Better Call Saul: Off Brand
May 16, 2017 7:05 AM - Season 3, Episode 6 - Subscribe

Jimmy has a new endeavor; Chuck pushes himself to the limit; Nacho finds himself in a power struggle.

"What's that I see? Albuquerque's next TV star? It's you, small-business owner! Struggling to make it in today's fast-paced economy? Thought television advertising was too expensive for you? Well, you better think again! You can't afford not to be on TV! Look at you you're a triple threat! Great services, great products, and most of all, that face! You're a star! Wrap it all up in your natural charisma, and bam! You belong on TV! Better watch out for autograph hounds and paparazzi! And it gets better! I can have you on the air tomorrow. You heard me right tomorrow! Better get ready to be famous, Albuquerque! I can make you a TV star for a price you can afford! Call me, Saul Goodman! The world needs to know about you and your business!"
posted by filthy light thief (80 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Here's the advert, "You Belong On TV" -- clipped from the episode, including a short preamble, then through the end of the episode. It was uploaded on a new YouTube account, "Saul Goodman Productions," which I hope becomes more active (this is the first and only video it has posted, to date).

If you have a really good memory, or just searched online, you'll see that the phone number (505-842-5662) was previously used in Better Call Saul, but now the answering machine message is for Saul Goodman Productions, complete with the blippy music.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:15 AM on May 16 [5 favorites]




For the life of me, I couldn't tell if Kim was horrified or fascinated/turned on by Saul Goodman. But then, that is the perennial debate within her character.
posted by cardboard at 7:34 AM on May 16 [9 favorites]


I've decided I'm going to watch this show not specifically as a show about Saul Goodman, but as a prequel to that side of the whole Breaking Bad world. We've obviously gone way beyond Jimmy/Saul's backstory. And I'm perfectly fine with that, I want to see this world.

Interesting to see Lydia, that she's the one who hooked Gus up with the laundromat. I'm wondering though if this is too soon for Gus to be buying it and setting up the superlab. While they didn't really say what exactly the timeframe was when Gale was setting it up for Gus, my impression is it wasn't too far before Walt came on. I suppose it's very possible Gus could have set up a less-than-super lab before building up the Superlab.

I would be happy, though, if that's the last we see of Lydia in BCS. I don't need to know much more about her and she sort of seemed like an afterthought in Breaking Bad. I enjoyed her character but just seeing that snippet of her is plenty.

So Chuck seems to be working on curing his illness. Interesting, that.
posted by bondcliff at 7:44 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]


I'm glad to see Chuck trying to cure himself, maybe.

It's tough.

Kim's face as she watched Jimmy's commercial was amaze balls. I think she was horrified. And shocked.
posted by tilde at 7:51 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


Interesting to see Lydia, that she's the one who hooked Gus up with the laundromat. I'm wondering though if this is too soon for Gus to be buying it and setting up the superlab.

Huh: it is too soon, isn't it?

Speaks more to the fact that Gus is already actively maneuvering to get out of the cartel; and with Madrigal's help. Or at least with Lydia-as-criminal-element-within-Madrigal's help.

I noticed that the Pollos truck that smuggled the meth was also carrying a couple of chemical barrels.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 7:54 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]


I just wanted to note that the end of the scene with Chuck and Howard commisserating over expensive booze had an extra touch of brilliance when they both exited the scene at the same moment, Chuck with his lantern and Howard with the headlights as seen through the window. This stuff just seems effortless by Gilligan and friends now. Rich tapestries and subtle metaphor fuel far beyond the cheesy subject matter.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:59 AM on May 16 [6 favorites]


I'm wondering though if this is too soon for Gus to be buying it and setting up the superlab. While they didn't really say what exactly the timeframe was when Gale was setting it up for Gus, my impression is it wasn't too far before Walt came on. I suppose it's very possible Gus could have set up a less-than-super lab before building up the Superlab.

Gale Boetticher's article on the BB wikia notes that he graduated with a Bachelors in Chemistry in 1999 (and that he was one of perhaps three dozen recipients of Gus Fring's Max Arciniega Chemistry Scholarship at UNM). Tack on four more years for an MS, and you're looking at graduating in 2003, likely in the spring, four and a half years before Walt was diagnosed with cancer.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:17 AM on May 16 [4 favorites]


Regional product placement: Jimmy and Kim are drinking Shiner Bock, the flagship from Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, TX. It's the oldest independent brewery in Texas and one of the oldest independent breweries in the U.S. -- not sure if it's just a touch of regional flavor (Shiner is widely available in New Mexico), or a nod to independence.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:20 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]


Getting to the end of that commercial and seeing the name Saul Goodman was like seeing the birth of a new galaxy. A galaxy full of death stars.

Wasn't thrilled to see Lydia again but knowing how sweetly she'll meet her eventual fate will make it tolerable I guess.
posted by fuse theorem at 8:37 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]


Lydia was not a character to love, really, but she was a great character anyway. So competent at her regular job, which was highly specialized and a prototypical "knowledge" job of the postindustrial and globalized era, and so corporate. She even has a perfectly annoying and realized last name in "Rodarte-Quayle." I was bizarrely happy to see her, if only briefly.
posted by raysmj at 10:26 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


As soon as the commercial started, I knew it was coming. And every time he started a sentence with, "Better..." I was waiting for the, "...call Saul." When his name finally came up I totally yelled at the TV.

So *that's* where it started.
posted by tracicle at 10:36 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


Kim's acceptance of the idea of Saul, plus her willingness to look the other way with Jimmy's guilt (that she benefited from) makes it seem like she also will break bad at some point.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:56 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]


As soon as the commercial started, I knew it was coming. And every time he started a sentence with, "Better..." I was waiting for the, "...call Saul." When his name finally came up I totally yelled at the TV.

So *that's* where it started.


And I love the loop-back to the Better Call Saul cheap-o video effects in the show's opening credits - high energy, lots of weird wipes.

I'm now really interested to see how Jimmy spends his next 12 months, and how this version of Saul becomes the lawyer Saul. I can see that he'll retain some of the over-the-top video effects and schtick as Lawyer Saul, but will he publicly merge Lawyer "Gimme" Jimmy with Saul Goodman, or pretend he's someone different, but with the same name?

Also, I am super dense - it was only in this episode that I noticed that the wall paint implies the Wexler/McGill logo that Jimmy designed last season (cleaner image as a wallpaper, via Reddit, and here, via a Tumblr search), in addition to the New Mexico mountains.

And in reviewing the transcript for this episode, Jimmy's name is mentioned a lot, especially by Kim in the beginning, when she's talking about Jimmy McGill's character -- "So now the question you must ask yourselves is this Is the legal profession better with Jimmy McGill in it? I believe the answer is a resounding yes."

In the end, it's just a name.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:14 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


So, can we infer that Chuck is so upset at the outcome of the hearing that he's going to try and overcome his illness so he can escalate this further? Christ, what an asshole. Even though he is of course right about slippin' Jimmy in general, and specifically with the Mesa Verde tampering. I really wonder if we're going to get a reveal about what actually happened with their dad's store; other than the flashback showing their father to be generous and trusting to a fault, the only thing we have to go on is Chuck's "Jimmy stole from the till" narrative. Part of me wonders if Chuck's fanatical devotion to the law is compensating for some hand he might have had in the store's demise.

