Three. Before Monday’s “Slip,” that was the number of episodes left in “Better Call Saul’s” 3rd season. Three was also the number of times I stood up and cheered, one time for each of the three key events that occurred Monday night that pushed our characters closer to their “Breaking Bad” selves.
Now, I didn’t literally jump off my couch and start hollering. The subtle nature of these events didn’t call for that. But each of these moments provided viewers with a genuine satisfaction of seeing key puzzle pieces falling into place and vindicated the pace Gilligan has been using to tell the “BCS” story.
The first event was Jimmy representing a “criminal” client for the first time. No, it wasn’t technically a legal representation. And yes, technically Jimmy did provide legal services to Price last season. But Price does not represent the habitual offender we see Saul working with frequently in “Breaking Bad.”
The next moment, and most tense of the three, was Nacho replacing Hector’s pills. We all know Hector’s bound for that wheelchair. But I was still on the edge of my seat, nervous for Nacho as he worked to save his father from Hector’s clutches.
The third moment was “the handshake” that ended the episode. Of the three, this one seemed the most sudden and rushed. But it was still iconic to see Mike and Gus, two legendary “Breaking Bad” characters, officially form their alliance.
I will analyze each of these landmark moments in more detail in the recap. But let’s start with Kim, another character who had a big night picking up a new client and dropping the mic on her former employer.
“If You Were Hiding That From Your Clients, Howard, Well That’s on You.”
Kim’s episode began with a celebratory drink with Paige and Kevin from Mesa Verde. I keep waiting for the moment when Kim’s relationship with the bank will go sour. But it sure didn’t happen Monday night.
In fact, things are gong so well that Kevin recommends a new client for Kim, Gatwood Oil. Kim is hesitant to take on another client, but she agrees to look at their case and refer them to another law firm.
In the middle of the celebration, Howard walks up and reminds Kim and the folks at Mesa Verde how low on the totem pole she was at HHM.
With Hamlin’s condescending tone fresh on her mind, Kim gets up from the Mesa Verde meeting and hands Howard a check to cover the loan HHM gave her for law school.
But Howard will have none of that. He’s already angry with Kim for exposing Chuck’s “condition” on a public record. Howard is having to work overtime to keep HHM’s current clients on board, and his pride won’t allow him to accept that check. Howard rips it up, but not before Kim correctly points out that Howard should have been informing HHM’s clients about Chuck’s condition all along. At that point, I imagined one of the parking valet’s walking up to Kim and handing her a mic so she could drop it, then spread her arms out scream, “What now Hamlin???”
“My Back Hurts Like Hell and People Suck.”
Meanwhile, Jimmy’s commercial business roles on with another shoot inside “ABQ In-Tune,” the music store that Jimmy shot a free ad for last week. And while Jimmy McGill’s ethics are highly questionable (to put it nicely) most of the time, it may not be as bad as the twins who own the store.
Last week, Jimmy agreed to make a commercial for free for these guys. If it was successful, they would take the deal they reneged on last week.
Well, the commercial was a success, and foot traffic is significantly better this week compared to last week. But once again, the brothers go back on the deal. They think they can just film the commercial themselves and pay for the ad time directly with the network.
Feeling desperate, Jimmy puts a drumstick on the floor when no one is looking. Then, with the camera rolling, Jimmy “trips” and falls (and he did not hold back on the fall).
Now, I don’t know if the twins didn’t have liability insurance (considering how they try to cut cost with Jimmy, this seems likely) or didn’t want to be on the hook for rising premiums once the medical expenses for Jimmy’s fall was paid for. Either way, Jimmy gets them to agree to pay $6500 for 7 commercials.
Jimmy presents the money, and it’s enough to cover six weeks of payment for the office, to Kim while he’s lying on his back playing a guitar he now owns from the “settlement” with the twins. Once again, Kim offers to cover Jimmy’s half so he can get his community service completed. But Jimmy refuses.
Seeing Jimmy on the floor convinces Kim that the soon to be Saul Goodman is having to go through extreme measures to get his end of the bills paid. Feeling she must pull more weight on her end, Kim picks up the phone and calls Gatwood Oil, informing them that she will be taking over as their legal representative.
“Out Here, You Might be the King Douche Nozzle. But in Court, You Are Little People.”
Now, Jimmy’s hurting back is definitely a problem for his next four hour community service stint. But an opening presents itself when Jimmy sees King Douche Nozzle (don’t know what else to call this guy) preventing a guy, Freddy, from leaving community service to go see his sick daughter at the hospital. Jimmy also noticed thousands of dollars in the guy’s socks, so Jimmy offers to get Freddy (a likely drug dealer considering the amount of cash in his sock) out of community service with credit for his full hours if he will pay Jimmy $700.
