Better Call Saul season 2 premiere countdown: 2 days left!
Episode 1×09: In which Chuck is the absolute worst and I’m still not over it.
Episode 1×09: “Pimento” (written and directed by Thomas Schnauz)
I’ve been dreading this one so let’s get this pain over with, shall we?
The teaser opens with the brothers McGill on a bench outside Chuck’s house. Chuck looks disturbed but he’s not exhibiting any of the usual extreme physical discomfort that we’ve seen from him in the past. He is, however, staring quite intently at the transformer on a nearby telephone pole.
Jimmy tell him to take of his shoes and focus on the feel of the grass between his toes—and who doesn’t love that? Jimmy is playing the role of Chuck’s therapist here, and it seems to be working. Chuck takes off his shoes for a bit and really does try to appreciate the outdoors. But he’s Chuck, so it isn’t long before he says they have to get back to work. He tells Jimmy, “You need to get ready,” but the younger McGill has confidence for days. Chuck appreciates his enthusiasm but he tells him that having the facts on his side is more important than confidence, and he’s not wrong. Chuck knows this is a massive case and that Schweikart and Cokely are going to come at them hard. It’s time to get back to work.
The theme plays over someone pissing onto Saul’s matchbook in a urinal (how lovely).
At Stacey’s house, Kaylee is in the backyard playing with Mike’s new dog—and how cute is this?
Stacey isn’t sure about the dog, and to be fair Mike just kind of showed up with it out of the blue and having a dog is a huge responsibility that should be thought through before making that commitment. (PSA: Don’t be that person who gets a dog on a whim and then returns it two days later when it’s not all fun and games.) Mike tells Stacy that “bad guys think twice about breaking into a house with a dog,” and she seems like she’s still unsure, so Mike tells her that he’s more than happy to keep the dog at his place and Kaylee can visit whenever she wants (and maybe that would mean that Mike could see more of his granddaughter, too).
Stacey ultimately agrees to keep the dog (you made the right choice, Stacey, dogs are awesome) and Mike has all the supplies she will need. Knowing her financial situation, I’m like 99.9% sure that Mike will continue to pay all dog-related expenses. (Another PSA: pet-care costs money, so don’t get a dog if you can’t afford to take care of it.) Mike gets a call and tells Stacey it’s “a lead on a job opportunity” (and we all know, generally speaking, what kind of “job” he’s got a lead on).
Schweikart and Jimmy are in court, arguing in front of a judge to determine whether or not Sandpiper can keep Jimmy off the premises. Jimmy argues that they are denying his clients their right to legal counsel by banning him from the facility but Schweikart says that they are only banning him from the property, not from his clients. Schweikart’s argument is that Jimmy is a nuisance and his “loud and flamboyant” presence is a disturbance. He says Jimmy’s clients are free to leave whenever they need his services, but Jimmy argues that his clients are elderly and infirm people. Schweikart says that it’s an issue of civil harassment for those residents who “don’t want to be afflicted with Mr. McGill’s presence.” Jimmy doesn’t take kindly to that suggestion.
The judge ultimately rules in Jimmy’s favor (obviously, because Schweikart’s argument was a joke). Jimmy’s on cloud nine coming into Chuck’s place after his win, but Chuck brings him back down to earth pretty quickly. There are boxes upon boxes of documents from S&C; their plan is to drown the McGill brothers in paperwork so that they have no time to focus on the case.
Jimmy thinks they can handle it and he’s ready to jump right in but Chuck tells him they need to talk. Chuck says that it is far too big a case for the two of them to work on their own. He’s already decided that they have to take the case to HHM (and he likely knew that from the very start). He’s not wrong, either. It would be an impossible task for two people and it would take years, and it is in the best interest of their clients (who don’t have that much time left) that they enlist the money and resources of HHM. Jimmy fights him on it even though he knows he won’t win this battle.
As much as Jimmy despises Hamlin, he knows that Chuck is right about the fact that they need help. Because of Chuck’s partnership agreement, the only help they can get has to come from HHM, so Jimmy gives in.