The scene with the Scotch dates events to 2001 (The 1966 Macallan was then 35 years old) but knowing how meticulous Gus is the timing with the laundry doesn't necessarily seem too early. I'd expect he'd build the lab very slowly and patiently, purchasing all of that equipment slowly and from different sources so as not to leave a trail.
posted by Funeral march of an old jawbone at 11:41 AM on May 16 [5 favorites]




Finally Michael Mando gets some scenes. I think they just showed us how Hector's stroke is going to come about.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 2:23 PM on May 16 [7 favorites]


"Off-Brand" is the motif in this one, with everyone dealing with questions of professional profile: Howard trying to salvage his firm and the (Chuck) McGill name, Gus's smuggling operation being forced to carry an rival's product (non-Gus drugs in a truck with his logo on it), Mike finding himself thrust into the role of volunteer construction worker, Wexler-McGill threatening to turn into plain old Wexler, and Nacho seeing his father's upholstery shop about to enter a very different business behind closed doors.

But it's also an episode about old exteriors containing new, dangerous things. The clear foreshadowing with Hector's dropped pill is the most obvious -- it doesn't seem too hard to guess how he'll have that stroke, and perhaps even how Nacho will become the guy Jimmy blames for whatever he's afraid the cartel will do to him -- and of course the ever-shifting fronts for the druglords in the "Mike-and-Gus" parts of the plot. And Jimmy's plot has the offices of Wexler and McGill turning into the offices of Wexler and the ad agency of Goodman, and, of course, the old ad time for Jimmy McGill now with entirely new, off-brand contents.

But there's also the clear turn in Jimmy's character in his interactions with Rebecca, a new coldness and a less tempered version of his trademark shortsightedness. There's Nacho, a friendly face to the likes of Crazy Eight, but increasingly desperate because of Don Hector's dangerous presence, and willing now to do things he wasn't before. And Chuck, of course, the Man in Mylar who ma be turning into something very different as well. A show about a con man can hardly do otherwise. (As usual, it's Jimmy who eventually confounds this symbolism a bit, because the show is about how his future twists around to resemble his past; he's the old showman int he new wrapper of Saul Goodman. As a master of improvisatory narratives and sudden rewrites, who else would get to alter the motif because it suits him?)

But there's a second symbolic economy in the show tonight, one built around its loving imagery of machinery in operation: Gus and the laundromat,Chuck amid the buzz of neon and streetlamps, and Nacho and that sewing machine. That first image syncs the motif to the subtext it will represent: the impact of machinations on comparatively fragile human bodies. The beating of Crazy Eight, the (induced?) stroke Don Hector will one day suffer, the disaster that Gus's superlab will eventually become for himself and Lydia after one W.W. glides through...all, like Nacho catching his hand in the needle, images of what happens when machinery set into motion encounters flesh. Every scheme redounds on itself in this universe, and cold calculation and mechanical manipulation do real damage. Here, of course, it's the fallout of Jimmy's complex scheming, the emotional damage done to Rebecca and Chuck, that most immediately signifies the metaphor of machinations mangling souls and selves. (As a McGill, of course, Chuck gets to be the one who flips the motif for himself: the damage that the buzzing, automatic, electric world does to him is all imaginary, and the phone becomes a potential instrument of healing.)

In a show with so many characters who obsessively police their outer images, the surfaces they present to the world, going off-brand must feel to them like a loss of self. But as this episode shows, sometimes a loss of self is an opportunity for self-reinvention.
posted by kewb at 2:54 PM on May 16 [13 favorites]


I hope nothing bad happens to that real estate lady.

That stevia crap you're always putting in your tea
posted by adept256 at 3:10 PM on May 16 [7 favorites]


This episode's podcast (1 hr 30 min) includes Kelley Dixon and Chris McCaleb hosting, Vince and Peter, with special guests Ann Cherkis (episode co-writer, with Vince) and "podcast virgin" (per Kelley), Anna Ramey Borden, who started on BB in Season 4 as "second second assistant director" (really), then came on as 1st AD in BCS
  • 2nd 2nd is on-set, supporting 1st AD; 2nd AD plans the next day; 1st AD preps the episode, scheduling it, breaking down the script, working closely with the director of the episode and the writers room, then working on the set to assist the director
  • Line producers make it all work, fulfill all the technical requests (which gear to use when)
  • ADs are the scouts for the directors, to help them avoid pitfalls and make a shoot realistic (in terms of what can get done in a certain amount of time)
  • (I love the self-inflicted joking from Vince and Peter - Peter: "My baby arms, my baby arms won't reach any further!" / Vince: "Don't try to pin my artistry down!")
  • More details on the process of getting into the business of being an assistant director at various levels, as well as who is involved making changes when and where, which I'll skip
  • On trying to time the episodes, it's leaning towards long, but some of the season 1 episodes ran short; some of it depends on the actors and characters - Bob / Jimmy is a fast talker, while Mike and Walt were slower; possibly because this is a darker, more methodical season, the episodes have run longer (and require more to be cut)
  • Stew (Stu?) Lions (??) (rough quote from Vince): "montage is the French word for over budget" -- Kelley in the background "money"
  • "Game over, man!" Minor departure to remember Bill Paxton
  • Anna went to the College of Santa Fe (no longer open), which was tiny, and "full of pot heads who just wanted to get their hands on a camera"
  • Hah! Anna, not from New Mexico, cites the modified state motto: Land of Entrapment (real motto: Land of Enchantment)
  • Vince: "Why did the school close down? Did they run out of pot?" (I'm not sure why I found that so funny) -- Nope, Anna said there was embezzlement, then they got bought out, and then shut down
  • Anna and Rhea Seehorn have co-directed a short, and worked on something that is getting included in something bigger (no details disclosed, and I couldn't find anything online)
  • Discussion of the multi-talented Keith Gordon, director/ producer/ writer/ actor, praising him for The Chocolate War and A Midnight Clear, his first and second movies, respectively
  • Peter's summary of Vince's past comment: "I don't do b-story," which Peter said meant that he didn't know how to do it; in BB, Vince said they were figuring out what the story meant and how it would go, with Walt as the engine for the entire series, where BCS has multiple character lines to follow, especially this episode; Peter says he doesn't like calling stories "A" or "B" make them seem more or less important
  • A brief discussion on the brief feature of Lydia, who was excited to be there, even if was just for 2 lines; she was on an airplane within 4 hours of being called in, to film what was a back-fill scene as a location fell out
  • A comment on Lydia's sunglasses, and the missing there-of: Peter felt like those sunglasses were her hiding, while she's still open
-Break (for me, for now)-
posted by filthy light thief at 3:11 PM on May 16 [5 favorites]


Anyone recognize what Salamanca's pills were? The only green/white capsules I know of offhand are fluoxetine hydrochloride (Prozac®), which those obviously ain't unless he's using them wrong, but there are kind of a lot of similar pills. Maybe someone has a TV good enough to read the printing on the side?

(I may have slightly more faith in the prop department than is warranted, but still!)
posted by Sys Rq at 3:40 PM on May 16 [2 favorites]


From filthy light thief's podcast summary (always appreciated):
  • Anna went to the College of Santa Fe (no longer open), which was tiny, and "full of pot heads who just wanted to get their hands on a camera"
  • Vince: "Why did the school close down? Did they run out of pot?" (I'm not sure why I found that so funny) -- Nope, Anna said there was embezzlement, then they got bought out, and then shut down
    So, from her age I think she was at CSF in the mid-00s, so about twelve years after what I know about. But the background of CSF is pretty interesting.

    It was an old De La Salle Brothers Catholic college founded as "St. Michael's" in Santa Fe in 1859, became CSF in the 60s.

    When I was growing up, I didn't know much about it, it was quite small and, as far as I knew, undistinguished. However, in the 80s when I lived in Albuquerque, I learned from some theater folk that its theater program was highly regarded; it was the one thing that distinguished it from other small, undistinguished, Catholic colleges. This was partly because the actress Greer Garson moved to New Mexico in the late 40s and over her life donated a fair amount of money to the college, primarily for theater, and in her last years, a new film department.

