“Better Call Saul” – which is two episodes into its freshman season on AMC – has given fans a lot of questions to consider. How will the Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) become the Saul Goodman of “Breaking Bad?” When will Mike (Jonathan Banks) team up with the sleazy lawyer? However, one question has been more perplexing than the rest – what exactly is wrong with Saul’s brother, Chuck (Michael McKean)?
In the show’s premiere, Saul and Chuck alluded to a condition or problem that was keeping Chuck from returning to work as a name partner at a prestigious law firm. While in that episode the problem had seemed more like a terminal illness, however episode 2 revealed the issue to be something much more unique and mysterious. When Saul returned home drunk and brought his cell phone into the house, Chuck became visibly ill and threw the phone into the front lawn. The next morning Saul found his brother sitting under an aluminum "space blanket."
While the show has not explicitly stated what is ailing the character, most speculation seems to agree that it looks like Chuck is suffering from "idiopathic environmental intolerance attributed to electromagnetic fields,” or I.E.I.-E.M.F., more commonly called electromagnetic hypersensitivity.
Electromagnetic hypersensitivity refers to a set of negative symptoms – headaches, itchiness, heart palpitations, etc. – resulting from the presence of radiation from Wi-Fi devices, cell phones, and electrical appliances like a microwave. This means that the lack of electricity in the McGill home might be the result of more than just unpaid bills.
However, Chuck’s condition might be in his head. Researchers attribute electromagnetic hypersensitivity to something called the “Nocebo effect” – in which patients begin feeling symptoms after being warned by others or the media about a potential problem. This means that though the symptoms may be real, the cause is self-imposed, not a true external factor.
Will the next episode reveal more about the character’s curious condition? Fans will have to wait to find out. “Better Call Saul” airs Mondays at 10 p.m. EST on AMC.
Is Chuck suffering from electromagnetic hypersensitivity? Tweet your thoughts to @Ja9GarofaloTV.