Four Letter Nerd

Better Call Saul Season 2, Episode 3: Amarillo

Chuck is unlikely to be anybody’s favorite character on “Better Call Saul.” The man has received a massive amount of blame for creating the man who would become Saul and assist the criminals of the greater Albequerque area in covering up their crimes. “If only Chuck would have let Jimmy just be a lawyer” said me and so many others when the deeply troubled Chuck revealed the dark secret that he’d been holding back Jimmy all this time.

But as we now see Jimmy in the very position Chuck worked so hard to keep him from stepping into, I have to admit something I never thought I would say (at least not this early into the series): Chuck was right.

While everyone else is enamored with Jimmy’s charm, Chuck sees who he really is: a con-artist with a law degree. And while Kim saw it for the first time in episode one and “Cool Guy Cliff” experienced it in this episode, Chuck has always known. And now, he will spend the rest of this season (at least I expect he will) “baring witness” while “Slippin Jimmy” is revealed to everyone else.

Now, I am not saying we should all have a Chuck love fest and show appreciation to Jimmy’s electromagnetic fearing sibling. He still played his part in the transformation of Jimmy McGill to Saul Goodman. But we are seeing now everything he feared about his brother with a law degree and the many ethical lines Jimmy blurs while practicing law, including that lesser known alter ego of Jimmy McGill: Soliciting Jimmy.

Soliticing Jimmy

Jimmy is waiting outside in Amarillo, TX in full costume, ready for his next performance. And I do not believe a single detail is accidental, from the boots, the belt buckle, the entire Texas themed wardrobe, or to the way Jimmy is standing waiting for the arrival of a van carrying 24 Sandpiper residents. You probably remember the action Sandpiper took last season to keep Jimmy from seeing residents on their property. But Jimmy said last week that the residents themselves are the best source for getting a hold of the financial records of Sandpiper.

So Jimmy bribes the chaperone and walks onto the van, making sure that he asks for Elma May (who responded to the mailer Davis and Main sent out to inform them of the lawsuit). Jimmy has to direct his request to one person (the person who responded to the mailer) so his “soliciting” doesn’t look like soliciting. But while the details about the Sandpiper case are directed only at Elma May, the rest of the bus hears and is interested. Jimmy breaks out the “parable of the meat and three” to explain how Sandpiper is ripping all of them off and gets 24 clients to join the suit.

Better Call Saul Season 2 Episode Photos

Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) on a Sandpiper bus giving his sales pitch for the Sandpiper lawsuit.

But while “Cool Guy Cliff” brags of Jimmy’s propensity for getting clients (200 of them last week alone) to join the suit (he won’t be so keen on Jimmy at the end of the episode), Chuck is not celebrating. He has a pretty good idea that Jimmy’s method for getting those clients on board was not of an ethical nature. I expected last week that Chuck was just waiting for a moment to pounce on his brother’s first misstep. And he does it here in the most passive aggressive way possible, pointing out how much this jump in clients (which was inspired by one response to a mailer), reeks of soliciting. Jimmy promises to think of a different method to bring in more residents, but not because of Chuck. That’s because of a pretty blonde associate who wasn’t exactly reciprocating the usual HHM office playing of footsie with Soliciting Jimmy.

Chuck S. 2 Ep 3

“My name’s Chuck, blah blah blah. Soliciting, soliciting, blah blah blah.” Left to right, Clifford Main (Ed Begley Jr) and Chuck (Michael McKean).

“What happened in Texas?”

Great camera work getting Kim in the background of those defenses when Jimmy was trying to defend his success solicitin….I mean his successful outreach to all those Sandpiper residents. Her expression makes clear she suspects, just like Chuck, that all these clients signing on after approaching Jimmy are absolute bull. Just like Chuck, she knows what Jimmy truly is, even if, unlike Chuck, she’s kind of enamored with it but still has hope Jimmy can deny the Saul side of himself (at least enough to keep his job at Davis and Main).

Kim and Jimmy S. Ep. 3

Jimmy selling his “outreach” efforts to the team while Kim (Rita Seahorn) cringes in the background.

 

Kim informs Jimmy of  how she is on the hook for him since she stood up for him so he could get the opportunity he has now. And disbarment is possible if “soliciting” were Jimmy’s means for getting all those clients. Concerned with how his actions will affect Kim, Jimmy moves on to a different method of bringing new clients to the Sandpiper lawsuit.

“It draws the blue hairs like moths to a bug zapper.”

So Jimmy can’t use the Saul like sales pitch and the mailers aren’t working, so what is he suppossed to do? How about commercials!!! But when Jimmy pitches the idea (which includes the the time of day, the tv show it will run during, and the moment in the show when it will run) to “Cool Guy Cliff,” he’s hesitant, saying “we’ve tried that once  before, but let’s talk about it in a week.” Jimmy viewed that commercial from a few years earlier and cringed at the lack of production values (“Whatever happened to showmanship?”).

Now I believe Jimmy established the motto he was going to live by this season in the very first episode when talking with Kim about how playing by the rules never got him anywhere. So instead of waiting on the approval of the partners at the firm, Jimmy goes full steam ahead with his commercial. He brings in film students from the local university (but only because they have equipment and are free, because I doubt their filmmaking careers are going anywhere) to shoot an ad at the home of one of Jimmy’s original clients.

Filmmaking S. 2 Ep. 3

Jimmy setting up his shot while shooting the Davis and Main commercial.

