selenak: (Jimmy and Kim)
[personal profile] selenak
Which is the lawyerly showdown yours truly has been waiting for.

Now this was a BCS episode. (And the minor Breaking Bad character was used entirely in the service of the story.)

In retrospect, I should have guessed that Jimmy's and Kim's strategy to keep Jimmy from disbarment would have to be to claim that Jimmy's confession on the tape had been a lie designed to reassure his mentally ill brother, and that Chuck's entire case against Jimmy was the product of fraternal hatred in addition to that mental illness, not accurate deduction. Kim set the stage up by getting Howard to describe both how hard Jimmy was working (and caring for his brother) and how it was entirely due to Chuck he didn't get hired as a lawyer at HHM. (BTW, Kim knocking down the "we didn't want to be accused of nepotism" argument down with the simple question who the other Hamlin in Hamlin, Hamlin and McGill was: perfect moment.)

And then Jimmy took over. In a way, it was the reverse of what Chuck had done to him; provoke Chuck into exposing what was hidden by his knowledge of his brother. He did this in two steps. The arrival of Rebecca was a red herring, because Chuck would have guessed Jimmy would want to provoke him, but if he thought Rebecca was the chosen method, he wouldn't look further. The sleight of hands, the planted battery was the pay off for the episode two seasons past where Chuck's doctor demonstrated to Jimmy that Chuck's aversion to electricity was entirely mental in nature and that Chuck didn't sense anything electric if he didn't know it was there. But the real reveal to everyone in the room wasn't that Chuck's electrophobia wasn't physical in nature, it was the gigantic pettiness, obsession and decades long festering jealousy beneath the dignified facade erupting, and that was the reveal Jimmy had wanted and needed to provoke.

Mind you; long term wise, I think part of it will backfire on Jimmy, not least because Chuck's big explosion contained some more correct accusations (Jimmy did arrange his "hero" stunt via the billboard), and both Kim and Howard heard those. (Not to mention said accusations are now a matter of court record.) But the McGill whose credibility, image and self image was destroyed in that room was Chuck, not Jimmy. And he did it to himself; the episode reminds us of this earlier when Howard tells Chuck he doesn't have to testify at all, and Chuck insists he must simply because he absolutely has to personally ensure his brother won't be able to practice the law again. (BTW, all I know about US law I learned via tv shows, so I have no idea, but: can a mentally ill lawyer still practice? I.e. has Chuck just qualified himself for disbarement in addition to ruining his own reputation?)

Bob Odenkirk was terrific in that final scene, because you could simultanously see Jimmy actually despite his anger at Chuck took no joy in what he was doing, yet at the same time was determined to see it through, and that the fact his brother hated him is still hurting him even when he feeds into that hatred to expose it. Michael McKean, too, throughout. Take Chuck's various practices at home and then in the court of the "I love my brother" claims. On the one hand, it's clear to the audience what's underneath these, but otoh, the court version had to sound convincing to the people in the room who aren't Kim and Jimmy. Then the various degrees in which Chuck is rattled yet still holding on, to the ugly explosion, to the rallying in the final moment when he tries to restore his dignity and facade again, to the bravado of the last "do you have anything else?" (Which, btw, perfect phrase, because it works in the court context and at the same time is such a fraternal taunt.)

In conclusion: hands down the best episode of the season so far. Which makes me wonder what on earth they'll go with for the second half and the season finale.
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