“You have seven new voicemails.”
Jimmy McGill’s phone is ringing off the hook. Business is a-booming, at least compared to how his business was a-bombing. “The worm has turned,” is what he’ll say to brother Chuck in just a few minutes. Indeed it has — and that worm has a name: Saul Goodman.
Arguably, the worm has been turning for years. Better Call Saul’s fourth episode begins with a flashback as Jimmy and an impromptu pal prowl the streets, howling like wolves and bragging about sexual escapades that may never happen. The drunk asks Jimmy for his name. “Saul,” he says. “S’all good, man.” And there you have it: The first appearance of the Breaking Bad alias.
Speaking of alias, Jimmy’s wingman is played by Alias alum Kevin Weisman, who feels he’s pulling a fast one on Jimmy when the two stumble across a pissed-drunk fat man sprawled out in an alleyway. They recover the butthole-obsessed drunk’s wallet, containing $1000 in cash, and his Rolex, which Jimmy wants to keep, but his new “friend” snaps up for himself. As Weisman’s weasel runs off into the night, the fat man stands up, and high-fives Jimmy. It was a con, and they’re now $500 richer. S’all good, man.
In the present, Jimmy faces a new monetary dilemma, not exactly of his own design. He’s in the woods with the Kettlemans, now revealed to have kidnapped themselves, with Craig Kettleman’s embezzled cash spilled out all over their tent. They want to bribe Jimmy into keeping his mouth shut. “I can’t take a bribe,” he says, a pained look on his face. “But I can take a retainer…”
Jimmy pitches himself as the Kettlemans’ new attorney. Who needs high-powered Howard Hamlin when you can have McGill at a discount, someone who will treat you like you’re their one and only client — because, uh, you are? Unfortunately, it’s not enough of a pitch for the Kettlemans. Even in their desperate situation, they can see plain as day: “You’re the kind of lawyer guilty people hire.”
So, no retainer fee. Bribe money it is. Jimmy pockets the cash, and next we see him, he’s thanking toll troll Mike Ehrmantraut for the advice that the Kettlemans probably abducted themselves. “You assume criminals are going to be smarter then they are,” Jimmy sighs. “Kinda breaks my heart a little.”
The Kettlemans are sticking to the story Jimmy concocted for them — that they went off on an impromptu camping trip, and the only reason their house was a mess and their door was kicked down is because “it’s a free country” — and as such, Nacho walks free. But even though Jimmy got Nacho out of his bind, Tuco’s lieutenant still promises Jimmy that there will be consequences for his obvious betrayal. This does not go well with Jimmy, who tells Nacho that he was well on his way to getting caught anyway, what with casing the Kettlemans using the same blood-stained van night after night. “You should be thinking this good samaritan,” says Jimmy, “because whoever he is, he did you a favor.”
Whether or not Nacho buys Jimmy’s logic remains to be seen; for now, Jimmy has other priorities. He goes home with the stack of cash taken from the Kettlemans and starts dividing it into different piles, for travel expenses, research, filing and storage fees and the like. There are a few stacks of cash remaining. Jimmy holds them in his hands and utters the ominous words: “Upon this rock, I will build my church.”
The next day, Jimmy puts those rocks into action, buying a fancy suit, getting a makeover at the salon he calls home… and the result is a big, fat billboard smack dab in the middle of Albuquerque for everyone to see. In the billboard, he looks exactly like Howard Hamlin, from the perfect blonde hair to the teeth to the suit to the ‘tude. For his part, Hamlin is not amused. He takes Jimmy’s billboard as an act of war, and gets a judge to force Jimmy to take the thing down, due to it being an obvious ripoff of Hamlin’s business — to the point that Jimmy’s even using the trademarked color Hamlindigo Blue in his advertisement. Yes, it’s a real color.
Jimmy sees this as a classic David versus Goliath scenario. He’s not done fighting. He tries to get news organizations to catch wind of the story, and failing that, he decides to make some news of his own. Jimmy goes out to the billboard on the day it’s been taken down, and has a camera crew tape an advertisement — his first commercial, and certainly not his last. In the middle of the taping, the worker who is taking down the billboard falls from the scaffolding, dangling by a thin line. Jimmy springs into action and climbs to the top of the billboard as bystanders look on, awed and impressed as Jimmy heroically saves the worker. What they don’t realize is that Jimmy and the worker are in cahoots; it’s the fat man and the rolex all over again.
The ruse works. Jimmy makes front page news in the Albuquerque Journal, under the headline: “Local Lawyer, Local Hero.” The voicemails start rolling in. Business ticks up. He visits with brother Chuck for a few minutes, but just a few, telling him he has three consultations before lunch time.
“The worm has turned,” Jimmy tells him. “You always told me to keep plugging and do good work, and the clients will come.”
Chuck is proud of his little brother. “Hard work looks good on you,” he says. Jimmy leaves, but not before Chuck questions him on why he doesn’t have his copy of the Journal today. Jimmy, of course, wants to keep the news away from the one man who knows everything about Slippin’ Jimmy. But Chuck’s sick, not an idiot. When he sees his neighbors all have copies of the Journal outside their doorsteps, Chuck puts on his space blanket and braves the outdoors, nearly getting rundown by a car as he scoops up a copy. He retreats to his house, reads the “Local Hero” story, and retreats further into his space blanket. “This isn’t Slippin’ Jimmy,” indeed.