Better Call Saul: Smoke
August 6, 2018 10:00 PM - Season 4, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Jimmy struggles to cope with a family tragedy. Mike ponders his role at Madrigal. Howard makes a startling confession.
posted by adept256 (82 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
I had three brothers and this episode, yeah. A bit of a gut punch.

I loved the Mike parts, because what is he up to? What's the big heist he's setting up?

There's no heist. He's paid to test the security. That's all it is.
posted by adept256 at 10:15 PM on August 6 [5 favorites]


I loved the Mike parts, because what is he up to?

Mike is my favorite single character in the BBverse, and that scene was another example of why. It's so much fun to watch him work. No exposition. No planning scene. He just does what he does, and we're along for the ride. I appreciate that the show trusts us instead of holding our hand through that.

The other thing that really got me was the ending: I'm pretty sure the look on my face would've fit with Hamlin and Kim. Like... whoa, Jimmy.
posted by mordax at 1:53 AM on August 7 [3 favorites]


Mike's an earner. He could just cash the paychecks and enjoy his retirement but that wouldn't sit right with a guy like him. To see him in the best possible light, maybe he's still troubled by the good samaritan that was killed as a result of his Salamanca ice cream truck heist, having that money connected to a square job makes it easier for him to take. Plus, when laundering drug money, the best cover story is no cover story; he is a security consultant.

Jimmy turning on a dime once he realized he was off the hook for Chuck's death going from grief to Saul's sunshine and bullshit was chilling.
posted by peeedro at 1:53 AM on August 7 [14 favorites]


Thinking about it more, I wanted to point out a symbolic tie-in between Breaking Bad and Mike's motives. In season three episode one of BB, we catch up with Jesse Pinkman in rehab planting pansies. Pansies symbolize remembrance, the name coming from the French word "pensée" meaning thoughts. Jesse is planting pansies showing his struggle with his feelings of responsibility for Jane's overdose and death.

In this episode, we see Kaylee planting pansies in her garden as Mike watches on. The soaker hose Mike used in his heist is watering the garden, Mike steps on the hose and cuts off the water while feigning ignorance to his granddaughter demonstrating how carelessly he has ended lives. The association to death is reinforced with Kaylee's coffin-sized garden which is covered in flowers like a grave site. So i read that scene to say that Mike is still thinking about the innocent blood on his hands and the price he's paid to provide for his family.
posted by peeedro at 4:06 AM on August 7 [15 favorites]


I forgot how much I missed this show and, especially, the pace of this show. It's not in a hurry to do anything or show you anything. I actually thought the Jimmy / Kim / Howard scenes were a little bit rushed, all things considered, but overall ... I am so happy this is back in my life.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:59 AM on August 7 [7 favorites]


[Edited to fix above-the-fold spoiler per OP.]
posted by taz at 6:41 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Mike is my favorite single character in the BBverse, and that scene was another example of why.

Mike's face when he saw the golf cart -- or whatever that little vehicle was -- was fantastic. I felt like he was even enjoying himself.

Jimmy turning on a dime once he realized he was off the hook for Chuck's death going from grief to Saul's sunshine and bullshit was chilling.

I like your reading of that scene, because my initial feeling was that Jimmy was happy that it was his insurance info that pushed Chuck over the edge. That's too dark for Jimmy, maybe even for Saul.
posted by gladly at 6:44 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]


The tension in the opening Gene scene really got to me. The cab drivers eyes reminded me of Jesse, which I think was intentional.
posted by bondcliff at 7:03 AM on August 7 [4 favorites]


The cab drivers eyes reminded me of Jesse, which I think was intentional.

Another callback to Breaking Bad, or at least seemed so to me: At the beginning of the Mike-silently-does-some-shit-sequence (and man, i'd watch a show of that) -- the nebbishy employee whose car won't start seemed very pre-Heisenberg Walter White.
posted by condour75 at 8:03 AM on August 7 [10 favorites]


adept256: There's no heist. He's paid to test the security. That's all it is.

peeedro: Mike's an earner. He could just cash the paychecks and enjoy his retirement but that wouldn't sit right with a guy like him. To see him in the best possible light, maybe he's still troubled by the good samaritan that was killed as a result of his Salamanca ice cream truck heist, having that money connected to a square job makes it easier for him to take. Plus, when laundering drug money, the best cover story is no cover story; he is a security consultant.

Interesting take -- I went back to the (rough) transcript for season 3 episode 9, which I've reformatted below:
Lydia Rodarte-Quayle: You'll receive a paycheck from Madrigal in the amount of $10,000 per week. I believe at that rate, your "employment" should be paid out in about 20 weeks. Mr. Fring has arranged to cover FICA, Social Security the entirety of the tax burden. I assume that's all right with you?
Mike: Good.
Lydia: So, to that end, I have you down as a "logistics consultant."
Mike: What is that?
Lydia: It's a person who consults on logistics. Does it matter?
Mike: I'm not long on logistics. "Security consultant" would be better. I used to be a cop.
Lydia: That will look better on your "work history" than your current employer, SMQ Parking.
Mike: So, you take my money, you run it through this joint, and it comes out clean. That it?
Lydia: Yes.
Mike: Who knows this operation? You anyone else?
Lydia: No.
Mike: You sure?
Lydia: May I ask, what precisely is your concern here?
Mike: I am concerned about what happens if you put my real name in your books. Your Madrigal is a German company. One thing I know about Germans is they love a good audit.
Lydia: I oversee eight freight terminals across Texas and the Southwest. Operating costs range between $800,000 and a million dollars per week. All due respect, Mike, but your money? It's a rounding error. If the IRS or anyone else looks, you're a contractor for a multinational corporation with 114,000 employees worldwide. You're like every other person in this building.
Mike: Like you?
Lydia: You think I'm not on the books? I am. Under my own name.
Mike: This the way you handled it before?
Lydia: Handled what?
Mike: The money. For Fring's other guys.
Lydia: Other guys? This is the first time I've done this for anyone. I don't know what you do, but Mr. Fring must think you're quite good at it.
Lydia might not be too happy to get a call that her temporary "security consultant" is poking around in Las Cruces, making them take new precautions.

And I assume Mike knows that, too - he could have sat at home for 20 weeks and been done with the "job." Instead, I think he's trying to make this a full-time gig, maybe even work his way up the ranks. Except Peter Gould said "Mike seems to have no greed or interest in material things at all, but something drives him to make that fake job into a real job." On the other hand, Jonathan Banks said "The genius of Mike is figuring out what a situation is and how to benefit from it. The security was porous, and Mike figured out the ways in." It's like they agreed to have conflicting statements -- or Peter's is "seems to" provides the opening for something else.

I love this show, and I'm really looking forward to Better Call Saul Insider Podcast episode for this ... episode. Until then, here are some extra clips from AMC, where I saw that the Madgril Walter White look-alike is "B. Hedberg," and at a glance, could be Walt's happier cousin.


