This episode starts something that continues through much of Better Call Saul, and that’s Jimmy and Mike having separate storylines. Sometimes, an episode will cut back and forth between them, that’s more typical, but in this one it’s more like a relay race, with Jimmy’s world getting the bulk of the airtime before he passes the baton onto Mike.
Unlike some others, this one doesn’t jump into a different timeline but picks up right where the last episode left off, with the five-dollar bill Chuck left on his neighbor’s driveway when he stole the newspaper. The neighbor has called the cops.
Two cops go to Chuck’s door and ask him to open up. “We know you’re there, you’re casting a shadow through the peephole.” Chuck says he’d rather not, that he has a condition, that he can’t go outside. They don’t believe him since he was just outside stealing his neighbor’s newspaper.
He starts to cite law on probable cause when one of the cops goes around to the other door and calls the other one over. They see all of Chuck’s camping stove fuel and they think he might be cooking meth (hello, Breaking Bad resonance) and go back to the front door. Chuck still refuses to open the door and says they can only come if they don’t bring any electronics. No cell phones, no flashlights and especially, especially, no tasers..
They break open his door, and go in, and taze him.
Jimmy’s following up on those new calls he got from potential clients after his hero rescue stunt in the last episode.
The first is a guy who wants Jimmy to help him secede from the US, just him and his land. Jimmy’s into it, thinking about how many hours and years he could get paid for…until the guy presents his first installment of $500,000 in fake money he’s made for his own new country. All the bills have his face on them.
The next is a guy who wants Jimmy to help him with patents because he’s created a new invention. He unveils said invention and it’s a toilet. A toilet that talks, Tony the Toilet Trainer. The inventor guy says it’s to help kids potty-train through positive reinforcement but all the things that the toilet says when anything goes into the toilet sound sexual. “You’re so big,” and “give it to me Chandler, I want all of it,” and so forth. Jimmy points this out and the inventor doesn’t take well to this. Another bust.
The third person Jimmy sees is an elderly lady who wants help with her will. Jimmy makes his first real money, $140, from a client he gained from his stunt. He gets along really well with this client, and wins her over with his ability to keep track of her detailed and somewhat convoluted contingency plans about what goes to whom.
The name of the episode comes from this client visit. She has a bunch of Hummel figurines–a lot of her will revolves around apportioning them to the correct family members and friends–and mentions specifically her Alpine Shepard Boy.
Later, Jimmy and Kim are once again in the nail salon where he lives after hours. This time, Jimmy’s giving Kim a pedicure (and not doing a great job at it) as they talk about work. Jimmy entertains Kim with impressions of Tony the Toilet Trainer, and it’s adorable. After hearing about Jimmy’s estate planning client, Kim suggests Jimmy go into elder law.He’d be good at it and there’s a real need. They get interrupted when Howard calls to tell them about Chuck, who was arrested and then hospitalized.
Jimmy and Kim rush to the hospital. Jimmy tries to turn off all the electricity in the room and the young doctor calls security and a guy comes in and restrains Jimmy. Pretty quickly, the security guy lets Jimmy go, and Jimmy, Chuck, Kim and the doctor all talk.
The doctor talks in a way that Chuck sees through right away. He can tell she doesn’t believe in his condition, which he calls Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity, and that she thinks he has a mental illness. He insists that it’s real, it’s physical.
At one point, she tricks him by turning on the electric panel on Chuck’s hospital bed. Since it’s at the foot of the bed, Chuck can’t see her do it but Jimmy and Kim do, and Chuck goes on talking as if nothing happened, so they now have evidence that Chuck can’t really sense or be affected by electricity.
The doctor wants Jimmy to commit Chuck for thirty days, and says that all the things he’s doing to help Chuck, like bringing him food, and gas, are enabling him rather than helping him.
When Jimmy has to make the decision, he asks Kim what she would do, and she says that she thinks Chuck needs help, but Jimmy decides to take him home.
Enter Howard. He comes in saying that Chuck’s condition is purely physical and Jimmy gets mad. He feels that Howard is not looking out for Chuck but for his own bottom line: if Chuck gets committed, Jimmy would become his caretaker and legal guardian, and Jimmy would get Chuck bought out of HHM (as we saw in the pilot episode). They yell at each other and Jimmy says he’s going to commit Chuck. Kim chases after him and asks if he really wants to do this this way, and Jimmy says no, he’s taking Chuck home, he just wanted to see Howard sweat.
