‘Better Call Saul’ Returns: 7 Things We Learned From the Season 3 Premiere

Better Call Saul - Bob Odenkirk, Michael McKean
Robert Trachtenberg/AMC/Sony Pictures Television
Pictured: (L to R) Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill, Michael McKean as Chuck McGill

[Spoiler alert: Do not read further if you haven’t watched the Better Call Saul Season 3 premiere, “Mabel.” Plot points and twists are revealed.]

AMC’s Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul returned for a third season Monday night with an episode that picked up pretty much right where we left off in the Season 2 finale: Jimmy’s still in Chuck’s abode; Kim’s back in possession of the Mesa Verde account (plus, a few of Jimmy’s neglected clients); Chuck’s still simmering hard over that fact; and Mike’s aware of a brand-new (but oh-so-familiar to Bad fans) threat, though he’s not sure who that is just yet.

Though the episode sets up an ultra fun jaw-dropper of an episode 2, there were plenty of talking points in Monday’s Better Call Saul premiere, which TV Insider breaks down below.

1) You can take Jimmy/Saul/Gene out of the law, but you can’t take the law out of Jimmy/Saul/Gene.
Season 3 opens at the Nebraska Cinnabon where our balding, mustachioed manager Gene (that’s Jimmy on the run, for those of you who’ve forgotten) takes his lunch break on a mall bench. Spotting a suspicious-looking young fellow, Gene makes eye contact with the kid and watches as he fumbles the merchandise stashed in his coat then ducks into a photo booth and pulls the curtain. Seconds later, when mall security shows up, Gene wordlessly points out the thief—then howls to the cuffed kid, “Say nothing, understand? Get a lawyer!” Better call … er, never mind.

2) The Brothers McGill can still be civil to one another …
Though Jimmy confessed his Mesa Verde involvement to Chuck (Michael McKean), he’s a) still unaware Chuck recorded his confession and b) sticking around to help Chuck take down the foil fortress that is currently his living room. What Jimmy really needs to discover is indeed in one of the room’s drawers; instead, he comes across a book from the brothers’ childhood—The Adventures of Mabel, an adventurer who eats tasty jam in the company of the King of the Brownies.

3) … but they’re not civil for long.
When Jimmy recalls that their mom used to read him the book, a nonplussed Chuck reminds him that it was he who led the story sessions, not their mother. Atop that little situation with Mrs. McGill’s last words in the Season 2 finale, we know this won’t go over well, and it doesn’t. Jimmy tries to salve the wound with memories of a little neighborhood girl he liked a lot, to which Chuck responds, “Don’t think I’ll ever forget what happened here today. And you will pay.” We don’t doubt it. And we don’t think he’s just talking about the tape. Which makes Jimmy’s lamentation to Kim, “For ten minutes today, Chuck didn’t hate me. I forgot what that felt like.” all the more poignant.

4) Chuck knows the taped confession isn’t admissible in court, but he has a plan for it anyway.
When Jimmy leaves, Chuck summons HHM partner Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) to his place where he reveals the tape, then listens patiently as Howard lists all the reasons the recording will never hold up in court. Chuck knows—every last bit of it. See, the tape itself isn’t the point. It’s what will happen next—which we find out in next week’s Saul.

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Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut – Better Call Saul

5) This time when Jimmy gets cornered, a flash of Saul emerges.
No, it’s not Chuck doing the cornering just yet. It’s the soldier who, as Jimmy points out, gave Jimmy, his film crew and the fictional Major Theodore “Fudge” Talbot the red carpet welcome when Jimmy filmed his (fudged indeed) commercial on the guy’s Air Force base in last season’s “Fifi” episode. And though Jimmy tries for a minute or two to reason with the guy, when Major Headache tells him to cease the ad or face the consequences, Jimmy looks him in the eye and says, “Make me.” And he means it. (And when the soldier tells him, “Guys like you, you think you’re so damned smart and you think you don’t have to play straight with anybody. The wheel is going to turn. It always does.” — well, we know he’s right, too.)

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6) Mike is a patient man.
OK, so Breaking Bad fans already know this especially well. But from Mike’s methodical dismantling of the ancient station wagon to figure out how whomever knew to tail him to the desert went about it, to his mastery of the tracking device he discovered in his gas cap, to the vigil at the window with only tasty pistachios for company to find out who would come to fetch it, Jonathan Banks’ Zen master returned in deliciously true form. Bonus points for his wee-hours meeting with Joe DeRosa’s shady, formerly Hummer-driving veterinarian, from whom he commissions a mysterious thousand-buck score.

7) … and patience is a virtue.
Sure, enough. Just as Mike began to nod off, a car pulled up alongside his own and a stranger stepped out, taking the device, the bait and leading Mike to … we’re betting our lunch money one Gustavo Fring.

Better Call Saul, Mondays, 10/9c, AMC