Better Call Saul – Episode 3-3, “Sunk Costs”
CAUTION: SPOILERS AHEAD
COLD OPEN: Various shots of the unforgiving New Mexico desert. Old tires, long stretches of road, a bullet-riddled ALTO sign (if you’re not a hispanican, that means STOP). And an old, dusty pair of high tops hanging from the power line that crosses the road right at the ALTO sign. A Los Pollos Hermanos truck rumbles through the intersection, shaking everything in its wake. Which, do bobtail trucks like that really cause that much of a racket? As the truck pulls away, it generates enough hullabaloo for the frayed shoestrings on the high tops to finally break, and they come to rest in the middle of the road.
(ASIDE: There are many explanations to the practice of “dangling.” Most popular is it indicates the presence of drug activity or gangs marking their territory. Others say It’s a move by bullies, or that it’s a memorial to a person’s recent death. I think it’s safe to say that here it’s a marker of some sort. And as we know, everything means something on this show. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same brand that Jessie was wearing when he first meets Walter White on Breaking Bad, or something like that. Or they could just be shoes on a wire. I which case, screw me. END ASIDE)
REPRISE the ringing of the phone sitting on top of the gas cap. Mike answers, and this time we hear the dusky, dulcet tones of Gustavo Fring on the other end. He wants to ensure the meeting that’s about to happen ends in an amicable fashion. You don’t show me yours, I won’t show you mine. Two car approach from opposite directions, one carrying Mr. Fring. He exits and engages in a delightful conversation with Mike. The acting here is just awesome. Mike wants an explanation to the DON’T note that prevented him from offing Hector Salamanca. And while Gus doesn’t want Hector dead, yet, he is OK with Mike continuing his beef with Salamanca, which is still a thing because Hector killed the innocent civilian that happened upon the truck of his that Mike robbed. And while Mike’s original issue with Hector is concluded (Hector threatened his family, Mike took his money, the end, right?), Mike is far from done with Hector Salamanca. Which is fine with Gus. Because when Hector’s business is bad, that’s good for Gus’ business. Again, really great exchange between these two.
Back at W&M, LLP, Jimmy calls Francesca and has her clear his schedule for the next day, and let Kim know that he won’t be back in the office for the day. Jimmy is resigned to his arrest and fishes an old pack of cigarettes out of his glove box, lights one up and cops a squat on the curb to wait for Five-OH. Chuck ventures out to reinforce to Jimmy that it’s for the best and that there are always consequences for your actions. Then Chuck blathers on about why he’s doing this – he WILL be pressing charge, and he just wants to show Jimmy he truly must make a change for the better and hopes he will be a better person when he comes out of this on the other side. Man I swear to GOD I would kick Chuck right in his self-righteous nuts right then. “You’ll find your path. And when you’re ready, I will be there to help you walk that path.” Sure you will Chuck. I’m not sure you’re gonna make it past the season finale. Then we see that Jimmy has finally had enough with Chuck. After detailing how one day Chuck is going to have another one of his episodes, will get shipped to the hospital and hooked up to the machines that beep and whir and hurt (you can see Chuck physically whence at this), Chuck’s going to die there – alone. And judging by the look on Chuck’s face, he knows Jimmy’s right. For so long Jimmy has given Chuck the benefit of the doubt because he is family. But family doesn’t do this to each other, and it’s obvious that Jimmy is so dunzo with his older brother. “Welp, there’s my ride.”
Cut to montage of Jimmy going through the drills of arrest and booking. Mugshot (reminded me of Raising Arizona, “Turn to the right. Howdy, Kurt.”) and fingerprinting (another genius camera angle shot here, POV of the fingerprint pad). Deputy District Attorney Oakley spots Jimmy and takes great pleasure in a bit of gloating (How the mighty have fallen) while Jimmy is processed. They both jockey for position a bit, Oakley to see if he could get in on that “sweet Davis and Main gig” that Jimmy left, and Jimmy trying to find out who’s gonna catch the case (both judge and prosecutor wise). Oakley blinks first and says he’ll see if he can get Jimmy’s first appearance moved up, then departs with some unsolicited advice. “Find the biggest guy. Punch him right in the face. Establish dominance.” Thanks dude.
Cut to Montage Number 2 – Kim waking up on her couch at work. She grabs a cup of Joe and a set of dry cleaned clothes, walks across the street to North Valley Fit and proceeds with a morning get ready for work routine. Shower, hair, Visine, makeup, fresh set of clothes and back across the street to the office. Looks as if she’s done this before, which means that while things are good between her and Jimmy at work, I’m not sure they are an item between the sheets anymore. Upon her return, Ernie is sitting outside the office. Evidently, he’s been fired and he feels awful for what happened to Jimmy. Man, for someone who didn’t mean for a lot for this to happen, it sure does seem to happen. He again spills the beans, and Kim now knows that Jimmy’s been arrested. And for me, it showed the depths of what Chuck will go to to prove his point. Jimmy is not the most scrupulous lawyer in the world, but at least he has heart. Chuck is a vindictive, lowlife asshole who only thinks he’s doing the right thing. And that only makes it worse. The entire thing was a ruse. A trap. Not just getting Jimmy on tape, but letting Ernie find and hear the tape knowing he’d go to Jimmy, that Jimmy would kick in the door mad as hell and destroy the tape, and that he’d have Jimmy arrested. All with one goal in mind – to get Jimmy disbarred. What a colossal dick. And what a colossal long con.
