We should have seen it coming. Season 2 of AMC's Better Call Saul has been so meticulously planned that the ending seems so obvious in retrospect — even as it came as a total shock. For two years, Chuck McGill has looked down on his younger brother Jimmy, disparaging his talents as a lawyer and chastising him for his ethically murky business practices. So of course (of course) in order to bring Jimmy down once and for all, Chuck would have to stoop to his level. In a brilliant role reversal, Jimmy told the truth for once while Chuck pulled a devious con… and it may be the end of Jimmy McGill as we know and love him.
Yes, Chuck survived his nasty-looking head wound at the end of last week's penultimate episode. Rather than let his brother die so he could save himself, Jimmy risked exposing his entire xeroxing scheme by rushing into the store where Chuck lay prone, shutting off all the electronics, and ordering bewildered employee Lance to call an ambulance. After a brief scare — the overwhelming exposure to the hospital's scanning machine caused Chuck to slip into a temporary coma — the elder McGill awoke, essentially none the worse for wear.
Having sat by his brother's side for the 20-odd hours he was unconscious, Jimmy took Chuck home and went back to work at an office that was now positively overflowing with clients thanks to his commercial. (Thankfully, we got to see the finished product in all its patriotic glory. Kim couldn't have looked more proud.) But then Jimmy got a distressing call from Howard: Chuck had quit his job at HHM.
Bewildered, Jimmy went to his brother's house, where he found Chuck neurotically lining an entire room with foil. When Jimmy asked him why he quit, Chuck admits that he can no longer do his job. The electricity has been wearing down his brain, and in one fell swoop he made a grievous mistake, hurt a major client, and blamed his brother. And of course, Jimmy's fatal flaw proves to be not his penchant for conning, but his devotion to his brother. He can't see through Chuck's charade, so he tries to make him feel better by telling him the truth: Chuck didn't make a mistake; he, Jimmy, had doctored the paperwork just like Chuck assumed.
Naturally, once his younger brother left the room, Chuck revealed a recorder. He has Jimmy's entire confession on tape… and we may finally have our answer to the question of why Jimmy McGill adopted the pseudonym of Saul Goodman. If Jimmy is disbarred for the fraud he committed, the only way he'll be able to continue to practice law is under a false identity. It remains to be seen how long into Season 3 that transformation will take place — the show has held off on going "full Saul" for so long now — but one thing is certain: we have officially seen the beginning of the end of James M. McGill, esq.
Images: Ursula Coyote/AMC (3)