Fun local detail: the Albuquerque Isotopes (or 'Topes) are New Mexico's Minor League team, as first seen in the logo hanging from the rear view of the mysterious, menacing taxi driver in the flash forward, and then being watched by Mike on TV (and for a deeper dive into the details, here's Keith McDonald's minor league history).
posted by filthy light thief at 8:32 AM on August 7 [4 favorites]


AAAAAHHHHHhhhh I've been excitedly waiting for season 4 for MONTHS and it exceeded my expectations. I don't have cable so I got a season pass on iTunes and watched it as soon as I got up this morning.

I think Jimmy's reaction to Howard's confession (or Kim's reaction to Jimmy's reaction) is foreshadowing the end of McWexler. My headcanon is that she disgustedly breaks up with him at some point this season. She moves to Santa Fe and either starts her own practice or gets a job at Davis and Main. That's why we don't see her in BB. If they kill her off, I am going to strangle Peter Gould with my bare hands.

I don't know why, given his treatment of Irene, but I was shocked at Jimmy's cruelty. I don't think it's so much that he hates Howard in that he just cannot take responsibility for his actions. Morally speaking, there's no coming back from this.

I think Mike is a good character but honestly I'd be perfectly happy without the drug dealing side of the show. I know it's necessary because the storylines will merge at some point, but every time Nacho or Gus is onscreen I miss Jimmy's emo face and Kim's concerned looks.

Fun local detail: the Albuquerque Isotopes (or 'Topes) are New Mexico's Minor League team

The cast frequently goes to Isotopes games and sometimes throw the first pitches. (cw: Odenkirk's terrible singing)
posted by AFABulous at 10:11 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]


So he was going through the paper in the morning for people to hit up for local commercials, right? We're still on that year suspension from law afaik.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 10:30 AM on August 7


I think what Mike was doing was more about nailing-down the "security consultant" cover story, than anything else. He made a big, open show of dressing-down the manger to everyone in the office, so as to have witnesses who will absolutely attest that he was doing what he was paid for, should he ever need to defend the income to auditors...corporate or IRS.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:01 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]


fluttering hellfire, no - he is looking for a real paying job for himself. I think he gave up on the commercials when he got the money from the music store for his slip and fall.
posted by AFABulous at 11:09 AM on August 7


(Yes, he's still suspended. I think we're about 2 months in but that's a rough guess.)
posted by AFABulous at 11:10 AM on August 7


So he was going through the paper in the morning for people to hit up for local commercials, right?

I hit pause to look at those ads. He circled:
  • Local cell phone chain seeks top-notch sales talent
  • Business copier sales seeks personable sales associate
  • Winslows Computing Services seeks full-time customer service representative
  • ABQ Kids Store & Playhouse receptionist needed to make appointments and house maintenance

    Among the other ads he did not circle were:
  • Beneke Fabricators seeking qualified... [the rest is hidden under Jimmy's finger]
  • Hinkle Lazer Base ABQ's #1 laser tag company is now hiring. Think you have what it takes to sell tickets?

  • posted by peeedro at 11:11 AM on August 7 [18 favorites]


    Watching the season trailer will give you some further insight into the classified ads scene. Here it is; contains potential spoilers for other characters; browse the site at your own risk.
    posted by AFABulous at 11:18 AM on August 7


    I am so tempted and impatient but I am staying away from that trailer!
    posted by fluttering hellfire at 11:21 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]


    Jimmy turning on a dime once he realized he was off the hook for Chuck's death going from grief to Saul's sunshine and bullshit was chilling.

    I think the delight that crosses his face as he feeds the fish is him realizing that his stunt at the insurance company is going to cause Howard a lot of pain for a long time. How much he believes Chuck being forced out was the cause of his suicide, versus how much he believes it was a result of Chuck relapsing (and that relapse not being related) probably dictates where he is falling on the Jimmy«---------»Saul scale.

    I also think it was a bit unguarded and sloppy on his part - such a rapid change of mood might make Howard a bit curious about exactly how the insurance company came by their information (generally speaking; I don't think the show will take this turn).

    Chuck has one more chance to get the final word in, if he made any last minute changes to his will or otherwise arranged a note. Recall that before he started ripping things out of his walls he called to cancel his upcoming therapy appointment so he still had some clarity and could have decided to wrap up some other loose ends.

    I love that Mike probably built that entire raised bed garden just to cover for his "sprinkler" hose.
    posted by mikepop at 11:38 AM on August 7 [3 favorites]


    Mike's face when he saw the golf cart -- or whatever that little vehicle was -- was fantastic.

    I liked also that the forklifts zipping by in the background of that montage did eventually get mentioned in his verbal report.

    Also in this episode: some excellent side-eye from Gus. He totally suspects -- even before he sends Victor to spy on him -- that Nacho had something to do with Hector's stroke.

    I kinda like that they've clearly decided "yeah, whatever" about Mike's grand-daughter being older now than she was in Breaking Bad. (Or Mike, for that matter, as Jonathan Banks definitely looks older now than he did at the start of his BB run.) Let it be its own thing.
    posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:52 AM on August 7 [4 favorites]


    Among the other ads he did not circle were:
    Beneke Fabricators seeking qualified...


    Too funny. I'd like to see a freeze frame of that birthday card too. Curious what else was written on it.
    posted by bondcliff at 12:36 PM on August 7


    bondcliff the card says: "Reach for the stars! - Barry H."
    posted by techSupp0rt at 12:40 PM on August 7 [2 favorites]


    Yeah, I know what he wrote, but I want to see what else was written on the card by other people. I suspect, like the want-ads, there are some inside jokes.
    posted by bondcliff at 12:53 PM on August 7


    Birthday card screencap 1 (wide), screencap 2 (close-up, after Mike signs)

    Here's what I caught:

    Tina! Have an Excellent Birthday! Andy

    Happy Birthday! Have oodles and doodles of fun! Kate

    If there's no money in here then someone stole it - Jake

    Tina Tina Bo-Beena Banana Fanna Fo Feena Fee Fi Fo FEENA, TINA! - Makenzie

    Happy Birthday, Tina! Good luck trying to beat my Minesweeper score (you wont) Brenda

    Try not to Party too hard tonight, [you have?] work tomorrow! Vanessa

    So happy to work with you! Thanks for being you! - Louise

    Reach for the stars! Barry H. [Mike's addition]

    I'll let others piece together connections, maybe with the cast and crew?
    posted by filthy light thief at 1:20 PM on August 7 [6 favorites]


    I want Mike's social engineering bit recut to Wabash Cannonball.
    posted by fluttering hellfire at 2:02 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


    If you watch BCS on Amazon Prime, I just bought a season pass to Better Call Saul for $2.99 in HD. That's also the cost for a single episode. This is a mistake that's likely to get fixed soon.
    posted by QuakerMel at 2:15 PM on August 7 [3 favorites]


    My favorite parts of this episode were:
    Kim’s face when they’re sitting outside Chucks house and Jimmy is like “I just saw him 5 days ago! What could have happened??” Kim’s face goes from “YOU happened” to “Ah, he maybe he doesn’t know that he is what happened. Let’s get out of here.”

    Kim’s face when Howard says he thinks he caused the suicide and Jimmy brightens way up. She’s really surprised in a really realistic way. I love Kim and Rhea Seehorn SO MUCH.

    Another thing I really like that I noticed bc I watched AMC’s marathon of last season, is how over the last few days (basically since Kim’s crash) Kim and Jimmy’s partnership has been really good for both of them. Jimmy stepped up and was doing everything he was supposed to be doing. Taking care of Kim, making things right at Sandpiper, being realistic about the office, even doing right by that poor innocent goldfish. And then Kim stepped up to support Jimmy, even making him drink, the traditional male emotional laxative treatment. It was just nice to watch a relationship being wholesome & nice & the way it’s supposed to be. Even though it’s definitely gonna come crashing down one way or another.
    posted by bleep at 2:37 PM on August 7 [10 favorites]


    One of the classified ads has the name "Neff" in it which, I would bet money, is a Double Indemnity reference.
    posted by brainwane at 3:17 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


    I love the shared oxygen mask imagery between Jimmy in the opening scene and Hector. I also loved the visual storytelling in the scenes leading up to our view of Chuck’s burnt house.

    This show absolutely merits being watched and listened to on the best equipment you can lay your hands on.
    posted by rongorongo at 3:35 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


    I really thought Howard was going to accuse Jimmy of murder.

    Also Howard being the one to call and be in charge of the arrangements shows that Chuck has Howard as next of Kim. Not Jimmy. Not Rebecca. Not Ernesto.

    I have to rewatch but did Ernesto go to the funeral?
    posted by fluttering hellfire at 4:23 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


    Tina Tina Bo-Beena Banana Fanna Fo Feena Fee Fi Fo FEENA, TINA! - Makenzie

    "Name Game" fail!

    It should be "Tina Tina Bo-Beena Banana Bo-nanna Fanna Fo Feena Fee Fi Fo FEENA Mo MEENA, TINA!."

    Chuck, Chuck, bo-buck, bo-nanna fanna fo f—uh oh.
    posted by kirkaracha at 4:42 PM on August 7 [8 favorites]


    From her name, we can infer that "Makenzie" is a snake person, and as such is unfamiliar with the rich history and sublime poetry of the name game.
    posted by AFABulous at 5:02 PM on August 7 [2 favorites]


    So, the thing about prequels is that they're always, under the surface, anachronistic. This is the old difference between narrative -- the order in which we experience the plot -- and fabula -- the order in which the characters experience it. Prequels are always at some level caught up in a deep tension between narrative and fabula, one that the audience is asked to resolve by viewing the fabula of the prequel as a narrative development of the originating series that comes "later" in that fabula order.

    Indeed, if we like the characters in a prequel to a tragic narrative like Breaking Bad, we actually find ourselves rooting for the fabula to beat the narrative, reading all sorts of dark portents into the "new" prequel characters absent from the earlier narrative that birthed it, and hoping, ultimately, that the narrative jumps the track to save the earlier versions of the characters from the work's plot and themes. "For all sad words of heart and pen..." and all that. And this is of course one way to understand the function of tragedy: it reminds us of inevitability and teaches us to accept it, to feel, release, and move beyond this desire: catharsis.

    Better Call Saul has always had an especially interesting relationship to this: thanks to the Omaha interludes, it's both prequel and sequel, past and future, to Breaking Bad. This means that what's missing, in a sense, is the middle term: if BB is the "present" towards which the "past" of the shows narrative inevitably heads, it's also the "past" that haunts Gene of Omaha. Thus the show gets to have its cake and eat it, too, creating on the one hand a tragedy whose pleasures are the unusual pathways it takes towards its foreordained, sad end for Jimmy McGill and his formal; transformation into Saul Goodman, complete with gaudy accoutrements. But it also gets to work as a thriller, in which we wait for Gene's past as Saul to catch up to him, wondering what will happen next.

    This episode has a lot of fun with this idea. The lengthy Gene prologue is a classic cliffhanger...but a cliffhanger that is "last" in the sequence of events, the fabula, but first in the narrative order. The actual narrative cliffhanger -- the final scene that plays before the credits -- is comparatively subdued, contrasting, seemingly, a possible existential threat tyo Gene with the threat that we are seeing a truly irrevocable step in the extinction of Jimmy McGill and the birth of the amoral, callous Saul Goodman. Saul is of course another "missing term;" gene isn't Saul, but we look for hints of Saul's reemergence in him; Jimmy isn't Saul, but we dread the idea that he's becoming Saul, nit least because we know Saul is an inevitable step towards the haunted, empty, "echo" called Gene Tavatik.

    This particular episode, "Smoke" plays with this idea of "the missing term." In this show's own narrative arc, the missing term is Chuck, but the episode is just full of little visual cues for Chuck even as it withholds the actual person in favor of showing his traces. Even his pathology is erased: jimmy informs Kim (and us) of the device-strewn backyard, but we don't see it. We get small, quick, sometimes blurred images of Michael McKean as Chuck, but no proper flashbacks. He's gone, dispersed on the breeze like...well, then.

    But like the lingering scent of smoke, Chuck haunts the show still: look at all the shots of Jimmy in the dim blue light that characterized Chuck; of Hamlin in the one lit corner of a dark room, like so many scenes of Chuck working by lantern-light; that shot of Kim retrieving the expensive tequila, filmed from the box's eye view just like Chuck's gingerly retrieving the tape player over a season ago; even the future sequence's Gene undergoes something quite like Chuck's psychosomatic issues, albeit with the difference that the possibility of physical danger is quite real for him. (That's what a gene is: information and the potential for certain traits shared among relatives, but expressed differently.)

    For Kim and Howard, these visual motifs reflect the ways in which they are haunted by their pasts with Chuck and with each other. what we see of them in this episode also keeps reminding us of their pasts, indeed, the worst parts of their pasts. Kim leaning to the side in the passenger side of the car uncomfortably calls back to her life-altering accident of the previous season; the tequila itself to both her alluded-to heavy college drinking from one of her Season 1 "rainmaking" conversations with old law school buddies, and the way she can be drawn into Jimmy's con games. And Hamlin is forever the

    As is often the case, the crime part of the plot inverts the legal part. On the obvious surface level, Thematically, while the legal-plot characters are haunted by Chuck's passing and their own sins, and suffer emotional shocks for it, the crime-plot characters are moving towards their fates by carrying out rational actions and trying to leave the past behind. But we're always reminded of the grotesque fates that these calm, rational, controlled actions will lead them to in Breaking Bad. And in terms of plot action, the crime-plot elements are driven by surveillance, by eyes on everyone and by physical actions and resemblances. This is highlighted by the nebbishy ersatz Walt who's in over his head in crime , the second in the crime plot after Daniel Wormald, arguably the third after the Kettlemans' warped parody of the Walt-n-Skyler money laundering operation.

