Better Call Saul episode 4 recap: “Hero”

Better Call Saul! — Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman Photo Credit: Ben Leuner/AMC
Better Call Saul! — Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman Photo Credit: Ben Leuner/AMC

We’re four episodes into AMC’s Better Call Saul, and Slippin’ Jimmy, Jimmy McGill and Saul Goodman are, by turns, thrashing, banana-peeling and tip-toeing their way to becoming the same guy, on the screen and in viewers’ minds.

And by the end of tonight’s outing, “Hero,” I found myself wondering for the first time if Jimmy ever really wanted be a lawyer in the first place, or if he’s just trying mightily to fill his big brother’s shoes and avenge — carry on? live up to? — the family name, using the best gift the universe bestowed on him: The ability to spin a mighty yarn.

Once again, we start out with a flashback to a youthful Jimmy McGill, before last week’s jailhouse showdown with Chuck. This time, Jimmy’s hanging out on the not-so-mean streets of Cicero at bar time with a newfound pal. On their way to find a little more excitement before the night ends, the guy asks Jimmy his name. “Saul,” says Jimmy, as they saunter down a darkened alley. As in “S’all good, man.” Get it?

We’re starting to.

Jimmy’s buddy spies a wallet stuffed with cash — and the i.d. of its owner. Who, it so happens, is also lying in the alley beside the dumpster. A quick poke of a stick reveals that the guy is not dead, but he is plenty inebriated and completely willing to comically trash-talk the two strangers standing over him to the inventively reimagined tune of Deep Purple’s “Smoke On the Water.” The good Samaritans lose their good will, and when the guy passes out again, Jimmy’s companion decides to keep his cash. Jimmy goes for the drunk’s watch and upon discovering that it’s a Rolex, his pal decides he likes Jimmy’s take better. Jimmy can have the cash; he’ll take the watch. No deal. OK, then Jimmy can have the cash plus some of the guy’s own money. A perplexed-looking Jimmy thinks it over. “Later, sucker,” says his pal, dashing off.

Jimmy watches him go, as the drunk man regains his feet and approaches him from behind. He reaches out … and high-fives Jimmy. Turns out slippin’ wasn’t Slippin’ Jimmy’s only enterprise… and we have ourselves another patented Jimmy McGill crime. No victim, really. Really, they just avenged a robbery to the tune of a couple hundred extra bucks. What’s the harm? “Like printing money,” says Jimmy. Besides, all he really wants is enough cash to keep the good times coming.

Cut to the mountains of Albuquerque, where Jimmy and the campin’ Kettlemans are beginning to negotiate how his discovery in the woods from last week will pan out. The Kettlemans would like to quietly disappear, thank you very much. Not going to happen, says Jimmy, but Kim is on her way. We can’t just let an innocent man sit in jail for kidnapping while they just kumbaya into the sunset, a million bucks richer. Sure we can, says Betsy. The innocent guy might be the guy in the van. Not so innocent. And all of this, out here, in the woods … just a teensy mistake.

Incredulous, Jimmy asks the couple to explain their end game. Well, says Craig, they were still working that one out between versus of campfire songs. Jimmy says the cash is definitely a bargaining chip in getting themselves out of hot water, but Betsy would like clarification. Giving the cash back is a bargaining chip? Because that is not going to happen. No sir. They’re guilty of nothing. Craig earned that money. Worked overtime and weekends without an extra nickel to show for it. Darn near slavery. Never mind what’s legal, let’s talk about what’s fair.

Jimmy doesn’t share their conviction, but — Jimmy being Jimmy— he’s a little impressed. Then Betsy scoops up several stacks of cash and offers them to the intruder to just go away. Jimmy winces. Every time. Every time he tries to do the right the thing (with, perhaps, just a whiff of opportunism… ). Let’s see if we can still salvage this little hike in the mountains. As much as that is possible.

He tells the pair that he can’t take a bribe … but he could take a retainer to make this bad situation turn out for the best. They’ll be back to raising the two little KettleKids in no time. After all, he’s got more passion in his pinkie than the slicksters at HHM ever will. The jig is up. May as well bite the bullet and bring this to a close. Do we have ourselves a deal?

No thanks, say the Kettlemans.
“Why not?” whimpers Jimmy.
He potentially saved the Kettlemans from harm with his payphone warning. He tracked them into the woods, clearing Nacho’s name and finding the missing millions, to boot. Come on, universe. Shouldn’t the spoils of these victories be his? It was these yuppie dumb-asses’ crime to begin with.

“I’m sorry, but you’re just … the kind of lawyer guilty people hire,” Betsy tells him.
Jimmy stares. Betsy holds out the cash again. Which Jimmy is this, out in the woods?

The next day, on his way into the courthouse parking lot, Jimmy asks Mike if news of the Kettlemans’ fate made the paper, because the former cop’s hunch was exactly right. Spot on. You always think criminals are going to be smarter than they are, huh, Mike? Silence. Anyway … good news about the Kettlemans. And if Mike needs any help in the future. Mike ends the one-sided conversation by closing the window of his booth. He did his job.

