Four Letter Nerd

Better Call Saul Season 2, Episode 9: Nailed

 

“Nailed” was an applicable title for the penultimate episode of Better Call Saul’s second season for numerous reasons. I assumed it would all be related to the contraption Mike was making with Hayley at the end of last week’s episode. And that was a critical part of the narrative.

But even more apparent with tonight’s title was how are two chief protagonists (Jimmy and Mike) are “nailed” tonight with the consequences of our actions.

With Jimmy, the forging of documents was successful in getting Kim back Mesa Verde. But that single event last week creates a domino effect, with the final domino being that of Chuck “nailing” his head on the counter of the 24 hour copy shop where the crime occurred.

For all the back and forth we’ve seen between the two brothers, Jimmy may have fired the harshest shot of all. Chuck’s reputation as a lawyer maybe forever tarnished now. When you consider the man doesn’t have Jimmy’s personality or people skills (and somewhere along the way he lost Rebecca as well), the law was all he had. And when Jimmy took that away, Chuck took drastic action. We’ll see just how consequential those drastic actions prove to be next week.

For Mike, he got his revenge. He robbed Hector, saw him loose his mind over it, then spent part of the money to buy drinks at a bar he was drinking at. But now, someone else has lost his life because of Mike’s actions. A good samaritan who found the wrong tied up ice cream truck driver got shot in the head. Just like when Mike saw his granddaughter threatened because he didn’t go ahead and take Tuco out, Mike is “nailed” with the consequences of another “half measure” he’s taken since leaving the Philadelphia police force.

But let’s get to the ramifications of those actions later. Let’s start with a little awe at the careful planning and execution of Mike Ehrmantraut.

What’s Hiding in the Ice Cream Truck

The driver’s name is Ximenez Lecerda. He made his first appearance last week delivering something across the border for the Salamancas. And he appears to be doing the same this week when we see a masked man hiding behind a billboard. Now, we all know it’s Mike. But if we had any lingering doubts about that, the nail hose dragging across the road to greet Lecerda and the Regalo Helado truck leaves eliminates them. Mike then ambushes Lecerda and ties him up while inspecting the truck for whatever contraband the ice cream truck brings from Mexico.

Ice Cream Man Tied Up

Mike (Jonathan Banks) putting his plan to rob Hector Salamanca to work.

Watching Mike the last three week’s spying every move Hector and his crew made pays off right here. Back at the end of Season One, Mike told Pryce to always do your homework. And his homework reveals that this truck is hiding money in the tires. Nacho will later reveal that this job should have taken a contact on the inside and a large crew. But Mike did it all by himself (with an assist from Kaylee), stealing $250,000 from Mr. Ding Ding.

The night following the heist is meant for gloating. And Mike does, seeing Hector’s reaction (who looked for a moment like he might have the stroke right there) and buying drinks for an entire bar that night with the money he stole. But days later, Mike is looking through the newspaper expecting to see a report on the robbery. A call from Nacho tells Mike why his burglary stayed out of the news.

“All I can tell you is you guys aren’t half as smart as you think you are.”

Part of Mike’s plan all along was to get the police to start looking into Hector’s operation. But Nacho knows it’s Mike because he didn’t kill the driver (that Nacho’s a sharp one ain’t he). And Mike learns that the driver was found by someone who contacted Hector (was Hector’s number the one on the truck?). Hector shot the good samaritan to keep him from talking and the cops were none the wiser. But more importantly for Mike, the driver is still alive and might have information about who robbed the truck.

“Attention to Detail that is 2nd to none”

That line was my absolute favorite of the night. For the head of Mesa Verde to put that in a prepared statement as he’s about to have an expansion bid by his bank derailed by the rearranging of two numbers on a document is classic attention to detail by Gilligan and crew.

I also don’t think any other television show could make a hearing in front of the New Mexico State Banking Board interesting. Chuck and Howard believe this is just a formality. Of course, we all knew better. The committee quickly notices the mistake. But Chuck “I don’t make mistakes” McGill insists the address on the form is right. He even goes so far as to argue with the people from Mesa Verde, who arrogant Chuck seemed to forget have probably had this address in mind for a very long time and would know their location by heart.

Chuck in shambles

Chuck’s relationship with Mesa Verde (and perhaps his law career) falling apart at the bank expansion hearing.

The hearing can’t be rescheduled for another six weeks and Chuck is left embarrassed. But as he looks through the files after he gets back home (which Jimmy snuck back in later and put the forms with the right address on it), he comes to a realization as to who is behind this very inconvenient clerical error.

“You and Mozart. You both started young.”

While Jimmy and Kim work on remodeling their new office, Kim receives a call. Mesa Verde wants her back. But another call comes right after Paige contacts her from Earnesto (Chuck’s assistant). Ernie informs Kim that Chuck wants to go ahead and give her the documents to Mesa Verde’s case. I’m sure that will be a pleasant conversation.

