Another week, another cold-open flashback. Guess this is gonna be a thing. I said my piece last week about this stuff, so I guess we’ll just play it as it lies. Rant rant grumble grumble Gumbel.
This one ain’t bad, though, as flashbacks go. Starts off with Jimmy and some drunk dude wandering drunkenly through the streets, being dumb townies. When they happen upon a wallet full of money, the drunk dude gets all greedy and wants to keep the money, but Jimmy still has a conscience, so he asks whose wallet it is. It apparently belongs to “Some Fat Guy,” and–coincidence of coincidences–there happens to be a fat guy lying just up the street.
Jimmy and the drunk dude go over to investigate, but the fat guy’s even drunker than they are, and keeps referring to them as “buttholes” to the tune of “Smoke on the Water.” He also threatens to come to the McDonalds they work at, buy the place, fire them and then roundhouse kick them. Christ, what an asshole.
So drunk dude decides to keep the fat guy’s money, and Jimmy gets dibs on the dude’s awesome-looking watch. Except hold up, drunk dude wants a piece of that action, too, because that is a solid gold Rolex. Jimmy is a pushover, but not that much of one, so he organizes a trade whereupon he trades the thousand or so bucks in the fat guy’s wallet plus the five hundred the drunk dude has on hand for the $3,000 Rolex. The drunk dude skips away yelling, “Later, SUCKER!” and Jimmy watches him go, his forlorn look turning to smug glee when it’s revealed that the fat guy is a friend of Jimmy’s and that watch was a cheap-ass knockoff. Jimmy just conned a drunk guy out of $500. Nice.
But as with every flashback, it’s not over until we’re hit over the head with The Significance Of It All, so we have to have a scene with Jimmy and the fat guy taking monster bong rips and the fat guy praising Jimmy’s con-man technique while Jimmy demurs, saying, “It’s good for making beer money, that’s about all.” All that’s missing is a big fat red arrow pointing to a word bubble with that sentence and the arrow is flashing neon with the words “THIS IS SIGNIFICANT STUFF RIGHT HERE, PLEASE PAY ATTENTION TO IT.” Ugh.
And with that flashback out of the way, we’re Back to the Future Part 2, where Jimmy has cornered the Kettlemans in a tent in the woods, and the Kettlemans are being chipper fucking assholes. They don’t want to retain Jimmy as a lawyer (“I’m sorry, but you’re the kind of lawyer guilty people hire.”) but they will give him a big fat fuckin’ bribe for not telling anybody about all the goddamn money they stole! The show does that silly CLIFFHANGER thing where it cut to commercial with him looking at a big fat stack of cash all conflicted and shit and then doesn’t resolve it until 10 minutes later, but let’s just get this out of the way with a SPOILER ALERT he obviously takes the goddamn money, have you met this man? Sheeesus.
But before we get to that, we get a scene where Nacho’s finally free because it turns out he didn’t actually kidnap anyone. The detective is pretty pissed, but not as pissed as Nacho, who is pretty certain Jimmy tipped the Kettlemans off to his scheme. You think, because you are weak and unworthy, that Jimmy’s gonna cave into Nacho’s bullying, but instead, Jimmy just jumps right up on Nacho’s nuts about it, talking about how Nacho’s a goddamn moron who (a) was spotted by neighbors and lurking in his van two nights in a row, (b) still had goddamn bloodstains in his van from when he kidnapped Jimmy and the two skater idiots from the first episode. He forcefully argues that Nacho woulda gotten popped anyway, and that the only reason he didn’t was that he wasn’t given the chance to do anything dumb. It’s kind of great, especially since Jimmy continues to refuse to admit that he actually did snitch to the Kettlemans. “You should be THANKING this good Samaritan because whoever he is, he did you a FAVOR.”
So back at the nail shop, Jimmy is drinking rum from a cuke water glass and counting his bribe money. He has to come up with some creative accounting to get it on the books, but anybody who knows Saul knows that that’s not really a problem for him, so at the end of 30 or so seconds of bookkeeping, he says to the stack of money, “Upon this rock, I will build my church.”
