Season Three, Episode Three — “Sunk Costs”
By Brandy Dykhuizen. The other shoe has dropped on Hector Salamanca.
In an opening flash-forward, bathed in light as orange as a prison jumpsuit, we see a Los Pollos Hermanos truck winding its way towards the U.S., and we come to know that Mike’s earlier efforts permanently altered the boundaries of the Salamanca/Fring territories. Every detail of desert eye candy comes back into play during these cold opens, whether as pieces of the week’s puzzle or shards from a smashed Breaking Bad Easter Egg.
With “Sunk Costs”, easily the best episode of Better Call Saul‘s third season, Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould prove you require neither an abundance of dialogue nor have to sacrifice spectacular aesthetics to tell a fantastically layered story.
Over in McGill territory, the brothers engage in perhaps their most poignant exchange yet. Chuck towers over Jimmy, delivering his lecture of moral superiority from a visually higher place. Now that he has the momentary upper hand over his younger brother, Chuck struts about unfazed by the power lines and sunshine overhead. During Chuck’s extended proselytizing, he insists that Jimmy can change while he still has a chance, “before he hurts someone.”
Is Chuck projecting here, wishing he could go back and undo whatever misstep caused Rebecca to leave him all those years ago? Whatever the motivation, Jimmy shut down the oration with a fairly unbeatable rebuttal: yeah, but you’re gonna die alone. Damn.
Still, Chuck isn’t keen on seeing Jimmy rot in jail, he’s just hellbent on having him disbarred. In a few scenes providing some much needed levity to counterbalance the mountains of shit hitting the fan, Jimmy discovers through DDA Oakley that he’s not getting off so easy, as a prosecutor is being brought in from outside of Albuquerque to throw the book at him. Bad news for Jimmy but good news for us, as we get to see Vice Principles’ Kimberly Hebert Gregory duke it out with Rhea Seehorn in the courtroom.
Try as Jimmy might to properly represent himself, Kim won’t let that ship sink without doing all she can to bail it out. She’s invested too much blood, sweat and tears into their shared practice to stand by and let Jimmy go down.
That sentiment was reflected with an incredibly touching shot in which Kim grabs Jimmy’s hand as they share a cigarette, silhouetted against the backlit glass. (And reminiscent of their smoking trysts at HHM.) For better or worse, her heart remains in the game.
“You care to elaborate?” – Mike to Gus, in reference to the “DON’T” note.
“It’s not in my interest for Hector Salamanca to die. At this time.” – Gus. That full stop sure seems to indicate the inevitable.
“Beats the hell out of the back of a nail salon.” – Jimmy, on sleeping in a holding cell.
“Just, you know, this isn’t a typical week around here.” – Jimmy, to Francesca. Maybe not there, per se, but certainly in whatever hell he’s about to drag that poor woman into.
Jimmy: “You want it? There’s too many trans fats.” DDA Oakley: “Those are the BEST fats!”
BEST MOMENT: Mike generally keeps all emotional indicators in check, so his downright colossal eye roll when Gus remarked, “Of course, I trust that you are done with Hector Salamanca,” was absolutely fantastic. They operate on the wrong side of the law, but they both adhere to very clear rules. Watching them negotiate mutual ground is a little hair-raising, and Mike’s complete disregard to a threat he clearly doesn’t underestimate makes us love him even more.
EPISODE’S MVP: Mike peppers his badassery this week with a few subtly entertaining moments. The aforementioned eye roll of course being one, and his understated and cavalier first question upon meeting Gus (“You care to elaborate?”) had me giggling as well. His moment miming to the Mexican clinician the amount of drugs he needed was also outstanding. We are used to thinking of him as the very definition of measured precision; however, apparently Mike does not calculate in grams.
– I’m really looking forward to watching the Jimmy/Francesca relationship develop. Does he stamp out her soul slowly over time, or convince her she’s complicit in something too large to escape? Either way, there will be some comic gold in that, I’m sure.
– As pleasantly executed as Kim’s montage was, I’m really ready to see her as something other than Jimmy’s uptight cheerleader. Rhea Seehorn was just so good last season that’s it’s disappointing to watch her sit back and take third or even fourth billing. Her morning routine seemed a somewhat out of place compromise.
– On the flip side, Jimmy’s montage as he bags his personal effects and is photographed and fingerprinted was worth rewinding a few times. Bob Odenkirk’s set of scowls and glowers set to the tune of Little Richard’s “Hurry Sundown” was everything.
9 out of 10
Next: “Off Brand”, in one week.
Before: “Witness”, here.