In the latest Better Call Saul recap, Jimmy investigates a corrupt senior care facility and his brother joins in to help while Mike finally gets the call he’s been waiting for ever since he got to New Mexico…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
As the final trio of episodes for the first season of ‘Better Call Saul’ start to roll out this week, we get a deeper look into the history of the man known as Jimmy McGill and the hopes and dreams he had before renting out a strip mall office while running ads on every Albuquerque television station that would have him.
Throughout this first season, we’ve seen Jimmy as the low level criminal running grifts on unsuspecting bar patrons to an offense so bad his brother Chuck had to bail him out of jail with the promise that Slippin’ Jimmy McGill was dead and buried. We saw Jimmy the low-level attorney just scrounging for every case he could get his hands on to the kinds of perpetrating the kind of schemes he thought would finally build up his client list.
On this week’s episode titled ‘RICO’ we saw a little bit more of the middle ground between Slippin’ Jimmy, the bong ripping con artist, and Jimmy McGill, the attorney who is trying desperately to make his brother proud and now after tonight it all starts to come into focus as to why.
Before Jimmy was New Mexico’s top elder care attorney, he was a mail room clerk at HHM working under Howard Hamlin and his brother Chuck. He delivered packages and envelopes all day long, but the one he got with his name addressed on it was the letter he didn’t dare open. So with some help from his kissing pal Kim, Jimmy got the news he long waited to here — he passed his Bar exam and was officially allowed to practice law. When he shared the news with his brother, Chuck was blown away but not by Jimmy merely passing the test, but instead because he had no idea he was trying to become a lawyer in the first place!
Jimmy quietly took night classes and correspondence classes and finally found a law school that would accept him. He studied and wrote papers and did everything he could to get ready and by his third attempt, Jimmy passed the bar exam to officially join his brother as an attorney-at-law. More importantly than just passing, Jimmy reveled in the chance to join Chuck at the law firm he represented. Chuck was hesitant at first when hearing the idea, but Jimmy seemed so hopeful that soon enough HHM would have to add another ‘M’ to the end of the name to account for his McGill.
Instead, later that night while celebrating with his fellow mail room workers and his lady Kim, Jimmy got some bad news from Howard Hamlin himself. In another brilliant piece of execution by the writers and directors behind ‘Better Call Saul’, we didn’t hear a word of what Howard was actually saying, but only saw the dejected look on Jimmy’s face grow as he received the last piece of news he ever hoped he’d hear after passing his bar exam. On his way out, Howard gave him a half-hearted promise of re-evaluating things in six months which is the classic employer code for ‘fuck off, you’re not working here’ and Jimmy was broken. All he wanted to do was make his big brother proud and work alongside him.
Years down the road, a case of electromagnetic sensitivity and a lawsuit against a powerful senior care facility later and the brothers McGill are back together again to practice law and with that let’s recap the latest episode of ‘Better Call Saul’ titled ‘RICO’.
World’s Most Expensive Toilet Paper
It’s been a rough few days for Jimmy McGill.
As he heads to his latest senior care facility to hopefully find a few more clients, he has to watch on TV as Howard Hamlin takes credit for the plea deal he reached in the Craig Kettleman case without so much as a mention of the work Kim did with the clients not to mention how Jimmy basically sent them packing back to the firm after they were fired just 24-hours earlier.
Jimmy’s consolation prize is passing out business cards to senior citizens who are barely awake enough to know he’s there. When he finally sits down with his actual client and hands over her last will and testament, Jimmy is ready to get paid so he can move onto the next one but there’s one small problem. The poor, little old lady is short by over $100 and at this point Jimmy is so brow beaten he doesn’t have it in him to tell her that she’ll have to wait on the will. Instead he tells the lady to just pay him in a week when she gets her allowance.
A few steps out the door and Jimmy walks right back in again with a question — why does this senior have an allowance? It’s not her family doling out the money as it turns out, but instead the senior care facility itself. Sandpiper — a name to get familiar with in this episode — collects the social security checks, pension checks and any other income due to the residents and pays their fees out of the money and then hands back out the leftovers as an ‘allowance’ to the people who the funds rightfully belong to. It’s like your paycheck going to your landlord, they take out what you ‘owe’ them and then they give you the remainder.
It might not sound like a horrible deal for the seniors living here except once big issue — when Jimmy starts examining the bills he notices the charges and the fine print. The people living at Sandpiper are being fleeced. They are paying exorbitant amounts of money for household items like tissues and toilet paper.
Jimmy starts digging around with other residents and finds out this is happening to everybody living at Sandpiper. Unfortunately, while Jimmy is doing his investigation the nosey office manager notices what he’s up to and immediately starts shifting things around before the lawyer can get too deep into their business.
Back at Chuck’s house, Jimmy begins to tell his big brother about what’s going on but not before he’s called out on what he was trying to pull by leaving those boxes of files behind a week or so ago. Chuck knows Jimmy was just attempting to get him active again as he started poring through the pages of wills and other legal documents his brother left scattered while he was out chasing new clients.
Before Chuck can complain too much, Jimmy shows him the bills he collected at Sandpiper and it doesn’t take long before the elder McGill comes to the same conclusion as his brother — this is straight up fraud.
Jimmy goes back to Sandpiper the next day to further his investigation when he runs into a big roadblock. The nosey office manager has put up a new rule banning the solicitation of the residents by any attorney on the premises. The new policy doesn’t sit well with Jimmy so he quickly locks himself in the bathroom and writes out a legal order with intention to go after Sandpiper for fraud while demanding that the secretary in the other room shredding documents stop immediately.
