‘Better Call Saul’ Discussion: ‘You Tell Me What You Got, I’ll Tell You What I’ll Do’

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Editor-at-Large
03.24.15 33 Comments

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Hoo boy, Jimmy’s got a hot one.

After weeks of putting together a budding little elder law business through subtle Matlock impersonations, free Jell-O, and bingo calling, last night’s episode of Better Call Saul saw him angle his way into a potentially big case. It’s always nice to see him catch a win, especially when he’s trying to do good (and especially after doing “the right thing” last week cost him that fancy new office), even if that win will probably be short-lived. As nice as it might be to see him win a multi-million dollar class action against a crooked nursing home conglomerate and take his 30 percent contingency fee — about $6.5 million before expenses and whatever cut Chuck would get — with him to some tropical island to live out his remaining years in a semi-luxurious haze of umbrella-drink-induced euphoria, we know that won’t happen. It can’t happen. In part because, you know, prequel, but also because it’s just not the show’s style. It giveth and it taketh away.

That said, it did feel good to watch him hustle. In an episode that gave us the kind of adorable history of how he acquired his law license — secretly attended night school and University of American Samoa Law, secretly took the bar a few times, all while working in the mail room of his brother’s firm, all to impress his brother — and revealed that Howard shot down his bid to work for big fancy HHM, it was plenty cathartic to watch him stick it to another slick lawyer from a big fancy firm. Go Land Crabs!

About Chuck: Chuck is… back? He took some baby steps throughout the episode, but from the moment he blurted out “$20 million” in the negotiation until he had some harsh sunlight shined upon his afflictions in more than one way, we got a glimpse of him as the legendary legal mind everyone has been referencing. We also got a glimpse of the old dynamic between Jimmy and Chuck cropping back up, with Jimmy reverting from caretaker to back to underling — at least in Chuck’s eyes — mighty quick. This, uh, could become an issue, depending how earth-shattering that final realization ends up being.

And speaking of characters reverting, heeeeeyyyyyy there’s Mike looking to make a little extra cash from decidedly not on-the-level work. It’s gonna be weird to go back and watch Breaking Bad knowing that Mike’s path from Philly cop to trusted associate of meth kingpin and restaurateur Gustavo Fring started with a visit to an underworld-connected veterinarian. Not bad weird, by any means. Just weird.

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A few notes about the dumpster scene from last night’s episode:

  • ATTORNEY-DUMPSTER CONFIDENTIALITY! That’s all I could think when I saw Jimmy digging through the Sandpiper trash looking for the shredded files. It was so very Hutz-ian of him.
  • All of the description’s for last night’s episode referenced Jimmy “getting his hands dirty” to win a case. Given everything we know about his past (Slippin’ Jimmy) and his future (Saul Goodman), the logical jump there was to assume they meant “dirty” metaphorically, like maybe he was going to bend the law a bit to apply pressure, or weasel his way around a problem somehow. Nope. He got trash dumped on his face. Gilligan and Gould, you sly foxes.
  • The recycling bin reveal at the end of the scene resulted in a belly laugh from me that is usually reserved for comedy-specific shows like Archer or Review or Broad City. This from the same show — and from the same writer, Gordon Smith, who has exactly two writing credits to his name now — that delivered a gut-wrenching episode about a father’s guilt only a few weeks ago.

It was a good scene. That’s what I’m getting at.

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A few odds and ends:

– If I were a betting man, my money in the “How will this nursing home case turn bad for Jimmy?” situation would be on HHM taking the case from him because of Chuck’s increasing involvement. First using his code for the printing, then bringing him in as the negotiating hammer in a case that got very lucrative very quickly. I see Howard swooping in to claim as much as he can, and I see Chuck siding with him because it’s a big case that will require more resources, and I see a rage-filled Jimmy spinning straight off the planet. If I were a betting man.

– “You don’t wanna go off half-cocked.” “FULL COCK!”

– The show’s work with montages continues to be really cool, continuing the tradition from Breaking Bad. This time it was the brief one while Jimmy stayed up all night trying to piece together the shredded documents from the dumpster.

– I choose to believe there’s an alternate universe, or maybe a post-Cinnabon utopian version of this one, where Jimmy/Saul ends up becoming a law professor. I have this image in my head of him telling an Evidence class “You can’t say it’s private if a hobo can use it as a wigwam.” It would be a fun class.

– Line of the night, for me, was a toss-up between Jimmy pointing out that Howard’s printer code, 1933, is the same year Hitler came to power and “Blow MY magic flute” in regards to his dumpster opera ruse. (TV PITCH: Dumpster Opera. It’s a reality show. Or something!)

– Do I buy that Chuck could be so pre-occupied with law things that he walked out of his house, opened the mailbox that contained the cars keys he specifically asked Jimmy to put in there, booped the thingy, and got a box of documents out of the trunk before Jimmy’s shocked expression reminded him that he’s quote unquote allergic to electromagnetism? Ummm, probably not. But on the other hand, hey, maybe I should shut up a little and see where they’re going with this. You make a fair point, me. Thanks.

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Your thoughts below.

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Brian Grubb is the Editor-at-Large of Uproxx, focusing mostly on television, heists, and big silly movies about things exploding.

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