In the Better Call Saul season finale recap, Jimmy heads back to Chicago to some soul searching before coming to harsh realization about where he’s headed in life…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
It’s been a decade since Slippin’ Jimmy McGill gave up his criminal ways and decided to join his brother Chuck in the dusty desert of Albuquerque to start a new life. His old job was spent filling the days and nights along with his pal Marco fleecing local barflies and conning whatever misfortunate soul crossed their paths during their many, many grifts. It wasn’t a living, but it was good weed money.
Remember early in the season when Jimmy and his mustached friend took a guy for a few hundred bucks for a fake Rolex? That’s Marco!
And Marco was Jimmy’s running buddy for years until he grew a conscience one day and decided the only way to make his brother proud was to pull up roots and relocate to New Mexico to start fresh as a mailroom clerk. Marco scoffed at the idea, but Jimmy was steely in his resolve that he was going to make things right and turn it all around for the sake of his brother, who went to bat for him after an unfortunate ‘Chicago Sunroof’ incident (more on that later).
So Jimmy packed up everything he owned (which didn’t look like much) and headed off to the sun and skies of New Mexico with fresh hopes and big dreams. Until it all came crashing down around him a week ago when his brother Chuck decided to tell him that a leopard never changes its spots. Slippin’ Jimmy was a con artist who stole hundreds of dollars. Jimmy McGill, attorney-at-law, was just a con artist with a license and he was betraying the very nature of the law by pretending to be something he’s not.
With that, let’s recap the season finale of Better Call Saul titled ‘Marco’:
There’s just no more fighting spirit left in him as we pick up this week’s episode. He’s no longer holding onto the Sandpiper Crossing lawsuit because there’s no way he’s going to win and it’s clear his brother doesn’t really want him on the same team. So Jimmy is going to sign everything over to Howard Hamlin and HHM to handle from here on out. Kim tries to give him a hug and a smile while admitting that the reason why she tried to get him to take the settlement in the first place was so he wouldn’t hate his brother.
Howard even feels bad for Jimmy when he hands him the check for $20,000, saying that he always liked him and reminded him of the nickname he gave him when he was still in the mailroom — good old Charlie Hustle. Before he leaves, Jimmy leaves Howard with a list of groceries and items he has to get for Chuck to survive because he’s no longer going to be doing it but at the same time he still cares because he’s still making sure his brother doesn’t suffer. Howard is blown away by Jimmy’s commitment to help his brother, but none of it matters as he leaves the office. Whatever Jimmy was fighting for got lost the moment Chuck lost faith in him.
Jimmy tries to go back to everyday life, which for him now includes a daily bingo draw at the local senior care facility. But as a series of ‘B’ numbers keep coming up, Jimmy’s tolerance and patience start to slip away and by the time he gets to the world ‘betrayal’ to describe the latest ping-pong ball pulled, it’s clear he’s about to flip out.
Finally the last ‘B’ ball comes flying out and Jimmy launches into a story where he explains to the people trying to win a kitty-cat notebook what a ‘Chicago Sunroof’ actually is.
It seems years ago, Jimmy found out a guy name Chet was banging his wife while also owing him a large sum of money. Jimmy wanted nothing more than to pay this guy back in ways cash just couldn’t settle their grudge, but he was given a golden opportunity when he saw Chet’s douchebag pearl colored BMW sitting outside a Dairy Queen with the engine still running and the sunroof open. Jimmy decided to drop his pants, jump onto the car, squat down over the sunroof and leave old Chet a present directly in his front seat.
“Guy wanted some soft serve, I gave him some soft serve.”
Unfortunately what Jimmy didn’t notice were Chet’s two kids sitting in the backseat at the time of his ‘prank’ and because his nemisis was connected, instead of getting a few misdemeanor charges, he got blasted with the full boat including the ones that would have had him listed as a sex offender for the rest of his life. Now we know what Jimmy did that was so bad, Chuck had to come to Chicago to bail him out of trouble.
Following his story to the old folks, Jimmy decides enough is enough, drops the microphone and gets on the first plane back to Chicago.
As soon as Jimmy lands in Chi-Town he heads back to his old stomping grounds and inside the bar, passed out like he never left the stool, was his old buddy Marco. It doesn’t take long before Marco explains how miserable his life has been since Jimmy left. He ended up getting a legit job, but from the look of things he’s about as miserable as any 40-hour a week worker could get.
