In the latest Better Call Saul recap, the story of the embezzling Kettleman family finally comes to a close and Jimmy calls in a new friend to help for the first of many times….
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
The Kettlemans are guilty as sin.
From the first time Craig and Betsy Kettleman appeared in the debut episode of ‘Better Call Saul’ it was clear this Mike and Carol Brady of Albuquerque, New Mexico were secretly behind robbing the county treasury of $1.6 million while doing everything possible to somehow prove they were innocent. Sure, maybe Craig was underappreciated and underpaid, but aren’t we all? Well, good old Craig took it upon himself — criminal mastermind that he was — to write checks in from county accounts to himself for any number of strange expenses that could never be legitimized.
If there’s one thing you learn about most real life criminals (you know, if you happen to come across any) is the fact that they aren’t masterminds unfolding intricate plots with ‘Oceans 11’ type schemes to rob and pillage millions. Usually there are far more Craig Kettleman’s of the world who think no one will notice if they just happen to write checks to themselves for obscene amounts of money so long as they scatter it out over a few years. It’s like super genius Gus Gorman (Richard Pryor) in Superman III coming up with a scheme to rob his boss of millions (genius) and then showing up the next day driving a brand new Ferrari (dumbass).
Whether it’s vanity or just general jack assery, criminals are addicted to getting caught.
So it’s clear when the Kettleman’s meet with Kim this episode that they are screwed. She’s worked long, tireless hours to get them to a deal with the District Attorney that will result in the minimal time in prison for Craig. He gets 16 months in a county facility, probably out much sooner and all he has to do is give the money back. The alternative is keep the cash and look at 30 years behind bars. Seems like a good deal, no?
Well, Betsy won’t have it. Craig isn’t guilty (despite a paper trail a mile long that leads to his jackass). There will be no deals and they will not plead guilty. Betsy’s heard enough and she fires Kim on the spot and leaves HHM for good despite Howard Hamlin’s pleas for them to stay. Kim ends up buried on the other side of the building as punishment and her partnership, which was seemingly two years away is now looking more like a decade and her fast tracked career is officially in the shitter (where’s Tony the Toilet Buddy when you need a pick me up?).
While Kim’s career is falling apart, Jimmy is doing better than ever.
His elder law business is really taking off. Outside of an occasional kitten notebook giveaway at a bingo bonanza that Jimmy has to endure every now and again, he’s chocked full of clients and business is booming.
Things are even getting better with his brother Chuck, who is now trying to adapt to his electromagnetic sensitivity by going outside near a power transformer a little bit each day to help his body build up a tolerance. He’s up to two minutes now and by the end of the week he’s hoping for five full minutes outdoors. Jimmy even gets his mind working after dropping off a few boxes of case files for ‘storage’ because he’s running out of room at the nail salon. In actuality as Chuck picks up a few files and starts strumming through them, Jimmy just wanted to get his brother engaged again and it seems like his plan is working like magic.
The only downside to Jimmy’s day is dealing with Mike Ehrmantraut a meeting with the two Philly cheesesteaks who came in from the east coast looking to bust the former police officer after they believe he killed two other cops in cold blood. It seems they realized after the spilled coffee incident that the lead detective’s notepad was missing. Jimmy meets them at the courthouse and hand the notepad back over after explaining that it was all a simple mistake — they just happened to find it in the parking lot outside. The butterfingers detective must have dropped it and they are happy to return it to its rightful owner.
The cops do have one piece of interesting news about Mike’s case — his daughter-in-law Stacy has contacted them to meet for some reason or another. What’s she going to tell them? No one knows for sure and Mike isn’t going to stop her from saying whatever she needs to say. After losing her husband (Mike’s son) she deserves that much. The hot headed young cop (Detective Abassi) storms off while the seasoned vet (Detective Sanders) stays behind. Mike excuses Jimmy and tells him his services are no longer needed and much to his chagrin he exits. Mike and the other cop talk for a few minutes about Fensky and Hoffman and how they probably deserved what they got and the young detective on the case is a new breed of police officer taking over in Philadelphia. These are all good things except this kid Abassi isn’t giving up and he wants Mike’s head on a spike.