At Chuck’s home, Jimmy finds the paper with his hero story on the front cover. He tries to talk to Chuck about this, about how Chuck gets worse every time he thinks Jimmy is becoming Slippin’ Jimmy again, which he assures Chuck he’s not. He says the stunt was just publicity for clients, and his work with the clients will all be on the up-and-up. He tells Chuck about his plans to go into elder law. Chuck takes off his space blanket to make coffee.
Back at his place in the nail salon, Jimmy watches an old lawyer show (I think Matlock?) and makes notes of the clothes so he can get his own suits that might remind his elderly potential clients of the TV lawyers of their youth.
He goes to an old folks home and puts on his charming act and passes out his “card” on the bottom of Jello containers. Later, he also gives his card, a real card this time, to Mike as he’s leaving the parking lot for the day. In case he “knows any elders.”
This is where the episode hands off to Mike. He goes to a diner. Then he’s sitting in his car across the street from a house. A woman comes outside and gets into her car. She pulls out of the driveway, and slows down to glare at Mike as she passes him.
Later, he’s at his own place, drinking a beer and watching a movie, when he hears a car pull up. He turns off the movie and gets a baseball bat as he hears a knock at the door. He opens it to three cops. They clearly all know each other. Mike says “Long way from home, aren’t you?” and one of the officers says, “You and me both.” We know from 103 (and Breaking Bad) that home for Mike was Philadelphia.
Thoughts on the Episode
The last episode was bookended by cons. This one is bookended by cops.
When Kim and Jimmy talk about elder law and the need for it, Kim mentions that her cousin stole savings and pills from her grandmother. I can’t remember if that goes into what we know about Kim later in the future but I definitely clocked it when she said that.
It’s the first time we’ve seen Mike do anything that didn’t involve Jimmy. We’ve barely seen him outside of the parking booth at all, really only once, when they were at the police station in 103. Mike’s starting to have a life outside of the parking booth, and outside of his interactions with Jimmy.
In the scene where the storyline baton goes from Jimmy to Mike, when they have their end-of-day parking interaction and Jimmy gives him his card, the perspective shifts quickly to Mike’s once Jimmy leaves. It was almost a little jarring because other than seeing Jimmy drive up or drive away, this was the first time we were ever really in Mike’s POV, and when Jimmy’s gone and we’re still in Mike’s POV, it’s like okay, something different now.
The doctor says that Chuck is a danger to himself. She says he could burn his house down, or even the whole neighborhood, what with all his camping fuel and lanterns. I’m just going to leave that there.
In the last few episodes it’s becoming increasingly clear that Jimmy has a real problem with Howard. In the pilot, it seemed like they were just at odds over Chuck, but with Jimmy doing all the trademark infringement stuff in the last episode, and threatening to commit Chuck just to make Howard sweat in this one, there’s the sense that Jimmy’s beef with Howard goes a lot deeper. I think the source of this issue is revealed in the next couple of episodes but can’t remember the exact timeline of it. I just thought it was interesting that it’s really showing, the antagonism Jimmy feels toward Howard.
There’s a lot of interesting stuff about mental health in this episode. One is how the cops handled it (not well at all). Another is how the doctor was so subtly, smartly condescending towards Chuck and how he picked up on it every time. I could see how, from Chuck’s perspective, that’d be infuriating. And yet, now Jimmy, Kim, and all of us viewers have some real evidence that this is in fact in Chuck’s head. It’s in his head and is still full on real to him. That’s complicated. I like that they kept it complicated.
And it was interesting that I don’t think Kim ever believed it was real. She tries to suggest to Jimmy that maybe Chuck does need help but even before the demonstration by the doctor, she’s not on the same page as Chuck and Jimmy. Jimmy’s too close to truly see it, and perhaps distance gives Kim the ability to be more objective.
As for Howard, I can’t tell if he really believes in the EMH diagnosis. He sounds a bit like someone trying to convince himself, though I don’t think it’s for the reasons Jimmy thinks, about legal guardians and buyouts. I think maybe he doesn’t want to believe it just out of not wanting to believe that Chuck could be mentally ill.
Speaking of Howard, in the last episode, Jimmy talked about Kim being unhappy and underappreciated at HHM. This episode, when they’re talking in the nail salon, the sentiment comes more from Kim herself.
But a lot of the stuff in this section might be on hold for an episode or so, because I believe the next one is Mike-centric and focuses on his backstory.
Also, we’re halfway through Season One!
Until next week,
PD: The image up top is Jimmy talking to the secessionist at his fancy house.
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