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Better Call Saul recap: Jimmy has a ‘Nacho’ problem

“I’m no hero.”

No one can hear Jimmy McGill’s quiet confession except for Jimmy McGill. He stands alone in the nail salon that doubles as his home office, sipping cucumber water, pondering his next move. His mind and his heart tell him two conflicting tales, all spinning out of his recent encounter with a criminal named Nacho — a criminal who intends to steal county treasurer Craig Kettleman’s stolen millions, potentially at the expense of the whole Kettleman family’s safety.

On one hand, Jimmy should just shut up and look the other way. Not his problem. On the other hand… well, it appears that Jimmy has a conscience after all, even though certain future events under the Saul Goodman alias might indicate otherwise. After a late-night phone call with former colleague (and former flame?) Kim Wexler, an attorney at Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill, Jimmy decides he has to do something to make sure Nacho can’t hurt the Kettlemans. Not on his watch.

Enter the so-called “sexy robot voice,” as Jimmy stuffs a paper towel tube and uses it to disguise his voice as he calls the Kettleman family and warns: “You’re in danger! They’re coming!”

Better Call Saul S01E03 05

Lewis Jacobs/AMC

On the other side of the line, Craig Kettleman and his wife try to process the muffled information. The words finally dawn on them, and they stare out the window into the night, looking for any signs of door-knocking danger.

The next day, it appears that the danger has indeed found the Kettlemans, as police discover that the whole family is missing. When the news reaches Jimmy, he bee-lines it to a pay phone and tries to contact Nacho, leaving voicemail after voicemail after voicemail.

No one can hear Jimmy McGill’s quiet confession except for Jimmy McGill.

“Call me when you get this,” he says, sweat dripping from his brow. “Time is of the essence on this matter.”

Several calls, no answer. Frustrated Jimmy prepares to throw in the towel, when he sees a pair of dangerous-looking men approaching from mere blocks away. When he can’t start his car, Jimmy pounds the pavement, running as fast as his bad knees will allow. Turns out, they don’t allow for much, and the men — revealed to be cops — catch up with Jimmy, and bring him to jail, where Nacho is in a holding room, picked up the night before outside the Kettleman home.

Nacho specifically asks for Jimmy as his lawyer, and Jimmy obliges. He enters the holding cell and tries to get information out of Nacho about the Kettlemans’ whereabouts, but it’s trickier than pulling teeth. When Nacho finally speaks, it’s because he believes Jimmy ratted him out about the plan to steal Kettleman’s millions. “I told only one person about my plan,” Nacho snarls, sitting across the table from the one person he told. He believes Jimmy sold the plan to another contractor, and screwed Nacho over in the process.

Better Call Saul S01E03 01

Ursula Coyote/AMC

Of course, Jimmy did no such thing. That’s a Saul Goodman move, perhaps, but not Slippin’ Jimmy’s style. Still, even though Jimmy’s innocent of the accusations, and even though Nacho is as well, Nacho is very much a criminal — and if the cops poke around his business, it could be bad news for everyone involved.

“If they find out anything on me or my partners, it’s going to be bad for you,” Nacho tells Jimmy. “Get me out of here today, or you’re a dead man.”

Better Call Saul S01E03 02

Lewis Jacobs/AMC

Doesn’t take much more than a loaded threat like that to light a fire under Jimmy’s butt. He joins Kim and two cops over at the Kettleman residence to see if he can piece together anything about what happened to these people. Jimmy takes one look at a photo of the Kettleman daughter clinging onto a toy doll, and when he notices that the doll isn’t in the house, he reaches the conclusion that nobody kidnapped the Kettlemans — except the Kettlemans themselves. Jimmy figures that when he tipped them off, they took their stolen money and flew the coop, as far from Albuquerque as possible. But there are no plane or train ticket records for the Kettlemans; the police don’t buy the story.

Thankfully, there’s one person who does buy Jimmy’s tale: Mike Ehrmantraut. The future Breaking Bad hit-man has been a quiet presence on Better Call Saul until now, serving as Jimmy McGill’s parking attendant antagonist. Their conflict over stickers and parking prices finally boils over into something physical, with Jimmy poking Mike’s chest, and Mike twisting Jimmy’s arm in return. The police get involved, and they try to get Mike to press charges against Jimmy, as leverage to force Jimmy into turning against Nacho in the Kettleman case.

After overhearing Jimmy’s theory, Mike decides not to cooperate with the cops — because he believes Jimmy, believe it or not. Mike tells the anxious attorney that the Kettleman story is reminiscent of an old case from his time as a Philadelphia beat cop, when a bookie went missing after owing money to the wrong people. Rumors persisted that the bookie was in the Bahamas, but it turns out he was just hiding two doors down from his home. Mike tells Jimmy that the Kettlemans are probably following suit. After all, Mike reasons, “nobody wants to leave home.”

Better Call Saul S01E03 03

Ursula Coyote/AMC

Jimmy takes Mike’s advice to heart and returns to the Kettleman household, determined to find out what’s happening here. He searches the vast hills and woods behind the Kettleman estate, sweating and panting his way through each and every step. Finally, at nighttime, Jimmy sees what he was hoping to see: The whole Kettleman family sitting and singing together in a tent. Just before they can transition from “Bingo” to “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt,” Jimmy bursts through the tent and announces: “Here’s Johnny!”

The Kettlemans are horrified, not just because of the jump-scare of Jimmy’s arrival, but because they’ve been caught, and because Jimmy refuses to negotiate. Little do they know that his life is on the line, and the only way to get the threat of Nacho off his back is to bring the Kettlemans back to civilization. But the Kettlemans can’t go back; they’ve already come too far. Thus begins a literal tug of war between Jimmy and the Kettlemans, as both sides pull so hard on a duffle bag that it rips in half — and sends all of their stolen cash flying all over the tent.

As the money rains down all around Jimmy, you can hear those familiar words pounding in his ears, and you can see them dancing in his eyes: “I’m no hero.”

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