As these teasers like to do, we once again take a little trip to another point in time. This time, the time is Jimmy’s old days in Cicero, IL. Or I should I say “Slippin’ Jimmy’s” old days? For the first time, we see a con start to finish from Jimmy’s younger years.
It starts with Jimmy a guy walking about at night, talking about picking up girls, and howling like werewolves. Which like shouldn’t actually be tried as a pickup line (howl?) because I think most responses would like, umm what? and a blank stare and then a retreat. But anyway, they’re walking and talking, and then they come across a wallet. And it’s full of cash. A thousand bucks or so. Looking at the ID in the wallet they see it belongs to a guy who they see passed out in the alley.
Jimmy tries to awaken the passed out guy who grunts, flips them the finger and mumbles some beautiful drunken nonsense poetry about how he’s going to fuck them up, go into McDonald’s and get them fired (what) and it just sounds like the babbling of one very drunk dude. He quickly passes out again.
Jimmy sees his watch and takes it off the passed out man and pockets it himself. His howling friend wants to see it and reluctantly Jimmy shows it, a Rolex. Jimmy pretends not to know what that is but the howler wants the watch, saying it’s worth way more than the money. He gives Jimmy the wallet full of cash, plus $580 of his own money and Jimmy gives him the watch. The howler thinks he has won the night.
But then we cut to Jimmy and the guy who was playing the passed out drunk, Marco, drinking together. They have a whole bunch of fake Rolexes, and the howling guy was the actual target of the con, and completely fell for it, taking the fake watch and forking over money to Jimmy.
Marco says he really loves watching Jimmy do what he does. Oh, and we get the first instance of Saul’s name. He tells the howling guy that his name’s Saul. S’all good, man.
It picks up right after where the last one left off, with Jimmy having just discovered the Kettlemans’ “camping trip” and the money the Kettlemans’ stole from the county treasury exposed. The Kettlemans start doing a lot of talking, and echoing each other, in the wake of their crime being unequivocally discovered.
And one thing is incredibly clear: No matter what, they aren’t giving the money back. They believe that they are entitled to it because Craig worked overtime and weekends for the county, and they’re immovable on that. They try to bribe Jimmy, and he repeatedly says he won’t take a bribe. Jimmy says they can give him a retainer, take him on as their lawyer, instead.
They are united on their answer to that too, and that answer is no. Even after Jimmy tries to use his silver tongue to sell them on his dedication to his clients–after all, he’s the one that found them–they stay firm. As Betsy Kettleman says, “You’re the kind of lawyer guilty people hire.”
Which is kind of funny, of course, because they are guilty people.
They hold out the bribe money again, and the scene ends before we know for sure what Jimmy’s going to do.
He drives up to the courthouse, passing Mike in the ticket booth as always. This is Mike’s only appearance in the episode. Jimmy tells Mike he was right, and goes on about the fake kidnapping, Mike’s nonplussed and Jimmy goes into the courthouse. One thing he said when talking to Mike is that, “You expect criminals to be smarter than they are,” and that it kind of breaks his heart.
Then he’s getting Nacho released. Nacho, the smart criminal. Nacho has figured out Jimmy’s game exactly, that he must’ve been the person to warn the Kettlemans. Nacho says Jimmy has caused him a lot of trouble, but Jimmy counters with how many mistakes Nacho made–the Kettlemans’ neighbors saw him casing the place and were able to identify him, he hadn’t cleaned up the blood in the van (which of course was not the Kettlemans’ but still), and argues that things would’ve gone a lot worse if Jimmy didn’t warn the Kettlemans, that he saved Nacho’s ass because it would’ve been much worse if he did go through with things.
Then Jimmy’s at home at the nail salon, doing fake accounting for the money he took in the bribe. Then he goes out and gets suits with the new money. He knows exactly what he’s looking for, but while there he lingers, twice, over a bright orange shirt instead. A hint of the wardrobe we will come to know and love on Saul Goodman.
Kim is in her office at HHM, calling Jimmy about going to the movies together, going out to dinner, and also that either way, she wants him to call her. Howard comes in soon after, and after beating around the bush a bit, he asks Kim to take a drive with him. He shows her Jimmy’s new billboard, in which Jimmy is dressed just like Howard. The billboard has the same style, font and colors of HHM, and he’s using JMM for James Morgan McGill, his real, full name. Howard’s pissed.
Kim comes over to the nail salon after hours and she and Jimmy sit side-by-side on the pedicure chairs, putting their feet in foot baths and setting the chairs to deep tissue massage. I don’t know if it matters, or if it’s supposed to be another day, but Kim is wearing different clothes than she was in the Howard scene earlier. There she was wearing a dark suit and in this scene she has on a peach-colored blouse.
