We start things off with a slight overlap with the first episode, “Uno” — specifically, our old friend Tuco (Raymond Cruz) contending with Jimmy’s blackmailing skateboarders as they attempt to scam Tuco’s abulita for the promised cash. (It doesn’t go well for them.)
And then, it’s Jimmy versus Tuco in a captivating series of scenes that move from hostage situation to the world’s most unconventional sentencing hearing. Tuco’s younger self is perhaps slightly more balanced than he’ll become in future years, and he’s tempered by Nacho (Michael Mando), a lieutenant in Tuco’s organization with a calm head and a quick mind. Thanks to Nacho, Jimmy is freed unharmed, while the twins get a broken leg each for calling Tuco’s abulita a “biznatch.”
Jimmy tries to proceed with his life, but there are complications: He’s now broker than ever thanks to covering the twins’ medical bills, his brother Chuck remains unstable and he’s no closer to securing the Kettlemans (the couple from last week, who are potentially sitting on a stolen million dollars) as clients. Which becomes an even bigger problem for Jimmy; thanks to his panicked confession to Tuco about the Kettlemans, Nacho’s now interested in Jimmy’s scheme, and has the brains and determination to do something about it.
The Least Legal Move
Lars and Cal, the twins, could maybe file a pretty damaging civil suit against Jimmy — by claiming that they were manipulated into helping Jimmy commit a criminal action, they could put the full blame for what Tuco did to them on Jimmy, even using the fact that Jimmy paid their medical bills as proof of guilt. But the whole mess of a situation, brought about by a simple confusion over cars, is too complicated to sum up with one court case. Everyone involved is spared a lot of headache by walking away.
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Remembering What Hasn’t Happened Yet (The “Breaking Bad” Tie-In)
In retrospect, Tuco was never one of “Breaking Bad’s” truly iconic villains, but during the show’s first two seasons he was a nexus of unpredictable violence and rage. Reintroducing us to Tuco as equal parts loving grandson and unhinged gangster brings with it the sort of perfect human touch that made “Breaking Bad” so captivating and heartbreaking; “Bad” got similar mileage out of Tuco’s relationship with his Uncle Hector, but watching Tuco reassure his grandmother that he’ll use club soda to remove the “salsa” stain from her carpet is the perfect combination of sweet and scary.
Tuco’s not the only “Breaking Bad” cameo. His lieutenants No-Doze and Gonzo also appear in this episode. According to co-creator Peter Gould, the “Better Call Saul” offices feature a list of every character who ever appeared on “Breaking Bad,” and who thus could potentially be brought back. So expect more small cameos like this as we go forward.
Oh, That’s Right, It’s a Period Piece
Actually, this week, it really isn’t a period piece at all. The only thing that might stand out is the design of Jimmy’s cell phone — and the fact that Jimmy still uses an answering machine, come to think of it — but otherwise this could take place at any time… prior, of course, to the events of “Breaking Bad.”
What’s Wrong With Chuck?
Jimmy’s brother’s problems in this episode seem to boil down to the exact opposite of nomophobia, the fear of being unavailable via cell phone. After Jimmy’s drunken collapse, Chuck throws Jimmy’s cell phone into the yard and wraps up in a space blanket. Based on the information we have at this moment, it seems unlikely that his specific condition can be found on Wikipedia — but while Chuck has his moments of sanity, he’s clearly unbalanced.
On The Journey From Jimmy to Saul
Would Saul Goodman have risked his own life to save two of his employees? Maybe. Would Saul Goodman have personally driven them to the hospital for medical attention? Maybe not. Saul wasn’t a monster, but he did have a certain level of detachment from his “business associates”; meanwhile, Jimmy feels genuine responsibility for making sure that the twins survive their injuries. He’s a less jaded person and, in theory, a better man for it. We’ll see how long it lasts.
There’s no dialogue to confirm this, but when Jimmy bounces from the emergency room to drinks with a lady friend, it looks like she’s enjoying the girliest of girly drinks, the fruity mai-tai. If “Mad Men” could make the mai-tai seem glamorous, could “Better Call Saul” do the same thing? Probably not. 2000s-era Albuquerque is a long ways away from 1960s Manhattan, on more than one level.
Oh, Tuco. You’re scary, but you’re fun. The winning line, officially, has to be him crowing in the desert: “Operation Kingbreaker? That makes me the king!” But we’ll also award him the runner-up slot, courtesy of his dry initial summation of Jimmy: “Wow, you got a mouth on you.”
“It’s From a Movie!”
Finding himself even broker than before, Jimmy throws himself into the public defender scene, captured in a sharp, dazzling montage that draws direct inspiration from an iconic scene of Bob Fosse’s “All That Jazz” — a reference which even gets a knowing wink in the dialogue, after someone catches him quoting “It’s showtime, folks!” Between this and last week’s “Network” reference, we’re starting to wonder if Jimmy has seen a move made after the year 1980.
In Conclusion, Your Honor
For the first half of this episode, “Mijo” is the simplest of storytelling, but even after escaping Tuco’s wrath, it has a pretty one-track mind, following Jimmy’s efforts to stay afloat despite these newest complications. And while there are plenty of intriguing details — most especially the fact that Jimmy apparently has some sort of romantic life we’re just getting a glimpse of at this point — the second half feels more like a prelude than a complete narrative, with only the final visit from Nacho elevating our heart rates. On an episode level, there’s not much to say, but thanks to one misunderstanding, Jimmy is now swimming in a much larger and scarier lake of criminals than he was before. What that implies about the future is more than enough to keep our interest.