We know the following to be true: Jimmy McGill is an ideas man.
Sometimes, though, his ideas don’t materialize as flawlessly as he/we had hoped, like that time he paid a pair of scummy skater punks to track down a new client, that time he used a cardboard tube to disguise his voice and that time this week when his failed idea forced him into being the first-ever action star with a comb-over.
It was a bold plan that landed Jimmy on the front page of his local paper with the headline: “Local lawyer, local hero.”
So let’s dissect what exactly happened, shall we?
The part of his plan that failed is that, for now, the most J. Crew criminals the TV world has ever seen, the Kettlemans, are still refusing Jimmy’s services. “You’re the type of lawyer guilty people hire,” Betsy tells him. They’ve still got that big hunk of money they’re flat-out refusing to return in that duffel bag from last week’s tent scene though, so they hand over a few grand to Jimmy as a “retainer” for his services. In reality, it’s a bribe to keep make sure he keeps his mouth shut — for now. He’s certainly not just going to accept their rejection. He didn’t walk all that way through the desert to find them for nothing.
With that cash, Jimmy gets all spruced up. He buys a brand new suit, whiter teeth, a better dye job and puts up a billboard advertising his legal services for all to see — and more specifically, Howard Hamlin, his arch nemesis at Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill, the firm that, as of right now, is handling the Kettleman case.
Jimmy, being the smart guy he is, positioned the billboard right along Howard’s route to work. It’s the most professional-looking product Jimmy has potentially ever pushed and that’s because it’s completed in a style that’s purposely similar to HH&M’s.
In an effort to make him stop using the brand for his own benefit, Howard busts into Kim’s office and sweeps her off to glance at the billboard in person. He’s already aware of Kim and Jimmy’s previous courtship of sorts, so he enlists her to woo Jimmy into stopping his copycat brand.
Maybe it’s a coincidence or maybe it really is a hint from Vince Gilligan telling us that Kim is indeed an incredibly vital character to Jimmy, but the scenes with Jimmy and Kim so far in the series have been the most intimate and downright lovely. This week, we’re treated to the two of them indulging in massages and complimentary cucumber water in Jimmy’s nail salon office after hours. Kim, who means well, pushes Jimmy to back down from Howard. He’s serving him a cease and desist notice and Kim insists that she knows it’s all personal. That that billboard is truly a “declaration of war” and that he’s purposefully ripping off their brand.
For his better interest, she demands that he backs down before Howard escalates the situation any further. But Jimmy swipes back with the fact that he knows Kim deserves to be at a firm that cares about her, just as much as he apparently still does. There’s a moment when their eyes lock and she knows it’s true, but is still concerned with Jimmy not being able to win this fight. Howard’s got a ton of money, Jimmy’s living in the back of a salon. Rather than argue, Jimmy simply puts two slices of cucumber over his eyes because he’s got a much bigger plan in the making.
The next time we see Jimmy, he’s in an office with Howard who’s screaming that he should be charged with trademark infringement, claiming that Jimmy’s logo is identical to his law firm’s and ultimately, after a pitiful game of back-and-forth, Jimmy is ordered to take the billboard down in 48 hours.
What he does next is just another example of Jimmy’s internal struggle between what really is the right and wrong thing to do. In almost every criminal situation he’s been in, he’s done it in an effort to prove someone innocent or for the betterment of himself. That’s not exactly upstanding, but it’s not exactly evil either. He’s no Nacho yet. His beef with Howard goes deep, and to get back at him he’s just gotta be a better criminal about it. To set the world straight, he’s just has to break a few laws.
He begins by contacting what seems to be every single news station, newspaper and PR firm in Albuquerque so this story of a poor, little, innocent attorney being threatened by a big, scary, powerful, evil law firm goes big. He gets turned down again and again and again until he reaches out to a few bored students at the University of New Mexico, who apparently are up for filming a piece on Jimmy in front of his billboard.
With the cameras rolling, Jimmy speaks about his dream of owning his own business. “I’ve always been told that America is the land of opportunity and I believed it, until today,” he says.
Then, all of a sudden, the man who was trying to tear the billboard down lets out a scream and falls so he’s now dangling by a thin-looking rope from the bottom of Jimmy’s billboard. Jimmy springs into action, like a more portly “Mission Impossible”-era Tom Cruise. Up, up, up he climbs the ladder to the edge, hoists himself up and then in a very action-star move and in what is truly an *extremely* stressful scene, Jimmy offers his hand to this young man and slowly, surely raises him up.
But the young man doesn’t say thank you. Instead, the two do a quick handshake once he’s safe because, since this is indeed Jimmy McGill we’re talking about here, this was all a big set-up.
Jimmy is now the hero of Albuquerque. It’s a publicity stunt gone excellently. His phone is ringing off the hook, he’s got his name plastered on the local print paper and maybe the Kettlemans — or even someone better — will finally bite and let him show his stuff.
Now, will he really get away with this? All signs are pointing to yes (right now) because the only person who’s got an inkling of a set-up is his recluse brother who, in the final seconds of this episode, ironically titled “Hero,” bundles himself in his protective blanket and runs outside to take a look at the local paper that’s got a big ol’ snapshot of his brother on the front page. I’m sure he knows by now that his brother’s no hero.
Unlike episodes previously, both Mike and Nacho were on the back burner. This week, all we saw of Nacho was him vaguely threatening Jimmy because he knows that he’s the one who warned the Kettlemans the night before they “went camping,” a story that he certainly does not buy. Mike, on the other hand, was only seen being offered an olive branch from Jimmy, who told him all about that Kettleman family jamboree in the woods. Mike merely nods, because of course he knows he was right.
Best Jimmy-isms this week:
“The name’s Saul as in s’all good, man!” (See what he did there?)
“You gave them probable cause out the wazoo.”
“I can’t take a bribe, but I can take a retainer.”
“Give me ringlets on top like Tony Curtis in ‘Spartacus.’”
“Stop talking about it and make me beautiful already.”
“You seriously named a color Hamlindigo? Yikes.”
“Look I’m talking Woodward and Bernstein here.” (Big thanks for the shout out, Jimmy.)