By this point we’ve seen Jimmy McGill A) behave in very sneaky fashion to further his own goals, B) exhibit some quietly overt cleverness when it comes to serving his clientele, and C) do “the right thing” when it comes to the people he actually cares about. But despite seven damn good episodes full of material, the creators of Better Call Saul held off on giving our fascinating anti-hero a true calling, a tangible goal, or a worthwhile crusade. All of that ends with episode 8 (“Rico”), because here’s where Jimmy goes from merely treading water to spying a massive wave well before anyone else does.
As you’re well aware by now, Jimmy has set himself up with a pretty decent approach to the New Mexico legal world: old people need lawyers for all sorts of reasons, and Jimmy is more than happy to be the guy who files all their paperwork (for a small fee) — but one meeting with a particularly sweet old lady sends up a red flag in the attorney’s head; it doesn’t take long for Jimmy to figure out that “Sandpiper Industries” is ripping off thousands of elderly people who are presently residing in the company’s “assisted living” centers.
Aside from a great flashback scene in which Jimmy (finally) passes the New Mexico bar exam, and a handful of very cool moments involving Mike and his estranged daughter-in-law, “Rico” is a fast-paced and straightforward procedural. Basically we get to tag along as Jimmy pieces all of the clues together and, with no small amount of assistance from big brother Chuck and the ever-loyal Kim, lowers the boom on Sandpiper’s slimy team of attorneys.
By this point in Better Call Saul we’ve come to enjoy even the smallest of Jimmy’s victories, but there’s something particularly satisfying about watching him come into his own, legally speaking, against such a devious (and plainly defensive) legal team. It doesn’t hurt that Jimmy’s new nemesis is played Dennis Boutsikaris, working on full-on super-cocky mode.
The colorful irony of Jimmy’s evolution is summed up more or less flawlessly in a brilliant sequence that occurs about halfway through the episode: the man has no clients to speak of except for his own moral compass, but he promptly leaps into a disgusting dumpster to locate some incriminating evidence. Not only does Jimmy take a face full of wet garbage in his search for the truth, but he also has to take a vital phone call (which turns out to be a frustrating conversation indeed) while half-buried in rubbish. It’s as if Jimmy McGill has to struggle through one more repulsive indignity in order to join the big boys’ lawyer’s club, and by the time the man (and his big brother, of course) gets down to brass tacks with the Sandpiper attorneys, we’ve witnessed an almost complete transformation.
The finale of episode 8 represents a great moment for Jimmy, not to mention his loyal viewers, and it’s tough to not pull for the guy as he steams towards a class-action lawsuit that could be a huge windfall for all involved. And we only have two more episodes to see how Jimmy will manage to screw it all up. (Or will he?)