BETTER CALL SAUL Review: “Expenses”

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Jimmy is at the end of his rope on as the community service, lack of income, and dwindling bank accounts push him closer to becoming Saul Goodman. Kim struggles with guilt for what she and Jimmy did to Chuck during the disbarment hearing. Will this be the wedge that finally pulls Kim and Jimmy apart?

Community service is a dirty , but Jimmy tries to make the best of it while he serves his time. Between picking up bottles of piss, poopy underwear, and banana peels, he attempts to answer his phone and sell advertising time. Things are looking bleak without any income coming it, and he needs to hustle to try to recoup any money he can for the advertising time he’s already paid for. The problem is the foreman deducts all of the time he’s on the phone from his community service time. A four-hour stint only earns him thirty minutes, and when Jimmy argues about it, the foreman tells him it could be zero.

Kim goes along with Jimmy’s plan of keeping the shared office space, but it’s becoming evident to her that Jimmy is draining his bank account and maxing out his credit cards to keep up with expenses. She’s nervous about how Jimmy’s doing, but he covers things up, and puts on a brave face even though deep down he’s nervous as hell. The bigger problem for Kim is she doesn’t feel good about how she and Jimmy ran Chuck through the ringer during the disbarment trial. When Paige at Mesa Verde gloats about how amazing it was reading the transcripts of Chuck’s meltdown in court, Kim snaps at her during their meeting. Her words and actions are unprofessional and rude, and Kim immediately apologizes to Paige for it. Kim doesn’t feel good about what they’ve done to Chuck, she feels like they only destroyed a sick man.

Nacho needs to figure out a way to keep Hector from using his father’s upholstery business to run drugs. He’s tried talking to Hector, but the stubborn old man won’t listen. Nacho knows his father wouldn’t go along with it, and worries Hector would do something violent to his dad. Besides, he’s grown tired of his association with Hector. He doesn’t really see anyway out, other than killing Hector, which is where finding his heart medicine comes into the picture. Nacho pays a visit to Pryce Wormald, the nerdy chemist, and offers him $20,000 if he can get empty capsules of Hector’s heart medicine. He’s going to dope the old man’s nitro capsules so he has a heart attack, hoping no one will find out what he’s done. Pryce is edgy about the whole deal since the last time he did business with Nacho, someone broke into his house and stole all of his prized baseball cards. This is why he tries to hire Mike for security again.

Mike uses some of the money he stole from Hector to help pay for and build a playground at Stacey’s church. The act of building something instead of destroying things makes Mike feel good about himself. He actually seems delighted by what he’s done, and beyond that, he’s met a widow named Tamara at the church he seems to really connect with. The glimpses of happiness, these opportunities, only emphasize the paths our characters could go down to avoid the fate that awaits them in Breaking Bad. We root for them to make different choices knowing full well they never will. That’s the genius of Better Call Saul. It’s also why when Mike rebuffs Pryce’s offer, we know once he hears Nacho is involved he’ll jump at the opportunity.

Jimmy’s commercial business couldn’t be going any worse. The minute he’s done with community service, Jimmy takes a wet wipe bath in the parking lot, changes his clothes, and heads to wherever they have a commercial shoot lined up. He has no problem getting people to pay for the first commercial, but he’s finding it damn near impossible to sell anyone on the full package that would recoup some of the money he’s already spent. With the film school kids in tow, Jimmy looks and feels like a legit commercial producer, but the reality is everything is falling apart and he’s becoming desperate. When his car doesn’t start, he and the crew take the bus to the film shoot, only to find the guys who own the music store have changed their minds. Jimmy offers to shoot the commercial for free, and if they find success with it, they agree to buy the full package. The problem is Jimmy uses the last of his money to pay the film crew. He’s living on credit card fumes now.

Mike meets with Nacho to do the transaction for the pills, and gives Nacho some advice about how to pull off switching the medicine without getting caught. Mike’s helping Nacho because they have a shared hatred for Hector, and because Mike knows the danger of Hector’s death starting a drug war, or Nacho being killed. He tells Nacho after he switches the medication he needs to be sure he switches it back so no one ever finds out there was something wrong with the drugs. It needs to appear as a natural accident or the entire plan is screwed. Will Mike help Nacho pull it off?

Kim and Jimmy go out for drinks to relieve a little stress, and begin playing the game where they make up stories about people in the bar, and what kind of grift they’d play on them. For Kim it’s all fun, just bar talk, but Jimmy is desperate and once the conversation stops being fun and Jimmy starts laying out a serious plan to take a guy’s money, it worries Kim. She see’s what Chuck saw in Jimmy, if only for a moment. He’s capable of really losing himself into this world of dishonesty and it scares her. She tries to pull him back, saying it’s all a joke, but I think she and Jimmy both are beginning to realize it’s too late.

In the final scene Jimmy is at the insurance company he purchased malpractice insurance through, trying to get a refund. They won’t give him one, and he turns on the tears. At first it’s hard to tell if this breakdown is legitimate. Jimmy has had a frustrating turn of events where it seems his life is spiraling out of control, but once he hears his rates will be going up 150% when he returns to the law, it’s clear his breakdown and information dump with the insurance woman is to tell her about Chuck’s nervous breakdown on the stand. It’s one last cheap shot at Chuck. The insurance company will likely either raise its rates on Chuck or drop him completely. Will Jimmy actually make it impossible for Chuck to be a lawyer? If so, how will Chuck react?

TB-TV-Grade-B+

Season 3, Episode 7 (S03E07)
Better Call Saul airs Mondays at 10PM on AMC

Read all of our reviews of Better Call Saul here.
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For six months out of the year Jeff is holed up in his home with nothing to do but shovel snow, watch television, write, and dream of warmer climates.
Follow Jeff on Twitter: @OfSoundnVision
Keep up with all of Jeff’s reviews here.

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