He’s not happy about it, but he knows it’s the only way. He looks on the bright side and tells Chuck that maybe they can work in neighboring offices. Jimmy seems pleased that, at the very least, he is finally out of the mailroom. He leaves, and then Chuck makes this face:
In the wee hours of the morning, Jimmy is asleep in a chair at Chuck’s place but Chuck is restless. He gets up and grabs a pencil, an oven mitt, and his space blanket, and then he goes outside. Chuck takes Jimmy’s cell phone out of the mailbox and makes a call despite his obvious physical discomfort. We don’t know who he’s calling, but it is someone who recognizes his voice.
Mike is waiting for his new “employer” in an empty parking lot. Two other guys show up: Sobchak and Man Mountain (which is obviously not his real name but it is a fitting nickname because this dude is ginormous). Sobchak is a real chatty Cathy and Mike isn’t interested in small talk but he just keeps going. We learn that Mike is on a civilian protection job and the employer is a total noob when it comes to this sort of thing. Then Sobchak, gem that he is, says that “dealing with some of these ethnic types, blood tends to run a little hotter,” you know, because of science. Man Mountain seems less than thrilled to learn that his new co-worker is a white supremacist.
Sobchak continues running his mouth and he asks Mike what he’s packing. Mike says he’s got a Pimento sandwich—“the caviar of the South”—and Breaking Bad fans might remember Mike offering a pimento sandwich to Jesse in “Cornered.”
Sobchak can’t believe Mike doesn’t have a gun with him and he starts going off about all the guns that he has. Mike is unimpressed (shocking, I know) and when the employer rolls up in his minivan looking like the world’s dorkiest dad, Sobchak tells him to “send Uncle Fester home” so he and Man Mountain can split the $1,500. The employer, who calls himself Price, asks Mike if it’s true he doesn’t have a gun and Mike says he doesn’t think he’ needs one, but if he does he’ll just take one of Sobchak’s guns.
Sobchak seems amused, but he should be afraid.
Sobchak challenges Mike to try to take one of his guns and Mike absolutely owns him (and it was an absolute joy to watch Mike in full badass mode). He snatches his gun away and disarms it in about 2 seconds, and then he throat punches Sobchak with the gun. He goes down hard and Mike casually takes all Sobchak’s pieces off him, and when he offers one to Man Mountain, the world’s largest dude just runs away like a frightened child. Mike dumps the guns in the trash and picks up his bag lunch, telling Price they don’t need three guys for this job and that he wants the whole $1,500. Price isn’t about to argue with the scary old man who just took down a fully armed Neo-Nazi without breaking a sweat, so off they go.
Back at Chuck’s place, Jimmy is trying to get him out the door for their meeting at HHM. He’s sewn a space blanket lining into one of Chuck’s suits (and at this point I kind of wish that Jimmy would give up the whole law thing and become a fashion designer). He tells Chuck that if at any point it becomes too much for him that they can leave. Chuck manages to get out to the Esteem but he’s obviously feeling the effects of the outside world much more than he did in the teaser. Jimmy goes to get his things out of the mailbox and finds his cell phone battery is dead.
At HHM, Hamlin is rallying the troops. He’s got someone collecting everyone’s phones and preparing to cut the power in the building before Chuck’s arrival. The brothers McGill arrive and Jimmy is giving Chuck a pep talk on their way inside, and when Chuck walks in he sees that the entire firm has come to greet him with a standing ovation.
He looks a little choked up when he greets Hamlin with a hug and he leaves Jimmy to deal with the boxes as he walks upstairs with his colleagues. Kim walks over to Jimmy, standing alone at the door, and takes one of the boxes to lighten his load.
In the conference room, Jimmy and Chuck sit at the head of the table. Jimmy presents their case to Hamlin who is incredibly impressed with the work they’ve done. Kim is really proud of Jimmy and the two exchange some subtle glances as Hamlin dives right in and starts delegating tasks to the HHM team.
