“There are so many stars visible in New Mexico. I shall go out there to get a better look.”
So who is Jimmy McGill? In Chuck’s eyes, he was the perpetual disappointment. The black mark on the McGill family name. The pariah who drove their innocent father into destitution. More than all that, however, he was a perfectly Chuck McGill-sized pedestal. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in tonight’s cold open, quite possibly the last time Michael McKean will ever appear on this show, a flashback to the pomp and circumstance of Jimmy’s bar certification (notice how Chuck is the only advocate there who doesn’t say how proud they are to represent their candidate).
Afterwards in a seedy karaoke bar, the last place you’d find Chuck and the first place you’d find Jimmy, the younger McGill offers up the truest and most sincere form of kinship he knows how to give: a duet performance of ABBA’s “The Winner Takes it All.” Chuck, demure and self-absorbed, isn’t into it — until he very much is, grabbing the mic from Jimmy and launching into a solo performance. Jumping off Jimmy again to let everyone else bask in the glow of Charles M. McGill.
So it makes perfect sense that a newly-unbound Jimmy would finally get to use Chuck as a pedestal for once. A final act of revenge. After being rejected by the Bar Association for not seeming sincere enough (i.e. not mentioning his legendary brother enough), Jimmy and Kim launch into overdrive, first by posting Jimmy up at Chuck’s grave (the biggest headstone, of course) all day during the one year anniversary of his death to make sure all the important lawyers see him, then by donating nearly $25K to a library in Chuck’s honor, just so all the even more important lawyers (and the Council friends) can see him dutifully paying homage to the Great Chuck McGill.
Which of course makes it even more heartbreaking when later, as one of the presiding members of the Chuck McGill Scholarship at HHM, Jimmy is witness to a procession of high school hopefuls — hilariously cut off in the editing process just as they start to speak about their debate clubs and their class presidencies and their model UNs — state their case for the award. Afterwards, it’s revealed that only one candidate, a Christina Espinoza, failed to qualify, a candidate derisively referred to as “the shoplifter” by the other members. Jimmy was of course the only member to vote for her, and after failing to convince everyone else to give her a second chance, Jimmy runs outside to catch Christina and give her the pep talk of her life.
Telling her that “those people” will never accept her and will always look down on her, Jimmy says that her only chance to be “the winner” is to cut corners and lie and cheat and do whatever she has to do to get on top. Of course, she isn’t on top. She wasn’t even seriously considered. Neither is Jimmy, and after she awkwardly shuffles off to escape this deranged man in a suit who is yelling at her, he realizes it. Heading back through that same old HHM parking lot, past the trash can he used to mutilate when things went bad, Jimmy simply slouches down in his car, and when it fails to start yet again, he bursts into tears. He doesn’t feel like a winner.
Another character who doesn’t feel like a winner is our good buddy Mike Ehrmantraut. After discovering that Werner has stolen away in the night like a thief, Mike and his men have one overriding objective: find him. They’re able to track his wife Margherete, who is flying into Denver. They’re able to trace him to a local money lender, where Mike ingratiates himself to the confused wage slave, Fred, with a nice story about his friendly brother-in-law who has dementia and needs insulin, and how much he needs to find him. From there, he’s able to do the Mike thing and trace Werner to a hotel some ways away where he awaits his wife in peace. His letter apparently says that he’s going to come back in a few days and finish the job.
Unfortunately for Mike (and double so for Werner), this is all happening just as Lalo Salamanca is reconnoitering the Chicken Farm. He sees Gus and several serious-looking men leaving in a hurry and decides to follow them. This leads him to Mike, which of course leads to nothing after Mike notices he’s being tailed and manages to evade Lalo using only a stick of gum. This leads him back to the money lender, which leads to sneaking up into the ceiling and coming down on top of poor Fred like the fucking Predator.
This brings him back to a simple lucky phone call to where Werner is staying, where he once again fails to charm someone (there’s something just wrong enough about Lalo that people are put off by him, which makes him terrifying in a world of Gus Frings and Walter Whites, monsters hiding in plain sight without nary a suspicion). But Mike arrives in time to take the phone and enter into a very tense, non-vocal standoff. All this time I thought Lalo was going to be Nacho’s enemy, but it turns out he’s Mike’s. I don’t envy his chances in that fight.