Better Call Saul: Breathe
August 14, 2018 7:07 AM - Season 4, Episode 2 - Subscribe

Jimmy seeks new employment; Gus navigates the fallout from Hector's collapse; Kim endeavors to support Jimmy in the wake of Chuck's death. Mike cautiously weighs a lucrative proposal that might bring about dire consequences, and Nacho tries to do right.

Better Call Saul: Gus Helps Things Go From Gentle Simmer to Scalding Boil (recap by Sean T. Collins for TV Guide, with auto-playing video clip)
There's a sucker born every minute, and Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) is their midwife. "Breathe," the second episode of Better Call Saul's already extraordinary fourth season, is the clearest indication yet of how a con man with a heart of gold and some genuine legal and people skills could become consigliere to New Mexico's most violent drug kingpin: He can see how easy it is to fool decent people into trusting absolute creeps, and apparently at some point he'll decide he'd rather play for the winning team.

The setting for this pivotal moment, though, is about as far away from the meth trade as possible, which on a show that's more and more focused on its career criminals is an achievement in itself. Remember all those sales job openings Jimmy circled in the classifieds last week? Today is the big day when he starts heading out for interviews.
Better Call Saul Season 4 Episode 2 Review: Breathe -- Jimmy and Kim both misdirect their feelings in another sturdy outing of Better Call Saul. (Nick Harley for Den of Geek)
posted by filthy light thief (49 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I love that Kim corrects Jimmy on "Jaws 3" -- "It's actually Jaws 3-D."

And if you need a refresher or to review the plot, here's White Heat summarized on Wikipedia. "Made it, Ma! Top of the world!"
posted by filthy light thief at 7:28 AM on August 14, 2018

Kim confronting Howard was amazing. Jimmy doesn't deserve any of it, of course (and misdirected feelings, etc., etc.), but still: amazing.
posted by minsies at 7:38 AM on August 14, 2018 [5 favorites]

Kim's outburst sure was a surprise.
posted by rhizome at 3:20 PM on August 14, 2018 [6 favorites]

Kim's outburst at Howard was the "fuck you" she wanted to give him a couple years back just for her own personal grievances, but she waited until she could do it while cosplaying Jimmy's grief for maximum impact.

That screaming fit was much less about Jimmy than Kim, IMO. And I LOVED IT.

"oh, Howard -- you want to cry a little before profiting off another lesser person's misery? You can't have mine. Not my profit, and not my misery, either" -- denying Howard the chance to "make right" or even apologize is the smartest thing Kim could've done. And it was the most damaging for Howard's own emotional well-being, too! I loved it.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 3:30 PM on August 14, 2018 [10 favorites]

I must add, too, that watching Gus "promote" Nacho was incredible. What a viscerally terrifying scene!
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 3:34 PM on August 14, 2018 [4 favorites]

Nacho's dad ain't gonna like this episode.
posted by rhizome at 3:52 PM on August 14, 2018 [4 favorites]

Let's get the obvious out of the way: Gus Fring is terrifying. It's not just the way Giancarlo Esposito expertly uses his face and voice to project cold hatred, nor the way he so rapidly shifts his body language from the meticulous, humble manager of a restaurant to the iron-willed pursuit of vengeance. It's not even down to the focused, ruthless nature of that drive for revenge, so great that it will not truck anyone else's needs or vendettas interfering with his own.

Rather, it's how casually and yet completely he arrogates to himself the power not only to take life, but to control it: the power not only of death, but also of life, perhaps of fate itself. He decides what Hector Salamanca deserves, and if that means manipulating the medical system to ensure that Hector regains the mental acuity to suffer as Gus wishes, then it does. And if it means not only telling Nacho "you are mine," but also showing him this power with the careful, largely bloodless death of Arturo, a death by suffocation that Gus could expedite, protract, or remove quite easily, then it does.

This desire for control resounds throughout the episode, and not just because of the glaring matched scenes: Hector being made to breathe by machines and plastic tubing, and then Arturo being made to die by plastic bags amid the trucks and heavy machinery of a Pollos Hermanos warehouse.

It's also in the implications of all that paperwork by Chuck controlling the exact disposition of his will, another effort by another domineering type to exert power beyond the grave. It's in Kim's accurate read of Howard, and his desire to shift guilt -- a read seemingly confirmed by his return to cheerful corporate efficacy as he executes Chuck's will (and what a loaded phrase that is!). And, of course, it's there in Kim's decision to hide the letter on Jimmy's behalf, to manage his emotional life and care for him much as he seems to be trying to manage hers in his own way. Even Mike wants to decide which parts of his life are polite fictions and which aren't, to take over the management of the cover story with which he's been provided.

And then there's Jimmy. Yes, yes, the show is answering the obvious question: why doesn't he become a salesman, the most obvious legitimate use of his talents, a job he was born for? Because that's not the job he was born for: Jimmy doesn't want to sell to people anymore because he simply doesn't respect anyone who'd fall for a sales pitch. They's suckers, sheep to the wolves: it is of course no accident that Jimmy is reminded of a Chicago con -- those copier-made counterfeit fivers -- shortly before he breezes through an interview he should have been unable to succeed at, and then, in contempt ,sabotages the job offer in the name of...principle?