Jimmy decides to go back later that night to dig through the dumpster to find the shredded files and see what exactly Sandpiper was hiding. While it costs Jimmy his best Matlock suit climbing through piles of discarded Depends diapers and fruit cups — oh and the fact that the shredded documents were actually in a separate recycle bin — he eventually finds his smoking gun. His cause is further even more when he receives a call from Sandpiper’s attorney more or less issuing a cease and desist about his investigation because he totally has the right to do that (FYI – he does not).
Back at Chuck’s place, Jimmy starts piecing together the shredded documents and in the morning even his big brother gets in on the act while he catches a few winks on the floor. When he awakens hours later, Jimmy finds that Chuck has not only found the articles to piece together to find what Sandpiper was shredding, but he discovered the bill that he believes will sink the senior care facility once and for all.
Whatever You Need
While he didn’t get a ton of back story early on, Mike Ehrmantraut has gotten some much needed screen time these past few weeks and things continued for the former cop from Philly this week when he got a call he’s been waiting to receive ever since he got to New Mexico several months ago.
When he told his daughter-in-law Stacy about his corrupt deals with the cops that eventually got his son Mattie killed and the revenge he exacted, Mike couldn’t be sure how she would react. When he heard that it was Stacy who originally alerted the two cops from Philly who arrived in New Mexico to investigate him, things seemed even bleaker. Thankfully, Mike’s worst fears weren’t realized because as he collected tolls one random sunny day, he got a call from Stacy asking for a favor.
She had to work and the babysitter was unable to take care of Kaylee so she was hoping Grandpa Mike would come over and help out. Mike of course would like nothing more than to spend some time with his granddaughter and spending a night building things with Play-Doh is like the ultimate vacation for this secret family man.
But it’s not all good news after he talks to Stacy when she arrives home. She’s been carrying around the envelope of money she found in Mattie’s suitcase months ago just trying figure out what she should do with it. In her mind she knew the money was dirty, but Stacy wasn’t sure if she should ditch it, turn it in or spend it? Mike tells her if the money will come in useful then she should spend every dime and never look sideways at the money again.
A wave of relief washes over Stacy as she reveals that she’s been dealing with a lot of bills and money owed and despite the pension she received as a benefit from her husband’s death, it’s still not enough.
At this point it’s clear why Mike got into the business of being the best fixer this side of the Rio Grande.
He goes back to the shady veternarian who patched him up for a gunshot wound once upon a time and asks about the ‘work’ he was offered back then. The vet wonders what is Mike is willing to do and not to do. Mike gives a very ominous answer — you give me the job and I’ll tell you what I will and won’t do.
It appears Mike is going to provide for his daughter-in-law and granddaughter by any means necessary.
Say Hello to RICO
With Chuck on board helping to build a case against Sandpiper, Jimmy calls in a favor from Kim to gather a huge list of legal documents they can use as ammunition if this goes to court. Jimmy makes a huge mistake along the way, however, when he uses Chuck’s firm number to print out all the documentation because right away he’s basically partnering up with HHM without realizing it. Something tells me that’s going to come back to bite him later.
The good news is Chuck is fired up again about the law and ready to go to work. The problem is when the lawyers from Sandpiper arrive, Chuck is sweating bullets. Jimmy reassures him that just sitting there is scare tactic enough because after all — he’s Charles McGill.
The Sandpiper attorneys try to strong arm Jimmy while admitting that it was an accounting error that led to the miscalculation on the bills charged to some of the residence and along with a substantial legal fee, they are ready to settle for a sum total of $100,000. Jimmy fights back as best he can, but he’s outgunned until Chuck finally sounds off and informs the Sandpiper people that the smoking gun document he pieced together was an order for syringes that came from Nebraska to New Mexico. In his estimation the interstate commerce and subsequent fraudulent activity going on at Sandpiper constitutes a violation of the RICO predicates (RICO for those curious is the Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Act that most people probably recognized from mafia movies and shows, but actually covers a wide variety of crimes including fraud, especially when it involves crossing state lines thus the giant money signs that popped up in Chuck’s eyes).
Chuck tells the lawyers that they have two choices — either settle up for the sum of $20 million or get ready to go to court. While we don’t see visual evidence of this, I’m fairly certain the Sandpiper lawyers needed assistance picking their jaws up off the floor along with putting their eyes back into their heads.
Before we exit the episode, Chuck is in the midst of gathering all the legal documents he needs to continue building the case while Jimmy catches a nap after picking up three more clients that day. With Jimmy down and out, Chuck can’t wait any longer for the files so he quickly shuffles outside, gets the keys from the mailbox an opens the trunk to pick up the box he needs.
Jimmy awakens and quickly runs outside to notice his brother — who is mortified of being in the sun — is standing there with a box in his hands looking as fresh as a daisy. When Chuck sees Jimmy in front of him (with the same shocked look as the Sandpiper lawyers no doubt), he realizes what’s going on and he drops the box to the ground. Either Chuck just realized that he was outside and this was bad news or he confirmed that this electromagnetic sensitivity that took him out of his law practice and left him confined indoors like a mad man scratching at the walls really was a psychological condition and that’s not going to be good for anybody.
Only two episodes left to go this season folks so make sure to tune back in for ‘Better Call Saul’ next Monday night at 10pm ET on AMC.