So many revelations in Better Call Saul episode 8’s opening flashback moments.
First we get confirmation that Jimmy did indeed work for Hamlin, Hamlin and McGill back in the day — in the mailroom. And he and Kim were indeed an item. When he wheels his cart into her office and hands her a letter, it’s actually addressed to him. She opens it, blinks, grins and plants a smooch on her man.
Jimmy passed the bar.
Heading for Chuck’s corner office, Jimmy reveals to his brother that — with Kim as his inspiration — he completed the few credits he had left to score his undergrad degree at the local community college (“They’re not just for draft dodgers and yoga classes!”). For law school, he did some “distance learning” via the University of American Samoa (“They’re accredited — go land crabs!”).
Jimmy equates passing the bar with losing your virginity — third time’s the charm! — and Chuck reacts with a mixture of intense pride and extreme confusion at his slacker brother’s drive.
Later, Howard interrupts a mailroom celebration featuring Jimmy, Kim, two of Jimmy’s colleagues and a tasty-looking cake. The door closes, leaving only the repetitive drone of the copier and Jimmy’s numb expression through the glass. On his way out, Howard offers these parting words: “Let’s reassess in six months. Thanks for understanding, Jimmy. Want the door opened or closed?” In more ways than one.
Flash forward to Kim settling back into her prime office after securing the plea deal for the Kettlemans (I’ll kinda miss the Kettlemans). Howard appears in the doorway to invite her to the press conference announcing the turn of events and Kim reluctantly joins him. Jimmy watches the presser on the lobby television of an assisted living center where he has come to meet with prospective client, Mrs. Landry.
On his way through the place, Jimmy passes out business cards to a few seniors watching a Jimmy Stewart movie, then meets with Mrs. Landry beneath a depiction of the crucifixion. “A few more signatures and thy will be done,” he quips.
Mrs. Landry rifles through her wallet and her secret money jar and only comes up with 43 of the $140 fee. She says Jimmy can keep her will until she gets her allowance at the end of next week. Pained, Jimmy hands her half her cash back and tells her to send the rest when she has it.
Something about the exchange doesn’t sit right with Jimmy. He returns to Mrs. Landry’s doorstep and asks about the source of her allowance. Family? No. The senior center. $500 a month. Jimmy asks about the whereabouts of her social security and pension checks and Mrs. Landry says both go directly to Sandpiper Crossing, not to her. But it’s all on the up and up. They take out fees and expenses and put the rest in a savings account. She fetches her statements and after a fast peek, Jimmy asks if he can talk the situation over with her and some of her friends.
The receptionist catches him doing just that. Something is clearly rotten in Sandpiper Crossing.
Rushing back to Chuck’s house, Jimmy asks for the boxes her left there and, sure enough, Chuck completed all of the wills. “Don’t think I don’t see what you what you were doing here,” Chuck says. “You wanted to play Tom Sawyer — you wanted me to paint the fence and, God help me, it worked.” Now Jimmy wants him to take a gander at a Sandpiper Crossing invoice. Fourteen bucks for a box of tissue. $3.50 for one roll of TP. $22 for a bottle of aspirin. Highway robbery of folks too elderly to drive. Or, evidently, catch onto the fraud.
Jimmy heads back to the senior center where, this time, the unamused receptionist is ready for him. And so are two burly security guys. New policy — no harassment of clients and no legal solicitation. Which they consider the self-same thing. Jimmy will just have to meet with his clients elsewhere.
Jimmy agrees to leave, but could he use the restroom first? Unable to find a single page of blank paper in his legal pad, Jimmy writes a demand letter on the cardboard backing and a piece of toilet paper, presents it to the knocking receptionist and orders the lady frantically shredding documents in a nearby office to knock it of, pronto.
He gets thrown out on his ear.
Cut to Mike working the crossword in his tollbooth when his cell rings. It’s Stacey wanting to know if Mike could watch Kaylee while she works. Day after tomorrow. Anything you need, he tells her.
Night time at the Sandpiper.
Jimmy sits outside in the Esteem, waiting for the receptionist to head for home before making a break for the dumpster. Sacrificing his Matlock suit to its icky contents, Jimmy climbs in and begins the hunt for the shredded docs. Except the security guys haven’t quite completed their shift. Deep in conversation, they don’t notice Jimmy hiding in the bin — but they do cover him in a fresh layer of crud.
