Spoiler alert: The recap for the “Pimento” episode of Better Call Saul contains storyline and character spoilers.
In which Chuck McGill breaks his little brother’s heart.
Chuck and Jimmy
The brothers McGill are working away on the Sandpiper case, until the Sandpiper attorneys begin to inundate them with boxes of case documents. Chuck poses a solution: They should refer the case to HHM, he tells Jimmy, because they have neither the manpower nor funds to see the case through themselves. Jimmy resists, of course, because… Howard. “We can Erin Brockovich the s—t of this,” Jimmy argues, but when Chuck counters that it’s the clients who will suffer as it takes them years to sift through Schweikart’s “document dump,” Jimmy agrees. Specifically, he says, “Hail Satan. I submit to the dark side.”
Later, with Jimmy conked out in his living room, Chuck puts an oven mitt on his hand, grabs a pencil, wraps himself in the space blanket and sneaks out to the mailbox, where he holds Jimmy’s phone with the mitt and dials it with his pencil. “It’s me,” he says to the person who answers.
The next day, the McGills — with Chuck’s suit lined with the space blanket, courtesy of Jimmy — head to HHM to iron out the details of the Sandpiper case. “No case is ever a slam dunk, but I feel as confident about this as I do about any case that’s ever come through this door,” Howard says, offering Jimmy 20 percent of the shared settlement funds, and a $20K “of council” fee for dropping the multi-million dollar case in HHM’s lap. Jimmy is happy with the deal, and wants just one more thing: the office next to Chuck’s to use while he works on the case. Howard clears the conference room and breaks the news: HHM wants the case, very much. Jimmy as a staffer: not at all. Jimmy’s furious, and Chuck tells Howard he should reconsider, but when Hamlin makes it clear he won’t, Jimmy tells him he’ll “burn the whole thing to the ground before giving it to [him].” With the lucrative deal a bust in a matter of minutes, and Howard declining to give Jimmy a legitimate reason for refusing to invite him into HHM, the dumbfounded younger McGill turns to Chuck and asks, “What the hell just happened?”
While drowning his sorrows in drink, Jimmy begins to obsess about his cell phone, which had run down in Chuck’s mailbox when he accidentally left it on overnight. Or did he?
The next day, a whistling Chuck — happy about the prospect of more work potentially coming his way — finds a dejected Jimmy on his couch. JM tells CM he’s going to take Hamlin’s deal, and they commiserate with each other about what might have been with the case. Chuck says he’ll continue to “badger” Howard about Jimmy joining HHM, and Jimmy says Chuck should threaten to quit the firm, that maybe Howard’s hand would be forced then. Chuck refuses, and Jimmy says he knows why.
He didn’t leave his phone on… he knows it. So he called the phone company, and discovered there had been a call made and deleted, a call to Howard’s number. The person who made the call left the phone on, and that could only have been Chuck. And he knows why Chuck made the 2 a.m. call to Howard, the night before their meeting:
“You told him not to hire me. It was always you,” he tells Chuck. “You didn’t want me. Tell me why!”
Chuck: “You’re not a real lawyer! University of American Samoa, for chrissake? An online course? What a joke! I worked my ass off to get where I am, and you take these shortcuts and you think suddenly you’re my peer? You do what I do because you’re funny and you can make people laugh? I committed my life to this! You don’t slide into it like a cheap pair of slippers and then reap all the rewards!”
“I thought you were proud of me,” says a teary Jimmy, who looks like he’s getting physically smaller the more Chuck’s hateful rant is leveled at him.
“I was. When you straightened out and got a job in the mailroom, I was very proud,” Chuck says.
Jimmy: “So that’s it? Keep old Jimmy down in the mailroom, ‘cause he’s not good enough to be a lawyer?”
“I know you! I know what you were, what you are. People don’t change. You’re Slippin’ Jimmy,” Chuck says. “And Slippin’ Jimmy I can handle just fine, but Slippin’ Jimmy with a law degree is like a chimp with a machine gun. The law is sacred! If you abuse that power, people get hurt… on some level, I know you know I’m right.”
With that, Jimmy tells his brother, the man he’s tried so hard to emulate, that he bought him ice and food, but now he’s done. “You’re on your own,” Jimmy says, storming out to his car, where Chuck follows him… but only as far as the front door, where the older McGill watched the younger McGill drive off.
Mike and Nacho
Mike gets a side hustle, courtesy of his vet pal. He and two other dudes show up at a parking garage, and wait for their client, “Price” (not his real name, he tells them), who is going to give each of them $500 to guard him on some sort of outing. He’s even got a cooler full of beverages — and the offer to stop at the diner for a pre-deal potty break — but before the guys can hit the road, the tall, cocky cohort tells Price he should split the $1,500 between him and “Mountain Man,” the guy who weighs three times what Mike weighs, because “Uncle Fester” — his nickname for Mike — isn’t even packing heat.
Mike confidently and without breaking a sweat shows Mr. Cocky (excellent guest star Steven Ogg) why he doesn’t need a gun, when he simply takes Cocky’s and dismantles it, before knocking Cocky to the ground, taking his other guns from him, throwing them in a trash can and leaving Cocky writhing in pain on the ground, while Mike and Price drive off to TCB (take care of business).
The B? Price is selling prescription pills to — c’mon, you can guess this one — Nacho! The deal goes off fairly smoothly, and Mike tells Price why. He’d done his homework. Nacho, or Ignacio Vargo, is part of a gang, but was making this buy solo. If his bosses knew, he’d be in trouble, so it behooved him to keep the purchase free of drama, which is also how Mike knew he didn’t need to pack a gun… only a pimento sandwich, in a little brown paper bag.
* Mike’s dog, the rescue he used to meet up with the connected vet? The pooch is now in the care of Kaylee and Stacey.
* After Kim visits Howard in his office and demands a reason for his treatment of Jimmy — because Jimmy is her friend, and a good attorney, she says — Howard at first blows her off and then tells her to close the door, where, we assume, he tells her the truth about why Jimmy doesn’t have a shot at HHM.
* The code of Mike, as he relays to wannabe petty drug thief/dealer Price (fantastic guest star Mark Proksch): “I’ve known good criminals and bad cops, bad priests and honorable thieves. You can be on one side of the law or the other, but if you make a deal with somebody, you keep your word. You can go home today with your money and never do this again. But you took something that wasn’t yours. And you sold it for a profit. You’re now a criminal. Good one, bad one… that’s up to you.”
Let’s hear your feedback, Saul fans: Is Chuck’s cruel deception at the heart of why Jimmy becomes Saul? And what are your predictions for next week’s Season 1 finale?
Better Call Saul airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on AMC.