Better Call Saul: Lantern
June 20, 2017 6:56 AM - Season 3, Episode 10 - Subscribe

Kim takes time off; Jimmy tries to make amends; Nacho gambles with his future; Hamlin pushes Chuck to make a decision. [Official synopsis - season finale]
posted by filthy light thief (122 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Chuck!

I suspected it was his last episode when he left HHM and walked off into the sunlight. Did I catch a glimpse of Vince Gilligan seeing him off at the top of the stairs? It was very brief.

So the last thing Chuck said to Jimmy was that he didn't matter that much to him. Now Chuck is dead and that's sure gonna mess with Jimmy. After Chuck said that I kept thinking "man, Chuck sure is an asshole" but then after he tore apart his house and burned it all down I felt sorry for him. Clearly mentally ill.

No Mike this episode.

I'm glad Nacho didn't get offed. I like Nacho.

I thought it was a bit of a stretch that Gus saved Hector's life. I know (for some reason) it probably helps Gus if Hector is alive but I thought that was a bit much. Still, now we know why Hector is the way he is in BB.

Kim enjoying Relaxathon 2003 was a hoot. Loved the Blockbuster callback. So does it count as product placement if the product no longer exists?

So now what happens with Kim? Does she get back on her legal feet or go off in another direction?

A great season finale that could even work as a series finale if they didn't renew the show. But they better fucking renew the show.
posted by bondcliff at 7:03 AM on June 20 [4 favorites]


A great season finale that could even work as a series finale if they didn't renew the show. But they better fucking renew the show.

It was a great season finale but it would be an awful series finale. I've really grown to love this show and I admire how well they have told the story of the complex relationship between two imperfect brothers. But one of the primary goals of creating this prequel series was to show how Jimmy McGill became Saul Goodman, and that has not yet been achieved.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:19 AM on June 20 [2 favorites]


I'm not saying it would be a great series finale, but I could go from there to say "Chuck really fucked Jimmy up badly and he became Saul."

So no, I do not want it to be the end. But I could connect the dots if I had to.
posted by bondcliff at 7:21 AM on June 20


I'm still not seeing confirmation for a 4th season, but Vince talks about plans for the next season in this season finale interview with Variety:
Can you tell me if Michael McKean is coming back next season?

Well, here’s what I would say: We’re not done with the character Chuck McGill. But on our show, that could mean a lot of things, because we have the ability to go back and forth in time. I don’t think I can be incredibly specific, because the writers room for season four has not opened yet!
He didn't say "we're not confirmed for season four yet," he said the writers haven't written anything, which makes me hopeful.

My take on Chuck is that he wanted to be a logical person who was in control of the world around him, but when emotions and chaos came in, he reacted poorly. Somewhere, it was enough that he developed his (mental) illness, which is related to his relationship to Jimmy. Before this, we saw Chuck react to Jimmy's actions, but this time, it looked like Chuck was reacting to Jimmy's reaction to Chuck's harsh disowning. I think the comment "you'll always break things, why bother apologizing" was honest, but "I've never cared about you" was a lie to force Jimmy away, because Jimmy's fuck-ups hurt Chuck.

Except then Chuck found that he had another nemesis: his house. I think he set that fire because in a moment of clarity, he realized how far gone he was to tear up his house to look for one hold-out electronic device. He left HHM on a relatively high note, not cased in Jimmy's special suit, no special circumstances with the lights and phones and whatnot, so for anyone to see what he had done to the house would make his departure from HHM look like an act, which it was, as was his "normality" for Jimmy. I wonder who he was most worried about upsetting with his relapse -- his peers, or Jimmy?
posted by filthy light thief at 7:26 AM on June 20 [2 favorites]


wait i thought chuck was supposed to be sleeping with his feet up on the table and that kicking shit was supposed to be an artists rendition of restless leg syndrome? (the jimmy legs)

now it looked contrived as shit to me but wadda I know?
posted by some loser at 7:53 AM on June 20


I think he was trying to stage it to look like an accident -- sitting, wrapped in his blanket (which may keep him alive a bit longer ... fook, that's a terrible way to kill yourself, maybe he'll die of smoke inhalation first?), kicking the table just enough to make the lantern fall onto the floor.

I know some folks don't like the call-backs (forwards?) to Breaking Bad, but I smiled when Jimmy told Francesca that they'd call her up if they needed an assistant again, and more when Jimmy told Kim he'd make a better wall. I love that Francesca got into Kim's mode of "let's make this happen, we don't need to slow down," but then rolled with Kim's decision to take time to recuperate, to the point of calling Billy Gatwood while also carrying Kim's movie picks.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:01 AM on June 20 [6 favorites]


So does it count as product placement if the product no longer exists?

Actually, there are about 10 Blockbusters that are still open, believe it or not! (There used to be around 9,000, so that's crazy).

I also heard the word "Gatorade" a few times. That might have been a bit of a (well done) product placement.

When Chuck had his last episode, he was reviewing his feelings diary, and the very last one was "irritated" (or something similar). It seems that Chuck's doing well and getting better was clearly happening during a time that Jimmy decided he was cutting Chuck out of his life. Jimmy comes back, and he is feeling "irritated" again. I think it's establishing (which we've always thought) that Jimmy has been a indirect cause of Chuck's condition, even though he cared for Chuck. The main takeaway of the opening scene in the tent was this: Chuck was bothered by Jimmy's question about the story (which was a question of compassion), which created impatience/irritation in Chuck, right before the scene ended. Now Jimmy shows up here, couching his approach in genuine concern for his brother, and it really bothers Chuck again. "You'll always end up hurting people, Jimmy, even though you act like you care. Why do you bother to have regrets at all?"
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:06 AM on June 20 [2 favorites]


I think the viewer is supposed to initially think he's sleeping and it will be an accident, but then we get a cut to his eyes wide open and his increasingly desperate look.

I saw it coming, I think we all did, but I was expecting it to be some sort of the accident like that final shot is toying with.

Also: I remember a very early pre-sale "spoiler" that Nacho would probably not make it and so have been watching assuming he was on borrowed time. Bob Odenkirk tweeted his goodbye message to "Michael" and everyone assumed it was to Mando, I guess, then it got deleted. Turns out it was to a different Michael.

Glad, too, I really like Nacho
posted by absalom at 8:07 AM on June 20 [3 favorites]


That opener with a young Chuck and Jimmy was really interesting -- seemed like they went the extra mile to record Michael McKean reading the story then had the younger actor copy his intinations.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:13 AM on June 20 [10 favorites]


Chuck was able to persevere through his illness for years, then has the realization from Jimmy's courtroom trick that he's not actually allergic to electricity. He can't stand knowing that it's not real, and knowing that everyone else knows it's not real, so he white knuckles it and he actually gets better. But then when things in his life start going to hell, he doesn't have the electricity-allergy to fall back on, and can't handle just being alone and miserable without his coping mechanism.
posted by skewed at 9:02 AM on June 20 [6 favorites]


The Blockbuster font was wrong ...
posted by tilde at 9:31 AM on June 20 [2 favorites]


First, I'm not entirely convinced that Chuck is dead. He could be; his diary lists clonazepam, aka Klonopin, as one of his drugs, and it is possible to overdose on it, especially if you mix it with alcohol. (His other drugs are sertraline (Zoloft) and quetiapine (Seroquel), an antipsychotic.) He could have taken an overdose intentionally, or mixed it with wine unintentionally and similarly kicked at the lantern without realizing what he was doing. On the other hand, if his intention is to cut all ties with his past--not just HH&M, but Rebecca and the ABQ in general--then this could be his big kiss-off to everyone, and he takes the settlement and heads off to Green Bank, West Virginia (in what, though? That's one long buggy ride--1725 miles, and that's routing over interstates), where that settlement money from Howard would probably go a long way.

At any rate, I won't miss him. His final conversation with Jimmy just proved IMO just how desperately he needs (or needed) to see Jimmy as the bad seed and himself as essentially blameless. But he shows his hand early, with "Why have regrets at all? What's the point?" As if it were something that could be simply eliminated, turned off like his electricity. At first, I thought that his telling Jimmy that he never really cared about him that much was more of him trying to win--or, more to the point, "prove" that Jimmy lost--but maybe it's his finally being honest, that, even though he desperately wanted Jimmy to fill the role of the monkey with the machine gun, he never really did care about Jimmy. After all, in the prologue to this episode, he seems pretty impatient when Jimmy is worried about what happened to Mabel. His statement to Jimmy is in direct response to Jimmy's question as to whether or not he had any regrets.

And Jimmy? At first, I thought that his routine with the hot mike was only to help Irene make up with her posse, but he knew that he'd also get the settlement delayed; I don't think that it was to try to prove anything to Chuck. It's as good proof as anything that Chuck was wrong, and that Saul hasn't taken over yet--not completely.

Also, big props to Kim and Francesca. And Nacho, who probably went to the meet thinking that, even if/when he took out Don Hector, he'd eventually be paid a visit by the Cousins or Tuco.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:40 AM on June 20 [2 favorites]


For everything that happened, it felt like an amazingly low-key finale (at least to me) Chuck's final break with reality was heart-breaking. That steady tapping as he slowly drove the lantern off the desk was nerve-wracking, once you realized what was about to go down.

Gus tending to Don Hector made sense. He's always been able to slide back-and-forth between legitimate citizen and criminal quite easily. He really was the only one who could be there when the cops arrived and give a believable story.

Jimmy going back to the scene of Kim's accident to round up the papers was interesting. He really does care for her (as evidenced by his tending to her in her home). I was also surprised so many papers were still there. I would have expected them to have scattered to the four winds by then.

I do wonder if Kim is going to go back into law, or if her sudden slide into rehab-heaven is going to convince her otherwise. The secretary was referring her client to another law firm (on the phone) while they were raiding Blockbuster. She may be done with it.

Jimmy's solution to bringing the ladies back together felt a little too off to me. I know there's a nice guy floating-around inside him somewhere, but I have a hard time believing he'd so purposefully poison himself like that. He basically torpedoed any future in elder law with that trick.

The lack of any Mike was disappointing.

One nitpick...I don't think that sweet glass tile backsplash in the kitchen of Kim's apartment was a thing in 2003. At least not in affordable housing yet. Maybe high-end homes at that time.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:46 AM on June 20 [3 favorites]


Of course Nacho wasn't killed...and I suspect we'll see more of him. Jimmy references him when on his knees in the desert in Breaking Bad by his full name, Ignacio.
posted by agregoli at 10:16 AM on June 20 [1 favorite]



Gus tending to Don Hector made sense. He's always been able to slide back-and-forth between legitimate citizen and criminal quite easily. He really was the only one who could be there when the cops arrived and give a believable story.


I'm curious what believable story it would be? Why would the owner of a successful chicken restaurant be at a car upholstery shop at night in order to save a known gangster?
posted by agregoli at 10:20 AM on June 20 [8 favorites]


OK. Now I've watched to the end. I haven't read anything yet.

I honestly expected the closing song to be "is that all there is ". Or at least around this last scene with Jimmy and Chuck. We McGills got to stick together.

So no sandpaper settlement, Kim is giving up her two clients, and Jimmy still has like nine months to go on his suspension.

Before the last last scene with Chuck, I noticed that almost all of the holes in his walls were at head height. Like he was just looking in a mirror, and seeing a void in place of his reflection . And of course the annoying part of my brain noticed that the paint behind the electric box was not different. As if they instaledl the electric box after a paint job, and then just painted the electric box for the hell of it. I wonder if one of his neighbors is stealing electric, or if big electric just always makes those things spin, so he's got another class action suit on his hands if only he'd pay attension.

Kim is still blaming herself, and Jimmy still trying to fix everything.Theyve still got that ice station zebra check.

And that was a hell of a way for him to reverse Sandpiper. It was also the only way to undo the damage that he did among the ladies. Time to go back to one offs through PD when he's back.

That scene with Chuck and Hamlin alone was interesting. One thing that always bothered me about the show, is the derisive golfing comments. There is so much damn business done on the golf courses, of course Hamlin senior spent his time on the goddamn golf courses. That's how you get and woo big clients. That's how you maintain relationships at that level. Especially in light of Chuck's comment about lawyers being able to advertise. It seriously was the only way to get to know lawyers and find lawyers, golf clubs, sports clubs, boat clubs, country clubs, etc. But Hamlin bought him off, and wished him off, and turned his back and didn't look back. Nor did chuck stepping into the light.

I'm glad Kim is taking the time to recover. Because seriously keeping pushing was what was killing her.

Salamanca, that was one hell of a scene. The doubling back with the gun was cute, and finally the pills pay off. Nice that Gus was the one administering CPR. They didn't show it long enough for me to see if he was doing it with breaths and compressions or just compressions. I can't remember when it switched chest compressions with no breath of life.

A tidy end of the season. I don't even know when We get season four. Gonna be a long wait.
posted by tilde at 10:21 AM on June 20 [2 favorites]


Two film homages in Chuck's breakdown scene that I caught (the second is, perhaps, a stretch):

- the shot of Chuck's axe work from inside the wall recalls the famous axe scene from The Shining.
- the electric meter takedown reminded me of Sal smashing Radio Raheem's boombox with a baseball bat in Do The Right Thing, where violence against an inanimate object is almost more shocking than against a human.
posted by thelonius at 11:13 AM on June 20 [3 favorites]


They didn't show it long enough for me to see if he was doing it with breaths and compressions or just compressions.

I looked like just compressions, but they didn't look like the compressions I was taught in my minimal CPR class. It looked like Gus was pushing with his wide-spread fingertips, and not the ball of his hand with the other hand overlapping.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:38 AM on June 20 [1 favorite]


That was Vince Gilligan cameoing at the HHM sendoff. Wondering if Peter Gould and/or the rest of the writing staff were also in that crowd; they're less recognizable than Gilligan who was very much the public face of Breaking Bad.

It looked to me like Gus noticed Nacho picking up the spilled pills and gave him a knowing look at his "he was taking these" answer to the EMT.

How does Gus explain being there? Possibly as a concerned citizen: he was driving past, saw the man stagger and fall, stopped to help? But it does seem like the sort of cartel-adjacent coincidence that his hiding-in-plain-sight tactic is designed to avoid.

Two film homages in Chuck's breakdown scene

The whole scene was also very much referencing Gene Hackman tearing apart his apartment searching for bugs at the end of The Conversation.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:07 PM on June 20 [12 favorites]


We had a deal, Kyle: How does Gus explain being there? Possibly as a concerned citizen: he was driving past, saw the man stagger and fall, stopped to help? But it does seem like the sort of cartel-adjacent coincidence that his hiding-in-plain-sight tactic is designed to avoid.

