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Episode 1×10: In which the ScamBros get the band back together and a tragedy puts Jimmy on the road to Saulville.
Episode 1×10: “Marco” (written and directed by Peter Gould)
After the reveal of Chuck’s betrayal at the end of 1×09 (which I am still not over and it’s been almost a year) the season one finale brings us back in time to Slippin’ Jimmy’s Chicago. He’s fresh out of jail, and in return for Chuck’s legal help with the whole Chicago Sunroof incident, Jimmy has promised to move to Albuquerque, work in the HHM mailroom, and leave his Slippin’ Jimmy days behind. He stops at a bar on the way to the airport so he can say goodbye to Marco, his best friend and partner in crime. Marco isn’t too thrilled to hear that Jimmy is leaving town, but what seems to bother him the most is that Slippin’ Jimmy is going straight. In Marco’s words, “It’s like watching Miles Davis give up the trumpet.”
But Jimmy has made a promise to Chuck and he intends to keep it, no matter what Marco says. They end up parting on bad terms, with Jimmy going full-Chuck on Marco, telling him he should get his own life together. And then Jimmy leaves Marco (and Slippin’ Jimmy) behind and heads to New Mexico to start his new life.
The theme plays over Saul’s “World’s Greatest Lawyer” coffee mug falling to the ground and shattering.
Back in the present day, we find Jimmy in the HHM lobby. Kim joins him and learns that he has figured out the truth about Chuck. When Jimmy asks her why she didn’t tell him, she says that she didn’t want him to hate his own brother. Having decided to give HHM the Sandpiper case, Jimmy has a meeting with Hamlin where he gets his of-counsel payment—it’s a nice pay day for Jimmy, but it’s bittersweet. Then Jimmy gives Hamlin the Chuck List, which details everything that Jimmy will no longer be doing for his brother on a daily basis.
It would seem that Chuck is HHM’s problem now. Hamlin is happy to delegate the daily Chuck maintenance to one of his employees, but he seems more shocked by the fact that Jimmy has taken all of it on himself for over a year than he is fazed by the list itself. We are seeing Howard Hamlin as he really is now that we know that Chuck made him play the bad guy for years. Don’t get me wrong, Hamlin’s still kind of a dick. (Remember when he sent Kim to the cornfields for losing the crazy Kettlemans? Because I do.) But in this scene we see that Hamlin does actually respect Jimmy—or “Charlie Hustle,” as he used to call him. The fact that Hamlin legitimately thinks it’s complimentary to call someone “Charlie Hustle” is a topic of its own, but suffice it to say that Howard Hamlin is not the person Jimmy (or the audience) thought he was.
Kim and Jimmy go down to the garage and she tells him it’s okay to actually emote, but Jimmy seems past the angry phase. Chuck thinks he’s a scumbag and Jimmy knows that there is nothing he can do to change that. At least he got a nice long hug out of the whole thing.
Jimmy is at the old folks’ home calling Bingo numbers. He’s trying to keep it together but when he gets a bunch of Bs in a row, he starts to crack up. After all, “betrayal” and “brother” are the only B-words he’s thinking about. He can only keep up the act for so long before he has a full-on meltdown. Jimmy’s epic monologue starts with a rant about how much he hates the “radioactive Georgia O’Keefe hellscape” that is Albuquerque.
And then we finally learn what the hell a Chicago Sunroof is. I was waiting patiently for the answer to this elusive question, and the writers did not disappoint. Jimmy tells the story of a guy back in Cicero named Chet, who slept with his ex-wife while they were still married. One day, Jimmy saw Chet’s BMW double-parked outside a Dairy Queen and he decided to give him a Chicago Sunroof (i.e. take a dump through the sunroof of his car). Unfortunately for Jimmy, Chet’s kids were in the backseat.
He didn’t know this at the time (Chet had tinted windows) but apparently this dude had some powerful friends in Cicero because he got the D.A. to bump up the charge from a drunk and disorderly to indecent exposure (hence the sex offender thing which has been lowkey freaking me out all season). And that, Jimmy says, is where it all went to hell. He’s referring, of course, to Chuck coming and saving his ass and his promise to move to ABQ and start clean. Jimmy says that he’s been paying for that one mistake ever since, and then he drops the mic and walks out on the poor elders who just wanted him to read the last damn number.
Jimmy decides he’s had enough of Albuquerque for the moment and he heads back to his hometown. He pulls up to Arno’s bar in a taxi (the same bar from the teaser) and when he goes inside he finds his old pal Marco passed out on the bar.