Yes, perhaps; but not the principles of go-ahead Jimmy McGill, Esq. who really did want to be a legitimate (if showy, shortcutting) lawyer once. And not Slippin' Jimmy, either, who wouldn't let on to the suckers if he was about to get what he wanted. No, this is a glimpse at one possible mixture of the two: the con man who then becomes a lawyer, the guy who'll breeze past the question about his lost law license with smooth manipulation and bull past the doubts with a show-stopper performance, but then turn around and toss legal terms like due diligence and play the prosecutor. It's like a weird inversion of the Saul Goodman to come: not a man playing as an ambulance-chasing hack while secretly expertly using the law to protect criminals, but rather a successful self-promoter who turns around and excoriates his marks by pointing out the higher standards of critical thinking to which they should hold themselves.

As ever, Jimmy is the twist in things, the element that gets to play opposite to the prevailing themes and actions by mixing them together. It's also there in the clever little match from the first shot of this episode to one of the first shots of the previous one, from Hector's full-color hospital experience to "Gene's" black-and-white one, the rage0-induced stroke matched to the fear-induced collapse. And in an episode where the main characters take full control of their lives, Jimmy is out of control, unable to tell what he wants, oddly self-sabotaging, and, for once, manipulated and managed by someone else, in this case Kim. (Another match: a McGill brother's knowledge being compromised because someone messed with some Mesa Verde paperwork. It's a more kindly gesture this time, of course.)

More interestingly, Jimmy is at once trying to run from his past and inexorably moving back towards it. He downplays his legal career and turns into a sales career,m then brings down the illusion with the sort of legal ethics and responsible corporate governance talk he4'd have absorbed at HHM. Even his scheme at the end, to use Mike to retrieve the valuable Hummels from the copier company's dumpster, plays as a twisted reprise of his client in ZSeason 1, the one who kicked off his elder law career. (That's the same figure on the collectors' site he peruses, I believe, that Jimmy once called an "Alpine Shepherd Boy" in that season.) And it also ties together his dumpster-diving antics in the Sandpiper case with his earlier use of Mike for another theft job, that one his plan to force the Kettlemans to work with Kim.

What we see here is a man determined to take the past moments when, however underhanded the means, his aims were in some way legitimate ambitions driven by kindness, and to turn them into crass, self-destructive actions. At the same time he is avoiding his past with Chuck -- the past Kim wishes to protect him from -- he is nonetheless taking on Chuck's own role of condemning himself. Who needs Chuck's letter when Jimmy seems to be acting out Chuck's past judgments of him?

That's the ultimate motif that runs throughout the episode: an absent response, a letter never sent or never delivered, a call without an echo, a dangling conversation. It's in Jimmy dodging the question about previously being a lawyer. It's the efforts to talk Don Hector back to consciousness. It's there in Mike's retort to Lydia's demand for reconsideration with his own, leaving no closure.

But in each case, somehow the missing reply comes through anyway, and drives the characters all the same. Don Hector cannot give orders, but Arturo and Nacho -- Nacho, seemingly "working on" getting out -- still doing what he would've demanded they do. And in Nacho and his father responding to one another's unspoken questions, for the most part, not the spoken ones. Mike keeps stubbornly turning up for a job that exists only on paper, meeting with a boss who doesn't want anyone to know she'd hired him, and gets an intervention from Gus that he never directly asked for. Kim and Jimmy work to try to meet each other's unspoken needs, and Kim acts on Jimmy's behalf even though he never asks her to, voicing not only her own rage against Howard, as Unicorn on the Cob and minsies point out above, but also what we might well see as Jimmy's against both Howard and Chuck. (and she conveys Jimmy's sentiments to Rebecca, for all that's worth, as well.)

And Gus? His demands are quite explicit, and irresistible, but the impulse for vengeance and control that drive him are -- as Breaking Bad watchers well know -- his idea of what his murdered partner, Maximino, deserves. It's strange, how many dead and absent people's imagined desires play out and conflict in this episode (and arguably throughout). Howard and Chuck, Kim and Jimmy, Jimmy and Marco, Mike and Matty, and so many others. May7be that's what's really terrifying: the idea that people can be driven by a command never issued, that they so internalize the visions of others that they cannot choose otherwise. "You are mine" can be a chilling command or a creepy Valentine, but in either case the assertion is a powerful one, and perhaps all the more powerful when it no longer even needs to be spoken.
posted by kewb at 4:09 PM on August 14, 2018 [25 favorites]

This show makes me so homesick. It's mostly the light -- many scenes evoke sense memories for me. I feel like I know exactly how warm or cold it is, what the air smells and feels like, the background sounds, the feel of the sun.

Incidentally, for those who remember The Right Stuff, Lovelace is where they subjected the astronauts to all those humiliating tests -- resulting in a mass rebellion. Lovelace is now one of the two largest health care providers and insurers in Albuquerque. Presbyterian is the other. Usually, the hospital scenes in BB and BCS have been filmed at Pres (where I was born), whether they named it so, or not.

I could not figure out where Lydia was when she called Gus. Really nice view.