    Unlike the legal plot, the past isn't somber prologue here, but robust action, something driven home by the most overt way the crime plot inverts the legal plot: instead of a domineering, self-centered presence becoming a suicide when he's stripped of his dominance, it gives us a failed murder plot that takes a domineering type off the board, only for all those around him to suddenly realize that the devil they knew was better than the potential chaos ahead. (Uncertainty stemming from chaotic, interpersonal agendas that threaten moire calculated modes of organized criminal scheming is the go-to crime-plot for the Gilliganverse.)

    And as always, Jimmy-Saul-Gene is the character who can twist it all, befitting his standing in both worlds: where Kim and Howard wear their anguish on their face and are shadowed by their pasts in different ways, Jimmy's face is an impassive mask throughout the episode, and the overt callbacks to his own past actions regarding Chuck -- Cliff being the first to shake his hand at the funeral, Rebecca weeping behind him, even Howard's mention of the insurance issues -- responds by anachronistically adopting the mannerisms of his future self, Saul Goodman, gleefully dumping the complex, difficult, and painful past right back on Howard and Kim and letting them suffer for his sins.

    But Gene, at the far end of the crime-plot, is, as the musical cues inform us, merely a shadow of Jimmy McGill, who was nonparanoid wreck, and Saul Goodman, who wasn't one to shudder in silence in the face of a threat when a cheerful whistle and some improvised fast-talk could get him out of it. Jimmy's future bears him back to the sins of his past, smoke drifting against the wind.
    posted by kewb at 5:51 PM on August 7 [23 favorites]


    Did we just see the very moment that Jimmy became Saul?
    posted by whuppy at 5:56 PM on August 7 [2 favorites]


    kewb, amazing write-up. Gene is the echo and Saul is the shadow.
    posted by whuppy at 6:04 PM on August 7 [3 favorites]


    The crew has talked a lot about the color coding in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul (blue = good/lawful; red = bad/criminal). There was an interesting detail in this episode when Nacho meets with Bolsa. Nacho was wearing a blue collared shirt over a red t-shirt. And everyone else was wearing blue - Gus, Bolsa, and Arturo (?). They're all criminals - so what does this mean?
    posted by AFABulous at 6:09 PM on August 7 [2 favorites]


    Gene is the echo and Saul is the shadow.

    I think that makes more sense that my muddled handling: Gene is the echo, because the echo is the faint version coming back; Saul is the shadow, the dark foreboding Jimmy casts forward that falls over Gene. And Jimmy becoming Saul is what the whole show foreshadows . (I'll see myself out.)

    There was an interesting detail in this episode when Nacho meets with Bolsa. Nacho was wearing a blue collared shirt over a red t-shirt. And everyone else was wearing blue - Gus, Bolsa, and Arturo (?). They're all criminals - so what does this mean?

    Nacho's the only one there acting out of a sympathetic motive, but also a personal one; even Gus is more concerned with the business implications than with his revenge at present. Nacho's heart is showing, but that's a weakness and an anomaly in the world of cool, calculating criminals.
    posted by kewb at 6:13 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


    Lydia might not be too happy to get a call that her temporary "security consultant" is poking around in Las Cruces, making them take new precautions.

    I'll just write down what Mike's voice said to me in my head when I read that.

    "Now, Lydia, calm down and listen. If I've got ten-thousand-dollar checks going into my bank that say I'm a 'security consultant', you can be damn sure that lots of people are going to see me showing up and consulting about security. Otherwise somebody's going to be asking a whole lotta questions."

    I think the delight that crosses his face as he feeds the fish is him realizing that his stunt at the insurance company is going to cause Howard a lot of pain for a long time.

    I think Jimmy's just being childish. Serious stuff is happening and he doesn't want to be serious. Chuck was a horrible person in a lot of ways, and his death lifts a burden from Jimmy in one sense. Jimmy has spent days letting everyone tell him how sorry they are that Chuck died. Now Jimmy's exhausted, and he realizes Howard isn't about to accuse him of murder, and he likes to piss off Howard anyway... so he lets himself go "full Saul" and whistle around the room. He'll feel bad later.

    I don't think that scene was Jimmy becoming Saul, it's more like Saul is always in there and Jimmy let him out for a moment. Saul is just the childish no-regards-for-consequences chimp-with-a-machine-gun part of Jimmy's personality. The only part of Jimmy Chuck ever saw.

    He's been out before --think about Jimmy in the flashback taking home drunk girls and telling them he's Kevin Costner, or Jimmy right before Kim's accident, where he brings Tequila and wants to celebrate, who cares about Kim's busy life and obvious stress this is all about ME pay attention to ME!

    I don't think Saul ever erases Jimmy-- you can see Jimmy's integrity and caring even in Breaking Bad from time to time. But Saul certainly ends up in charge.

    Also, I thought that Gene scene in the opener was so good that I was disappointed when we returned to Jimmy's story.
    posted by mmoncur at 9:04 PM on August 7 [9 favorites]


    And Hamlin is forever the

    Honestly, I watched this episode, sat for a moment digesting my mental food, and then checked fanfare for exactly this kind of deep insight.

    Don't leave me hanging kewb, complete this sentence!

    I did notice when Jimmy was looking at the paper. The clock said 6:19, dawn. There's enough natural light to read by, so the lamp over his shoulder is off. We see the floating embers in Chuck's place, then they're in Jim and Kim's place. And now we know it's not Chuck's place, it still has that dim twilight
    posted by adept256 at 10:45 PM on August 7


    kewb, amazing write-up. Gene is the echo and Saul is the shadow.
    [A shout out to the beautifully deployed Inkspots song at this point]. And "smoke" is the essence of all that darkness: obfuscating camouflage, permeating residue, social isolator and choking killer. Something else uniting both Chuck and his brother.
    posted by rongorongo at 12:31 AM on August 8


    Don't leave me hanging kewb, complete this sentence!

    And Hamlin is forever the lone partner in the office; the last Hamlin in Hamlin, Hamlin, and McGill; the image-maker who lies by omission rather commission, and the last Chuck acolyte. All his enabling of Chuck catches up with him in various echoes of the past: the turn from a cheerful Hamlin to a grim one at Chuck's forced "retirement" is mirrored here byt he shift froma tense Hamlin to a guilt-wracked one. And here, the awful truth it takes him so long to finally just spill isn't Chuck's, but his own. "The partners" decided against Jimmy to retain Chuck's approval, and here, "the partners" decided against Chuck and now desperately seek Jimmy's approval.

