In a way, this feels like the first true Better Call Saul episode, since the first two had Tuco, such a memorable Breaking Bad character. In “Nacho” we’re fully entrenched in the BCS world.
Also, every time I sit down to watch this show to write a recap, I’m like, oh damn, this show is so freaking good. Sometimes, thinking about it ahead of time, it can feel like one more thing to schedule in but once I’m watching, I’m so absorbed. I really, really, really like BCS.
We start with a flashback to Chuck and Jimmy when they’re younger, though I couldn’t help thinking that Chuck’s younger makeup wasn’t so convincing. Jimmy’s been arrested for a “Chicago Sunroof” and is in danger of getting on the sex offender list because of it. In this teaser, it’s not revealed what a Chicago Sunroof is, but as a little tease of what’s to come if anyone’s watching for the first time, give it a couple episodes, and Jimmy will reveal it. Oh how he will.
At this point, Jimmy lives in Cicero, is in Cook County Jail, and Chuck had to come from Albuquerque to meet with him. They reveal that Jimmy hasn’t spoken to the family in five years, and that when he got arrested he called his mom, who has a soft spot for him and got Chuck to go see him. At first Chuck is not having any of it, but when Jimmy promises to do better and be better, he reconsiders.
Back in the present day of the story, Jimmy is struggling with what to do with the info he got from Nacho at the end of last episode: Nacho plans to rob the Kettlemans, who have robbed the county treasury. He has also seen, firsthand, how brutally violent Nacho and his people can be, so he worries about the Kettlemans.
First he calls Kim in the middle of the night and mentions that the Kettlemans might be in danger. She can tell something’s up and asks more questions and he says he’s just drunk. He then makes a tube out of a paper towel cardboard and calls the Kettlemans on a payphone. When they can’t understand him, he ditches the tube and tells them straight up that they could be in danger.
The next day, the Kettlemans are missing. Jimmy goes to the scene, which only makes Kim more suspicious. Jimmy again finds a payphone, and calls Nacho a whole bunch of times. Then he gets picked up by the cops, as Nacho’s lawyer. Nacho has been arrested for kidnapping the Kettlemans–a neighbor saw him parked outside, and they found blood in the van.
He meets with Nacho, who swears he was just doing surveillance, casing the joint, but he didn’t kidnap them. The blood in the van is from the twins or Jimmy himself, Nacho swears. Then he threatens Jimmy, that if the cops look into him or his associates too closely and find anything, Jimmy’s a dead man.
In a talk with the cops and Kim (who represents the Kettlemans), Jimmy convinces them to take him to the crime scene, to the house. The cops weren’t having it but Kim backed him up. She knows he knows something.
At the house, Jimmy looks around, and notices that the doll that’s with Jojo (the seven-year-old daughter of the Kettlemans) in every picture is missing. All the doll accessories are still there, but the doll isn’t. Jimmy thinks the Kettlemans staged a kidnapping. If they’d simply run off, everyone would think they were guilty of the embezzlement, but if they’re kidnapped, they’re the victims, and it would explain why Jojo took the doll with her. Or, the cops counter, the evil kidnapper Nacho could have let her keep it with her to keep her quiet.
Jimmy talks to Kim outside, and fills her in, that Nacho was going to steal from them but didn’t kidnap them, and that’s a “meat pinata” if he doesn’t help Nacho out, and I think Kim believes him but can’t do anything to help because it’d have to go through Howard.
Back at the parking lot, Jimmy and Mike get into it. Earlier, when Jimmy was trying to leave in a hurry, Mike wasn’t budging on the stickers and Jimmy reached inside and opened the thingy for himself, which clearly pissed Mike off. Now he won’t even talk to Jimmy from inside the booth. Jimmy gets out and they get into it, Jimmy goes for Mike, who subdues him.
Back at the police station, the cops want Mike to press charges against Jimmy, as a way to leverage that against Jimmy to get his client Nacho to talk. Jimmy, ever the talker, says that Nacho didn’t do it, that the Kettlemans kidnapped themselves. Mike suddenly says he’s out on the plan and won’t press charges.
Jimmy and Mike talk, the first real conversation between these two. Mike reveals that he used to be a cop in Philly (which he talked about in Breaking Bad too) and tells a story of a bookie who ran away to a foreclosed house two houses down from his home. He doesn’t think the Kettlemans have gone far.
