Better Call Saul: Talk
August 28, 2018 6:58 AM - Season 4, Episode 4 - Subscribe

A restless Jimmy embarks on a new endeavor while Mike talks; Kim pursues her bliss; Nacho tries to survive a turf war. [semi-official summary]

Official summary stated that "Mike burns bridges" but I don't think that's true, or at least not yet. Maybe he set some on fire?

Better Call Saul Pulled Out One of Its Most Violent Episodes Ever (Sean T. Collins for TV Guide) -- alternate title: "Open Mike Night"
"He wanted me to talk. I talked." God, did he ever.

Titled "Talk" after this characteristically terse bit of dialogue from Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), the fourth episode of Better Call Saul's fourth season continues the show's ongoing study of how vivid a picture it can paint of the moral collapse of its characters in as few brushstrokes as possible. Mike, Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk), Nacho Varga (Michael Mando), and even Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) spend the episode essentially taking turns sliding a few more rungs down the ladder toward their respective eventual fates. For Jimmy and Mike, this means a life of crime that will end in disaster when they're drawn into the orbit of one Walter White a few years later. For Nacho and Kim... well, we don't know what happens to them, not yet. But this installment makes the case that they're just as broken down as their Breaking Bad co-star counterparts, and seemingly just as unlikely to be able to put the pieces back together.
Better Call Saul Recap: Broad Strokes (Kenny Herzog for Vulture)
In a matter of weeks, Jimmy went from putting the finishing touches on Wexler-McGill’s office backsplash to baiting CC Mobile customers by painting outlandish rhetorical questions on the storefront’s façade. It’s not that far afield from what Chuck might have deemed the chicanery of Jimmy’s efforts to court business via oversize billboards and cockamamie TV ads, but the ends don’t necessarily justify the means. Jimmy’s just trying to keep busy, taking on the shift-supervisor gig at a poorly trafficked cell-phone retailer to help keep one foot firmly planted in thankless reality while the other is itching to step into another pile of found money.
Episode soundtrack via Tunefind
posted by filthy light thief (73 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I enjoyed the prison cell imagery of Jimmy in his work-required clothing, bouncing a ball off a wall in his self-imposed solitary confinement (where he lied about having the job, then took the job [in part to not talk to a shrink?], only to find it's mind-numbingly dull). I'm happy he took the job and didn't just lie to it about Kim.

Mike, oh Mike. It looked like he was about to cry when Stacey talked about forgetting Matty, but then Henry started talking. I kind of want Henry's wife to be real -- or maybe it was Henry's husband (or significant other), but Henry still doesn't feel comfortable about talking about him, even in a "private" group for fear of being judged. So Henry comes back with photos of himself and his SO. I can see some of the statements being lies, but a person can want to go to both Australia and Cuba, so that's not a very good *gotcha.* (And you wanted to talk ... until you didn't, and ignored Stacey's call.)

All the guys are talking, and there's Kim, just listening. Poor Kim, possibly hoping for a "save-the-broken-lawyer" case to rediscover her love of the law, but I'm glad she was the one to realize it was the plot from The Verdict. Or is she trying to understand something else, either for Mesa Verde, or something else? (Come on, something else! Let Kim find something to excite her, because it feels like even when the many men in this show strike out, they were swinging for something big. Mesa Verde is big, but it's a "good" big thing, not exciting, and really daunting, because someone has grand expectations of what she can carry.)
posted by filthy light thief at 7:19 AM on August 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Almost every character's motivations seemed obscure to me in this episode. We kept saying "why is he/she doing that?"

I think, though, that the talk is a ruse to hide what's really going on inside these characters. Jimmy's talking himself into and out of jobs (both legit and not-so-legit) to avoid talking or thinking about Chuck's death and the part he played in it.

Mike unloads on Henry's falsehoods to defer talking about his own pain over Matty's death (and I couldn't take my eyes of Jonathan Banks in that scene, especially while Stacy was talking. Masterful)

Kim is listening to the talk in the courtroom to do, well, I'm not sure. She's anxious about the Mesa Verde expansion, she's anxious about Jimmy, and I don't know if she really, really believes in herself even yet.

Gus calls Mike in to 'talk,' but it's a game that Mike (naturally) sees through immediately.

Nacho and his dad finally talk to each other. They're trying to hide what's really going on, but it's impossible. They both know. That was heartbreaking.
posted by Shohn at 7:52 AM on August 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


At the reveal of what Jimmy painted on the cell phone store windows, I was reminded of the scene somewhat early in Breaking Bad when Saul opens his office desk drawer and we see a couple dozen burner phones. I remember thinking at the time "now where does he get the technical knowledge about how phone surveillance and tracking works?" Well, now we know.
posted by Liesl at 8:33 AM on August 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


I don't understand part of the last scene, specifically the part I bolded.
Gus: In order for our arrangement to continue, there is a matter we need to discuss.

Mike: Okay.

Gus: Do you have something to tell me? If you do, you would be well advised to do so.

Mike: [scoffs] Nacho Varga. I wondered when we were going to get around to this.