    That final, large donation for a film department funded not only the department, but a working film studio, Garson Studios, with its own soundstages. This was in the very late 80s.

    At that time, during the 80s, there'd been a slight resurgence of films being filmed in New Mexico, almost entirely westerns, most significantly Silverado, and almost exactly at the same time that Greer Garson's gift funded a film department and Garson Studios, New Mexico began offering tax breaks for film productions.

    Here's where I have personal experience -- in 1990, I had just married, was in my mid-20s, and my wife had just dropped out of university in Canada to be down here with me. We had decided to go back to school -- I'd been in and out of medium-to-large state universities over the years, and had always dropped out, hating them. At one point when I was a physics major in 1984, I had both a personal counselor and an academic counselor independently suggest that I would be much more happy at a small liberal arts college, and both of them included Reed and St. John's College on their list of suggestions. I was very impressed with SJC and mulled that over for several years, mostly worrying about the cost and that it seemed impractical. But at this moment in my life, especially because of S's enthusiastic encouragement, I decided to finally follow-through on that, which turned out basically to be the best thing that ever happened to me.

    SJC has its original campus in Annapolis, but they built a second campus in Santa Fe. I'd planned to go to the Annapolis campus, but we needed to find a school for S. At this point, at the age of 21, she had already, let's see, variously produced and hosted a weekly live music radio show on the biggest public radio station in New Mexico, had been acting as an independent promoter and show booking agent for indie musicians touring the state, and, well, a bunch of other things. But she'd decided that she wanted to be a film producer. So we started looking for good film schools that would be somewhere near Annapolis somehow, and much to our surprise we learned about College of Santa having a new film program, with an actual working film studio -- something they said that no other program had, and they did have a producing/management track in their film degree. So we moved to Santa Fe, me attending St. John's and her attending College of Santa Fe. (And, BTW, never the twain shall meet -- it was very much like we lived in two completely separate universes.)

    While S was a full-time student there in the early 90s, she became the full-time administrative assistant for the film department as well as for the film studio (she also worked another part-time job, volunteered at two organizations, all of this at the same time). There was a whole bunch of movies filmed at Garson Studios in the 90s, including when I was married and we were there. The department head and head of the studio was a veteran Hollywood film producer, and S dealt often with these actors, including the stars. Unfortunately, the producer/management track only interested a few students and so they eliminated it before she graduated -- she had to switch to the business department's arts and entertainment management degree, which is what she graduated with. (Would it surprise you to learn that, years after our divorce, she became a product manager for Microsoft? Well, it doesn't surprise me.)

    But those film students got a half-decent practical education, is my impression. I mean, assuming they were motivated. Most of them probably weren't and, yeah, probably just got high. If they were like my ex-wife, they did well. She produced a television show there that was syndicated to some PBS stations that interviewed film people -- she wasn't that interested in being in front of the camera, but the student they had doing the interviewing would flake out so one day I recall she ended up hosting the show they did where she interviewed Steven Soderbergh. I wish I had a tape of that.

    However, by the 00s, when I think that Anna Ramey Borden was there, the film industry in New Mexico had expanded quite rapidly, with right around that time the big film studio in Albuquerque opening, where BB and BCS and many movies, were/are filmed. In the early 90s, Garson Studios for a while was the center of filmmaking in New Mexico. By the 00s, not so much, I think.

    I don't know how they screwed that up. I didn't really follow the various problems the school had from the 00s until recently. It was a private college, not remotely as expensive as SJC was for me, but still much more than a public university, but it was unknown and undistinguished except in theater and, really, does any university theater department actually matter anywhere? Yale School of Drama, I suppose. But I felt at the time, in the early 90s, that having the opportunity to work on Hollywood productions as an undergraduate was something that could be worth the money. Again, though, only if the student hustled, got a lot of experience, and, importantly, did a lot of networking, which I figured S would do, because that's her.

    But, anyway, it's not like CSF was some community college with a so-called "film department". Well, also, one of S's closest friends was the daughter of the (then) second wealthiest man in the US. (She was a really nice person, BTW, though I have the impression that this is no longer true.) She and her boyfriend had this beautiful house up off of Ski Basin Road and Santa Fe was super trendy in the 90s, so I think there was a small contingent of wealthy students at CSF like her who just thought this would be a fun place to go to school.
    posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:59 PM on May 16 [9 favorites]


    Not to contradict Funeral march of an old jawbone, but it appears that the Maccallan 1966 35 Year Old was bottled in 2002.

    Saw it being listed for £18,750.00 (The Whisky Vault, current), but has been auctioned off at £365.00 (Just Whisky, 2015), CHF 920 (USD $971) (Christie's, 2012) , and HK$ 88,200 (CA$ 15,417) (Bonhams, 2014).

    A Macallan 35 from 1967 has been listed at $5,700.00 (Love Scotch, out of stock).

    So I'm guessing that bottle maybe cost pretty far south of a grand USD at the time of the show (eg, it was released recently, had not been highly sequestered, ie, it's the current release of the lot by the distiller and speculation hasn't inflated the price) ? So that's only about $40 per fl oz on the high end (or less).

    There are stupid pretentious/high end clubs that charge that much for an ordinary drink (watered down, no doubt), and I've been at whiskey bars where premium ounces start at $40 as well as bars where top shelf singles topped out around $40. So a single of the Macallan 1966 around that time period, drinking out, might be a $100 drink. Add $50-100 depending on the pretentiousness/class.
    posted by porpoise at 7:34 PM on May 16 [6 favorites]


    Rich tapestries and subtle metaphor fuel far beyond the cheesy subject matter.

    Speaking of: the opening scene with Nacho, and the way it tied into his relationship with Hector. Holy hot damn.

    It's funny how we've all been waiting for Mike (or, since finding out he'd be back, Gus) to do something to put Hector into his wheelchair, and now it looks like it might be Chekhov's Nacho that does it instead.
    posted by tobascodagama at 7:39 PM on May 16 [5 favorites]


    re: Kim vs Saul Goodman

    I got the feeling that she was approaching appalled and not much else.

    She had put her reputation as a lawyer on the line to defend Jimmy, she had previously sought legitimacy through trying to belong to a staid and respected firm, struggling as an independent to foster a reputation as an above-board legitimate straight-shooter...

    .. and now she finally sees that Jimmy has completely different values than she's had.

    Different enough that Jimmy has even given up on his legitimate name and willing to adopt a tawdry persona.

    Jimmy was never really a "good" match with Kim Wexler. (huh, Rhea Seehorn is 6 years older than I am. Thought she was about my age or a couple years younger, and I skew appearing lots younger. Odenkirk is 54*.) I am still completely baffled as to the parameters of their (apparently lengthy) relationship.

    I really liked Nacho's backstory tidbit; but not sure whether he actually really loved working with his hands in the given medium (leather and heavy textiles) or if he was daydreaming about something else and put an awl in the web of his hand by inattention. Either way, his actor has really great eyelashes.

    Also, those blue barrels in the Pollos truck - there are food-grade version that look very similar. So, not necessarily "suspicious chemical" - they could merely just be franchise-chain-sized barrels of chicken sauce or frying oil or something.

    *are the ages of the actors - 54, 45 - realistic for starting-out/struggling/still-optimistic type lawyers?
    posted by porpoise at 7:53 PM on May 16 [2 favorites]


    *are the ages of the actors - 54, 45 - realistic for starting-out/struggling/still-optimistic type lawyers?

    A) They're supposed to be 10 years younger than their actors' current ages, keep in mind. Or at least Jimmy is.

