REVIEW: ‘Better Call Saul’ Episode 9: Pimento

Michael McKean as Chuck McGill - Better Call Saul _ Season 1, Gallery - Photo Credit: Ben Leuner/AMC
Michael McKean as Chuck McGill – Better Call Saul _ Season 1, Gallery – Photo Credit: Ben Leuner/AMC

The best part of this series so far is the combination of humor and tragedy, and while both are part of Jimmy McGill’s DNA, it’s the later that is the core of what seems to eventually turn him into the man we see down the road in “Breaking Bad” — Saul Goodman, the morally bankrupt attorney.

The ninth episode continues to show Jimmy’s attempt at being a respected lawyer — one who thinks he will eventually be accepted at HH&M. And with the Sandpiper case, he has the silver tray that would award any attorney a chair at the desk with the partners. And he has brought Chuck out of his “retirement” with the case (his suit outside the house is lined with his Space Blanket).

And Hamlin is impressed with the case — a multi-million dollar class suit against Sandpiper. But he won’t allow Jimmy a seat at the table; he only offers cash for Jimmy to go away. The worst part, Hamlin will not explain to Jimmy why he has a problem with him, why he won’t consider having Jimmy work at HH&M at all. He even gives the case up and gives it back to Jimmy rather than work with him. From episode one, Hamlin has been the villain of this story, the man who has kept Jimmy away from the firm. Despite Jimmy’s steps in the right direction in being a fantastic lawyer — he has been the one holding Jimmy down.

Or so we thought.

From the beginning, we get a hint about the outcome of the episode when we see Chuck using Jimmy’s cell phone in the middle of the night, we know Chuck is up to something. He has a secret.

We got another hint when Kim confronts Hamlin about how he’s acting toward Jimmy, how unfair it is. Hamlin barks at her, gets angry, but he can’t keep up the charade — he explains to her, behind closed doors, why Jimmy isn’t at HH&M.

And it adds up brilliantly at the end of the episode, when Jimmy realizes it was never Hamlin holding him back at the firm, but his own miserable brother he has been taking care of for 18 months. It was Chuck who told Hamlin not to let Jimmy help with the Sandpiper case after they present it to HH&M.

“You’re not a real attorney,” Chucks yells at Jimmy. “You’re still ‘Slippin’ Jimmy.” He tells Jimmy people don’t change — alluding to Jimmy’s criminal past — and that Jimmy is a mockery to the laws he holds dear. Chuck holds nothing back, and it is a brutally emotional scene because up until this point Chuck has been a fairly sympathetic character. Now we know he’s been the blackball in Jimmy’s future at HH&M.

Chuck thinks Jimmy took shortcuts to pass the bar. His degree is from a less-than-worthy institution. Chuck does not see Jimmy as an equal, which is painful because we have seen Jimmy perform as a pretty capable attorney — much better than from episode one — and we have seen Jimmy give up a lot to be respectable in his brother’s eyes.

And for what? I believe that will be the question Jimmy struggles with in the final episode next week.

We also saw Mike head down the world of drug sales, acting as muscle for Price, a man selling pharmaceuticals to the underground drug trade. Mike has been around long enough, and has done his research into that world, that he fits naturally in. “If you’re going to be a criminal,” Mike tells Price. “do your homework.”

THOUGHTS:

* Kim telling Jimmy to take the money — so he doesn’t discover whose been really holding him back because it could possibly destroy him — shows just how much she cares for him.

* Mike with the two other guys in the garage was great. “What if you need a gun?” “I’ll use yours.” When asked to take the man’s gun, he grabs it, unloads it and whacks the guy in the throat. “We don’t need three guys,” he tells Price.

* “You really going to blow up this deal over $20?” To which Mike responds “are you?” Mike is not one to be messed with.

* When Jimmy walks out on Chuck, telling him he’s no longer taking care of him, that was brutal.

* Chuck marveling at how great his Space Blanket works for him outside was hilarious. I’ve been missing that Space Blanket for a couple of episodes now, and am glad to see it back.

* Next week is the final episode of the season, but I’m guessing with Chuck’s betrayal, we will see Jimmy start down the path of Saul. Which we knew would happen from the start, but seeing Jimmy fight his impulse to cut corners and try to gain his brother’s respect — only to find out his own flesh and blood betrayed him — has been tough to watch. I think we will also see a little more of a Jimmy/Mike working relationship.