There have been few scenes in any media that were as viscerally terrifying to me as that final one. Gus's quick efficiency alone was chilling.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:35 PM on August 14, 2018 [5 favorites]

Gus's quick efficiency alone was chilling.

A strong echo of the Breaking Bad episode Box Cutter, in which Gus demonstrates his power to Walt and Jesse in a similar way.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:46 PM on August 14, 2018 [7 favorites]

Gus Fring, man. Stone cold.

Regarding the Hector hospital room scene: can't fault that doctor for eagerly wanting to hand the patient over to the doctor from Johns Hopkins. I'd imagine would be pretty hard to practice medicine with the cousins...supervising.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:54 PM on August 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

Gus's secretive doctor, who examines Hector in the darkness, is the same Dr. Barry Goodman who treats him and Mike in Mexico after the events of the BB episode Salud; and that Mike acquired cocaine from in BCS S3E3 Sunk Costs.

I do think though that sometimes the reuse of Breaking Bad casting hurts the storytelling a bit by reducing suspense: we know that characters that appear in BB aren't going to die here, so some confrontations aren't as anything-could-happen tense as they could be.

On anything-could-happen: I liked that the show played with our expectations of how Jimmy's interview would go. We see he has successfully charmed the old-guard manager and we anticipate that he will attempt and fail against the newer, brasher guy, who is maybe going to see through Jimmy's bullshit? And for a moment he does teeter on the edge -- "says here you were a lawyer; what changed?" -- but from there it heads in a different, unexpected direction.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 6:12 PM on August 14, 2018 [6 favorites]

A rare scene of Gus visibly losing his temper. I think he, like Jimmy (and Walt), is in a transformative phase towards his BB persona. I feel like he will, or has, firmly decided to achieve a state of being wherein he cannot be frustrated, perhaps with the help of Mike and Saul, and then step back from the violence. Gus will use violence so carefully that his business partners will shit when they witness it. Even when Walt and Jessie eventually force his hand, he has reached an acceptable level of "zen" and remains nonplussed. Perhaps something super significant will happen that finally turns him into what everyone dreams about becoming. Nothing happens that isn't dictated by him, with no one to answer to. Gus and Walt meeting in the same lifetime is a statistical anomaly that he is almost able to contain. Bad luck for both of them.
posted by Brocktoon at 7:35 PM on August 14, 2018 [5 favorites]

Kewb, to your point, I think we're going to see the individual character responses to this week's group call spread out across several different episodes.

Closure is something all of us ache for, but few people find truly satisfying. It's the bowed head as you walk away from the negotiating table, happy you survived and said your peace. But is it fulfilling? I hope Kim's storyline gets resolved with a happy ending, but I'm not naive enough to expect she'll get it.

What do you bet Chuck's unopened final missive sits, discarded, until Jimmy discovers it in the final ep of this season? There are no half measures in the show's writing. Whatever's in there is going to be the nail in Jimmy McGill's coffin and trigger Saul's coming out party in earnest, I'm afraid.

Also: Brocktoon, I never thought about it this way before, but Gus is the living embodiment of "compartmentalizing." It's a skill I envy, but for all the wrong reasons here.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 7:38 PM on August 14, 2018 [3 favorites]

The NEFF Copiers salesman interview scene was a rollercoaster for me. Intense.

Ups, downs, ends with a "Holy fuck you two are so simple. I've got chain gang cons picking up trash under the bridge who were more skeptical. If I worked for you I'd gouge my eyeballs out by the end of the week." [fake]
posted by porpoise at 8:40 PM on August 14, 2018 [3 favorites]

Wow, a lot of amazing scenes in this one -- Nacho taking his dad's money, Jimmy rejecting the offer, Kim giving Howard a piece of her mind, Gus "promoting" Nacho.

Maybe I'm alone in this, but Jimmy was kind of breaking my heart. What a joke, planning a million job interviews (and breakfast and dinner and the tv schedule and literally every waking moment of his day) so he doesn't have to go to his brother's will reading. Or think about it during or talk about it after. He knew what would be in that will, and he knew that the firm was Chuck's real family (which Jimmy could only be a part of as long as he stayed in his place in the mail room), and so instead of going to the firm or the reading, suddenly Jimmy is in that copier salesman interview going on and on about his time in the mailroom at Hamlin Hamlin McGill. He learned this and that and the other thing all in the mailroom. He leverages the shit out of that "connection." He sells the hell out of a mailroom guy. And then when the copier guys finally do welcome him into their family/company, he's like, OMFG you let just anyone in here, no way! Bc of course they're not "discerning" like Chuck. They don't understand that he shouldn't be allowed into a family/firm (like Chuck always understood). I think he half was trying to get control over the situation whatever way he could (by selling, by rejecting, by scheming -- whatever), and I think he half was just not ready for a "rebound" family/company after all and freaked out when they offered him a position and shit got real.

The thing is, though, I don't think Jimmy is all that self-aware. I think he tries to just ignore the stuff that's too big for him to handle, he shuts down and distracts himself with whatever trivial busywork (usually a scheme) he can concoct instead. Although then the busywork/scheme usually becomes some shadow version of what's actually eating at him. So of course he's going to throw himself headlong into a stupid and embarrassing Hummel reselling (stealing?) scheme to make some secret money off of the copier company without actually just taking their offered paycheck. I mean, he has a dumpster he is actually allowed to wade through (Chuck's house) and a check from him that he's also ignoring (his inheritance), but even dealing with that is too much for Jimmy, so instead of facing the realities of Chuck's estate and legacy, he's playing out his psychodrama with the copier company standing in for his brother.