Jimmy’s phone rings. It’s Rick Schweikart (Dennis Boutsikaris), a swanky attorney representing Sandpiper Crossing. He tells Jimmy that not only is document shredding a daily part of business instead of a criminal activity, but also his demand letter is a little, shall we say, unconventional. Oh, and how is Jimmy’s brother — because Chuck’s the only reason he’s getting a courtesy call before the firm fires back.
Extracting himself from the dumpster, Jimmy gives it a swift kick, knocking himself sideways but noticing recycle bins in the process. He has what he has come for. Let the reassembly begin — all over the floor at Chuck’s house. Jimmy promptly passes out in the middle of the flurry. “For God’s sweet sake,” sighs Chuck, sitting down and grabbing a shred.
When Jimmy wakes up hours later, Chuck proudly reveals that he has several documents reconstructed — including Jimmy’s smoking gun, which is a suspect invoice for syringes from a medical supply outfit in Nebraska. Spouting off the preceding cases they should reference, Chuck tells Jimmy it should make for “a good opening salvo for us.” “Wait — us?” marvels Jimmy. “We’re working together on this?” “That’s up to you, Jimmy,” Chuck says, offering his hand. Jimmy grips him in a bear hug.
Outside, Jimmy calls Kim and begs her to print off the cases Chuck referenced and anything else related to them. After all, she owes him one. Kim tells him it will take hours. And besides, who does she bill? Howard, Jimmy says. “I still remember his code — 1933. Same year Hitler came to power.” Tempting says Kim, but no. She just got back into the guy’s good graces. Chuck says to use his and Kim wonders how he and Jimmy can work together if he’s still a partner at HHM. Jimmy says he’s the bono-ist of pro bono cases. She doesn’t look convinced.
At Stacey’s house, Mike and Kaylee are making Play-Doh creations when Stacey returns from work. Before he leaves, she asks him if he thinks she can spend the money Matty secreted away without feeling guilty. He says if it will do some good in the world, she should spend every dime. Good, she says. It will help … even if it is just a drop in the bucket. Mike looks troubled.
Back at Schweikart’s office, he’s talking car trouble in Colorado when some documents come through on the fax — resurrected invoices, courtesy of McGill and McGill. Soon enough, Rick and two partners are on Chuck’s doorstep where Jimmy meets them and informs them that anything where “if you lick it and it goes zzzzzpppp!” must be left at the door. Chuck’s medical condition and all. We don’t want to exacerbate the problem.
Inside, Chuck is dressed for battle, but unconvinced he has any warrior left in him. Still, he follows Jimmy to the table where Rick reminds him they once tried a case together, then offers an even $100K to cover the over billing of their clients, plus a little more for fees and such. No admission of wrongdoing. Everybody wins.
Nice try, says Jimmy while Chuck stares straight ahead. But Sandpiper is shipping its syringes from Nebraska, through the USPS, no less. Are you trying to make this a RICO case (that would be Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations for you detail-oriented folks; don’t ask me to explain it) , asks Rick, incredulously. Like they’re John Gotti or something, adds his flunky.
Interstate commerce is a bitch, says Jimmy. And this case is straight-up fraud.
Unnerved, Rick confers wants to know what number they have in mind. Chuck finds his voice. “Twenty million,” he says. “Twenty. Million. Dollars. Or we’ll see you in court.”
Chuck is back and he’s a man with plan! So Jimmy better get his part of it.
Mike is back, too — back at the vet’s office, using a shelter pup to cover for asking his de facto surgeon from a few episodes back about the “work” he mentioned afterward. “Depends on your do’s, your don’ts, your wills, your won’ts,” quips the doggie doctor, peering over Mike’s puppy. “You tell me what you got and I’ll tell you what I’ll do,” counters Mike.
What Jimmy has to do is track down case codes and more defendants in their class action suit, the latter of which he does by chasing down mall walkers. Worn out, he collapses on Chuck’s sofa, promising to return to his car for those codes in just a sec. Caught up in what he’s reading, Chuck calmly heads out the door, fishing Jimmy’s keys from the mailbox popping open his trunk and hauling forth the box before Jimmy notices he’s gone.
“Chuck?!” says Jimmy, standing on the step. “Yeah?” his brother responds nonchalantly — then realizes what he’s done. Chuck stares. The box drops to the sidewalk. Roll credits.
What are your thoughts on RICO? Has Chuck’s road to recovery been derailed or bolstered by his unwitting field trip outside? Is the firm of McGill and McGill underway, or has another big win slipped through Jimmy’s hands? What do you think Mike’s new vocation be? Sound off in the comments section below.
New episodes of Better Call Saul premiere Monday nights at 10/9CT on AMC.