    B) Neither went straight from high school to law school, they both spent some undetermined amount of time doing... other stuff (scamming, in Jimmy's case, but we still don't know what Kim was up to in Nebraska) before landing in the HHM mail room and then starting their law degrees, while working full-time. Given that, mid-30s/mid-40s seems pretty reasonable.
    posted by tobascodagama at 8:04 PM on May 16 [3 favorites]


    Somehow my favorite thing from this whole episode was the Rayovac battery rolling just to the edge of the desk and then Michael McKean picking it up, all in one shot. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that somehow there was no CG involved. The shot had some pretty shallow DoF and it was pulled perfectly from the roll-stop to his face.
    posted by komara at 8:05 PM on May 16 [3 favorites]


    Thanks tobasco! I hadn't even put it in perspective, but yeah, subtract 10 and it totally makes sense.

    Shit, I'm Kim +3.85 years. Albeit, not in law. But that should be adjusted minus 3 - 7 years because 2017, not the '00s. So, not so bad.
    posted by porpoise at 8:22 PM on May 16


    Somehow my favorite thing from this whole episode was the Rayovac battery rolling just to the edge of the desk and then Michael McKean picking it up, all in one shot.

    Really, all of the cinematography around Chuck is incredible. It's particularly impressive how the visual language they use for his illness always enhances McKean's performance, rather than distracting from it. Part of that is just that Chuck is such an inherently reserved and contained character, but it still shows a real mastery of the art of filmmaking to have the actors, cinematographers, and sound designers working together to strike such a perfect balance.
    posted by tobascodagama at 8:59 PM on May 16 [3 favorites]


    Calling it now: The playground for which Stacey volunteers Mike to pour cement is the one where he leaves Kaylee in "Say My Name." And there is at least one drug dealer in or underneath that cement.
    posted by Fish, fish, are you doing your duty? at 12:26 AM on May 17 [9 favorites]


    So, can we infer that Chuck is so upset at the outcome of the hearing that he's going to try and overcome his illness so he can escalate this further?

    Maybe... my assumption was that he decided to have some kind of major episode (grabbing a battery, walking through the city, then calling Dr. Cruz) - this would fit his history, it's a way to get Jimmy to come back and take care of him again. "Look what you did to your poor brother."

    (Note that Dr. Cruz is definitely NOT the type of doctor he needs to talk to to actually cure his condition, although maybe he's calling to ask her for the psychiatric referral she offered a while back.)

    But I don't think Jimmy cares at this point, and I don't blame him. Perhaps it's just my own personal family history, but when Rebecca was shocked that Jimmy wouldn't come and help her with Chuck, I was 100% on Jimmy's side. Time to cut that relationship off completely.

    Way back when this show started Vince Gilligan said something about "What problem is solved by becoming Saul Goodman?" and I guess the answer is "When you want to start a business making cheesy commercials but everyone in town already knows Jimmy McGill is a lawyer."

    I am curious what they're going to do with the future of the show though. They've pretty much committed to an entire season where Jimmy isn't a lawyer. (Don't get me wrong, I'd gladly watch five seasons of Jimmy and his band of misfits making commercials while trespassing.)
    posted by mmoncur at 4:56 AM on May 17 [4 favorites]


    They've pretty much committed to an entire season where Jimmy isn't a lawyer.

    I don't know. They've committed to a season where Jimmy isn't the attorney of record in a court or on any legal documents. It's possible he has some connections to folks who are willing to pay cash for legal advice they can use to avoid jail as they conduct their own shady businesses in the Albuquerque area.
    posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:05 AM on May 17 [4 favorites]


    Since everything else has already been said: am I just not getting Stacy's performance, confused by her bizarre accent, is she tragically miscast, or is she just a community theater-caliber actor? Because every scene she's in really, really takes me out of the show.
    posted by uncleozzy at 5:08 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]


    Kim's face as she watched Jimmy's commercial was amaze balls. I think she was horrified. And shocked.

    I think about the episode in which Kim was interviewing with Schweigart and Cokely, and she said something like, "If I hadn't left my hometown I'd be pregnant and married to the guy who works at the gas station" or something along the lines.

    And I wonder if, when she looks at Jimmy, she sees both a go-getter who wants more (like she does), but also part of a back-home loser.

    And I love the loop-back to the Better Call Saul cheap-o video effects in the show's opening credits - high energy, lots of weird wipes.

    "The guy at the TV station said he's never seen so many star wipes in a row," delivered with pride, is a really, really memorable line.
    posted by entropone at 5:55 AM on May 17 [13 favorites]


    Jimmy may not have kept the company car, but he did keep a Davis & Main coffee mug.
    posted by snofoam at 6:34 AM on May 17 [2 favorites]


    I wouldn't be surprised to learn that somehow there was no CG involved.

    Someone in another thread suggested that they did some CGI lightning in a scene where there was a shot of a storm in the background. One thing I've learned from the podcast is that, due to their low budget, they hardly ever use CGI. So if there's a scene where you think "I wonder if that's CGI?" the answer is... probably not.

    In fact they described one scene where they filmed in a mall after hours and one store in the background wouldn't open for them. So they basically pulled off a Roadrunner / Coyote thing where they put up a fake photo of the open store in the background, over the closed store.
    posted by bondcliff at 6:36 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]


    I wouldn't be surprised to learn that somehow there was no CG involved.

    The podcast reveals that there was CG in that shot. The shot itself was all practical with some excellent focus pulling and the battery stops on some double sided tape that is on the desk. Apparently the battery wobbles just a bit when it stopped such that it looked fake and they used CG to remove the wobble.
    posted by mmascolino at 7:00 AM on May 17 [3 favorites]


    the dropped pill could be a fakeout like the ricin cigarette, which I was sure Skylar White was going to find and smoke
    posted by thelonius at 7:39 AM on May 17


    They've pretty much committed to an entire season where Jimmy isn't a lawyer.
    ...
    I don't know. They've committed to a season where Jimmy isn't the attorney of record in a court or on any legal documents.
    Yeah, Jimmy immediately finds himself having to hustle hard to cover his remaining ad time with the TV station (which implies he's already sunk whatever severance he might have had left from Davis & Main into the Wexler-McGill office?) and he's also set himself up to have to hustle to hold up his end of the lease. I could see the arc being: The ad business dries up or isn't enough to make ends meet, so the next time Mike calls he'll provide some IANAL/IANYL legal consultation for cash under the table... or he'll tell the shady vet that he's available to provide similar services, and it will be a slippery slope.

    It's been well established that Jimmy's style is just not a good fit with straight-and-narrow corporate law, and although he's tried to carve out his own space in Chuck and Kim's world he doesn't seem all that happy doing elder law even if he seems to genuinely care about his clients. (In all of his phone calls and interactions with elderly clients, he may be making uncomfortable/exasperated faces but he does seem to be providing them with real service.) If the next 12 months gradually eases him into a milieu that isn't constantly giving him grief about bending/breaking the rules, it's going to be hard for him to go back to just making wills all day long. On top of all of that, he's disowned his brother and an irreconcilable falling out with Kim could be the last nudge that gets him to go full-on Saul.

    What's been making me sad the last couple of episodes is remembering that the only reason (or at least the main reason) Jimmy became a lawyer in the first place was to try and do right by his big brother; if Chuck had been even marginally supportive it seems like that validation could have been enough to keep Jimmy from slipping too far.
    posted by Funeral march of an old jawbone at 7:40 AM on May 17 [7 favorites]


    he's also set himself up to have to hustle to hold up his end of the lease. I could see the arc being: The ad business dries up or isn't enough to make ends meet, so the next time Mike calls he'll provide some IANAL/IANYL legal consultation for cash under the table... or he'll tell the shady vet that he's available to provide similar services, and it will be a slippery slope.

