Spoiler Alert: Do not read if you haven’t seen Better Call Saul Season 2, Ep. 5 – “Rebecca.”
“You don’t save me. I save me.” — Kim
I’ve made much already about the various moral codes guiding our two protagonists, Jimmy and Mike, but this week we got to drive into the inner workings of two other, equally as fascinating characters, Kim and Chuck.
It would be easy to write Chuck off as the villain of Better Call Saul. In Jimmy’s eyes he’d certainly fit the role and much of the obstacles in Jimmy’s way have come courtesy of Chuck’s interference. But this week we got a little more insight into what guides Chuck’s decisions when it comes to his little brother.
In an eye opening flashback we saw Chuck pre-mental break, married to a lovely, talented woman named Rebecca. In the scene Chuck warns Rebecca that his brother is an acquired taste and even comes up with a signal for when she’s had enough of his antics. But Rebecca doesn’t need the signal because she, like most people who first met Jimmy, is utterly charmed. Herein lies Chuck’s first big problem with his brother; he has an ease with people that Chuck can never compete with. Chuck is bright and hardworking, but not particularly captivating.
Chuck’s second major sticking point came later in the episode when he sat down with Kim and told the story of how Jimmy killed their father. At least in his mind. In actuality, their father owned a store that Jimmy worked at, the store was struggling, Chuck came in to clean up the books and found that over the years Jimmy had skimmed $14,000 from the family business. The store had to be closed and six months later their father was dead. But the real issue, the part that compels Chuck to stomp out every rule breaking inclination from his brother, is that their father wouldn’t hear a word against his youngest son. Jimmy ruined his father’s dreams and he still got away with it just by virtue of being Jimmy.
But, while Chuck has had a lifetime of dealing with Jimmy’s messes, Kim is still new to the process. She defiantly told Jimmy that she would save herself from review doc purgatory and, thanks to her tenacity she did manage a major coup by bringing in a substantial new client. Unfortunately, Howard remained unimpressed.
Kim, like Chuck, adheres to the strict idea that if you work hard and do things the right way you will succeed. But, thanks to Jimmy’s inclusion in their lives, they have learned the harsh lesson that that isn’t always true.
Mike, meanwhile, is also learning the hard way that doing the “right thing” doesn’t always work out. He took a beating to send Tuco away rather than kill him outright, but now Tuco’s uncle, Hector Salamanca, is sniffing around and causing trouble. He doesn’t think his nephew should have to do ten years for the weapons charge and it is in Mike’s power to lie about the gun and lessen the charge. We all know the damage Hector could inflict with nothing more than a bell. I don’t want to find out what he can manage with full capabilities.
Getting Tuco arrested rather than killing him was a half measure. In a few years time Mike will famously caution Walter White against taking any such half measures. Perhaps this is that turning point, a fundamental changing in his personal moral code.
And perhaps Mike is the reason Hector winds up in wheelchair without the ability to speak. Fingers crossed.
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