- This article is about the pilot episode for Better Call Saul. For the Breaking Bad pilot, see Pilot.
"Uno" is the first episode of the first season of Better Call Saul and the first episode of the series altogether. Jimmy works magic in the courtroom; after being inspired unexpectedly, Jimmy tries an unconventional method for pursuing potential clients.
The pilot begins as a monochrome flash-forward sequence showing Saul Goodman, either right before the finale of Breaking Bad or shortly thereafter, assuming a new identity as "Gene", working behind the counter at a shopping-mall Cinnabon located in Omaha, Nebraska. He becomes tense when a customer seems to be staring at him but is instantly relieved when he passes by him. Later, inside an old, modest home, Saul fixes himself a Rusty Nail and watches TV, flipping through channels. He then rummages around for a VHS from its hiding spot inside a shoebox and pops it in the VCR. The tape's contents is revealed to be a copy of his TV advertisements back in the days when Saul was still the esteemed lawyer. As the ads play, Saul begins to weep.
The episode flashes back to circa May 2002. Saul, doing business under his real name Jimmy McGill, a very underpaid public defender in an Albuquerque courthouse representing three accused teenagers, charged with performing a sexual act on a freshly separated human head, apparently after hours in a funeral home. Jimmy's justification to convince the jury is that their actions were simply "boys being boys." In response to this, the prosecutor plays a video which contains footage of the three teenagers having sex with the severed cadaver's head. When several members of the jury, the judge, and the court reporter are unable to look at the tape, it's clear Jimmy’s clients are going to face jail time. As he fails to win an acquittal for his teenage clients, Jimmy gets a measly $700 paycheck as a public defender — not $700 per defendant, as he presumed. Jimmy complains about being paid only $700 for his effort on the defense and when a client calls on his cell phone, Jimmy pretends to be his own mild-mannered, British secretary in an office when arranging an appointment with a potentially big client. As he leaves the courthouse parking lot with the check, he gets stopped by Mike Ehrmantraut, the parking lot attendant, because he doesn't have proper validation.
Jimmy meets Craig Kettleman, a Bernalillo County treasurer, who has been accused of embezzling $1.6 million, and his wife Betsy at Loyola's Cafe on Central Avenue in order to secure a deal. Just as a letter of engagement is about to get signed, Betsy, whom Craig has brought along, stays her husband’s hand and asks for time to think this over.
Later that day, as Jimmy is driving, he's talking with someone on his cell phone about ordering the couple "classy" and expensive flowers, only to to find out that his credit card is maxed out. As he's going around a corner, he suddenly hits a teenager, Cal Lindholm, on a skateboard with his car, who bounces off the windshield and lands on the pavement. Cal's brother Lars, who videotaped the incident, is nearby watching. The brothers demand an instant settlement of $500, both intent on calling the police unless Jimmy pays them. Realizing that the situation is a charade, Jimmy chews the boys out for their ruse and choice of victim, adding that “The only way that entire car’s worth $500 is if there’s a $300 hooker sitting in it!”, in which they both run away.
Afterwards, Jimmy returns to his office - the backroom of a Vietnamese nail salon, only to find no messages on his phone. Opening his mail, he finds a $26,000 check from the firm of Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill, which he tears up. Jimmy goes to the firm to confront Howard Hamlin and his partners. He drops the torn pieces of the $26,000 check on the conference room table, and accuses Howard and his partners at Hamlin & McGill of trying to find a way to cheat his brother Chuck, apparently a founding partner of the firm out of his rightful share. Assuring that his brother will probably not be returning to work, Jimmy demands that they get Chuck his $17 million severance package. On his way out, he is followed by Howard who tries to pass along some documents for Chuck, in which Jimmy declines, insisting "Chuck doesn't work here anymore." He notices the treasurer and his wife stopping in to hire the firm over him.
