Wow, so, these first two episodes really feel like one two-part episode instead of two separate ones. I believe they aired that way back in the day when the show was premiering. Like many good two-part TV episodes, this one tells a self-contained story.
We rewind a bit from where the last episode left off but see it, this time, from Tuco’s perspective. Then Tuco’s grandma comes in with the twins, the one of them still pretending to be injured. They’re speaking really bad Spanish, asking for money, and then one of them makes the ultimate mistake by calling Tuco’s grandma a “biznatch.” This fuels Tuo’s rage for the rest of his time in the episode.
Tuco tries to get his abuelita upstairs watching her shows so he can take care of the twins. She comes down a couple times and sees a stain on the rug, which Tuco assures her is salsa, but we know has to be blood.
Jimmy comes to the door, which we saw from Jimmy’s perspective at the end of the last episode and now see from Tuco’s. Jimmy talks Tuco down from hurting the twins. Tuco’s about to release them…when they say that Jimmy put them up to it. Which, technically, he did. It just wasn’t supposed to be on Tuco’s grandma but Betsy Kettleman.
Then we’re in the desert, with the twins and Jimmy all captive and bound. Tuco, Gonzo, No-Doze and Nacho hanging around to sort this out away from Tuco’s grandma coming downstairs to ask again if he put club soda on the salsa stain.
Jimmy pleads his case, tells the whole truth about what they were trying to do, that it was a mix-up based on similar cars, that the twins were supposed to run their scam on Betsy Kettleman, whose husband the county treasurer had stolen over a million dollars from the county so that he could swoop in and help, all in hopes of being hired as the Kettlemans’ lawyer. He’s completely sincere.
Tuco, who’s getting paranoid, doesn’t believe him. He threatens Jimmy with pliers and asks who he’s working for. After trying the truth again, Jimmy says he’s Jeffrey Steele, FBI, which satisfied Tuco. But not Nacho. Nacho asks Jimmy some questions to test it out, and Jimmy answers a few based on cues, but then goes back to the truth. Nacho believes him, believes he’s a lawyer, and talks Tuco out of killing or hurting Jimmy.
Then there’s the matter of the twins, who Tuco can’t forget called his grandma a “biznatch.” He wants to kill them both but through much negotiation, Jimmy talks him down to just breaking one leg each. Which Tuco does with glee. For most of the second one, we don’t see, just hear, while looking at Jimmy.
Jimmy drives the twins to the hospital, and one of them says he’s a terrible lawyer, to which Jimmy says he just talked a death sentence down to six months probation.
Later, Jimmy’s at a bar on what seems like a date, but can’t focus because the sound of breadsticks breaking reminds him of hearing the twins’ legs break. He pukes in the bathroom.
Then Jimmy shows up at Chuck’s, wasted, and doesn’t ground himself or put his electronics in the mailbox. He passes out and Chuck finds the cell phone in Jimmy’s pants and throws it outside. He also finds the hospital bill for the twins’ care.
Jimmy wakes up not remembering much about the night before. Chuck is in a space blanket and Jimmy knows he’s found the bill. Jimmy assures Chuck it’s not what he thinks, this isn’t Slippin’ Jimmy resurfacing–even though Slippin’ Jimmy is exactly what Jimmy told the twins to get them hooked on this scheme to ensnare the Kettlemans so it’s a bit murky–and asks Chuck, several times, to take off the space blanket. He finally does, but as soon as Jimmy gets up to go find his phone on the lawn, Chuck puts it back on.
Then there’s a montage of sorts, of Jimmy doing his public defender job. It’s got a repetitive, day-in, day-out feel, but like Jimmy’s more okay with it than in the first episode, like he’s going to keep down and play by the rules so he doesn’t have to think about or deal with anyone like Tuco. He goes through many court cases, argues with Mike about parking stickers, and t here’s a glimpse or two of Kim in the courthouse.
Jimmy goes to the nail salon, where we saw in the pilot he has an office. He checks his messages and we might be thinking that his ship is going to come in and maybe for some unexpected reason, the Kettlemans want his lawyerly services. But no, no messages. He unfolds a futon and pours a drink and settles in, when one of the nail salon ladies tell him he has a customer. Jimmy quickly folds up the futon and starts to talk, apologizing for the office, saying his real one is being painted.
The visitor is Nacho. He wants to work a deal with Jimmy. He was paying attention in the desert, especially about the whole stealing from the county treasury business. If Jimmy can tell him where the Kettlemans have their money hidden, Nacho’s going to steal it and give Jimmy a finder’s fee.
Jimmy says no. He was never trying to steal from the Kettlemans, he says, he just wanted them to hire him as their lawyer. He, Jimmy, isn’t a criminal. Nacho isn’t buying it, and he tells Jimmy to call him when he realizes that he’s in the game.
Thoughts on the Episode
Is Tuco’s abuelita the only Salamanca who’s not in the game? Or is she in the game but still wants to believe that her grandson spilled salsa instead of bloodying the boys who tried to scam her (and using her cane to do it)? It just struck me as almost too much innocence with all the watching the soaps and worry about club soda, and it’s hard to believe that anyone in the family wouldn’t know about the family business.
It’s interesting that Nacho seems to see something in Jimmy that Jimmy doesn’t (yet, we know from Breaking Bad that in the future he will) see in himself, the criminal streak, the wanting in on the game. It’s a reminder of how far Jimmy is now from his future Saul self.
And I’m just going to say it. I have a crush on Nacho. I like the smart ones, and he’s cute–I loved how he looked in that red shirt and how it didn’t go all the way down his arms; he has nice arms, and hands–and I love his voice.
Right now, Nacho is the connection between the Jimmy world and the Salamanca world. He’s also the only one of Tuco’s guys who we haven’t met before. Gonzo and No-Doze were in the last couple episodes of season one of Breaking Bad, so we know where they end up.
Nacho, though, we don’t know what happens to him. When Walt and Jesse kidnap Saul in the desert in Saul’s first Breaking Bad appearance, he says, “It wasn’t me, it was Ignacio!” so I think it’s fair to say Nacho (Ignacio) probably survives to the Breaking Bad era. Saul also mentions Lalo in that scene, but there’s quite awhile until we meet Lalo on Better Call Saul.
In this episode, we get hints that Chuck’s condition might be more emotional than literal. Jimmy doesn’t come out and say that and I’m not sure if he explicitly believes or knows it, or just intuits the connection. He knows Chuck’s wearing the space blanket more because of the hospital bill, that Chuck’s triggered by the anxiety that his brother is going backward into his Slippin’ Jimmy days and ways, than by the phone, which has now been out in the lawn since the night before.
The opening scene, the colors and the sounds, as Tuco dices tomatoes for salsa before everything goes awry when his grandma and the twins come in, is very effective.
You know, I don’t know that I ever did rewatch this season. I know some years, I’d rewatch the previous season to refresh myself on plotlines before starting the new season. But I don’t know if I did for season one, or maybe it was just so long ago that even if I did, I forgot. It’s been really fun to revisit! I remember some of the details–for this episode, I remembered Tuco and Jimmy in the desert, and I remembered Jimmy talking down the twin’s sentence to broken legs–but there’s enough I don’t remember to make it suspenseful.
Better Call Saul recaps come out every Sunday morning. Here’s the recap from the pilot: