Better Call Saul season 2 premiere countdown: 4 days left!
Episode 1×07: In which the Kettlemans cause trouble for Kim, Chuck conducts an experiment, and Jimmy does “the right thing.”
Episode 1×07: “Bingo” (written by Gennifer Hutchinson; directed by Larysa Kondracki)
“Bingo” picks up where “Five-O” left off: Mike is still on the hook with the Philly cops. The teaser opens with the camera panning down through the mugshots of Albuquerque’s most wanted and it comes to rest on Jimmy, who is at the station with Mike to return Abbasi’s notepad. Abbasi comes out heated. He knows exactly what Jimmy and Mike pulled with the coffee and he threatens to arrest both of them. Jimmy pulls out the notepad and gives him some bs story about how Mike was concerned over threatening voicemails accusing him of petty theft, that they came down just to clear things up when they just so happened to stumble upon the notepad on the ground in the parking lot.
Nobody is buying that story, especially not Abbasi, who calls Jimmy an “ambulance-chasing piece of shit” (Ouch). He tries to get in Mike’s face but Sanders holds him back. Still, he continues to threaten Mike, telling him they are going to talk to Stacey and see what she has to say. Abbasi tells Mike, “Hopefully whatever you are didn’t rub off on the rest of your family,” and this physically pains me to listen to considering how Mike feels about corrupting his son. But he’s Mike, so he doesn’t flinch, and when Abbasi leaves in a huff he tells Jimmy they are done. Jimmy doesn’t want to leave him alone to talk to Sanders but Mike has made up his mind.
When Jimmy leaves, Sanders sits down on the bench next to Mike and they make small talk for a while. It’s clear that they knew each other back in Philly, and that Sanders is on Mike’s side with this whole thing. He apologizes for “the kid,” saying Abbasi is just young and looking to make his mark. Mike likes him, though, and I like to think that Abbasi reminds him of how Matty was before he took the money.
Sanders tells Mike that he should talk to Stacey before they do but, as we know, he’s already told her everything. Mike says that whatever Stacey chooses to tell them is her decision, that he owes her that much. Sanders is old-school like Mike; he’s been around a long time and he’s well aware of how dirty Fenske and Hoffman were. “That whole precinct was a sewer,” he says, and he tells Mike that the Hoffman/Fenske mess might end up being a good thing. Some of the old (crooked) breed will probably retire early and there will be some new, untainted blood in the department. Sanders doesn’t want to put Mike in jail or deal with the fallout when it comes out that the whole department is corrupt. He’d like to see clean cops like “the kid” take over, but in the meantime he says that Abbasi needs to learn that there are “some rocks you don’t turn over.”
The theme song plays over Saul’s chi machine (and I still have no idea what that thing does but it looks cool).
Out in the parking lot, Jimmy wants to know what Mike said to Sanders. He doesn’t trust the cops because they pull “con jobs” on suspects, and he’s not wrong. It’s interesting to think about the fact that some of the interrogation tactics used by police are essentially just scams to get suspects to incriminate themselves. The cops aren’t after money like the Slippin’ Jimmys of the world, but they are willing to lie through their teeth to get the information they need for a conviction. It raises the question of how ethical it is to con “innocent until proven guilty” suspects, even though it’s legal to do so.
Jimmy wants intel from Mike, who doesn’t think it’s any of Jimmy’s business, but Jimmy reminds him that “those two Philly cheesesteaks” know he was in on the coffee scam and want to lock him up, too. But Mike knows Sanders is on his team.
Jimmy still wants to represent Mike. He is, after all, the prime suspect in a double homicide, but Mike says he no longer requires Jimmy’s services. He seems at peace with the fact that his fate is in Stacey’s hands. Jimmy just hopes he won’t go to HHM if he ends up needing a defense lawyer.
Jimmy goes to Chuck’s for his daily delivery but he’s not greeted with the usual “Did you ground yourself?” In fact, Chuck is nowhere to be found until Jimmy hears him calling from outside. Jimmy finds Chuck standing out front, counting up to 120 seconds, and then he runs back in. Chuck is trying to build up his tolerance for electromagnetic fields; he’s been doing a little bit each day and he’s up to two minutes. He seems very pleased with his progress and Jimmy is shocked but very proud of him.
After the incident with the police and the hospital, Chuck realized that he almost lost everything. That moment, where his life was completely in Jimmy’s hands, was a revelation to him that he needs to get better and take back control of his life. He wants his life back and, more importantly, he wants to get back to work.
Jimmy brings in a bunch of file boxes and tells Chuck he needs to store them at his place because “business is booming” and he’s got no room left at the salon office. He tells Chuck it won’t be for long—that he just needs to file “the 413s on some of these wills.” Chuck immediately picks up on Jimmy’s mistake and corrects him; the personal property statements are 513s (as any lawyer worth his salt should know immediately), but Jimmy pulled that little mix-up on purpose. When he leaves he looks through the window to see Chuck looking through his work: victory. Jimmy knows Chuck has been chomping at the bit to work again and that he wouldn’t be able to resist taking a look at Jimmy’s files. Whether out of boredom or a desire to see whether Jimmy is actually doing good work, Chuck totally fell for it.
Jimmy is in the market for some new office space, and he takes Kim with him to look at the suite he’s picked out. Even the lobby is striking and it makes Kim wonder how the hell he can afford the rent at a building like this. Jimmy tells her that the old folks have been good to him, which isn’t entirely untrue, but it’s the Kettlebribe that’s footing the bill for his new digs.
When they get to the actual office space, Kim is awed by how nice it is. It’s really big, too, and Jimmy tells Kim he wants to expand his practice.
Kim has a bit of fun with him, joking that he should make the space more elder-friendly by making the conference room look like the front of a Cracker Barrel. She seems genuinely happy for Jimmy as he shows her the office he’s picked out for himself. “Gotta look successful to be successful,” he says, and Kim replies that the office certainly looks like success and he deserves it. Then Jimmy takes her into another office—the corner office—and Kim is shocked that he wouldn’t take the nicer one for himself. He tells her that he’s saving it for his partner, and it’s clear that he wants that partner to be her.
But as quickly as my dreams of Wexler, McGill & Associates Elder Law Firm were born, they died. Kim is flattered and truly touched by Jimmy’s offer but she has to turn it down. She feels indebted to HHM, who paid her way through law school, and she’s put a lot of hard work in to get where she is. She thinks that she’ll even be partner in two years. Jimmy knows all this, and he understands where she’s coming from but he’s still heartbroken. He tries to keep it all easy-breezy but Kim knows how hurt he is and she starts to get visibly uncomfortable. She leaves to check out the kitchen and Jimmy stares sadly out the window. It would seem he was dreaming a bit too big.
I hate this scene so much, and by “hate” I mean that it never fails to completely wreck me when I watch it. Jimmy is so hopeful for his future and he sees what a great team they could make. Kim would help him stay on the right path and they could have really built something together. But as always, HHM is standing in his way and he knows there’s no way he could get her to leave—at least not any way he would feel good about.
Back at HHM, Kim is in a meeting with the Kettlemans, presenting the best-case scenario for them. She has worked hard to strike a deal with the district attorney: instead of the 30 years Craig would be facing if they lost at a jury trial (and they most certainly would), Kim was able to get the D.A. down to 18 months in a county facility. Craig seems interested in hearing what Kim has to say but Betsy isn’t having it.
Then Kim tells them that they would also have to “make the county whole again” and Betsy snaps. She insists that there is no money and that Craig is innocent, and Kim almost laughs. She manages to keep it professional but it’s clear that she is tired of their denial. She tries to reason with them, which gets her absolutely nowhere because there is no way in hell Betsy is going to give up that money. Craig actually looks like he’s ready to take the deal, but then Betsy, looking like an attractive and (possibly) less racist version of Donald Trump, drops a bomb on Kim:
As the Kettlemans are leaving, Hamlin chases them down the stairs, basically begging them to reconsider. This is the first time we’ve seen Hamlin’s feathers ruffled. Howard Hamlin is always put together; even in the face of Jimmy’s shenanigans with the billboard he was able to keep his calm, collected veneer. But the Kettlemans walk out on him and now he’s heated, and he looks at Kim with a death stare.
We finally see the bingo in “Bingo”: Jimmy is in the Matlock suit, calling numbers to the old folks, using one of those long skinny Bob Barker microphones. We see that he’s expanded his advertising efforts from the bottom of the Jell-O cups and now he’s using the bingo boards, too.
Jimmy is having fun with it and, as always, the elders love him. He’s just about to give out a kitty-cat notebook prize to one of the winners when he gets a phone call. He steps away and answers it in the British accent and, of course, it’s the Kettlemans.
He meets them at Loyola’s and they tell him they want to hire him. Betsy, of course, has one very important condition: no jail time for Craig. Jimmy has to prove Craig’s innocence and get him exonerated because Betsy can’t bear to see him “smeared” anymore. Betsy tells Jimmy that they left HHM because they treated them like they were guilty. I think that, at this point, Jimmy is almost impressed with how delusional Betsy Kettleman is, but he’s not interested in taking their business anymore. He tells them he’s in elder law now and that he’s too busy to take on their case.
Betsy is not good at the word “no” and I’m not entirely sure she knows what it means, but she does know how to get what she wants so she brings up the “retainer” payment they gave Jimmy. He knows she’s got him there so he excuses himself and calls Kim from the bathroom. Jimmy tells Kim he found something that belongs to her.
Kim begs Jimmy to help her get the Kettlemans back to HHM and, despite his hatred for all things Hamlin, he’s willing to help her. He knows he can’t win their case and he doesn’t even want it, so he tries to convince the Kettlemans that Kim Wexler is an excellent attorney and that he couldn’t get them a better deal than she already has. But Betsy doesn’t want a deal and keeps insisting that there is no money.
Jimmy has had quite enough of her. They all know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Craig is guilty and that there is money, a lot of money, with which to bargain.
But then there’s the matter of that pesky bribe money, which Betsy points out would have to be included in any money they returned to the county. So Jimmy takes this loser case because he doesn’t want to give back his money either. That’s his “dream big” money, and even if he can’t have Kim as a partner, he can still use it to build a legitimate business.
He goes to HHM to pick up the Kettlecase files and sees that, except for the boxes, Kim’s office is empty. Howard was so pissed that she lost the Kettlemans that he sent her to the east wing, which Jimmy calls “the cornfield.” Howard just wants Jimmy to take the files and get out of his perfectly coiffed hair. Jimmy gets no help bringing the 8 or so boxes of files down to his car and he does what I like to call the “Jimmy Shimmy” trying to get into the garage:
He finds Kim in her usual smoking spot and he steals a drag. She tells him that she’s not fired but that, best-case scenario, her 2-year plan just became a 10-year plan. Jimmy tries to reassure her that she didn’t do anything wrong but Kim knows that it doesn’t matter to Hamlin how crazy the Kettlemans are; she lost the client and she has to suffer the consequences. She asks Jimmy, “You had to take their case?” but she knows it’s unfair of her to fault him for taking new business. She does, however, let him know that it’s a loser case and he won’t be able to do any better than she did.
Kim is frustrated with how much time and energy she put into the Kettleman case—all for nothing—and she starts to openly discuss the case with Jimmy. She says that Craig did a terrible job covering up the crime, going so far as to write false expense checks to himself. Kim doesn’t care that she’s not supposed to say that a client is guilty; they are Jimmy’s problem now.
Jimmy refuses to believe that there’s no way to get a “not guilty” verdict. He thinks there must be some loophole or something, but Kim tells him she couldn’t find a thing to help them except that money. “It’s the only chip those Kettlemans have,” she says, “and they refuse to play it.”
But Jimmy isn’t giving up quite yet. He’s hard at work on the Kettlecase in his office, looking through all his law books, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that this case is unwinnable. He knows Kim was right, that going back to HHM and taking the deal is the Kettlemans’ best bet. He takes a shoebox down from the rafters (and eagled-eyed viewers will notice that it’s the same shoebox Cinnabon Gene uses in 1×01). Jimmy takes out the remaining bribe money and it looks like there’s a little less than half left—maybe around $13K? I wouldn’t know from eyeballing it since I’ve never seen that much cash money in my life. However much it is, Jimmy’s not happy about giving it up, but he knows there’s only one thing he can do.
At the Kettlehouse, we see the family playing charades through the large windows, all lit up at night. Mike is outside spraying $10K of Jimmy’s bribe money with a UV solution. He puts it in a toy truck, finds a vantage point, and waits. I always enjoy watching Mike in action, knowing that he knows exactly how everything is going to play out before it happens.
And this is no exception: Craig comes out to bin the trash, sees the money, and takes it inside. Once everyone is in bed and the lights go out, Mike heads in with a black light to follow the trail left after Craig and Betsy touched the money. It leads him to a hidden compartment under the bathroom sink, where the rest of the $1.6 million is stashed. Mike brings the money to Jimmy at his office.
Jimmy puts the rest of his bribe money in the bag, as well as a stack of money from an envelope. Now, I’m assuming however much money is in the envelope is equal to the amount that he already spent, although I have no idea where he would have come up with over $15K that quick. Old people love him, but not that much. Mike is confused as to why he’s throwing more money in and he asks him what he’s doing, to which Jimmy replies:
Mike and Jimmy are now square for the coffee incident and Mike takes the money away. Jimmy looks like it physically pains him to watch that much cash walk out the door, but he’s already made the decision and there’s no stopping it now.
Jimmy arrives at the Kettlehouse, ready to be done with this whole mess. He tells them that “circumstances have changed” and that maybe they should go check on that money that they insist they don’t have stashed in the upstairs bathroom. Betsy full-on runs upstairs and Craig follows after, and when she discovers it’s missing she flips out. Jimmy tells her the money is on its way to the D.A. as they speak. She calls him a thief and he responds with the oldie-but-goodie, “takes one to know one.” They ask how he did it but he won’t tell them.
I have to admit I have a soft spot for Betsy Kettleman. Don’t get me wrong, she’s entitled and manipulative and generally pretty horrible, but she’s next-level good at self-delusion and I respect that. Betsy is genuinely outraged that Jimmy stole their (stolen) money and she threatens to have him arrested for theft. Clearly she’s not thought that one through, but in the moment I believe she actually means it. I truly believe that Betsy Kettleman thinks that money belongs to them, and that she has the ability to completely repress any truths that do not suit her purposes. I’m a little jealous, honestly. Life would be much easier if we could simply ignore reality whenever we wanted to.
But Jimmy is determined to give her a reality check that actually gets through to her, because he is sick and tired of all this Kettlecrazy in his life. He takes a page out of Nacho’s book and tells her that “criminals have no recourse,” and that they should just go back to Kim, apologize to her, and take the damn deal. Then Betsy brings up the bribe and Jimmy says that, yes, she could tell on him and he’d be in trouble, but if she did that she would be incriminating herself; both of them would go to jail and their children would be left without parents. As for Jimmy:
Betsy finally breaks down, and it’s actually really sad to see. She’s been the rock for Craig this entire time but now he is the one comforting her and taking responsibility for everything. The Kettlemans go willingly with Jimmy, who delivers them to a grateful Kim at HHM.
Jimmy is back to square one. His dreams are dead and he goes to the office suite to mourn what can never be. I can’t adequately describe how sad the final scene in “Bingo” makes me. Jimmy looks around the space, which he had no doubt already decorated in his mind, but he ends up in the corner office—the one he dreamed that Kim would occupy—and that’s when he completely breaks down. He kicks the crap out of the door and then ends up on the floor, trying to hold back tears.
And then Jimmy’s phone rings and he is forced to pull himself together. He takes a deep breath and answers in his Mrs. Doubtfire voice: “Law offices of James M. McGill, how may I direct your call?” Then the credits roll and I try to pull a Betsy Kettleman and completely repress everything I’ve just seen.
“Bingo” was a cruel episode. It gave me the dream of Wexler, McGill & Associates Elder Law firm, and then it squatted down and took a huge dump on it. And the worst part? I never wanted any of that. I would have been A-okay tuning in to Better Call Saul every week and watching Jimmy get progressively more sketchy until he went full Saul. But this show had other plans for me. It got me invested in the idea of Jimmy McGill as one of the good guys, doing “the right thing” and teaming up with Kim to help all the elders that can’t help themselves.
I never asked for this pain, but here I am. I dreamed too big, right along with Jimmy, but as a viewer I should have known better. We know where Jimmy McGill ends up, and it’s certainly not in a bright, shiny office with Kim as his partner, and yet you can’t help but root for the guy. It’s an exercise in futility and it’s emotionally exhausting and yet every week I find myself hoping that things will work out for Jimmy. They never do, of course. Jimmy turns to Saul who turns to Gene; that is canon and we all have to live with it—that is, until one of the McWexler shippers writes that Jimmy x Kim elder law practice AU fanfic I’ve been dreaming of since “Bingo” aired. Until then, I suppose I’ll just have to live in reality.