Also, I think that Jimmy had a very childlike view of Chuck in some ways. He really seemed to respect him, and to see him as a father figure. I think Chuck dying has unmoored Jimmy, and he's trying to figure out who he is now that he really can't define himself in relation to Chuck. And Chuck was always very certain of who Jimmy was, for better or worse, and so much of Jimmy's identity was built around Chuck's perception of him. Without Chuck as a reference point, Jimmy is going to have to come up with a new identity on his own.

Anyway, speaking of people (re)discovering who they are -- when Kim gave Howard a piece of her mind, I actually don't think she was projecting. I think she and Howard have their own battles to fight, but she was genuinely focused on representing Jimmy here. She's a lawyer through and through, and she was there explicitly on Jimmy's behalf, so of course she was going to do her duty by protecting his interests (against Howard or Chuck or anyone else)).
posted by rue72 at 10:49 PM on August 14, 2018 [19 favorites]

Jimmy's rejection of the Neff folks is also essentially the way Jimmy eventually came to reject his father. Chuck made HHM his real family, but Jimmy is always trying to make folks like Marco or Mike into his, and he spent a while trying to get Kim to embrace the joys of the con artist life as well.

On the other side of things, Chuck seems to have built up their father into a saint, while there are quite a few indications that Jimmy was closer to mom, and vice vera. There's not just the hospital scene where mom is dying and calls for Jimmy, not Chuck. There's also the flashback showing that it was at at mom's insistence that Chuck got Jimmy out that whole "Chicago sunroof" mess.

And let's not forget the "caretaker" aspect of Jimmy's personality: this seems to be how he shows affection. He likes being in a position to either fight for his loved ones, as in his forays against Howard on behalf of Chuck and later Kim, or to take care of people he cares about when they can;'t take care of themselves. Both he and Chuck seem to need to take on that sort of pseudo-parental role, and they also both seem to need villains to blame for things. They also don't always worry about how much they're limiting, involving, or deliberately fooling the people they try to care for.

The show has hinted that there's more to the McGill psychodrama than just the siblings' perceptions of each other. There's not just a messed-up sibling dynamic, but some sort of weird parental dynamic and desire for a substitute family that both of them kept reenacting well into adulthood.
posted by kewb at 3:46 AM on August 15, 2018 [8 favorites]

It's hard to know what Jimmy is planning from one episode to the next, but I think he was likely researching the Hummel stuff because the owner said he was going to throw it all out.
posted by maxsparber at 9:23 AM on August 15, 2018

The exposition around the Chicago counterfeiting was SO FUNNY. I had to pause to laugh.

Knowing as much as he does about copiers, Jimmy would be well-placed to run some scams where he pretended to be a copier repair dude or salesman, and proceeded to steal copies and perform identity theft.

I couldn't figure out what Nacho's father meant by removing that money from his cashbox and putting it on the table, and what Nacho meant by taking it. Could someone explain it?
posted by brainwane at 12:51 PM on August 15, 2018

i believe that the cash was dirty money Hector had given him during last season's visit?
posted by QDeesp at 12:59 PM on August 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

It's hard to know what Jimmy is planning from one episode to the next, but I think he was likely researching the Hummel stuff because the owner said he was going to throw it all out.

... but then he calls Mike about "a job." I don't know why Mike would be interested in a small-potatoes burglary, but it seems like that's the intent.

Kim's blowup at Howard was really beautiful, if tragic. It might be more about her than about Jimmy, but you can see that she's convinced herself that Jimmy is a good guy who's dealing with difficult stuff the best way he can (the way she looks at him while he's unpacking the food, yikes), and you know he's going to burn her so, so badly. And it's terrible.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:55 AM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

Omg, rue72, I find myself wishing you would expound on my own actual life like you do. So good.
posted by lauranesson at 4:24 PM on August 16, 2018 [4 favorites]

I think he was likely researching the Hummel stuff because the owner said he was going to throw it all out.

I thought that was pretty clearly just modesty, the owner is either trying to downplay his awesome collection or is a bit embarrassed to have it and says "aw, I should just throw that old stuff away" to deflect a compliment. I don't think he has any actual intention of throwing it away.

I'll be disappointed in Mike if he takes that job. He lives by a code and he doesn't need the money.. Copier Company Guy hasn't done a thing to deserve that. I wouldn't be surprised if Mike says no and Saul calls Nacho.
posted by mmoncur at 4:54 AM on August 17, 2018

There's got to be more to the Hummel thing than just a straight robbery. That's not Jimmy's MO, and as mmoncur says, I don't think Mike would be in for something like that either. $8K is a pretty paltry payday, comparatively, for any of these guys, Nacho included. Now, if Jimmy has come up with a way to counterfeit the things, then that might be another story.
posted by Shohn at 5:59 AM on August 17, 2018

There's got to be more to the Hummel thing than just a straight robbery.

