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Chuck McGill

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Charles "Chuck" McGill
Better Call Saul character
First appearance"Uno"
(episode 1.01) (2015)
Last appearance"Lantern"
(episode 3.10) (2017)
Created by
Portrayed by
Information
Full nameCharles "Chuck" McGill
AliasChuck
Occupation
Family
  • Jimmy McGill (brother)
  • Charles McGill Snr. (father) (deceased)
  • Ruth McGill (mother) (deceased)
  • Rebecca Bois (ex-wife)

Charles L. "Chuck" McGill, Jr., is a fictional character who appears in the crime drama television series Better Call Saul, a spin-off prequel of Breaking Bad. He is portrayed by Michael McKean, and was created by Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould.

Chuck McGill was born in Cicero, Illinois and is the eldest son of Ruth and Charles McGill Sr. Chuck McGill is a brother of fellow lawyer and titular character Jimmy McGill, who is also from Cicero, Illinois. Chuck is a successful attorney, who runs his own law firm with fellow attorney Howard Hamlin, Hamlin, Hamlin and McGill (HHM). Chuck has become semi-reclusive and believes that he suffers from electromagnetic hypersensitivity. Chuck was divorced from his wife, Rebecca Bois, a few years before the events of Better Call Saul.

Character biography[edit | edit source]

Season 1[edit | edit source]

Michael McKean portrays Chuck McGill

In the pilot, Jimmy lives and works out of a cramped storage room in the back of a Vietnamese nail salon while caring for his brother, Chuck, who believes that he suffers from electromagnetic hypersensitivity. On his brother's behalf, Jimmy confronts Chuck's law firm partner, Howard Hamlin, of Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill (HHM), demanding HHM cash out his brother's US$17 million share in the firm.

In a flashback in "Nacho", Jimmy, who faces multiple charges and the prospect of being branded a sex offender in the wake of his "Chicago Sunroof" gag, is visited by Chuck in jail. Chuck promises Jimmy that he will extend his legal help in exchange for Jimmy's sincere promise to quit "everything he's involved with".

After Jimmy stages a phony rescue of a billboard worker who pretends to have fallen off the billboard, his actions make it onto the news. Jimmy makes his daily drop off at Chuck's house but removes the local paper from Chuck's supplies in order to prevent Chuck from learning of Jimmy's billboard "rescue". Seeing his neighbors have their local newspapers, with great difficulty Chuck runs outside to steal a neighbor's newspaper (observed in the act by another neighbor) and reads about Jimmy's act.

After Chuck's neighbor reports him for stealing the newspaper, he is arrested and hospitalized. A doctor tries to have Jimmy commit Chuck to a mental institution, but Jimmy manages to convince her that he is fully capable of containing Chuck in his own home; the doctor advises Jimmy that Chuck's "disease" is entirely psychosomatic.

In "RICO" Jimmy shows Chuck his bar exam results and explains that he studied law via distance learning from the "University of American Samoa". Chuck tells him that he is proud of him. Chuck demands that Sandpiper Crossing pay $20 million in settlement fees, which the attorneys refuse. As they make preparations for a court case, an exhausted Jimmy leaves some paperwork in his car. Preoccupied with his preparation, Chuck casually leaves his house to retrieve the paperwork unprotected from his electromagnetic hypersensitivity. As a stunned Jimmy follows him, Chuck drops the paperwork, and they stare at each other in amazement, presumably because Chuck has suddenly realized that he has gone outside without protection.

In "Pimento", Chuck and Jimmy are outside on a park bench. It seems Chuck is able to spend more time outside than he originally thought, but after a while he insists they go back inside.

Season 2[edit | edit source]

Howard visits Chuck in "Cobbler", expressing concern about Jimmy's employment at Davis & Main.

Chuck announces his suspicions about the legality of Jimmy's methods of bribes a Sandpiper bus driver to allow him to solicit a bus full of Sandpiper residents on their way to lunch in "Amarillo". Jimmy manages to deflect the issue.

At HHM, Kim is brought in front of Howard and Chuck, and Howard chews out Kim over her failure to inform them about Jimmy's commercial. As a result, Kim is demoted to document review. Jimmy then arrives at Chuck's house to confront his brother. The two get into an argument over HHM's treatment of Kim, and Jimmy dares Chuck to reinstate Kim in return for Jimmy leaving the practice of law forever. Chuck doesn't take the bait, as he is confident Jimmy will inevitably disgrace himself.

In a flashback in "Rebecca", Jimmy visits Chuck's house shortly after moving to Albuquerque, where he also meets Chuck's wife, Rebecca (Ann Cusack). Jimmy manages to charm Rebecca with his charisma, which makes Chuck uncomfortable. Chuck talks to Kim, and tells her a story about how years ago, Jimmy had secretly embezzled money from their father's business, which led to its eventual collapse. Chuck then promises to try to get Kim reinstated.