Jimmy puts the brakes on Hamlin’s enthusiasm; he wants to talk terms. Hamlin says that they can offer Jimmy 20 percent of the final settlement since he was the lawyer who brought the case to the firm, but that money won’t come until the case is done. As for immediate payment, HHM finds referral fees “unethical,” but Hamlin says they can give him a $20K of-counsel fee for the work he’s already put in. Jimmy is pleased as punch and gives Hamlin an invoice, and then he tells Hamlin he’d like to use the office next to Chuck’s.
And now things go downhill very quickly. Jimmy and Chuck look confused, and when the room is clear Hamlin straight up tells Jimmy, “You’re not working here.”
Chuck looks outraged and Jimmy is furious. He wants an explanation from Hamlin and he starts ripping into him. Hamlin is cold and tells Jimmy that the partners have made the decision not to take on any new associates but Jimmy can’t understand why they wouldn’t want him on the case—his case, that he built and brought to them on a silver platter. Hamlin looks a bit guilty, and he can’t look at Jimmy, but he won’t budge from his decision.
Then Jimmy totally loses it, screaming at Hamlin, “You didn’t want me then, you don’t want me now?” and my heart breaks a little. Jimmy can’t get a straight answer (or really, any answer) out of him. Chuck hasn’t said much this whole time but he looks absolutely disgusted with Howard. Chuck tells Howard that he’s very disappointed.
However upset Chuck and Jimmy might be, Hamlin isn’t changing his mind. He tells Jimmy it’s easy money and to just take it, but Jimmy tells him to go to hell. He’s not giving HHM his case if he can’t work on it, and he plans on telling all his clients exactly what he thinks about Hamlin.
Hamlin has to accept Jimmy’s decision but he stares daggers at Chuck before he leaves the room. Jimmy asks what we are all asking ourselves at this point: “What the hell just happened?”
Hamlin is in his office (which is the nicest office I have ever seen) and Kim knocks and asks if he’s got a minute. She wants to know what happened with the Sandpiper case, but Hamlin isn’t interested in going through the details with her. He just says, “Things didn’t work out,” hoping she’ll get the hint, but Kim isn’t leaving without some answers. Hamlin is ice cold and tells her that it’s not her concern, but Kim keeps going even though she knows she’s crossing the line between curiosity and insubordination.
Kim tells Hamlin that she thinks Jimmy “deserves a seat at the table” and she really goes to bat for him, which is a huge change from the way she has tried to obscure the nature of their relationship in the past. She even admits that she wants to know why because Jimmy is her friend and she thinks Hamlin isn’t treating him fairly. She knows they don’t get along, and she’s even willing to concede that it’s probably because of something Jimmy did, but she can’t understand why Hamlin can’t get past it for a case as big as Sandpiper.
Hamlin is beyond done with Kim questioning his authority and tells her, “You’re way out of your depth.” He tells her to keep her opinions to herself.
Kim knows she’s really stepped in it now and she goes to leave, but as Hamlin watches her go we can see him drop his hard-ass façade. He stops her and tells her to close the door.
Mike and Price are out at some abandoned factory. Price is totally clueless as to how this should go down so Mike explains it to him: don’t talk too much, get the money and count it first, then hand over the pills. Nice and easy, no drama, no guns necessary. A van pulls up and out steps Nacho with two other guys we haven’t seen before. Nacho looks menacing, as usual, and when Price gets the money and counts it, he finds that it’s short twenty bucks. He’s willing to just let it go but Mike is not. He tells Nacho, “Agreed amount or no deal,” and Nacho asks if he’s implying he shorted him on purpose. Mike says that mistakes happen but he’s not about to let Nacho get away with shorting his employer.
Nacho takes twenty bucks out of a massive wad of cash and holds it up in the air, letting it blow away in the wind before Price can take it from him—kind of a dick move, but it was funny. Price brings Nacho the pills—80mg of oxy, factory sealed—and the deal is done. Nacho and his crew leave without incident (or the need for guns) and Mike and Price get back in the van.