No cops showed up, just EMTs. They hid the guns so the cops wouldn't get called. When the ambulance left, the EMT said they could follow them to the hospital, so ostensibly Gus could walk away right then without ever giving his name.
posted by bluecore at 12:13 PM on June 20 [4 favorites]


I like the idea that the electricity meter has to draw it's own power somehow - so it will always keep running, even if everything in the house was dead. I don't know whether that's factually sound or not, but it would be neat because it points to Chuck not being capable of getting rid of his illness - only managing it. And we can tell he desperately wants to be rid of it.

I think everything Chuck does is deliberate and even his likely final act of kicking over the lamp was also deliberate. He likes to be in charge. The foreshadowing is eerie - Jimmy worries several times about fire with Chuck using lanterns.

I was super surprised to find myself thinking Howard was a very sympathetic character at this point in time - sure, he's a plastic corporate jerk, but he's not trying to portray himself as anything but. He has indeed tried to treat people fairly within that annoying corporate structure, and everyone gives him shit anyway.
posted by agregoli at 12:31 PM on June 20 [4 favorites]


The whole scene was also very much referencing Gene Hackman tearing apart his apartment searching for bugs at the end of The Conversation.

OMG, you're right! I'm disappointed I didn't grok onto it at the time. The Conversation is one of my top faves.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:01 PM on June 20


Oh, Chuck. What a job this show has done making his character simultaneously despicable and deeply sympathetic. I hadn't seen that the actual title of the episode was 'Lantern', but the zoom in on the lantern in the opening scene definitely seemed foreboding, and established a certain tension that remained for the rest of the episode; it seemed particularly significant given that Chuck had seemingly put the gas lamps behind him in the previous episode. The low shot slowly tracking across the wreckage of Chuck's house at the end was a nice bookend to the low shot slowly tracking across the yard in the opening.

That scene at HHM... Howard left every light in the conference room on this time, which seemed like a pretty strong hint that it was not going to go Chuck's way. But Howard's move of gathering the whole firm and publicly announcing Chuck's immediate departure before he could gather his wits was brutal. Chuck really seemed to think he was just playing a game of chicken and it apparently never once occurred to him that Howard might buy him out personally. I found myself bracing for Chuck to take a dive off that balcony, even though it felt too obvious/straightforward a tack for this show to take.

Assuming Chuck is dead, I find myself wondering what his will looks like, and when it was written/amended... Jimmy being his only living relative and all.

And... now that they're free of the office lease and Kim's taking a step back from her breakneck pace, for the first time I feel like maaybe she actually gets out of this on her own terms (if not "clean"? I thought it was interesting that Jimmy apparently told her what he did to Irene to push the Sandpiper settlement forward, and she apparently didn't have much of a problem with it.)
posted by Funeral march of an old jawbone at 1:09 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


Maybe because Kim believes he deserves some payback?

I liked that Howard didn't say "retirement" or wish Chuck well for the future. What he didn't say told the whole story.
posted by agregoli at 1:14 PM on June 20 [4 favorites]


I like the idea that the electricity meter has to draw it's own power somehow - so it will always keep running, even if everything in the house was dead. I don't know whether that's factually sound or not...

Mr. Electricity says "if the only load in the house is the meter, it would take three hours for the disc to make one revolution," in response to someone citing Wikipedia, which currently states "the voltage coil consumes a small and relatively constant amount of power, typically around 2 watts which is not registered on the meter."
posted by filthy light thief at 1:30 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


I liked that Howard didn't say "retirement" or wish Chuck well for the future. What he didn't say told the whole story.

Good catch! Here's a transcript of what Howard said:
Thank you for gathering. I have some bittersweet news to share. I'm sorry to say, but our fearless leader, Charles McGill, will be leaving HHM. Effective immediately. I wanted to take this moment to thank Chuck for everything he's done for HHM. We started off with six employees. And Chuck helped grow us into one of the largest firms in the state. We will be forever grateful for his dedication. Do you have anything you want to say?

Alright, then. Let's give him a hand!
Assuming Chuck is dead, I find myself wondering what his will looks like, and when it was written/amended... Jimmy being his only living relative and all.

Maybe he will donate it to the musical group that employs Rebecca, or just give it all to her directly. He still holds her in the highest regard.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:33 PM on June 20 [3 favorites]


I think everything Chuck does is deliberate and even his likely final act of kicking over the lamp was also deliberate. He likes to be in charge. The foreshadowing is eerie - Jimmy worries several times about fire with Chuck using lanterns.

Chuck knew about Jimmy's worry over lanterns from the hearing. So I read this less as foreshadowing and more as Chuck specifically picking the method of his demise because of Jimmy.
posted by Paragon at 2:34 PM on June 20 [6 favorites]


Mr. Electricity says "if the only load in the house is the meter, it would take three hours for the disc to make one revolution," in response to someone citing Wikipedia, which currently states "the voltage coil consumes a small and relatively constant amount of power, typically around 2 watts which is not registered on the meter."
Yup, so still spinning that fast = something parasitic drawing electricity, a neighbor is tapping into the electricity, big electric overcharging with fast spinning meter.

Good point on Kim knowing what he did to isolate and get Irene to settle. Maybe it was the drugs that she took it so well, or she's already written him off to some degree? The pie thing shocked her but not that?
Chuck specifically picking the method of his demise because of Jimmy.
And Hamiln - Hamlin was in the courtroom with the pics ... the ones Mike took.
posted by tilde at 2:37 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


"You want Ibuprofen or the good stuff?"

(Ibuprofen is what Nacho swapped Hector's pills for isn't it?)

Howard has been an interesting character to watch, because he first appeared as an obviously slimy lawyer, and by now he seems to be one of the most decent (and least self-deluding) characters on the show.

What my money is currently on as the Jimmy / Saul tipping point: Hamlin Wexler McGill.
posted by Grangousier at 3:03 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]


Isn't the thing drawing electricity the recording device left by Mike earlier in the season?
posted by Tuco Benedicto Pacifico Juan Maria Ramirez at 3:17 PM on June 20 [5 favorites]


Isn't the thing drawing electricity the recording device left by Mike earlier in the season?

I was wondering the same thing! Chuck looked everywhere that he knew a line existed but if Mike left something plugged in then Chuck wouldn't have known it. Chuck was very thorough but wasn't thinking of something being planted. He figured he finally lost it and that he would never get better. It also makes what he said about Jimmy hit even harder. He does make a mess of things.

Kim and Chuck also said something to Jimmy that will push him towards being Saul. They both told him to play to his strengths. Jimmy isn't that great at being good. But he is really good at being bad. He is a thoughtful and precise schemer and seems to crave action. That's also why he was miserable at Davis and Maine.
posted by mokeydraws at 4:00 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]


Isn't the thing drawing electricity the recording device left by Mike earlier in the season?



I TOTALLY missed that.
posted by tilde at 4:05 PM on June 20 [4 favorites]


Heh, I was imagining some alternate scenario where Chuck was managing to actually put watts back on the grid, and the meter was really spinning the opposite direction. Probably not a thing yet in that timeline, but that would have been delicious irony.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:21 PM on June 20


This episode does a wonderful job with the idea of distance, both in themes and in cinematography. I tend to "read" the show in terms of signature shots and scenes, and it would be hard to find a better visual signal of that than the shot of Jimmy and Chuck across the study from one another, Jimmy slowly crossing to meet Chuck, and Jimmy slowly crossing again when Chuck has cut him out. Is it cruelty on Chuck's part, or egotism?

Or is it a sign of his suicidality, the urge to get rid of everything one has, to sever all connections? He loses his one real connection to the world -- Howard and HHM -- and from there it's a steady slide, from dropping his brother to disconnecting the electrical devices to ditching his doctor, yanking out his phone line, and finally to destroying his house and himself. Choosing to fulfill Jimmy's prophecy that he would die alone once no one was left to find him is perhaps a recognition that his brother was right about him, and perhaps a way to make himself Jimmy's victim one last time. Really, given their codependence, it's both; one last grasp at connection, however toxic and terrible, form a man whose only real lodestar is an impossibly inflated image of himself.

But this is an episode of characters losing connections, viewing and speaking to one another across vast gulfs of emotional and physical distance, whether it's Jimmy breaking with his clients to repair the damage he did to Irene's life (by putting himself outside, away, and then creating *emotional* distance as needed) or Kim using her accident to create gaps in time and space from her clients...and, rather depressingly, her past aspirations for a law career. And of course there's Nacho removing himself from Don Hector's impositions, albeit at the possible cost of becoming beholden to someone both less overtly vicious and more calculatedly so.

And then there's Gus, for whom the loss of Hector would be the loss of a life's mission: like Chuck's obsession with getting Jimmy, Gus's need for revenge on the Salamancas and the Eladio Cartel seems to be the thing that fills the hole where his personal relationships used to be. And for Don Hector, the cartel is a family, as HHM was for Chuck; their statements about what they've built seem like deliberate parallels in obstinate self-destruction, right down to Chuck destroying his house and Hector ranting that Salamanca blood and money bought "that hacienda." As the cliche goes, hate is a connection, just like love; it's apathy that really stings.

And without one's social context, one's connections, one is adrift. The characters who abandon or lose these things fall into despair: where would Jimmy and Kim be without each other, at least? Where is Hector Salamanca without Don Eladio treating him like #1? Nacho and his father, Howard and the firm, even Jimmy and Kim...how much are these characters willing to sacrifice to stave off disconnection, loss of that person, that organization, that they orient their senses of self towards?

For Jimmy, the self he sees is the protector, the carer. But that requires someone to depend on you, in some way, whether it's Chuck and his illness or Kim and her injuries. And he has a sense of loyalty, a sense of responsibility, to those with whom he's created genuine bonds of feeling. The question is whether that rises beyond sentimentality, the need to make a grand gesture of self-sacrifice or rescue and let someone somewhere know it, even if it's just someone who will not let you forget you only did it because you'd wronged them earlier. Say what you will about Saul Goodman: he never betrays his clients.
posted by kewb at 5:24 PM on June 20 [9 favorites]


Isn't the thing drawing electricity the recording device left by Mike earlier in the season?

Wait: did we see Mike install a bug? I don't remember that; his handyman cover was for photographing the interior of Chuck's house. Including a foreshadowing lantern-on-a-pile-of-papers shot.

(Mike did bug, and later return to un-bug, Walt's house during Breaking Bad.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:35 PM on June 20 [5 favorites]


Also, they apparently made a bonus scene with some...very unexpected characters.
posted by kewb at 6:03 PM on June 20 [15 favorites]


Chuck is such a tragic figure to me. A huge asshole who seemed more than all, striving to get the world's approval and admiration. Yet he was constantly being reminded that regardless how brilliant a lawyer he might have been, people who knew him would always in the end come to think of him as loathsome and without redeeming personal qualities. Except for his brother. Whose admiration Chuck simply could not abide, because Chuck really was loathsome.

He was reminded of his personal odiousness constantly, losing his wife, his sanity. When Hamlin pays Chuck's ransom out of his own pocket just to be rid of Chuck once and for all, it was all he could take. He's beyond unloved. He's hated. By everyone. And he has no idea why.
posted by 2N2222 at 6:08 PM on June 20 [16 favorites]


That's what I thought? When and why the hell would, Mike bug the house? I missed something big if he did that...?? I thought he only took photos.
posted by agregoli at 6:13 PM on June 20


That wasn't any garden variety attempt to end the pain. Oh no, did you see the look on Chuck's face as he kicked at the lantern? This was one of those big 'ole "fuck all y'all" suicide attempts. Like, "how dare any of you ever try and care for me. I'll show you."

Goddammit, Chuck, it didn't (doesn't?) have to end this way.
posted by whuppy at 6:38 PM on June 20 [3 favorites]


Chuck's suicide attempt reminded me of the Jam sketch Suicide with an Escape Clause. Both in the short term, as Chuck fastidiously rocks the lantern off the table and throughout the season as he loses his relationship with his ex wife at Jimmy's bar hearing, his position at HHM when Howard calls his bluff, and lies to end his relationship with Jimmy. In each situation, he wanted to win a battle, and did, but at the cost of a reason to live / a reason to fight his mental illness. He undermined himself through reckless pride.

This episode had wider establishing shots of the interior and exterior of Chuck's house to give us a sense of how wealthy Chuck was and how much he was giving up. The opening backyard camping scene was the idyllic past to which Chuck could never return. I think his longing to return to what that scene symbolized - reified by his obsession with the camping lanterns in the throes of his mental illness and his choice of the lantern as his method of suicide - was at the root of his mental illness and his suicide attempt.
posted by Hume at 6:43 PM on June 20 [3 favorites]


Mike didn't bug the house - I'm pretty sure he 'fixed' the door while the power was still fully ripped-out, anyhow, so even if he had, it'd have been battery-powered.
posted by destructive cactus at 7:00 PM on June 20 [4 favorites]


kewb, I actually thought the opening scene in the episode involved the Kettlemans until the dialogue picked up. (It wouldn't have made any sense, but that's where my head immediately went because of the tent.)

I am currently mulling over how much of Kim and Jimmy's relationship is happening off-screen. I didn't expect him to speak to her about the Irene situation (and I doubt that that would've been the primary topic conversation after Kim's accident), but that obviously happened at some point. They're more deeply involved than I thought.
posted by minsies at 7:02 PM on June 20 [3 favorites]


I fully expected this to be a "Jimmy goes further over the line toward becoming Saul" but it surprised me. Not only did he go to a lot of trouble and lose a lot of money to help Irene, he also tried to make nice with Chuck.

I was a bit confused as to why Jimmy would be willing to lose his settlement to help Irene -- I guess all he cared about was keeping the office with Kim, and when he realized Kim's career was killing her and all she wanted was to spend some time at home, he figured he could wait for the settlement money.

I got the impression Kim was going to keep Mesa Verde as a client? Jimmy talked about getting a Westlaw terminal in her house. That way she could keep one client without the overhead of the office, and with Jimmy suspended he doesn't need an office for a while.

Chuck completely lost it, but in a different way than before. Notice that they didn't play any of the buzzing noises or use jump cuts or camera jitters like they usually do when Chuck has an episode. He's just plain insane this time, he can no longer convince himself he's having real physical symptoms.

As a slightly obsessive person who has dealt with power-drain problems in home wiring before, it's driving me nuts that Chuck never found the source of the power drain... I guess we'll never know.

Nacho's scenes in this episode were my favorite. I'm glad he might be around for Season 4.
posted by mmoncur at 7:32 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]


That lantern was featured in a lingering shot very early this season, wasn't it?