And that, finally, signifies that we’re allowed to kick off the actual plot of the goddamn episode. Which, sigh. It’s not that I’m not enjoying this show, but the pacing is just ludicrous sometimes. If they didn’t keep shoving unnecessary flashbacks up our asses, this all would be looking a lot better. Like, if the previous episode had lost the flashback, we could have had five extra minutes to dispense with the silly business of the showing us the money we already knew the Kettlemans stole and instead be given a much more interesting cliffhanger in Jimmy’s moral decision of whether or not to take the bribe money. Imagine if we’d had a week to stew on whether or not he was gonna go down this road, rather than the space of two car commercials and a promo for “Mad Men.” THAT would have been cool. Instead, we get an episode that doesn’t really begin until halfway fucking through its running time. I’m not mad; I’m just disappointed.
Anyway, the plot of this episode is that Jimmy has a plan for his windfall. First, he buys a bitchin’ new suit. Then he gets a bitchin’ new hairstyle[ref]This episode’s movie reference: Make it look like Tony Curtis in “Spartacus!”[/ref]. And then, finally, he gets a sweet new billboard, which just so happens to be placed along the route one Howard Hamlin, of the law firm Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill, takes to work every day. Oh and sorta rips off HHM’s logo. Aaaaand also that suit and haircut make him look a lot like Howard Hamlin. Dude is piiiiiiiiiissed.
So he takes Jimmy to a judge and the judge is straight up like “Yeah Jimmy no, you got 48 hours to take down that billboard.” Jimmy is despondent–his plan for visibility is being crushed by a big, evil law firm. He can’t even get any of the local news stations to bite on it, the poor dude. So he goes with the only option he has left: Paying a couple college kids to film his heartfelt plea to the public’s free-market hearts while the billboard is in the middle of being taken down.
So Jimmy, on camera, starts talking, and it’s that kind of big melodramatic speech that this show has already played for laughs, juxtaposing the flop sweat Jimmy puts into his wordsmithing with the uncaring countenances of his audience, so you’re pretty sure this is gonna fall completely flat when OH GOD THE BILLBOARD GUY FELL OFF THE PLATFORM IN THE BACKGROUND. He’s hooked to a harness, but he’s still hanging around unable to climb back up, suspended 100 feet in the air. Jimmy, summoning a strength of will we haven’t yet seen from him, runs over to the billboard, climbs a rickety ladder, crawls across a wobbling platform and pulls the man to safety. “You okay?” Jimmy asks. “TOOK YOU LONG ENOUGH!” the dude responds, and they give each other daps because DURR CON JOB jesus didn’t you pay attention to the flashback?
So Jimmy’s a hero and gets free press for his amazingness, Hamlin’s still pissed because he realizes he’s just been tweaked specifically to better position Jimmy for a publicity stunt, and Jimmy comes home to seven! Seven messages on his answering machine! He’s gonna make it after all!
He heads to Chuck’s house to give the dude a fresh bag of ice, but before he goes inside, he sees himself on the front of the B section of the Albuquerque Journal. He knows that his brother’s smart enough to put two and two together and come up with Slippin’ Jimmy, so he pretends that the paper didn’t actually come today, and gets all cagey when Chuck asks him where all these new clients come from. But Chuck, you see, is smart enough to notice that and also notice that all the neighbors have papers. So he puts one and one and one and one together and realizes he has to know what’s in the paper today.
This leads to the best Chuck scene so far, where the elder McGill puts on a space blanket and braves the scary outside in a panicked dash across the street, clutching tightly at a $5 bill he intends to use to pay his neighbor back for the paper he’s going to steal. So he freaks out and stumbles around, and you get some of those great throwback POV shots of him staring at power lines and stuff, and he bumbles around the driveway looking for a rock under which to pin the cash. The money shot is that the neighbor whose paper he’s stealing is just deadpan staring at this entire escapade through her front window, and doesn’t seem to particularly give a shit beyond the spectacle. Pretty great.
Anyway, Chuck gets back inside, safe once again from the evils of electromagnetism, and opens up the paper to see his fears confirmed. Slippin’ Jimmy is back again.
The pacing’s off, and the flashbacks are stupid, but the performances are all uniformly fantastic, and the dialogue just basically crackles, so I’m gonna give this one a rating of…