    Yeah, i mean - we know from BB that he's handy at money laundering. So maybe that's what he does for a year before becoming a "criminal. lawyer." (in Jesse's words).
    posted by entropone at 7:47 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]


    Continuation of my earlier podcast write-up:
    • The crew comments on the fact we last saw Tuco as the money counter, but now Nacho is filling in (plus a note that this is a preview of Krazy-8, which I totally missed)
    • On Nacho's beating of Domingo, they noted that people often felt that BB was more violent that it actually was, and now BCS is like that, to a lesser degree -- in this case, the viewer's feeling and memory of the beating being worse than it (may) actually be; also, the decision to hide the violence was in place from the writing of the scene
    • They noted that this was another turning point, both for Nacho, turning from a more trusting, casual drug demi-lord to a wrathful boss, and possibly where Domingo starts turning from a kind young man into Krazy-8
    • On wrapping up the court room scene and Rebecca's story, the choice to overlay Kim's narration with the image of Rebecca in the cab on the way to Chuck's house was in a big part to save time
    • Jimmy's sentence was first implicit (when he talked with Kim), making it feel like you were listening to a conversation instead of an exposition dump, then explicit (when Howard told Chuck)
    • The 66 year old scotch was used to both indicate the timeframe of the show, and bring the scotch drinking many levels up from last time in Season 2 (? - I forgot when this was, exactly)
    • Macallan was on board with being featured, but Peter or Vince said this was a very rare bottle, so the prop department made this one from a real, old look-alike bottle and they built a custom box, with guidance from Macallan, to replicate the real thing (they said that even the boxes can sell for a ridiculous price
    • Oh, and Howard was totally OK to drive -- they were drinking tea ;)
    • Vince: Howard was being a great friend, more so than self interested in saving HHM, when he was talking with Chuck
    • On the battery roll -- as mmascolino noted already, there was some post-processing CG to remove a bit of wobble. The main effect (getting the battery to stick) was done with sticky tape, but when the battery stuck, it then rocked back a bit, and because technology is where it is today, they were able to cleanly fix that very minor quirk
    • They also praised the focus puller, who kept the rolling battery in focus
    • In case you missed it, informing his clients was part of Jimmy's PPD, but he spun it and worked his own script on how to best smooth over that fact, including the forthcoming letter with all the "boring legalistic mumbo-jumbo"
    • Jimmy's calls were mostly written, with bonus ad libs at the end, shot over the course of 8 hours
    • Kelley highlighted the custom drum only score, which was probably scored live (maybe because Kelley hadn't heard it in place until reviewing the episode? Unclear)
    • Another detail I missed that they mentioned: they used the old, period-appropriate Jack n the Box logo
    • Vince talked about all the fun they had with the film school kids, and he noted that Josh Fadem (the sullen camera man, "Kid Kubrick" as they call him) is in the new Twin Peaks, and Josh talked about working with David Lynch, which made the podcast crew all go "ooh"
    • Peter: Jimmy isn't refocusing but using his skills in advertising in a new way
    • When developing this element, Ann said that the writers had a long list of jobs Jimmy could have, including car salesman and double wide seller: "buy one half, get the second free"; in the end, Ann said "he's just being practical"
    • tracicle -- Chris also cheered at hearing the name Saul Goodman in his solo viewing (Chris gets a unique privilege, being able to see the episodes well in advance even though he isn't currently involved with the show, just so he can co-host these podcast episodes)
    • Vince talked about the psychology of dreading Jimmy become Saul, then cheering, the ability to feel two things at once, and (I think) he noted Jimmy's line "We'll have to Karloff this thing" and they laughed at "Better get ready to be famous, Albuquerque!" (a semi-sly nod to BB, I am assuming)
    • The commercial footage was shot in an hour and a half, semi true to life -- they shot it similarly to how the UNM film crew shot it - quick and rough, and then Kelley said she cut it in maybe 20 minutes, but her copy of Avid didn't have Sapphire effects/filters pack, which is how she would have gotten the star wipes (Vince: "that's when everyone is going to Final Cut" Everyone: "boo!"), and Chris noted that those filters and effects aren't generally used in TV productions, so it's really expensive for a few tools
    • In the end, Kelley's assistant made a stand-in effect, then the visual effects team fixed the wipes
    • Back to the meth, back to the chicken coops (another detail I missed), which had to be digitally re-create, because the original coops were torn down in season 4 of BB
    • That Pollos Hermanos truck was unloaded on a stage, in a truck interior that was specially built without a roof, so they could shoot down. The extras were hired in part for their experience unloading trucks, and they had to unloaded the truck twice, for the above-shot on the sound stage, and then in the real factory setting, shot from the rear of the truck. The extras were asked to try to remember what they unloaded first, for visual continuity
    • Fun facts: the For Sale banner was a visual effect, due to time available to create a banner, and it windy, so that would have been an issue (also: SIOPY isn't any real estate company I could find, plus their phone number, 505- 143-7389, doesn't seem to be a real, working number)
    • The group joked that we should really feel bad for Hector, as he's the real victim due to his lack of people skills
    • Chucks walk about: here's another new effect to show Chucks condition, but the folks in post actually fixed the filming to clean up the over-exposed images, which then got un-fixed in post-production
    • Vince and Peter likened it to Susan Oliver on Star Trek, the green Orion slave girl who was color-corrected by the color timer
    • Bunny Lake is Missing: a 1965 British psychological thriller film starring Laurence Olivier and directed and produced by Otto Preminger, who filmed it in black and white widescreen format in London. It was based on the novel of the same name by Merriam Modell. Peter thought it would be something that the Kimo Theatre would actually show, and he's right -- they have a diverse list of shows and performances. Also, the title is something that stuck with Peter, who doesn't actually have that particular movie poster, because as a kid he wondered "how can a lake go missing?"
    Parting notes: I think their practical effects are done not to save money, but partially because most of the people making BCS are "old school" film folks who appreciate the craft of the practical effect, and partially because it's not always clear if a special effect can easily, quickly and cheaply take the place of magnets, wires and tape.
    posted by filthy light thief at 7:53 AM on May 17 [6 favorites]


    I appreciate the eyeball feel of practical effects. My kids make their own movies and are super practical and it just warms the cockles of my heart.
    posted by tilde at 8:04 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]


    am I just not getting Stacy's performance, confused by her bizarre accent, is she tragically miscast, or is she just a community theater-caliber actor? Because every scene she's in really, really takes me out of the show.

    I read her as trying to, less than adeptly, pull and push Mike to do things that she wants him to do, without being direct and asking him. In my eyes, She's emotionally blackmailing him, reminding him of his son who died at the hands of dirty cops who Mike knew about, back when Mike himself was a dirty cop. I see that Mike knows what she's doing, but 1) does feel some guilt about his Matty, and 2) will do anything to stay close with his granddaughter.

    Calling it now: The playground for which Stacey volunteers Mike to pour cement is the one where he leaves Kaylee in "Say My Name." And there is at least one drug dealer in or underneath that cement.

    That was my first thought about Mike's prior concrete job: Stacey said "He said that when you were pricing it out, you thought that all the people who gave you quotes were crooks, so you decided to do it yourself." To which I mentally added "and you buried one or two of those crooks under the carport, right?"