Kim, with Chuck's help, is reinstated to her old position in "Bali Ha'i".

After Kim leaves HHM in "Fifi", Chuck arranges a "final, tie up loose ends" meeting with Mesa Verde and masterfully damns Kim with faint praise enough to change Mesa Verde's boss' mind, whereupon he decides to stay with HHM. However, forcing himself to appear normal in the HHM office environment, without "protection" from everyday office electromagnetic radiation leads to Chuck's collapse.

At what should be a routine meeting between the New Mexico Banking Board in "Nailed", Mesa Verde Bank and Chuck and Howard, it is revealed that the addresses in the documents Chuck submitted (based on those Jimmy falsified) do not match those initially filed, creating a six-week delay in Mesa Verde's plans to open their newest branch. A humiliated Chuck immediately suspects that Jimmy is responsible for the sabotage. Dissatisfied with this turn of events and HHM's performance, Mesa Verde decides to leave HHM and sign with Kim.

In a flashback in "Klick", Chuck and Jimmy are beside their comatose mother's hospital bed. Jimmy leaves to buy sandwiches for himself and for Chuck, who has not eaten for days. While Chuck is alone with his mother she wakes and calls Jimmy's name twice before dying. Jimmy returns to find his mother's room empty, and asks Chuck if their mother awakened or had any last words. Chuck says she did not. Returning to 2002, Jimmy rushes into the copy store and orders the clerk to call an ambulance. In the hospital, Chuck, now stable, wonders how it was possible for Jimmy to come to his aid in the copy store when Chuck had only been unconscious for less than a minute, correctly deducing that Jimmy had bribed the clerk and then stayed to watch. However, Ernesto covers for Jimmy, lying to Chuck that he called Jimmy before going to the copy store. Howard calls Jimmy to advise that Chuck has quit HHM. Jimmy rushes to Chuck's house, where he finds his brother covering the walls, floor and ceiling of his living room with foil sheets. Chuck explains that the walls of his home were doing nothing to deflect electromagnetic rays, and this has led to the deterioration of his mind over time, hence his inexcusable mistake with the Mesa Verde documents. Feeling guilty about his deception and Chuck's unnecessary decision to abandon his beloved law profession, Jimmy confesses to tampering with the documents and bribing the copy store clerk, assuring Chuck that Chuck's mind is not deteriorating. After Jimmy leaves, Chuck unveils a tape recorder he had hidden and activated prior to Jimmy's arrival.

Season 3[edit | edit source]

Jimmy helps Chuck remove the foil from his wall and reminiscences over a book they read together during their youth; Chuck is quick to sever the nostalgia and remind him that his actions won't be forgotten or forgiven. Chuck plays Jimmy's confession to Hamlin, who warns him that the tape has no legal or public value. Chuck assures him that it has a use. Chuck later arranges for a key part of the tape to be played by Ernesto in a way that appears to Ernesto to be accidental. Chuck quickly turns the player off and makes Ernesto promise not to tell anything that he heard to anyone on the premise of confidentiality.

Chuck converses with a private investigator in "Witness". Meanwhile Ernesto approaches Wexler-McGill but decides against entering and speaks to Kim in the parking lot about the tape. Kim relays this to Jimmy and the former takes the latter on as her legal client, advising him that the tape is no legal threat to him. Jimmy suppresses his feelings of anger and betrayal in front of Kim, but later drives to Chuck's house, breaks in, berates him and destroys the tape. However, this more or less happens all according to Chuck's plan, as he only used the tape as bait and Hamlin and the private investigator are present to witness Jimmy's break-in.

jimmy is arrested in "Sunk Costs", following a few harsh but hesitant words with Chuck and chooses to represent himself (against Kim's wishes), pleads not guilty and posts bail. Jimmy later explains what happened during his break-in and tells Kim to work on Mesa Verde while he works his own legal battle, to which she flatly agrees. The prosecutor in Jimmy's case, Hay, meets with Chuck and tells him that she doesn't plan to let Jimmy off easy. Chuck wishes to seek a "better solution for everyone." Jimmy talks with Kim outside of Wexler-McGill and informs her that he can avoid jail time, but will have to confess to his felony break-in and submit his confession to the New Mexico Bar Association, which will likely result in disbarment. Kim convinces Jimmy to let her help him fight Chuck's plot.

In "Sabrosito", Jimmy, Kim, Hamlin, Chuck and ADA Hay meet in order to finalize Jimmy's confession, with Jimmy agreeing to have his confession reviewed by the New Mexico Bar Association. After the meeting, Kim confronts Chuck, telling him that she suspects he has a copy of the tape. Chuck confirms her suspicions and states that he plans to submit the tape as evidence in Jimmy's disciplinary hearing. Kim then relays the information to Jimmy, revealing that having Chuck admit the existence of the second tape was all according to their plan.

