Better Call Saul: Witness
April 17, 2017 11:24 PM - Season 3, Episode 2 - Subscribe

Jimmy and Kim hire an assistant; Mike seeks out a mysterious acquaintance; Chuck uses the law to gain an advantage over Jimmy.
posted by adept256 (43 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Just watched this, so I still have the image of Howard on the playground equipment. He's so clumsy. So we start with Mike the unseen watcher, then Jimmy the seen watcher, and, well, Howard. Who was actually not seen, but only by chance.

Great episode with many profound scenes (ripping the tape off!). Still digesting my mental food.
posted by adept256 at 11:30 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


Well, I guess I called Chuck's plan in last week's thread:


Let's see... If Chuck wanted Ernie to hear the tape, I suppose the next moves would be (a) Ernie tells Jimmy, and (b) Jimmy does something to try to cover it up, and (c) Chuck catches him. For example, Jimmy breaks into Chuck's house to get the tape, and gets in trouble for that?


I loved Chuck explaining how well he knows his brother to Howard ("He'll come when he thinks I'm asleep.") and then getting scared to death when Jimmy barges in. I guess Chuck got what he wanted though.


Loved seeing Francesca.

Favorite bit: "The M is just a bit crooked there."
posted by mmoncur at 3:16 AM on April 18 [4 favorites]


Also well done: Jimmy removing tape carefully the way Chuck taught him, then realizing what he was doing and ripping off the bandaid.

Loved the cinematography of all of the Mike scenes.
posted by mmoncur at 3:25 AM on April 18 [5 favorites]


I lol'd at declining Fring's offer of cleaning off the watch: "Oh, it's been in worse places"
posted by thelonius at 5:48 AM on April 18


I sure hope Mike passed the audition.
posted by whuppy at 6:13 AM on April 18 [2 favorites]


Oh that one slim moment of hope when Jimmy barged in against Chuck's expectations, when he was chewing his brother out with righteous fury but hadn't yet broken into the desk.
posted by whuppy at 6:16 AM on April 18 [4 favorites]


We all knew Gus was coming back but it was nice to see Francesca and Victor. I love that we're now going to see Francesca turn from the bright young, hopeful, smiling person she is now into the frustrated, jaded persons she becomes.

I'll repeat what I said last week: I really wish they had kept Gus a secret. Imagine after that long Mike sequence when the Los Pollos sign was finally revealed. Imagine how amazing that would have been after that huge build up. Imagine all the nerds who would claim they saw it coming a mile away. I hope on the podcast Vince and Co. discuss how they made the decision to give that away ahead of time. I assume they just figured it would have leaked out anyway.

I love the time they take on this show. There was that long Mike scene and then there was a scene with Kim and Jimmy in the office when neither of them spoke for what seemed like forever. No other show on TV takes time like that. It's beautiful.

It's almost to the point where I don't really care about the Chuck stuff anymore. I just want to see Jimmy and Kim and Mike all doing their thing. I know Chuck is probably a critical part of why Jimmy becomes Saul, but I'm just not as interested in that part of the story much.

This season is off to a great start. Those were two very good first episodes. Vince should direct more often.
posted by bondcliff at 6:45 AM on April 18 [3 favorites]


I fell asleep towards the beginning and caught chunks of the other two airings last night, so it will probably be a few days before I get the whole picture, but first of all:

Loved the cinematography of all of the Mike scenes.

Stunning! The scene with the drainage pipes (?) looked like a miniature set, shot with a shift-tilt filter. I'm sure they'll talk about it on the podcast; I really want to hear the details about those scenes.

If I'm not mistaken, those scenes with Mike following Victor was eight minutes of silence. Quiet, beautiful, um, Gilliganian silence.

Now I'm wondering what it would have been like if they'd somehow managed to keep Gus under wraps. Would I have recognized the "Los Pollos Hermanos Orange" from on the building when Mike first surveilles the building? I can tell you that even knowing what I know, I was giddy as the camera pulled back to reveal the sign. Otherwise I missed the Gus scene(s) last night.

Yes, Jimmy, it looks exactly like a stock market crash :(

So I guess Jimmy bets convicted for felony burglary or something and gets (temporarily?) disbarred? Or maybe he gets hit with trespassing? You know, like how Howard trespassed to get to Chuck's? it seems like Chuck may also be culpable in failing to report Jimny's original crime?

