SPOILER ALERT: The recap for the "Hero" episode of Better Call Saul contains storyline and character details.
In which Jimmy McGill uses a windfall of cash to poke the bear that is his rival Howard Hamlin…
S'all good, man: The early years
In a fantastic flashback to Jimmy's pre-ABQ, Cicero days, he and a new pal, Stevie, are walking through an alley at night when they come across a wallet on the ground. It's holding $1,000 in cash, and its owner, splayed out drunk near a Dumpster, is wearing a watch Jimmy pilfers. Jimmy and Stevie are going to divvy up the wallet cash, but when Stevie notes the watch that Jimmy took is a Rolex, he talks Jimmy into letting him take the watch, while Jimmy keeps the wallet money, plus another $580 from Stevie's own wallet. Stevie runs off down the alley with the watch in his hand, and doesn't even wait 'til he makes it to the street before yelling back gleefully, "Sucker!"
Little does he know... Jimmy has told him his name is "Saul... as in, S'all good, man," but that's not the last time Jimmy snookers Stevie. The man on the ground? Friend o' Jimmy. The Rolex? It's a Fauxlex, and Jimmy's got a drawer of them, leaving him and his pal Henry (that's his name on his driver's license, anyway) to split the $580 of new money they got from Stevie. Henry's impressed by Slippin' Jimmy's skills, but Jimmy longs for something bigger. "It's good for makin' beer money, that's about all," he says of his grift.
Back to the present, Jimmy's trying to talk the Kettlemans into returning home and returning Craig Kettleman's ill-gotten cash. Their disappearance can be explained away as an impromptu camping vacay, he says, but the duo holds firm on returning the cash, justifying it as what's owed to Craig for unpaid OT. They even offer Jimmy a cut of the stash to keep his lips zipped about the money, but he says he can only accept it if it's a retainer for the Kettlemans hiring him as their new legal rep.
"I'm sorry," Betsy explains as she and Craig shake their heads. "You're just… you're the kind of lawyer guilty people hire."
With Howard Hamlin trying to get Jimmy to stop using his own name, and Betsy Kettleman telling him he's not good enough to represent her and her hypocritical embezzler of a husband, Jimmy has a plan. Well, he has a plan and some cash, courtesy of that bribe the Kettle-couple offered. "Upon this rock, I will build my church," he says, before dropping some of the Kettle-cash at a men's clothier on some very specific suits and shirts, teeth-whitening strips, and hair-zhuzhing at the salon.
At HHM, Howard goes into Kim's office and asks her to take a drive. Their destination reveals what Jimmy's makeover was all about: He's purchased a billboard — right along Howard's drive to and from work — in which he's dressed exactly like Howard, with hair like Howard's, and a JMM in place of the HHM logo, with the exact same design, font, and color.
Howard's no longer amused by Jimmy's antics. He has Kim deliver a cease-and-desist letter — she tells Jimmy the billboard was a declaration of war — but even after a judge orders Jimmy to take the infringing billboard down, he can't resist one more Slippin' Jimmy maneuver.
"A tiny foray into advertising"
Jimmy arranges for the billboard to vamoose, but hires a college student to film the takedown while he tries to take down HHM in a TV commercial. As the billboard worker removes the sign, 65 feet in the air, he tumbles off the ledge, and Jimmy, with the camera still rolling, climbs all the way to the top to save the dangling worker.
Whom he stealthily slips money to.
Howard knows the truth, Chuck knows the truth, Kim knows the truth, and, of course, the bribed billboard guy knows the truth, but by the time a story shows up in the Albuquerque Journal the next day, declaring local attorney Jimmy McGill a hero, the fake rescue has already drawn a handful of potential new clients to the future Saul Goodman.
The look on Chuck's face when he reads the tale of his brother's heroics says it all, though: Jimmy has just bought himself new trouble.
* Is Howard Hamlin the first TV character to have his own trademarked color? During Jimmy and Howard's arbitration meeting with the judge about Jimmy's billboard, we learn HHM's signature blue color has been trademarked as "Hamlindigo."
* Jimmy tells Mike he was right about the Kettlemans not straying far from home: "You assume that criminals are going to be smarter than they are… kinda breaks my heart a little." When Mike fails to get chatty in return, Jimmy remarks, "Not the loquacious sort, are ya?" Mike: "We can't all be as blessed as you."
* Jimmy's discovery of the Kettlemans leads to Nacho's release from the hoosegow, but Nacho's still angry about losing out on a potential score and blames Jimmy for warning the family. Jimmy points out Nacho was sloppy, left blood in his van, and allowed himself to be spotted by a Kettleman neighbor, so he should actually be grateful that "whoever this good Samaritan is" who alerted the family prevented Nacho from doing something really stupid and ending up in jail for more than a night.
* When Jimmy's trying to decide what color to dye his hair to make it most Howard-like, he's torn between Strawberry Fields Forever and Sassafras Glow. Ultimately, he decides to Photoshop the color, and have the salon workers curl it to look like Tony Curtis in Spartacus. It ends up looking more like Tony Bennett, as in Alec Baldwin's impersonation of the crooner on Saturday Night Live.
* While enjoying a pedi at the salon after hours, Jimmy wears a sweatshirt from the University of American Samoa, his alma mater — if the diploma hanging in Saul Goodman's Breaking Bad office is to be believed.
Let's hear your predictions, Saul fans: Has "the worm turned," as Jimmy tells Chuck? Or is Howard going to use the latest Slippin' Jimmy scheme to get Jimmy out of his Sassafras Glow hair once and for all?
Better Call Saul airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on AMC.