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"Gloves Off" is the fourth episode of the second season of Better Call Saul and the fourteenth episode of the series altogether.

Summary

Teaser

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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 violently beaten. Mike reaches into his pocket and pulls out a silver necklace shaped like a pair of boxing gloves.

Act I

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The next morning, Jimmy screens his Sandpiper commercial for Cliff and two other partners at Davis & Main. Despite Jimmy's assertion that the commercial yielded a positive response, 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 greater scrutiny going forward. Jimmy leaves Kim an urgent voicemail asking that she call him before speaking to Howard, unaware that she is already being grilled by him and Chuck about Jimmy's commercial. Howard reprimands her for allowing HHM to be left in the dark in front of their co-counsel.

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Covertly, Nacho is with Mike, monitoring a small Mexican restaurant, El Michoacano. Nacho informs Mike that he and Tuco settle accounts with their drug 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. To illustrate his point, Nacho describes an incident where Tuco killed an associate named Dog Paulsen by shooting him point-blank in the face with a shotgun, leaving a skull fragment lodged in Nacho's left shoulder. With Tuco now using meth, Nacho worries that his side business might make him Tuco’s next victim. Mike points out flaws in Nacho’s plan. He proposes an alternate scenario: an expert sniper hiding in the tree line could rid the world of Tuco without trouble. Mike offers to be that sniper for $50,000.

Act II

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That night, Jimmy looks for Kim. After finding her office bare and fearing his actions cost Kim her job, he finds that she's been sent to HHM's windowless 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. 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.

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Meanwhile, in a motel room, Mike meets with Lawson, an arms dealer who offers 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.

Act III

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The next morning, Chuck wakes up to find an attentive Jimmy, who confronts him about Kim's punishment. Chuck first insists that Howard is responsible for personnel decisions, then - when Jimmy won’t let it go - insists that she 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. Meanwhile, at an abandoned warehouse, Mike meets with Nacho to advise against killing Tuco, predicting that the cartel would eventually track Nacho down. Mike has a different proposition, and Nacho’s ready to listen.

Act IV

The next day, Nacho and Tuco (wearing the silver boxing glove necklace) sit across a table at the restaurant from one of their dealers, Krazy-8, and counts his cash. As Nacho counts the money again, Tuco stares at Krazy-8 for an uncomfortably long time, but Nacho allows Krazy-8 to leave. As he does, Tuco snorts a hit of crystal meth. Once Krazy-8 drives off in a Tampico Furniture van, Mike uses a payphone to call the police, anonymously reporting that a man is threatening another man with a gun at the restaurant. Mike then gets into his car, drives across the street and pulls into restaurant parking lot, deliberately scraping Tuco’s car. Tuco sees the collision and seethes as Mike walks in and orders food to go at the counter. Tuco angrily confronts Mike, who shrugs him off and deliberately flashes a wallet full of hundred-dollar bills as he collects his food.

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, the sirens of police cars responding to his 911 call begin to wail in the distance. Nacho hops into his van and drives away with the drug money, but Mike grabs Tuco by the collar so that he can’t escape. Tuco swings his fists at Mike, but he refuses to let go - keeping Tuco’s shirt and necklace clenched in his fist. Tuco throws one hard punch at Mike's left cheek, which knocks Mike senseless. Seconds later, a group of police cars screech to a halt on either side of them. The bruised and bleeding Mike taunts Tuco as the cops train their guns on the pair. Tuco laughs maniacally and promptly decks Mike, knocking him out cold.

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A few nights later, Mike meets Nacho to collect his payment. He shares that Tuco faces roughly 5-10 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. Mike pockets the money and drives away without answering.

Official Photos

Trivia

Production

Credits

Featured Music

  • "Dejate LlevarMaster" by Source Music
  • "Muneca De Jalisco" by Liza Carbe and Jean-Pierre Durand
  • "El Querreque" by Martyn Laight / Carlin Music
  • "Weary Mike" by Dave Porter

Memorable Quotes

Chuck: "You have to admit that shows a lack of judgment on her [Kim's] part. She knows you. She should have known better."
Jimmy: "You are such an asshole."
Chuck: "Why? For pointing out that her one mistake was believing in you?"
Jimmy: "For Christ's sake, could we get some perspective here? It was a simple little commercial, it aired once, that's all. And can I remind you it worked – it worked like a dream?"
Chuck: "See, that's your problem, Jimmy. Thinking that the ends justify the means. And you're forever shocked when it all blows up in your face."
Jimmy: "What did I do that was so wrong?"
Chuck: "You broke the rules. [Jimmy scoffs] You turned Kim into your accessory. You embarrassed Howard who, God help him, inexplicably vouched for you with Cliff Main. You made Cliff and his partners look like schmucks. Shall I go on? How he hasn't fired you for this positively mystifies me. "Perspective." You want perspective? I'll give you mine. You're my brother, and I love you, but you're like an alcoholic who refuses to admit he's got a problem. Now someone's given you the keys to the school bus and I am not going to let you drive it off a cliff."
―Chuck trying to make Jimmy aware of the consequences of his actions, especially on his personal and professional environment.

Mike: "Someone comes in behind me, I'm blocked."
Nacho: "Who's gonna pull in behind you?"
Mike: "Well, I'm guessing someone who likes tacos."
―Mike and Nacho debating the planned hit on Tuco.

"You went a long way to not pull that trigger. Why?"
―Nacho to Mike.