In a flashback in Chicanery, Chuck invites Rebecca over for dinner and comes up with an elaborate lie about the power to his house being cut so he doesn't have to reveal his EHS to her. However, Rebecca answers her cell phone, causing Chuck to knock it out of her hands in a panic. He refuses to explain his actions to her and forbids Jimmy from revealing the truth. In the present, both sides gear up for Jimmy’s hearing in front of the New Mexico Bar Association after Jimmy meets with Caldera to acquire the services of "someone with a light touch." At the hearing, things do not seem to go well for Jimmy as the tape is played before the committee. Rebecca enters the courtroom, much to Chuck’s surprise, though he believes it's some ploy by Jimmy to throw him off balance. Later, Jimmy cross-examines Chuck about the circumstances of the recording, Rebecca’s presence and his illness. Though Chuck remains calm throughout most of it, Jimmy reveals that Chuck had been carrying a fully charged cell phone battery planted by Huell for the entire hearing, contradicting the EHS symptoms Chuck claimed to have and suggesting he has a mental illness. This triggers a sudden and acidic tirade from Chuck as he vents all of his frustrations about Jimmy and how he never should have tried to help him. Chuck realizes, too late, that his outburst has shocked the entire courtroom, including the committee.

Jimmy is given only a year's suspension in the aftermath of his legal battle with Chuck. Afterwards in "Off Brand", while he and Kim celebrate, Rebecca asks Jimmy to help with Chuck, who has shuttered himself in his home, but Jimmy refuses, no longer calling Chuck his brother. Chuck later admits Howard into his home. Howard suggests to Chuck that he forget about Jimmy and look to the future, which Chuck appears to agree to. However, Chuck is later seen walking through the streets of Albuquerque, dialing Dr. Cruz, the doctor who diagnosed his condition, over a payphone.

At a meeting with Mesa Verde in "Expenses", Kim reveals that she feels some regret for destroying Chuck's reputation in the disciplinary hearing. While having dinner with Jimmy, she wonders whether they did the right thing and Jimmy replies what happened to Chuck was his own fault and that she should forget about him. Desperate for funds to keep up his end of office expenses, Jimmy meets with an insurance agent to try and get a refund on his malpractice insurance policy. However, the agent is unable to grant the refund and mentions that due to his suspension, Jimmy's premium will rise by 150%. Jimmy is visibly shaken by this news and starts to cry. When the agent reacts sympathetically to his emotional breakdown, Jimmy seizes the opportunity to "accidentally" mention Chuck's mental illness before leaving, knowing that the insurance company will be forced to act on the information.

In "Slip", Chuck consults with Dr. Cruz, and admits that the events of the disciplinary hearing demonstrated that his EHS may not be real. Dr. Cruz agrees to help Chuck, and he is able to walk to a store to buy groceries on his own. However, he is met by Howard, who informs him there is a problem with his malpractice insurance.

Howard and Chuck meet with their malpractice insurance agency in "Fall", who propose either raising HHM's premium or having Chuck supervised at all times. Chuck refuses to negotiate and instead decides to fight the insurance company in court. This proves to be the last straw for Howard, who informs Chuck that he will be forced to retire since his judgment can no longer be trusted. Chuck responds by suing HHM for $8 million, the value of his share of the practice.

In a flashback in "Lantern", a young Chuck reads a story to a young Jimmy under the light of a lantern. In the present, Chuck is forced out of HHM when Howard pays off his $9 million share out of his own pocket.

Chuck's fate[edit | edit source]

Jimmy tries to make amends with Chuck in the season 3 finale, "Lantern", but Chuck coldly cuts ties with Jimmy. After forcing Jimmy away, Chuck's EHS symptoms begin to re-emerge, and he becomes obsessed with disabling all electronic devices in his home to the point of tearing walls open to remove the wiring. He eventually reaches a breaking point and knocks the gas lantern over, setting fire to his house, while he is still inside, after this scene there was much speculation as to what happened to Chuck after the fire started. Creator Peter Gould said “I don’t want to define anything more than what’s on screen,”. Michael McKean, who played Chuck, told Vulture that he learned Chuck’s fate while driving: “I got a call on my cell from Peter [and] Vince [Gilligan]. I said, ‘If this is the death call, I’m going to pull over.’ And that’s what I did. I pulled into the parking lot of the bookstore and I called them back and they told me what they had planned. They told me they had laughed about what I had said, but they had to deliver it.” when he was asked by The New York Times whether Chuck is dead, McKean said: “I am. I know they want to bring me in for some flashbacks this coming season, but that’s kind of beside the point.”[1]

Reception[edit | edit source]

For his performances as Chuck McGill, Michael McKean won a Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2018 at the 22nd Satellite Awards.

He is considered to be the Better Call Saul version of Breaking Bad character, Skyler White.[2]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Busis, Hillary. "Better Call Saul: The Truth About Chuck's Fate".
  2. "Chuck McGill Is Better Call Saul's Version of Skyler White". www.vulture.com.

External links[edit | edit source]


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