Better Call Saul 1.08: RICO

 Posted by on March 24, 2015 at 9:43 am  Better Call Saul
Mar 242015

Better Call Saul: RICO -- Jimmy and Chuck

The bar exam’s a mother, I mean for me it was. I failed it the first two times, but I guess it’s like losing your virginity, third time’s the charm.

In the Better Call Saul episode RICO, we learn the thing that Jimmy McGill wants most in the world: To work with his brother, and have his brother be proud of him.

There is so much wit in RICO, so many great lines I jotted down, but this was an episode with soul, in which Jimmy revealed himself in a tender and touching way. He flat-out asked Chuck if he was proud: How sweet is that? And this is the second time in just a few episodes that he asked someone he respects to work with him: First Kim, in those magnificent offices, and now Chuck. And while he has just enough self-regard to ask Kim to be a partner (with a better office), he can only ask Chuck if he can work for him. That flashback was so revealing. So that, by the time they do work together, Jimmy has to sort of prop Chuck up as a figurehead and do all the talking, and yet, when Chuck finally does speak, Jimmy shuts right up.

By the way, Bob Odenkirk and Michael McKean really could pass for brothers. Lovely casting.

Go Land Crabs!

This is also the first episode where we really understand who and what Chuck is. Previously, we knew he was a very smart lawyer, a partner in a major firm, and that he had a formidable mind. But now we see him in action, both before and after his illness. He’s focused, sharp, a rockstar to Sandpiper lawyer Rick Schweikart (Dennis Boutsikaris). Was Chuck really as proud of Jimmy as he seemed to be? All of Jimmy’s animus is directed at Howard, but would Howard have gone to the mailroom and broken Jimmy’s heart without Chuck’s say-so?

Just a few more signatures and thy will be done.

The thing about Jimmy is, he has a correspondence-course law degree and looks like a schlub, but he really is smart. He listens and assesses everywhere he goes. Probably what made him a good con man. He really does like his old people, and is sweet to them, but he’s also analyzing everything he hears, which is how he catches that Mrs. Landry is being ripped off by the Sandpiper. Once he brings this to Chuck’s attention, Chuck kind of has no choice but to offer real respect to Jimmy, who uncovered something very real, and who found an error that Chuck made. The relationship is so clear right there, where Jimmy had to call himself a stopped clock that’s right twice a day, rather than acknowledge that Chuck could possibly screw up, or that Jimmy himself could do better.

By the way, do you read Sepinwall? He’s a terrific TV reviewer, the guy who created the mold, really, and he always opens his columns with a quote like “A review of tonight’s [name of show] coming up just as soon as I [quote from the show].” Anyway, one of my little games in life is to guess what his opening quote will be, and last night I finally got it right!

A review of tonight’s “Better Call Saul” coming up just as soon as I use double ply…

Jimmy isn’t good at the slow down and be careful part of lawyering, is he? Writing a demand letter in the bathroom is pretty hilarious, but also justifiable, in its own way.

Meanwhile, in Mike land, his daughter-in-law tentatively lets him back into the life of the family, and we see the simple reality of how Mike became the criminal enforcer we know from Breaking Bad. He “broke his boy;” he is complicit, he feels, in his son’s death and the financial straits of his family. He will violate his own moral code to help them, because that’s the price he pays. Mike’s in purgatory, but little Kaylee makes it all worthwhile. He’s doing lucrative work to buy his family’s indulgence.

I’m going to say the dumpster scene was a little over-the-top in terms of comedy, but “Blow my magic flute” kind of made it worthwhile.

The sandpiper has landed.

Chuck’s terror, and his eventual ability to speak, followed by his distracted walk outside, gave huge insight into the character as well. When he realizes what he’s done and drops the box, is it to declare himself cured or the beginning of an attack? If you watched the previews for next week, you probably know the answer, but that’s spoiler territory and we won’t go into that here.


