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Gloves Off

Gloves Off

Logo - Better Call Saul


Air dateMarch 7, 2016

Running time42 minutes [?]

Written byGordon Smith

Directed byAdam Bernstein


Images (10)

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


Late in the evening, Mike Ehrmantraut 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 that very moment, Kim is down at HHM, already being grilled by Howard and Chuck over her failure to warn them about Jimmy’s unauthorized 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 is with Mike, monitoring 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. To illustrate his point, Nacho describes to Mike an incident in the late 1990s where Tuco killed an associate named Dog Paulsen by shooting him point-blank in the face with a shotgun (which left a skull fragment lodged in Nacho's left shoulder). With Tuco graduating to 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 $50K, 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, 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: "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.

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.

The next day, Nacho and Mike execute their plan. Nacho and Tuco (wearing his familiar silver boxing gloves necklace) sit across a table at the restaurant from one of his dealers, Krazy-8, and counts his cash. As Nacho counts the money again, Tuco stares at Krazy-8 for an uncomfortably long time, doing the power move that he calls his “lie detector.” Nacho finally interrupts, breaking Tuco's concentration and allowing Krazy-8 to leave. As he does, Tuco snorts a hit of crystal meth.

Once Krazy-8 drives off in his Tampico Furniture van, Mike deposits a few coins into a payphone across the street, and then calls the police, to anonymously report that a man is threatening another man with a gun at the restaurant. Mike then gets into his car, drives across the street and enters the parking lot for the restaurant. As he pulls into the small lot out front, he deliberately scrapes Tuco’s car.

Tuco sees the collision, seething as Mike walks in and orders food to go at the counter. Tuco approaches Mike at the counter and confronts him about hitting his car. Mike nonchalantly shrugs him off and pays for his food, deliberately 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, the sirens of police cars responding to Mike's 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 angrily swings his fists at Mike, but Mike refuses to let go -- keeping Tuco’s shirt and necklace clenched in his fist. Tuco then 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 two. Tuco laughs maniacally and promptly decks Mike, knocking him out cold.

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. “You went a long way not to pull that trigger… why?” Mike pockets the money and drives away without answering.


Main Cast

Supporting Cast


  • The arms dealer that Mike convenes with is Lawson, the same man Walter White purchases a thirty-eight snub handgun and M60 machine gun from in Breaking Bad.
  • Tuco refers to Mike as "Mr. Magoo", an elderly cartoon character notorious for his nearsightedness. Hank calls Walt the same thing after he deliberately crashes the car in the Breaking Bad episode Crawl Space, in an attempt to keep Hank from the laundromat.
  • In this episode appears Domingo Molina, aka Krazy-8. He drives a Tampico Furnitures' van, the store owned by his father and mentioned in the episode "...and the Bag's in the River".
  • When Mike tells Nacho that a dead Tuco will attract a whole bunch of Salamancas, it's a foreshadowed reference to the Breaking Bad episode No Mas when we first see the Cousins, who set out to kill Walt in revenge for Tuco's death.
  • Mike has his face beaten up only on one side, like Gus Fring before he died and the damaged doll.

Featured Music


Better Call Saul -- Season 2
#01 "Switch"#05 "Rebecca"#09 "Nailed"
#02 "Cobbler"#06 "Bali Ha'i"#10 "Klick"
#03 "Amarillo"#07 "Inflatable"
#04 "Gloves Off"#08 "Fifi"<< Season 1

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