Season 1, Episode 1
Jimmy works his magic in the courtroom. Unexpected inspiration leads him to an unconventional pursuit of potential clients.
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It's an ordinary day at a mall-bound Cinnabon in present-day Omaha, Nebraska. The store's manager, Gene, whose walrus mustache and thinning hair render him nearly invisible to the cheerful passersby, helps his employees slog through the quotidian tasks of the work day. All seems unremarkable until Gene notices a menacing-looking customer staring intently at him. Has someone finally recognized him as Saul Goodman, once Albuquerque's most notorious criminal lawyer, now a fugitive living out the humdrum life he predicted for himself in Breaking Bad? Gene tenses, then breathes a sigh of relief as the customer walks right past him. Back at his sparsely-furnished condo later that night, Gene fishes out a dusty VHS tape from its hiding spot, and wistfully watches a reel of flashy, buoyant "Better Call Saul!" TV commercials from his former life.
Flashback to the past: In an Albuquerque courthouse, hardworking attorney Jimmy McGill (the man who will one day be known as Saul Goodman) prepares himself in the men's room before striding into a courtroom and launching into a spirited defense of three teenage clients. The unimpressed prosecutor responds by playing a video made by the boys themselves capturing their break-in to a funeral home and subsequent defiling of a cadaver. His guilty clients shift nervously in their seats, but Jimmy remains unfazed.
Afterward, at the contract counsel administrator's office, Jimmy gripes about the measly paycheck he's receiving despite giving his three clients a more than admirable defense. He vows never to take another of their public defender cases again. Outside in the parking lot, he receives a promising call, and makes plans to meet with a pair of prospective clients immediately.
Driving up to the parking lot's booth, Jimmy hands the attendant his ticket. The attendant informs Jimmy that his validation is incomplete, and he will need to go back to the courthouse for another sticker or else pay the remainder of the fee. In a rush to get to his potential clients, irritated Jimmy backs into the spot of shame right next to the attendant's booth. "Employee of the month over here!" Jimmy shouts, not yet realizing that the man he's denigrating is the unflappable Mike Ehrmantraut, who will one day become his trusted private investigator.
At a diner later that afternoon, Jimmy meets with County Treasurer Craig Kettleman and his wife, Betsy. Having read in the newspaper that $1.6 million has gone missing from the county treasury, Jimmy tries to convince the Kettlemans that it is imperative that they hire him as their lawyer. Seemingly convinced, Mr. Kettleman is about to sign Jimmy's letter of engagement when his wife stops him. They decide to sleep on the decision, and bid Jimmy farewell.
Not ready to give up on the Kettlemans just yet, Jimmy calls a florist on his drive to order the strait-laced couple a bouquet of flowers. Distracted, he turns a corner without catching sight of an oncoming skateboarder, who slams into his car and tumbles painfully across the windshield. The skater, Cal, and his twin brother, Lars, demand $500 from Jimmy in compensation for Cal's serious injuries. Shrewd Jimmy realizes he's being scammed and chases off the young -- and uninjured -- con artists.
Exhausted from his stressful day, Jimmy walks through a busy Vietnamese nail salon, picking up his mail from the salon's prickly owner Mrs. Nguyen before making his way to a cramped room in the back that he's converted into a makeshift law office. Among the mail's stack of overdue bills is an envelope from the law firm Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill. The envelope contains a check for $26,000. Jimmy stares at it, then angrily tears the check into pieces.
At the sleek offices of Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill, Jimmy barges into a conference room, interrupting a meeting that name partner Howard Hamlin is having with Kim Wexler and a few other of the firm's associates. When Jimmy demands to know why he was sent a check, Hamlin explains that the money was meant for Jimmy's brother, Chuck, who is also a name partner at the firm. Noting that Chuck hasn't set foot in the offices for almost a year, Jimmy insists that the firm should pay $17 million to cash out Chuck's share. Hamlin declines, maintaining that Chuck's absence is simply "an extended sabbatical."
After the meeting, Jimmy overhears Hamlin welcoming the Kettlemans to the firm. Dejectedly, Jimmy heads back to his car, mourning the loss of his potential clients.
Down in the parking garage, Jimmy violently batters a previously dented trash can before catching sight of Kim, who is leaning against the cement wall of the garage, smoking. Jimmy pulls the cigarette from her lips, takes a drag, and returns it. "Couldn't you just..." he begins -- but she cuts him off: "You know I can't."
That night, Jimmy arrives at a darkened house and puts his key fob, cell phone, and watch inside a mailbox. Before going inside, he makes a point to touch a copper pipe by the door, discharging any static electricity he had been carrying. Once in the house, he dumps a bag of ice and a slew of groceries into a large cooler in the kitchen.
Chuck has quarantined himself inside his house due to a peculiar condition that causes him to suffer when exposed to certain types of electromagnetism. With the electrical wiring torn out of all the walls, he works away at a manual typewriter, the darkness around him punctuated by the bright flames of several white gas lanterns scattered around the living room.
Worried that Chuck is running out of money, Jimmy pushes him to cash out his share of Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill. Unperturbed and certain that he'll be returning to work soon, Chuck reveals that Hamlin stopped by earlier to drop off a check for a small weekly stipend. Money will no longer be an issue. Considering the matter closed, Chuck relays a sensitive request from Hamlin: that Jimmy stop using the name "McGill" on promotional matchbooks in order to avoid confusion with the firm Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill. "Chuck, whose side are you on?" hurt Jimmy fumes.
Back in his car, his frustration solidifies into determination as he's struck with an idea.
Jimmy tracks down Cal and Lars, the skateboarding twins, at the most logical place: a nearby skate park. Jimmy waxes rhapsodic about his younger days, when he became known as "Slippin' Jimmy" by earning thousands of dollars feigning injuries from staged slip-and-fall accidents. Jimmy offers to pay the twins $2,000 to stage an accident aimed at his proposed target: Mrs. Kettleman.
Jimmy schools the boys on what is sure to become their biggest hit yet. He shows them Mrs. Kettleman's brown station wagon and takes them to the intended hit site: an intersection she crosses daily. His plan is to swoop in, save Mrs. Kettleman from the scam, and win her trust and her business. He leaves the twins to take his post in front of the Kettleman house, giving them a warning as soon as she gets into her car.
Cal and Lars stretch and ready themselves as a brown station wagon approaches the intersection. Cal slams into the car as Lars captures the successfully staged accident on his camera. The station wagon screeches to a stop... then peels away from the scene! Furious, Lars calls Jimmy, who tells them that their payday will be even bigger now, since a hit-and-run is a felony. The brothers decide to ditch Jimmy, and follow the offending vehicle on their own.
When the station wagon finally reaches its destination, an elderly Mexican woman gets out. The twins get in her face and threaten to call the police, demanding restitution for harming poor Cal. Understanding, she motions that they follow her inside the house.
Meanwhile, Jimmy searches the neighborhood for the twins and the station wagon. He spots the station wagon, skateboards, and helmets outside a house. He pounds on the house's front door, demanding entry as an officer of the court. When it opens, a man's arm reaches out and puts a pistol to Jimmy's forehead. Jimmy recoils, but the man yanks him inside the house. Before the door closes, the man pokes his head out to scan the street (revealing a face Breaking Bad fans will find familiar): It's Tuco Salamanca.