Better Call Saul Teaches A Novice Drug Dealer A Tough Lesson On Heeding Good Advice
Even if he doesn't realize quite yet exactly how badly he's screwed himself.
Starting a small business -- even if it's just a sideline you don't expect will ever turn into your full-time hustle -- is tough. Whatever you're doing, expenses crop up that you haven't been able to anticipate. Research! Marketing! ...Insurance! But after you've been doing it a little while and start enjoying some professional success, you might get the idea that you can lower your expenses by firing some of your consultants, and doing yourself the tasks they've been doing for you. But in the Season 2 premiere of Better Call Saul, one small business owner learns -- the hard way -- that some specialists really are worth the fees they command. Although, actually, this particular small business owner is so far out of his depth that he hasn't even figured out that his misfortune has proceeded directly from his own hubris.
We first met "Price" toward the end of Season 1, when he hired Mike to back him up at a meet at which he planned to sell prescription drugs, which he'd stolen from his job at a pharmaceutical firm, to Nacho. Originally, Mike is just supposed to be one member of a three-man goon squad, but -- Mike being Mike -- he pretty quickly demonstrates why he's got the skills and power of (at least) two other guys, and ends up "Price"'s solo bodyguard. Apparently, it's an arrangement that's been working well for a while, until "Price" shows up to get Mike for a meet, and is driving what is definitely the wrong car for the occasion.
Because Mike is not a fucking idiot, he refuses to set butt in "Price"'s stupid Hummer: "This business requires restraint. That is the opposite of restraint." "Price," his feelings hurt, protests that he likes the Hummer and is proud of it, and when Mike insists that he'll only get to the meeting in his own car, we see "Price"'s version of lashing out: "Honestly, you don't really do anything. I've been paying you the salary of three people to just stand behind me, you know? And these last few deals-- This Nacho fella, he's been coming alone. If he doesn't need backup men, then, I mean, why do I need you? I should just go alone. I'm throwing away money! Just tossing it away. Into the trash." Mike solemnly tells "Price" to do whatever he wants: "But I'm advising you, do not go to that meet without someone watching your back." "Price" shoots back that Mike's advice is motivated by his own self-interest, not wanting to lose "this easy-peasy job," and gives him one last chance to get on board the gravy train; Mike, as should come as no surprise to anyone, takes a hard pass.
When "Price" pulls up to the meeting and gets out of that ridiculous vehicle, Nacho starts demonstrating to the viewer exactly why Mike was right to tell "Price" not to go alone. He doesn't do anything overtly aggressive to spook "Price," like take advantage of his exposure to threaten him physically in order to take the pills without paying their agreed-upon fee. Instead, he compliments "Price" on the car and asks to take a look; while "Price" is around back counting the cash, Nacho opens the glove compartment, pulls out the registration, and learns his real name -- Daniel Wormald -- and home address. While it's true that Wormald has been earning money as a criminal for weeks or months by now, having Mike to back him up has evidently kept him from...developing any basic street smarts. Going by a pseudonym: wise! Doing basically nothing else to ensure his real identity stays concealed: much less wise!
Wormald is offscreen for a while after, as far as he knows, his first Mikeless meeting goes off without any problems and proves how right he was to let Mike go. And when we see him next, it's as two uniformed police officers show up to his house. Because Nacho has called in a tip that he might have prescription drugs and/or a large amount of cash in the dwelling? No: because Wormald's house has mysteriously and totally out of the blue been burgled by persons utterly unknown to him! Wormald, in distress, tells the cops that the only thing of value that's been taken is his baseball card collection. (He briefly mentions cash, but then blows past a follow-up question, evidently hoping the cops didn't really notice and will soon forget.) This poor idiot is so convinced that the full resources of the Albuquerque Police Department are going to be put toward solving this case -- he even talks about the first forty-eight hours, as if there's functionally no difference between his missing baseball cards and an abducted child -- that he bustles off to get a "manifest" of his collection, annotated with specifics about the most valuable items. In case you weren't sure if an ACTIVE DRUG DEALER calling the cops to his home wasn't stupid enough, leaving them alone to poke around and collect evidence in his absence should seal it, because as soon as they notice the undisturbed love seat and the space in front of it that's obviously been cleared of debris, they figure they should see what might be behind it...
...and while Wormald's hidey-hole might currently be empty, its very existence is suggestive that (a) he's doing something that's not legal, and (b) might involve associates he's too dumb to have realized himself are DEFINITELY THE ONES WHO ROBBED HIM. In an episode that also features Kim showing off her excellent instincts and innate improv skills to join Jimmy in tricking a douchey "wealth manager" into buying them an entire bottle of high-end tequila one $50 shot at a time, stupid Wormald's moronic missteps are all the more appalling. Sure, he saved a few bucks acting as his own backup. But he exposed his identity to a criminal much wilier than himself; he lost a baseball card collection that apparently has incalculable value to him; and he unwittingly brought the police into his shady affairs -- all of which could have easily been avoided, and SHOULD have been.