It's not the first time that Hummel figurines have appeared in the show. Via the BCS wiki:
Season 1 - Jimmy comes to Mrs. Strauss' house. She is an elderly woman who collects porcelain Hummel figurines. He assists her with estate planning, which mostly consists of allocating various Hummels to different friends and relatives.
posted by melissasaurus at 8:53 AM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

It seems like the copier guys were keeping the Hummels for sentimental reasons more than because of their value, which on the one hand makes it even less likely they'd throw them out (I really doubt they will), but on the other hand, more likely that they wouldn't notice if someone switched them with similar-looking fakes or something like that. Jimmy is generally a counterfeiter, so I think he's probably thinking more in terms of counterfeiting the Hummels than a straight up smash and grab (although it could come to that, too).

Mike's interested in money laundering -- trying to launder his earnings is his main problem right now, and that's always a huge problem for drug guys. And it would be relatively easy to launder money on a reasonably small scale by "buying" and "selling" Hummels (or cheap-o fakes), so maybe Jimmy thinks Mike would like that idea. Figurines are also a normal collection for a girl or woman to have, so maybe giving Kaylee [real] Hummels or pretending she inherited them from a grandmother or great-aunt or something could be a way of getting her a lot of money without it looking suspicious. I dunno, but I think we're seeing Jimmy getting more into money laundering with whatever his Hummel scheme turns out to be.
posted by rue72 at 8:59 AM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

At the moment Mike's drug money is coming in paychecks from his security consultant job at Madrigal, so it's pre-laundered.
posted by mubba at 9:08 AM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Incredibly, there are some people over on reddit who still believe that Jimmy and Kim are "just friends."

I wouldn't want to see anything explicitly sexy on the show - it'd ruin the tone - but I'm glad they showed something more passionate than a peck on the cheek. According to an interview, there was a makeout scene in the dentist chair that got cut, and rightly so; it would have been gratuitous.

My favorite scene was Kim blowing up at Howard, because it showed how protective she is of Jimmy. We've seen it before, most notably at Chuck's house after Chuck stole back Mesa Verde, but that wasn't nearly as intense.

I'm going to be so crushed when the inevitable happens, even if it's a "happy" ending like her getting a great job somewhere else.
posted by AFABulous at 12:40 PM on August 18, 2018 [4 favorites]

Did anybody else twig on Kim reaming Howard and going straight back to bang Jimmy? Feels like a new trait.
posted by rhizome at 8:56 PM on August 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'm still hoping against hope that Kim will simply nope out when she sees Jimmy going into the Saul phase, but will return at the end to Gene. But I have to remind myself that this is not a show disposed toward happy endings, as we saw with Chuck and, now, Arturo. I kept hoping that Gus would cut open the plastic bag after he'd made his point, forgetting that that's not how Gus makes a point.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:59 AM on August 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

The BCS insider podcast discussed Arturo's scene at length and how he was kept safe (for one thing, he could have taken it off at any time by himself). I too thought Gus was just giving him a warning, and that he would let Nacho rescue Arturo. But no, he's just that ruthless even before he [Breaking Bad spoiler] kills Victor.

Even if the writers wanted to give Gene a happy ending, I think they'd really have to contort Kim's character and the plot to get them together. For one thing, she would have to leave her life in ABQ and maybe even the law; she can't date an outlaw without risking his exposure (plus committing felonies by hiding a fugitive). And it's kind of preposterous to think a woman like Kim would date a guy like him after all the things he did as Saul.

They also discuss on the Insider podcast how they don't dream up a scene and work backwards to achieve it; that it's all character-driven. I'm not convinced they know Gene's ultimate outcome; we're unlikely to find out this season because BCS has already been renewed for another one.
posted by AFABulous at 8:52 AM on August 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

I guess I'm used to Gus, so it was interesting seeing him growing into who he will be on BB here in BCS.

Nacho and his dad's scene was pretty familiar to me; I'm going through some training at work that is both for productivity improvement and culture shift and they spent a good hour weaving in how the dynamics of how we of our different cultures may have been raised and react in certain situations. He and dad didn't argue any more. It was very, "This is it it, this is your choice if you're going to stay with it." and "I'm getting out. I'll be back." not the kind of shouty drama you'd see on TV in other series; both as a series differentiator and as a reality differentiator. Reminded me of how I felt after watching Coco. My memories of growing up in the Southwest caught between the cultures and a few hundred miles in a different direction are still close enough that so much of this rings familiarly true. Even with the fact that I left nearly 30 years ago and never "saw" that area as things changed, with cell phones and the Internet exploding (in my brain that's very tied to where I've lived now and "big cities" rather than back out in the desert).
posted by tilde at 1:15 PM on August 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

I assumed that the Hummel was from his former client's estate, so he's seeing a connection between her and this nephew(?).
posted by tilde at 1:55 PM on August 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

me too, tilde. Maybe I'll rewatch the scene from Alpine Shepherd Boy and see if there's a reference to whatever the interviewer-guy's name was.
posted by AFABulous at 7:12 PM on August 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

For the record Mrs. Strauss in "Alpine Shepherd Boy" says "The Alpine Shepherd boy goes to my nephew Clarence, as long as he finishes college."

