Better Call Saul Lantern Review
Lantern, the season three finale of Better Call Saul, is an end to an extraordinary season and leaves the future of the show up in flames.
Written by Gennifer Hutchison
Directed by Peter Gould
Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman: Bob Odenkirk
Kim Wexler: Rhea Seehorn
Mike Ehrmantraut: Jonathan Banks
Nacho: Michael Mando
Don Hector Salamanca: Mark Margolis
Chuck McGill: Michael McKean
Marco: Mel Rodriguez
Dr. Lara Cruz: Clea DuVall
Gus Fring: Giancarlo Esposito
Howard Hamlin: Patrick Fabian
Manual Varga: Juan Carlos Cantu
Lydia: Laura Fraser
Francesca: Tina Parker
Mrs. Landry: Jean Effron
Billy Gatwood: Chris Mulkey
Opening on a young Jimmy and Chuck at a campsite, the eldest brother reading his younger sibling a passage from The Adventures of Mabel. “Is she going to be okay?” Jimmy asks his older brother. “She’ll be fine,” he replies. “Just listen, you’ll see.” An almost reassuring tone with a hint of frustration. For all the focus on Mike, and Gus, and Nacho, this third season of Better Call Saul was all about a sibling relationship. Through all their faults, Jimmy and Chuck’s strained relationship was at the heart of the entire season, culminating in the final moments of Lantern.
The Devil Is In The Details
The genius of the show is in the details. The opening moments of the episode mirror the closing shots, inducing a sense of closure to an otherwise imperfect ending. As Jimmy begins to make peace with all those he’s done wrong after realizing life can end in the blink of an eye, he attempts to apologize to Chuck. Chuck, whose pride seldom allows for him to ask for help, tells Jimmy, with intense sureness, “You never mattered all that much to me.”
Pushing people further and further away, Chuck finds himself, if he’s even aware, to the point of no return. Pulling wires out from the walls of his home, removing electrical outlets, and taking a bat to a power meter, Chuck’s frantic episode is possibly the summation of stress and the inability to regain control of his mental state.
Even with such irredeemable actions, director Peter Gould portrays Chuck as empathic. Though what he says to Howard and Jimmy can place him in the light of a villain, his spiral downwards is viewed as a cry for help. Scattering around his home, tearing down walls and appliances, Gould, with excellent work by editor Kelley Dixon, make that sequence full of dread. Capturing the essence of what anxiety is through Chuck’s eyes, that sequence places up squarely in Chuck’s head.
For some, Chuck has reached the point of no return, in terms of redeeming himself from this point forward. The final shot of his home engulfed in flames is a visual representation of Chuck’s life and his relationships with those who cared for him.
A literal burning of bridges from his earlier scene with Howard and Jimmy and the cancellation of his appointment with Dr. Cruz – another large obstacle Chuck has to hurdle.
“It Wasn’t Me, It Was Ignacio! He’s The One”
Nacho’s desperation to liberate his father finally pays off with Don Hector hospitalized due to a heart attack. The interesting aspect to seeing Don Hector topple over is how Gus Fring attempts to save his life. The look Gus gives Nacho indicates his involvement with his hospital stay. The question remains: What’s Nacho’s fate? From Saul’s line in his debut episode in Breaking Bad, Nacho is alive, though his whereabouts remain a mystery. Does Gus view Nacho with respect or someone who impeded on his plans of killing Hector? Is there a job waiting for Nacho on Gus’s side of the operation?
While not as tense as Nacho’s scheme to switch Don Hector’s pills, this scene plays out through Nacho’s perspective unsure about what’s going to happen next. Though that air of unsure doesn’t last long once Hector begins his rant. Given the golden opportunity to switch Hector’s pills in plain sight, he does so but with the hint that Gus knows exactly what he’s done.
After a near-death experience, Kim takes a brief vacation, using her time to watch To Kill A Mockingbird. She needs a much-deserved break from lawyering. Car crash aside, Kim has pushed herself too far this season, taking on well above her means. I get there’s a sense of dread and worry about paying the lease for the building with Jimmy unable to practice law for a year.
Comparing her work with the work of Atticus Finch of Mockingbird, Kim thinks low of herself, not following in the footsteps of a character she once looked up to. She sees the work she does as counterintuitive, “helping a mid-size local bank become a mid-sized regional bank,” she asserts.
At the end of the season, we’re at a transitional period for these characters.
Jimmy’s change of heart is the most obvious, making the difficult decision to oust himself as the culprit behind the Mrs. Landry incidents. It’s a painful scene to see Jimmy both lie and tell the truth to save Mrs. Landry’s friendships and to clear his conscience.
Jimmy’s turn is for the better but Chuck’s assurance that he’ll never change is correct. In the end, Better Call Saul is a tragedy. With small glimpses of flash-forwards to his time after the events of Breaking Bad, it’s sad to think Jimmy’s change is short-lived.
But a transitional period for Chuck, Nacho, and Kim. Where this leads each character remains a mystery but a mystery I can’t wait to see unfold for season four.