Jimmy decides to have some fun for old time’s sake and he runs a con on a guy who just happens to come into the bar while they are reminiscing. It’s the old “the president is pointed the wrong direction on this coin” trick and he ends up with $110 in his pocket and before long Slippin’ Jimmy is officially out of retirement.
For the next seven days, Jimmy and Marco are running all their old tricks, taking money from fools left and right and it feels good. But one morning after waking up next to a lady who realizes in the dawn of the new day without a bong haze and malted hops clogging her eyesight that Jimmy is not actually Kevin Costner (nice reference to ‘Breaking Bad’ right there — “I once told a woman I was Kevin Costner, and it worked because I believed it.”).
Jimmy decides to check his messages and he’s been bombarded by his clients back in New Mexico who still need his help and he comes to a momentary epiphany — maybe he wasn’t so bad at this legit lawyer stuff?
When Marco comes downstairs, he’s ready for the next grift, but Jimmy is ready to go home. Marco begs him for one more day because this has turned into the best week of his life and he just wants to pull the old Rolex trick and then his pal can fly home to his hot air and cactuses in New Mexico. Jimmy finally relents and the Slippin’ Jimmy and Marco show goes on for one last night.
Everything seems to go well — Marco’s in place and Jimmy has his unsuspecting mark walking down a dark alley in Chicago late at night. When they find the wallet, the trick is taking shape. But Marco is down and he’s not moving. At all.
Jimmy panics and calls 911 as the prospective mark just runs away. Jimmy sits with his friend and Marco thanks him for everything and then he expires. Marco knew he was never going to be this happy again so when his body gave out on him, there was no fight left to give.
At his funeral, Jimmy is gifted a ring from Marco’s mother (another ‘Breaking Bad’ nod) before he receives a call from Kim with some very good news.
The Sandpiper Crossing case is so big that Howard has to team up with another firm in Santa Fe to get the job done. The interesting note about this is the Santa Fe law firm is interested in hiring Jimmy into a partner’s role pending an interview with him. It’s everything he’s ever wanted and Chuck has no say good or bad about this firm wanting to hire him. Jimmy goes back in to say one last goodbye to Marco and he’s on a flight back to Albuquerque to start his new life over (again).
You Are Who You Are
Jimmy is back home and headed to his meeting at the courthouse with the folks from the new law firm that wants to hire him as a partner where he can once again begin work on the Sandpiper Crossing case. Jimmy flies past Mike’s gate, where he’s quietly arranging his next job over the phone. Jimmy gets inside and then just stares out into space for a moment before quickly whipping the car around and heading back towards the gate.
Mike isn’t even going to charge him! But Jimmy has ulterior motives in his visit to Albuquerque’s most dangerous toll booth attendant.
He reminds Mike that not long ago they stood in front of a bag with $1.6 million in it thanks to thieving it from the Kettleman’s and they could have walked away with all of it and no one would have been the wiser. Craig Kettleman was the thief, and he was the one who would go to jail for it. So why didn’t they just take the money and run?
Mike says the reason he didn’t is because he was paid to do a job and once that job was done, he was done as well. He reminds Jimmy that he didn’t take the money because he wanted to do the right thing.
Well, no more.
Jimmy realizes that deep down he’s always going to be Slippin Jimmy except now he’s Slippin Jimmy with a license to practice law. He makes one last stop by his brother’s house, where his new assistant from the law firm is delivering everything to his liking each day. Sure, he’s not picking up the correct apples, but for the most part Chuck is satisfied.
When the new assistant leaves, Chuck spots Jimmy sitting in his car across the street. He goes to open the door, but Jimmy speeds off (as much as he can in the junker he calls a car) and the two brothers remain estranged.
Overall, a satisfying end to the first season of ‘Better Call Saul’ and really a complete story in so many ways about the origins of Jimmy McGill and how he started to become Saul Goodman. The episodes all played a part in the ultimate outcome and as predicted, Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan filled each one with humor (some more than others), a real emotional story (especially Mike’s history) and in the end we started to see how a Chicago hustler became a New Mexico mailroom clerk and eventually Albuquerque’s top elder care attorney. The finale wasn’t as jam packed as some previous episodes, but it felt like the bow being tied on the seasons, which was masterful from start to finish.
And while Jimmy didn’t quite finish the transformation, but something tells me by the start of season 2, he will have traded in those Matlock suits for something a bit more snazzier and maybe even secured an office in a strip mall because every man, woman and child has the right to the best legal counsel as afforded to them by the United States Constitution and that’s why he’s fighting for you Albuquerque!
You better call, Saul.
‘Better Call Saul’ returns for season 2 on AMC in 2016.