    And I agree with the idea that it's likely he'll bury some more bodies under the playground. After all, Stacey starts off saying the slide and swings need footings, but those can be simple concrete "plugs" (image source, click on "Installation Options"), not a full concrete pad.
    posted by filthy light thief at 8:06 AM on May 17 [2 favorites]


    Final thought (for now): on re-watching the episode, it's so clear that Nacho is more of a "Gus" man than "Hector" guy - separate the general public from those you employ to deal with drugs, and don't mix the two. No unnecessary violence. Pretty much "manage smarter, not harder."

    Hector just accelerated his own near-death sentence. Gus had plans, but now Nacho wants something to change, too.
    posted by filthy light thief at 8:09 AM on May 17 [5 favorites]


    Do we know how Nacho got into "the business" and what his goals are, what he's been plotting out for his personal endgame?
    posted by brainwane at 9:55 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]


    I think the drug was COREG?
    posted by wheek wheek wheek at 10:14 AM on May 17 [2 favorites]


    I thought Chuck's stroll downtown on Central (which was old Route 66) was really beautifully filmed. I loved the whole thing.
    posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:01 AM on May 17 [3 favorites]


    My initial impression was that it was nice to have an episode with more humor and less intense family drama. Those parts are also really good and I'm glad for a narrative driving all of this, but, man, I could watch an awful lot of Jimmy bumming around Albuquerque with half-baked schemes and making dumb commercials. I was glad to have a reminder that the show can be light and fun in spurts.
    posted by Copronymus at 11:14 AM on May 17 [2 favorites]


    Den of Geek has an interview with Michael Mando (Nacho) about the character following this episode.
    posted by aabbbiee at 11:24 AM on May 17 [2 favorites]


    Ivan Fyodorovich: I thought Chuck's stroll downtown on Central (which was old Route 66) was really beautifully filmed. I loved the whole thing.

    I agree!

    You can browse Central (by day) via Google Maps, starting at the KiMo Theatre. Head west, and you'll see Burt's Tiki Lounge (which wouldn't have been there a few years earlier) and (Skip Maisel's) Indian Jewelry & Crafts, whose neon signs were backdrops to Chuck's travel downtown.

    Here's Chuck's house (Google maps streetview, via a season-by-season Google Maps list of locations), and a Google Maps path to walk from there to the KiMo Theatre.

    And if you were interested in some local history, the City of Albuquerque has a nice page on the history of the KiMo, "a Pueblo Deco picture palace" that opened in 1927.
    posted by filthy light thief at 11:33 AM on May 17 [2 favorites]


    wheek wheek wheek: I think the drug was COREG?

    Looks like it's a good match, specifically GSK COREG CR 10 mg, given the green and white appearance. And the low dosage would allow him to pop more, compared to the yellow-and-white 20mg, green-and-yellow 40 mg, or white-and-white 80 mg.
    posted by filthy light thief at 11:37 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]


    I agree it looks like a match, but those are time-release capsules, while he was using it like an immediate-release tablet, like nitroglycerin. Although maybe he can chew on it and get the same effect, like a recreational Oxy user.

    But that's getting pretty deep into the verisimilitude of the props.
    posted by cardboard at 11:49 AM on May 17


    Hah, good points!

    (After looking at street views of Chuck's house, I want to figure out where he was when he looked to downtown, because you can't see the downtown high rises [Google street view] from his street)
    posted by filthy light thief at 11:53 AM on May 17


    I think the episode title is ironic for most of the characters. Pretty much everyone moves or sees someone close to them move beyond what they imagined were the limits of their character or role, and that transgression snaps them back more intensely into who they really are.

    *Nacho beats Krazy-8, but reluctantly; he doesn't seem to enjoy violence. Both Don Hector's expectation and Nacho's own ability to meet it trouble him. And then Don Hector trying to use his father's legit business is the last straw, and the choice Nacho makes in that last shot is a return to his fundamental values, the same choice he always would have made: to protect his father at any cost. His loyalty to his family (who probably have no idea what he's mixed up in) trumps whatever ambitions led him to get involved in the cartel.

    *Don Hector demands an extra drug brick (that didn't look like meth -- was it supposed to be heroin, maybe, or cocaine?) and Gus concedes. Superficially this looks like Hector flexing and Gus surrendering, but Hector's beginning to understand how calculating Gus is, and that this concession will either be avenged later or signals a larger plan that renders the brick insignificant. His supply lines being tenuous and under someone else's control endangers his ability to deliver to Don Eladio, and Hector's probably feeling anxieties unbecoming of a cartel strongman even before he gets the news that his dumbass nephew has dumbassed yet again. His pitch to Nacho reeks of desperation. The desperation is "off brand," but the cunning, ruthlessness, and force that will surely follow are absolutely not.

    *Getting pushed out of the practice of law, even temporarily, swings Jimmy back to his hustling/entertainer roots. And I think that, at heart, even more than a hustler, Jimmy is an entertainer, a comedian. He strikes me as the type of kid who clowned around to break up awkward silences during family meals or defuse near-brawls in the schoolyard. He likes to improvise, and he's so effective because he instinctively groks people and knows how to reach them. It's a testament to his character that given the opportunity to go straight, he really did provide the service he promised to his vulnerable senior clients (even if his methods and presentation were a bit unorthodox). Law was good for him because it engaged him both mentally (research, writing, etc.) and performatively (client meetings, courtroom arguments). Without his legal practice he'll get bored, and bored is the most dangerous thing for Jimmy McGill to be.

    *I thought Kim looked horrified when she saw Saul Goodman for the first time. She's simultaneously realizing that she's sharing an office with an oily-slick infomercial barker AND that she had somehow previously failed to see that potential in him before. She's appalled at how naturally the mode seems to suit him, and she's sharing an office and a shingle and a logo with that guy. She finally understands that they enjoyed their jaunts as Viktor and Giselle for entirely different reasons: while for her they were a bit of transgressive fun, for him they were a return to form. Kim is a straight-edge, play-by-the-rules kind of person, and I think the alarm of meeting Saul Goodman will push her into a tighter embrace of the norms and rules that govern legal practice and further from her tendency to cut Jimmy a little slack.

    *Gus straddles the apropos and ironic: He's considering the industrial laundry, which would be an "off brand" acquisition for Los Pollos Hermanos but very much on brand for his drug empire. His concession to Don Hector is both in and out of character; he hates to make it but he's also biding his time. It would be further out of character for Gus to retaliate right away or to start the war prematurely (and more explicitly than he'd like) by letting his men kill Nacho.

    *Mike is also halfway between being on and off brand. His mere presence at that support group meeting was wildly out of character, as is the prospect of volunteering (or accepting having been volunteered) for a group activity like building the park. But he is looking to get back into fixing/building things for a change, and as Stacey reminds him, he has built similar things in the past. Maybe he didn't initially remember doing that carport because it was so long ago that he was still a clean cop. If that's the case, pouring cement for a playground would offer a kind of redemption, a return to a more innocent time.

    *Maybe someone else can weigh in on Chuck. His handling of the battery, going outside, and calling the doctor are all out of character, but I can't figure out what he wants. My first assumption was that he was starting another con against Jimmy, because deep down he's a spiteful, controlling rules-lawyer who can't let anything go, but this season has left me so aggressively unsympathetic that I could be wrong.

    Basically, what we're seeing is the characters becoming who they are at the expense of who they thought they were. Their shifts echo Walter White's arc in Breaking Bad, for whom actions ostensibly out of character turned out to be rooted in a core of self that was just less apparent when the show started. The lesson of this episode is that you can only step out of character for so long, before circumstances or exhaustion snap you back into the same patterns and similar situations. Jimmy leaning against that office wall alone prefigures Gene waiting for someone to let him out of the dumpster area. If anything governs our principals it is the eternal return of the same. (I can't remember the rules for BB spoilers, so mouse over that last line for spoilery examples.)
    posted by Fish, fish, are you doing your duty? at 1:30 PM on May 17 [3 favorites]


    So no one else sees Chuck's actions as him taking Hamlin's advice to heart and trying to make a change for the better?
    posted by LizBoBiz at 1:45 PM on May 17 [1 favorite]


    "So no one else sees Chuck's actions as him taking Hamlin's advice to heart and trying to make a change for the better?"

