AMC's Better Call Saul is a rare series -- arguably even rarer than Breaking Bad. Not only has it managed to recapture everything that we loved about its predecessor, but it has also firmly carved out a life of its own as it explores the early years of Saul Goodman in the seedy Albuquerque criminal underworld. However, Better Call Saul has inched closer to the Breaking Bad mythology with each passing season, and Season 3's penultimate episode saw our lead character take one of his biggest leaps forward (or backward, depending on your perception) yet. Jimmy's con on Irene is the straw that breaks the camel's back, and he has officially become the Walter White of his own series.
In the most recent episode of the series, Jimmy meticulously tears an unsuspecting senior woman's life apart. He does this because she is the elected representative to speak for the collective residents of his former client, Sandpiper Crossing retirement home. In his mind, she needs her to tell her new representation at Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill that everyone wants to give in and take their initial settlement offer -- which will result in an immediate and substantial payday for Jimmy. He could've waited for his eventual payday, but he chose not to. Money now is better than money later, remember?
The reason that I point this out is simple. Up until now, Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad operated under entirely different thematic ideas. Breaking Bad centered on a good man's fall from grace (hence the title) while Better Call Saul has focused on a morally neutral man's fight to keep himself afloat in a morally bankrupt world -- which is probably why he gets along so well with Mike Ehrmantraut. Jimmy always feels roughly one-half percent more ethical than the characters around him, but that has completely gone out the window with this latest despicable act.
If you have kept up with this universe from the beginning, then you should see some clear parallels to our first tragic protagonist. Walter White similarly reached a moral point of no return during Breaking Bad's second season. Although he technically wasn't directly responsible for her heroin overdose, Walter's refusal to save Jane Margolis' life stands out as the moment in which he definitively shifted from a sympathetic protagonist (and sometimes anti-hero) to something much darker.
Now Jimmy has done the same, in his own way. While the grift against Irene and the Sandpiper residents might not have the overtly sinister overtones of Jane's death, it's notable because it arguably represents Jimmy's first objectively reprehensible act. Until now, he has primarily aimed his finely honed con artist skills at people who deserve punishment -- or at the very least don't engender sympathy from the audience. Irene is different. Jimmy has officially targeted a lonely old woman and taken away one of the few remaining bright spots in her life: her social circle. Jimmy has gradually cut moral corners with increasing audacity since Better Call Saul debuted back in 2015, and this one act represents that idea taken a bridge too far. Now that he has officially screwed over a good person once, it will become increasingly easier to do it again and again.
This is where the cracks begin to show in a guy like Jimmy McGill. Fans have wondered how a morally ambiguous, but still generally good man could eventually make his way to the life of Saul Goodman, and his greed over the Sandpiper settlement has officially taken him down this road. He can delude himself into believing that he is doing it for Kim Wexler all he wants, but the rift has widened between them with each passing episode. Now that Jimmy has crossed a Rubicon that Kim likely will not follow (now that Kim's safety seems in particular jeopardy), our favorite TV attorney appears to have fast-tracked himself to full-blown "criminal lawyer" territory.
Better Call Saul will wrap up its third season on Monday at 10 p.m. EST on AMC. Looking to fill that Jimmy McGill shaped hole in your life? Make sure to check out our summer TV premiere guide to get yourself up to date on all of this summer's most highly anticipated small screen debuts!