On preview, also what bondcliff said.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:01 AM on April 18 [1 favorite]


I just read Sepinwall's review (linked in sidebar) and I missed all the Mike/Jimmy stuff, too. It's hard to imagine that there is so much more to this episode because even though I fell asleep I feel like I've seen enough for two episodes.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:16 AM on April 18


(*) for certain values of "righteous"
posted by whuppy at 7:48 AM on April 18


Jimmy's impatience is the overt theme here, and his compulsive need to be visible is the character subtext. The ripping of the tape, the barging in, the clumsy garbage dive are all Jimmy making sure he's witnessed. But his whole life is visibility: the desire to be seen on TV and his anxiety about the commercial and the viewers/clients he knows it will pull in, his need to brand his partnership with Kim by making their stylized initials the new logo, even his inability to keep his emotions hidden in his face: Jimmy needs people to pay attention, and he has no patience for the quiet, invisible work of a Mike or Gus or a Chuck...or a Kim. Even his choice of office has a mirrored ceiling: Jimmy McGill, human spectacle.

This is of a piece with the Jimmy we've seen. Is his dive into the garbage at Los Pollos Hermanos so different from his equally misguided, equally fruitless and humiliating dive into a dumpster at Sandpiper in Season 1 -- all because he couldn't look around a moment to spot that recycling bin right next to it? Is his barging in to scream at Chuck and destroy the tape any different than his barging in to yell at Howard and hurl baseless accusations of fraud in the very first episode of the series? For Jimmy, everything is handled by making himself the star of the scene, the man of the hour. His reflex is stagecraft, and his method is performance.

It's not enough to fume at Chuck and listen to Kim as she lays out just how to torpedo that darned tape; Jimmy must take charge and perform his anger, his sense of betrayal, his imagined righteousness. It's the dark and ugly mirror of his guerrilla filming stunt or his unauthorized ad for Davis and Main, where he also performs righteousness. And it's not enough to interview a paralegal and play the role of a professional; Jimmy must take charge, interrupt Kim, fast-talk the interview away, since soon he'll be on television. And who cares if this shows the new hire that her workplace is fraught with a fault line? As long as she looks and sounds the part, that's all that matters: he's not interviewing, he's casting. And anyway, he's painted the fault line in his arrangement with Kim -- personal and professional -- on the wall for all to see.

But if Jimmy's horribly performative, spectacular actions here are a dark mirror of his own showmanship, it's also a dark and ugly mirror of Chuck, who likewise performs a kind of righteousness, though in Chuck's case it's emotional violence and interpersonal offenses, not criminal ones, that this mask of righteousness serves to cover. Both brothers use others as props, and both see the world as their show, their drama: narcissism and co-dependence.

Where would Chuck be with Jimmy to play against, to perform his moral superiority? And where would Jimmy be without Chuck to play against, the better to prove that he's the fun, personable guy you should befriend and confide in? Woe to the quiet technicians and pragmatists, the Kims and Howards of the world who struggle in the wake of the McGills and their flashy psychodramas. "I'm here to bear witness," said Chuck back in Season 2 when Jimmy presented at the meeting; but of course he was there to be overbearing. McGills never just bear witness: they make everyone else bear witness to them.

And meanwhile, there's Mike and Gus, the criminal technicians on the other side of that line Jimmy thinks he can dance back and forth over, where his showiness again calls attention and disrupts the orderly operations of the quiet, meticulous, and invisible. Jimmy is noticed, so Gus must act; Mike is noticed, and so his plan to stay invisible and witness is disrupted. In place of their long games of distant surveillance and anonymous passive-aggressive notes, Jimmy's conspicuous presence forces a rather more direct interaction than either would prefer. The men who want to see and hate being seen are rudely displayed to one another.

In the end, the show's use of long, patient takes, its quiet pace punctuated by explosions of emotional and physical violence, place the audience in that same relationship to everyone on it: we, too, must bear witness to the spectacle the McGill brothers make of themselves, and the way it turns everyone around them into merely parts of the spectacle.