Regarding restless leg syndrome, they tend not to be that spasmotic and more of a saliency (one keeps thinking about it, which gets worse when one tries to stop thinking about it consciously, and flexing/sliding-around the leg provides respite for a few seconds) - and plentiful other evidence suggests a Chuck suicide attempt/insurance fraud.

The power draw (spinning disc in the power meter) led me down the google hole and it's apparently 'a phenomenon' where people report turning their breakers off and still see their meter running. Even if meters are self-powered, the disc was spinning much faster than expected. Consistent with what has been said so far about Mike's present during his visit, the draw on an audio recording device (how much storage is on it anyway?) wouldn't draw enough power to make the disc spin that rapidly - even in someone on Reddit suggests that for a house that size, it's likely to be serviced with a 400 amp (? that can't be right) line which is typically split into two 200 (whatever) boxes and that Gus would know enough to wire the recording device to a not-utilized/boxed circuit. Still, wouldn't draw enough to make the disc spin that quickly.

But that could be artistic interpretation of a running power meter (or underestimating the audience's attention to detail and patience and made it spin at an obvious rate - instead of Chuck staring at the disc and seeing it 'tick over' [which power meters don't, but he could have drawn a Jiffy marker line and see a marking go from one side of the marking to past the other]).

That said, McKean/Chuck's behaviour (obsessive and repeated search, digging through walls with a screwdriver, escalating intemperance/violence) is entirely consistent with addiction withdrawal (and drug seeking) behaviour. Consistent with mental illness, but I wonder if the writers are trying to imply that the mental illness is self-reinforcing? Or rather, as filthy light thief speculates, Jimmy is Chuck's mental illness (unreconcilability between what Chuck perceives Jimmy to be [as good/admirable as he {Chuck} is] and the actual James McGill.
posted by porpoise at 7:42 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


It's interesting that there's so much speculation about the hidden power drain somewhere in the house. My impression was that the mysteriously spinning meter was an indication that Chuck had truly lost touch with reality. He could never see it not spinning.
posted by 2N2222 at 7:42 PM on June 20 [10 favorites]


Jimmy burning himself and giving up his Sandpiper payout was... really inconsistent, but partially redeemed his cruelty. That he can never redeem (in opinion) himself to those he hurt, only redemption within himself... if painfully.

He mentions his plan to Kim - who knows he's been fscking with Irene - but does he ever explain his intended course of actions and the (obvious) results? She seems to think that he did the right thing - retrieving his rolodex, so maybe she doesn't know all of the details and thinks it more an innocent thing rather than the cruelty that it was. I'm assuming he didn't tell Kim exactly what he wanted to happen.

My theory is: Kim is so fscking goddamned driven up until now, burning the candle from both ends, perhaps putting a checkered pass behind her, going full straight arrow...

She's got an excuse now (a poor one, imo, overworking yourself is *not* a virtue, really. Really!) to slack off after a own-cause traffic incident and she's Relaxathon 2003 as like like there won't be a hangover/downside. Relaxathon 2003 is FUCKING amazing! I want another personal Relaxathon, but I don't think that I'd be able to enjoy it, fully.

She's also open to taking 'the good stuff(, "always")' and this is 2003.

I think that's what's going to put Jimmy (he's already Jimmy, slipped from James) into full Saul mode - losing Kim to opiate addiction and her losing everything (and perhaps Jimmy going increasingly offside in hopes of helping her during the journey).

Kim doing something monumentally stupid and drug-related criminal is what's going to cement Saul as Saul.

The explanation for the gauche office decorations at Saul Goodman is told by another tale with with other principles.

(porpoise's personal relaxathon had zero opiates involved)
posted by porpoise at 8:02 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


I will be so disappointed if Kim becomes an opera figure that "causes" Saul, instead of someone who rejects him.
posted by armacy at 8:16 PM on June 20 [12 favorites]


Yeah, they better NOT
posted by agregoli at 8:31 PM on June 20


Yeah, I would see an opioid addiction, after that line, as too topical and current anyway. I know I joked in the past about taking Vicodin and such, after a string of dental issues and one minor mishap in the 'aughts, and somehow never wound up addicted to pain killers. It wouldn't be quite the funny thing to joke about today.
posted by raysmj at 8:41 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


Yeah, for some reason I really don't see Kim getting hooked, let alone "doing something monumentally stupid and drug-related criminal". I can see Jimmy overreacting to something that Kim does while she's on the painkillers--letting something burn on the stove, say--especially if drugs did have a part in Chuck's suicide or whatever it is. I don't think that Chuck was right about Jimmy always hurting people, but that doesn't mean that Jimmy won't believe it on some level.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:13 PM on June 20


I just want to say, kewb's analyses this season have been absolutely killer! I'm going to have to reread them before each episode when I rewatch the season, they've really added another dimension to the episodes when reading them after watching and I'm sure they'll add a whole lot while fresh in my mind before a rewatch.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:16 PM on June 20 [5 favorites]


Don't know if it's been said enough but Patrick Fabian has been outstanding. The genuine pain on Howard's face in private, followed by the big smiling farewell act, then followed by him turning the smile off like a light switch. Wow.
posted by whuppy at 2:36 AM on June 21 [14 favorites]


RE: Jimmy undoing the Sandpiper settlement and tearing down his elder law practice in the process, I think it's actually not too inconsistent with his overall pattern of short-sighted impulsive decision making. The office lease seemed to be his biggest motivator there, but that's gone now. And he was almost certainly also driven by his last exchange with Chuck.

The ibuprofen/"Good stuff" scene did seem significant, but I've overestimated the importance of other little moments like that in this show before - it could be foreshadowing Kim's undoing next season, or it could just be a way to underscore the fact that she's decided to take a serious break instead of powering through the imminent Gatwood/Mesa Verde hearings. I think it's a hook that the writers left for themselves; might go nowhere, or it might be a major plot point next season (AMC's got to pick them up for at least one more season, don't they?)

One thing I've always loved about this show and Breaking Bad was that the writers didn't start with "this is our five season arc and these key things have to happen here, here, and here in the timeline." Sometimes they'll deliberately "write themselves into a corner" as I think Vince Gilligan once described it (the S2 swimming pool cold open in Breaking Bad, for example) but they pretty much let the characters drive the narrative from point A to point B.
posted by Funeral march of an old jawbone at 4:09 AM on June 21 [2 favorites]


The office lease seemed to be his biggest motivator there, but that's gone now.
Actually, it's not clear that Jimmy has found someone to sublet the place to yet - but he does tend to count his chickens before they've hatched. (vis: the bottle of Zafiro Añejo he bought last episode before seeing one cent of the actual settlement money.)
posted by Funeral march of an old jawbone at 4:29 AM on June 21


Another thought: The opening scene with Lil Chuck reading to Lil Jimmy is possible to read as a little representation of their views of the world. Lil Chuck is sure that things will work out because he knows how the story is supposed to go; adult Chuck believes that things are supposed to work a certain way, and that the world will follow a predictable script. The reassuring thing is that this is just how the story works, and just how things go. When they don't work that way, Chuck loses his sense of the world and himself.

In contrast, Lil Jimmy isn't so sure, and he needs to know how and why Mabel will make it through. For him, the reassurance is that Chuck is telling the story and will see to it that things turn out the way they should. Adult Jimmy doesn't trust the world to work on its own unless someone's actively "telling" the story. And for him, the reassuring thing in life is not sticking to the script, but taking it over so you can look out for the emotional wellbeing of those closest to you.

When things don't go the way Jimmy wants, he does whatever he has to to take control of the story again, and assumes that the way he ends the story he's telling will be the way the world settles into place. He's surprised and thrown off mostly by the fact that the world keeps on going, and other people don't just vanish when he's done or freeze into place where he's left them.
posted by kewb at 5:48 AM on June 21 [11 favorites]


And as for Kim, when she was a kid she read The Little Engine that Could to herself because most of the time no one else would, and when she was about 13 and living in the middle of nowhere, she discovered To KIll a Mockingbird.
posted by kewb at 5:52 AM on June 21 [4 favorites]


I was a bit confused as to why Jimmy would be willing to lose his settlement to help Irene -- I guess all he cared about was keeping the office with Kim, and when he realized Kim's career was killing her and all she wanted was to spend some time at home, he figured he could wait for the settlement money.

This is sticking with me too. It's a MILLION DOLLARS. I just don't see that as something you toss aside, no matter how badly you feel for the old lady.

A million bucks would make for an awful lot of time off at home, plus the financial security to reopen their practice when they are ready.

I just have a hard time getting past that as Jimmy being impulsive. It's a million bucks!
posted by Fleebnork at 7:27 AM on June 21


Chuck knew about Jimmy's worry over lanterns from the hearing. So I read this less as foreshadowing and more as Chuck specifically picking the method of his demise because of Jimmy.

Chuck as Mrs. O'Leary's cow? A nod to the (likely fictional) cause of the Chicago Fire?

Also "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow" is the title of an instrumental by Brian Wilson, FWIW - wondering if there's a metaphorical wink and nod to Wilson's recluse period. Also, he burned the master tapes.

Really, really reaching here, but hey.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:39 AM on June 21 [3 favorites]


One nuts and bolts thing I'm left wondering about: where do things stand, then, between the estate of Charles McGill and HHM/Howard Hamlin? Assuming Chuck didn't cash the check Howard handed him, is Howard off the hook for it? Is the firm still on the hook to pay out the buyout payments to Chuck's estate?

I can't imagine any of this will matter for the progress of the show, but I found myself wondering...
posted by the phlegmatic king at 7:45 AM on June 21 [1 favorite]


I can't imagine any of this will matter for the progress of the show, but I found myself wondering...
It could matter, since Jimmy may end up involved in the estate.
posted by borsboom at 7:51 AM on June 21 [1 favorite]


He's surprised and thrown off mostly by the fact that the world keeps on going, and other people don't just vanish when he's done or freeze into place where he's left them.

I disagree, I think he is actually very anxious about what's happening when he's not there. He is constantly checking on people, constantly following up with people about EVERYTHING, constantly stepping in with practically compulsive advice and options and opportunities and help.

Jimmy does that as Saul, too. At this point in Jimmy's life, in BCS, he's the guy who has to physically restrain himself from feeding his girlfriend when she's got a broken arm. Who needs to literally see his brother's face to reassure himself that he's OK, because who knows what might have been occurring without Jimmy there? Who reads about a character in a book as a child, knows that her story is already written and he can't do anything about her fate either way, and yet still needs reassurance that she'll be OK before he can listen to more. He can't even stand to listen helpless and passive in the face of a fictional character's destruction. Imagine how difficult it is for him to listen helpless and passive in the face of a real person's? In the face of a person he loves?

It seems to me that Jimmy is constantly thinking, "what if, what if, what if...?" What if nobody called 911 when Chuck hit his head? What if Chuck's lantern set fire to a bunch of his work papers? What if Chuck read that Slipping Jimmy had run a scam with a billboard and got sicker? What if...And one day, Jimmy will be the guy who just can't let Jesse go to a meet with the Guy Who Vanishes People with pot in his pocket, because what if the Guy Who Vanishes People refuses to pick him up? And he'll inadvertently trigger Jesse's meltdown and a terrible chain of events that way.

I think Jimmy's thought process is the same now as it is as Saul, in some ways. "What if this happens, and the person needs help, and I don't know about it and I don't help them, and and and...?!" I'm not saying he's ONLY worried about what would happen to other people if someone needed help and he couldn't give it -- he's worried for himself, too. Like with his dad -- I don't think he kept warning his dad that so-and-so was a scammer (the wolves-and-sheep guy) or that such-and-such could be a lucky break for them (the "rare" coins in the cash drawer) just for his dad's benefit, I think he also was trying to look out for himself. But his fate and his dad's were intertwined, their interests were aligned, so it's sort of same difference who he was looking out for "more" by trying (and failing) to help his father. And I think it's similar with Saul and his clients, in that, in Saul's perspective, their fortunes are entangled and their interests are aligned, so Saul really will look out for them (and himself) as best he can -- he'll look out for them the same as he does himself. And that's what he does -- he goes on and uses the services of The Guy Who Vanishes People himself.

And, I mean, if Jimmy managed to be fussy to the point of risking being suffocating even when he was Saul Goodman dealing monsters like Heisenberg, you can bet that the old people at Sandpiper loved Jimmy's constant interest and *presence.* His willingness to sit there and catalog and discuss and analyze every aspect of their physical existence, from the figurines they were going to put in their wills to the Kleenex that they may be being overcharged for.

I think the reason he is so so so attentive to the environment around a person, including their access to information, is that he's found that even when he IS around, simply telling people what to do or believe (which is essentially what Chuck does) is ineffective, or at least not effective enough. He knows he can't control people directly. But he can control *things* directly, he can control the flow of information directly to some extent -- he can control a person's environment. So he has to set everything up so that a person believes that they're making their own choice, but at the same time, set things up so that the only choice that's truly available to them is the one he wants them to make. His method of manipulation is to give people a narrative -- but only once he has already set up all the verifying evidence (right down to whatever costume he's got on at the time). He needs people to put the last pieces of the puzzle together themselves, so that he knows that they're not just putting on a show of going along with what he says, that they'll really follow through with what he wants them to do because they'll think it's their own idea.

I think that's why he's so obsessive about over-engineering the environment around someone. If he somehow creates an environment for a person in which they are pushed very hard to do what he thinks they need to do, then he can control what happens to them even when he's not around and regardless of whether they'd ever listen to him anyway.

This is sticking with me too. It's a MILLION DOLLARS. I just don't see that as something you toss aside, no matter how badly you feel for the old lady.

I think Jimmy's risky choice was in trying to pressure Irene into taking the settlement initially. As far as I know, he's not doing any extra damage now. Erin even flat out told Jimmy that Irene had already told her what happened. The only people who learned anything from the hot mic discussion were Irene's friends -- Erin already knew, and even Mrs. Landry already knew what Jimmy had actually said to her (regardless of what spin on it was being given pre- and post- hot mic incident).

Plus, THIS confession wasn't taped ;) And Jimmy made sure to say that he never lied, etc.

I'm honestly not sure if Jimmy's shenanigans with Irene will affect his claim or not. But if it does, he can blame his initial decision to interfere with her decision-making process. Because, as far as the lawyers are concerned, I think that what matters is that he was attempting to interfere, not why he was attempting to interfere.

He really shouldn't have even gone to Irene with the cat cookies and tried to sneak a peek at the offer letter in the first place. To be honest, that might have been the riskiest thing he did (in terms of preserving his claim) in the whole mess. I don't know enough about the law to even really know.
posted by rue72 at 7:58 AM on June 21 [10 favorites]


I watch the show via the AMC app, and unfortunately the episode titles are featured prominently. So when I saw "Lantern" it took away from the somewhat slow build to the conclusion of the episode.

