Fast-talking criminal defense attorney Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) saves himself and his two accomplices from the wrath of psychotic drug kingpin Tuco Salamanca (Raymond Cruz) on “Mijo,” Episode 102 of AMC’s “Better Call Saul.”
Jimmy and skateboarding con artists Cal (Daniel Spenser Levine) and Lars (Steven Levine) conspired to make money by “accidentally” crashing into a car driven by Betsy Kettleman (Julie Ann Emery), the wife of corrupt county Treasurer Craig Kettleman (Jeremy Shamos).
The scheme goes awry, however, when the twin brothers mistakenly target the car of Tuco’s grandmother (Miriam Colon). Instead of falling for this scam, Tuco pummels and ties up the siblings. And as Tuco scrubs bloodstains off his carpet, hapless Jimmy knocks on the door.
“Why jump to the nuclear option?” Jimmy nervously asks at gunpoint. “I will collect my moronic clients and ‘poof,’ we are gone!”
No such luck. Tuco and his gangster crew haul Jimmy and the twins into the Albuquerque desert. But before the carnage begins, paranoid Tuco demands to learn Jimmy’s real identity.
“We know you’re the heat,” Tuco insists. “The question is who: local, FBI, DEA?”
Trying to minimize the violence is Tuco’s level-headed underling, Nacho Varga (Michael Mando), who sees that Jimmy is just a small-time lawyer worthy of being cut loose for “giving respect.”
Suddenly a free man, Jimmy furiously negotiates for the lives of Cal and Lars, who committed the possibly fatal mistake of insulting Tuco’s beloved granny.
“I’m advising that you make the punishment fit the crime,” Jimmy suggests to Tuco, by breaking one leg of each twin rather than putting bullets in their heads. “You show everybody that you’re the man,” Jimmy emphasizes, “but that you’re fair, you’re just.” It’s a deal.
Later, outside a hospital emergency room, the battered brothers complain that Jimmy is a terrible lawyer. Jimmy strongly objects.
“Hey, I just talked you down from a death sentence to six months’ probation,” he brags. “I’m the best lawyer ever!”
Once the ordeal is over, Jimmy gets drunk on tropical cocktails and tries to forget the horrible sound of bones snapping. Then he takes a cab to the home of his older brother Chuck (Michael McKean), a formerly successful attorney who’s now afraid to venture outside.
“I’m down to my last dime, and suddenly I’m paying for broken legs,” Jimmy says as Chuck examines the emergency room bill. It looks bad, Jimmy admits, but “this represents a good thing, ultimately.”
“I’m not backsliding,” he maintains, referring to his reprehensible “Slippin’ Jimmy” days in Cicero, Ill., where he’d intentionally fall on patches of ice and sue local storeowners.
Back at his tiny law office, Jimmy receives a rare visit. It’s Nacho, who’s intrigued by Jimmy’s confession that he was trying to swindle money out of the Kettlemans. In his position as county treasurer, Craig embezzled $1.6 million in taxpayer funds but hasn’t yet been charged with a crime.
“I’m gonna rip them off,” Nacho announces. “I like ripping off thieves because they can’t go to the cops. They have no recourse.” And for Jimmy’s help in determining where the money is stashed, he’ll get a 10% finder’s fee, Nacho promises.
“I’m a lawyer, not a criminal,” Jimmy maintains. But Nacho argues that Jimmy has a debt to pay.
“I got between you and Tuco,” Nacho points out. “You think you’d be here now if I kept my mouth shut?” Before leaving he jots down his phone number on a matchbook.
“When you figure out you’re in the game,” Nacho says with a knowing grin.
“I’m not in the game,” Jimmy protests unconvincingly. “I promise!”