Better Call Saul 3.06: Off Brand

The world of Better Call Saul is alive with characters. Whether they are the main characters or off shoot characters from Breaking Bad or guest spots from well known TV actors. This weeks episode entitled Off Brand written by Ann Cherkis and directed by former actor (Christine) Keith Gordon.

Our nefarious Scarfaceesque drug dealer Don Hector is up to no good as always, getting Nacho to beat up a cohort who's take comes up short. Nacho is clearly becoming disillusioned with the cards his life has dealt him and this shown in through excellent work by the actor portraying him.

At the conclusion of his trial for assaulting Chuck at his home, Jimmy is suspended for 12 months. Seeing this as a victory Jimmy and Kim celebrate. The scenes play out with an easy innocence. Simply sitting at home, drinking a beer, Kim is barefoot and the simmering tension is palpable and conveyed easily by two actors who are comfortable in the skins of their characters. There is an underlying sense of dread because we know where Jimmy is going (and this is confirmed at the episodes end) but not sure where Kim will end up. This anticipation keeps this viewer coming back for more, because with carefully writing and direction we connect with these characters and empathy grows. Even when Chuck's wife visits and asks Jimmy for help, and Jimmy turns her away, after admitting Chuck is no longer his brother we still feel onside with Jimmy.

Talking of Chuck he is still at his crackpot best firstly taking a battery out of its casing. The shots for this are sublime. Shot from the edge of a table out of focus, the battery, looking like the size of a boulder, rolls into view, with a shaking Gus reaching out for it and holding onto it for dear life. Howard visits and suggests that Chuck start afresh and forget about Jimmy. Chuck is later seen walking outside in the big bad world with a foil cover wrapping around his overcoat. Again the scenes are shot inventively, with a blue fuzz aura surrounding him and snippets of electrical noise permeating the soundtrack as Chuck tries to use a public telephone to phone his doctor that diagnosed him initially, Dr.Cruz.

Little seen this episode but his present looms large, Gus with his agreement with Hector intact, hands over a portion of his drugs to Nacho, who insists Hector is waiting for six parcels and not five. Gus allows it as his mind is elsewhere as a returning Lydia, is helping with scoping out a commercial laundry. It's a nice surprise to see a returning Lydia and how things connect, being such a nasty and vile character in this world. With Nacho returning to Hector and Hector having a panic attack after hearing Tuco will spend longer in prison than anticipated, we can see where things will end up for Hector as Nacho takes away one of his pills out of sight.

As the episode ends we see Jimmy and Kim watching one of Jimmys commercials that he is making in replacement of his law commercials. Here is where finally we get the first revelation of where the name Saul Goodman comes from. The writing in this revelatory scene is well written and almost spoken by Bon Odenkirk. A revelation like this is almost swept under the carpet but shows how well the show is directed and written. This show is simply a joy to watch every week.

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