Better Call Saul: “Sunk Costs” Season 3 Episode 3 Review

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For all that happens within it, “Sunk Costs” was an astoundingly fast episode of Better Call Saul, at least compared with the first two episodes of the season. But a lot of the pieces put in motion and then executed here will likely have significant ramifications on where we know these characters eventually end up.

Chuck puts Jimmy in jail in “Sunk Costs,” an act that has, in a way, been coming since the pilot. It lasts as long as it realistically can (so not very), with Jimmy posting bail and the judge even complimenting him on his work representing the elderly. But first he denies having Kim represent him, an act that could doom him, let alone their already rocky relationship. One of those gets a nice clean band-aid put on it right away though. Jimmy’s return to the firm after his hearing really let Bob Odenkirk flex his acting chops, as he earnestly explained to Kim that this was his mistake and that he’s going to fix it himself. And so the true tragedy of Better Call Saul re-emerges for the first time this season: Jimmy is a genuinely good guy destined to break bad. This is his journey to that, but as he pays for the actions that push him closer to Saul Goodman, he breaks our hearts by showing that Jimmy McGill really isn’t the sleazy corner cutting man he eventually becomes. Ironically, it’s as his world tries to squeeze what’s left of Jimmy McGill out of him that he fights back the hardest. If the writers stay on this path, the transformation will be grueling to watch (in the best way possible).

But for now, Kim rejoins her friend for a secluded cigarette. Jimmy tells her that Chuck is coming after his license to practice law. With all of Chuck’s connections, it’s essentially the world against Jimmy, as it’s always been when it comes to his choice in career. But now Kim agrees to stand with him, and a powerful ally she’s proven to been. Still, Jimmy and Kim versus the world isn’t a narrative that can last long. As level-headed and cool Jimmy is throughout “Sunk Costs,” Saul Goodman’s future shadow looms large.

However, there are some big moves on Mike’s side of the episode as well. He meets with Gus at the top of the episode, who’s replaced his soft yellow button down with a dark coat, and his bright smile with a cold stare. It’s smart for Better Call Saul to have not spent much time showing us the Gus Breaking Bad initially tricked us into seeing. This show mishandled his overall introduction in the last two episodes, but now we’re getting the ruthless yet calculated side of Gus we know and fear all too well. And now Mike works for him. All that’s left is to get Jimmy involved. Knowing what comes of both Gus and Hector Salamanca, I hope this show doesn’t just keep showing us Mike slowly damaging Gus’ rival, as the brunt of the damage is done later. But the pieces are set for some tighter storytelling from the show down the line, uniting Jimmy and Mike for the long term.

So thus, “Sunk Costs” was pretty easily the best episode of the season so far, one that felt very much in line with the quality I’ve come to expect from this surprisingly profound prequel series. If season three stays true to that, it’s rough start will be an insignificant blip on an otherwise great series. Grade: A-

By Matt Dougherty

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