On the latest Better Call Saul recap, Jimmy tries to keep the Kettleman family from facing any harm, but inadvertently ends up in a kidnapping case that actually puts his ass on the line…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
From the day ‘Better Call Saul’ went into production there were going to be comparisons to ‘Breaking Bad’ because the series was a spinoff of one of the greatest television shows of all time. It was inevitable for critics and viewers alike to watch the show with a certain level of trepidation wondering if show runner Peter Gould could pull off the same magic Vince Gilligan managed for five seasons as Walter White ran amok on the streets of Albuquerque.
But a strange thing has happened through three episodes of ‘Better Call Saul’. The show is not only good, but it’s good in different ways that make it a complimentary series to ‘Breaking Bad’ but not necessarily an extension. Sure, we know where these characters are going and how things are going to end, but the journey to get there has been nothing short of thrilling thus far and the latest episode titled ‘Nacho’ was another example of how this series just gets better and better each week.
There are glimpses of ‘Breaking Bad’ in every hour of ‘Better Call Saul’ whether it’s the drab, lifeless New Mexico desert used as a backdrop or fixer Mike Ehrmantraut telling cop stories from his days on the beat in Philadelphia, but the show also manages to somehow make you forget about what’s coming next or what’s coming eventually. Do we all know that Jimmy McGill will someday become Saul Goodman and then eventually Gene, the manager of the local Cinnabon restaurant? Of course. But what makes ‘Better Call Saul’ so amazing is that the current crop of stories going on have been so intriguing that I’m not worried about how we get to the end — I’m worried that we might one day eventually get there and that means the show would be over.
So as we start the latest episode it’s time for another throwback with hints of who Jimmy McGill once was, but this was long before he was even an attorney making $700 a pop as the local public defender.
It seems at some point during his younger-ish days, Jimmy got caught up in some trouble while in Chicago and when push came to shove he called his mother looking for help. Never mind the fact that he’d barely seen his family for the past five years, Jimmy needed assistance and his brother Chuck was on the case. This is a much different Chuck than the one we’ve met so far this season, but this scene alone may prove why Jimmy is so fiercely loyal to his big brother.
Jimmy got pinched for a crime and to make matters worse he’s up for charges that would have him listed as a sex offender, which would stick with him for the rest of his life. Just when it looks like even Chuck is bailing out on his loser little brother, Jimmy pleads for his help and promises to walk the straight and narrow if he helps him get out of this.
Fast forward to ‘Better Call Saul’ present day where Jimmy is washing down his conscience with some cucumber water doused with several shots of vodka. He’s contemplating the offer he received a night earlier. Nacho — Tuco Salamanca’s right hand man — offered him a deal to rip off the Kettleman family (the country treasurer who is accused of embezzling millions of dollars) if he wanted to play ball and set up the deal. Jimmy turned him down but now as he’s sipping his plastic cup full of liquid courage, he’s teetering between calling Nacho or doing what he perceives to be the right thing.
The first call he makes goes out to Kim, the girl he shared a smoke with in the debut episode who works at the lawfirm where his brother Chuck was once a partner. Kim thinks Jimmy’s calling for some dirty talk, which means these two clearly have a history, but he promises to keep things PG-13.
Jimmy quickly turns the conversation into a roundabout way of bringing up the Kettlemans and how they went to her firm for representation for the current investigation concerning his ‘alleged’ crime. When Jimmy goes one step too far and mentions that the Kettlemans might be in danger, you know from any random person who might want to steal those millions from the guy who stole those millions, even Kim is suspicious. It’s just the vodka talking, Jimmy promises and he gets off the phone before he can be tempted to ask what she’s wearing.
Jimmy tries to convince himself that he’s no hero, but moments later he’s in the back unspooling a roll of paper towels and wrapping up one end with wax paper and a rubber band. He travels to a nearby payphone where he calls the Kettleman residence and using his infamous sex robot voice speaking through the paper towel roll tube, he tries to warn the family that danger is just outside their door. Of course it’s hard to understand anything through the muffled sex robot sounds so eventually Jimmy abandons the well-crafted tool and just tells them flat out they are in danger and somebody is coming to get them.
Outside the Kettleman residence lurks a stranger hiding in a car who has been watching the house the entire time. Maybe Jimmy’s warning came just a few seconds too late?
The next day while Jimmy is haggling with the district attorney over his latest public defender’s cases and finally getting one over on the smug prosecutor — a sign of things to come for him later in life — he gets a call from Kim in a panic. Jimmy quickly heads out of the courthouse but not before running into Mike the toll booth operated once again. Jimmy is usually a few stamps short of making it through the gate, but this time he forgot the stamps all together. When his $5 offer doesn’t make Mike budge on his $9 bill, Jimmy reaches inside the booth and presses the button to raise the gate himself as he speeds off in great haste.
Next thing you know, Jiimmy has arrived at the Kettleman’s home where he finds a parking lot full of Albuquerque’s finest as well as Kim and her eager boss Howard Hamlin. It seems the Kettleman home has been ransacked and the Kettleman family is nowhere to be found. Jimmy’s worst nightmare is coming true.
