Thwarted from becoming a respected lawyer at a prestigious firm, Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) succumbs to his con artist tendencies on “Marco” (Episode 110), the Season 1 finale of AMC’s “Better Call Saul.”
Jimmy felt sure he’d be hired by Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill after initiating a lucrative class action lawsuit against a chain of assisted living facilities. But HHM partner Chuck McGill (Michael McKean) secretly blackballed his younger brother.
Chuck doesn’t regard Jimmy as “a real lawyer” because he earned his jurisprudence degree through online courses. Chuck also believes his sibling – in essence – is “Slippin’ Jimmy,” a fast-talking con man.
Devastated by Chuck’s betrayal, Jimmy vents his bitterness as he calls a bingo game designed to attract clients for his elder law practice. As his anger swells, he stares out a window and curses the New Mexico desert.
“It’s like a soulless, radioactive, Georgia O’Keeffe hellscape out there, crawling with coral snakes and scorpions,” Jimmy exclaims.
So why did he relocate from Chicago to Albuquerque a decade ago?
Jimmy stuns the seniors with a lurid story about defecating through the sunroof of a rival’s BMW, not knowing children were in the backseat. Jimmy was subsequently hit with sex offender charges, freed from jail by Chuck and offered a position in the HHM mailroom.
“I’ve been paying for it ever since,” Jimmy says of his Windy City arrest. “That’s why I’m here!”
Unsure of his next career move, Jimmy tracks down former accomplice Marco (Mel Rodriguez) at a seedy Chicago bar. Before long they’re gleefully ripping off customers, including a gullible businessman who pays $110 for a “rare” Kennedy half dollar.
After a week of degeneracy, Jimmy announces that he’s returning to Albuquerque. But Marco begs to pull off one final scam in which he pretends to be a passed-out drunk sporting a Rolex.
Ironically, this is Marco’s last con job, because he dies of a heart attack in a dark alley.
While attending the funeral, Jimmy receives a call from his attorney friend Kimberly Wexler (Rhea Seehorn). That class action lawsuit has grown too big for HHM, she says, prompting partner Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) to bring in a second firm. And that firm wants to recruit Jimmy.
“Why me?” he asks incredulously. “Is this like a tax write-off? A charity thing?”
It’s a highly promising job opportunity, Kimberly emphasizes. And besides, Jimmy’s corny jokes and folksy, Matlock-like appearance play well with elderly clients.
When Jimmy is about to step inside a courthouse for his job interview, he confronts a defining moment. Is he a legitimate attorney who would thrive in a corporate setting? Or is he Slippin’ Jimmy who belongs in the criminal underworld?
The answer is obviously the latter when Jimmy retreats to his beat-up car and begins to drive away.
Before leaving, he stops to speak with surly parking lot attendant Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), who engages in shady activities to support his widowed daughter-in-law Stacey (Kerry Condon) and her young child Kaylee (Faith Healey).
An illegal chore for Jimmy involved breaking into the home of disgraced County Treasurer Craig Kettleman (Jeremy Shamos) after he embezzled $1.6 million. Mike retrieved the stolen cash and delivered it to Jimmy, who “did the right thing” by forwarding the loot to the district attorney.
“No one on God’s green Earth knew we had it,” Jimmy ruefully says, meaning the two of them could have walked away with $800,000 each, tax free. Why didn’t they?
“I know what stopped me,” Jimmy says, referring to a rare burst of ethical behavior.
“And you know what? It’s never stopping me again!”