Kim hands Jimmy a cease and desist letter from HHM and she tries to talk Jimmy into taking the billboard down. Jimmy won’t hear it. He’s still steaming pissed over Howard asking him not to use his name in his law practice. Kim tells him it’s a losing battle but Jimmy won’t hear that either.
Then Jimmy and Howard are in court, dressed exactly alike, with the same hairstyle, arguing in front of a judge. She sides with Howard on everything other than Jimmy McGill can use his own name if he pleases. Jimmy, defeated, goes to work on his next tactic. He calls the press, lots of different people from the press, trying to pitch his story about how his pull-himself-up-by-the-bootstraps tiny one-man law firm is being railroaded by the big, corporate, wealthy law firm. No one will take his story.
Then he sees someone wearing a UNM shirt and an idea comes to him.
Jimmy’s with some film students out by the billboard, which is about to be taken down. He makes sure the film students have him and the billboard in the frame, and he’s telling his story, something similar to what he tried to pitch to the press, when suddenly the worker who was taking the billboard down slips and is dangling from a rope off the scaffolding.
Everyone, students and Jimmy both, look stunned and after a moment, Jimmy says to call 911, takes off his jacket and goes to rescue the guy. The film crew keeps filming and more and more people stop to watch this rescue mission as Jimmy scrambles to save the worker. He finally does, and as they sit on the scaffolding, it’s revealed that it was all a setup, Jimmy’d paid the guy to fall so he could have this hero rescue story.
And it works. He talks to the press about his heroics, trying to seem humble, and when he goes back to the nail salon and checks his messages, he finally has several people who want his law services.
Howard and Kim watch Jimmy being interviewed about the rescue on the news. Howard’s not buying at all. He tells Kim it’s a stunt. It’s hard to tell what Kim believes but I would guess that she knows, too.
The one person Jimmy knows for sure won’t be fooled is his brother. So when he goes to Chuck’s and sees his rescue story on the front of the local paper, he gets rid of it. Inside, he tells Chuck he’s finally getting clients, and Chuck is happy for him. He wants to know how he did it, referrals from his public defender clients, maybe from a prosecutor? Jimmy’s vague, talking about having put in the elbow grease, everything Chuck wants to hear.
He notices his paper’s missing, and Jimmy says they must’ve forgotten to deliver it. Jimmy heads out and Chuck seems genuinely, finally, proud of his little brother. But as Jimmy’s leaving, Chuck sees the paper on his neighbor’s driveway. So he puts on his space blanket and braves the outside with its painful power lines and electricity. He leaves some cash in place of the paper. The neighbor Chuck steals the paper from sees him do it. Chuck rushes back inside and unrolls the paper to read the front page article about Jimmy’s heroism.
Then he huddles the space blanket tighter around himself.
Thoughts on the Episode
It’s bookended by cons. The watch con from back in the Slippin’ Jimmy days in Cicero, and the billboard hero rescue con. Both are meant to fool the viewer as well as the target. Both are layered. Both depend on people thinking one thing is happening while something else entirely is going on. Both involve conning people who think they’re working with Jimmy–the howling guy in the watch con and the film students in the billboard rescue con–while Jimmy’s real partner in crime is someone else.
When Jimmy and Kim are arguing in the nail salon, and she’s trying to talk him down from going after Howard with this billboard and this copy-cat logo on the billboard, Jimmy brings up that Howard doesn’t treat Kim very well as an employee, doesn’t appreciate her work, and though we haven’t seen any of this, he says it in a convincing way that sounds like it’s part of an ongoing conversation they’ve been having for awhile. It felt natural.
There’s a real parallel, almost a linear relationship, between Chuck’s distress in his relationship with his brother and his sensitivity to electricity. The way he pulls the space blanket tighter around him after seeing the article about Jimmy, even though he’s now inside and safe from all the electricity outside, was a nice, subtle way to keep up that parallel.
I’ve seen the episode before, a long time ago, and remembered the broad strokes but still when Jimmy was climbing up to save the worker guy, my heart was pounding.
This episode, more than the others, feels more like we’re firmly in the BCS world. We’re no longer getting acquainted with the characters, we’re just living with them. Last episode, it felt like there was still a little bit of residual introductory stuff, mostly with Kim, but by now, not so much anymore.
Next is “Alpine Shepard Boy,” the only episode this season whose title doesn’t end in an “o.”
Until next week,
PD: The image at the top is Jimmy’s billboard, all of it mimicking Howard and HHM. Jimmy is on the billboard scaffolding reaching down and the actor who’s pretended to be a worker who’s slipped is reaching up.
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