No wonder the show makes so much of Chuck layering everything in aluminum: everyone on it is someone else's *foil*.
posted by kewb at 4:36 PM on April 18 [24 favorites]


Great summation, kewb, and increases my desire to know more about the McGill family. This is the second episode discussion in a row that someone has mentioned codependence as a description of the brothers' relationship, and it fits. I think that there's something else behind the story that Chuck told Kim about catching Jimmy embezzling $14,000 from their dad's store; it's both an awful lot for a teenager to make off with (even if part of it was Chuck Sr. giving money to grifters), and a pretty small amount of money to lose your business over. And there was something going on with the mom, too, with Jimmy thinking that it was the mom who read him the Mabel story, and Chuck resentfully reminding him that it was really him.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:17 PM on April 18 [4 favorites]


Well, I've certainly come up with a new interrogative expletive that rhymes with and includes the name Chuck.

Chuck looked genuinely brokenhearted when Jimmy was caught. I think this was meant to show that Chuck isn't inherently vindictive, although he is committed to the requirements and intricacies of the law, even when people he loves gets caught in the tension. Chuck simultaneously cherishes the law and grieves that Jimmy doesn't feel the same way, and as such, he's willing to give Jimmy up as the lesser of two evils. In Chuck's mind, he's to be commended for working the utilitarian calculus, even when it's difficult; in Jimmy's mind, Chuck chose principles over people. That's why it hurts so much, while also an impossible barrier to resolve for Jimmy. Jimmy's going to overtly chose the non-principled way, not simply because it's more humanizing (and as such, one of Jimmy's fundamental values), but because now, it broadcasts resentment for the unresolveable pain he's going to be experiencing very soon at the hand of his brother.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:39 PM on April 18 [2 favorites]


A couple of notes;

Kewb, Jimmy did exactly as Mike wanted. He didn't spoil Mike's plans by being noticed, being noticed was part of the plan. Mike knows that being invisible isn't in Jimmy's character, as you've noted extensively, and he used that.

Halloween Jack; Jimmy didn't forget that Chuck read him Mabel, but he knew Chuck would just have to correct him if he said he didn't. I'd suggest further, that Jimmy started peeling off the foil there knowing that the bookshelf was behind it. To remind Chuck of more innocent times, and doesn't Chuck have a fine memory? Do you remember the name of that girl down the street? Chuck replies with (paraphrasing from memory) 'I won't forget what happened here today. You will pay'.
posted by adept256 at 1:42 AM on April 19 [4 favorites]


I disagree on the Mike thing -- if he wanted to be noticed, wouldn't he have gone in himself and not bothered with Jimmy at all? -- and think it's mostly that Jimmy has been established as the only person Mike can turn to for stuff like spilling coffee on policemen or getting an idiot like Daniel Wormald out of trouble. Mike's insistence on self-reliance leaves him without any real "operatives" of his own, and being convinced of the benefits of joining a professional criminal organization seems like the thing Gus will accomplish. Mike's weakness, such as it is, is his insistence that all his relationships in the world of crime must be purely professional, detached, and contingent, and he keeps finding out that this part of his life can't be severed from his personal life and his quest for atonement.

(In Vince Gilligan terms, this is because Mike is "atoning" by missing the point: if his corruption is what destroyed Matty, then engaging in corruption to help his granddaughter and daughter-in-law seems like a self-destructive choice. You don't atone for a wicked act by committing more of them, which is something every character on this show and Breaking Bad tended to ignore.)

As to Jimmy and Mabel and Chuck, I think it can be two things: Jimmy was crudely manipulating Chuck's sympathies, but for Chuck, emotionally if not intellectually, it's one more instance where his devotion to the family is going unappreciated. Even if he knows Jimmy is trying to force a reconciliation through nostalgia, what he hears is still "Chuck's not getting credit for the things he does for the family."

Remember, from Chuck's perspective, the only reason Jimmy got as far as the mailroom at HHM is because Chuck saved his butt from jail, and it's Jimmy who nearly destroys the family time and again -- embezzling from Dad, disappointing Mom -- only for the family and the world to turn around and keep on loving Jimmy anyway.

Both brothers seem to do things mostly because they think they deserve or can "earn" the approval of others, to the point that others exist mostly as ways to get attention and approval, and not as actual people. Jimmy's idea of romance with Kim has turned out to be about severing her from HHM and her original career path, and then about making her complicit in his con games. And Chuck's idea of "saving" his brother has been about using his law partner, his personal aide, and his brother himself as props in a little morality play about Chuck the noble officer of the court, martyr to his own basic decency.

