Better Call Saul Tries To Talk Things Through
Mike develops a theory about one of his fellow support-group grievers, while Jimmy develops a plan for marketing cell phones to a specific kind of customer in our EPIC OLD-SCHOOL RECAP of 'Talk.'
Our cold open is...possibly instructive and thus servicey to homeowners? We watch as, very methodically, a man we don't see frames out a square and then mixes, pours, and smooths out concrete in it. We keep getting cuts back to a little blond boy watching this whole process, and inasmuch as he's not in, like, a Go-Bots t-shirt or something, it's hard to tell when this is, though the AM Gold on the soundtrack and the look of a nearby car suggest the '70s. That this guy hasn't found even one little BS task to give the kid and make him feel like he's helping is a hint as to the kind of person he is -- though maybe the kid is hanging around because he wants to make sure he's right there when the concrete is perfectly smooth, so that the man doesn't change his mind before giving the kid a stick and letting him write his name in it.
In the present, Matty's dad is on a couch in a shadowy room, and rumbles, "You wanted me to talk. I talked." The shot switches from directly in front of Mike to behind his head, as we see he's at his grief support group, Anita to his right. Considering that it is a support group, whatever Mike just said doesn't look like it's about to garner him much support.
After the credits, we're following a guy who's carrying a gym bag through a derelict motel -- the Westward Ho, fittingly -- that has evidently been taken over by drug users and merchants. He clears gatekeepers at a couple of different points and eventually ends up in a room where cash is being counted. Our guy puts the bag on a table, and the man sitting behind it pulls out a brick of something white, testing its heft in his hand. I'm going to go ahead and say it's not Fun Dip. Or, at least, not the kind you can buy at 7-11. ...Or, at least, not the kind you can buy INSIDE 7-11.
Some time later, Gym Bag is getting into the passenger seat beside Victor, behind the wheel. "Done," says Gym Bag, holding up a knot of cash. Victor starts the car. Cue the most epic shopping spree Crabtree & Evelyn's ever seen! JK. Though that would be awesome.
The shower is running as Jimmy, in bed, is awakened by his ringing cell phone. It's Robbie Finn from CC Mobile! He asks if he's calling at a bad time, and Jimmy barely tries to cough the sleep out of his voice before saying it's fine. Robbie wants to offer him a job! At the downtown branch! Jimmy vaguely recalls that this outfit is a cell phone store, and Robbie confirms that, saying Jimmy made a great impression on a Mr. Boyd, who wants to start Jimmy out as a shift supervisor. They can get his training done today!
Jimmy squints silently into the darkness long enough for Robbie to check that he's still there, at which Jimmy says his plans have changed and he's not going to be able to take the job. Robbie's sorry to hear that. "Me too," mumbles Jimmy. "It's a real shame." Robbie gets off the call wishing Jimmy a good day. Does Jimmy have those anymore?
Kim packs up her briefcase and pulls out a Post-It pad, peering thoughtfully at whatever's written on the top page before peeling it off, setting her most resolute Kimface, and heading to the bathroom, where Jimmy's shaving. Noting that she's heading out, he asks if she wants Thai for dinner -- "I've got a hankering for that iced tea," also a selling point for him the last time he got it -- and she says that's good; she should be back by 7. She continues leaning in the doorway until he asks her what's up. "I was thinking that maybe you should talk to someone?" she says, her voice pitching up the tiniest bit at the close of her sentence. She says she has a name, and hands him the Post-It, adding that he's not far and she's heard good things. At first, Jimmy looks disappointed to find out she doesn't think he's doing well, and then asks, squinting, "It's a shrink?" "It works for a lot of people?" says Kim, her voice once again going tentative at the end. Jimmy, keeping all his options open, thanks her, and sticks the Post-It to the mirror as he hedges that he has to check out his schedule. Kim grinds her teeth until Jimmy turns back and says he almost forgot to tell her: he got a job! "Really?" says Kim, smiling like she wants to believe it. Jimmy tells her he's "Albuquerque's newest mobile communications specialist" -- and a shift supervisor, no less! Kim tells him it's great. Jimmy promises that it's "strictly gainful employment" until he's cleared to practise law again in -- mark your calendars -- ten months. Kim gestures at the Post-It before suggesting that Jimmy give the guy a call, and he says he will, "absolutely." She gives him a kiss on the cheek and heads out to her very busy day of high-stakes lawyering!!! As soon as he's confirmed Kim's gone, Jimmy grabs his cell phone and calls Robbie back to say he actually would like the job after all! I love that Jimmy's method of procrastination with regard to dealing with his emotions is to start a new job instead. It's like how I procrastinate writing by doing laundry, except...more.
