Warning: The recap for the “Rebecca" episode of Better Call Saul contains storyline and character spoilers.
In which Jimmy gets a babysitter, Kim gets a new fan, and Mike gets consequences of his association with Nacho.
Meet the In-Law
So that’s who Rebecca Bois is. Hers was the name on Chuck’s sheet music, which he ran his hand over while trying to play the piano. And we meet her, in a flashback to the time a week after Jimmy McGill moved to the ABQ. Rebecca is (was?) Chuck’s wife, a professional violinist so respected by her peers that Yo-Yo Ma came to her wedding. Chuck drops this little nugget, meant to impress, when he and Rebecca welcome brother Jimmy to their home for the first time, after Chuck got Jimmy out of the Chicago Sun Roof trouble.
During a dinner in which all three seem nervous and make forced conversation — Chuck had already arranged with Rebecca that they would tug their ear, Carol Burnett style, if either of them wanted to end the night early — Rebecca meets her brother-in-law for the first time. He compliments her cooking, and tells Chuck he’s lucky to be married to such a talented woman and skilled chef. Then, as they drink glasses of wine, and Jimmy drinks a bottle of the beer he brought for Chuck, Jimmy tells them about his first week in the mailroom at HHM. He’s met some nice people, including one “gal” he doesn’t name (but it’s totally Kim, right?), he’s learned to use the complicated Xerox machine, and he’s heard about 100 lawyer jokes, which he proceeds to share with Chuck and Rebecca. Chuck is unamused, and begins tugging on his ear. Rebecca doesn’t see it though, and even after Chuck tries to interrupt Jimmy’s flow with the offer of blueberry crumble dessert, the jokes continue. In fact, Rebecca is asking Jimmy — who Chuck had warned her is “an acquired taste” — to tell her more jokes, and offers one up herself:
“What do lawyers and sperm have in common?” she asks. “One in three million have a chance of becoming a human being.” Chuck tugs his ear again, but Rebecca is too busy being charmed by Jimmy to notice, again.
At bedtime, Chuck and Rebecca are each reading on their respective sides of the bed, and she tells him Jimmy is great; she doesn’t know why he was worried. Chuck tells his own lawyer joke, and at first, she doesn’t realize he’s telling a joke. When she does, she politely chuckles, and returns to her magazine.
Chuck, as Jimmy would say, lacks “showmanship” in his joke-telling.
Jimmy and Kim
Jimmy’s working late at the Davis & Main offices, and prints a copy of the document he was working on. His associate Erin, the Tracy Flick of D & M, catches up with him at the printer with a full agenda: She tells him she fished a soda can out of his office trash can, because they recycle at D & M and there’s a special receptacle for those. And she wants to go over a brief with him — a document that features at least two dozen colored flags — because he hasn’t followed things like centering Roman numerals and using two spaces after each period. Jimmy asks her why a second-year associate would be advising a fourth-year like himself, and figures out that Cliff Main has assigned her to babysit him after the TV commercial incident. Erin wants to go over the brief with Jimmy, and though he thinks it can wait until the morning, she’s annoyingly persistent. So he agrees, and then, of course, slips out of the office while she’s waiting for him.
He arrives at HHM with a document in his hand, which he slides in front of Kim, who’s staying late to work off her penance in the doc review room. “Here’s how we’re going to handle this travesty of justice,” Jimmy says, but she’s not sharing his vision.
“You want me to sue my own firm?” she asks her boyfriend.
Jimmy tells her this isn’t her fault, and isn’t about her performance; it’s just Chuck’s way of getting to him. She tells him he’s wrong. This is about Howard trying to uphold his image. He did the same thing after the Kettleman situation, she says, and Chuck wasn’t even around then. But Jimmy insists Chuck is behind it.
“No, you are behind this!” she says. “I told you this would happen, and now I’m paying the price. I should’ve known better. So now I’m keeping my head down, and I’m getting through this. And I am most certainly not suing HHM. Even if I won, who would hire me? That would be career suicide.”
OK, Jimmy says. He’ll quit Davis & Main, because that will get her out of dutch. This is about Chuck, he insists, whether she will believe it or not.
“Wow, my knight in shining armor,” she says. “Quitting a job that you’ve been trying to tank since day one. I dig myself out of this hole. You do your job, Jimmy. Prove you can go one week… hell, one day, without breaking the rules of the New Mexico Bar Association or pissing off your boss. And don’t insult my intelligence by saying you are doing any of this for me. You don’t save me. I save me. Just please go.”
Jimmy and the Job
Erin is waiting in Jimmy’s office the next morning, and isn’t buying that his GERD issues led him to run out on her the previous night. They work on the legal brief edits, then she drives him to the courthouse, where he tries to secure a same-week date on the hearing calendar. The court clerk, the one who loves to tell him no, lest he proffer a Beanie Baby for her, is on duty, and she isn’t swayed again until he pulls a Beanie out of his case. Erin snatches it back just as the clerk is about to take it, dressing down Jimmy for trying to bribe the clerk. That’s how it’s done, he says, but Erin isn’t having it, and he gets a court date a month away.
Jimmy goes to the bathroom — with Erin waiting right outside — and runs into Bill, a D.A. who’s envious of all the perks Jimmy’s getting at D & M, and way more appreciative of them than Jimmy is. New car? Yeah, he got one, Jimmy says, and then immediately starts to bring up how the cupholders won’t hold the mug Kim gave him. Meanwhile, poor Bill has vomit on his lapel — which could be courtesy of two different clients, he says — and tells Jimmy he has to go off to a case with some “braindead suckwad” who tried to rob a library.
