Episode 5 of AMC’s “Better Call Saul” gave fans a peak behind the curtain at Chuck’s (Michael McKean) mysterious illness when the character was hospitalized after being shot with a Taser gun by police. In the hospital, Chuck admitted to suffering from electromagnetic hypersensitivity, but a doctor also seemed to prove to his brother Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) that the condition was a mental one. In a recent interview with HitFix, Michael McKean shed some more light on his character’s confusing situation.
Electromagnetic hypersensitivity refers to the experience of a set of negative symptoms – headaches, itchiness, heart palpitations, etc. – perceived to be the result of the presence of radiation from Wi-Fi devices, cell phones, and electrical appliances. In episode 5, Chuck says that for some unknown reason his body has developed a sensitivity to electricity -- Jimmy bluntly calls it an allergy.
McKean says that despite the medical reality, since his character believes his condition is real, he must play the role accordingly.
“If you examine the real afflictions that people suffer from, there are a lot of different opinions and angles, from what I've read. But I have to treat it like it's real, because it's real to him, McKean told HitFix. “A lot of this stuff, we fill in our blanks from our imagination, but I know what it's like to feel assaulted by ill feelings. You just have to take that and put it on the screen.”
McKean also addressed a telling moment in episode 5 when Chuck’s symptoms seemed to dissipate after Jimmy promised to stay on the up and up with his law practice. HitFix writer Alan Sepinwall asked if his condition was tied to anxiety over Jimmy.
“I'm not trying to be evasive, but because my character doesn't really think of it in those terms — from the inside, he doesn't see that he feels better because of this — then I can't say that that's what's really happening,” said McKean. “I'm kind of trying to dodge the question, because it doesn't make sense to Chuck. It's like if you say to somebody, ‘Why did you do that?’ and their answer is ‘I didn't do that.’”
So, the truth about Chuck’s illness and its causes remain very much up in the air. Fans will have to wait to found out more about the curious attorney's condition. “Better Call Saul” airs Mondays at 10 p.m. EST on AMC.
Is Chuck’s condition in his head? Tweet your thoughts to @Ja9GarofaloTV.