Jimmy heads inside to supervise Nacho’s release. Can you believe those Kettlemans?! Camping all this time. Mere steps from their backyard. Can you even believe it? Nacho can’t. Not even a little. The Kettlemans miraculously knew to go camping the day after Nacho told Jimmy about his planned score. It’s not a coincidence. He and Jimmy are not square. Jimmy is a rat. And there will be consequences.

If Jimmy’s scared, he’s not showing it. Looking Nacho square in the eye, he warns his “client” that if he was as smart as he thinks he is, he wouldn’t have been spotted by the Kettlemans’ neighbor AND he would have swabbed the blood from the back of his van. Therefore, whomever the good Samaritan was who warned the Kettlemans, they also prevented him from getting in over his head. He should be thanking whomever this is. Nacho stares, then saunters off.

Back at the nail salon, we find out what ultimately transpired in the woods. As a flutey version of the Battle Hymn of the Republic fills the silence, Jimmy pours himself a stiff drink and reaches for the stacks of bills Betsy offered among the pines. His truth is marching on. The Kettlemans made their own bed. He just grabbed some cash from the mattress, for which he has some righteous plans.

Getting out his adding machine, Jimmy begins to conjure up how to make that truth so — “Top-tier representation. Storage fees. I ate on the road.” Then he quotes the bible, Matthew 16: 18. “Upon this rock, I will build my church.”

We already know what will be loosed on earth and how the gates of hell will react. And the trip there just picked up some steam.

But for now, Jimmy’s starting his construction project at the tailor. Newly flush with cash and with a matching swagger, Jimmy orders himself a custom suit of a particular blue striped wool, a Sea Island Cotton shirt with mother of pearl buttons, and, oh, how’s about a nice light blue knit tie to go with.

“Better Call Saul” — Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman – Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/AMC

Then — finally earning his cucumber water — he asks the ladies at the salon to give him a fresh coif. Blonde. Ringlets. Like Tony Curtis and the baths in Spartacus. And the next day, when an agitated Howard asks Kim to go for a ride with him, we discover the reason for the spit polish: Jimmy has bought himself a billboard, cribbed Howard’s look and the HMM logo, too. “He’s a free spirit,” offers Kim. “He’s forcing my hand,” says Howard.

That night, Jimmy is relaxing in the salon when Kim pays him a visit to deliver a cease-and-desist letter from Howard. How pissed is he, Jimmy wants to know. Like, “this won’t end well for you” pissed, says Kim. Plus, she wants to know why Jimmy is so busy trying to be a Hamlin clone instead of making his own mark. It’s not personal, says Jimmy. It’s completely and totally personal, says Kim. Advertising, says Jimmy. It’s not advertising, says Kim. It’s a declaration of war. At Howard’s freeway exit. And Jimmy’s better than this.

“Better Call Saul” — Rhea Seehorn as Kimberly Wexler and Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill. Photo Credit: Lewis Jacobs/AMC

You can’t win this fight, Kim protests. Jimmy says nothing.

Taking it to the judge, an identically dressed Howard and Jimmy plead their cases. Not much for Jimmy to plead. It’s pretty clear that he filched everything on that billboard, right down to the “Hamlindigo” shade of the logo.

“Holy crap. You seriously named a color ‘Hamlindigo’?” Jimmy asks his rival. “That is … yikes.”

And also, Hamlin cannot take his name from him. The mediator says Jimmy has every right to his name and nothing more … the billboard must come down within 48 hours.

But this is Jimmy McGill we’re talking about, so there’s surely more to this story. And Jimmy begins to work the phones, trying to find a reporter to cover it. Big law versus the little guy trying to make a buck, stealing his name and all. Can’t get a taker, so, spying a student in a UNM t-shirt, our hero takes matters into his own hands. Hiring a 2-person crew from the U’s media lab, he does what he does best: He makes his case. Creatively. Right up until the guy charged with taking down the billboard slips, dangling 65 feet above the ground by his harness. And it’s Jimmy to the rescue — with a crowd gathered and the film crew rolling. And when Jimmy finally hauls the imperiled worker to safety, we quickly that you can take Slippin’ Jimmy out of Cicero, but you just can’t remove him from Jimmy McGill. Even if it’s JMM who wants that the most.

Watching the drama unfold on the news, Howard calls B.S. and stalks away. Kim smiles a little smile at her buddy’s ballsy move. People love a hero. Back at Jimmy’s office, seven messages await on his machine.

And when Jimmy tries to hide the local paper from Chuck so his big brother won’t discover the familiar, gnarly root of his newfound success — certain Chuck will never risk going outside to search for the issue Jimmy claims is lost — he’ll soon find out how wrong he is.

“It’s just showmanship, Chuck,” he tells himself before grounding himself and heading in, his conscience clearly prickling. “Yeah right.”

To Chuck: “The worm has turned.” And Jimmy doesn’t just mean business.

He leaves and Chuck notices the neighbors’ papers in their drive. He dons his space blanket and makes a harrowing dash for it, leaving a five for the purloined gazette. But the space blanket can’t protect Chuck from the front page news.

New episodes of Better Call Saul premiere Mondays at 10/9CT on AMC.


About Lori Acken 1195 Articles
Lori just hasn't been the same since "thirtysomething" and "Northern Exposure" went off the air.