    I'd really like to ...
    posted by komara at 1:51 PM on May 17


    Don Hector demands an extra drug brick (that didn't look like meth -- was it supposed to be heroin, maybe, or cocaine?)

    I think it's cocaine. And the fact that cocaine needs to be made from coca, which is grown outside the US, and thus needs to be transported from over the border and causes Gus to depend on stuff he doesn't control, is a reason he turns to manufacturing a drug that does not require anything from outside his control or from outside the US. (Symbolically, cocaine is more like the old-school cartel, "natural", and meth is more like Gus's approach, synthetic and controlled.)
    posted by brainwane at 2:17 PM on May 17 [6 favorites]


    So no one else sees Chuck's actions as him taking Hamlin's advice to heart and trying to make a change for the better?

    "To new beginnings..."
    posted by rhizome at 2:20 PM on May 17


    am I just not getting Stacy's performance, confused by her bizarre accent, is she tragically miscast, or is she just a community theater-caliber actor? Because every scene she's in really, really takes me out of the show.

    Totally with you here. In fact, her performance is really what made me hate Mike's crooked cop backstory episode. I kept thinking something weird had happened, like they replaced her with a new actor, or something, but I think it's just weird acting.
    posted by destructive cactus at 2:56 PM on May 17 [2 favorites]


    Symbolically, cocaine is more like the old-school cartel

    This also ties back to the Breaking Bad episode Hermanos, which is a flashback to before BCS: Gus and his partner Max argue to the cartel that they should be manufacturing meth locally rather than importing cocaine from South America. Don Eladio disagrees.

    So possibly at this point in BCS the cartel is still mostly in the coke business? Although meth is clearly on the rise early in Breaking Bad, even before Gus starts manufacturing: Tuco at the end of S1 is selling (and using) meth, presumably for the cartel.

    (And that's probably the next time we see Tuco, as the phone call Hector receives from Lionel suggests: "All he had to do was six months! He'll be in there forever!")
    posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 2:59 PM on May 17 [2 favorites]


    "And if you were interested in some local history, the City of Albuquerque has a nice page on the history of the KiMo, 'a Pueblo Deco picture palace' that opened in 1927."

    The KiMo really is a beautiful theater. My grandmother graduated from Albuquerque High School in 1938 and she talked about going to see movies at the KiMo.

    "I thought Kim looked horrified when she saw Saul Goodman for the first time."

    A bunch of people have said this was their interpretation, but that's not how I saw it. I thought she was partly nonplussed and partly fascinated. Maybe there was some trepidation in there, but mostly I felt like she was struck anew at how true the "Charlie Hustle" moniker really was, in all its connotations.
    posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:50 PM on May 17 [5 favorites]


    So no one else sees Chuck's actions as him taking Hamlin's advice to heart and trying to make a change for the better?

    I think he wants to get better. Jimmy's battery stunt maybe convinced him at long last that his illness is indeed a physical manifestation of a psychological or emotional problem. I think he is indeed calling Dr. Cruz for that referral she offered him.

    What he does afterward, on the other hand...
    posted by tobascodagama at 5:54 PM on May 17 [2 favorites]


    Not a lot to add, except that it was kind of thrilling to see Tyrus again, ditto for Lydia. I don't think that Gus is necessarily planning the superlab right now, but that he's definitely thinking about starting a meth operation. The laundry could be a potential manufacturing site, or it could simply be another place where he can, you know, launder his money, or both.

    Also, I don't think that Kim is necessarily horrified by Jimmy's new secret identity; I think that she's probably more impressed by how Jimmy pulled this thing completely out of left field, and probably also impressed that he's going to extremes to keep Francesca on. (That Francesca probably could have found another place to work is beside the point; Chuck probably could have afforded to hire a gofer, for that matter. As much as Jimmy cares about number one, he also tries to be a good guy, to some extent, or at least to prove that he's not the bad guy that his older brother still believes that he is.)

    Finally, as awful as Chuck has been, his Mylar-wrapped walk and grasping the battery has a weird sort of impressive struggle-against-his-own-demons aspect to it, even if a big part of it is simply trying to prove Jimmy wrong and/or working on his revenge.
    posted by Halloween Jack at 7:34 PM on May 17 [3 favorites]


    We thought Chuck was trying to kill himself somehow (why would he grab the battery?). But I'm not sure what the tinfoil-clad stroll was about, or why he called his doctor/shrink at the end.

    Since we saw him under the Exit sign last ep, I'm not expecting him to make it out of this season. Either he dies, or gets committed to the mental ward...
    posted by kira at 8:06 PM on May 17


    SF area peeps: there's a BCS thing at Stanford Law this Saturday morning with Rhea Seehorn and Peter Gould.
    posted by rhizome at 8:52 PM on May 17 [1 favorite]


    The commercial footage was shot in an hour and a half, semi true to life -- they shot it similarly to how the UNM film crew shot it - quick and rough, and then Kelley said she cut it in maybe 20 minutes, but her copy of Avid didn't have Sapphire effects/filters pack, which is how she would have gotten the star wipes (Vince: "that's when everyone is going to Final Cut" Everyone: "boo!"), and Chris noted that those filters and effects aren't generally used in TV productions, so it's really expensive for a few tools

    The students would be using some outdated cheap hardware video mixer dealy, like a Videonics. It might not have star wipes, but it certainly has the similar picture-in-picture zoom transition effect. Widely available on eBay for under $100.
    posted by Sys Rq at 6:16 AM on May 18


    Sys Rq: The students would be using some outdated cheap hardware video mixer dealy, like a Videonics.

    Or if they were really low budget, Video Toaster, which I used in high school in the mid-to-late 1990s. (We also had a video camera that looked a lot like the one Marty McFly hauled around in Back To The Future, but luckily we had something smaller than that "shoulder-mounted" monster for our filming.)
    posted by filthy light thief at 7:09 AM on May 18 [2 favorites]


    So no one else sees Chuck's actions as him taking Hamlin's advice to heart and trying to make a change for the better?
    They've been gradually making Chuck more and more unlikable and unsympathetic* and it seemed like we saw his true colors at the bar hearing; he was so righteous and confident that he dropped his patient, kindly (if patronizing,) avuncular act; he was more openly mean, snide and snarky than we've ever seen him... and then in his rant he revealed that his resentment of Jimmy is deep-seated and life-long. I think he wants to make a change for the better only insofar as overcoming his condition and being able to return to society and HHM would enable him to keep going after Jimmy's law license.

    *As always, even though he's kinda right about Jimmy.
    posted by Funeral march of an old jawbone at 2:07 PM on May 18 [3 favorites]


    The tinfoil clad walk was simply to get to a pay phone, I guess, since Chuck has no phone, although I initially thought he was trying some homebrew exposure therapy.
    posted by thelonius at 6:21 PM on May 18 [2 favorites]


    Well, that's what I thought the battery was. I think it was a hint at his train of thought -- the hearing, what caught him up, a battery. Then he leaves to make a phone call to a doctor.

    My read is that with Rebecca finally knowing everything about his condition, and clearly believing him to be mentally ill, Chuck has little left psychologically within him to protect in his assertion that this isn't psychosomatic. It's out there, people think it, and if nothing else, Chuck works very, very hard at being rational and self-disciplined. With so little left to lose, and with so much resentment at Jimmy and his hope to claw his way back into a position to take Jimmy down, he's willing to contemplate something he's refused before now.