Jimmy goes to visit Chuck. Chuck is in the middle of a breakdown, as he thinks he is suffering from electromagnetic hypersensitivity. To that end, he requires visitors to leave their keys and phone in the mailbox and ground themselves before entering his house. Chuck’s house has no lights or refrigerator and he works by lantern on a manual typewriter. Chuck, aware of his illness, insists he’s going to get better in order for him to return to work at HHM. He declines Jimmy’s pleas to demand a buyout from his partners, objecting that the firm would probably have to liquidate to raise that much cash, putting more than a hundred people out of work. Jimmy tells him his public defender work isn't going to keep both of them afloat, which just results in a lecture from Chuck about how the experience of helping people is more important than money, despite the protests from Jimmy. Chuck reveals that Howard stopped by and gave him a an $857 check, the first of a new weekly stipend. He also suggests that Jimmy change his last name to avoid confusing any potential clients, with a "Wouldn't you rather build your own identity? Why ride on someone else’s coattails?" An infuriated Jimmy gets in his car, holding up one of the "James McGill" matchbooks that annoyed Howard. "You wanna dance, Howard? Let’s dance."
Desperate for money, Jimmy devises an elaborate trap and enlists the Lindholm brothers from the other day and suggests a partnership. To convince them, he explains to them how, back when he lived in Cicero, Illinois, he was known as "Slippin' Jimmy." Slippin' Jimmy would find the most slippery patches of ice every winter, stage a fall, and earn himself enough money to "keep him in Old Milwaukee and Maui Wowie through Labor Day." Jimmy's plan is to go after Betsy Kettleman, whose route to pick up her kids at school always intersects at a certain cafe, which places lots of convenient witnesses. One of the brothers will then be hit by Betsy's Mercury Sable stationwagon, and Jimmy will come in, having just "happened" to be driving by, and offer his legal surfaces to her, talking the brothers out of suing the woman, and later paying both of the brothers $2,000 for their troubles. In her gratitude, Betsy will then convince her husband to drop Howard & Hamlin and hire Jimmy for the embezzlement case.
The Lindholm brothers are convinced that Jimmy can help them with their scamming procedures, so they sign on for his plan. The brothers execute the plan perfectly, but moments after the “accident” occurs, the car drives off, to the dismay of the skateboarders. In an attempt to chase the Mercury Sable wagon, the brothers hang on to the back of a truck. Jimmy sees this as an opportunity to gain more money at the prospect of defending a felony hit-and-run case. The Sable pulls into a driveway, but a Hispanic elderly woman exits the car instead. Despite knowing this is not Betsy Kettleman, they attempt to get money out of her anyways, and they follow her into the house. Jimmy frantically searches for the brothers — they were briefly in cellphone contact — and he happens across the parked Sable. He knocks on the front door, claiming to be an officer of the court. When the door opens, Jimmy comes face to face with Tuco Salamanca, who pulls Jimmy into the house at gunpoint, then looks outside to make sure no one's seen him before closing the door.
- Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill
- Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut
- Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler
- Patrick Fabian as Howard Hamlin
- Michael Mando as Nacho Varga (credit only)
- Michael McKean as Chuck McGill
- Julie Ann Emery as Betsy Kettleman
- Jeremy Shamos as Craig Kettleman
- Miriam Colon as Abuelita
- Eileen Fogarty as Mrs. Nguyen
- Steven Levine as Lars Lindholm
- Daniel Spenser Levine as Cal Lindholm
- Raymond Cruz as Tuco Salamanca
- Nadine Marissa as Contract Counsel Administrator
- Sarah Minnich as Brenda
- James E. Dowling as Francis Scheff
- Michael Perez as Staring Man
- Larry Glaister as Judge
- Lonnie Lane as Bailiff
- Sanford Kelley as Prosecutor
- Grant Barker as Defendant #1
- Clay Space as Defendant #2
- David Saiz as Defendant #3
- Victoria Pham-Gilchrist as Salon Employee #1
- Kim-Lan T. Phan as Salon Employee #2
- Nhu Thi Ta as Salon Employee #3
- Bau Thi Duong as Salon Employee #4
- Krista Kendall as Krista (as "Cinnabon Employee #1")
- Raquel Pino as Raquel (as "Cinnabon Employee #2")
- This episode is written by showrunner Vince Gilligan and writer Peter Gould and is directed by Vince Gilligan. It is the first part of the two-episode premiere, which aired on February 8, 2015 and February 9, 2015.