    And he also finds himself revisited by his past treatment of Kim: here it's Howard, not her, reaching out with phone call after phone call and getting back scraps, and Hamlin working late in the office to make good a wrong someone else has imposed on him, wondering how to ever make it good. For her imagined sins against Howard, Kim was dumped into doc review, gleaning information and verifying the bits and pieces of the big cases she should've led on; for Howard, he's left to try to piece together the bits and pieces of Chuck's life, another kind of hellish bit of document review building on news clippings and CV lines.

    Only none of it works, and Howard, too, becomes a sad little echo of himself. the use of sound to show him muffled, as if speaking through the water, through the filter of Kim's azure fishtank, is coupled with beautiful sound design that turns Howard's usually crisp, officious voice into a distant, dull, and distorted parody of itself every time he tries to reach out to Jimmy. Even the visual motifs conspire against him: In an episode so filled with blue, little to none of it is Hamlindigo Blue, and the bright fishtank is central to two scenes in which Howard's standing is so gleefully, viciously demolished.
    posted by kewb at 3:32 AM on August 8 [11 favorites]


    [A shout out to the beautifully deployed Inkspots song at this point].

    And this is linked to the versions of "In the Shadow of Your Smile" that plays after the credits int he "past" opening scene. That title alone can be connected to lots of things. How many characters are in the shadow of someone else's smile -- are defined by their seeking the approval of Chuck, the affection of Kim, or the forgiveness of Jimmy -- and how big a shadow does that Saulish smile at the end cast backwards and forwards?
    posted by kewb at 3:36 AM on August 8


    One last observation: The whole past-present -future stuff the show plays with is actually the overall color composition of the three main elements: the "past" stuff with Jimmy is in standard (if beautifully executed and considered) color. Black and white, usually used for flashbacks because it invoked old film and old photographs, is used for the end of the timeline sequences with Gene in Omaha.

    And the other standard-issue flashback technique, the washed-out color and grainy stock of old film or VHS tape (*ahem*) is for the title sequence here...the Saul years. Since the show is called Better Call Saul, we'd expect it to focus on the Saul period. Instead, that's a brief, grainy title sequence reflecting both Jimmy's gutted future and the hazy, misguided nostalgia through which Gene thinks of his past.

    And since these techniques both call attention to the way the show is filmed and its color composed, they also tell us, the audience, to pay attention to these sorts of color-based cues.
    posted by kewb at 3:44 AM on August 8 [6 favorites]


    Just to unroll the "Jimmy becoming Saul moment" a little more.

    When Jimmy says that Howard will have to bear his own guilt, he's saying it as the person who busted his ass for years to keep his brother alive and well. Remember at the very beginning of the series that Chuck was on the outs with HHM and Jimmy was by his side. So one part of that response was that of the bereft, loyal brother.

    But of course we know the subtext: Chuck's death was the direct result of the events that Jimmy set in motion. That stone-faced man listening to Howard's confession was the actual guilty party. That man knows what he did. How does that man react? Which man will react? Will it be a Jimmy torn apart by grief and guilt? Or will it be someone else, someone who has decided that basic humanity is a mug's game?

    We've seen a lot of questionable behavior from Bob Odenkirk's character in BCS and BB, but I don't think we've ever seen him so heartless and inhumane. The needless cruelty to Howard combined with the complete lack of guilt shocked me.

    mmoncur above is right, of course. Jimmy (Slippin' and otherwise), Saul, and Gene are all sharing the same braincase driving the same meatbag. So maybe it is too simplistic to pick just one moment of transition. But that was one hell of an inflection point.
    posted by whuppy at 5:41 AM on August 8 [3 favorites]


    If we didn't know about Jimmy's guilt, his response to Howard could be read as callous, sure. But Jimmy's years of loyalty and devotion would have earned him the right to say "cry me a river."

    It's knowing what we know that makes his behavior monstrous. The whole point of that scene was to show that something broke inside of him.
    posted by whuppy at 5:50 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


    One last thing: Kim looked shocked and appalled, or at least distressed. This gives me hope because Kim is the only character with an unknown fate, and as far as I can tell the least awful outcome for her is getting TFO.
    posted by whuppy at 5:57 AM on August 8


    What are the odds that Howard or Kim suspects Jimmy has something to do with Chuck's sudden insurance issue, though? (I'd say non-zero.)
    posted by uncleozzy at 5:59 AM on August 8


    This gives me hope because Kim is the only character with an unknown fate,

    Ah dammit, she's gonna die, right?
    posted by adept256 at 6:05 AM on August 8


    Even if she lives, it's already a tragedy because Jimmy and Kim could have taken on the world together.
    posted by whuppy at 6:11 AM on August 8


    I think what Mike was doing was more about nailing-down the "security consultant" cover story, than anything else. He made a big, open show of dressing-down the manger to everyone in the office, so as to have witnesses who will absolutely attest that he was doing what he was paid for, should he ever need to defend the income to auditors...corporate or IRS.

    Whatever his motivation, I quite enjoyed Mike delivering his report. I've done almost exactly the same gig a number of times, just in an office setting instead of a warehouse. It is a ton of fun just wandering around looking for passwords written down, unlocked PCs, telecom closets, etc. Anyway, was just fun to see someone else doing it too.
    posted by scalefree at 8:21 AM on August 8 [5 favorites]


    Another thing I noticed was when Howard was about to say that he thought he caused Chuck's death, I thought he was going to bring up the little matter of the $3 million he just gave Chuck out of his own pocket. I hope he gets it back.
    posted by bleep at 8:54 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


    Maybe that's it? Something Saul does kills Kim. I mean, they love each other. That whole wexler-mcgill venture was basically their marriage. Gluing their names together like that. A formal commitment to be someone's partner for life. They even leased an office, with that stock market crash logo, WM, like a marital home where they'll build a life together.

    Kim has seen Saul before. She shuts down the sandpiper thing because, Jim, you're being an asshole. That's not the only example of where she's helped James understand that his behavior is kinda shit and he should change that.

    Some other people here have remarked, Rhea's performance, the way her face changed when she heard Saul. Remarkable. How do you act when the man you love suddenly becomes this Saul thing? Ask Rhea.
    posted by adept256 at 9:01 AM on August 8 [5 favorites]


    I saw Jimmy's "cry me a river" response to Howard a little differently. All through the episode, it seemed like Howard wanted to take up Jimmy's mantel as Chuck's survivor/brother -- he writes the obit, he plans the funeral, he even starts weeping after the wake and takes all the blame/credit for not saving Chuck. And he writes Jimmy out of the story as he does so. Jimmy's not even mentioned in the obit at all, just work work work and the firm the firm the firm. It's like the firm has become Chuck's family and Howard has become Chuck's protege/brother.

