'Better Call Saul' recap: Mike needs cash; Jimmy faces facts

Why is Jimmy persona non grata?

Rather than pack a pistol on a shady protection job, tough guy Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) packs only a brownbag lunch on “Pimento,” the penultimate Episode 109 of AMC’s “Better Call Saul.”

Mike needs quick cash to support his widowed daughter-in-law Stacey (Kerry Condon) and her child, Kaylee (Faith Healey). That’s why he provides the muscle when a novice criminal calling himself Price (Mark Proksch) sells prescription drugs to gangsters.

Another man (Steven Ogg) hired for the job claims Mike is “useless” because he arrived with a pimento sandwich rather than a gun. But Mike expertly unarms his detractor and punches him in the throat, prompting a third would-be protector (David Mattey) to flee in terror.

After Mike and Price reach the rendezvous site, a van pulls up containing gangbanger Ignacio “Nacho” Varga (Michael Mando) and two henchmen. Nacho hands over the money, which is $20 short.

“Agreed amount or no deal,” Mike insists. Although he protests initially, Nacho pays up.

“How did you know not to bring a gun?” Price asks later.

Mike explains that Nacho “runs with a connected crew of drug dealers.” And because his boss wasn’t aware of this transaction, it was in Nacho’s best interest “that things go very smoothly.”

“The lesson is,” Mike says, “if you’re going to be a criminal, do your homework.”

Meanwhile, attorney Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) confronts harsh realities as he pursues a class-action lawsuit against Sandpiper Crossing Assisted Living.

Sandpiper committed acts of fraud, unfair trade practices and racketeering in five states by grossly overcharging its elderly residents. Now Sandpiper must pay a $20 million settlement or face a jury.

Jimmy’s lawyer brother Chuck (Michael McKean) makes the painful assertion that their clients are best represented by Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill.

“This case will span years,” Chuck points out. “And we don’t have the capital to carry it forward by ourselves.”

Jimmy reluctantly agrees, even though his nemesis Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) will generate huge fees for the law firm he founded with Chuck.

Despite being deathly afraid of electromagnetic radiation, Chuck gingerly leaves his home to meet with Howard, who enthusiastically describes the case as a near “slam dunk.”

Howard offers to pay Jimmy 20% of the final settlement. Negotiations halt, however, when Jimmy hears he won’t be joining the firm.

“You’re not working here,” Howard firmly states. “The case is all we need.”

Why is Jimmy persona non grata? His lawyer friend Kimberly Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) learns the truth from Howard. And Jimmy confirms his suspicions in an angry confrontation with Chuck.

Jimmy found out that Chuck made a late-night phone call to Howard. And the purpose of that call was to blacklist Jimmy.

“You told him not to hire me,” Jimmy furiously exclaims. “Tell me why!”

“You’re not a real lawyer,” Chuck responds, pointing out that Jimmy received his sketchy training through online courses.

Chuck committed his life to the legal profession, he says, while Jimmy believes he can “slide into it like a cheap pair of slippers and then reap all the rewards.”

Then there’s the matter of Jimmy’s character flaws.

“I know what you were, what you are. People don’t change. You’re Slippin’ Jimmy,” Chuck maintains, referring to his brother’s con artist past when he would intentionally fall on icy sidewalks and collect hefty legal settlements from store owners.

Chuck’s betrayal is too much for Jimmy to bear. As he starts to leave, Jimmy announces that he brought three days of supplies for his house-bound sibling. And this was the final delivery.

“After that, you’re on your own,” Jimmy declares. “I am done!”

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