So he ventures off to a local payphone where he frantically calls Nacho and offers his legal assistance to ‘deescalate’ whatever he’s done. But one phone call isn’t enough when Nacho doesn’t pick up. Jimmy ends up in a Swingers-esque performance calling Nacho back time after time with each message sounding more and more panicked. Jimmy is starting to really freak out when he notices two rather grimacing figures coming towards him, one from each end of the street. Jimmy acts quickly and makes a run for it, but it turns out the people chasing him were the cops.
It seems they’ve arrested Nacho after a nosey neighbor spotting his van outside their house for the past two nights and reported his license plate number. Nacho’s van even has blood on the floor, which makes him look even more guilty. He named Jimmy as his lawyer, but when he shows up Nacho believes that he got ratted out in favor of another crew and now he’s sitting behind bars. In other words, Nacho didn’t do it. He had nothing to do with the Kettleman’s disappearance. To make matters worse, Nacho gives Jimmy a warning — get him out of there by the end of the day or he’s dead. Needless to say, Jimmy chooses the first option.
A DNA test on the blood, which actually belonged to Saul and the two skateboarding morons he tried to use to reincarnate the spirit of Slippin Jimmy, can’t be returned for weeks and he certainly doesn’t have that long.
Jimmy convinces the cops to allow him to take a look around the Kettleman residence and maybe he’ll spot something they missed. When he arrives, Jimmy starts searching for clues and quickly discovers the little Kettleman of them all is a girl with a love of a certain doll that’s in all her pictures, but is mysteriously missing from the shelf in her room. Jimmy puts two and two together and surmises that Nacho really didn’t have anything to do with this crime — the Kettlemans kidnapped themselves!
What better way to get away with millions of dollars in stolen money than to make people believe you were the victims of some horrendous crime? Jimmy’s hard sell isn’t working because the cops think the culprit probably just handed the doll to the little girl to keep her from screeching as they exited the house not to mention none of the family cars are missing that would indicate they made a run for it. Jimmy finally comes clean with Kim and now she’s slightly more inclined to listen to his theory, but there’s still no proof.
Jimmy heads back to the courthouse where he runs into Mike once again at the toll booth. This time he’s not getting in at all. He violated the sacred toll both the last time and now Mike is done playing his reindeer games. When Jimmy tries to just leave his car in the middle of the entrance and confronts the old ‘geezer’ who keeps trying his patience, Mike quickly tosses him to the ground, wrenching his arm behind his back.
Inside the cops investigating the Kettleman’s dissapearance have an idea — Mike can play ball like he’s pretending to press charges for assault and they’ll use the threat of jail to make Saul give up his client so they can find the poor kidnapped family. But when Jimmy explains his theory about the Kettlemans kidnapping themselves, Mike changes his mind about the pending charges for assault. He bows out graciously and the cops are forced to let Jimmy go. He quickly runs after Mike wondering why this crotchety old bastard, who never has more than a few words to say to him other than get more stickers or pay the fee suddenly bailed him out of a tough situation.
Jimmy asks and Mike responds that he dropped the charges and went against the cops plan for one reason — he believes his story. Jimmy is over the moon with excitement that someone finally believes him but why? Mike then launches into one of his classic Philly cop stories about a bookie who stole $6 million in bets for the Super Bowl and took off with everybody’s cash. For days the cops looked for this guy but found nothing. As it turns out, the Philly crook was hiding out in a house two doors down from his own place just waiting for the heat to die down so he could make his actual escape.
So maybe the Kettleman’s kept it close to home as well?
Jimmy heads back to the Kettleman house and spots a camping insignia stickered on the back of Mrs. Kettleman’s station wagon. Jimmy also notices that behind the Kettleman estate is a whole lot of wooded area that looks pretty remote. So he starts walking and walking and walking until the sun goes down. But finally a breakthrough! The deafening sound of silence is cut down like a sword through paper mache when he hears from the distance four dumb asses piled into a tent singing ‘BINGO was his name O’ at the top of their lungs. Jimmy calls Kim to claim his victory by telling her that he was right all along.
Finally, Jimmy springs his surprise on the Kettleman’s by popping into their tent and screaming ‘Here’s Johnny!’ in his best Jack Nicholson voice before telling the family that it’s time to go home. He’s got a client sitting in lockup that will turn him into a meat piñata if he doesn’t get him out soon so it’s time for the Kettlemans to stop fucking around and get home so the cops know they are alright.
In a battle for one of the bags on the ground as Jimmy does everything in his power to send the Kettlemans packing, a rip is heard and as the nylon tears apart, piles of money come pouring out of the satchel. Jimmy looks down and sees bricks of money sitting on the ground. Jimmy is no hero and he’s trying hard not to be a criminal but it appears Craig Kettleman is neither of those things either with the millions he stole from the hard working people of New Mexico sitting on the floor of his getaway tent currently.
Jimmy was right about a few things it seems and it all started with Craig Kettleman’s crime.
Make sure to tune in next Monday night for the next episode of ‘Better Call Saul’ debuting on AMC at 10pm ET.