Kim’s determined to get out of the doghouse with Howard, so she stays late working in the doc review dungeon, and spends her lunch hours contacting friends, colleagues, fellow University of New Mexico alumni, and people she’s met at professional mixers to try to drum up new business for the firm. After countless calls and queries, she finally gets a return call from a mixer connection who wants to set up a meeting about HHM representing bank chain Mesa Verde. The meeting goes well, and when the Mesa Verde reps leave HMM, it’s clear Kim has landed an important new client for the firm. Kim congratulates Howard, he congratulates her, and then he tells her a co-worker will be assigned to the case, because “you have enough on your plate in doc review.”
Howard goes to Chuck’s house with some celebratory liquor, and shares the good news about Mesa Verde. Chuck assumes Howard snagged the new client during a gold outing, but Howard admits it was Kim Wexler who brought them in. It’ll mean a quarter of a million dollars worth of billings, Chuck points out, which will take months, maybe years. He assumes this gets Kim out of the doghouse. “We’ll see,” says Howard.
The next morning, very early, the HMM offices are prepped for Chuck’s arrival. He works via lantern light, and when he runs into Kim in the office — she’s been there all night — he asks her to make coffee (he can’t, because, electricity). He tells her to make two cups, and when she brings them into his office, they chat. He makes a small, painful attempt at a joke, and Kim asks him if she can ask him a question.
“Do I have a future at this firm?” she wants to know.
Chuck tells her they have a lot in common. Jimmy left her holding the bag, and she’s not the first person to go out on a limb for him. “I made the same mistake over and over,” he says. He then tells her about his dad, who was “the personification of good.” He owned a little corner store in Cicero, sinking everything into the business to fulfill his dream of being his own boss after years of working for other people. He was beloved in the neighborhood — knew everyone’s name — and when Chuck went away to college, Jimmy started working there. Papa McGill wasn’t the savviest businessman, however, and when Chuck came home to help him figure out the books, he discovered $14,000 was just gone, pilfered in “dribs and drabs” from the cash register by Jimmy. Their dad wouldn’t believe Jimmy had done that, and shortly thereafter had to sell the business. He died six months later, and no one cried harder than Jimmy at the funeral, Chuck says.
“My brother is not a bad person,” he tells Kim. “He has a good heart. He can’t help himself, and everyone’s left picking up the pieces.” He asks if there’s more coffee, and then gets up to go get it himself. As he walks away, he turns back and tells her, “I’ll talk to Howard. Pour a little oil on troubled waters. You’re being wasted down in doc review. Good job with Mesa Verde!”
Is Chuck trying to charm Kim, Jimmy-style? Is he playing good cop/bad cop with Howard as the bad cop? Is this all tied to whatever may have happened with Rebecca? And why can Chuck suddenly get the coffee himself, when the electricity prevented him from doing so before he shared the sad dad story with Kim?
Instant classic scene: Mike is eating breakfast at the Loyola Diner, when another older gentleman comes in and asks if he can join him. He sits down before Mike can answer, and orders a coffee. Then we see who he is: Hector Salamanca. Tio Salamanca (!), walking and talking before whatever illness puts him in a wheelchair. He tells Mike, “He really did a number on you,” and Mike, remaining his stoic self, says, “Sorry, I know you?”
Tio explains he’s Tuco’s uncle, and that Tuco has always been a hothead. He fancies himself a boxer, too, and Tio tells Mike he should have shown him respect. “I apologize to you, on behalf of my family,” he tells Mike.
“Apology accepted,” Mike says.
Tio goes on to say Tuco should go to jail for assaulting Mike. Not for eight years, which is the sentence he’s facing, though. “You see what I’m getting at?” Tio asks.
Mike: “Not really.”
Tio wants Mike to say the gun cops found on Tuco — the thing that’s boosting his sentence — is really his. Mike says then he’d be subject to a gun charge. Tio poo poos that, telling him cops would go easier on him, seeing as how he’s a former cop.
“So you’re a psychic?” Mike asks.
Tio says he’s just looking for the best possible outcome for everyone. He’ll even make Tuco apologize to Mike, and give Mike $5,000 for his troubles.
“Think about it,” Tio says, laying a $20 bill on the table and walking out of the restaurant, as Mike gets a look that suggests he knew he was making a mistake getting involved in the Tuco and Nacho business.
* Mike has helped Stacey and Kailey relocate. They’re staying at a residential hotel that has a pool Kailey loves. But she misses her grandpa, who hasn’t visited her lately because of his bruised face. Mike tells Stacey he’ll come by as soon as he can, once his face heals from the “car accident” he was in.
* The Mike/Tio scene is a classic, but a close second from “Rebecca”: Jimmy and Mike at the courthouse. When Erin drives past Mike’s parking booth, Jimmy sees his face and Erin stops. He asks Mike what happened to his face, and Mike just looks at him. “I get it, first rule of fight club,” Jimmy says. He then introduces Mike to Erin as his grandpa, and hums the Rocky theme song as she pulls the car away.
* The song playing during Kim’s hustle for new clients is the Gipsy King’s version of “A Mi Manera,” or “My Way” (you thought it sounded familiar, right?).
Let’s hear your feedback, Saul fans: Are you losing sympathy for Jimmy between the situation Kim is in and the story Chuck told Kim about the McGill brothers’ dad? Do you believe Chuck? Is Jimmy right that he’s really behind Kim’s banishment to doc review? And what do you think happened to make Rebecca seemingly MIA from Chuck’s home, and life, in the present storyline?
Better Call Saul airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on AMC.