And this is also where Chuck's psychosomatic disorder comes in; up until late in Season 2, it only flared up when Jimmy had broken Chuck's "rules," which would of course have made Jimmy drop everything to take care of Chuck. And after Jimmy used Chuck's illness to perpetrate fraud with the Mesa Verde documents, Chuck's illness instead flares up when he needs Howard and Ernesto to do things for him. This clearly isn't *conscious* on Chuck's part, but his conversion disorder consistently "converts" his anxiety that the people around him aren't adequately playing their parts in the Chuck McGill hagiography. They're quite the pair, the McGill brothers.
posted by kewb at 3:38 AM on April 19 [6 favorites]


Thoughts after finally seeing the entire episode (some stuff already mentioned above):

This episode was 1 hour, 11 minutes. I'm glad AMC gives their shows the time to tell the stories they want.

The private detective is playing solitaire with used casino cards, which have a hole punched in them. As Chuck says, "To prevent people from cheating." Probably meaningful, but I'm not great at this stuff.

Chuck wants Howard to keep the detective at night, because he "knows his brother" but Jimmy comes during the day.

I really can't get over that scene with the drainage pipes and how beautiful, yet artificial, it looks.

There's a lot of yellow in this episode, which in the BCS world represents crime/bad (as opposed to the cooler colors, which represent good.) I love what looks like the sun rising behind Mike while he's waiting at Los Pollos Hermanos.

"Jimmy and I have very different needs."

"This one really don't want to talk about Cracker Barrel."

Why is Jimmy acting so nervous and suspiciously at the restaurant?

Gus! Finally! That was an ominous look as Jimmy drive away.

Ooh, that client's daughter is named Lily. I guess VG is having fun with us after all.

Correction: in my previous comment I mentioned Mike following Victor. I originally referred to him as just the bag man, but when I saw mentions of Vitor I thought I just forgot what he looked like and called him Victor. But Victor is really back!

Mike rising above the horizon was beautiful. And then the phone? I love this show.

I think that there's something else behind the story that Chuck told Kim about catching Jimmy embezzling $14,000 from their dad's store;

I'd swear that we heard Jimmy's version of this, or at least a different version, but I didn't see anything in my S2 rewatch. But I agree that there's more to it.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:33 AM on April 19 [2 favorites]




This was some pretty amazing stuff!

Occasionally there was some cinematography that was a bit on the nose, like Mike standing in front of that DEAD END sign when he reaches the restaurant and doesn't know what to do next. The shooting of that entire slow pursuit scene was just stunning. Not just that amazing scene with the drain pipes, but I also noticed that in all of the shots Mike is looking down on his quarry, perhaps to indicate his feeling of being "back on top." The overpass, the drainage scene, all show Mike looking down from above. When he hits that DEAD END, though? He's standing in a gully or ditch with the street above him: knocked back down to the bottom.

I also love the way that they subtly show Jimmy is not an AZ native. Not just with his DMV rant, but his response to "extra salsa" being "catsup, actually." (Though, would someone from near Chicago put catsup on anything?)

Speaking of colors and their meaning, its worth noting that Jimmy's office is entirely red. Like, entirely. That entire shot with Kim and Jimmy doing their initial strategic discussion is, like, 100% red. Even Kim is in a severe back outfit. The only blue is on the flag on Jimmy's desk. When the scene breaks, though, and we have a cut to Kim in profile with Jimmy in the doorway, we finally get our first splash of blue - in that landscape painting hanging above her head.
posted by absalom at 7:06 AM on April 19 [1 favorite]


I also don't think Mike intended Jimmy to be so careless or obvious. I mean, Jimmy was acting obvious as hell and while the bag man certainly didn't notice him, we know how much Fring loves his cameras and there's no way Gus didn't notice Jimmy the instant he got up to switch tables.

I think it's funny, though, that Jimmy giving away the game probably helped start that relationship between Fring and Mike. I can't imagine a meeting where Mike gets the drop on Gus ends up with any sort of working relationship between the two.
posted by absalom at 7:28 AM on April 19 [2 favorites]


kewb: It's not enough to fume at Chuck and listen to Kim as she lays out just how to torpedo that darned tape; Jimmy must take charge and perform his anger, his sense of betrayal, his imagined righteousness.

