Season 1, Episode 6
Mike's tragic past comes back to haunt him, and he's forced to seek help from an unusual source. Jimmy's moral compass is put to the test.
In a flashback, a train flies through the Southwest scrubland. When it pulls in to the station in Albuquerque, a passenger steps onto the platform: It’s Mike, travel-worn and carrying a lone duffel bag. He waits inside the station until his daughter-in-law, Stacey, arrives to pick him up. As she pulls the car around, he heads toward the station’s restrooms and, strangely, enters the empty women’s room. He buys a maxi-pad from the coin-operated vending machine on the wall, then ducks into the men’s room. Unbuttoning his shirt, he reveals a fresh bullet wound underneath a blood-soaked bandage on his shoulder. Grimacing, he applies the pad to the wound, then buttons back up and heads out of the station.
Back at Stacey’s house, Mike pushes his young granddaughter Kaylee on a swing set. He takes a break to make small talk with Stacey, who seems to be keeping him at a distance. When she asks how long he’s planning to be in town, Mike tells her that’s he going to stay indefinitely, to help out her and Kaylee. Stacey doesn’t seem thrilled by this news. Finally, she brings up what’s bothering her: She overheard Matt -- her husband, Mike’s son -- having a heated late-night phone conversation just a few days before he was killed. When she asks Mike if he was on the other end of the line, he denies having any memory of such a call, and advises her not to dwell on it.
Catching a cab outside Stacey’s house, Mike finds a veterinarian who will stitch up his wound without asking too many questions. When the morally-ambiguous vet offers to refer Mike for some “work,” Mike declines and says he’s not looking for that type of work.
Back in the present, Mike sits opposite Philadelphia detectives Sanders and Abbasi in an interrogation room at the Albuquerque police station. Though he’s not under arrest, Mike demands a lawyer: James M. McGill, Esq.
At his new client’s request, Jimmy arrives at the station with a cup of coffee, which Mike instructs him to spill on Detective Abbasi after Mike answers his questions. Realizing that the stunt is a diversion that will allow Mike to steal the detective’s notepad, Jimmy refuses -- even after Mike reminds him that Jimmy owes him a favor for his help with finding the Kettlemans.
When the detectives begin questioning Mike, Jimmy insists they start from the beginning and explain the events that brought them to New Mexico. Exasperated, Abbasi obliges: Mike was a cop in Philly for nearly 30 years, and his son Matt, a rookie cop, was killed in the line of duty nine months ago. Matt, along with his partner, Hoffman, and his sergeant, Fensky, were ambushed while responding to a shots-fired call in a bad neighborhood. Hoffman and Fensky escaped the attack, but were killed six months later, shot to death in a similar ambush.
Operating under the theory that Hoffman and Fensky were involved in some unethical business that might have led to them, and Matt, getting killed, the detectives hope Mike can shed some light on what might have gone down. Mike admits to seeing Hoffman and Fensky in a cop bar on the night they were killed, but offers nothing more. He also says he wishes he could help the detectives, but he was drinking pretty heavily in those days, and doesn’t remember anything else. Jimmy listens to Mike’s story quietly, gaining compassion for the man who so tragically lost his son.
As the group prepares to leave the interrogation room, Jimmy makes up his mind: He pretends to lose his balance, and spills coffee all over Detective Abbasi. Considerate Mike immediately whips out a handkerchief and dabs at the irritated detective’s jacket, successfully lifting his notepad.
After studying Abbasi’s notes about the case, Mike goes to Stacey’s house to confront her about calling the Philadelphia cops -- he now knows she's the real reason why they’ve come to town. Upset, she explains that she made the call after discovering a large amount of mysterious cash hidden in the lining of a suitcase. Thinking Matt must have been involved in something criminal, she begs Mike to tell her the truth about her husband. “My son wasn’t dirty!” a livid Mike roars before storming out of the house.
Flashback to three months earlier: It’s a cold, dark night in snowy Philadelphia. Mike surreptitiously breaks into a police cruiser parked behind a bar. Inside, Mike downs a few drinks, then notices Fensky and Hoffman across the room. He drunkenly makes his way to their table and throws his arms around their shoulders. Pulling them close, he whispers: “I know it was you.”
When it comes time to close the bar for the night, Mike is the last patron to leave. As he stumbles home, Fensky and Hoffman roll by in their cruiser and offer to give Mike a ride. When he declines, they insist. They usher Mike into the back of the police car, and relieve him of his gun. Jovially, Fensky presses Mike about what he said to them earlier in the night. Still heavily intoxicated, Mike declares in no uncertain terms what he meant: He’s sure that Hoffman and Fensky were responsible for his son’s murder. The cops trade glances – this is bad.
The police car arrives in an abandoned lot far from the city. As Fensky and Hoffman exit the car, stealthy Mike slides a gun out from between the backseat cushions. He hid it there earlier in the evening when he broke into their cruiser, and stashes it under his jacket now.
Fensky and Hoffman pull a wobbly Mike from the car, prop him up against a street lamp, then step away to discuss how to handle the situation. Fensky convinces Hoffman that the safest thing to do is to shoot Mike with the gun they took off him earlier, making it look like his death was the suicide of a grieving father. Mike, who has only been pretending to be drunk, coolly compliments Fensky on his clever plan.
The cops whip around to face him, but it’s too late: Mike’s already got his gun cocked and pointed right at them. Fensky attempts to fire at Mike, but discovers the gun he took from Mike is empty. In the ensuing shootout, Mike kills the corrupt cops who murdered his son, but takes a bullet in his shoulder.
Back in the present, Mike tells Stacey everything. He admits that the entire precinct was dirty, and when Hoffman offered Matt a cut of dirty money, it was Mike who dissuaded Matt from going to Internal Affairs. During the phone conversation that Stacey overheard, Mike tried to protect Matt by convincing him to take the money, telling his son that he himself was dirty, too. Matt was crushed, but gave in. Unfortunately, it was too late. Because he hesitated, Hoffman and Fensky worried that Matt was going to turn them in, and set up the ambush that killed him.
“I was the only one that could get him to debase himself like that, and it was for nothing,” a devastated Mike laments. Stunned by this outpouring of honesty, Stacey finally asks the million dollar question: What happened to Hoffman and Fensky?
“You know what happened,” Mike replies, composing himself. “The question is, can you live with it?”