An audacious publicity stunt generates new business for attorney Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) but it’s not the lucrative payoff he anticipates on “Alpine Shepherd Boy,” Episode 105 of AMC’s “Better Call Saul.”
To generate buzz for his struggling law practice, Jimmy paid a worker to fall off a billboard and dangle precariously in the air. As an amateur video crew recorded the action, Jimmy scaled a ladder and “heroically” pulled his accomplice to safety.
Now Jimmy hopes his instant fame will translate into $450 an hour from clients such as the inventor of a talking toilet and from wealthy eccentric “Big Ricky” Sipes (Joe Berryman), who’s determined to secede from the U.S. and its “business-killing regulations.”
Jimmy is delighted to counsel Ricky as he strives to turn his 11,000 acres of New Mexico real estate into “America’s Vatican City.” But Jimmy speeds away in his clunky car after Ricky tries to pay the retainer with bogus $100 bills bearing his likeness.
Elder law seems a good niche for Jimmy as he generates a modest but steady income drawing up wills and living trusts. One of his first clients is Mrs. Strauss (Carol Herman), who dictates meticulous instructions regarding which heir will receive her shepherd boy and other kitschy figurines.
Before long, Jimmy dresses in white suits ala Andy Griffith on “Matlock” and uses Jell-O cups to advertise his latest slogan: “Need a will? Call McGill.”
While Jimmy recounts his career challenges to friend Kimberly Wexler (Rhea Seehorn), she receives an emergency call from her boss, attorney Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) from Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill.
Chuck McGill, one of the law firm’s founding partners and Jimmy’s older brother, is restrained in a hospital bed after police officers bashed in the front door of his house. Thinking they encountered a “tweaker” high on drugs, the cops shot Chuck with a Taser.
But Chuck is no addict. He suffers from a debilitating psychological condition that makes him believe he’s hypersensitive to certain frequencies of electromagnetic radiation. That’s why Chuck is paralyzed with fear now that he’s confined to a well-lighted hospital room filled with electronic devices.
“He’s allergic to electricity,” Jimmy yells as he turns off the lights and powers down medical equipment. “I know how it sounds,” he says to sympathetic yet skeptical Dr. Lara Cruz (Clea DuVall), “but it’s real!”
Lara wants Chuck committed to a psychiatric facility for 30 days of observation. But Jimmy believes that would dramatically worsen his brother’s condition.
“He might as well spend a month in a wood chipper,” Jimmy exclaims.
As they’re talking, the doctor performs a sneaky experiment by activating an electronic device under the bed. Chuck has no reaction.
“This allergy to electricity isn’t real,” Lara says to Jimmy and Kim in the hallway. “It’s a manifestation of something deeper.”
Ignoring the doctor’s advice, Jimmy takes Chuck home. Then Jimmy confesses that he may have triggered the psychotic episode with his unethical publicity stunt that created front-page news.
“Whenever you think I’ve done something wrong, something questionable, you get worse,” Jimmy admits. But the billboard antics were just a one-time promotional ploy, he claims.
“From here on out, I’m going to play by the rules,” he says, promising to never revert to his “Slippin’ Jimmy” con artist days.
Meanwhile, police arrive at the home of Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), a former Philadelphia cop now working as a courthouse parking lot attendant. It appears his shady past is catching up with him.
“Long way from home, aren’t ya?” Mike gruffly asks.
“You and me both,” a visitor (Barry Shabaka Henley) replies.