That righteousness is another shared McGill trait. Where Chuck sees himself as a Servant of the Law (Lawful Good, if you want to go with D&D alignments), while Jimmy is Chaotic Good. Except because this is a well-written and acted show, it's not so cut-and-dry. Chuck will play the same mind games that Jimmy does, but always with the idea, as said by Mike McKean in Talking Saul, that he's pursuing "an egotists way of correcting an imbalance in the universe" with regards to Jimmy, and acting as the recorder and announcer of Jimmy's True Self. On the other hand, Jimmy can strive to be Lawful Good, but he gets impatient, especially when he's upset (see: ripping off the tape), and Chaotic Good is easier for him.


kewb: McGills never just bear witness: they make everyone else bear witness to them.

So well said.


SpacemanStix: Chuck isn't inherently vindictive, although he is committed to the requirements and intricacies of the law

Plus he thinks his brother is a con-man who has duped almost everybody, while law-abiding Chuck gets none of the credit. Where the former is fully on display and even self-proclaimed, the latter part is internal and not self-realized, and I think this plays as much a role in Chuck's view of Jimmy as does his anger at Jimmy getting away with so many cons (see: their "oblivious" father, who we saw in a flashback through Jimmy's eyes [transcript of 02x07 - Inflatable]; their mother, who mistook Chuck for Jimmy as she was dying, even though Jimmy ran out for a sandwich; Rebecca, who laughed at Jimmy's crude lawyer jokes). I feel that Chuck wants recognition for his hard work, where Jimmy can slide right in and schmooze with anyone to get on their good side.


kewb: I disagree on the Mike thing -- if he wanted to be noticed, wouldn't he have gone in himself and not bothered with Jimmy at all?

Mike, at this point, is more of an observer than a man of direct action. Like Kim, he's deliberate, taking time to plan his next moves based, which he'll only make when he has enough evidence to ensure he's making the right choices. He knows he's being tracked, so he buys a new (old) car so he can stake out the backpack guy and find out what is going on up the chain. He could have gotten tough with the two guys at the power plant-type place, but instead he followed the tracker, and the backpack guy, to the next location. And the next location. And that's where Jimmy came in - the obvious plant who can't sit still and play it cool (though he also has a great head for details, perhaps another shared McGill trait?).

In short: Mike chose Jimmy for a reason.


kewb: You don't atone for a wicked act by committing more of them, which is something every character on this show and Breaking Bad tended to ignore.

This is a strong thread through BB and BCS: the gradual decline from upstanding citizen to compromised crook. Walter White became Heisenberg, and we now have a trio to track: Jimmy to Saul, Mike the observer to Mike the cleaner who works for Gus, and Francesca the cheerful survivor of MVD to Francesca the jaded and frustrated woman we see in BB (unless that's an act? Saul's all about curated image, right?).


kewb: And this is also where Chuck's psychosomatic disorder comes in; up until late in Season 2, it only flared up when Jimmy had broken Chuck's "rules," which would of course have made Jimmy drop everything to take care of Chuck.

And dropping everything included an end to Jimmy practicing law. A chimp with a machine gun, remember? Chuck REALLY does not like that Jimmy is "passing himself off" as a lawyer.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:56 AM on April 19 [2 favorites]


If Mike is so careful and methodical and playing 11 dimension chess, why follow the escalade which was a super obvious "I AM TRYING TO GET YOUR ATTENTION. FOLLOW ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!"?

Mike is awesome and thoughtful and smart, but he doesn't know everything. I don't think he's noticed Gus at all. I'll have to rewatch but he did seem very annoyed that the bag was not left in the restaurant. I think Mike assumed that Jimmy would know how to be unnoticeable in the restaurant. It was so painful watching him. Shit, anyone off the street would have been better than Jimmy.

I know this doesn't make sense based on the description of the character but I could have sworn that the courier with the bag was Gaff.

we know how much Fring loves his cameras and there's no way Gus didn't notice Jimmy the instant he got up to switch tables.


You know Gus was pinged as soon as he saw some dude come into his restaurant and STARE WITH SHIFTY EYES at all his customers while not seeming very interested in his food.
posted by LizBoBiz at 9:17 AM on April 19


their mother, who mistook Chuck for Jimmy as she was dying, even though Jimmy ran out for a sandwich; Rebecca, who laughed at Jimmy's crude lawyer jokes). I feel that Chuck wants recognition for his hard work, where Jimmy can slide right in and schmooze with anyone to get on their good side.

