After the last episode’s demoralizing decision to give Kim the Kettlemans back regarding their plea deal (which was the right thing to do), it was nice this time on Better Call Saul to see Jimmy getting an immediate opportunity to make some big bucks. His elder law clients at the Sandpiper retirement home led him to a fraud case that even caught Chuck’s attention. For the better part of the hour, Jimmy seemed to be on a (rare, legitimate) winning streak.
I’ve talked in the past about the moral law of Better Call Saul‘s universe, and it would seem that Jimmy’s selfless action has been rewarded with this class action opportunity. But it’s also more than that — the case has brought Chuck back to life, so much so that he went out absent-mindedly to Jimmy’s car to retrieve a box of documents. As he rummaged around the mailbox with the electronic devices, he was blissfully unaware of his sensitivity, until Jimmy called out to him. From there, he seems to have had a shocking revelation: everything is ok.
Everything in “RICO” stacked together perfectly for a single-episode arc (except for Mike’s story, but more on that in a minute). The cold open showed a past where Jimmy toiled for years to get credits and a law degree before finally passing the bar. Kim was in a basement office not dissimilar to Jimmy’s current boiler room, and Chuck was the big man at the firm. More than anything, though, Jimmy was looking for his brother’s approval, and for him to be proud.
In the present day, it’s obvious that Jimmy needs — and will certainly benefit from — Chuck’s knowledge and gift for legal work, but their working together is also proof that Chuck believes in what Jimmy is doing. This isn’t a frivolous lawsuit, it has real merit. And there’s no scheme here, at least on Jimmy’s side. He and Chuck are on the side of right and good, which also happens to come with a potential payday. Knowing Jimmy’s life and his future (and Chuck’s potential conflicting ties with HHM), that payday may not happen at all, or at least, not in the way Chuck envisioned it (“it’s a multi-state class action with a RICO kicker!”) Still, for now, it’s nice to dream along with Jimmy.
“RICO” also set up more history between Howard and Jimmy, with Howard denying him employment at HHM after he passed the bar. Jimmy’s look of pure, seething hatred could not have been more evident than when he watched Howard take all of the credit for the Kettleman deal on TV. It also set up the major chip he carries on his shoulder when it comes to Howard and HHM.
Despite some of these heavier themes, “RICO” was largely light. There was a lot of humor in Jimmy’s trip to Sandpiper, his bathroom manifesto, and him rooting around in the sickening, disgusting dumpster when there was a clean, easy to access recycling bin right next to it with the shredded paper. His digs at Howard to Kim, and his verbal sparring with the Sandpiper lawyer and other jabs were also all golden.
And then there was Mike. I know y’all think I’m picking on him, but I just don’t feel like that story connects yet in any way. I don’t mean narratively, I mean tonally and emotionally. It’s not that I mind the backstory one bit. It’s an interesting look at Mike’s guilt, and how his desire to make up for everything that happened to Matty sends him into doing some dirty work to make money in order to help Stacy out with Kaylee (Kaylee being his sole focus and reason for being, now). We know that this leads to Gus, and so on. And while Mike’s stoic descent is an interesting parallel to Jimmy’s in some ways (like how they will eventually end up in cahoots once again, in addition to the fact that they both are getting pulled into the underworld while trying to do the right thing), tonally, it just doesn’t seem to match the rest of Saul at all. Yet.
In any case, “RICO” ended on a surprisingly upbeat note, and one that will probably get crushed soon enough. But it was a nice reprieve from last week’s dark, sad ending. Jimmy is trying his best, and it’s that determination that makes his story compelling from every angle. Slippin’ Jimmy finds a way.
Episode Rating: ★★★★ Very good
Musings and Miscellanea:
— I was on the edge of a 3/4 for this episode, but I’m tilting it to a 4 because I do happen to like a lot of legalese.
— In fact, this is one of the first times Better Call Saul felt like a legal procedural. I felt a little bit like I was watching the first season of Damages, which was also all about a class action lawsuit and its particulars.
— Michael McKean is a legend.
— “Go land crabs!” – Jimmy.
— Hospitals run that same scam … $40 for a tube of Vaseline? Forsooth.
— “Blow my magic flute” – Jimmy. The way he said “The Magic Flute” was for some reason just hilarious.
— Mike gave some solid advice regarding not mixing together Play Doh or it will all turn brown.
— Howard’s billing code? “1933, the same year Hitler came to power.”
— I know I’m invested in Jimmy’s story and his drive for success because throughout that whole meeting at the end, I was nervous about what Chuck might do to ruin things. Instead, he upped the ante big time!
— “If you lick it and it goes bzzz, leave it in the car” – Jimmy.
— So is Mike going to keep that dog?