is appearing weekly on Tuesdays via Netflix in the UK.