Better Call Saul Episode 1.4 “Hero”
Directed by Colin Bucksey
Written by Gennifer Hutchison
Starring Bob Odenkirk, Michael McKean, Jonathan Banks, Rhea Seehorn, Michael Mando, Patrick Fabian AMC
Air Date: Monday, February 23, 2015, 10pm
Every day is a struggle for Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk). His adversities aren’t narrowed down to just one facet of his life, but instead encompass ALL aspects of the lawyer’s being. Along with struggling to build his clientele, pay his bills, and make a name for himself, there’s his constant inner conflict as he continues to teeter between acting in good conscience and relying on his old swindling ways. Back in Better Call Saul Episode 2, we heard Jimmy promise his older brother, Chuck (Michael McKean), that he wasn’t slipping back into his old ways, which, as we see from flashbacks, was being a hustler and a schemer. He’s trying to make his way in the world as a public defender for the Albuquerque, NM, courts, but it pays very little and is getting him nowhere. In Episode 1.4 “Hero,” Jimmy once again walks that fine line between good and bad, but this time around, his moral ambiguity becomes his defining characteristic.
At the end of Episode 1.3 “Nacho,” Jimmy cleverly discovers the Kettlemans hiding out in the desert not far from their home. With a few words from Mike (Jonathan Banks), his court parking lot adversary, Jimmy was able to deduce what happened to the family and track them down. In the newest episode, Jimmy picks up his pitch from Episode 1 “Uno” once again attempting to convince the Kettlemans — who are being indicted for embezzling county funds, money in which we see go flying out of a duffle bag at the end of Episode 3 — to hire him as their lawyer. But even though Jimmy makes a great point about how dedicated he would be to their case, Mrs. Kettleman spells it out for him — Jimmy McGill is the kind of lawyer that guilty people hire. While this revelation hits Jimmy like a ton of bricks, it’s also a pivotal moment in his evolution: Does he seek to prove the Kettlemans wrong or does he accept their hefty bribe and strengthen this reputation?
The flashbacks we see of a young Jimmy — the latest of which has “Slippin’ Jimmy” utter his future Saul Goodman pseudonym — reveal a person for whom we definitely don’t want to see return, but downtrodden Public Defender James McGill is so difficult to watch, especially since we see how smart he is and how easily he can cite the law. This is not a man faking his way through litigations — he knows what he’s talking about and how to use the law to his advantage. That’s why it’s so frustrating that he doesn’t have a real clientele. There’s obviously something we just don’t know about him yet — how did he become someone only guilty people hire? It can’t be because he’s a Public Defender, as those cases are assigned to him. What went on before? Something strong enough where people would know him by reputation, even though in this episode Jimmy several times stresses that he’s just a small-time lawyer trying to success in business.
“Hero” also gives us Jimmy’s very first billboard, a foreshadowing of his “Better Call Saul” ads that made him so popular as a criminal lawyer on Breaking Bad. The reason behind Jimmy’s first billboard purchase — and its preparations — seems irrational, but it becomes the centerpiece not only of the episode, but also of who Jimmy will become.
In the scene where Jimmy is in his makeshift back-room nail salon office where he proclaims “Upon this rock I will build my church,” that’s when we know that this time around things will be different. He won’t be returning to his petty-crime hustling ways but he also won’t continue to be the underdog. A new Jimmy is about to rise. And rise he shall.
Better Call Saul, Episode 1.5 “Alpine Shepherd Boy” airs on AMC on Monday, March 2, 2015 at 10/9c.
Episode 1.4 Image Gallery
Episode 1.4 Video
Most Talked About Scene
Disaster strikes as Jimmy’s billboard is being dismantled.