- The scam skaters' blunder mistaking the Salamanca Taurus for the Kettleman Sable wagon is the key element that sets up the course of events for the rest of Jimmy's life. He might never have met Tuco or Nacho, hence would never have met Jesse or Walt. IE, no Saul, no Breaking Bad - no Better Call Saul. He would have higher "Esteem" not enduring Chuck's oppressive ridicule [Slippin' Jimmy] being better able to establish himself legitimately and happily. A "what if" or "if only..." dilemma of chance vs fate. Of course it demonstrates life is made up of many of those moments in his [and other's].
- Jimmy's "office" is in the Vietnamese nail salon. In Season 3 of Breaking Bad he tries to convince Jesse to launder his money through a nail salon ("Kafkaesque").
- The act of Jimmy kicking the dented trash can is very similar to Walt punching the paper towel dispenser in the doctor's office bathroom ("4 Days Out") ("Gliding Over All").
- Jimmy is parked next to a white Cadillac similar to the one he will be driving during the events of Breaking Bad.
- Gene's paranoia at the Cinnabon guy looked like Clovis, Badger's cousin in Breaking Bad.
- During the teaser, Saul becomes nervous upon noticing a suspicious-looking stranger watching him in the Cinnabon (although this stranger turns out to be innocent as he is seen hugging a woman as he walks outside). This is similar to Jesse becoming nervous after noticing a suspicious-looking stranger watching him while he speaks on the payphone with Walt, although the stranger was really watching his daughter in the park. ("Rabid Dog")
- When arguing with Walt in the Vacuum cleaners cellar in Granite State, Saul states "If i'm lucky, best case scenario i'm managing a Cinnabon in Omaha", where he did end up working as shown in the flash-forward at the start of the episode.
- His red key chain is the same Walter use to open the trunk of his car and kill the nazi crew in breaking bad last episode Felina. Also when he enters the court lobby the hat and jacket of Walter can be seen on a hanger.
- Viewership: The episode became the highest-rated series premiere for a scripted series in U.S. cable history, with 6.9 million viewers according to the Nielson ratings. The show placed second for the night among U.S. cable networks, behind only its lead-in show The Walking Dead, which as of February 9, 2015, ranks as the second-highest rated entertainment broadcast with adults 18-49 in the U.S., behind The Blacklist post-Super Bowl broadcast.
- Reception: The episode gained generally positive reviews.
- Roth Cornet of IGN gave the episode an 8.7 out of 10, saying "Can Saul compete with Walter White? No. But he doesn't have to. Better Call Saul poses one simple, but fascinating question: What happened to Jimmy McGill that forced him to transform himself into the ruthless, hardened, yet entirely entertaining *criminal* lawyer Saul Goodman? The man that we came to know and love on Breaking Bad. I, for one, look forward to watching that story unfold."
- Erik Kain of Forbes said of the episode and series: "[It] isn't just a spin-off of a popular TV show. So far, it's a terrific TV show on its own merits. It covers familiar ground, but it still manages to be its own unique snowflake."
- Hank Stuever of The Washington Post graded it a "B+" and wrote the series "is right in line with the tone and style of the original, now-classic series" and that it "raises more questions in two hours than it will readily answer".
- Kirsten Acuna of Business Insider declared the initial episodes "everything you could possibly want from a spinoff television series".
References to other media
- Jimmy makes many references to other media during the series, in this episode, he makes references to:
- A close-up of the inflatable Statue of Liberty outside of Saul Goodman's office is shown.
- "Address Unknown" by The Ink Spots
- "Se Bruciasse La Citta" by Massimo Ranieri
- "'M'ilestones" by Shook
|Better Call Saul -- Season 1|
|#01 "Uno"||#05 "Alpine Shepherd Boy"||#09 "Pimento"|
|#02 "Mijo"||#06 "Five-O"||#10 "Marco"|
|#03 "Nacho"||#07 "Bingo"|
|#04 "Hero"||#08 "RICO"||Season 2 >>|