However, when I made my previous comment ("But inside his one motivator will be revenge and he will blow up his newly-returned 'normal' life to get it.") I meant it more as a metaphor, not actual fire and explosions and such.

I thought it was a brilliant depiction of Chuck going from "doing so much better" to "having a bit of a rough patch" to "spiraling out of control". They captured that short window of calm acceptance that happens when you know it is over but before you are too gone when he makes the phone call to cancel his appointment. It's not like they would have sent out an ambulance if he missed it, but he wants to handle that bit in the proper way.

And of course the moment that Nacho no longer needs to take out Salamanca is the moment that precipitates his plan kicking in, putting Nacho at (more) risk unnecessarily. I don't think Gus suspects a pill switcheroo as much as he considers every angle and he sees that it was at least a possiblity.

My favorite bit of foreshadowing this episode was when they went into Nacho's Dad's office and immediately you see the service bell on the desk. Then Salamanca lines up the money right next to the bell, so one leads to the other. I was holding my breath to see if he gave the bell a little "ding" but really that would have been a bit much and I'm glad more professional heads prevailed.
posted by mikepop at 11:12 AM on June 21 [8 favorites]


Forgot to add that another great bit was Chuck trying to "feel" for electricity by placing his hands against the walls by the paintings even though he knows at this point that's not how it works.
posted by mikepop at 11:15 AM on June 21 [3 favorites]


Glen Weldon has called season four the season of Kim on NPR Monkey See. (There are spoilers for Breaking Bad, if you're worried about those sorts of things.)

I do not want things to go the way he's predicting, but I'm afraid he's right.
posted by minsies at 11:48 AM on June 21


his position at HHM when Howard calls his bluff

It's not just that Howard called his bluff; the "you won" moment also evaporated Chuck's fantasy of having one last glorious legal battle. His last attempted return to lawyering was punctured by Jimmy sabotaging him; his last legal appearance at the board hearing ended in humiliation; and now Howard's capitulation has cut this attempt short too.

A nice camera effect as Chuck walks out of HHM: he's shot from behind as he walks through the doorway, and they allow the bright sunshine outside to blow out the frame and make it feel like Chuck is passing into the afterlife.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:54 AM on June 21 [3 favorites]


Oh I think Gus knows about the pill switcheroo. He saw that Hector's pills were splayed all over the ground and yet Nacho hands the paramedics the bottle. Gus is smart and observant enough to know something was up with that.

I also think it's interesting that Hector is going about everything in exactly the wrong way. He doesn't try any kind of manipulation or back-channeling to try to get out of using Gus's distribution. He doesn't try to befriend Nacho's dad, maybe give a little praise about what a good worker his son is, instead he just puts the cash on the table and Nacho mentions the threats to the extended family. If Hector was more like Gus, he probably could have gotten what he wanted, but he is used to him and his family running everything and until now has not had a problem just forcing people to do what he wants instead of convincing them they want to.

I wonder if it is possible for Nacho to switch teams and go with Gus. He seems much more suited to that type of leader.
posted by LizBoBiz at 11:58 AM on June 21 [3 favorites]


It seems that Chuck's doing well and getting better was clearly happening during a time that Jimmy decided he was cutting Chuck out of his life. Jimmy comes back, and he is feeling "irritated" again. I think it's establishing (which we've always thought) that Jimmy has been a indirect cause of Chuck's condition, even though he cared for Chuck.

This just kind of devastates me for Jimmy. Because Jimmy *knew* that that was the case. Chuck always denied it, because he didn't want to admit to Jimmy having that kind of power over him. He didn't even want to admit that Jimmy mattered to him much at all! And I don't even know why Jimmy *did* have that kind of power over him. But regardless, Jimmy knew full well that he was "responsible" for Chuck's sickness. When he did that billboard "rescue," he was dreading Chuck finding out about it because he knew it would make Chuck sick(er). He's going to know seeing him triggered this relapse and led to Chuck's death.

I think that Jimmy might see Chuck pushing him out of his life for good, by saying the cruelest thing he could, was Chuck's last gasp of trying to save himself. Like Chuck knew that if Jimmy were around, he'd get sick again, and that was his attempt to keep Jimmy from contaminating him and staying "well." But even that one interaction with Jimmy was apparently enough to trigger his catastrophic relapse and demise.

My first thought was that maybe Chuck knew a downward spiral was imminent, and he pushed Jimmy away so hard to get him out of the blast radius. To protect him. Maybe, just like Chuck was playing up his illness to draw Jimmy close and illicit a confession from him, Chuck was playing up his health in order to push Jimmy away?

But after thinking about it more, I think that Chuck was maybe just attempting to protect himself (from Jimmy), and I think Jimmy, who already had connected the dots between Chuck's illness's peaks and his own bad behavior, is especially likely to see it that way.

Gosh, I really think that Chuck is dead, which makes my heart break for Chuck, and I think it'll be devastating for Jimmy, which makes my heart break for Jimmy.

I don't have any real idea how Jimmy might react to it. Right now, I'm imagining very florid, Faulkner-esque things, like Jimmy practically haunting the old ruin of the house as he tries to go through Chuck's things and tries to clear the lot for sale. Maybe even squatting there, if enough of the house survives to squat in.

Jimmy tends to deaden his emotions and come up with some scheme -- ideally involving props and costumes and who knows what else! -- when the shit really hits the fan for him, though, too. That's how I'm assuming Saul is born? I had been thinking that Saul would start as basically a marketing scheme for Jimmy's new client base (lowlifes), and it ends up going over gangbusters, so he ends up pushing it further and further (and finding more and more success!). Saul is who a lot of people WANT Jimmy to be. Saul is extremely useful for lots of people. I can see how he would go over great! But now I wonder if Saul is the persona that Jimmy comes up with to deal with the legal repercussions of Chuck's death, like the settling of his estate and his partnership equity in HHM? Because I do think that Chuck will be looming over next season via his estate.

He was reminded of his personal odiousness constantly, losing his wife, his sanity. When Hamlin pays Chuck's ransom out of his own pocket just to be rid of Chuck once and for all, it was all he could take. He's beyond unloved. He's hated. By everyone. And he has no idea why.

Oh jeez. Poor Chuck!

It's so frustrating that he could look Jimmy square in the face and berate him for pulling sad faces at the same time as he admits that Jimmy's feelings are real (to him) -- and yet still not see how that applies to himself. Chuck is actually in pain. The allergy is fake, but the pain is real. Of course you aren't going to find the source of the pain in the wiring, Chuck!

I guess it sort of comes down to, Chuck feels the need to express his feelings through his physical environment, and Jimmy feels the need to envelope people in the physical environments that he thinks will elicit the thoughts/feelings that he wants them to have.
posted by rue72 at 12:04 PM on June 21 [2 favorites]


now Howard's capitulation has cut this attempt short too

And he is additionally devastated to find Howard is using his own money, and borrowing money, because he wants Chuck out that badly.
posted by mikepop at 12:35 PM on June 21 [5 favorites]


Yeah and Howard really stuck it to Chuck too about using his own money and not HHM's... "I would never endanger the firm."
posted by agregoli at 12:51 PM on June 21 [2 favorites]


On the one hand, the season is over and it's a long wait to the next one. On the other hand, the next thing we're going to see is the Tale of Gene from the Cinnabon.
posted by cardboard at 1:29 PM on June 21 [3 favorites]


Just came across this Vulture interview of Michael McKean and Peter Gould by Matt Zoller Seitz (it's actually a combination of two interviews), in which it seems that Chuck's death is confirmed, plus talking about the character in general.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:47 PM on June 21


OK, I finally realized what was bugging me about Relaxathon 2003.

Kim is sitting there talking about how she wanted to be Atticus Finch when she was the kid. Change the world, etc. Wants to watch To Kill a Mockingbird again and again. Then, *right after* they discuss that, Jimmy brings up Irene. Yet Kim doesn't take up for Irene *at all.* She isn't worried about her, she doesn't seem to care much what Jimmy did to her, she cracks jokes about the muffin baskets, etc.

I do think the accident was somewhat of a wake-up call to Kim. But then I imagined her defending the vulnerable and despised, like the public defender overflow that Jimmy used to defend. Supposedly more "fulfilling" work int the Atticus Finch model. And she would HATE IT. None of her strengths would come to the fore. Being able to slog through mind-numbing regulations and strict attention to legal detail would not be helpful there. She would be bored and hate all her clients and...it just would not be a good fit.
posted by rue72 at 1:50 PM on June 21


I wonder what kind of shenanigans someone with Chuck's legal skill set could do with his will. Like, could he set up a trust where Jimmy would only be entitled to a certain amount at the end of a year provided he did not have a valid law license at the end of it? It seems to me he'd be prepared to exert some kind of control over Jimmy even from beyond the grave.
posted by Jugwine at 1:52 PM on June 21 [2 favorites]


I think he'd much more likely make sure not a dime went to ole Jimmy Magill.
posted by agregoli at 2:11 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


