Talk about dropping a bombshell. This final scene of this penultimate episode of the season transforms much of what we thought we knew for certain about some of its key relationships. It’s also clearly a major turning point on Jimmy’s journey towards becoming Saul Goodman, and explains why Chuck Is no longer part of the picture when Breaking Bad comes around.
The revelation that it’s Jimmy’s brother who’s been holding him back all the time, preventing him from getting a job at Hamlin Hamlin and McGill in the belief that he’s “not a real lawyer” and is incapable of meaningful change, is a jawdropper – and a real gut punch. It completely changes our view of Howard Hamlin, whom Jimmy had previously held responsible, but now it appears, was only observing the wishes of his partner. It’s also the sort of shocking betrayal that can change the direction of a life.
Over the course of nine episodes we’ve seen that Jimmy is hard-working and talented, and really trying to do the right thing. This is the sort of knockback that could push him off the straight and narrow. If even Jimmy’s brother doesn’t believe in him, why should he continue to believe in himself?
Of course, Chuck has a point, and you could even argue that he’s right – we’ve seen the damage Saul Goodman does. But the horrible irony is that by trying to prevent Jimmy becoming a “danger to society”, Chuck may have pushed him in exactly that direction. Maybe Jimmy’s attitude will now basically be, “If that’s all you think I’m capable of then fine, I’ll live up to your worst expectations.” Or, to use his own expression, “Hail Satan, I submit to the dark side”.
The revelation is subtly seeded: we see Chuck making the phone call which Jimmy eventually realises was to Howard, but while we might momentarily ponder its significance, we’re given enough time to let it slip from our minds. And the confrontation between the two siblings is impeccably played by both actors.
“Pimento” is not all about that twist, though. It’s also a delight for fans of Mike Ehrmentraut, as we follow him on what is, presumably, his first criminal job – one he handles with characteristic laconic aplomb. It’s always a pleasure to see Mike demonstrating that he shouldn’t be underestimated, and the scene where he overpowers a loud-mouthed, gun-packing goon is classic Ehrmentraut; the moment where a third hired hand, a man-mountain of a guy, legs it in terror is hilarious.
That B-plot transaction also re-introduces Tucco’s associate Nacho, after a surprisingly long absence. When he left his phone number with Jimmy back in episode two, it seemed likely that the pair would be partnering up within the space of two or three episodes – even the producers thought it would be happening sooner, apparently. Their decision to slow things down and give us more time to see Jimmy demonstrate his good intentions was the right call. But perhaps it’s a relationship we’ll finally see cemented in the season finale...
The episode wasn’t originally intended to begin with Jimmy and Chuck sitting on a bench enjoying the sunshine. A six-minute flashback featuring a nine-year-old Jimmy was shot, but the entire sequence was cut after the episode drastically over-ran. Writer/director Tom Schnauz is hoping that they’ll be able to use it for a teaser next season instead.
When Mike steps out of Stacy’s garden to take a phone call about the job, he’s momentarily shrouded in darkness. It’s a moment that visually expresses the dichotomy of his world very neatly.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Mike’s penchant for Pimento sandwiches. During the Breaking Bad season four episode “Cornered” he offered one to Jesse during a stakeout of some drug dealers.