  11 Responses to “Better Call Saul 1.08: RICO”

  1. I’m truly loving the development of the two brother’s relationship. Sincerely see the desire of the younger brother to live in his older brothers shadow and how much he yearns for his acceptance. Certainly Jimmy’s love and regard for Chuck will be destroyed somehow. Perhaps this will be the cathartic event which pushes Jimmy to become Saul and return to Slipping Jimmy(Saul Goodman)? I wonder if Chuck desires his younger brother success in his legal career? I agree that Howard’s denial of a position to newly minted lawyer Jimmy in the firm could not have occurred unless Chuck gave the decision his blessing. Perhaps Chuck wants to protect the pedigree of his firm by not allowing a lawyer educated in a distance learning law school to become an associate?

  2. We were laughing SO hard during this episode…Mrs Dance kept yelling at the TV “You schlub! Why are you not looking in the recycle bin first?” Ewwww…
    I make a point of not watching the preview scenes at the end of shows’ episodes, so based solely on what we saw, I would say that Chuck realized that he was outside, and then he semi-cringes in anticipation of what’s coming, and then his eyes widen JUST SO at the knowledge that is was OK. It was a great piece of acting on Michael McKean’s part. Who will ALWAYS be Lenny to me, no matter what else he does.

  3. Sweetest moment of the night: Chuck putting the pillow under Jimmy’s head.

    Chuck was clearly always the caretaker brother, devoted but not expecting much. When he learns that his brother has passed the bar, he’s so surprised that he doesn’t know how to express his pride. I almost screamed at the screen “Tell him you’re proud of him!” I think he knew all about Howard’s trip to the mailroom. He just couldn’t reject Jimmy to his face.

    Now that Jimmy’s the caretaker, all he wants to be supportive in return, which, ironically, means convincing Chuck that he’s still an alpha dog. I was so afraid (as I’m sure Jimmy was) that Chuck might crack during the lawyers meeting. Such a relief when he didn’t!

    I was knocked out by Odenkirk’s reactions in the dumpster. I could feel his revulsion, even before they dumped the garbage on him.

    The big question for me now is if the relationships with Chuck and Kim survive. True, we didn’t see them on Breaking Bad, but that may only have been because we only saw Saul/Jimmy at work.

  4. As the Sandpiper scam plot point began to be revealed, I found myself wondering whether it would eventually be discovered to be connected to the German conglomerate in Breaking Bad, that owned Los Pollos Hermanos and the company that made the air filtration system that was used in Walt’s underground super meth lab.

    You just KNOW that the scam isn’t limited simply to a dozen or so regional senior assisted living establishments. Stay tuned …

  5. Several weeks ago, Deborah said something about Jimmy having worked at HHM some time ago. I came late to that post, but asked if and where the show had ever said anything about his having done so. I never got a reply – probably I was far too late and it was a truly dead thread. I’m 99.9% sure there was no mention of it at any point – until this episode, where it turns out Deborah was 100% right. Jimmy worked in the mail room at HHM, not as a lawyer, but he sure did work there.

    Was there really a previous reference that I missed, or did you just divine it, or was it a lucky guess?

    • Not a lucky guess. In the first episode, when Jimmy goes into HHM to argue for Chuck’s money, everyone greets, or is greeted by, Jimmy by name. He clearly knows everyone there, and knows his way around. He knows far too many people and too many side doors for it just to be from visiting and fighting with Howard.

      • At that point I thought it could be from visiting his brother often, and possibly opportuning various people at HHM without (necessarily) having worked there. He did seem awfully familiar, true, so having worked there was certainly a possibility. But I could not imagine that he had been hired there as a lawyer – it never occurred to me that he might have worked there in a lowlier capacity. (And if I *had* thought about it, I would have been thinking more on the lines of a paralegal – which still seems unlikely.) I never thought of something as lowly as a mailroom guy. That does make perfect sense, of course – it just never occurred to me. Kudos if something of that nature was in the back of your mind.

        • Not at all. I had a completely different scenario in mind, one in which Jimmy had been a decent lawyer in his brother’s shadow, until Something Happened.

    • I had gotten the impression that Jimmy did have a connection to the law firm, aside from his brother’s position as a partner. It was in an early episode, when Jimmy approached Chuck’s partners, attempting to cash Chuck out of the firm. While it wasn’t stated in the episode I’m referring to, my sense was that Jimmy did have an earlier association with them, though I hadn’t even considered he had been in the mail room.

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