Better Call Saul Insider Podcast episode 310 ("Lantern") with Kelley Dixon and Chris McCaleb, Vince ("This is the best season ever") and Peter, episode writer Gennifer Hutchison, post-producer/co-executive producer Diane Mercer, and Bob Odinkerk. Warning: IT's TWO HOURS LONG!
  • Peter directed the episode, which is the first time on BB and BCS that he directed something that he didn't write. It helped him appreciate Genny's talent, as her writing brought new layers to the characters, but it didn't cause him to sleep any better -- there's never enough time to prepare, even when you're not the writer and director. Vince agrees that there's never enough time to shoot.
  • Kelley asks Genny what it was like to write a finale for the show-runner and episode director. Genny: there's always a note-sharing process. Peter: I've worked with Genny since the first episode of Breaking Bad, so we know each other creatively. I'm technically her boss (Vince: "But you're wearing the shirt" [I'm The Boss] - Peter: "I'm not sure why I wore this today."), but I treat this as a collaboration on all levels, with Genny, with Kelley, with Bob. Genny: everyone collaborates, "everybody's voice is important, if you have a great idea, cool, it doesn't matter what level you are, we just like great ideas."
  • Genny: it's easier to work with a director who is the show-runner, because then we don't have to guess at what the show-runner wants from a scene, but Peter was so busy that sometimes I had to remind him of what we talked about when writing the episode. Chris: did you take off your writer's hat? Bob: No, he can't - it's sewn onto his skull. But the episode writer can keep track of how the more detailed and broader episode was developed, while the director manages everything from union breaks to location difficulties, and then the actors are only focusing on themselves and their role, as is appropriate. I always thought that the writer is a director, picturing the scene as they're writing it. Then the director re-envisions the episode, and they can work together to further develop the story.
  • Peter: why do you go through the episodes with other actors? Bob: so we can go through the episode, rehearse the scene, learn the lines (which you can do with a little recorder), but then you can get into the other person's rhythms, ask questions so you have fewer of the writer and director (everyone laughs), so we have a third of the questions we would have otherwise, if you can believe it. We just want to get to work on the set, if you believe it. With other actors, you can feel out the scene and see how lines work and fit together, which is better than hearing the other person in a tape recorder. The more you know the lines, the more you can play on the lines, because they're part of you naturally. It all came from showing up on Breaking Bad and having more lines than I'd even had, even in things I've written. I did it in breaking bad, and we do it now because the show is worthy of it. Comedy sketches aren't a mystery as to what's going on, there's not a ton of subtext if you do it write.
  • Although we did rehearse Mr. Show, because we didn't have cue cards, so we knew our lines. But on Saturday Night Live, there's no time to rehearse. The show isn't written until Wednesday, chosen on Wednesday night, then re-written on Thursday and Friday, or written fresh on Thursday, and everything changes. Vince: on Mr. Show, did you run through the whole thing once, or did you cut the show? Bob: We ran all the sketches twice. Vince: Did you ever intercut pieces between the takes? Bob: No, you wouldn't. And we would always do two shows: a dress show and an air show. I'd say that 6 times out of 10, the first take of the second show would be the cut we kept. The last version would feel the best, but on review it would feel leaden.
  • Tangent into Mr. Show and Bob and David, Peter goes a bit fanboy. Jesse was 4 years old, played Bob's daughter on Mr. Show, where he talked about depriving his daughter in just the right way to become a politician.
  • Kelley: what are the duties of the writer out on set? Peter and Vince set their writers out to the set, as a solo writer, not in tandem. Genny: this is why I tell people who want to get into the business, I tell them to start as an assistant and get used to how things work on set. You learn it as you go. The writer on set is a resource for the director and the actors, and you're there as the voice of the show-runner and the writers room, as you have a lot more context for where things are going and why certain things were chosen over other options. If a line isn't working for an actor, we can work with them to revise the script on-set. Vince: But if you have a note as an actor, give it quietly to the director, not directly to the actor. Peter: I always felt like the director's backup, and sometimes all the actor needs is some positive reinforcement. Also, it gives everyone more license to change things. And on BCS, the script supervisor, Helen [x], will talk to the writer about variances from the script, then the two can work out the differences.
  • A bend in the discussion back to Kelley's advice: pay attention in English class. Chris said a friend of his, Cash Hartzell, said that's the best professional advice he's heard. Kelley pulls back to directors shooting the script versus directors shooting the story, which is evident in editing. Bob: I've never seen more preparation for a show than here, but once you get there, you have to invent the moment. Kelley: then it's re-written in editing, and luckily we have the writer in the room, which doesn't always happen.
  • Diane: I was only in half-hours before Breaking Bad, and the writer was always in the room. Arrested Development was unusual, with 50 page scripts and 50 scenes in a 22 minute long show. (For reference, BCS scripts can be 50 pages long.) 5 days to shoot, and often didn't have scripts until the day before the shoot. The show was entirely cut between 7 PM and 2 AM, then mixed, and on the air the next week (!!!)
  • Diane: every episode goes through a 3 hour spotting sessoion for every episode, to talk about where we want the episode to be with sound, especially in a new environment. Vince: the number of notes haven't changed, but they're pickier now; more opinion notes. Peter: part if that is due to Phil Palmer and his team recording the sound so well on the set. Rhea said it was hard to hear on the oil field, but Phil caught it all. Diane: And we didn't have to loop anything from the scene under the freeway. Being able to catch the audio live is great, because doing ADR never gets the same feeling. Peter: But we do have to loop, so what does that feel like, Bob? Bob: I was intimidated, but now I trust it, and I know that even though I may read a full line, you may use just a word. Diane: Yes, we try to do that, and may even use it to add in a sylable. Bob: It's a fun game trying to fit words back into your mouth, and it's surprising how easy it can be to match your own pace. You naturally put it into the same cadence, because you're you. But it's really weird to hear the dubs. By giving me the lead, you've given 15 other voice actors lead roles now. But it seems like they carried the character from Breaking Bad, so they play him Jimmy differently. Peter: We've also seen that from international advertising, where we have less say in how it looks, but we're so thankful for the international extent of these shows. I've heard two things won't travel: baseball movies and legal shows, but here we are. Bob: I've asked about that when I was interviewed by an Italian interviewer, who said "no, we don't have someone like Saul, but we've had enough American culture that we know what's going on." Peter: Yeah, I've never seen lawyer billboards like in America, just like you don't see pharmaceudical ads, which are illegal elsewhere. Bob: I like to say that America is #1, but then Europe is .. what's above 1? 1.5? Chris: 2. Bob: Yes, so America is a 1, but we're on a 1-10 scale.
  • Diane, talking about working with foreign dubbing contacts: I don't do much, because a lot of the notes on upcoming characters have to be in person and with code names, because if you email something, it can get forwarded and ruin the surprise.
  • Bob, on working with Michael: he doesn't need to practice as much as the rest of us, you can tell he's just done sooner than we are. He's just done it a lot more than us. He's great, he's fully engaged in the moment. He had some physically hard, long days this season, but he did it and he's a trooper. He's fucking great.
  • Peter: it was tough watching Michael, even after knowing what was going to happen from the script. It was a little scary, seeing him really breaking up the place. I was worried for him. When he went at the test wall, he really went at it. And more accolades for Michael Novotny and his props team, who made a beautiful house-stage, but it is a set, so when you break through, you see nothing... Vince: or a dude eating a sandwich. Peter: ... so they had to build more complete walls, with insulation. Bob: I hope Michael gets some recognition. I don't know if someone's done as much as he has, and the business just says "oh yeah, he's good." I really hope he gets nominations for awards and wins. Genny: Michael is primarily know as a comic actor, so for him to play someone incapable of being comedic this well is a real tribute to his skill. When I watched the cut, I had an immense, emotional reaction that I wasn't expecting. I had the most empathy and regret for that character, which is entirely on Michael's shoulders. Chris: If you've had any close experience with mental illness, and seeing it physically like that, it was done beautifully, which is a tribute to the writing, and directing, and editing, and the music. It was such a stark and haunting physicalization of a mental illness -- and I've had some experience with it -- it struck my heart and it reminded me of being in that place with that person. The work that was done on this was really exceptional.
  • Vince: So many people dislike Chuck -- my mom, my dad -- people on the street stop me and tell me "Man, I hate Chuck." The million dollar question: will people have different feelings after this episode? Bob: I haven't seen this episode, but I don't like him. Kelley: You, Bob, don't like him? Bob: Both versions of me don't like him. We all have our problems, but it's our challenge to try to overcome them somewhat, and he seems like a guy who hasn't tried. Genny: And I think that's the key to why Chuck feels so tragic. Like Chris said, if you've dealt with mental illness had anyone in your life who has, it is incredibly complex. There's always a time in someone's life when you think "this is it, this is just how it is, there's no changing it." And obviously that's not true, but when you're in it, you can't really see that. In dealing with the character, and saying we want to tell the story without saying "there's never an answer" but saying "yes, there is" like we saw in the last episode. Then to see him deteriorate so quickly in this episode, when we saw him making some movements in the right direction, if not fully committing to it, that was why it was so upsetting for me. You can see there's a way out, but he's so deep in it that he can't break out. At the same time, Jimmy is deteriorating into Saul, and now Jimmy is trying to move away from that, even though we know where he ends. Vince: And the thing that makes me sadder was that he was making such great strides, but then he says that terrible thing to your brother, and that acting is so wonderful on both your parts, but he says it without any bitterness or emotion, not even cold but just matter-of-fact. He knows that to say something so flatly would be the way to hurt Jimmy the most. I don't think this is a real-life portrayal of mental illness, but it's an artful telling. It's like the man is sick because his soul is sick, not that his brain is sick. Some better angel wants him to be kind to his brother, but he can't do that, and that's when the illness comes out. He wants to be better, but he can't brook the pride and the ego, and the jealousy he feels for his brother.
  • Vince: This was a scary episode in a lot of ways. Jimmy and Kim were so raw. They usually have some distance from themselves, they're playing a role, but this scene is so raw. I don't like strong feelings, so I was happy that Genny was there. Jimmy was open when he went into there, and I think you would have stayed in there if Chuck hadn't said something so hurtful.
  • Kelley: Can you talk on what's changed with Jimmy and Kim after the crash. My interpretation is that because Jimmy couldn't see the extra work that she took on for him. Bob: I haven't seen anything past episode 5. I live in the moment and forget what happened. Here's what I think about Jimmy and Kim. I loved this season, and I loved how much they enjoyed each other and supported each other. Even though she gets mad at Jimmy in the car. From last season when Kim sides with Jimmy when Chuck accuses Jimmy last season, they go to another level of being a team, but she's not saying she's forgiving him for what he's done. He feels bad about letting her take on so much [Bob even talks in the patriarchail way that Jimmy thinks and acts; how is it that it's Jimmy who let Kim take on more, and not Kim choosing to over-extend herself? -- Ed.] He wants it to work, even more than her. I think that both of them are aware of the gaps in their approach to life. In which the ways they are the same, which is a lot, and the ways in which they are different. I think they're the right mix, when you look at the challenge of carrying through the ups and downs. I think they have a really great relationship. I think Jimmy could tell you the ways he lets Kim down, and Kim could tell you the problems with their relationship, too. They're going to try to make it work. I think that's a really great thing to play, to present, to write. I guess there's a chance that Saul and Kim are married. She's up in Santa Fe now. James Carvell and Mary Madeline -- that's a great example. Dad goes to Albuquerque and is a sleezeball, while mom ... Vince: paints oils Bob: ... but also runs one of the top law offices in the state. Peter: This is one of the most cheerful versions I've heard yet. [All laugh] I like this idea. Bob: Saul literally just goes to the strip clubs for appearances. [All laugh] He puts his timer on his phone and when it goes offx he slips out, head back to a very nice suburb, is a great dad, and his wife is the Attourney General for New Mexico. Vince: He gets home, he takes off the lime green socks and puts on a black turtleneck. Bob: In the car, driving! Vince: He gets home and puts some Miles Davis on some Miles Davis on the turntable with a tube amp. Bob: I want to see a guy change his suit from a garish Saul Goodman suit to a reasonable dad suit, in the car, while driving. I think he'd have enough time between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Just enough time. Kelley: He has to take the Cadellac and put it in storeage. Vince: And the Saab is in the driveway. Peter: Now he's a bit like Batman.
  • Kelley: Was it a little bittersweet saying goodbye to Franchesca, knowing what we know? Vince: Tina Parker is a great actor. Peter: Tina made some choices that paid off so beautifully. The way she handles Kim, who is so detail oriented. She treats Kim with an edge, like "I hope you don't go off on me." And learns to be suspicious of Jimmy, which is kind of sad. Kelley: I like how she sneaks looks at the Hawaii magazine.
  • Kelley: Bob, I heard there was a thing where you didn't want to eat a Dorito. Bob: Oh, I hadn't had a Dorito in like, 30 years. I know they're loaded with a chemical concoction. Just a few kernels of corn that are blasted with chemicals. I didn't want to put this weird chemical in my mouth. But, oh my god. I couldn't frigin' believe it. But not just one. I had like 20 of them, and each one blew my brain receptors out. It's insane what they've done. It's a testament to the chemical efforts of the chemists at Doritos. Vince: There's no such thing as nacho cheese in nature. Bob: They're good at what they do. They lit up parts of my brain. I bet if you did an MRI ... [all laugh uproariously] that should be their next commercial. Vince: the Nacho Cheese portion of the amygdala. Genny: This is why science matters. Peter: the reason Kelly knows this is this was on the last day of shooting on this season and you were eating Doritos ... Bob: Every single one of them! Vince: ... you stopped for a moment and you did a great 30 seconds ... Bob: The first take, I hadn't had one of these in 30 years, so parts of my tongue and brain that haven't been touched, but by the 5th one I was figuring it would just be a zero, 'cause a lot of time that's how food is. Vince: Are you sneaking out of the house now? Bob: I haven't had one since, but now you're making me think. I don't think it'll kill you. Kelley: Moderation, moderation! Vince: Everything in moderation. Including being healthy. Peter: You may see Jimmy eating more Doritos next season.
  • Vince: I want to hear about the teaser. Peter: I have to give props to Gabriel Rush, who played young Chuck, and Coal Wittiker, who played young Jimmy. Gabriel obviously made a study of Chuck before the audition. I think he's 17, and he's emancipated. That shot was such a wonderful team effort from the team in Albuquerque, because the shot was almost impossible. It was done with a super techno crane (called that because it has a longer reach) on tracks. Vince: Techno cranes go in and out, like a radio antenna. Peter: I wanted it to be a smooth movement, because if it was a steadycam, you'd feel like you were sneaking up on the kids, like a horror movie. Do you remember the old HBO intro? It had a motion control camera that would swoop over a model of a city, and I had that in mind. Michael Novotny dressed up the back yard of an unused fire station, and the first take was usable. Vince: And then you did 11 more. Peter and Kelley: We did 9. Vince: I'm not making fun, because no one did more takes than I did on Breaking Bad. And you better do more takes if you're doing a oner for a teaser (opening scene). Is that the first time on either show that we've done a oner for a teaser. Diane: We had one that appeared to be a oner in BB 208, where Badger got arrested, but that wasn't really a oner. Vince: When we cut to the cop, we cut. Peter: It was a oner, but it was too long, so we cut it. Chris: Even when a shot is perfect, technically, there can even be little bumps. Was there any stabilizing that had to be done? Kelley: Yes. Diane: There was a little shimmy. Kelley: A lateral shimmy that Peter noticed. Diane: And there was the Philly building that haunts us every once and a while. It was in the background when Mike was in Philly, so when we see it other places, we have to take it out. Chris: A lot of shows wouldn't, which is a testament to the attention to detail. Peter: I have to give credit to our dolly grip, Jax, who was walking with the head the whole time. And the actors were great. Coal, a young kid, didn't sneak a look when the huge piece of equipment was sneaking up on him.
  • Vince: can we talk about the emotion of it? It's especially bittersweet, especially after watching the entire episode. Genny: When we're breaking an episode, sometimes we start with the teaser, and sometimes we end up going back after we have a better idea of what the episode is about. We've done a lot of Chuck and Jimmy flashbacks, and we liked the idea of seeing some scene were the two were relating on an emotional level, where Chuck is taking care of Jimmy, but it's not maudlin. Chuck is a little upset with Jimmy ... Vince: But he hits it real mild, real mellow. Genny: Yeah, like an older brother would. If you didn't know the show, you'd just think "this is an older brother reading to a younger brother," but for people who watch the show, you wonder when things changed. Peter: The original pitch the shot slowly pulling out, until you see the entire back yard, but it felt like '80s Spielberg, romanticizing the relationship in a weird way. And then Genny came up with the idea of focusing in on the lantern. Genny: Yeah, I think I just pitched reversing it [laughs]. Chris: That teaser informs the episode, and in retrospect, informs the entire series. When Chuck says "you never really mattered to me" ... Genny: It's a lie. Chris: ... and even if he believes it, because he's been so focused on his own goals and his own needs, he's alienated everyone in his life who's tried to take care of him. I found it a really moving way to start an episode that is about the ultimate unraveling of the relationship. Vince: This is the magic of television. It's not completely different from movies, but a movie starts off with a script that is fully written, or should be. A television show can react to the way it develops, and in this instance, the throw-away reference to Mabel has grown, you took it and ran with it, created a teaser that is so bittersweet. This bears, not only that, encourages multiple viewings. Peter: For really sharp-eyed viewers, The Adventures of Mabel is in the last scene, too. Kelley: It's not even in focus. Peter: And the baseball bat that Chuck uses later in the episode is in the tent, along with other vintage toys and gags. Vince: I love the design of the tent. Kelley: It's very vintage Boy Scout Jamboree. Peter: It's Michael Novotny. It's great to see some crazy-ass piece we came up with in the writer's room get realized.
  • Kelley: I can't say enough good things about Patrick, Michael too, but I was really excited about that scene with Patrick paying off Chuck. Chris: So many beautiful shots in that scene. Kelley: Yes, there's a lot of footage for that scene. I tend to cut things very loose, meaning I cut a lot of air in scenes, because I'm feeling my way through a scene emotionally. But that scene didn't really change much at all. It starts with Howard staring, you know where you are, but you don't know what's happening. Peter: I didn't change much in my producer/director cut, and it should be that way, because we've worked together so much ... Kelley: This is what, our 3rd or 4th episode. Peter: I'm really happy with that whole beat at HHM. Kelley: The work that Patrick did. You can see the tremble in his lip. Vince: I was going to say that! There's anger, but also sadness and betrayal. Diane: It's just unexpected. Kelley: And a break in his voice -- "You won." Diane: It was so wonderful to read, but transcendent to see in the cut. He's like a son to Chuck, he's his protege. He defers to Chuck.
  • Peter: Genny wrote the hell out of that scene. And the banter between Jimmy and Kim is so natural. Diane: The hospital scene just makes me cry. Peter: Going real inside baseball, for the fans on Twitter: [something about the credits - getting a waiver to "postpone" opening (?) credits until the next episode it's passing me by, jump to 1 hour 35 minutes or there-about].
  • Vince: What's the deal with the Blockbuster thing? Genny: We wanted to show that Kim was taking the self-care seriously, and people pitched a day at the spa, but this is my ideal form of self-care. Then Peter got really, really excited about it being a Blockbuster. Vince: Was that in a real Blockbuster? Are there even any Blockbusters left? Genny: No, there aren't any more BlockBusters [correction: there are at least 10 Blockbusters remaining, and the largest cluster of Blockbuster stores are in Alaska, "where dark, long winters and expensive WiFi have helped maintain a core group of loyal customers", per a Washington Post article dated April 26, 2017], and we had to get clearance to use Blockbuster and all the movies. It was all a set, full of props. Peter: It's even harder to get movie posters with people's faces, because that requires additional clearances. Genny: I had a list of movies that I wanted her to watch, then Peter changed the list, and then we got a different list that finally cleared. Peter: We wanted to show a clip from To Kill a Mockingbird. Diane: But we had to get approval from Gregory Peck's estate. Genny: And I thought that Tina Parker was great, translating "thanks for the meat" into appropriate business-speak on the fly, and hiding her discomfort about making the call.
  • Peter: If anything that has changed in my age, I've become more comfortable with oners. And I tried something from film school, to shoot the shot in flat space. It was fun to limit the filming that way. Marshall Adams mentioned that they used to do something for shots like this on Felicity, where they'd move the sets farther apart than would be realistic or natural, but it gives a better sense of depth with a long lens, so if you walked this set, the isles would be too far apart.
  • Chris: This is the first time we've seen this rattled, and not just at Blockbuster. She might get rattled, but she gets back up. Kelley: She lost control. Diane: She's more concerned for other people - she said "I crossed three lanes of traffic." Genny: I don't think she cares about what would have happened to her. It's not an after-thought, and that's why she's so rattled.
  • Vince calls out Juan Carlos Cantu (Manuel Varga, Nacho's dad) as being great. Genny notes that Manuel is so set in his convictions, he won't back down from the scariest guy in their world. And his conviction is why when he backs down after Nacho pushes him is so heartbreaking. Peter: We hired Juan Carlos for one scene, but we didn't realize what we had.
  • Vince: Why does Gus save Don Hector, Peter and Genny? Genny: Because that's too easy. "This is basically the season of Gus keeping people from killing Hector, because they're not doing it right." [Everyone laughs] Kelley: another Easter egg - there's a red bell on the counter of the dad's shop. Peter: It was a lot of work to storyboard this scene, and we shot over two nights, because there were so many moving parts, and we had to keep ourselves sane. Another shout-out for the Panasonic VariCam, which allowed them to shoot with more natural lighting from within the buildings, and again some light from off-set was "polluting" the light on-set. Also, the "camera rolling" red light was casting a red glow on the actors faces, something that would otherwise be negligible in terms of total light on the set. It was a lot of fun to practice this scene (in the daylight), because it was fun to work with everyone. Giancarlo was so fun, so much different from his character. Chris notes the unique darkness from Gus and Madrigal - it's not like the mafia, it's more cold and calculating, and it might envelope Nacho.
  • Vince: As we record this, we don't have a pickup for season 4. That would be sad if this ends here, but it could work. [Everyone lists the things they want to see: how Howard reacts to what happened to Chuck and how Jimmy and Kim react to that, Saul get his Cadillac and his suits, what's going on with Gene in Omaha.] Vince: I take it back, there's a lot I want to see.
  • Another shout-out to Irene and the girls, including Emmy-winning Bonnie Bartlett
  • Bob gets the final "Better Call Saul" episode ender
(Sorry, I left off the shout-outs at 2 hours 4 minutes -- my brain is done)
posted by filthy light thief at 3:07 PM on June 21 [9 favorites]