Which may expaln, in part, his attitude towards Kim. Here is yet another "good" woman who rejects Chuck yet accepts Jimmy for all his flaws.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:21 AM on April 19 [3 favorites]


Points from the podcast [warning: NSFW with talk of f**king in the dark, and other f**knig things]:
  • Great "cold" intro from Jonathan Banks: "And now another blast from the past, another sound of soul, if your heart can take it, come fly with us. This is Rockin' Robin on your [eight-ho?] dial. Music for parkin' in the dark while in Rock Creek Park. And now, from the year Five Eight, Little Anthony and the Imperails and "Shimmy ... Shimmy ... Coco ... Puff."
  • Insider comments on people who are working or have worked on other programs (Preacher, Under the Dome, and Claws, not Claus, plus Hell and High Water)
  • Breaking the episode: "we like to start with some mystery"
  • Jackamoe Buzzell, Chuck's PI, is a New Mexico native, who interviewed for BB and BCS, but wasn't a good fit until now
  • Kelly Dixon is impressed by seeing new locations, specifically the bridge/culverts, now that they've hit the 10 year anniversary of the Breaking Bad pilot
  • The tilt-shift/Lite Brite city is real: a happy accident from testing focal lengths -- the scene being out of focus, then marrying that with the foreground in focus (a simple edit, say the video editors); shot near Cottonwood mall
  • Lots of Mike driving is actually Jonathan in the car, with Vince and the camera guy in the back seat, Vince watching on a hand-held monitor, directing Jonathan to drive faster to make the rain on the window match an earlier look
  • Their new favorite camera: Panasonic VariCam, native ISO of 5000, can just about see in the dark -- a full moon was really messing up their lighting
Room 641-A: This episode was 1 hour, 11 minutes. I'm glad AMC gives their shows the time to tell the stories they want.
  • On that: they actually cut material to make things fit (which is probably not a surprise, but it surprised me, given how scripted everything seems)
  • Lots of credit to the personnel who work on shots and filming, from capturing the moment to even framing the shots (sorry, I'm skipping names, this is so long as it is)
  • Jonathan notes that he's either silent on-screen, or off-screen and doing a voice over
  • Kelly was rooting for the return of Francesca since the beginning; everyone discusses how she's a different person here, and everyone agrees (with laughter) that her change from BB to BCS was Saul
  • How did the Pollos Hermanos scene get decided? Putting themselves into the head of Mike, he doesn't know what to think of the exchange in a fast food restaurant, but he can't show is face in there
  • And you can sit in Walt's booth at Twisters Los Pollos Hermanos (Google search, because there are good photos and reviews, but not in one place), which has its own ad [YT], and appeared as a pop-up restaurant at SXSW
  • Kelly cut down Vince's take on the Gus reveal (as shot and scripted), which ended better than Vince's take, extending the reveal. Vince then says that "the French auteur theory where the director is nonsense," in part because TV has to be done quickly, and because you have to get out of your own head and be honest enough when something better comes along (and don't freak out, because you can always go back to the original take)
  • Fun fact: this is the first time we have seen the back of Chuck's house, and there's a pool in the real back yard that isn't included in the filmed yard (and the house itself is 3x as big as it as shown on show) - the home owners are very kind and allow their yard to get shaggy and overgrown for honesty in the show
  • Also, Vince directed Patrick Fabian to make the scramble over the walls look hard
  • Podcast participants debate who's more culpable, "which makes me [Vince] think of real life ... there's lots of shades of grey"
  • Vince likened Chuck to Clarence Darrow, and noted that this is more than legal brilliance and book learning and lawyering, but more of social engineering, tricks of a conman, like Jimmy. Interesting note: Chuck underestimates how harmful this con would be to Jimmy, thinking Jimmy would sneak in at night, instead of barging in during the day
  • Also noted: the end of this episode copied from/inspired by a Columbo episode titled "Negative Reaction," in which Columbo set up multiple people to be witness to (and state that they witnessed) a confession
  • Kelly asks: any more new people coming back? Everyone: No ... possibly?
  • Quick nod to Kim and Francesca in the interview scene
  • The MVD/DMV bit was a self-joke for the writers on themselves, going back to Walt and Saul in BB, who both called it DMV, per the scripts.

posted by filthy light thief at 9:53 AM on April 19 [5 favorites]


I'll repeat what I said last week: I really wish they had kept Gus a secret. Imagine after that long Mike sequence when the Los Pollos sign was finally revealed.