And then we see Kim embarking upon her busy, important day at the courthouse! After clearing security, she makes pleasant small talk with a bailiff about which judges are doing what today. Dockets for the first two sound dull, but a Judge Munsinger is going to be dealing with "criminal trespassing, aggravated stalking, and some pleading down." SPICY!!!
And then we're in Munsinger's courtroom as he's directing attorneys from the bench about something or other, and Kim sits in the gallery, her eyebrows intense. Between cases, Munsinger glances up and notices Kim sitting there, asking if she has "a matter before the court today." Kim briskly says she doesn't; she's just observing. Munsinger frowns and moves on. There's a little comedy with the next defendant, who's representing himself (badly) and is in court today because he missed an appearance last week and Munsinger issued a bench warrant. The prosecutor's launching into her spiel when Munsinger motions for a bailiff and whispers something to him; the bailiff then heads straight for Kim to tell her Munsinger wants to see her in his chambers during the next recess. Kim looks surprised, but settles into her seat as Munsinger tries not to watch her.
Then Kim's knocking on Munsinger's door, though she immediately tries to leave, not wanting to intrude on his sad desk lunch of eggplant and okra -- his wife having insisted, due to cholesterol. (Good luck to everyone on his afternoon calendar, who'll be trying to argue through a miasma of his vegetarian farts.) But Munsinger tells Kim to sit and, after a long beat, notes that she hurt her arm; she confirms that she did, without offering any more details. Munsinger asks if she's researching something; she says she's not. "Then you're working on your procedure," he guesses. "Just...observing," Kim evades. "So Howard Hamlin's fine with one of his associates just sitting around my court all day, whiling away the billable hours," Munsinger cracks. Kim tells him she left HHM, and about her job as outside counsel for Mesa Verde. Munsinger repeats the name, and then knits his fingers and studies her.
Kim makes a face that will look familiar to every woman who's ever had to wait for a man to give her a lesson she didn't ask for -- I guess I could have just stopped at "every woman" -- but then Munsinger zags, saying he heard of a case and thinks she might be the right person to take it on. Kim is very interested! "I can't share all the details just yet," says Munsinger, "but I can give you broad strokes. There's a young woman -- early twenties -- pregnant with her first child. Nearing the end of term. Healthy as a horse. She develops a complication. She goes to the hospital for delivery, and there's a mistake with the anaesthesia. She aspirates vomitus into her oxygen mask, stops breathing. The baby's delivered, fine, but the young mother suffers serious brain damage. She's left comatose on a respirator." Kim's face goes from concern to faint recognition, while Munsinger continues: "The family is, naturally, devastated. And they're broke, so they have no way to pay for the young lady's care. And to make matters worse, the hospital refuses to take responsibility! And they've hired one of the most expensive firms in the state."
Kim can't exactly say she doesn't have time for this baloney, since clearly she does, but she's still annoyed as she tells Munsinger, "This is the plot of The Verdict." Munsinger leans forward gleefully: "Yes! Of course it is! Because movies are the only place where those once-in-a-lifetime cases exist. You know what I've got coming up next? I've got a janitor who threw his pee on his boss." PUT ME ON THE JURY, I WILL NOT CONVICT, THAT BOSS ALMOST CERTAINLY DESERVED IT. "The one after that -- she stabbed her boyfriend over a grilled cheese sandwich." I'VE DONE THAT AND I REGRET NOTHING, GRILLED CHEESE IS SERIOUS BUSINESS. "This is the real world, Miss Wexler," Munsinger concludes, "and you won't find any 'save the broken lawyer' cases in it. Don't think that you are the first to try to rediscover their love of the law by trolling my court. You're not. Best thing you can do is stick to Mesa Verde. Make lots of money. Give some to charity." Give some to the grilled cheese lover! Then Munsinger remembers that the courthouse has "perpetual PD overload," so if he sees her hanging around his courtroom, he'll put her to work. Kim gives a crisp Kim nod: "Understood." Then he says, "Good luck to you." Kim takes the hint and leaves...