Marco is thrilled to see Jimmy and the two sit down and do a bit of catching up. Jimmy is evasive about what exactly he’s doing with his life and doesn’t tell him anything about Chuck. Marco works for a standpipe company (and this scene was educational for me since I had no idea what a standpipe was). Then Marco asks after Jimmy’s mom and we learn that she died three years ago, and Marco is really hurt when he finds out that Jimmy was in Chicago for the funeral and didn’t contact him. Jimmy tries to rationalize it, telling him Chuck was on a really big case and they weren’t in town for very long, but that doesn’t make a difference to Marco. Their conversation gets a bit chilly after that until Jimmy pulls out a Kennedy half-dollar.
Marco perks up and the ScamBros are back in action. There’s some suit at the bar who isn’t a regular and he becomes their mark. Within earshot of the mark, Jimmy gives Marco some story about how his Kennedy half-dollar is a rare printing worth $800 because JFK is facing left instead of right. Jimmy tells him this whole involved thing about how after the JFK assassination, a rogue technician from the U.S. Mint in Denver switched the orientation of the half-dollar so that Kennedy would be facing west (which symbolizes the future) instead of east (which symbolizes the American past). Marco pretends he isn’t buying it and the mark thinks Jimmy is full of it.
When Jimmy goes to the bathroom, Marco turns to the mark and tries to engage him. The guy agrees that Jimmy is totally playing him and then Marco pretends to call some coin dealer that he knows to confirm that Jimmy’s story is garbage. During Marco’s “call” he pretends to learn that the coin is actually valuable, and now the mark is paying attention. He plays it off to the guy like it’s still worthless but Marco knows he’s got him on the hook. When Jimmy comes back, Marco offers to buy it but he doesn’t have the full hundred bucks that Jimmy wants. Then the mark swoops in and buys it for $110 cash. Jackpot.
There’s an excellent ScamBros montage where we see snippets of Jimmy and Marco in action. Slippin’ Jimmy is back in full effect, running various cons with Marco (including the classic Nigerian prince scam, which I guess in the early 2000s would not have been as well known as it is today). This montage is so beautifully edited and complex that I see something new every time I watch it—more A+ editing by Kelley Dixon.
In the morning we see a woman hovering over Jimmy, looking truly pissed off.
Breaking Bad fans will remember Saul’s Kevin Costner story in “Abiquiu”:
I always thought that Saul was talking out of his ass on that one, but apparently not. Jimmy successfully convinced this woman that he was Kevin Costner (and that Marco was Costner’s manager) and the pair of waitresses they took back to Marco’s place are not thrilled to find out they were lied to. They take off in a huff and Jimmy couldn’t care less.
When Jimmy checks his phone, he has 15 messages from clients and he knows that playtime is over. He has responsibilities back home and he can’t hide from his problems forever. He tells Marco that he needs to go home to his clients and Marco is more inclined to believe that Jimmy is a gigolo than a lawyer. When Jimmy finally tells Marco what he does for a living, Marco assumes that he’s well off and must be “driving around town in a white Caddy making bank.” Jimmy says he’s just getting by and Marco tells him that he’s got to be doing something wrong if he’s a lawyer and he’s not making a ton of money.
Marco tells Jimmy to come back home to Chicago and build his business there but even after everything, Jimmy says he can’t leave Chuck. Then Marco tells Jimmy what we all know: Chuck is a stuck up douchebag who doesn’t even like Jimmy. It’s sad to me that, even though Marco hasn’t seen the brothers McGill in years, he still knows more about how Chuck really feels than Jimmy did up until very recently. Marco is more of a brother to Jimmy than Chuck ever has been or ever will be, and he just wants Jimmy to come back home. But Jimmy’s clients need him, so he has to go, but Marco wants to run the Rolex scam one last time.
Jimmy tries to say no but he can’t because Marco needs it. He tells Jimmy that he doesn’t have anything in his life that makes him happy and that he really needs to do it one last time. It’s the last of the Faux-lexes and the guy who used to make them got deported, so it’s now or never.
So Jimmy stays and does his friend a solid. What’s one more on top of the week they’ve had? Marco hums “Smoke on the Water” as he waits in the alley for the signal—the howling from Jimmy and the mark as they approach the alley. When he hears it, he breaks into a smile.
Everything is going smoothly on Jimmy’s end: the mark finds the wallet then sees Marco on the ground. But when Jimmy pokes Marco, he doesn’t respond. Jimmy starts to realize that something is very wrong and he breaks cover, asking Marco if he can hear him. He tells the mark to call 911 but the guy just hightails it out of there with the money.