Jimmy offers to go and help move those boxes and I can’t decide if he did this out of a true willingness to help or to make sure he was there to defend himself against Chuck’s allegations (I suspect the latter). The locks have been changed on Chuck’s house and he really wanted to talk to Kim alone. But that doesn’t stop him from going ahead and accusing Jimmy of forging the documents. Chuck figured this thing out (I mean, to the detail) very quickly. As he goes through the whole story (the very true story) Jimmy insists Chuck has just had a rough day and should lie down.

Chuck and Jimmy await Kim

Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) and Chuck (Michael McKean) await Kim’s (Rhea Seehorn) verdict.

These arguments that Chuck has about the suspected illegal actions of his brother become a theme for the rest of the episode. This was the first time Chuck’s “condition” has cost him credibility. For all his physical and mental issues, everyone agreed Chuck’s ability as a lawyer was second to none. But now, even though he’s 100% right, his rantings sounds like someone who is not in proper brain capacity to practice law.

And though Kim knows Chuck’s right, she uses that condition to dismiss his argument. Kim was expressionless through all of Chuck’s tirade. When she finally spoke up, she says Chuck “made a mistake” and he feels sorry for Jimmy having to put up with him as his brother. But one punch delivered by Kim to Jimmy back in the car showed that Kim knows Jimmy did it.

The Race to Get to Lance at Valliant Printing

Per the agreement Jimmy and Kim have made about their professional arrangement, Kim wants no details about what Jimmy did with those documents. But she does strongly hint before bed one night (in the most subtle-not subtle way possible) that Chuck will seek out any opening he can find to get Jimmy convicted.

Chuck interrogates Lance

Chuck pleading with Lance to admit he’s seen Chuck before as Earnesto looks on in the background.

Jimmy races to Valliant Printing that night and finds Earnesto beat him there. So Jimmy walks in sporting $100 dollar bills and explains to Lance (the guy behind the desk that saw Jimmy forge all those documents) that he’s never seen Jimmy here before. Jimmy crosses the street and waits as Chuck arrives, once again throwing off the space blanket to brave all that electricity. He shows the picture to Lance, but Lance says he doesn’t remember seeing Jimmy even though Lance just told Earnesto that he had. Chuck is persistent despite the continued struggles he’s having with his “condition.” With Jimmy watching the whole thing across the street, Chuck faints, hitting his head on the counter and knocking himself out. But Jimmy, who must maintain his cover of having never been to this 24 hour copy store, stays where he is and looks on in horror as Chuck lays unconscious on the floor.

Observations

-Shooting continued on Jimmy’s commercial. This week’s con-shot: getting Jimmy in front of a giant waving flag at a school. Jimmy and his film crew look so sleezy sneaking onto school property after the kids all headed back inside from recess. Jimmy came up with another hilarious story to get school personnel off his back as his crew lowered the giant flag down to get their shot.

Jimmy establishment shot

Jimmy pleading with school personnel that he has permission to get this shot.

-A nice touch adding a makeup specialist to Jimmy’s film crew this week. According to AMC, she is also a student at the University of New Mexico.

-Another nice touch was having Chuck brave walking through that metal detector to get to the bank hearing.

-While it’s easy to feel sorry for Chuck this episode as nobody will listen to him, it’s very hypocritical to claim Jimmy “stabbed me in the back” when he did that to his brother for years.

-Rupert Holmes, the man whose story Jimmy used as an excuse to continue shooting at the school, was born in England and did move to America when he was six years old. But he never spent anytime in New Mexico. He received all his education and musical training in New York.

-Jimmy mentions the airing time of his commercial: 11:15 to 11:30 am during an episode of Diagnosis Murder. It looks like Jimmy is still appealing to the senior citizens who’ve been his most successful clients so far.

Breaking Bad References

-Mike met Walt in Season 4 in the same bar he bought drinks for everyone tonight with Hector’s money.

-This is not the first we’ve seen her, but Fran, played by Debrianna Mansini the waitress has made numerous appearances throughout “Better Call Saul”and “Breaking Bad.” I think a new series, “Better Call Fran,” could be made just from all the shady conversations she’s overhead in that restaurant.

Questions

-A quote from Mike from Season Five of Breaking Bad:

“I’ve done this long enough to know that there are two kinds of heists: those where the guys get away with it, and those that leave witnesses.”

Which heist will Mike be responsible for after next week?

-Will Chuck survive his incident at the copy store? And if he does survive, will he ever practice law again?

-What’s Jimmy commercial going to look like? And who will respond to the ad first?

-How does Howard respond to the loss of Mesa Verde and possibly Chuck?

-Will Hector discover it was Mike that was behind the heist? And did we see some of the first signs of his stroke in his reaction to losing all that money tonight?

-So our we done with the Sandpiper case? Seems like everyone’s forgotten about it at this point.

Has it already been ten episodes? The season finale is next week. So enjoy this final week of chatter as “Better Call Saul’s” second season comes to a close in six days.

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Jeff Merrick

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