Jimmy goes to the house, and to the land behind their house, searching for hours and hours. Finally, at night, he hears them singing and finds them hiding out. The kids are over this whole camping thing, but Jimmy gets into a struggle with Betsy Kettleman, and then, in that struggle, the money they stole comes raining down, and Jimmy says “yeah.” Fade to black.
Thoughts on the Episode
I’m more and more convinced with every episode, that I only watched Season One once. The only thing I remembered from this episode was that the Kettlemans had kidnapped themselves, and that Jimmy found them in a tent at night and they were singing, and that “John Jacob Jingleheimer Scmidt” was mentioned.
But there’s a lot in this episode. As mentioned above, it’s the first real conversation between Jimmy and Mike. Before this, it was just parking tickets talk. But now, Jimmy learns a bit about Mike’s history, and Mike’s story helps Jimmy find the Kettlemans. So that connection is building.
It’s also the first real connection between Jimmy and Kim. Kim is probably my favorite character on the show, so I was waiting for this. What I love is how well-established the connection is between them already. When Jimmy calls her at 2am, and they talk, there’s a real ease and familiarity to it. She can read him enough to know he knows something when he mentions the thing about the Kettlemans being in danger.
Because, you know, it’s not a crazy thought. Or maybe I watch and listen to too much crime stuff. I kept thinking why does everyone think it’s so weird that Jimmy thinks they may be in danger? The guy was the county treasurer, and it was in all the papers that he’s suspected of stealing over a million dollars from the county treasury. It doesn’t seem insane to think that some criminally-minded people would think to rip them off. Of course, Jimmy does know about Nacho’s intentions so his is more of a knowing than a suspicion, so there is that.
The teaser gives us a lot. Chuck has come from ABQ to see Jimmy in Cook County Jail, so is still living in Cicero, so we know Chuck moved to ABQ first, and that Jimmy ending up there must be linked to Chuck.
There’s also so much revealed about family dynamics. You can see that Jimmy’s the smooth talker, and is able to move their mom with words and possibly tears to take his side, and that she’s able to convince Chuck to help Jimmy out. And then Jimmy’s able to smooth talk Chuck too, although this is more difficult. It’s clear that the main thing Chuck wants is for Jimmy to be on the up and up, an upstanding citizen, to reflect well on him.
And, of course, to stop all the cons and Chicago Sunroofs. Which Jimmy promises to do, but of course he won’t. I think Jimmy knows it, he sounds like he’s putting Chuck on, but I’m not sure what Chuck thinks. He seems more resigned than anything.
I kinda want to take back what I said about liking Nacho last week. He’s straight up a bad guy in this episode. I don’t like anything he does, other than, I guess, not kidnapping the Kettlemans. But red is still a good color on him, under that jacket. I can’t help it.
The cinematography and music were on point in this episode. I’m thinking of early in the episode, when Jimmy’s at the nail salon, trying to think of what to do about the danger to the Kettlemans, and he’s in red. And when he’s calling Nacho over and over on the payphone, there’s a part where the visual is Jimmy scrambling for coins he dropped but the audio is him leaving another message. They don’t match but it’s effective. Also the wide-ish shot from above when he’s at the payphone.
There’s a scene where Jimmy’s tossing and turning on the futon in the nail salon, and the music struck me as soooo quintessentially David Porter scoring.
The payphones really took me back to 2002. I used payphones a lot that year, and early 2003.
It was interesting how Mike, when explaining his theory that the Kettlemans didn’t go far, says “No one wants to leave home,” when we know that they both did. Jimmy left Cicero, IL and Mike left Philly. I found that juxtaposition poignant.
Some Favorite Quotes from the Episode
Kim says the Kettlemans made a choice (in choosing HHM to represent them instead of Jimmy) and Jimmy says, “So did the Donner Party when they took that turn.” That made me laugh out loud.
I also thought it was funny when Kim says Jimmy should accompany them to the Kettlemans’ house and the one detective asks why and Jimmy says, “Yeah why?”
When Jimmy says he gave the Kettlemans a warning call, Kim says, “You didn’t do the sexy robot voice, did you?” and he says that he did the whole tube setup. This is exactly what I mean about the familiarity between these two.
Jimmy to Mike when he reaches into the booth to lift the parking thingy when Mike won’t because of the stickers, as he busts out, “Screw you, Geezer!” Hilarious.
I love how Jimmy just says, “Yeah,” in response to seeing the stolen money rain down.
Until next week,
PD: The image at the top is Jimmy sitting by a tree listening for the sound of the Kettlemans camping out at night in the land behind their house.
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