Jimmy shows the ad to Kim, and she loves it (and Jimmy is very quick to point it the legality of said ad). But Jimmy is not entirely honest with Kim, who assumes he shot the ad with “Cool Guy Cliff’s” permission. Now last week, Kim let Jimmy know that she did not what to be made aware of anything shady that he does, and so far he’s lived up to this promise. He did not tell her the full details of his soliciting in Amarillo and he leads her to believe that he had Davis and Main’s permission to run the ad. I’m sure this lie won’t come back to bite Jimmy at all.

Now the commercial is shot, but Jimmy can still ask permission to get it aired. I mean, sure, he shot the ad without “Cool Guy Cliff’s” consent. But just shooting the ad could be seen as showing initiative. Maybe Cliff sees the ad, praises Jimmy for his great work, and agrees to air it fifteen minutes into “Murder She Wrote.” But Main could also say no (remember where playing by the rules got Jimmy in the past), so Jimmy goes ahead, once again without permission, and buys air time in Colorado (the location of another Sandpiper facility) to test how well the ad does.

Davis and Main Commercial

The Davis and Main Commercial sitting on Jimmy’s desk.

“Howard said you were an eccentric. He didn’t tell me you were a ********* arsenist!!!”

Jimmy waits by the phones at 3:15, the moment the ad airs in Colorado. And though it’s a very anxious moment, it doesn’t take long before the phone lines start lighting up. One hundred and three new clients joined the lawsuit through the commercial and Jimmy receives a call from Main while watching a movie with Kim, assuming he’s going to get a big “Congrats on airing that ad with our firm’s name on it without actually asking the guys who the firm is named after whether you could air that ad with our firm’s name” from them. But “Not So Cool Guy Cliff,” is not happy. Apparently, Jimmy assumed that the guy who plays the guitar in his office everyday would be OK with the commercial being aired anyway as long as it worked. But Cliff did not appreciate it at all and wants Jimmy to be in the office with the commerical at 8 am the next day. Of course, Jimmy continues to lie to Kim about the whole episode. I am curious if we will have to wait long for all this lying to strain Kim and Jimmy’s relationship.

Better Call Saul Season 2 Episode Photos

Cliff Main calling Jimmy to reprimand him for airing the commercial without permission.

Mike

In regards to time, Mike’s story took a bit of a backseat. But not with regard to importance to his story. Mike is seeking a promotion in the underground crime world and has one clear motivation for doing so: getting his granddaughter out of a “dangerous” neighborhood. Mike’s daughter-in-law, Stacey, tells Mike that she thinks she’s hearing gunshots. So one night, Mike sits in his car and keeps watch. He thinks he hears something resembling the firing of guns, only to discover that it’s just the newspapers being delivered in the early morning.

But while Mike thinks everything is now fine, he receives a call from Stacey and she points out a spot on the house that looks like a bullet could’ve scraped the side. She claims it wasn’t there the previous day and Mike is not sure what to tell her. I’m also not sure what Mike is more concerned about: the possibility that a bullet made that mark or the he didn’t see the people who did it. Mike vows to get Stacey and her daughter out of that house. But it’s going to require some “next level work.”

The Shot S. 2 Ep. 3

The mark in Stacey’s house she believes to be from a bullet.

“If you want next level pay….”

Seeking better paying jobs, Mike goes to see his old friend, the vet (or the man that introduced him to Pryce). The vet makes very clear that upgrades in pay require Mike to expand his resume and the number of things he’s willing to do (this was all underground criminal speak for “You’ll have to kill people). Though reluctant to do so at first, Mike ends up agreeing to one such “next level pay” job. He receives a call in the middle of the night about a guy who personally requests Mike. Now I think we all knew who this was going to be when Mike meets the man who wants to hire him in an abandoned alley, but it didnt make it any less awesome!!! Nacho has someone he needs taken out and wants to hire Mike to do the job.

Observations

-I know we’ve mostly forgiven Howard for any hardship that has come Jimmy’s way. But tonight’s episode brought a new perspective to the conversation he had last week with Chuck. Kim says she put herself on the line for Jimmy. But why did Howard feel the need to tell Chuck it was Kim that put in a good word for him? It really was unnecessary information. Is Howard setting up Kim to take the fall should Jimmy’s conduct ruin the Sandpiper case?

-I loved the use of the stair lift in getting the shot Jimmy wanted for the commercial. Another great example of Jimmy’s resourcefulness and ability to think on his feet.

-I know that Jimmy chalked up the mailers failing to work on Sandpiper employees throwing them away. But I know when I receive one of those class action lawsuits in the mail, I mostly ignore it.

Questions

-Disbarment has come up each of the last two weeks between Kim and Jimmy. But we all know Jimmy is not going to stop practicing law. How does he end up leaving/being forced out at Davis and Main without disbarment?

-Will Kim’s standing up for Jimmy lead to her downfall in the law profession?

-After this week’s stunt, will Jimmy even still be with Davis and Main in next week’s episode?

-Who is Nacho’s target? Is it someone from Breaking Bad (which I doubt because I can’t see Mike failing at his first “next level job”)? And what is Nacho’s issue with them?

-Who, if anybody, fired those shots at Stacey’s house? If nobody did fire shots and she’s just being paranoid, does this mean Mike went down the “next level” road unnecessarily?

We’ll see next week what the fallout for both Mike and Jimmy will be. Also from the previews, it looks like we finally get to see why Jimmy wants Chuck to “roll around in the dirt” with him.

 

 

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Jeff Merrick

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