With Mike going on his own against the Philly police, Jimmy is freed up to talk to two more prospective clients — Craig and Betsy Kettleman, who have come back to him after firing Kim from their case. They once again want to hire him, especially after paying that $30,000 retainer back in the woods, if he can promise to get Craig off the hook.
Jimmy is at a loss dealing with these two nimrods because no matter how much he knows about the fact that they stole the money, Craig and Betsy Kettleman refuse to acknowledge it. Like at all.
Jimmy would certainly like to land the case, however, especially after staking out a prime office location in a very swanky building in Albuquerque. The huge layout with a massive conference room is flanked by two offices — one for Jimmy and the other he hopes is for his new partner, Kim. Except she turns down his offer cold. She still owes HHM for putting her through law school and joining a practice with Jimmy is just a risk she’s not willing to take right now.
To make matters worse, the Kettleman’s are refusing to listen to Jimmy’s advice when he tells them that the deal Kim got them is as good as it’s going to get.
When they refuse once again to listen to reason, Jimmy has to find a way to force them to reconsider. Kim explains to him that the only bargaining chip they have to deal with is the money (you know the money they refuse to acknowledge having) and without that, Craig is going to get arrested, he’s going to be found guilty and he’s going to spend the next 30 years in prison. Jimmy does his best research to try and find some legal loophole, but to no avail. Kettleman is either going to make a deal or he’s going to be spending the next three decades trying not to drop the soap on the shower.
So to convince the Kettleman’s of their only course of action, Jimmy decides to use the last of stack of cash he has left from their ‘retainer’ and calls on Mike to help him execute a pretty brilliant plan.
Mike goes to the Kettleman residence and discreetly covers the package of bills in a substance that can only be seen under black light. He sets it outside and when Craig goes to dump the trash, he finds the stack of cash in a toy dumptruck. He assumes once of the Kettleman kids somehow found the money and were playing with it, so Craig and Betsy return the money to its proper hiding place and go to bed.
Little do they know Mike is breaking in about the time the lights go out and he tracks the movement of the money by the fingerprints left all throughout the house thanks to his black light tracking. He eventually finds a hiding spot underneath the spare bathroom sink where the Kettleman’s are currently hiding about $1.6 million dollars. Mike packs up the money and returns it to Jimmy.
As much as Jimmy wants to just grab the money and go, he’s got other plans. He instructs Mike to drop it off at a designated location and that will finish his payment to Jimmy McGill, Attorney at Law for the services rendered from the day before. It’s fun to see Jimmy and Mike working together because we all know these two will be attached at the hip for many, many years to come.
Jimmy goes back to the Kettleman residence and breaks the bad news to them — the money they claim not to have hidden in an upstairs bathroom is now gone. Betsy freaks out and threatens to go to the cops and Jimmy astutely tells Mrs. Kettleman that besides the fact that she said goodbye to logic a long time ago, criminals can’t exactly go to the cops and say another criminal stole from them. And even if she claims that they paid him the $30,000 as a ‘retainer’, he’s not worried about what might happen because either he’ll get off because no one will believe a criminal or he’ll get convicted right alongside them and that doesn’t matter because he’s got nothing to lose.
The alternative is Betsy shuts the hell up and lets Craig do the time for the crime he committed. If it goes any further than that, she’s going to get implicated as well and then the both of them are getting sent to jail.
Finally, Craig and Betsy agree and they go crawling back to Kim for the plea deal.
Jimmy’s day comes to an end as he returns to his dream office where everything looks so unbelievably empty and it’s clear in this moment that building a law practice there was always going to be a pipe dream. Kim isn’t going to be his partner and Jimmy McGill is probably never going to build a lawfirm that could rival Howard Hamlin and his partners. Jimmy slams the door and lets off some steam in a fit of rage.
The entire season thus far has been about Jimmy’s moral conundrum about doing the right or wrong things to get ahead in life. Lying and swindling turned Jimmy McGill into Albuquerque’s premier elder care lawyer. Being honest just left him with no office, no partner and out $10,000. It’s easy to see based on the outcome of the Kettleman case how Jimmy McGill could one day become Saul Goodman and how a former science teacher showing up on his front doorstep with a bag of money and a moral compass that spins around like a top could suddenly be so appealing.
Only three episodes to go this season so make sure to return next Monday night for a new edition of ‘Better Call Saul’ at 10pm ET/PT on AMC