Jimmy lays down on his back to get Nozzle’s attention. Of course, the king notices and gives Jimmy his opening. Jimmy uses the lawsuit angle (not to sue the state of New Mexico, but to sue Douche Nozzle personally) to get the supervisor to both let Jimmy lay down and let Freddy go to the hospital with a full four hours worked.
Now, I don’t think Jimmy would have been able to deliver in court on everything he told Douche Nozzle he could do. But the key to any slipping Jimmy scheme is to get the target to believe.
Jimmy counts his $700 and looks up at the sky, smiling, feeling way too comfortable in this new element he now finds himself in.
Causing a Stroke, Part 1
Little was said in Nacho’s scenes this week, but some of Michael Mando’s best work on the show so far was in “Slip.”
First, we see Nacho filling the empty pill casings with what looks like crushed up Tylenol. Then, Nacho practices how he’s going to slip those pills in Hector’s coat.
But in order to be able to slip the pills in, the jacket must not be on Hector. So Nacho sneaks up to the roof one night and breaks the air conditioner. Feeling the heat, Hector slips off his jacket and gives Nacho the opportunity he needs.
In a tense, tense, scene, Nacho walks over to Hector under the guise of “this $50 bill looks fake” and “accidentally” drops all the money. While picking up the fallen bills, Nacho snatches Hector’s pill bottles from the coat pocket.
Now, I’m not sure how Hector doesn’t hear the pills being dropped into a bottle. But Nacho takes the real pills out and replaces them with the fakes. Finally, with sweat pouring down my forehead out of fear he will be found out, Nacho makes a perfect toss, putting Hector’s pill bottle back into his coat pocket with the fake pills.
“I Was Out With My Metal Detector Looking for Arrowheads.”
Though Mike did not appear very often on screen in “Slip,” both moments appear to be significant.
We can’t be sure just how Mike locating the dead body (I’m assuming it’s that good samaritan Hector killed off screen last season) with his metal detector will come into play. But I imagine there will be repercussions for a certain someone who may be having some major medical issues soon.
But even more important was “the handshake.” Now, as I said earlier, this was the only of the three big moments in “Slip” I have any criticism for. The timing, placement, and execution for Jimmy’s conversation with King Nozzle and Nacho’s plot to replace Hector’s pills were both just about perfect. But when did Mike suddenly realize he needed a safe place for $200,000? Maybe it was the conversation with Nacho last week that increased the urgency of this matter. Or maybe I would have felt better about this if Mike had spent a little time two weeks ago contemplating Gus’s previous offer.
I am really nitpicking here. The relationship between Mike and Gus had been established earlier and it was still a great moment. I would just have liked to see these two interact more before their official partnership officially began.
But as it turns out, what ultimately leads Mike to partner with Gus was the previously mentioned need to protect $200,000 in case something does happen to Mike in his battle with Hector. He wants that money to go Stacey and Kaylee, not be swiped by the Salamancas. Gus agrees to hide it in return for Mike working in secret (as Gus wisely points out, they cannot be seen together openly because the Salamanca’s might catch wind of it) for Gus. The two men shake hands, ending the show with the beginning of an epic partnership.
-An interesting flashback started Monday’s episode with Jimmy and Marco breaking into the old store Jimmy’s dad used to run. We are reminded that Jimmy’s dad ended up losing the store because everyone took advantage of how nice he was.
-I also suspect all those coins Jimmy found in that scene will play a part at some point in the “BCS” timeline.
-Chuck seems extremely motivated to get back into practicing law. He meets with Dr. Cruz at his home and buys his own groceries for the first time in a long time. But Howard also brought the news regarding Chuck’s rising liability insurance, which figures to play a major part in the final two episodes of the season.
-Paige’s facial expressions seemed to foreshadow to the audience that Kim’s second client will prove detrimental to her current good standing with Kevin and Mesa Verde.
-Howard has been a real enigma on this show. Unlike Chuck, who’s been the clear bad guy since the end of season 1, Howard has gone back and forth between an asshole boss and a fair-minded man to work for. With Kim, he seems to be leaning back into the asshole part of his personality.
-I thought it was nice shot when the camera caught Francesca looking over a magazine instead of doing the legal work Kim had asked her to do.
Just two more episodes left and I expect a couple of situations to really blow up next week. We’ll see you then.