Me too. Because we already know it's coming, that looooong build-up to the Pollos Hermanos sign felt quite cynical and fan-servicey; as did the "oh, who's that out-of-focus-yet-somehow-familiar figure in the background" introduction of Gus. Whereas Victor, revealed in smash cut, was a genuine and joyous surprise.

Francesca the cheerful survivor of MVD to Francesca the jaded and frustrated woman we see in BB (unless that's an act? Saul's all about curated image, right?).

Hmm. I did wonder if the interview was more about Jimmy recognizing, and appreciating, a line of fine bullshit when he sees it.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:28 PM on April 19


I don't know, it felt like he wanted someone who could be folksy to answer the phones in, oh, 10 minutes from now. You know, when that absolute rush of calls was going to come in.

And how many calls did he get, related to that ad? 1. And a call from Mike.

Jimmy was focused on Jimmy, and didn't plan ahead at all. He didn't coordinate with Kim. He just knew he had a deadline, and oh shit, it's almost here. You don't hate old people, and you survived the MVD? Congrats, you're hired! You know, maybe on a trial basis, or we could fire you if you don't work out for us.

He's like the Archer of lawyers, except less of a cartoon caricature (though Archer is more nuanced than most actual cartoons, and many live-action shows, for that matter).
posted by filthy light thief at 12:40 PM on April 19


"The MVD/DMV bit was a self-joke for the writers on themselves, going back to Walt and Saul in BB, who both called it DMV, per the scripts."

I call it the "DMV" and I've lived most of my life (not all, and not presently) there. Maybe my time elsewhere, and/or media, has influenced me. But despite numerous visits to the MVD, I still think "DMV".
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:28 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


Just FYI, tonight is the season premiere of Fargo, on FX. If you haven't seen it, give it a shot; it's fantastic, at least as good as BCS. There are callbacks to events in previous seasons (each season is a different decade, so season two referenced a few events in season one, but each season is a standalone story. It shouldn't work, but it does, magnificently. Ewan McGregor plays two characters this season, last season starred Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons. Lots of great women charachters, too.

Another slow show in the VG vein.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:05 PM on April 19 [4 favorites]


"Another slow show in the VG vein."

I've been saying for two years that the best three shows on television are Better Call Saul, Fargo (particularly the second season), and Rectify. They are all beautifully shot, carefully written shows that show more than they tell, breathe a great deal of life into small, non-verbal telling moments, and exemplify the very best that television can be.

However, Rectify, having appeared on Sundance Channel and ended its third an final season last summer, never had almost any viewership -- numbering at the most in six figures -- and was inexplicably ignored by the Emmys (and MeFi), even though according to the critical (professional critics) consensus was the most highly regarded show of all. So, not only should you watch Fargo (especially second season), I highly recommend Rectify. I have a hard time believing that someone who likes the other two wouldn't also like Rectify.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:17 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


If we're doing show recommendations, I have to chime in with The Americans. Another slow burn, show-don't-tell, superb production all the way around. It is about halfway through it's 6th season though, so it does require some considerable time investment.
posted by LizBoBiz at 6:03 AM on April 20 [1 favorite]


"The Americans would probably be next on my list of favorite shows, but, aside from the acting, I think it's one notch down from the other three I mentioned with regard to these characteristics I identify as common to BCS, Rectify, and Fargo. For one thing, The Americans' cinematography is almost always very TV-workmanlike and nothing special to look at. And it uses a lot of more straightforward television writing to produce drama. To me, The Americans is one or two steps above the what you'd expect from really good, conventional television; while, in contrast, these other three are more like the very best cinema translated into longform television. That's what I think is so remarkable about them. These three are carefully crafted in basically every respect, whereas The Americans takes loving care with the things that important to it, while being more conventional and adequate with the rest. Don't get me wrong, I love The Americans and wholeheartedly recommend it. It's one of the best shows on television and deserves Emmy recognition in numerous respects. But I feel that the three I mentioned, including BCS, are truly something special even within the context of all of the history of television.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:25 AM on April 20 [3 favorites]


I loved pretty much everything about this (except when I was cringing at the end, hoping that Jimmy was just going to walk away from Chuck's trap). Jimmy in the rocking chair! Jimmy with his head in the Los Pollos Hermanos trash can! Ernesto trying to figure out how to talk to Kim without getting Jimmy in trouble! Francesca trying to talk to Mike about Cracker Barrel! Howard trying to jump the fence! Gus, Gus, Gus!