Price pays Mike the full $1,500 and Mike tells him he got a deal because of all the legwork he put in. Price wants to know how Mike knew he wouldn’t need a gun and he tells him about all his legwork: Ignacio “Nacho” Varga runs with a connected drug crew and this deal was something he is doing on the side. It was in Nacho’s best interest that it go easy, so Mike knew he wouldn’t try to pull anything too extra. No muss, no fuss. (Although I do wonder if Nacho intentionally shorted Price to see how he would handle it, in some sort of attempt to establish himself as the Alpha in that business relationship.)
Mike tells Price that if he’s going to be a criminal, he should do his homework, and Price responds that he’s not a bad guy. We learn Mike’s philosophy on criminality: there are good criminals and bad cops, and no matter what side of the law you’re on, “if you make a deal with somebody, you keep your word.” There can be honor among thieves, and being a criminal doesn’t automatically make you a bad person. He tells Price that he is, in fact, a criminal now, and whether he’s good or bad depends on his choices. Mike can see that Price is completely overwhelmed by this whole thing and tells him to sleep on it before he decides whether he wants to continue selling pills to Nacho.
Jimmy is ready to throw a pity party for himself at the nail salon and he comes home bearing a copious amount of alcohol to find Kim waiting for him outside. He tells Kim that the price of entry is listening to him bitch about “what an absolute unwashed asshole” Hamlin is (and I thank Tom Schnauz for this line because I say this all the time now and it’s the best thing ever). Kim comes inside and Jimmy starts going off on Hamlin, getting increasingly angry, and his voice breaks when he yells about how much he hates him. Then Kim stops him and tells him to take the deal, and Jimmy looks like she just ran over his dog.
Kim tries to reason with him, telling him that taking the money is the best thing for him because it will allow him to build his own practice and be his own man. But Jimmy can’t believe that Kim of all people wants him to give up his case.
But instead of taking her advice for what it is, Jimmy turns on her. He accuses her of doing Hamlin’s dirty work, and he gets real nasty with her, telling her, “You sure know where your bread is buttered.” He accuses her of letting Hamlin buy her off with a nice office and, even though she is clearly hurt by the things he’s saying, she lets him rip into her. When he’s done she just says, “Take the deal,” and then she leaves. Jimmy pours himself a drink and goes to his office to charge his dead phone.
It’s morning at the residence of Charles McGill, Esquire, and he is whistling while he works preparing to iron some shirts. He’s startled to find Jimmy on the couch, waiting for him. Chuck says he’s sorry that things with HHM didn’t go well but that it felt good for him to be back in the office. Chuck seems like he’s almost ready to go back to work, but Jimmy isn’t super stoked for him. No, Jimmy wants to talk about the Sandpiper case.
He tells Chuck that he has decided to take the deal and Chuck is pleased, although he wishes it could have worked out. Jimmy says that it would have been great for the brothers McGill to work together, “side by side… righting wrongs” and “taking down the bad guys.” Chuck says he will keep trying with Howard but Jimmy doesn’t seem convinced. Jimmy tells Chuck that if he really wanted the two of them to work together, he has the power to make it happen: he could threaten to quit. Chuck tries to brush it off but Jimmy gets more and more worked up, and he’s right. Chuck has the power and influence at HHM to get Jimmy on board. That is, if he actually wanted to.
Chuck knows he’s busted and his face goes cold as Jimmy tells him that he figured out that he called Howard the night before their meeting and told him not to hire him. And, even worse, he has realized that it was always Chuck, not Hamlin, who was keeping him from working at HHM. Chuck just sits there, saying nothing while Jimmy rips into him for his betrayal. He wants to know why Chuck would be working against his own brother and then Chuck lets it all out: “You’re not a real lawyer.”