Marco comes to for just a minute and tells Jimmy, “this was the greatest week of my life,” and then he’s out again. Jimmy tries to resuscitate him but Marco is gone. Jimmy attends his funeral before he leaves for ABQ.
Marco’s mother gave Jimmy his ring (and now Saul’s pinky ring has a tragic origin story and I will never look at it the same way). Kim calls Jimmy while he’s outside the church smoking a cigarette, but he doesn’t tell her anything about what he’s been up to, just that this “Ferris Bueller” has been enjoying his week off and has gotten it all out of his system.
Kim has big news: HHM can’t handle the Sandpiper case on their own and they are partnering with Davis and Main, a firm out of Santa Fe. The Davis and Main people have heard about Jimmy (probably through Hamlin, who was pushing for Jimmy to get to work on his case) and they want to interview him for a partner-track position. Jimmy says that Chuck won’t like it but Kim tells him, correctly, that Chuck is not the King of the World and can’t tell other firms who to hire. Chuck may rule the roost at HHM, but there are plenty of firms that would love to have Jimmy. She tells him when to come to the courthouse to meet the Davis and Main people and he’s grateful to her.
Back at Chuck’s place, poor sweet Ernie from the mailroom has been given the unenviable job of taking Chuck his daily deliveries. Chuck is giving Ernie instructions and literally could not be more condescending if he tried. He talks to him like he’s an idiot, incapable of understanding the simplest of instructions. Chuck goes off about his apple preferences (and even though I agree that Red Delicious are kind of tasteless, I still want to punch him in the throat). Then he says to Ernie, “Do you need to write any of this down? It’s ok if you do,” and I just feel so bad for the guy. He probably doesn’t need to write it down (just like he probably didn’t need Chuck to put post-its on each file box telling him exactly what to do with the contents) but sometimes when someone talks to you like you’re incompetent, you start to feel incompetent. Ernie is clearly intimidated by Chuck and he grabs a pad and writes everything down (because apparently the worst crime a person can commit is bringing Chuck McGill a Granny Smith apple). And then Chuck makes this self-satisfied face and I want to scratch my own eyes out:
Given how we know Chuck feels about where mailroom workers fall on the food chain, his treatment of Ernie shouldn’t come as a surprise to me but it still ticks me off. He also calls him “Ernesto,” which I find obnoxious because it’s almost like Chuck can’t use his nickname because that would be too familiar—like Ernie just isn’t on his level. Maybe I’m reading too much in to the Ernesto thing because I want to burn Chuck alive, but there you go.
Ernie goes out to his car and he sees Jimmy lurking outside Chuck’s in the Esteem. He goes over and says hello and Jimmy asks how Chuck is doing but he doesn’t make any moves to go in to see him. Chuck is watching through the window, and he almost goes outside but Jimmy pulls away before Chuck can catch him.
Jimmy has bigger fish to fry at the courthouse, and as he walks toward the building he starts rehearsing how he will greet the Davis and Main people, getting himself psyched up to make a good impression. Suddenly Jimmy stops walking and he runs his thumb across Marco’s pinky ring. We see Jimmy in profile, facing east—toward the past.
He’s struggling with the decision but ultimately he decides that he doesn’t want the Davis and Main job. He leaves without going in, and on the way out he stops to talk to Mike and asks him why, when he had $1.6 million in his hands, he didn’t take the money. We know Mike’s philosophy: if you make a deal, you keep your word. He tells Jimmy he hired him for a job and he did that job, end of story. We know why Jimmy didn’t take the money—he was trying to do “the right thing”—but as he tells Mike in the final line of Season 1, that’s never stopping him again. Jimmy drives off in the Esteem, humming “Smoke on the Water” (which will now and forever remind me of poor Marco) and drumming his fingers on the steering wheel.
In the final episode of Season 1, it is clear that Jimmy’s do-gooder days are numbered (if not completely over). I don’t anticipate him going full-Saul in Season 2, but I do think that he is going to get a lot shadier and start to get involved with the criminal element that will become Saul’s bread and butter. Jimmy is done trying to do the right thing. I think what Marco said to him about what life as a lawyer should be—being the “king of the desert,” driving around in the white Caddy, making a ton of cash—really stuck with him. Marco was essentially describing Saul Goodman, and I think that Jimmy’s transition into Saul is going to be, in part, Jimmy becoming what Marco thought a lawyer should be. Either way, I’m counting the seconds until season 2 starts and we get to see where Jimmy goes from here.