(I would have preferred not to have been spoiled about Gus, but I love that character so much that it doesn't really matter to me. All roads were going to lead to Gus eventually.)
posted by minsies at 10:02 AM on April 20


Thank you to everyone pointing out that Jimmy being conspicuous at Pollos Hermanos was Mike's plan. It was bugging me so much, like what the fuck is going on. I felt the same thing in the previous episode when Chuck was spilling the beans to Ernesto. Perhaps I'm too dumb for this show. I'd be a perfect mark for Slippin' Jimmy.

What was with all the reversed-video shots when Mike was doing surveillance? I think they were being factually accurate because he's watching everything in his rear view mirror, even with binoculars. But does that all Mean Something?
posted by Nelson at 11:05 AM on April 20


I'm still lost on what happened when Jimmy left Les Pollos and Gus was cleaning the parking lot. It cuts from Jimmy and Mike talking in his car to Gus sweeping up the parking lot. We see Gus' face and then Jimmy's incredibly loud car pulls out of the lot across the street. Without looking, Gus knows the sound of Jimmy's car and Mike's over there watching him?

But! Just before all that, we hear something plastic hitting the pan. I thought that was the gas cap. Chevy Blazer left the gas cap in the lot, and the hand off was out there. Maybe I'm putting too much emphasis on miscellaneous foley work?
posted by gladly at 11:58 AM on April 20


Just an excruciatingly pedantic note on this episode and the spoiler in last season's title anagram: If this is a prequel to BB, Fring isn't "back"... he's here for the first instance in linear time.

If anything, Fring has Frung.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 8:15 PM on April 20 [7 favorites]


Backyard steeplechase in Hamlindigo Blue was fun.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:59 PM on April 21 [3 favorites]


I now want the Gus Fring origin story. Let's go FURTHER back in time to see how he became the ALB #1 Meth Distributor. C'mon, Vince Gilligan!
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:03 PM on April 21 [3 favorites]


Why should we wait? Mike has had some back story illustrated, why not Gus? We already know they're going to be partners in crime. It would seem like a narrative misfire if they didn't explain as they did for Mike. I almost expect it in this season. Gus didn't appear from nothing, there's a story. I don't think these skilful story-tellers will neglect it.
posted by adept256 at 12:16 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


Didn't we get some of that story in BB? Gus and his partner went to Mexico to convince the cartel Don to let them start dealing meth?
posted by mbd1mbd1 at 2:17 PM on April 24 [1 favorite]


We did, but don't you want the full story? With more Hector? [rings bell]
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 3:21 PM on April 24


filthy light thief: Where Chuck sees himself as a Servant of the Law (Lawful Good, if you want to go with D&D alignments), while Jimmy is Chaotic Good.

Chuck's definitely lawful… but I have a tough time seeing him as lawful good. Lawful neutral was my thought, because of his obeying only the letter of the law, but once he betrayed Jimmy, that shoved him into lawful evil, for me.
posted by culfinglin at 2:03 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


The D&D axes of alignment is problematic, but I agree; Chuck is definitely Lawful.

I'm not sure that he's Neutral, though. His main priority is to win cases for their clients, and to use the letter of the law to achieve those ends. While a judge may aspire to be neutral, a certain subset of lawyers' behaviours could be classified as Evil (personal gain/gain for their firm/making senior partner without caring about the consequences for anyone else).

Chuck is Lawful Evil (and firmly in there after betraying Jimmy, and now his scheming with the tape).

Kim, though, I see her more Lawful Neutral (although a good argument can be made for Good). Hamlin might be an example of Lawful Neutral, he has some iota of conscience/fairness.

But, yes, Jimmy is definitely Chaotic Good; his heart is in the right place but his means to try to achieve "goodness" takes a more... circuitous... route.

Mike... Neutral Good?
posted by porpoise at 2:14 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


That's a good point, porpoise; I think you're right.
posted by culfinglin at 8:16 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


... and I think that you're right too! All along!

But, the next Episode questions the definition of "Evil." Results or Intentions?

It's easy to answer when its both.
posted by porpoise at 8:37 PM on April 25


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