My take-away: don't spend too much time trying to guess what is a hint for the future, because while they're talking about the current season, the next one is full of question marks, because nothing is set in stone for this show. They don't have a total arc drawn out, and they make new plans based on odd little shout-outs and casting decisions, like Vince including a book that his mom read to him and various would-be one-off actors who create such a great character that they can't help but bring them back.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:11 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


And one day, Jimmy will be the guy who just can't let Jesse go to a meet with the Guy Who Vanishes People with pot in his pocket, because what if the Guy Who Vanishes People refuses to pick him up? And he'll inadvertently trigger Jesse's meltdown and a terrible chain of events that way.

I think Jimmy's thought process is the same now as it is as Saul, in some ways. "What if this happens, and the person needs help, and I don't know about it and I don't help them, and and and...?!"


This is such a great observation. We saw this in the GeneScene that opened this season.. Gene just could not let that kid get hauled away without helping him.. even though he was the reason he was found in the first place.
posted by ApathyGirl at 3:45 PM on June 21 [3 favorites]


Howard must've known how that last meeting was going to go before it started. He tells everyone else to give them the room, talks to Chuck for maybe two minutes, and the whole company is already assembled when they leave the room. Hardcore.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:53 PM on June 21 [8 favorites]


She's also open to taking 'the good stuff(, "always")' and this is 2003.

I'm not sure what this is supposed to mean. We were all well aware of "the good stuff" even in 2003. Hell, opiates were "the good stuff" in 1983.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:58 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


If Hector was more like Gus, he probably could have gotten what he wanted, but he is used to him and his family running everything and until now has not had a problem just forcing people to do what he wants instead of convincing them they want to.

A symmetry that this made me realize: Hector fucks it all up here because his ego gets in the way and he starts acting out of consideration for his pride rather than his success, while Gus succeeds here because of his ability to do the opposite. Of course, we know what happens in the future when Gus' own ability to subdue his pride in the pursuit of his greater interests falters just a little bit.
posted by invitapriore at 4:59 PM on June 21


Bob: I haven't seen anything past episode 5. I live in the moment and forget what happened. Here's what I think about Jimmy and Kim. I loved this season, and I loved how much they enjoyed each other and supported each other. Even though she gets mad at Jimmy in the car. From last season when Kim sides with Jimmy when Chuck accuses Jimmy last season, they go to another level of being a team, but she's not saying she's forgiving him for what he's done. He feels bad about letting her take on so much [Bob even talks in the patriarchail way that Jimmy thinks and acts; how is it that it's Jimmy who let Kim take on more, and not Kim choosing to over-extend herself? -- Ed.]

That's a very interesting, very astute observation to make.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:43 PM on June 21


It's interesting that Bob talks like Jimmy acts, and Michael McKean also sounds so much like Chuck that I wonder how much of it is them imprinting onto the characters their own views and beliefs, or they're speaking for the characters that they've come to know over these three seasons.

Talking Saul: 310 - "Lantern" - Chris Hardwick, with Peter Gould, Patrick Fabian and Michael Mando
  • Peter: spinning off a new, unique show from something as big as Breaking Bad - "it shouldn't have worked!"
  • Peter: Chuck's death may be the thing that pushes Jimmy to Saul. Chris: Anakin Skywalker's Darth Vader moment. Peter: I don't remember the lantern in Star Wars, I'm sure there was one.
  • Chris: I love Nacho so much. It's what Peter and Vince do - they give you a snapshot of a character, and they start peeling back layers. Michael: He's shown so much to me about myself, and I'm fond of him. I want him to survive.
  • Chris: Every character gets in their own way. Like Jimmy, Nacho is good at doing bad things.
  • Michael: Shout out to Cantu, we hit it off
  • Chris: Howard also started out as someone you don't like, but then you see he does have a good heart and a soul. Patrick: It's hard when it's called Better Call Saul, and Saul calls you Lord Vader, you're behind the 8 Ball. But then Peter and Vince told Patrick that Howard is trying to do the right thing, navigate between the brothers McGill. "I think Howard is slowly feeling like 'why are all these fools running around, trying to ruin my business." Chris: It's like these McGill jerks won't stop ruining his life. Patrick: I just want to go playing golf and tennis, and instead I'm pulled into this black hole.
  • Chris: the interesting thing about Chuck is that the things that make him a good lawyer are also undoing him - he's obsessed with detail, very Lawful Good, but then his obsessions cause his sickness. But is Chuck dead?! Peter: We haven't started working on Season 4, but even if Chuck is dead, that doesn't mean this is the last we've seen of him, in part due to flashbacks.
  • Video insert of Bob Odenkirk talking about how Chuck's last words to Jimmy are the most hurtful things, when Jimmy wants things to go back to the way they were.
  • A very bearded Michael McKean joins via video chat. Chris: Why would Chuck say that, was he sincere? Michael: If you judge by his actions, it's not true -- he cares very much, but in a negative direction. If Jimmy didn't matter, Chuck wouldn't care if Jimmy was also practicing law in Albuquerque. He wants Jimmy to go away. Chris: Chuck is obsessive, into detail and he thinks that means everything - those things made him a great lawyer, but also give him an arrogance. To the extent that in the physical world, he likes to live in darkness, and I think that's metaphorical for the way that is too - he doesn't want to see things the way they really are. Michael: I think you've already done more thinking about this than I have, and that's not self-depreciating. I've had a 30 hour film over the last three years. I've asked fewer questions in this 30 hour film than I have on any 90 minute film, and that's how clear the writing is. I don't think that Chuck is too self-aware, and I have to make that the approach to everything I do. He doesn't do a lot of soul-searching. I don't think he believes in the soul. But he believes he is the person he is meant to be. Chris: in those final moments, are they a product of his illness, or is he making a conscious decision to give up? Michael: If you are playing a character who thinks he sees unicorns, you can't play a character who thinks he sees unicorns, you have to see unicorns. His madness is not examined as such. In those last moments? Depends on what kind of pills he is taking.
  • Chris: let's talk about that mess of a house. Peter: Michael really got into the character, and it was kind of scary. All that wall-busting was Michael, and it wasn't done in one take. I was inspired by The Conversation, where Gene Hackman busts up an apartment looking for a bug. Michael: I didn't think of that, but of a Ray Bradbury short story, called The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl, where a man committed a murder, and tries to find all the places he might have touched. Unexamined, I think Chuck is dying of paranoia and guilt. Chris: From these seasons, what have you taken from Chuck. Michael: Hmm, I'm not sure what I've taken from Chuck, I've taken some office supplies. Wow, I'll never have to buy paper again. By the way, there's no paper in here. Chris: Oh right, you're in the bathroom. Michael is on Broadway right now, in The Little Foxes.
  • Video insert of Bob: The decision to hurt Mrs. Landry was the biggest Saul decision of this season. Everyone else was collateral damage that he didn't see coming, which he regretted. I called Peter and said "I guess all you need to do is buy the lime green socks now." He is becoming Saul.
  • Peter: The only reason Jimmy tried to undo the damage he did to Mrs. Landry was because of what happened to Kim. In the prior episode, he said "listen to your heart," a line he stole from Howard [from the first episode of season 1]
  • Chris: What does it mean when Howard uses his own money to get rid of Chuck? Patrick: It's personal, I was expecting a resignation, not a lawsuit. So by putting up my own money, I said this money is untouchable, because it's my own. It's not pulling off a band-aid, it's cutting off an arm. Chris: Once Kim told Howard that this is on him for hiding Chuck's illness, this feels like cleaning house. Patrick: That's right. I've given him a number of off-ramps, including the suggestion that he go teach. Then Chuck backs me into a corner. At this point, I'll remind you that H is the first letter in the law firm. Chris: But do we know which H that is? That might be your dad. Patrick: For now, I'll say it's me. Chris: How will Howard handle Chuck's death. Patrick: I've really enjoyed working with Michael. When I'm with him, half of my brain is going "Wow! I'm working with Michael McKean!" which is good, because that's part of what Howard is feeling with Chuck. But now Howard is alone -- Kim is gone, Jimmy has left, and now Chuck does this. It will be really interesting to see how Howard plants himself and goes forward.
  • Giancarlo Esposito insert: My goal is to make a Gus who is a little more vulnerable, a little less polished than the Gus we get to know in Breaking Bad. He's younger, much more enthusiastic, more energetic to find his place in the cartel, not yet calculated as he becomes.
  • Vince insert on Gus saving Hector: It seems counter-intuitive that he's the first one to jump in and save Hector, but it tells me "I'll keep you alive until I can really get my revenge on you." Chris: BREAKING BAD SPOILER #########################! But what does Nacho think about Gus saving Hector? Michael Mando: I think this is when Gus shows his hand in front of Nacho - I know you want to hurt Hector. Chris: I think Gus noticed Nacho picking up the pills. Michael: But I have Gus' kryptonite - I know he's a drug dealer who runs Los Pollos. But I think at this point, Nacho's emotional bone broke, but it'll grow back much stronger. He realizes you have to do dark things in this world of drugs.
  • Vince insert video: The more we see Kim Wexler, the more we like her, and the more I'm aghast at the thought of her no longer being around. And yet, when you watch Breaking Bad, you know there's no Kim Wexler to be seen. So we're headed for something that's going to be a rough moment, if and when we explain why Kim is no longer around. It's not going to be a pleasant thing, necessarily, but it's going to be dramatic as hell, and it's going to keep people talking and watching.
  • Fan question - Jordan asks Peter what her motivations are for not returning to work after her crash. Peter takes that as a wake-up call. Kim's not going to quit the law, but she's not going to take on Gatwood's oil case.
  • Chris: What would Howard think of Kim taking time off to actually recouperate? Patrick: That's just so out of character. Just goes to show you what happens when you hang out with the wrong people. That's so not the Kim that I would know. Giving the money back to Howard is out of character - basically she's been out of character since she left HHM.
  • Back to the tent - the baseball bat is in the tent, and so is the band-aid box.
  • Patrick: I like that Howard is finally standing up for himself.
  • Advice from Banks to Michael Mando: "Kid, you're good. I know you're good, and everybody knows you're good, but if you don't know you're good, if you can't sleep at night knowing what you're doing is good, and if you can't take pleasure in what you love, then what's the point?"
  • Chris: If there's nothing written for Season 4 yet, there's nothing to spoil. Peter: We have some big problems to solve.
Bonus link: bonus scenes from Talking Saul, which is just the three guys answering random questions and chatting a bit more, nothing major. One decent riff is the possibility of Nacho eating nachos -- maybe that's his "cheat food" or something he eats when he's had a bad day. We'll see.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:07 PM on June 21 [3 favorites]


When I first heard that this show was going to made, for some reason I imagined that it would be much funnier and more episodic, like an unglamorous, comedic L.A. Law with new Badger-type characters every week. WTF was I thinking?

I'm not as invested in this show as I was BB, so I don't read about it anywhere else. I just want to say thanks to everyone for sharing your takes here.

McKean mentions Bradbury's "The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl" as an inspiration... There was an FPP recently about Ray Bradbury Theater that included a wonderful version of that story, with a link to that episode on YouTube.

Everyone here seems much more sympathetic to Chuck than I am... I enjoyed the hell out of seeing Howard kick Chuck out of his own law firm. He is a tragic figure, but Christ, what an asshole. Yet I wonder how Howard would feel about Chuck's end. I can't figure him out.
posted by heatvision at 4:37 AM on June 22 [1 favorite]


When I first heard that this show was going to made, for some reason I imagined that it would be much funnier and more episodic, like an unglamorous, comedic L.A. Law with new Badger-type characters every week. WTF was I thinking?