Copier guy said "Those were Alma's, she loved collecting the things, God rest her soul." Copier guy's boss was "Mr. Neff", I don't think we heard his first name.

I don't think Mrs. Strauss's name is Alma, and she's most likely still alive since she was in the audience at Jimmy's bar hearing, which is not that long ago in the show's timeline.

That does appear to be the same "Alpine Shepherd Boy" statue, though.
posted by mmoncur at 6:05 AM on August 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't want to see anything explicitly sexy on the show - it'd ruin the tone - but I'm glad they showed something more passionate than a peck on the cheek.

This is, I believe, the first time that the show this level of intimacy between Jimmy and Kim - and I loved the dynamics of this scene. On the face of it is the same "How was your day? - "Ok ...[] ... how was yours?" conversation that any couple goes through. Jimmy is trying to fill his agenda with constant activity so that he doesn't have to think about the meeting at the lawyers. Kim is not only fully aware of this strategy - but is backing him up by making her own research on the evening's TV movie schedule (she chooses "White Heat" - starring its own Jimmy - Cagney as a well scripted gangster). Kim is clearly curious about Jimmy's job hunting - especially when he tells her that he has got an offer already - but she is astute enough to detect Jimmy's reluctance to volunteer details and responds by offering simply generic encouragement "somebody's going to be lucky to get you". Jimmy and Kim also jointly circumvent the day's other key issue: how she got on at the lawyer meeting - with aplomb. There is are only a few minutes left to discuss anything before the start of the show- which gives them a reason to not expound on the account at length: Kim spends some time saying how she spent "most of the day at home" and talks about her own plans to get back to work. Its a great scene about how a couple can show mutual consideration for each other by not raising painful subjects at difficult times and instead going through a carefully planned charade. Then, this mutual understanding serves as a seduction.

What I love about this show is that the makers trust the viewers to pick up all of that without labouring the point. The above is only about 100 seconds of footage.
posted by rongorongo at 11:25 PM on August 20, 2018 [5 favorites]

Jimmy and Kim also jointly circumvent the day's other key issue: how she got on at the lawyer meeting - with aplomb.

Hmmm...the impression that I got was that Jimmy didn't know she even went to the meeting. When she mentioned it in the morning, he said "Howard'll call me if there's anything important". Then she shows up.

Kim spends some time saying how she spent "most of the day at home" and talks about her own plans to get back to work.

And I took this to be a lie from Kim. I think it was a lie with good intentions, to save Jimmy from having to feel his feelings, but does it start Kim down a path she shouldn't go down? Maybe Kim falls down with Jimmy and become's Saul's right hand lady, at least for a bit.
posted by LizBoBiz at 4:56 AM on August 21, 2018

I rewatched the scene from Alpine Shepherd Boy. First, the name of Hummel is different than the one in Neff's office (which is Bavarian Boy). I forgot to check on whether they looked the same. The lady's first name is not mentioned; her last name is Strauss. Her nephew's name is Clarence and the inheritance was contingent on his graduation from college. Mr. Neff's name is not mentioned in this episode, but his aunt is "Alma," and I'm pretty sure the name of the woman in the ill-fated Davis & Main commercial is Alma.

They seem to have munged the details a bit - less than a year has passed since he saw Mrs. Strauss - but since there are no coincidences in Vince-and-Peter land, I think it's safe to say that these Hummels belonged to Jimmy's client.
posted by AFABulous at 12:39 PM on August 21, 2018

Hmmm...the impression that I got was that Jimmy didn't know she even went to the meeting.

Yes! On top of everything else in the scene, I was also thinking that it was not actually established why she was there.
posted by rhizome at 2:24 PM on August 21, 2018

She said "I'm here on his behalf" - I just figured it was as his lawyer.
posted by AFABulous at 3:09 PM on August 21, 2018

Sure, me too. I think there's a lot of projection to be had in this scene!
posted by rhizome at 3:11 PM on August 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