...but when Munsinger returns from his lunch, he looks out to the gallery, and...
...there's Kim, hanging around his courtroom with an "I dare you to make me some idiot's public defender" look on her face. I dare him to also! DOES THE GRILLED CHEESE LOVER HAVE REPRESENTATION?!?
Then we're at Mike's favourite diner, where Mike himself -- in the gray, maroon, and blue checked shirt we saw him wearing in the cold open, by the way -- is in a booth, scratching away at a crossword puzzle. Presently, the door jingles behind him, and in walks Anita. She takes a moment in the entryway to smooth out her skirt before coming to slide in across from Mike and tell him, "22 across is Esmeralda." He looks astonished, and reads, "'Bell ringer's love interest.'" "It's the Hunchback," she says. "Quasimodooooooo," murmurs Mike, pleased. "Look at you!" She chuckles. Server Fran comes over with Anita's soda and a coffee refill for Mike; they warmly greet each other by name before Fran confirms that Anita wants her usual. When they're alone again, Anita tells Mike a pianist friend of hers has a show tonight with her band; would he like to go? "Tonight's Group," says Mike. "We could ditch!" Anita reminds him. Mike considers it, but not for long, saying he'd better go, since he told Stacey he'd be there. Smiling, Anita nods, and amiably drops it, glancing at the newspaper section Mike passed her. "Maybe I could stop by after," Mike offers. "That'd be great," says Anita. She then leans forward a bit to say, "Speaking of Group? I've been thinking about reaching out to Henry."
Failing to clock Mike's extremely disgusted reaction, Anita explains, "I think he needs a friend. Every time I see him, he seems worse." "Henry's fine," rumbles Mike irritably. "You talked to him?" she asks. "Don't need to," says Mike. She asks how he knows, then. "Because that dead wife he's always talking about never existed," Mike declares. Anita, stunned, asks what he's talking about. "It's an act," says Mike. "Why would you even say that?" Anita gasps. "The guy's story changes every time he tells it," says Mike, taking no pleasure in it. Anita doesn't think so. "The romantic night at the Cubs game?" Mike reminds her. "Their first kiss?...Never happened." Anita tells Mike he can't know that. "Wrigley Field didn't get lights until '88," says Mike. "There were no night games before then. None of his details add up." Anita suggests that Henry just got the year wrong. Mike gives his head the slightest cock as he silently regards her. "Why would anyone make up a story like that?" asks Anita, aghast. There's a brief pause as Fran delivers their lunches, and once she's gone, Anita's slightly more relaxed, laughing a little as she says Mike has a very suspicious nature. Mike chuckles too, and then says, "Watch him. He's got a tell. Like a bad poker player -- when he's lying, he rubs his wrist." Anita looks away, like she's trying to remember Henry making the gesture, and says, "Okay. You want to put your money where your mouth is?" "Well, are you going to come to Group tonight?" Mike shoots back. "Make it interesting," says Anita. "All right," says Mike. "Ten bucks says that when he talks about Judy: different story." They shake on it. May this disrespect not rouse Judy's spirit from her grave, if either the spirit or grave exists.