I'm preaching sure that was a real possibility at one point. I think they even considered a half hour sitcom format before settling on its current form.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:46 AM on June 22 [2 favorites]


As for Kim's future, she's talking about Atticus Finch, but as much as her skills don't necessarily play to the public defender role, I could easily see her slipping into non-profit NGO work just fine. Like, can't you see Kim Wexler camping out in an airport terminal filing requests to obtain lists of detainees?
posted by tobascodagama at 8:10 AM on June 22


heatvision, I can see how Chuck can be seen as entirely unsympathetic, but some of us have eerily Chuck-like people in our lives. I still maintain that a redemption arc for Chuck would have been a bold departure from expectations, but I'll also cop to the fact that my desire for one also involves a lot of projection.
posted by whuppy at 8:11 AM on June 22 [1 favorite]


Oddly enough, the presence of Chuck-like people in my (and especially my partner's) life that would have made a true redemption arc for Chuck... a bit difficult to accept, to say the least. I'm not saying it never happens, but it's the exception and not the rule.

Anyway, one fun detail I wanted to point out: After Jimmy decides to sell himself out to make amends to Irene, he's wearing his University of American Samoa sweatshirt. Back to Charlie Hustle.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:08 AM on June 22 [8 favorites]


I noticed that, but I hadn't put 2 and 2 together, good catch!
posted by filthy light thief at 10:58 AM on June 22


but some of us have eerily Chuck-like people in our lives

Oh yeah. Chuck doesn't remind me of my mom in terms of personality, but Chuck and Jimmy's relationship DEFINITELY reminds me of my relationship with my mom. Luckily, she's not as floridly melodramatic as Chuck is, and she actually does have some basic respect for me as a human being! But she also scapegoated me and was domineering toward me in a similar way to how Chuck is to Jimmy, including explicitly blaming me for her (mental) illness, undermining my ambitions wrt career (no field is as worthy as her field, but of course god forbid I ever find success in her field), making pretty harsh and sweeping criticisms of my basic personality and how I'm intrinsically lacking as a person, convincing me to funnel my money her way so that I was perpetually broke (in retrospect, a way to keep control over me), etc. All things that we see Chuck do to Jimmy onscreen. All that said, I love my mom and we have a relatively good relationship now (and she's also healthier now), so that experience probably does make me more sympathetic and forgiving of Chuck than maybe I otherwise would be.

Anyway, it's also worth remembering, I think, that even though Chuck is a total nut now, out of the family as a whole, he was probably always the stable and capable one, the one that everyone else relied on. Just based on what we've seen, I think Chuck was probably always "the grown up" in the McGill family. I think he was OK with taking on that (more parental) role in terms of caring for his parents, but not so much in terms of Jimmy. Maybe he resented that Jimmy didn't have to be or wasn't capable of being "the grown up," too. When Chuck has spoken about the loss of the store, he puts the blame on Jimmy, for ostensibly victimizing their father -- that alone makes me think that he was expecting Jimmy to take on the role of being "the grown up," maybe to take the weight off of Chuck's shoulders, and has a lot of anger at Jimmy for (what Chuck sees as) his failure to do that.

I think that, ultimately, Chuck couldn't really take the pressure of that responsibility, though, either -- maybe especially once their mother died, since that's around when he divorced and his electricity allergy emerged. Maybe Chuck felt that with their mother dead, now it was HIS turn to be taken care of. Finally time for Jimmy to "grow up." Hence becoming an invalid soon after.

But Jimmy probably thinks, where would he even be without Chuck? I'm not just talking about Chuck getting him off for the Chicago Sunroof Incident. I think he probably can imagine a world where Chuck didn't exist, and thinks about how much more chaotic and awful things could have been for him. He already apparently felt like he was being thrown to the wolves somewhat, or at least like he had no protection from them -- imagine how much more helpless and lost he would have been without Chuck? I think there's a very deep well of admiration and gratitude there.

And to be fair to Chuck, I have to give him props for taking on that kind of role and responsibility without becoming hardened, pragmatic to a fault, and/or cynical from the stress of it. He could have become that way easily -- the same way that Saul became hardened, pragmatic to a fault, and cynical.
posted by rue72 at 12:50 PM on June 22 [2 favorites]


This is so tangential as to be irrelevant. In 2003 I was the foreman of a prefabricated glass block window factory. The glass block wall at Wexler-McGill isn't prefabricated. They're fire-rated, very heavy, and have to be laid on-site. We did use a very similar design though, called 'wolke' which I think is german for 'cloudy'. They look like this.

The problem we had with wolke blocks was which way was up. It's difficult to tell when you look at an individual block, but when you have a big array of them, you can tell if a block is on it's side or upside down. But that's a perspective you can't have while you're laying the blocks.

Having a block the wrong way up was a huge pain, because we'd have to cut that block out, regrout it, and leave it to cure overnight while work stops at the construction site.

Once a mismatched block actually made it to the construction site and they used it anyway. I wonder if people notice and think WTH? (that wasn't my fault).

Anyhow, it was my job to inspect the windows before we sent them out for problems like this. So for this entire season of Better Call Saul, whenever Jim and Kim go out for a smoke, I've been looking at the glass wall for the mismatched block.
posted by adept256 at 1:16 PM on June 22 [23 favorites]


Also, I believe I owe everyone a round of cucumber water.
posted by adept256 at 1:17 PM on June 22 [3 favorites]


You can count me as part of the group that has, or had, a Chuck type relative. And that's pretty much exactly why I feel that he also bears responsibility for his lot. He's an adult and unlike many, he has no shortage of time or smarts or money, and he knew he needed help. At some point, it's on him to develop coping mechanisms and ways of going about his business in the world that don't involve domination, trickery, or abuse of his caregivers or loved ones.

I didn't say that he's totally unsympathetic. But I also don't give him a free pass just because he was unwell. I love Gilligan's work because of the nuance and the ideological conflicts. These shows are both full of messed up, toxic people yet they're often people we can root for. That's amazing! However, Chuck has some things in common with a couple of characters from BB whom I will not name because I can't remember the spoiler policy. He chose poison and war over and over because he didn't like feeling small or out of control. And he died as unnecessarily and as hurtfully as they did. BB would not have happened if Walt had accepted the talking pillow. Chuck had the same weakness, and similar skill for self-delusion.

I guess also at some point, I just let myself go and decided it was okay to be mad at Chuck for all the awful things he did, because it is just a TV show. So sorry if my comment was too flip or made anyone feel bad. Last thing I wanna do.
posted by heatvision at 2:36 PM on June 22 [3 favorites]


He chose poison and war over and over because he didn't like feeling small or out of control. And he died as unnecessarily and as hurtfully as they did.

When you put it that way, Chuck sounds a lot like Hector Salamanca.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:01 PM on June 22 [6 favorites]


Someone else here who has a couple of "Chucks" in his family: people who tended to be domineering earlier in their lives (especially toward their siblings) and later kind of fell off their high perches because of mental illness and/or poor life choices, but still try to maintain their dominant positions in the family when they're feeling relatively better. It gives me both a certain amount of sympathy for Chuck and also makes my teeth grind when he starts doing his thing.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:11 AM on June 23 [4 favorites]


It's so frustrating that he could look Jimmy square in the face and berate him for pulling sad faces at the same time as he admits that Jimmy's feelings are real (to him) -- and yet still not see how that applies to himself. Chuck is actually in pain. The allergy is fake, but the pain is real. Of course you aren't going to find the source of the pain in the wiring, Chuck!

Chuck's entire 'condition' is a psychosomatic projection of his own pathology - a desperate need to a) identify the source of all his woes as external, and b) manifest control over every facet of interaction with those 'external' sources in order to isolate and lord over his own space. He cannot possibly transition to believing that any of the problems have a root internal to him, because that will completely invalidate his entire way of life up until this point and shine the spotlight on how much of an utter bastard he's been.

He idealizes the concept of 'law' as abstract systems of governance, when really he just wants to make sure he is the one always in the right. He can't allow Jimmy to participate in that same sphere not because Jimmy will do it wrong, but because that will make Law less of a thing Chuck owns. Same thing with HHM - it is always a thing Chuck did, not a partnership he entered into. He has absolute entitlement, and cannot even conceive that it operates outside of him.

This all comes to sharp relief when he realizes that no matter how much he can pretend to be 'better', his entire ethos is rooted in himself being absolutely correct at all times... and that is incompatible with what was shown in sharp relief during the hearing with the battery, and is what he is destroying in himself as he tears down his last refuge around himself. And at the end, when the cognitive dissonance is too great to bear, when his external control methodologies have systematically annihilated every outside contact he has, he realizes there is no way out for his way of life and thought. It all has to collapse and burn, because he literally cannot think of thinking differently.
posted by FatherDagon at 12:18 PM on June 23 [11 favorites]


Great angle, FatherDragon, but I really didn't need more fuel for my projection mill. :P Sometimes I wonder how much of the BB/BCS writer's room sessions were extended "Have You Ever" tournaments.
posted by rhizome at 12:50 PM on June 23


He chose poison and war over and over because he didn't like feeling small or out of control. And he died as unnecessarily and as hurtfully as they did.

When you put it that way, Chuck sounds a lot like Hector Salamanca.


I think the writers may have been drawing out a Hector/Chuck parallel on the subject of medication too: Hector's shitty behaviour leads to a state where his pills become useless to him because they have been switched for placebos. Chuck's shitty behaviour leads to his pills becoming useless because he stopped believing in their efficacy.
posted by rongorongo at 5:54 AM on June 26 [3 favorites]


Kim, on the other hand, gets the good stuff.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:14 AM on June 26 [2 favorites]


One nuts and bolts thing I'm left wondering about: where do things stand, then, between the estate of Charles McGill and HHM/Howard Hamlin? Assuming Chuck didn't cash the check Howard handed him, is Howard off the hook for it? Is the firm still on the hook to pay out the buyout payments to Chuck's estate?

I'm wondering the same thing. We don't see any of the paperwork happening, but since Howard notes that the payments are as described in the partnership contract, you've got to figure that he's got it drawn up and that the buyout is official and final before Chuck walks out the door, and that therefore HHM is on the hook.

And it ought to matter if Jimmy is a beneficiary of Chuck's estate, assuming that Chuck is really dead. Sure beats the pants off of the Sandpiper settlement.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:39 AM on June 27 [1 favorite]


Chuck's buyout money will go a long way to buying all the ridiculous crap we see Saul with when we meet him in BB...

But I doubt Chuck would be the type to just give his estate over to Jimmy to just do whatever he wants with it. If Jimmy sees even a penny of it, I'm sure it'll be in the form of a trust with all sorts of terms and conditions so Chuck can control Jimmy's life from beyond the grave.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:26 AM on June 27


It occurs to me that, as we have just seen the essential descent of Chuck from role model to antagonist to potential non-entity to Jimmy, that there may be an alternate path to Saul Goodman that doesn't involve any betrayal of the "good" people in his life. Unfortunately, this theory invokes the imminent descent of Kim, as well.
As Jimmy has been scrambling to keep himself on the level in order to maintain his respect and relationships with Kim and Chuck, to some degree, if they instead descend into a non-functional, incapacitated or otherwise illegal status, there is nothing for him to betray. Rather, Jimmy loses all incentive to keep himself above board as his guidestars are now submerged in murky, less reputable states that make Saul Goodman seem just as good as they are.
In other words, once Jimmy McGill loses the people that inspire him to keep the repute of his name and his work above board, becoming Saul Goodman becomes almost inevitable as it is without any consequence: his few lawful good relationships are gone and Saul is a large part of his character he previous strove to suppress.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 8:25 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


I don't think anything bad has to happen to Kim. Sometimes people just grow apart. If Kim discovers that hustling for money (as a corporate attorney or otherwise) is not something that appeals to her, then that alone provides a pretty good catalyst for leaving Jimmy behind. He needs the hustle, and his zero-sum life philosophy is completely incompatible with her newfound idealism.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:34 AM on June 28


Chuck's buyout money will go a long way to buying all the ridiculous crap we see Saul with when we meet him in BB...

I think it's more likely that it's criminal proceeds, like the several hundred he got from the drug dealer to get out of community service, that will be funding Saul's lifestyle. Chuck estate-money would be enough to retire on for a guy like Jimmy, so he probably got written out of the will.
posted by cardboard at 11:13 AM on June 28


It's so frustrating that he could look Jimmy square in the face and berate him for pulling sad faces at the same time as he admits that Jimmy's feelings are real (to him) -- and yet still not see how that applies to himself. Chuck is actually in pain. The allergy is fake, but the pain is real. Of course you aren't going to find the source of the pain in the wiring, Chuck!

Chuck was projecting so much in that conversation. Jimmy's certainly hurt the people around him, but Chuck has hurt everyone in his life so much and so repeatedly that he alienated every single one of them past the point of no return. Jimmy, Rebecca, and Howard all loved him in their ways and even Ernesto and the doctor cared enough to pity him, and he almost methodically removed them all from his life, so in the end he was left with a house he ruined and an almost completely empty life without a job, friends, family, or much of anything in the way of interests outside a career that just humiliatingly ended (and is probably impossible to re-start because of the insurance issues).

I'm often a little irritated by how few friends TV characters have (or generally how few different people are in their lives at all), but here BCS does a pretty good job of deploying that purposefully. Chuck's life is incredibly bleak and empty, but that's the point.
posted by Copronymus at 12:17 PM on June 28 [1 favorite]


I'm often a little irritated by how few friends TV characters have (or generally how few different people are in their lives at all), but here BCS does a pretty good job of deploying that purposefully. Chuck's life is incredibly bleak and empty, but that's the point.

Isn't it weird that Jimmy also has no friends, though? I mean, he has acquaintances that he's friendly with, and he has Kim, but that's really it.

The rest of the characters, I feel like their social lives (or lack thereof) make pretty obvious sense. Mike hangs out with his family and is starting to make friends in town. Kim works too much to really keep up with friends and lives far from her family. Nacho's social calendar has got to be full between drug and family/business/etc obligations. Howard seems like 90% of his life exists in Offscreenville anyway, so it could turn out that he has 6 kids, regular reunions with his fraternity brothers, and sits on the board of his HOA, and I wouldn't be surprised. Chuck's mental health made him into a hermit. Etc. But how come Jimmy is such a loner?

Also, isn't it kind of funny that in BB, it was Saul Goodman who we only saw in the context of work, and on this show, it's the same thing with Howard? Howard, who is like the complete opposite of Saul? That kind of cracks me up.
posted by rue72 at 8:11 PM on June 28 [2 favorites]


The heartbreaking thing is that while Chuck is clearly suffering, he meticulously engineered the end of his own story to cause his little brother the maximum possible pain. Unless Chuck staged the accident to ensure Jimmy would be able to benefit from his life insurance policy. I'm pretty skeptical about that though.

