Better Call Saul Expenses Review
Expenses sets the pieces for season three finale of Better Call Saul and does so with its signature cinematography and excellent cast.
Written and directed by Thomas Schnauz
Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman: Bob Odenkirk
Kim Wexleyr: Rhea Seehorn
Mike Ehrmantraut: Jonathan Banks
Nacho: Michael Mando
Chuck McGill: Michael McKean
Anita: Tamara Tunie
Pryce: Mark Proksch
Paige Novack: Cara Pifko
Balancing community service and Saul Goodman Productions, Jimmy McGill is at the end of his rope. Burning through cash, Jimmy is struggling to turn a profit while trying to make rent for his and Kim’s shared law office. His lawyer charm doesn’t work outside the confines of his office or the courthouse. Additionally, with his car breaking down, Jimmy’s optimism has taken a hit. Fantasies of scamming people at a bar scares Kim to which she has to snap him back to reality.
Thomas Schnauz conveys a loneliness felt only by Jimmy. He bottles his feelings, never telling Kim about bleeding through money. Jimmy is in a world all on his own, unwilling to tell anyone of his misfortune.
A Top Notch Odenkirk Performance
Odenkirk creates a fantastic balance of melancholy and pride and really shows off his acting chops in the final moments of Expenses. For a moment, Odenkirk’s monolog at the Santa Rosa Insurance Group is played with earnestness. The weight of Jimmy’s turmoil and guilt have crescendoed, revealing his true feelings and remorse. Except Jimmy turns his misfortunes to his brother in vindictive move – adding injury to Chuck’s injury.
Odenkirk’s delivery isn’t explicitly made clear if his intentions are of malicious intent until moments into his speech. While it doesn’t reach the same heights Michael McKean set in Chicanery, Odenkirk’s malign delivery puts him near the top.
Can’t Forget About Mike
Jonathan Banks also delivers a subtle, yet underappreciated performance. Mike’s driving force throughout Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad is providing for his granddaughter. Helping build a local playground shows his willingness to ‘build something for once,’ using his hands for good rather than bad. Content with his, he turns down the offer for protecting Pryce in a deal with Nacho, something we’ve seen him do multiple times in the past. It’s until his conversation with Anita played with grace by Tamara Tunie. Anita, talking about how her husband died, states, “I wish it didn’t matter, but it does,” leading Mike to take Pryce’s offer.
After hearing how broken she felt, Mike might have come to the conclusion that financial safety is just as important to his granddaughter’s well-being as his time spent with her. Maybe, stricken with grief from the loss of his son, Mike is motivated to earn enough money to leave that criminal life behind him? Anita’s story of how her husband died bears a striking resemblance to Mike’s death in Breaking Bad. Maybe it’s the fear of perishing in the same manner that influences Mike to work for Pryce? What does Mike need from Nacho?
Kim, like Jimmy, is feeling the weight of the world on her shoulders, though for different reasons. Though victorious in helping Jimmy beat his court case, Kim’s conscience weighs heavy on her. Kim’s outburst to her Mesa Verde client Paige is out of character; usually cheery, she’s stressed, guilty for “tearing down a sick man.”
There’s a disconnect between Kim and Jimmy in the outcome of Chuck’s meltdown. Spoken like two criminals who got away with murder, Jimmy states everything that happened was because of Chuck’s own doing. Even Jimmy’s falling out with Rebecca was caused by Chuck. Kim’s face reads like a complicit partner – unsure if what Jimmy is telling her is morally right. She’s dissatisfied with his answer, seemingly storing it away and changing the topic of discussion.
Expenses is a segue for the final three episodes of the season. More so than previous episodes, Expenses felt like pieces to a large chess board strategically moving into place.
Having to wait two weeks for the next episode is going to be a painful one.