Finally getting around to this -- Better Call Saul Insider Podcast 402 -- Chris McCaleb, with Kelley in New York (working on The Goldfinch for WB), Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan, with special guests producer Robin Sweet, episode writer (but not director) Tom Schauz, and co-editor Joey Rinish, with Mike Bearmantraut in the background.
  • Michelle McClerren, episode director, is fawned over by all; directed 11 episodes of BB (thanks Mike Bearmantraut), making her the most prolific director; Vince says this episode is her finest work
  • SDCC is a week ago as of recording this podcast; Joey edited the 3 minute sizzle reel recap of BB for its 10th anniversary celebration; the song, Jungle's "Happy Man," was found by Thomas Goulbich, and it's something of a public debut for the track [it's out now -- ed]
  • Chris' first solo-edit in BCS, completed while also working on Lodge 49, meaning he's working on 2 hours of AMC programming in a night for a few times over the course of this season of BCS
  • Vince shares his very Hollywood story of having lunch with his agent, then awkwardly meeting "fucking Kurt Russel" ("my mom's going to hate that I'm cursing so much")
  • "Speaking of snakes, that Hector Salamanca" - Chris tries to get back to the episode
  • Kelley's stoked to see the Mexican Doctor in the teaser
  • "Carded" intro: Gus' courting of the doctor, but it was going to be too expensive -- but money's not an issue, everyone jokes, as Robin is in the studio
  • Segue to Judy Reid, the new production designer for this season, with her first big, new set: Neff Copiers, built on location [where?]
  • It started as an empty, raw space, picked for its distinctive, raw, unique space; because as Vince notes, a lot of ABQ looks like it was built between 1990 and 1997, so a lot of it looks alike; they work extra hard to find a unique space
  • The sense of history is core to the location and the set dressing (down to variation on the floor)
  • Vince's favorite thing is the rotating carousels of copiers
  • Neff Copiers a shout-out to Walter Neff in Double Indemnity [Wiki], in Tom's mind as an amusing name
  • Peter gives shout-outs to Paul DeSanto, art director, and Steve Brown, construction coordinator, who completed a giant job over the course of a week or so, from location discovery to fully realized completion; even tore down some old walls and built new ones (look for before and after images); what was there before? Unknown - lots of really weird windows and mirrors
  • Kelley asks about Jimmy's first interview - "what was going on in the writer's room around this whole thing" -- Tom: coming off of last week's episode where Howard admits that it's his fault that Chuck killed himself, while we know that Jimmy's probably the one to blame, so he pushes "that denial and anger down," he sees these guys as suckers and his anger comes pouring out when he cons these two guys. Vince: he is weirdly self-destructive now; it's chaotic, anarcic, he doesn't know what he's up to, so the audience is to be forgiven for not knowing what he's thinking. Tom says he wrote the Groucho Marx line "you don't want to belong to any club that would have me as a member," that's what's happening there; Peter: he's the worthless piece of shit at the center of the universe
  • Peter: shout-out to Michael Naughton and Andrew Friedman, a comedy team that Bob reinforced -- they had one skit together, Bob asked if they were a team, they said no and he said they should write together, so they did, and now the three of them go way back; later, Peter saw them at the annual show that (Bob and?) his wife Naomi put on every year, at the UCB theater, it's a New Year's Eve show called "The Not Innapropriate Show," which is made of skits curated by Naomi, a brilliant comedy manager, who finds sketches that are not innapropriate for young people; then they auditioned for BCS, and here we are [and here Mike and Andrew are in the web series Puppet High]
  • Kelley: in BB, the question in the writers' room was "Where's Walt's head at?" Is this how you approached this scene? Tom: exactly, and it came from Jimmy not knowing where he is because he's in such denial about everything. Vince: You're kind of psychiatrists, you have to have theories about where the characters are going - as long as it sounds true, because people don't work in logical a-b-c paths. Peter: maybe the greatest mysteries are why are people the way they are? For me, the moments in the writers' room when the character does something that two days ago we would have never expected them to do, but at that moment, we know it's the right thing to do. One of the earliest ones in BB was when Walt turned down Gretchen and Elliot's money.
  • Vince: lesson for writers - never say "Wouldn't it be cool if the character [did or said this]?" It ruins the organic nature of the character development. Kelley: but doesn't that become plot-based instead of character-based? Vince: it becomes cool-based. Same thing for scenes and props - if it doesn't naturally flow into the story, it won't feel real. It can work for a while, but "it doesn't pay dividends ultimately; it's empty calories." But write whatever you feel like writing (Vince is doing a little shuffle, to not dictate? -ed). Robin - real charter interactions are the coolest, evident in Jimmy and Kim's relationship
  • Robin, line producer - "the one who reads the scripts and faints, and someone comes along with smelling salts and resurrects me, and we then roll up our sleeves and get it done." But really, the line producer gets the script executed within the budget, resource and time constraints, while keeping to the writer's vision. Line producer doesn't write, but gets a "produced by" credit. BCS has a lot planned well in advance, that makes it a lot easier to manage limitations, looking for a range of creative solutions before saying "we can't do this," which are then offered to the executive producers for them to take their pick. Peter: the thing that's most precious is time. Robin: yes, so the biggest challenge is managing the 9 days + some second unit time. Really big, complex sets also need to be managed, and Neff was a complex one, but it was used for about 10 minutes of run time, so getting the details right was key.
  • Kelley: We destroyed Chuck's house, so that's gone-gone, right? Robin: No, we stored it all. I asked Peter and Vince "are we ever going to see this again?"
  • The Moncada Brothers (Luis and Daniel): they're really nice in person, which can be weird to see off-scene.
  • Mirror: Nacho's dad lays out the money the same way Tio laid it out for his father.
  • PSA from Tom: if you're over the age of 45, get a colonoscopy. He had a routine inspection and they found State 1 cancer. He was out all season, but shot some pick-up scenes. (And a long tangent)
  • Rhea's scene, confronting Howard: Chris was in tears in the first take, and a lot of that take was in the episode because she nailed it so well. Vince: "anyone else kind of bad for Howard Hamlin in this scene?" Peter: "Yeah, yeah." Robin: *shaking her head* "I feel like he got what he deserved. I'm with Kim all the way." Kelley agrees with Robin. Then Peter says he's carried by the acting along the way, feeling with Howard, then with Kim. Robin: "I feel bad for Ann Cusack in this scene. There's a flicker of recognition of what's happened to Jimmy in this transaction."
  • Arturo's strangling: Kelley was just waiting for him to get killed. This is the first time that Gus really got his hands dirty. Robin: that scene was incredibly fun to prep. We would all gather in the conference room, and invariably plastic bags would end up on heads. Depending on the shots, there were cuts in the bag in different places. We had to test different configurations, so whoever drew the short straw had to test it out. For the actual shots, he was closely monitored by the stunt coordinator. In the close-ups, his hands weren't bound. Chris recorded audio to overdub that scene [the clip might be online now]
  • The high shot was made with a technocrane. The crew are able to set up that crane so quickly, planning ahead so there's no waiting for set-up. Vince: show-runners and writers can help the crew by having a fixed plan and not doing re-writes.
  • How did Arturo get that death written? Tom just blurted it out in the writer's room, thinking about what Gus does and how he feels. Nacho almost robbed Gus of his revenge, and now he wants to completely dominate Nacho.
  • Kelley has another question for Robin - is safety also one of your areas? Yes. K: are there extra safety meetings? R: You need to test it well in advance with the actor. He's in no real danger, but he could be claustrophobic. Test runs with the stunt double, then testing with the actor, followed by a safety meeting. Peter: the more chaotic things look on-screen, the more well-planned it is on set.
  • Hotel Chaco [official site]: this new motel was used in this episode, and it's were they had the wrap party.
  • No movie is sexier than White Heat. Why not the start of the movie? Robin put the kibosh on it via email, because of expenses.
  • Neither Kim or Jimmy told the truth about their day.
  • Robin gets the Better Call Saul outro honors.
  • I have failed to find the actual location of the Neff Copiers shop :(

