Inspired by the Ringer’s Rewatchables podcast, I present to you unforgettable scenes that demand repeat visits. The movies, shows, or books these scenes are part of don’t necessarily have to be all-timers. Even mediocre media can surprise us with a haymaker. That being said, these scenes only elevate their respective stories. Read below, then queue up the classic scene. Again, and again, and again.
The Better Call Saul courtroom battle between Jimmy and his big brother Chuck had been building for decades. Jimmy helped Chuck through his electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS), but Jimmy also sabotaged Chuck’s Mesa Verde paperwork. Chuck saved Jimmy from big legal troubles, yet Chuck undermined his little brother’s efforts to join HHM as a lawyer. In an earlier episode Jimmy discovered Chuck’s duplicitous nature, and Chuck equated Jimmy with a law degree to a “chimp with a machine gun.” There’s plenty of bitterness and anger to fuel both these characters.
Jimmy has everything to lose when he’s called to defend himself after breaking into Chuck’s house and destroying evidence. Jimmy’s livelihood is on the line, so he and Kim Wexler can’t pull any punches when Chuck is called to the witness stand (“Chicanery,” S03.E05). At this point Jimmy already knows that Chuck’s EHS is psychosomatic. Jimmy questions Chuck, and the sharp-minded Chuck senses a trap. Self-assured as always, Chuck grins and asks Jimmy if he’s hiding electronics in his pocket. Jimmy admits he has a cellphone, then he springs the trap – the cellphone battery had been in Chuck’s pocket all along, and he never sensed it.
When the bar association lawyer refers to Chuck having a mental illness, Chuck loses it. He shouts, “I am not crazy!” He rambles on about Jimmy swapping numbers on official documents, a billboard setup, Jimmy defecating through a sunroof, and Jimmy robbing their parents. Chuck sounds unhinged. And he’s right about everything. Every allegation he throws against Jimmy is truthful, but his delivery makes him look crazy and vindictive.
Though Chuck is a brilliant lawyer, he’s not a people person. Jimmy is the personable one, the favorite son and the popular co-worker. And it’s evident throughout the series that Chuck resents him for it. Jimmy outwits Chuck because Jimmy knows how to work people, for better and worse. The two brothers could have been an unstoppable team, but Chuck is too damn proud and Jimmy is too much of a conman.
A big reason I love this scene is both brothers are wrong in big ways. This isn’t a scene of a noble lawyer taking down a corrupt entity. Both characters are so human and so flawed. Chuck is a brilliant lawyer, but he’s never fully supported his little brother. Jimmy has great admiration for Chuck, but he bends and even breaks the law when it suits him. Neither brother is completely in the right.
This scene marks the end for Chuck’s career, his mental health, and his life. And the series never fully recovers from losing Chuck. The brotherly dynamic is more compelling than any drug war, because it’s a personal battle that ends in absolute tragedy. For as impressive as Bob Odenkirk is throughout Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad, this scene belongs to Michael McKean. He’s amazing as Chuck.
Best quote: “He’ll never change. He’ll never change… And he gets to be a lawyer? What a sick joke! I should’ve stopped him when I had the chance. You have to stop him.” The entire monologue is brilliantly delivered.