    And you know what? That's how Chuck preferred it. Chuck said himself that Jimmy didn't matter much to him, and what ultimately broke him was apparently his removal from the firm and his falling out with Howard -- not anything to do with Jimmy at all (at least not that Chuck knew of), despite the operatic McGill court showdown and Chuck essentially attempting to ruin Jimmy's life, etc etc etc. The McGills and Jimmy are like the embarrassing shadow family and brother that Chuck never wanted and refused to really acknowledge. So fine, Howard wants to be the brother that Chuck never had, now that Chuck is dead and is not around to be domineering and condescending and inconvenient self anymore? Cool beans.

    And it's just so like Chuck that he even got fucking killed by Jimmy's insurance shenanigans and even then refused to acknowledge or maybe even understand that Jimmy actually did matter in his life. There's a bitter irony in that.

    It's interesting how for a long time we never saw Saul OR Jimmy at home, just at work. He only existed at work, just like Chuck apparently wished he had only existed as a lawyer, in his firm, brutally compartmentalized. Jimmy didn't even have a home for the longest time, just various offices that he camped out in, various loved ones that he crashed with (Chuck and Kim). But now he's ONLY got a life outside of work, he has no office at all anymore anyway. And now we finally really see him at home (even though it's kinda sorta still Kim's place. But there he is taking care of his pet and making coffee and reading his paper and generally being at home at his actual home for once).
    posted by rue72 at 9:03 AM on August 8 [26 favorites]


    The shot of the floating embers was beautiful to look at and a great story-telling device.
    posted by Room 641-A at 9:36 AM on August 8 [3 favorites]


    I respect and recognize the editing here, but I hope the extended cut shows how Mike got the ID and disabled the car.
    posted by whuppy at 11:02 AM on August 8


    I hope the extended cut shows how Mike got the ID and disabled the car.

    Answer: He is Mike.
    posted by bondcliff at 12:32 PM on August 8 [15 favorites]


    I listened to the Insider podcast and Bob says something interesting, then seems to walk it back. I've put it here in rot13 because it could be considered a spoiler. Go to rot13.com to decode it.

    Ur fnlf (cnencuenfvat) gung jr qba'g xabj jung unccraf gb xvz. Fvapr gurl svyzrq gur jubyr frnfba, nccneragyl fur'f fgvyy nebhaq ng gur raq bs vg. N pbhcyr bguref ba gur cbqpnfg frrz gb fuhfu uvz naq ur gevrf gb pbire vg hc n ovg.

    The rest of the podcast is spoiler free, but like the DVD commentary, I find it to be light on content and heavy on banter and backslapping. I listen while I'm doing the dishes, but it's certainly nothing I would pay for. (Jonathan Banks is a delight, though.)
    posted by AFABulous at 8:16 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


    Just finished watching the episode, then came here. Missed the show, and missed these threads almost as much!
    posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:28 PM on August 8 [4 favorites]


    I saw the Howard thing as Jimmy playing hot-potato with guilt, after which he feels light as a feather. "You're It!"

    If Jimmy's response to anything that happens to Kim is similar, and it would have to be Kim, it would explain him acquiring a permanent Saul condition.
    posted by rhizome at 8:43 PM on August 8 [4 favorites]


    We've seen a lot of questionable behavior from Bob Odenkirk's character in BCS and BB, but I don't think we've ever seen him so heartless and inhumane.

    I don't know, Saul suggesting to Walter White that he send Hank "on a trip to Belize... you know, where Mike went" was pretty cold.
    posted by mmoncur at 9:59 PM on August 8 [2 favorites]


    I don't think he could do that to Kim. This is the guy who went to the scene of her crash to pick up her documents in the desert, in the dark. In this episode, she's awake! She'll want a coffee, and some help with that cast. A+ boyfriend material. With her, he's doing the labour of love and...

    Well, he did that whole labour of love thing with Chuck too. But that was such an abusive relationship. Toxic, really, not good for either of them.

    I can seeing how losing Kim may be the tipping point into full Saul, but I can't see it as him being as callous as he was to Howard. He loves her. He loves his brother. Howard? fuck that guy.
    posted by adept256 at 10:26 PM on August 8 [5 favorites]


    I don't know, Saul suggesting to Walter White that he send Hank "on a trip to Belize... you know, where Mike went" was pretty cold.

    Absolutely cold blooded, yes. But nothing personal against Hank.
    posted by whuppy at 4:59 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


    Finally got to watch the episode last night, and it was great. It was kind of surprising to see Mike's scenes provide some levity, as his original presentation in BB was just as dour and implacable as the Grim Reaper's, albeit more workmanlike. Thus, knowing how deadly he can be, his sailing through the road company version of Office Space, like a shark lazily swimming through a school of fish who are oblivious because they're all too busy filing their TPS reports, was just hypnotically fascinating. (So much was I into Mike being a part of the world that Jimmy has just barely touched on thus far, and most of that in the first season--with the appearances of Nacho, Gus, Victor, et al.--that I initially assumed that B. Hedberg must be some kind of assassin, with his pre-BB-Walter-White suburban existence just a front, and we'd see a silenced automatic in his briefcase. But, no, he's just a guy that Mike probably followed home from work the night before so that he could lift his badge and make him late for work.)

    Also loved the Gene scene, because it made me wonder just how good the paper that Vacuum Repair Guy, aka Ed, made for Jimmy is. I'd assumed that, given how quickly Ed made up the fake driver license, the SSN and DL# wasn't real, and it wouldn't pass any kind of online check. (Someone might still be able to use it to buy a bus or train ticket, or booze and smokes at a convenience store.) I don't know enough about hospital registration to know if they actually check DL numbers or SSNs against databases to see if they're legit, but it would be kind of funny if Gene's cover were blown, not by some cold-eyed assassin (I didn't believe for a second that someone would track Jimmy/Saul/Gene all the way to Omaha, then hang an Isotopes air freshener in their stolen taxi; see also the similar head-fake in S1's Gene scene with the tough-looking guy in the Cinnabon), but by a diligent and persistent unit clerk.