Further, we know (but I don't think Chuck even suspects) that Jimmy set the ball in motion to cause Chuck's insurance premiums to go up, which ultimately led to the Chuck's sudden loss of the only meaningful social network he had left and his entire sense of self.
posted by nequalsone at 9:45 AM on June 29 [1 favorite]


With Jimmy, two things would make it hard for him to develop friendships: 1) having spent a long time taking care of Chuck while 2) hustling like mad to build a solo law practice.
posted by kewb at 12:22 PM on June 29 [1 favorite]


Isn't it weird that Jimmy also has no friends, though? I mean, he has acquaintances that he's friendly with, and he has Kim, but that's really it.

It's definitely weird, but I can justify it to myself by saying that he's spent most of his spare energy in recent years on supporting Chuck and has generally been bouncing around a lot since he moved to Albuquerque. Just in the course of the show, he's had 3 or 4 significant career changes and can't stop shifting his whole life around every couple of months. It feels like a couple of times he might have been close to making a friend other than Kim but suddenly decided that he needed to leave his job, drop everything move to Santa Fe, move back ASAP, etc.

Even so, that's kind of a flimsy justification and I agree that he ought to have more social connections than he actually does. How does he not have a bar where he's a regular with a bartender he always complains to? The flashback with Jimmy and Marco in that bar in Chicago felt very natural.
posted by Copronymus at 12:45 PM on June 29 [1 favorite]


I agree that he ought to have more social connections than he actually does

I don't know that it's out of character per se for him not to have any friends. But it's an interesting character choice, given how extroverted Jimmy is.

Maybe it's supposed to be a conscious choice on Jimmy's part. I mean, he does have a lot of social connections, like all the ABQ prosecutors who couldn't take his case, or Mike, or Ernie, or whoever. He just doesn't have actual friends, who he hangs out with just for fun, and is just "himself" with. Aside from Kim and (in the past) aside from Chuck, of course.

Back in S1, when he was explaining to Marco why he'd been out of touch, it sounded to me like he had purposefully cut everybody from his old life out of his new life because he was trying to make a fresh start in ABQ. He seemed to see going to ABQ as a chance to reinvent himself and become a success (like Chuck). And he wasn't just going to replicate the same social life in ABQ as he had in Cicero, because that would defeat the purpose of leaving Cicero in the first place and probably undermine him completely. So I get why he's not hanging out at scuzzy bars nowadays, even though that would probably be comfortable and relaxing and homey. He's trying not to be "that guy."

And I guess he's ultimately successful, because Saul Goodman isn't really "that guy," either?

Not to mention Gene and his adorable homemade lunch that he eats on some random bench in the mall since, apparently, he's unwilling to be a "rule breaker" even to the extent of using a food court table to eat food brought from home. Gene isn't really "that guy" either, although in a completely different way. He's kind of too uptight to be "that guy," at least so far. I don't really think that Jimmy can handle abiding by rules for long, but he's apparently going straight as Gene.

You know, I feel so bad for Gene. Jimmy really clawed his way up to get his law license and become Saul and all that, and it sucks that every trapping of "success" -- from the license to that gorgeous Cadillac -- have all been stripped away now. Yeah, Saul deserved it. But that is just such a hard hit to take. If Jimmy were a different kind of person, he'd be railing at the world. I don't know if it's better or worse that he's not, just interesting.

So anyway, maybe he doesn't have friends because he doesn't want to slip into old patterns? Or old personae, in a way, I guess. I mean, it's always an open question who Jimmy even really is "when he's at home." We still have literally never seen him in his own home, except as Gene.
posted by rue72 at 5:13 PM on June 29 [4 favorites]


I was super surprised to find myself thinking Howard was a very sympathetic character at this point in time - sure, he's a plastic corporate jerk, but he's not trying to portray himself as anything but. He has indeed tried to treat people fairly within that annoying corporate structure, and everyone gives him shit anyway.

While Howard isn't my favorite character on the show, he is the one that in the event the characters were real people I would probably be the most comfortable associating with. He's easy to hate because he's a rich kid who's perpetuating his privilege via leveraging his systemic advantages, but I do admire the way that he universally thinks the best of the people around him until they give him cause to revise his opinion. I've spent some time wondering what the characters' lives would be like if they everyone was the person that Howard Hamlin believes them capable of being.

If Better Call Saul has any sort of happy epilogue, I imagine it involving Jimmy shedding his Cinnabon persona and re-inventing himself as Charles Hussel, Esq.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 9:43 PM on June 29 [4 favorites]


gdmit I'm getting a "The page is still loading, please wait to add favorites." trying to favorite your last comment Parasite Unseen.

Thanks for crystalizing that for me; I don't like Howard (because of who I am and my orthogonal socioeconomic status), but Howard is pretty much the only character that I could conceivably be long term friends with. He'd be doing most of the work, though, and would. We haven't seen much of the characters except when they are in crisis situations.

Other than maybe Mike, but we'd maybe see each other every other year or three, maybe after a decade without.
posted by porpoise at 12:23 AM on June 30


he is the one that in the event the characters were real people I would probably be the most comfortable associating with

Howard is pretty much the only character that I could conceivably be long term friends with

Really? I can't imagine being friends with Howard. He has no sense of humor at all and he gets so petty and punishing with people when they even tangentially cross him. He's like the definition of someone who you'd be friendly-but-not-friends with, I think.

I can *easily* imagine waiting on him, though. I mean, in a restaurant or a bar. Howard would be the guy who you make small talk with but not too much, who you can probably upsell (especially getting him to have brandy after dinner, plus dessert if he's with his wife), and who will leave you an 18.5% tip but rounded up to the next dollar.

Chuck would be the guy who you let "embarrass" you with his "superior" wine knowledge and act sort of servile toward (because he likes it) but not TOO servile toward because whoever is with him will probably be picking up the check. If Chuck is getting the check, expect 15%, or maybe even 10% if he wants to be an asshole. Direct your upselling to the other people at the table.

Kim is someone you should just leave alone -- small check, but 20% tip (which she'd probably give reflexively).

Jimmy, you shouldn't try to upsell, but you should massage him a little because he likes the personal touch. He's a wildcard, could give you an extravagant tip, could leave you $5 on a $50 meal. Probably mostly depends on whether he's been in the service industry himself. Don't waste a lot of time on him but don't skimp on the warmth.

If Mike's at the bar and you're bartending, you wouldn't want to get too friendly with him, but you'd do well to get him to tell you a story about himself. If he's at a table with people, you'd mostly talk to the other people instead of him and be really casual. You'd probably get 20%, give or take, but in cash, so it's pretty likely to just be a single bill (a $5 bill or a $20 bill or whatever is appropriate for the size of the check). He or his friends might throw in an extra $5 to be nice (regardless of the size of the check).

Nacho, I just don't know, because it would depend on who he's with. He's with his dad, that's different from if he's with Hector! On his own, he'd probably be low-maintenance and give you 20-25% reflexively. Similar to Kim, but less uptight.

I can't really imagine being FRIENDS with any of them, though. Howard is no fun, I like Chuck but he wouldn't like me, Jimmy is too unstable (drinking buddy material though), Kim is too emotionally unavailable, Mike always needs to be The Smartest Guy in the Room, and Nacho is cool but he's mixed up with horrifying people (which makes him pretty radioactive himself).

Love them all to pieces as characters, though :D
posted by rue72 at 6:28 AM on June 30 [8 favorites]


We still have literally never seen him in his own home, except as Gene.

This raises a good question: where does Jimmy live now? In season 1, he sleeps in the boiler room where his law office is located. In season 2, he briefly gets a corporate apartment through Davis and Main, but then he leaves that job.

So where is he staying now?
posted by kewb at 9:22 AM on July 2


So where is he staying now?

At Kim's, I think. Seems to me like they've been living together.

I am pretty sure he's going to be moving into Chuck's house in the aftermath of the fire, though. Just the feeling I have.
posted by rue72 at 1:22 PM on July 2 [3 favorites]


@ rue72 - You maybe need to start a blog where you provide an analysis of how you would go about serving the characters in various TV shows. I would read for sure!

Lack of friends can be a writer's device too: If our characters hang out with adversaries or marks then the plot is going to go forward rapidly and, everybody has a focussed goal and we will see their true colours. If they spend all their time with friends - the plot gets sclerotic. BCS is a show that loves to linger on details and meander - but it does so on plot points rather than general dialogue.
posted by rongorongo at 3:18 AM on July 3 [4 favorites]


@ rue72 - You maybe need to start a blog where you provide an analysis of how you would go about serving the characters in various TV shows. I would read for sure!

In honor of the one-year anniversary of me being out of the service industry (!), I present to you: How I Personally Would Serve the Breaking Bad Characters

Skyler would require lots of food knowledge and I would do at least one trip back to the kitchen to ask about the food in some way. Asking the chef would be my version of "kissing the ring." She'd be the type who would get a FULL run-down of the specials, very thoroughly answered questions, no chumminess. She'd want to see me hit my marks, but would likely be pretty undemanding beyond that. I'd just be very polite, very professional, as knowledgeable/helpful as possible, and kind of chilly -- and would expect/hope for a carefully calculated (credit card) tip between 15-20%.

Marie would require a lot of being catered to and pre-sets. She seems like the type of customer who is always going to give a female server 15-18% tops, so just no complaints and a decent tip is a success. Small plate with lemon wedges with her water. Wait to fire apps until pre-dinner drinks are more than 2/3 finished. Quick polish of the silver before it goes down. If her main comes with fries, then she gets a ramekin of ranch as well as a bottle of ketchup on the table as soon as the apps are cleared. Hot (paper) towels and a small bowl of hot water if she orders finger food. Complimentary little after-dinner (sweet) wine/drink for her if possible. (Plus, if she's drinking at that point in the meal, then whoever she's with is liable to buy a drink, too, natch). Etc. Just something to make her feel special at every stage of the meal. If everything works out, as she's leaving, she'll tell the host what a good time she had. (I know I sound tetchy but I actually kind of love high strung customers like that).

Hank, I would just get in and out. Turn and burn. He'd be cheap and easy in terms of food/drinks but draining emotionally because he'd pretty much demand a happy face. He's the type who would try to get chummy but would rub me the wrong way. What's funny is that I actually liked him on the show (he's sensible and down to earth, in his own way), I just wouldn't like him as a customer. But on the upside, I bet he would tip in cash. Just like, a little low (12-15%, I think, and he'd round down). Anyway, your mileage may vary.

Jesse would be a huge time suck and NOT somebody I'd be happy to see sit down at my bar. Would require lots of attention (would probably love some beer tasters -- fiddly, time-consuming sucking up like that) and would generally want to feel like the big man. Ugh. He'd probably act like he was on a mission to eat/drink himself sick, bother whoever has the misfortune to sit near him, wave a bunch of money around like anybody cares or even believes that his dumbass self could legitimately earn it (I'd be assuming daddy's money, not drug money, but y'know). 45 minutes in, I'd be eyeing the manager, trying to send a signal to get some help steering the kid out before he finds some way to vomit right there next to his stool. I'd be more worried about extricating myself than about the tip -- which could be any amount under the sun anyway, since he'd be too trashed (on who even knows what -- I've had a customer like that who got himself sick by insisting on ordering plate after plate of raw oysters) by the time we're able to get him out the door to even know what he's tipping or if he's even paid his bill properly.

On the other hand, I would love Saul Goodman as a customer (way more than Jimmy, lol). He wouldn't be a big tipper especially (at least not until he knows you), but he'd be the type you'd really want to make a regular. If he's a regular, he's doing work lunches, bringing his girlfriends, etc -- he'd bring a lot of business. And he'd be fun to serve in general, because he just seems like he would "get it." Like, understand the interaction, not take it seriously but genuinely appreciate those personal touches, appreciate a job well done. Not especially forgiving, you do actually have to do what you're meant to do, but not at all a diva, either. Hopefully he'd show up at off times, like a little early for dinner, or during a slow weekday lunch, so there'd be plenty of time to chat him up. He'd get all the little extras to make him feel at home -- he comes in and we just got a shipment of XYZ? He gets a few fresh on a plate as he's looking at the menu (complimentary). His "usual" drink or snack starts getting prepped as soon as he gives the nod. We just had a wine class or a new wine shipment? He gets a taste (complimentary). If there's a side he likes, maybe he gets a little bit of it on his plate even though it doesn't come with his order. And lots of talk talk talk. LOTS of massaging (not ass-kissing, but making him feel comfortable, at home), because he'd be easy and fun to spoil -- ironically because, again, he'd understand and appreciate the interaction for what it is, rather than trying to make it anything else. He'd stay in his role (customer) and you'd stay in yours (FOH), and you'd both know what you're doing and enjoy doing it well. It's funny, I guess it's the opposite of Hank, in that I don't especially like Saul on BB, but I would really enjoy him as a customer.

What's also funny in the context of BCS is that my own "specialty" was always older women, especially somewhat high-strung older women. I've always enjoyed serving them and I've always been pretty much a hit with them. I think it's because they're often pretty comfortable being fussed over (and don't tend to read anything into it that isn't there -- like condescension or desire or whatever), and they can often make conversation pretty easily with strangers (like their waitress/bartender!) without feeling awkward. I love fussing and chatting, so that's right in my wheelhouse ;) So basically, I would figure on treating Saul like I would/did most of my actual regulars, albeit my "base" was mostly older women and not middle age sleazeballs like Saul. ;)
posted by rue72 at 11:00 AM on July 6 [6 favorites]


Oh, and I purposely didn't include Walt, because I have no idea what would or should be done for him. He's a tough read, that one!
posted by rue72 at 11:53 AM on July 6


Walt would depend on his mood, which we saw as changeable.
posted by tilde at 7:51 AM on July 7 [1 favorite]


I dunno, character analysis of fictional persona created by a group of people always seemed a bridge too far to me.

I'm not much fun at parties, no.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:58 AM on July 7


Just finished re-reading God Save The Mark - tangentially related to Better Caul Saul in that it details all kinds of scams from the "old" Saul Goodman days ....
posted by tilde at 6:18 PM on July 9


I'm in Chicago right now, and have to take the El blue line between Forest Park and Old Town every day -- so every day, multiple times a day, I go through Cicero.

After disastrously forgetting to take a picture of Rectify's tire store in Georgia, I decided not to let the opportunity slip through my figures. So, as the CTA conductor always says when we pull in, "THIS is Cicero!"
posted by rue72 at 1:01 PM on August 9


I rewatched this episode just now and a parallel that emerged for me:

Jimmy sets up an elaborate fake scene (which includes some truth) to trick the Sandpiper Crossing people into dropping their love for him, and Chuck sets up an elaborate (somewhat fake) scene to trick Jimmy into dropping his love for him. Jimmy does this out of a sense of guilt and fairness, to help Mrs. Landry. Chuck does it to hurt Jimmy.
posted by brainwane at 11:35 AM on September 11 [1 favorite]


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