Small-time attorney Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) reverts to his shyster ways – while dramatically improving his finances – on “Hero,” Episode 104 of AMC’s “Better Call Saul.”
This “Breaking Bad” spinoff opens with a flashback to Jimmy’s con artist days in Illinois as he leads a rowdy bar patron, Stevie (Kevin Weisman), down a dark alley. Soon they come upon a motionless body and a wallet stuffed with cash.
Is the man (Mel Rodriguez) a goner? No, he’s Jimmy’s partner pretending to be drunk.
Stevie starts to take off with the currency until he examines the fancy-looking wristwatch Jimmy grabbed. Now Stevie foolishly swaps the cash plus bills of his own for the watch – a bogus Rolex.
Is this scam like a license to print moolah?
“It’s good for making beer money,” Jimmy admits. “That’s all.”
Years later, Jimmy makes a much bigger score involving Betsy Kettleman (Julie Ann Emery) and her husband Craig (Jeremy Shamos), a New Mexico county treasurer who stole $1.6 million from taxpayers, faked his family’s abduction and fled into the wilderness.
Falsely accused in the presumed kidnapping is Jimmy’s drug-dealing client Nacho Varga (Michael Mando), who intended to burglarize the Kettleman residence and seize the embezzled funds. Spring him from jail by tomorrow, Nacho threatens, or Jimmy’s a dead man.
“You two,” Jimmy scolds the Kettlemans outside their tent, “you almost ruined someone’s life – potentially several someones.” Return to civilization, Jimmy insists, and face the consequences.
“If they think I ran away, it’ll look like I did something wrong,” protests Craig, who rationalizes his theft of county funds as rightful compensation for working holidays and weekends.
Jimmy’s far-fetched solution? Tell the police your family took “an impromptu camping trip,” left the house a mess and “kicked in your front door because it’s a free country.” In exchange for Jimmy’s help in this cover-up, Betsy offers him a stack of pilfered cash.
“I can’t take a bribe,” Jimmy insists. But he can accept a retainer.
“I would be singularly devoted to you,” Jimmy promises, thrilled at this golden opportunity to become a respected, handsomely paid attorney.
“You’re the kind of lawyer guilty people hire,” Betsy says, turning down Jimmy’s offer of representation. So just take the money.
Later, when Nacho is freed from jail, he sneers at Jimmy’s story about the Kettlemans being “very woodsy” people who went camping. He knows they were tipped off.
“You ratted on me,” Nacho says menacingly. “There will be consequences!”
Jimmy counters that the unnamed person who warned the Kettlemans prevented Nacho from committing a far more serious crime than burglary.
“You should be thanking this Good Samaritan,” Jimmy contends. “Because whoever he is, he did you a favor.”
Now that Jimmy’s flush with Kettleman cash, he seeks to divert business from his nemesis Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian), a partner at a prestigious law firm.
Jimmy copies Howard’s expensive attire and corporate logo, then pays for a prominent billboard advertising the services of “James M. McGill, Attorney at Law.”
When a judge orders Jimmy to take down the billboard, he devises an outrageous publicity stunt. While an amateur video crew shoots Jimmy in front of the sign, a worker (Eddie J. Fernandez) “slips” and dangles high above the ground attached to a safety strap.
As alarmed onlookers gather, Jimmy scales a ladder and rescues his paid accomplice. Suddenly Jimmy and his fledgling law practice are front page news.
“The whole thing’s a damn stunt,” Howard bitterly says while watching TV coverage.
But attorney Kimberly Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) recognizes that Jimmy has staged a coup.
“Everyone loves a hero,” she points out.