    As for the end scene, and whether or not it shows the emergence of Saul: I'm skeptical. I think that there never really is a Saul, any more than there ever really is a Heisenberg in BB. Walt may have wanted to believe that Heisenberg was a separate persona that he could put on and take off at will, back when he believed that he was the innocent family man forced into a life of crime almost against his will, but we eventually find out differently. Jimmy takes a decent stab at going legit, and I think that a lot of his anger against his brother for trying to keep him down is righteous, just as his relief that he wasn't the cause (or the sole cause) of his brother's death was probably due at least in part to his stubborn, persistent love for the brother who betrayed him more than once. (Part of this, I'll admit, is my belief that there's more to Chuck's story about Jimmy skimming the till at their dad's store than Chuck let on.) If "Saul" occasionally pops up as some sort of imp of the perverse to fuck up Jimmy's life, "Jimmy" will also do likewise; in last year's Gene scene, I don't think that it was "Saul" who told that kid to get a lawyer. I think that Kim's dismay at Jimmy's reaction to Howard's revelation may have less to do with shock that he'd react in that way so much as that he'd be so indiscreet about it. (She has, after all, been the Giselle to his Viktor.) Maybe the big X-factor in Kim's future--along with whether or not she still has Mesa Verde to fall back on--is whether she wants to stay around for all of whatever Jimmy gets into, and if not, what part, and how involved she is in it.
    posted by Halloween Jack at 8:56 AM on August 9 [4 favorites]


    But, here's the thing about that Isotopes air freshener: Saul Goodman's image was plastered all over ABQ for years. He's that guy who is constantly spamming his face on TV and billboards and everywhere. Intentionally a very high profile persona.

    That taxi driver didn't need to be an assassin or some guy from BB, even being recognized by some mook is an existential risk for Gene.
    posted by absalom at 9:36 AM on August 9 [7 favorites]


    Eh, I dunno. There are enough differences between Gene and Saul--in clothing, grooming, and demeanor--that at best someone might go, hmm, that guy looks vaguely familiar. Unless he'd been featured in some kind of most-wanted program, along with Walt, when the latter was still on the loose.
    posted by Halloween Jack at 11:04 AM on August 9


    AFABulous: The rest of the podcast is spoiler free, but like the DVD commentary, I find it to be light on content and heavy on banter and backslapping.

    And it was so short! Under an hour, where they usually clock in over that. And maybe because Kelley Dixon wasn't there in-person to manage the time and in the hands of Chris McCaleb, it felt more bantery than usual, because it felt like the prior episodes structured around a list of questions that Kelley wanted to get through.

    With that, here's a recap of the hour:
    • In attendance: Kelley, who's not an editor this season and is calling in from NYC; Chris McCaleb and Skip Macdonald, who are editors this season (Skip edited this episode), Bob Odenkirk, who has not yet seen the episode and is looking forward to "watching it like everyone else" when it's on TV, Mike Bearmantrout and both Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould
    • First ramble: the weather - NYC vs LA
    • Second ramble: making the show bear-proof, and Grizzly man morning a bee
    • On smoke: it's the aftermath of Chuck's death, which clouds the whole season (yes, Chuck's dead-dead -- no schmuck bait, a twist taken back in the next episode/season)
    • Michael McKean got the "death call," saying "Boys, if this is the death phone call, let me pull over," as a joke that became real
    • The decision was made early in season 3, fixed in their minds with Chicanery (S03E05), because Vince and Peter wanted to avoid a "Spy vs Spy" one-upsmanship of revenge
    • Bob, on becoming Saul again: it was easy this time, where it took a while in the past -- no uncertainty on Jimmy's motives and path, "who he is and what's going on, how much guilt he feels, or love"
    • Bob talks about how Jimmy and Kim mature this season, but I'll stop with that to avoid even light spoilers
    • Bob sees that Saul does emotional math fast (again, more vague details I'll skip here)
    • But Bob notes he's speculating on some of the future stuff, particularly in front of Vince and Peter -- "I might as well be a fan" with what he knows on the characters he plays; with that, he sees a good bit of Jimmy in Gene, except Gene is always scared, and is spending a lot of time contemplating his sins and crimes; he's more vulnerable than Saul was; Saul was fueled by anger, resentment, selfishness, and he decided "fuck it, I'm going to be a blade that cuts through people and takes the money out of their pockets as it goes, and that's it." Bob on Gene: "does he see an opening, does he see a future and why? ... He's like a monk, on a retreat that he did not choose to go on. Does he see a window to be a more full presence in the world, and why would he see that?"
    • Peter: Jimmy/ Saul/ Gene might be on the hook forever for his crimes
    • Vince: do we even know if Gene knows Walter White's fate? How much time has elapsed?
    • Kelley points out that this is the first Gene scene that isn't self-contained and resolved by its end
    • Chris calls out the stark difference between Gene, and Jimmy+Saul - Gene is silent, tries to be invisible, where Jimmy and Saul live by their ability to convince people, and as absalom noted, has plastered himself all over Albuquerque, literally bigger than life; except in this episode, Jimmy is quieter than he's ever been
    • Skip on the business of editing: he reads the re-script to make sure he's following the vision for the episode, and then he takes cues from Bob's acting, in the example of the Gene in the taxi scene (and notes Gene subtly pulling his jacket over the Cinnabon logo, which I missed)
    • Another shout-out to the attention of the audience to the detailed work that goes into the episodes; Peter said "this season, we're asking so much of the audience" -- "we have faith in the people who are watching. But if they go up to make a sandwich, we're screwed!" (so it's less about the hidden details, but the fact that every scene has meaning and impact
    • Burning down the house: Peter - "it was a shame. The family was very nice ... that is a visual effect, probably more effect shots than you realize (even the tree was charred)." Lots of footage was shot, but in the end, there were fewer cuts and longer scenes, to focus on Kim and Jimmy on the bench, even with the smouldering wreck in the background
    • Interesting comment from Peter: he feels worst for leaving footage on the floor when he's directed it, because he knows how much time and money went into making that footage; but a good rule of thumb he uses is "don't cut until the scene stops working" ["If cinema is sometimes dreamlike, then every edit is an awakening." -Roger Ebert]
    • Bob: playing a character this fully realized is a once in a lifetime gift, something an actor wishes for; on the other hand, he wants to control the character and spin some moments, but he's come to see that all the scripted decisions are great
    • The funeral scene was expensive, but necessary -- Ed Begley Jr., Ann Cusack, and Dennis Boutsikaris flew in for one day, for one scene, and Ann didn't even have a line.
    • On the "Uncle Tio" rewind - the ambulance scene was shot a year ago, and dropped in next to the new footage seamlessly
    • On Nacho's late-night solo scene: another moment of pure luck, with the Varicam (5000 ISO), which picked up haze from a fire in Albuqueruqe, reflecting lights and Jupiter because the camera is so sensitive
    • A note on the suspense of Barry Hedberg's introduction, even knowing that Vince and Peter generally don't blow people up; Peter notes that the ideas thrown out in the writer's room ended up with this scene (bondcliff ftw), and he notes that Mike is comic relief for the episode. That's it for Mike's scene discussion -_-
    • The Better Call Saul outro is provided by Bob himself
    My wild fan-dream: The story of Gene continues, all in black and white. Quiet, slow and suspenseful.
    posted by filthy light thief at 12:21 PM on August 9 [7 favorites]


    To be clear, I'm envisioning Gene of Omaha as a full series to follow the end of Better Call Saul.

