In “Nailed”, BETTER CALL SAUL highlighted two different ways of pulling off a caper. One ended in tragedy and the other was perfect, yet both resulted in unintended consequences. We saw quintessential Mike Ehrmantraut at work getting the best of the Salamancas and Jimmy McGill’s lack of detail produce what could be a life changing event for him.
The show began with Mike putting that garden hose with nails to good use. The delivery truck that brought money from Mexico and returned with drugs supplied by Hector “Tio” Salamanca ran over the hose that Mike draped across the highway, as he hid in his car behind a large roadside “welcome” sign. The tires blew out and the truck went sideways, but the driver was able enough to get out with a gun looking for who messed him up.
Mike met him with his own gun, dressed in black with a hood to match. He didn’t kill the driver, which he learned later made it obvious to Nacho that it was an Ehrmantraut operation. He cut open the truck’s tires, found $250,000 and left the driver blindfolded, bound and gagged, hoping for law enforcement to take notice and trace it all back to Tio.
Back he went to his usual spot to spy on Tio as he paced the floor waiting for the truck to arrive, smiling at work well done. But, a plan without a hitch doesn’t get to be all things to all people, and Mike learned that instead of the cops, the Salamancas cleaned up the mess on the road. Nacho found Mike and warned him not to mess with the drug gang, since the two are tied together in the mind of Tio.
That would mean Nacho could come to an untimely end, as did the Good Samaratin who found the driver and called for help. Mike executed a perfect plan with impeccable care, trying to save a life, yet the one he saved was canceled out by the one he never thought about.
Then there was the natural conclusion to the Mesa Verde document switch, which Jimmy got right. Chuck was humiliated in front of state banking commissioners, old cronies of his, Howard Hamlin and of course the horrified clients who thought they were in safe hands. It was what came after that had not been considered.
Jimmy always means well and views his manipulation of the rules as a way to get justice while causing a minimal amount of collateral damage. He does it with such flair, and that’s his true talent, while attention to detail and anticipating the downstream effects, not so much.
Kim and Jimmy were cleaning out and painting their office space, with Kim blissfully unaware of what took place. Paige, the bank’s general counsel rang her to say they were taking their business from HH&M and wanted her as their outside lawyer.
Kim shared the news with Jimmy, who had to encourage her to smile and be happy, because Kim couldn’t fathom how she got so lucky. She enjoyed nary a moment of true pleasure when Ernesto called to summon her to Chuck’s home. Jimmy insisted on coming along and you knew it was time to face the music. Chuck was ready to hand over the client file boxes, but not before presenting a case for treachery, perpetrated by Jimmy.
Chuck had been basking in his glory without his foil cape in court, calling his appearance there with Mesa Verde a “victory lap” over the forces of evil represented by Jimmy McGill. What he got for his trouble was trauma, confusion and the most shame he ever experienced as a lawyer. When the commissioner insisted they reschedule the proceedings until the documents matched, Chuck was apoplectic and indignant, the client angry about the mess-up, while Howard Hamlin tried to gently explain to his partner that, maybe he actually made a mistake.
Chuck went home needing that comfortable environment to figure it all out. He’s a conceited SOB, but his hunch was correct. Might he have made a mistake that egregious? Absolutely not, according to him, so it had to be Jimmy.
Did he have proof? No, but he did have another story of Slippin’ Jimmy’s early days as a forger, to use as an example for Kim of why he believed his brother had done him wrong.
He set out a point-by-point case mapping out how Jimmy could have pulled off the document switch, including guessing correctly that there was an all night copy place in the picture. Although Kim knows it’s entirely possible that her man is capable of the machinations Chuck described, she stood up for him. Chuck was steaming mad because according to him, it was the worst thing his brother could ever do to him. Little did he know what was to come.
That didn’t end the matter, because Chuck tried to appeal to Kim’s ethics and warned that if he was able to prove Jimmy’s activity, she would be in hot water with the state bar if she didn’t out her boyfriend and lose the client…again. She stood her ground and gave him back what no one has, telling Chuck he’s a bad brother to a guy who is flawed, but who loves and cares for him. Chuck and Ernesto went to work to find the copier joint, and when they did, the clerk identified Jimmy.
Meanwhile, Kim gave us a clinic in how to know something might be up, without hearing anything definitive. It required her to refuse to listen to one word that would give her more information than she could plausibly deny, and then did her lover yet another solid. She guessed correctly that there might be a fine detail left open even a crack for Chuck to use against Jimmy and her as well. As he lay there sleepless, he remembered the copy place, and off he went.
He saw Ernesto leave and went in armed with a wad of cash and his ability to talk someone into submission. He got the security camera video erased and Lance, the clerk behind the counter prepped to deny what he told Ernesto. Jimmy watched from across the street as the foil-caped crusader got out of a car and entered an establishment where he was in grave danger from the most harmful rays imaginable. Copier machines cranked away with the flourescent light bulbs glowing.
The clerk stood strong and Chuck began to unravel with customers in the store and Ernesto watching. First Kim had refused to take the bait, and now Lance. The forces of Jimmy were besting him again and he couldn’t tolerate it. Instead of leaving and taking the stinging defeat to his cheating brother, he pushed himself past the point of no return, and collapsed. Unfortunately it wasn’t a straight line to the floor and Chuck’s skull hit the edge of a counter and then he crumbled.
Do you recall last week’s episode when Chuck articulated the war between the brothers as not impacting their family ties that would kick in if one was harmed? Yeah, that got tested because Jimmy had to fight his instinct to run into the store and help, as he helplessly watch muttering under his breath, “Call 911. Call 911”.
We won’t know until next week’s season finale if Jimmy will lose his only brother, and if this will be the last straw for Kim.
AMC airs BETTER CALL SAUL Monday nights at 10 p.m. ET/PT. Image credit: AMC, used with permission