Now, I’ve always known that Chuck was an elitist prick, but his little rant about the University of American Samoa and online courses being a joke just shows how out of touch he really is. (And let me take a second to give a shout out to anyone working hard to get their degree through distance learning or any other non-traditional format because Chuck and the rest of those Ivory Tower f**kheads are too far up their own asses to acknowledge that there are different ways to achieve the same goal. Keep on keeping on, friends.)
Chuck is saying all the things he has held back for years. He thinks he worked harder than Jimmy to get where he is, that Jimmy took short cuts and now he thinks he’s his peer. Chuck seems especially bitter about the fact that Jimmy is funny and can make people laugh, and he tells him that he is not his equal just because people like him. He thinks that James M. McGill, Esq. is still just Slippin’ Jimmy.
And in case you haven’t cried yet, here’s Jimmy being absolutely destroyed by his own brother.
I think the worst part of all of this might be that not only does Chuck think everything he said is correct, but that he tries to tell Jimmy that deep down he must know that he’s right. Now, we all know where Jimmy McGill ends up, and that Chuck ended up being (partially) right about him, but I truly believe it didn’t have to be this way. I think that if Chuck had actually believed in him and supported him, Jimmy could have been the best version of himself, but when someone you love and trust tells you that you are a piece of shit, you start to believe it and you act accordingly. Whatever chance Jimmy had at playing things straight went bye-bye the second he learned that his own brother thinks he’s a scumbag.
Basically what I’m saying is f**k you, Chuck. You’re dead to me. And apparently, he’s dead to Jimmy too, because he tells Chuck what supplies he has left and how long things will last him. “I am done,” he says, and then he leaves with Chuck chasing after him, but Jimmy never looks back. Then the credits roll while I drown in a puddle of my own tears.
Sigh. Where do I even begin with this? Maybe I should apologize to Hamlin, who while still kind of a dick, ended up being less of a dick than I thought he was. He took the heat for Chuck for years and didn’t say word one about it until Kim sort of forced his hand, and I think it’s interesting that he chose her to finally spill the beans. Maybe he couldn’t stand being seen as a complete monster by someone he (sort of) respects, or maybe he was just tired of being the bad guy. Either way, I have to give Howard some credit for playing bad cop for all those years just to keep Jimmy from knowing that his own brother is complete garbage.
Speaking of the complete piece of elitist trash that is Chuck McGill, I think that one of the worst things about him is that he thinks that people can’t change. He has zero faith in people; all he cares about is the law, but he doesn’t see the human side of it. Imagine how he must feel about some of his clients. He will represent them because the law says they have the right to representation, but can a person like Chuck who doesn’t believe that people can change ever truly believe in “innocent until proven guilty”—the cornerstone of the justice system (or what the justice system is supposed to be)? I don’t know.
Chuck plays judge and jury when it comes to Jimmy—he has decided that the highest rank Jimmy could ever hope to achieve is working in the mailroom, which he seems to view as a position so beneath him that it’s acceptable for someone as morally repugnant as Jimmy. So, in addition to hating on distance learners, he also thinks that office workers are garbage. What a peach.
And poor Kim. She was just trying to help and Jimmy really let loose on her. Of course he feels bad about it now that he’s realized that Chuck is the Judas, but he can’t take back what he said to her. I have a feeling she will forgive him but still, Ouch. Jimmy better send her an edible arrangement or something because he was just ugly to her and she deserves better.
I don’t know where Jimmy goes from here. What do you do when someone you love and care for takes a dump on your entire existence? I think that Jimmy is too shattered to react logically in this situation, even though he is fully capable of cutting Chuck’s toxicity out of his life, taking the HHM money, and starting his own legit practice. I think he’s going to let Chuck get into his head and become the thing that Chuck—and Nacho, and Betsy, and Mike—already think he is. And sure, they end up being right. We know how completely shady and morally bankrupt Saul Goodman is, but did it have to be that way? I don’t think so. The only thing I know is that this is the beginning of the end for James M. McGill, A Lawyer You Can Trust.