    He's petty, and he's capable of a lot of self-delusion, but he's also tremendously strong-willed and driven by his resentment. Given his current circumstances, that may be enough to push him out of constantly reinforcing his delusion.
    posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:59 PM on May 18 [3 favorites]


    Another way to look at it; thanks to the hearing, Chuck now believes that he can no longer (will no longer be allowed to?) be both sick and a lawyer. He'd rather be a lawyer than be sick, so the sick has to go.
    posted by kithrater at 7:25 PM on May 18 [6 favorites]


    Heck, could the Bar take separate action against Chuck?
    posted by rhizome at 8:22 PM on May 18


    NEW season is the best one until now! like the way, jimmy screwed with his brother, he is such a horrible person. A little bit off topic But I have to say I love the way Kim is doing her hair this season. The ponytail and curls are just awesome. I want to try something similar like here since I am not a blond I am not so sure how it is going to look on me. Anyways, seems I am rambling all over the place, Looking forward to the next episode.
    posted by Mormor at 3:04 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


    He's petty, and he's capable of a lot of self-delusion, but he's also tremendously strong-willed and driven by his resentment.

    I 100% agree with this. In his mind, Jimmy has won this battle but it is a long war. Chuck will now take steps to win the next battle. He has seen enough evidence to know his condition is not purely physical. And he knows it is out in the open for his ex-wife and law firm (and the Bar Association). So the part of his mind that was making him believe this was a physical condition is disadvantaged - it no longer has the power of fear (of being labeled a person with a mental illness) working for it. So he grabs that battery as his first move in the next battle: proving Jimmy wrong, showing Jimmy that he does not need him, and defying Jimmy's prediction of dying alone in his mylar castle.

    Venturing out for the phone call is part of the same strategy - he is smart enough to know that a professional can help, but for the first time he can admit this to himself and act on it. I think this scene also shows us his recovery has already begun. I can't imagine Copy Shop Chuck weathering the neon assault as well as Revenge Chuck does. I think the arc will be his life improves at work and at home, everyone is so happy for him, and Chuck is all smiles on the outside. But inside his one motivator will be revenge and he will blow up his newly-returned "normal" life to get it.
    posted by mikepop at 8:47 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


    I had a feeling that this was a bit of closure with the Chuck thing; eventually the story needs to move forward and not be all about Chuck and Howard, so I thought this was kind of a way to sort of 1) write them out of the story a bit, 2) give reasoning as to why Jimmy isn't in close contact with Chuck (because I can't imagine Saul actually caring for anyone), and 3) give Jimmy that much more reason to shut down his emotions and develop Saulness, because he was betrayed and as far as we know it doesn't get better. He was pretty bitter throughout the last episode (i.e. with Rebecca) in a way that felt very realistic and unforced.

    I don't watch a lot of TV these days so it's nice to see these really well developed moments come forth out of the mist.

    As for Kim, I think she just found "Saul" somewhat amusing; she already knows everything about Jimmy that she would have learned from watching that commercial spot. It sounded to me like kind of a bemused "you really humiliated yourself for this one, huh?" type reaction. Poking some fun at Jimmy when he's a wee bit vulnerable.

    "The guy at the TV station said he's never seen so many star wipes in a row," delivered with pride

    Ehehehe. I read it said by Jimmy with a kind of ironic, boyish pride... Kim pointed out that he was shy about the commercial, and I think for once he was a little embarrassed! After all, we see that it really was just a last-minute, last-ditch attempt to unload the airtime, not one of his ... masterpieces.

    In my eyes, She's emotionally blackmailing him, reminding him of his son who died at the hands of dirty cops who Mike knew about

    I thought this at first, but then I started thinking more and more that she was just a bad actress. But maybe she IS a bad actress, and the writers will pick up on it and write her more and more manipulative? Could be interesting. I find it more interesting than nicey-nice Stacey, anyway. I always like a bit of Arrested Development-style family being more fucked up than it's worth.
    posted by stoneandstar at 2:06 PM on May 20 [3 favorites]


    It's been well established that Jimmy's style is just not a good fit with straight-and-narrow corporate law, and although he's tried to carve out his own space in Chuck and Kim's world he doesn't seem all that happy doing elder law even if he seems to genuinely care about his clients. (In all of his phone calls and interactions with elderly clients, he may be making uncomfortable/exasperated faces but he does seem to be providing them with real service.) If the next 12 months gradually eases him into a milieu that isn't constantly giving him grief about bending/breaking the rules, it's going to be hard for him to go back to just making wills all day long. On top of all of that, he's disowned his brother and an irreconcilable falling out with Kim could be the last nudge that gets him to go full-on Saul.

    Yes, very much so. I think he likes elder law because he likes hustling; old people are a group he can hustle without malice. They respond to his ads that other people find oily and disingenuous, they like his smooth talk. It's a serendipitous match of his talents with an actual legitimate law practice. I don't think he necessarily does it because he cares; he does it because he's good at it, and then because he's not 100% evil, he cares. So the uncomfortable/exasperated faces are because he's doing something he finds unpleasant and not earning money from it and he has no particular soft spot for the old, he is just a softie so far.

    I think disowning his brother was a huge step, and I'm really curious to see what happens with Kim and how soon. She's such a great character and their chemistry is so lovable that it's hard to imagine the show without her. It's like if BB picked off Jesse early on or something. I'm really curious if Kim will stay in the center or the periphery or disappear entirely.
    posted by stoneandstar at 2:16 PM on May 20 [4 favorites]


    I'm really curious if Kim will stay in the center or the periphery or disappear entirely.

    I see Kim as being sort of Jesse and Skyler at the same time. She's got to stick around and stay a main character.

    Doing anything else would be a criminal waste of Rhea Seehorn, anyway.
    posted by tobascodagama at 8:03 PM on May 20 [2 favorites]


    Jimmy's abandoned attempt at warning a potential ad client not to wear anything striped less they moiré is my favourite in-joke. ("When the spacing is tight / And the difference is slight / That's a moiré ♫" Reddit thread with link to XKCD explanation)

    This is also a point to consider that we are 26 episodes into BCS before the identity for "Saul" in the show's name is (directly) revealed. When this show talks about a slow reveal, it is not kidding. In fact I wonder if the writers had even considered this precise outcome when they started back on series 1?

    Whisky industry girlfriend remarked about the ordinariness of the MacCallan 35 year old bottle and box - which is appropriate to 2002. This was the era before the packaging of high end bottles was blinged up to today's standards.
    posted by rongorongo at 12:52 AM on May 22 [2 favorites]


    In fact I wonder if the writers had even considered this precise outcome when they started back on series 1?

    They've said they did not.
    posted by Obscure Reference at 5:17 AM on May 22


    rongorongo: This is also a point to consider that we are 26 episodes into BCS before the identity for "Saul" in the show's name is (directly) revealed. When this show talks about a slow reveal, it is not kidding. In fact I wonder if the writers had even considered this precise outcome when they started back on series 1?

    Obscure Reference: They've said they did not.

    I have a feeling like the arc of the show is pretty fluid, with certain way-points being fixed, but the path and distance to them being figured out as they develop each season (and as they're green-lit for more seasons). Also, Jimmy's Saul identity was used back in Hero (S01 E04) [FanFare post], but back in his "old" life as Slippin' Jimmy. But this is clearly the first time Kim has heard the name.
    posted by filthy light thief at 7:37 AM on May 22 [1 favorite]


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