Over to CC Mobile! Evidently Jimmy breezed through his training, because he's already donned an acid green vest and is adjusting his name tag using a display case as a mirror. Also, "Shift Supervisor" seems to be an extremely empty title in that Jimmy is the only person working in the store. In fact, he is the only person in the store, full stop: he has time to clean all the glass and tidy all the displays and even clean the carpet without a single customer setting foot on the premises. I once had a job that added up to maybe one hour's worth of work every day but still, for no good reason, required me to sit at a desk for eight hours, and while it sounds rad, it was a kind of torture to know my precious hours were being squandered so pointlessly. Though in that case, I also had to make it look as though I was doing anything productive in case anyone managerial walked by; zero responsibilities, no boss, and a paycheque is really hitting the trifecta, in my opinion. Anyway, Jimmy is relieved when the landline rings, but it's just Robbie checking in. Jimmy asks whether this kind of foot traffic -- none -- is customary, and Robbie says that location is usually "calmer," adding, "Just bring a book." JUST BRING A BOOK, JIMMY, DO NOT RUIN THIS GOOD THING YOU'VE STUMBLED UPON. But no, Jimmy needs the stimulation of human contact like a fucking drug, and asks Robbie to move him somewhere busier; Robbie tells him to give this posting a couple of weeks and then they'll revisit the matter. Jimmy glumly hangs up. Then he grabs a CC Mobile rubber ball (uh, consider that customers aren't coming in because your swag sucks) and starts bouncing it: off the floor, to the front window, and back to Jimmy's hand. Again. And again. Etc. I really wish at this point we could have seen a clock showing that it's, like, 9:17 AM. Buddy: I feel your pain. But you'll never leave the house without a book again!
Back to the Westward Ho, only marginally less creepy in the daylight, and being watched through binoculars as a silver Iroc pulls up. Not the Firebird Nacho had guessed at, but...basically. We see the binoculars user is Marco, sitting in the passenger seat of their truck next to Leonel; he passes the binoculars to Nacho, in the back seat, who watches the driver get out and confirms (in Spanish, as is all their dialogue), "Yeah, that's it. I remember the smoked windows." Needless to say, this is no one we've seen before, but Nacho claims, "That's the one that ran us off the road." As the guy makes his way inside, Nacho warns, "That place is like a fortress. We're gonna need numbers." He starts listing the guys he'll bring when they return later that night to attack it, but Marco and Leonel just look at each other; no "nah" is even required as they both climb out, Leonel opening the back door and pulling out a gym bag full of, I assume, hostess gifts? JK, obviously guns. As they walk toward the motel entrance, Nacho tries to hiss at them to come back, but they either don't hear or ignore him. Nacho sees a couple of guards posted up at the entrance preparing to meet the Salamancas; he scans the binoculars left, where nothing is happening, for literally three seconds before swinging back to the entrance and seeing Marco dispatch both guards with a knife. Nacho starts breathing fast as he watches Marco and Leonel reach into the bag, pull out handguns, and go to work. Pretty soon, they're out of sight, but we hear lots of gunshots and screams from Nacho's perspective. Soon a truck pulls up; a couple of guys get out with shotguns and start coming in behind the Salamancas. Nacho is basically hyperventilating in the truck, and makes the EXTREMELY UNWISE choice to join this fight himself even though he has to cock his handgun by pinching it between his knees because he's only like a day out from unlicensed veterinary shoulder surgery at the Jiffy Lube Clinic.
What follows is mostly unrecappable: it kind of looks like a videogame as Nacho takes out the shotgun guys, a fireball explodes out of the courtyard into the sky, and Nacho starts limping toward the motel. Leonel is still alive, and there are corpses all over the courtyard; we don't see Marco. Nacho eventually takes cover behind an oil drum, bleeding through his shirt where he got gut-shot, but he's aiming his handgun when all of a sudden Marco is standing next to him, a gun in each hand. Nacho stays down while Marco kills the last living motellites, and after a sensible pause -- safety first -- Leonel comes out of his hiding place, unharmed, bag in hand. I bet Nacho would LOVE a nice, boring job at a deserted cell phone store right about now.
After dark, we're in a warehouse; Victor stands by the entrance while Nacho, further inside, leans against a pillar and suffers. Before long, an SUV pulls in, and Nacho struggles to his feet. Gus gets out of the passenger side and strides up to Nacho for a status report: "We cleared out the Espinosas. They're all done." Gus asks about the Salamanca brothers, and Nacho reluctantly says that Marco took a hit, but will be okay: "They went back south until the heat dies down." After a beat, Nacho says, "It's territory, isn't it. Salamancas wipe out the Espinosas. Espinosa territory is up for grabs." He starts getting a little breathless as he continues: "Cartel can't give it to the Salamancas, so I think they give it to you." Gus steps forward so that Nacho can see his dead eyes in his imperious face, not respecting Nacho enough to answer his question, instead recommending, "Get some rest. You have more to do." Nacho can't help literally hanging his head. What, you thought you were DONE? Buddy!
