Season 2, Episode 4

Gloves Off

Jimmy's actions unexpectedly create waves for Kim. Mike cautiously weighs a lucrative proposal that might bring about dire consequences.

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Late in the evening, Mike enters his house. Pained, he tosses a stack of hundred dollar bills onto the kitchen table. He stiffly makes his way to the kitchen, pulling a bag of frozen vegetables out of the freezer and pressing it to his face. As he slumps into a chair, he lowers the bag: his eye is badly swollen shut and his face has been gruesomely pummeled. Mike reaches into his pocket and pulls out a familiar silver necklace shaped like a pair of boxing gloves. Grimacing, he closes his palm around these spoils of war.

The next morning, Jimmy screens his Sandpiper commercial for Cliff and two other partners at Davis & Main. Despite Jimmy's assertion that the commercial was a client recruitment and economic triumph, the partners lambaste him for airing it without their consent. Even though the majority of the partners want to fire Jimmy for cause, Cliff decides to give him a second chance with the understanding that he'll be under a great deal of scrutiny going forward.

Knowing the legal firing squad she’s certain to face when the news of Cliff’s reaction spreads to HHM, Jimmy leaves Kim an urgent voicemail requesting that she call him before speaking to Howard. Unfortunately…

…at HHM, Kim's cell phone rings inside a plastic bin outside the conference room. Inside, Howard and Chuck grill her about why she failed to warn them about Jimmy’s commercial. Not wanting to throw Jimmy under the bus, she merely explains that she didn’t think it was necessary to give them a heads up. Furious, Howard reprimands her for allowing them to be left in the dark in front of their co-counsel.

Covertly, Nacho and Mike surveil a small Mexican restaurant. Nacho informs Mike that he and Tuco settle accounts with their dealers here on a regular basis, and it would be an easy place for Tuco to meet his end in a random shooting. Nacho is going to such an extreme because Tuco has a history of erratic behavior while under the influence, and now that he’s using meth, Nacho worries that his side business might make him Tuco’s next casualty. Prudent Mike points out the flaws in Nacho’s plan. He proposes an alternate scenario: an expert sniper hiding in the tree line could rid the world of the Salamancas’ favorite son without trouble. And for fifty grand, Mike could be that expert sniper.

That night, Jimmy searches for Kim. After finding her office bare and fearing his actions cost Kim her job, he discovers that she's been banished to the windowless bowels of HHM: the document review room. Jimmy is outraged that she is being punished, and offers to make things right with Howard. Kim forbids him from intervening; it would only make things worse. "If you go to Howard, you and I? We're done." Kim doesn’t have the luxury of playing with fire – she buries herself back in her work as Jimmy exits, chastened.

At Chuck’s house, Jimmy strides with determination toward the front door. He realizes that he forgot to remove his electronics and begrudgingly heads back to the mailbox.

When Chuck doesn’t answer his pounding on the door, Jimmy uses his key to enter the house. He finds Chuck shivering on the couch, still dressed for work and covered by a space blanket. Chuck is suffering, but refuses to go to the hospital. Jimmy tucks a second space blanket around him, then settles into a nearby chair.

Meanwhile, in a motel room, Lawson (the gun dealer that will one day sell Walter White an unregistered revolver in the very same room) shows Mike a selection of long-range rifles. The men are quietly impressed by each other's knowledge of the arsenal. After Mike declines more ostentatious options, Lawson puts forward an M40 -- the same rifle used by Marine snipers since 1966. Mike picks it up with familiarity and looks through the scope. After some consideration, he tells the dealer that he’s changed his mind and won’t be making a purchase after all. Lawson respectfully declines Mike’s offer of cash for his time: "I make my living on repeat business. When you need what I'm offering, you know how to find me."

Chuck wakes up the next morning to find an attentive Jimmy. Jimmy brings Chuck some tea, then confronts him about unfairly disciplining Kim. Chuck first insists that Howard is responsible for personnel decisions, then -- when Jimmy won’t let it go -- insists that Kim should have told HHM about the commercial. Jimmy reveals that she didn't know that Jimmy hadn’t received permission, but Chuck maintains that the incident still reflects poorly on her judgment: “She knows you, she should’ve known better.” Jimmy offers to quit the law for good if it will get Kim out of trouble. Since taking Jimmy up on that bargain would be considered extortion, Chuck refuses to fall into the trap.

“You clearly don’t need any help from me to tank your career,” Chuck snaps at his brother.

At an abandoned warehouse, Mike meets with Nacho to advise against killing Tuco. “A dead Tuco draws Salamancas like flies,” he says, predicting that the cartel would eventually track Nacho down. Mike has a different proposition, and Nacho’s ready to listen.

Back at the Mexican restaurant Mike surveilled, Tuco (wearing his familiar silver boxing gloves necklace) sits across from one of his dealers -- none other than Domingo “Krazy-8” Molina, dressed in his Tampico furniture uniform -- and counts his cash. As Nacho counts the money again, Tuco stares at Krazy-8 for an uncomfortably long time: a power move that he calls his “lie detector.” Nacho finally interrupts, allowing Krazy-8 to leave. As he does, Tuco takes a hit of crystal meth.

Nearby, Mike anonymously calls the police from a phone booth to report that a man is threatening another man with a gun at the restaurant. Mike drives across the street and parks out front, intentionally scraping Tuco’s car in the process.

Once inside, Mike orders tacos to go. Tuco approaches Mike at the counter and confronts him about hitting his car. Mike nonchalantly shrugs him off and pays for his food, flashing a wallet full of hundred-dollar bills in the process.

Tuco and Nacho follow Mike out into the parking lot and demand payment for the damage to Tuco’s car. Mike offers to swap insurance information, but Tuco declines. Mike claims to only have a few dollars on him, but Tuco calls him on the lie. Flashing his gun, he forces Mike to hand his wallet over. As Mike acquiesces, sirens begin to wail in the distance. It’s the cops, responding to Mike’s anonymous call. Nacho leaves with the drug money, but Mike grabs Tuco by the collar so that he can’t escape. Tuco angrily swings his fists at Mike, but Mike refuses to let go -- keeping Tuco’s shirt and necklace clenched in his fist.

“Is that all you got?” bruised and bleeding Mike taunts Tuco. Mike goads him into one more brutal punch as the cops arrive and catch Tuco red-handed.

That night, Mike meets Nacho to collect his payment. He shares that Tuco faces roughly 5 to 10 years in jail. Nacho hands Mike $25,000 and asks why he didn’t just kill Tuco -- he would have earned the full $50,000 and spared himself a pretty nasty beating. “You went a long way not to pull that trigger… why?” Mike pockets the money and drives away without answering.