Disability in Media and Politics

Better Call Saul – Chuck (Spoilers)

Ok, I love Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad. Great TV shows, great plots and my all-time favourite, great characters. I don’t usually talk about my favourite TV shows, so this is not going to be a regular thing, but I need to talk about Chuck.

Who is Chuck?

Chuck is a character from the Breaking Bad TV series prequel: Better Call Saul. He is a big brother to Jimmy (aka. Saul Goodman) but he is a massive jerk. They both are.

Jimmy wants to be a lawyer while Chuck would rather his brother remain the criminal of his youth. So, whenever Jimmy has a shot at a job, a case or anything of the sort, Chuck will make it impossible for him to succeed (without Jimmy knowing, of course). This makes Jimmy break the law to get what he wants. However, he does this inexcusable thing to an old lady, but this post is about Chuck, not Jimmy.

Chuck has some mental health issues—although while not confirmed what they are, it is clear that one of them is anxiety. Anxiety is weird. My doctor described it as fear of fear and certain things can trigger the loop. For Chuck, this is electricity. He believes that he is allergic to anything that is powered by a mains or battery. Because of this, he spends the majority of his time at home rather than at his law firm.

Panic Attacks

When Chuck is exposed to electricity, he has a panic attack and sometimes goes into a temporary coma-like state. He uses a large foil that he calls a space blanket to protect himself from the electric currents. Each time, Jimmy was by his side and telling everyone around them that he wasn’t crazy. But Chuck still believes Jimmy is better when he is the criminal Chuck believes him to be.

The last few episodes of the last season were really telling. Chuck and Jimmy were in a lawsuit, Chuck trying to get Jimmy’s licence banned while Jimmy was trying to defend his actions. The room is adapted to make it comfortable for Chuck. To prove that his brother was mentally ill, Jimmy hides a phone battery in his brother’s jacket and Chuck is unaware of it for hours, without having any of the symptoms that come when Chuck is aware it is there.

Chuck’s Realisation

Chuck now knows that he is mentally ill and that he needs help, but that was such a horrible move from Jimmy. I have anxiety triggered by insects, but I am fine if a spider is in the room and I am unaware of it, the second I see it my anxiety could (not always) start off and I could start heaving. While his allergy isn’t real, his symptoms are, the anxiety is and no matter what someone did, you shouldn’t do something that could set off a panic attack on purpose.

Chuck starts to try and receive help and it starts to succeed. His house starts to look like a modern house again but then he starts to have the symptoms again. There is one scene where he is searching the whole of his house, looking for anything electrical, reverting it back to the non-electrical house it was at the beginning of the show.

He tears his house apart, literally, looking for the source. It’s too much for him.

The season ends on a cliff-hanger but what I loved was that they didn’t focus on his mental health throughout the series. He wasn’t Jimmy’s mentally ill brother. He was Chuck, the best lawyer in his own firm, with a good representation.

Chuck was a character past his mental illness, and this is great and he’s not the only villain either. Jimmy is just as much as a villain as Chuck, or possibly even more of a villain.

It pulls out of the stereotype that a character who is disabled either physically, mentally or other has to be the victim or the villain. Chuck is both. He is well-rounded and has just the same amount of good and bad as any other person.


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5 responses to “Better Call Saul – Chuck (Spoilers)”

  1. Personally, I always saw it more as Chuck just didn’t believe that Jimmy had or could change, and ended up creating situations to confirm his own beliefs, rather than he’d prefer that Jimmy remain a criminal. He saw Jimmy being a lawyer as an easy opening to be a conman. He did give Jimmy advice in the earlier episodes, for example, and was proud of him when he got a job in the mail room.

    I love your analysis of his mental health. Real interesting break down of the character, who I agree is handled very well and well represented—though isn’t it Jimmy who calls it the space blanket? Because he struggles to talk to Chuck seriously while Chuck is wearing it.

    And thanks so much for the shoutout!

    • True, it’s because he feels Jimmy cannot change and therefore doesn’t want him to be a lawyer, I think he believes that Jimmy is just a natural criminal and conman. I forgot about the mail room part, but I think he was proud as long as he wasn’t with the law.

      Yh, Jimmy calls it a space blanket and references it to another character. Chuck doesn’t really call it anything, but I thought as the other character understood, maybe he called it that off-scene?

  2. Yh I thought there was a twist and In fact it was his brother trying to send his brother off when he is the problem nasty people will play on other people’s illness y I don’t know as they too wouldn’t like this at all xxx

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