Over to Group, where a member named Willa is quietly telling the story of a good job her son (I assume) is up for, while the attendees listen politely. She's about to name the hiring organization when the door opens and she stops for the latecomer. Since he's played by Marc Evan Jackson, we immediately know this must be the famous Henry of imaginary dead wife fame before Anita and Mike share a look at his disruptive entrance, and even if we hadn't already heard Mike's suspicions about him, we'd know Henry's an attention vampire from the way he takes the seat riiiiight next to the leader and apes his posture.
Once Henry's situated, the leader invites Willa to finish, and she hurriedly wraps it up: "It's called the North 4th Arts Center. I hope he takes the job." The leader invites another speaker to go next, and stupid Stacey tells the story of her completely banal morning with Kaylee, and that it was over before she realized she hadn't thought of Matty all day. As she goes on describing this strange feeling, Mike gets increasingly agitated, working his jaw and sneering and twitching and quickening his breath. "What if I lose the sound of his voice?" whines Stacey, her voice breaking. "What if I forget him completely? I mean, I know I won't -- that's, like, impossible -- but I don't know, I'm-- I don't know." The leader gently tells her she's not alone, while next to her, Mike huffs and seethes. "It might be painful, but if you ask me, I'd say it's progress," the leader adds. "A lot of us in this room have felt the same things you're talking about." Henry nods sagely and then volunteers, "I know I have. I keep trying to get there -- to live in the here and now."
As Henry gets rolling, Mike recovers his composure and concentrates on Henry. "I know that's what Judy would have wanted, but it's hard. This guy at work, I've been avoiding him for the last two weeks, ever since he got back from his vacation to Australia." The camera, behind Henry's hands as he rubs his wrist, focuses on Anita, shooting Mike a sidelong look as she notes the tell. Henry continues: "She always wanted to go to Sydney, but money was tight. Finally, we were going to go, for our 25th, and that's when she got her test results." "Awwwww, God," grumbles Mike. The leader -- way on the other side of the room, so that he may have heard the noise but not the words or, uh, tone -- asks if Mike wants to add something. "You don't want to hear what I have to say," says Mike. "We're ready if you are," the leader encourages him. "Yeah?" asks Mike. "This guy was never married." "What are you talking about," says Henry quietly. "Mike, now, you know the rules," the leader cautions, to which Mike spits, "Yeah, I know your rules. He's been coming in here for months selling you a bill of goods, getting you all misty-eyed and loving every minute of it." Stacey touches Mike's leg and hisses at him, but he flinches away and snaps, "Stop." Henry says Mike's claims aren't true. "Yeah?" asks Mike. "Okay. So I'll go to the public library and I'll get the papers from 1997 and I'll run a search on Judy Devore, beloved wife of Henry Devore. Tell me I'll find her obituary." Henry opens his mouth and is still inhaling to answer when Mike interrupts: "She wanted to go to Australia? Last month it was Cuba. Come on, Henry. Let's look at the paper, see if the math works." That was also my question: Jackson is 48, but if it's 2003 in the show's timeline, maybe Judy died at the end of 1997 and it's early in 2003; he could have been 43, which would make him 18 at the time of their marriage -- uncommon now but less so in 1979. Or maybe Henry's older than Jackson. ANYWAY: Anita leans forward to say, "Come on, Mike," and while he (rightly) shook off Stacey's attempts to shut him up, he seems duly chastened by Anita's disapproval, but he can't stop, looking at her while he says, "She's not there, is she." We cut back to Henry, looking at the floor while the leader stares at Mike in shock. "You have no shame," says Mike to Henry, who twitches briefly before storming out. "Well," says Mike. "He came to the right place, didn't he. He knew you wouldn't notice. And you didn't. All wrapped up in your sad little stories, feeding off each other's misery." And that takes us back to the end of the cold open: "You wanted me to talk. I talked." Brrrr.
