I know there’s a lot of good stuff in this episode featuring the (probably) doomed Nacho, and how Gus even susses out Lalo survived the hit based on Hector’s body language alone. But that’s not what I want to focus on here at the moment.
I wanna ask about what’s wrong with Kim.
OK, I can buy that Kim and Jimmy want to ruin Howard, in part to finally get their share of the Sandpiper money, and in part because Howard deserves it. Or they think he does. The way I see it, his worst crime is he’s a bit of a douche. That’s not a good enough reason to completely ruin a man, but here I am.
Anyway, this episode has Kim, basically, going much further than Jimmy of all people is comfortable going. The pair did successfully plant fake cocaine in Howard’s locker at the country club he belongs to. Now they just want to spread that rumor around a bit, and to do that, Jimmy has to raise false hopes with his season one clients the Kettlemans.
I did find it a bit amusing that Craig at least is glad to see Jimmy while Betsy isn’t, and Betsy’s extreme distaste for Jimmy means the pair will check in with every lawyer in town claiming Howard was a cokehead, so they deserve exoneration. That doesn’t work for them, and it is very much Betsy’s whole thing that she will expect far more from the criminal justice system in Craig’s favor than he legally deserves.
But then there’s how the Kettlemans get involved in the first place. It’s Kim’s idea, but she frames it as “You’re not going to like this” before she says anything to Jimmy about who they need to spread this rumor all over the Albuquerque legal world. Is she saying that because she knows Jimmy doesn’t want to deal with the Kettlemans again if he can help it? Or is she saying it because something about Jimmy’s personal ethics isn’t comfortable with what he has to do by bringing those two in with false hopes?
I know saying anything about Jimmy’s ethics seems like some kind of a weird contradiction, but he does have some. This series has shown time and time again that Jimmy often feels guilty when he sees people got hurt because of his wheeling and dealing. He ruined his own rep with some elderly clients once to get one of their number forgiven due to one of his schemes. Chuck even expressed some mild exasperation about Jimmy’s guilt, saying he’s done this many times. So, really, Jimmy has some ethics when he stops and thinks about something.
The thing is, Kim is supposed to be the better lawyer, ethically speaking. But she’s the one driving the bus here. Jimmy thinks he can just buy the Kettlemans off when they realize they’ve been tricked. That’s the “carrot” in the episode title. But it’s Kim, the person who does pro bono work for blatantly guilty people, who uses the “stick” by threatening them with trouble with the IRS if they don’t shut their mouths. She then chides Jimmy for giving them the money anyway.
This is the same Kim Wexler who got noticeably upset when she learned Jimmy helped a client falsify evidence to get out of legal trouble, saying that what he did was ethically questionable but at the same time something she assumed he would do again, so she would prefer he not tell her. Now she’s using extortion as a tool to ruin someone who, again, is at worst just a douche.
See, this is why I think ruining Howard is going to be their ultimate downfall.