It’s Jimmy’s turn in front of the judge. Nice banter back and forth between her and Jimmy. “Not how I’m used to seeing you. Not how I’m used to being seen.” As Judge Arch reads the lists of offenses, Jimmy enters a plea of “not guilty” and Kim makes an appearance. And while she tries to insert herself as Jimmy’s attorney, he will have none of it. After making bond and cabbing it back to the office, Jimmy unveils a (somewhat) heartfelt and impassioned plea to Kim that he’s sorry for not calling her and telling her but he just has to do this himself!! “I can’t and I WON’T load this on to you, too.” He also explains how Chuck’s plan played out, that he played Jimmy like a fiddle and how he fell for it hook, line and sinker. Kim stares blankly at him, pauses and simply says, “OK.” Not what I think Jimmy was hoping for. Francesca points out to Jimmy that she finished the mural, touching up the edges that needed a little help after Jimmy ripped off the painter’s tape in anger. Another small sign of the growing relationship between Jimmy and Francesca. I think she will become a much bigger player as the season unfolds.
Mike makes a visit to the Clinica Gratuita to obtain something from a doctor, a meeting set up by a “mutual friend.” El doctor asks about the gringo waiting for him and is told it’s for “the revenge.” The doctor will see Mike, er, Mr. Clark, next. Seems Mike needs “package” about “yea” big. Doesn’t know how many grams. Just, you know, “yea” big. Mike takes the package and tucks it away in the trunk with his long-range sniper rifle, so we know he’s again up to no good.
Back at the courthouse, DDA Oakley takes his vending machine coffee and two bags of chips and settles at a bench for lunch. Jimmy joins him with a burger and fries. Jimmy proceeds to feel out Oakley (eww!) to see if he can get him to agree to a favorable plea bargain. However, seems that Oakley is not the one who’s drawn the case. He’s been conflicted out. In fact, the entire Albuquerque office is out. “We all know you, Jimmy.” They’ve pulled in an outside prosecutor, on that’s “tough but fair.” And Jimmy is none too happy about it.
And now to my favorite scene of the episode. Mike pulls off to the side of the road next to our bullet-riddled ALTO sign, pops the trunk and extracts a box containing a brand-new pair of high tops – the exact brand and color as the ones that fell from the power lines earlier in the episode. Mike opens the “package” and take what looks like either a bag of cocaine or heroin and shoves it deep down into the toe of one of the shoes. He then ties the shoes together and takes at least three tosses to get the back to hanging from the power line.
Mrs. Hay, Chuck’s attorney, arrives at his home and begins taking Chuck’s statement about the incident with Jimmy. Jimmy had a key and used to help Chuck out but Chuck had recently changed the locks (important to note because I think Jimmy can argue that he was concerned for Chuck’s welfare and only kicked in the door when the key didn’t work, thus negating the B&E charge). As she questions him, Chuck paints the picture of what happened, but also says that Jimmy has never been prone to violence and certainly would never physically assault him. Chuck assures her that he won’t back out at any point, and then asks about her strategy. She doesn’t plan on taking it easy on Jimmy because he’s a lawyer, and she won’t let him plea down the felony breaking and entering charge. She’s ready to get to work, and Chuck continues to play out his devious plan. He shows remorse and regret and caring for his brother, and he can’t help but think there is a better solution, for everyone. BEWM.
Cut to the barren New Mexico landscape and a slight reflection from atop a distant ridge. Mike is hunkered down with rifle and binoculars keeping watch on our favorite intersection. He soon spies Hector’s boys coming his way and lines them up in his sights. As they stop to deposit their gently used guns in the drop point, Mike fires off a few rounds into the sky. They drop for cover before determining the shots are probably coming from hunters in the area. The boys continue on their way and return to the truck as shots continue to ring out. As they start to pull away, Mike trains his sights on the high tops and drills the toe of the lowest hanging one. A cascade of cocaine/heroin falls silently onto the roof and back steps of the truck. Not a lot, but just enough. While very elaborate and a tiny bit far-fetched, it was still pretty brilliant, as we’ll soon see when the truck arrives at the frontera Mexico y Usatdos Unidos in 20 km. At customs, we see the same scene we once saw in Breaking Bad, officials and drug sniffing dogs comb over and through the trucks before being allowed to cross the border. A dog hits on our boys’ truck, and they are immediately arrested. Dugus supplyus interruptus. Just brilliant.
Kim and Jimmy are both working late, and she notices the glow of his cigarette through the glass block wall. Kim joins him for a drag of the incredibly old and stale cigarette (probably from when the doors still matched). Jimmy heard from the ADA, and it’s not what he expected. It’s different. Pre-prosecution diversion, an even more legalized term for deferred adjudication – what seems like the best possible outcome. Lucky break? Not really. The PPD was Chuck’s idea. What’s his game? Jimmy pleads guilty to all charges, but if he stays clean for a year, he avoids any jail time. “I thought he wanted me in jail. He just wants my law license.” BEWM. Jimmy thought he could get through it, but Chuck has him boxed in, and Chuck practically owns the bar having made half of their careers. But Jimmy’s not alone. Kim offers her help in a plea that is essentially the EXACT OPPOSITE of what Jimmy tried to plea with hear earlier. It’s all chalked up to the fallacy of sunk costs (throwing good money after bad). So what next? Take that PPD and shove it right up Chuck’s ass! That’s our Jimmy!
So, what do you think? Was Jimmy running a long con on Kim to ultimately get her to help him? And make it her idea? He couldn’t have foreseen the PPD could he? Or is he sincere on all of this? Lemme hear from you!!
› the idea that a company or organization is more likely to continue with a project if they have already invested a lot of money, time, or effort in it, even when continuing is not the best thing to do:
Economists would point out that the sunk cost fallacy is irrational, and could be described as "throwing good money after bad".