posted by filthy light thief at 8:51 PM on August 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

Chris recorded audio to overdub that scene

I was surprised that nobody was "wait, you did WHAT" about that. They've just spend some considerable time describing the very careful steps they take to ensure that the scene was safe for the actor; and then Chris is all "yeah I needed some audio for the edit so I put a bag over my head and recorded it."
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:32 PM on August 28, 2018

There was someone filming him, so there's a second person to make sure he doesn't pass out, right? :)
posted by filthy light thief at 1:00 PM on August 28, 2018

Now I'm thinking of the scene from The Leftovers. (Which, incidentally, was the first show I could tolerate after finishing seasons 1-3 of BCS. This show has set such high standards for everything else. I started and abandoned so many series because they just can't measure up.)
posted by AFABulous at 4:35 PM on August 28, 2018

filthy light thief - according to the wiki, here's the location of Neff's copiers (Google maps 3D satellite view)

Everyone: don't poke around the wiki unless you're all caught up or don't care about spoilers.
posted by AFABulous at 4:48 PM on August 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

AFABulous, thanks for the direct link to the filming location! That makes more sense, because the front and side street views weren't showing anything like what was filmed. An impressive find by the crew.

And a very tangential note on Kelley working on The Goldfinch for WB, here's the film on IMDb, with Kelley Dixon credited as the editor, confirming it's the same film. And I found the IMDb page from the film's Wikipedia page, which currently notes that "Principal photography began in New York on January 23, 2018, before moving to Albuquerque on April 3, 2018 for the rest of production."

Apparently Albuquerque will be a stand-in for Las Vegas, NV (not to be confused with the other Las Vegas, which is in New Mexico, and is a charming little town, IMO).

[I happened to find the link to the Wikipedia article for the book from an answer in AskMe, which I stumbled upon. Once reading about the book, I wondered, "is this related to that thing that Kelley Dixon is working on now?" and now here we are.]
posted by filthy light thief at 4:34 PM on September 8, 2018

Holy shit Kim's tongue-lashing of Howard was unexpected, amazing. I don't think Kim was transferring any anger; I think what she said was completely fair, utterly true, a slap in the face of the grotesque arrogance and it was perfect.
posted by fleacircus at 10:11 AM on September 11, 2018

Huh, that Neff's Copiers location is a few blocks from the house my dad grew up in and my grandmother lived in until 2000.

It's across the street from what used to be "Fashion Square" at Lomas and San Mateo, where ABQ's most upscale clothing store, Kistler-Collister, was located. I have a red polo shirt my dad bought there when he was about sixteen in 1959. It still looks brand new -- it's eerie. When I was still slim enough to wear it in the 90s, I sometimes would ask people how old they thought the shirt was. No one had a clue it was that old. Until one guy, my ex-wife's boss, the chair of the film department and a producer. He walked over and felt the material and looked at the cut and said "about 1958?" which blew my mind.

Looking at that Google Maps overview makes me sad. That used to be a nice middle-class family neighborhood, even into the 90s. It's sketchy now and where Kistler-Collister was is now an Ace Hardware.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:01 PM on September 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

They also discuss on the Insider podcast how they don't dream up a scene and work backwards to achieve it; that it's all character-driven. I'm not convinced they know Gene's ultimate outcome

He starts writing a tv show about a suburban family with a passel of boys and a ‘middle child’ named Malcom and his parents Hal and Lois.
posted by tilde at 7:59 AM on September 24, 2018

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