    But as Vince and Peter have said, there's no reason that BCS has to end when we finally meet Saul, or even Walter White, because we only see moments of Saul in the BBverse - he has a whole life beyond his work with/for Heisenberg. Well, up until the end, he does.
    posted by filthy light thief at 2:49 PM on August 9 [4 favorites]


    we only see moments of Saul in the BBverse - he has a whole life beyond his work with/for Heisenberg

    Although I don't think he has much of an emotional life at that time? It's striking that BB never showed anything of Saul's home life, and I always thought that was because he doesn't have one. He's lonely, isolated. What companionship he has, he buys: attentiveness from the nail salon ladies, the "barn door open" massages, the dysfunctional flirting with/harassment of Francesca.

    Is there enough character left at that point to hang more story on? I'm not sure there is. BB-era Saul is the end of the line; the result of kicking away all Jimmy's ties to society; an exploitative husk of a man.

    (Relatedly, this makes me think that the end-point with Jimmy and Kim will not be her dying; it will be her -- in his eyes at least -- betraying him.)
    posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 4:08 PM on August 9 [5 favorites]


    To be clear, I'm envisioning Gene of Omaha as a full series to follow the end of Better Call Saul.

    Gene of Omaha: The Cinnabon Chronicles.
    posted by mandolin conspiracy at 1:17 PM on August 10 [3 favorites]


    Is there enough character left at that point to hang more story on? I'm not sure there is. BB-era Saul is the end of the line; the result of kicking away all Jimmy's ties to society; an exploitative husk of a man.

    This is Bob's read of the character, FWIW. And that's not much, as he stresses a few times that he has no real insight to the future of Jimmy - Saul - Gene, and is "basically a fan of the show" guessing how his character gets from where he is to what he becomes.
    posted by filthy light thief at 1:52 PM on August 10


    I must confess, my first response was how it is technically fantastic - the acting, the writing, the cinematography, the editing, the sound editing - amongst the best I've ever seen on TV.

    The acting, in particular is so good.

    Also, it struck me during this episode that Howard (I'm always bigging up Howard, I don't know why) is technically the antagonist of the series, but is fundamentally a good person - what they've done is juggle the narrative positions of characters and their moral standing. They did it in Breaking Bad as well - the moral/narrative ambiguity is quite extraordinary.

    I realise Nacho has to die relatively soon, but worry about him nonetheless.

    I could probably watch just the Gene bits, as well.
    posted by Grangousier at 3:32 PM on August 10 [3 favorites]


    I realise Nacho has to die relatively soon

    I wouldn't assume that. (Remember all the hard guys who did die in BB, and conversely the people who didn't, and remember that Saul mentioned an Ignacio (although his breathing status isn't hinted at) in his first appearance). I expected Chuck to still be around.
    posted by Halloween Jack at 3:26 PM on August 11 [1 favorite]


    Wait, is his name Ignacio, and that's why they call him Nacho? No wonder his moral compass is swiveling, everyone calls him this super racist nickname.
    posted by adept256 at 5:50 AM on August 12


    Erm, there isn't anything racist about Nacho's name, it's a common diminutive of Ignacio. The food is named after its inventor, Ignacio "Nacho" Anaya.
    posted by peeedro at 6:09 AM on August 12 [13 favorites]


    Mexicans often have nicknames that are not obvious derivatives of their formal names. (I bolded characters in BB/BCS.)

    "José becomes Chepe, Eduardo is Lalo, Gabriel becomes Gabi, and Guillermo devolves into Memo"
    "Pepe for José, Pancho for Francisco, or Chucho (or Chuy) for Jesus."
    "Goyo for Gregorio, Licha for Alicia, Nacho for Ignacio and Cuco for Refugio... Roberto becomes Beto... Lencho from Lorenzo"

    I couldn't find any solid information on "Tuco."
    posted by AFABulous at 12:34 PM on August 12 [4 favorites]


    I know an Argentinian called Luciano* who's known as Lucho. Which is also Spanish for "I fight". Though he's a lot more chill these days.

    *Argentina's cultural heritage is complicated.
    posted by Grangousier at 12:39 PM on August 12


    I couldn't find any solid information on "Tuco."

    Tuco Ramírez is the complicated villain from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. So it could be as simple as reaching for the most bad-ass name for a villain they could think of and a hat-tip to Sergio Leone.
    posted by peeedro at 2:01 PM on August 12 [2 favorites]


    If ever a film was morally ambiguous, it was The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, but if that morally ambiguous film has a villain, it's definitely Angel Eyes. None of them are actually heroes, though. Tuco is cruel, Blondie is sadistic but Angel Eyes is sociopathic.

    Sorry, it's one of my favourite films ever. If you get a chance to see it at the cinema: go.
    posted by Grangousier at 5:54 PM on August 12 [2 favorites]


    Ooh just had a guess for the season. There is chaos as Gus predicts, and Tuco comes in and takes it all because he’s fucking crazy and related to Tio Salamanca
    posted by LizBoBiz at 10:03 AM on August 14


    Jimmy turning on a dime once he realized he was off the hook for Chuck's death going from grief to Saul's sunshine and bullshit was chilling.

    I saw it as squashing his own guilt at having tipped off the insurance folks, and glad Howard's got something to feel guilty about. Maybe Howard was hoping Jimmy would absovle or comfort him ... but no.

    And Jimmy was mentioned in the obit.

    But I agree with the assessment that Howard is trying to posthumosly be Chuck's brother and family in the wake of his death, alone in his tower with his ivory sofas.
    posted by tilde at 1:35 PM on August 19 [3 favorites]


    This is late but I just wanted to note AFABulous’s question from above:
    “There was an interesting detail in this episode when Nacho meets with Bolsa. Nacho was wearing a blue collared shirt over a red t-shirt. And everyone else was wearing blue - Gus, Bolsa, and Arturo (?). They're all criminals - so what does this mean?”

    I think red is more like “being dishonest to deceive someone” rather than “criminal”. I noticed this during the scene when chuck was trying to provoke jimmy into admitting to doctoring the Mesa Verde document and his head wound was bleeding into the bandage made a bright red circle on his forehead right as he’s doing the most dishonest thing we’ve ever seen him do.

    I’m watching this ep again bc I just got done binging breaking bad (seemed like a good idea as the timelines are getting closer) and I gotta say, it was an interesting show before but now it’s even more so. Especially this episode. I really recommend it even if you think you won’t enjoy it. I actually hated every second of it except for the scenes with the folks we know.
    posted by bleep at 10:24 PM on August 25


    Also the guy at Madrigal who Mike gives his security schpiel to looks exactly like Guy Smiley. It’s uncanny.
    posted by bleep at 10:34 PM on August 25


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