We watch through a basketball net as a car pulls into a driveway and Manuel gets out, but when he approaches his front door fumbling with his keys, he sees it's already open. He cautiously moves through the house, calling out (in Spanish) to whoever's there that they should leave and that he doesn't want to play games. When he makes it to the living room, he can see there's someone on the couch and repeats that he doesn't want them there, but when he snaps on a lamp, he sees it's Nacho, elbows on his knees and blood seeping through his tank top. Horrified, Manuel breathes, "What have they done to you?" He picks up the phone, Nacho telling him not to. "You need the hospital," Manuel insists. "Don't call," says Nacho. "Not anyone. I won't be safe if you do." By this point, the 911 operator has picked up; in anguish, Manuel does as Nacho says and hangs up the phone. "I'm okay," says Nacho laboriously. "Can I rest here a little?" Manuel squeezes his eyes shut as he tries to think of a polite way to say "Only on a rubber sheet."
The next day, Mike is touring another Madrigal facility and -- of course -- finding no shortage of sloppiness even on a truck his escort claims was packed by their "top guys." While Mike waits for the container to be opened, his phone buzzes; he sees it's stupid Stacey calling and puts it back in his pocket, as any one of us would. The container: too hot! Boxes labeled "Do Not Double Stack": double-stacked! Straps: frayed! Then there's a call on a landline at this shipping facility. For Mike. Who doesn't work there every day or probably ever after today. Sure. "He wants to see you," says the voice on the line. (Victor, I think.) "Yeah?" says Mike. "Tonight," says the caller. Mike nods irritably and hangs up.
At CC Mobile, Jimmy continues perfecting his window bouncing technique, notices it's closing time, and takes off, driving to a rebar...plant? Manufacturer? A business called Ace Rebar, guys, I don't know. When he goes inside, we see that Ira is in there working his day job, restocking the vending machine with cans of Shasta. "I'm a Fanta guy myself," says Jimmy. "Well, you can buy a truckload," says Ira, handing Jimmy a thick envelope of cash. Jimmy perfunctorily glances around before looking at the haul and telling Ira it's more than they had talked about. "Bavarian Boy made quite a splash at the collectibles expo," Ira informs him. "Bidding war." Jimmy says that's great, but quietly says they both know Ira could have kept the overage and Jimmy never would have known. "Yeah, well, you could've left me high and dry," Ira replies, adding, "I'm liking this Hummel thing. Cash came fast and clean. Got any more where that came from?" Jimmy looks pleasantly surprised by Ira's hustle, but has to say he doesn't. At the truck as Ira prepares to leave, Jimmy tells him, "We're going to do this again. I'll find something." Ira says that when he does, he should call the vet. "Yeah?" asks Jimmy quizzically. "Yeah," says Ira. "New job, new phone. You never know who's listening."
This gives Jimmy AN IDEA.
Back at CC Mobile, Jimmy carefully paints letters across the windows in red and yellow, even using a paint pen for sharper outlines. When he's finished, he steps into the parking lot and admires his handiwork.
Jimmy then turns his back to the store and surveys the landscape for all the shady characters he seems to think will have sensed this opportunity and descended on him. It hasn't happened...yet.
That night, Mike drives up to the Pollos Hermanos warehouse and stops when he sees Gus, backed up by Tyrus and Victor, standing under a light. After a deep sigh, he climbs out and approaches, Gus coming to meet him halfway. "You wanted to see me, here I am," Mike grumbles. "In order for our arrangement to continue, there is a matter we need to discuss," says Gus. "...Okay," says Mike. "Do you have something to tell me?" asks Gus. "If you do, you would be well advised to do so." Mike nods: "Nacho Varga. I wondered when you were going to get around to this." "You came to me," says Gus. "You asked for a favour. You looked me in the eye, you shook my hand, and all the while, you knew Varga was moving against my interests." "I said I wouldn't kill Salamanca," says Mike. "I never promised to be his bodyguard." Gus glares, but doesn't argue. "So," says Mike. "What now? You gonna make a move, you better make it!" No one does. "But they're not gonna, are they," Mike states, when nothing happens. He takes a couple of steps toward Gus, whereupon Gym Bag from the start of the episode starts advancing on Mike, until Gus holds out a hand to stop him. "You brought me here because you have an ask," Mike challenges. "So why don't you stop running a game on me and just tell me about the job." HE CAN'T, MIKE, BECAUSE WE ARE OUT OF TIME.