Gus: You came to me. You asked for a favor. You looked me in the eye, shook my hand, and all the while you knew Varga was moving against my interests.
I understand the rest of the scene, but what was the favor? Obviously I've forgotten something.
posted by AFABulous at 8:39 AM on August 28, 2018


AFABulous, the favor was the money laundering through Madrigal--the money Mike stole from the Salamanca ice cream truck.
posted by Automocar at 8:41 AM on August 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Goddamn, watching Mike when his daughter-in-law is talking. Him (probably) remembering the bit from the top of the episode where he lays out concrete and then Matty writes his name in it. Mike having genuine damn emotion, being sad, mourning his boy, trying to keep his composure, breathing deeply. And then that jackass talking about his wife. And Mike just showing real disdain. Not even anger, just disgust at this six-piece chicken mcnobody making up stories to elicit sympathy when there is real pain in that room.

And then turning that disgust on the room, and really himself, for feeling that pain. Goddamn he should get an emmy for that scene.
posted by nushustu at 8:51 AM on August 28, 2018 [13 favorites]


From reddit: "I just noticed a minor thing in the last night's episode. The font used for the CC Mobile logo is Calibri - developed between 2002 and 2004, and unveiled in 2007. So it couldn't have been used by CC Mobile, if BCS is set in 2002."

Well, I'm out.
posted by AFABulous at 9:41 AM on August 28, 2018 [16 favorites]


From the Vulture piece:

Jimmy’s just trying to keep busy, taking on the shift-supervisor gig at a poorly trafficked cell-phone retailer to help keep one foot firmly planted in thankless reality while the other is itching to step into another pile of found money.

Turns out that little Hummel’s score netted him and Ira quite a chunk of change, and Ira — who’s putting on his own airs of legitimacy by stocking vending machines for a beverage distributor — is antsy for another go at some quick, clean money. Jimmy knows where a veritable fortune in Bavarian figurines can be found, but he isn’t ready yet to descend from representing elderly Mrs. Strauss against ne’er-do-wells to robbing her blind as a shortcut to solvency.

Not that any of this is about dollars and cents for Jimmy (that comes later, when the moral center’s been fully hollowed out as Saul). It’s got more to do with his wanting to be in the mix, in demand, doing anything but laying low until his license gets (hopefully) reinstated in ten months.


I feel like he's gonna take the store from dead zone to top-performing storefront, just in time for his law degree to be reinstated. Meanwhile, he'll have built a network of the kind of folks who need burner phones in bulk quantity (hence the unprecedented sales at that location).

From a Rolling Stone recap:

(The incredulous look on Michael Mando’s face as Nacho realizes what they’re doing is a thing of beauty, as is the choice to show most of the raid from his POV outside the fence. It’s a way to save time and money, sure, but it also adds to the mythos of the Cousins as these unstoppable killing machines, leaving much of the specifics to Nacho’s imagination, and ours.)

I'm racking my brain over what the outside POV of the mayhem going on inside the Espinosas’ compound reminds me of. I swear there's another scene somewhere - I think it was in something animated - where a character marches into a building and mayhem ensues, and all you see is the occasional indication that the character is running amok inside (e.g., someone occasionally gets thrown out a window or something). Simpsons, maybe? There's a similar scene in the Sopranos in S2E5 where Tony sends Furio into a massage parlor to collect on a debt, but that cuts between interior and exterior POVs.

Anybody? Or am I just imagining it?
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:31 AM on August 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


I feel like he's gonna take the store from dead zone to top-performing storefront, just in time for his law degree to be reinstated.

More likely he'll get a visit from Corporate after his sales spike and they shut down his unapproved campaign and he gets fired/quits in disgust.
posted by mikepop at 11:38 AM on August 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Anybody? Or am I just imagining it?

Mission Impossible III has something very similar to this at the German warehouse hostage rescue towards the beginning of the movie.

Hell, another Tom Cruise movie (Knight And Day) has something kinda similar, except the POV character is semi-knocked out from drugs while the craziness is happening.

Old Country for Old Men has a flavor of it when the Tommy Lee Jones character pulls up to the firefight at the hotel.

That's just whatever comes to mind immediately. I'm sure I'll think of a bunch more in the coming day or so.
posted by sideshow at 11:46 AM on August 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Anybody? Or am I just imagining it?

I think you are referring to the Key and Peel scene in Fargo's first season.
posted by svenvog at 11:54 AM on August 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


IIRC, there's one in the first season of Fargo with Billy Bob Thornton being the shooter.
posted by Gyan at 11:54 AM on August 28, 2018


Yeah, that's the one that I flashed to immediately also. Video.

Jimmy repetitively bouncing the ball in the empty phone store felt very much like a reference to The Shining.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:57 AM on August 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


(TVTropes names this the Battle Discretion Shot, FWIW.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:09 PM on August 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


The Great Escape seemed more on the nose for the ball bouncing, with Jimmy feeling trapped in the store and trying to scheme his way out.
posted by cardboard at 12:10 PM on August 28, 2018 [9 favorites]


Mission Impossible III has something very similar to this at the German warehouse hostage rescue towards the beginning of the movie.

Actually, Abrams used this trope twice in MI:III. At the German thing at the beginning, and then when Ethan gets the MacGuffin object from the sekret lab in Hong Kong.
posted by sideshow at 12:20 PM on August 28, 2018


Simpsons, maybe?

Freddy Quimby's alleged beating of the French Waiter?

What Bart saw.

Of course my favourite example of the trope comes from Monkey Island, playing out almost entirely in the action text bar.
posted by yellowbinder at 12:36 PM on August 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


Anybody? Or am I just imagining it?

Maybe Terence Stamp in this scene from The Limey?
posted by theory at 12:54 PM on August 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


I can't imagine this is what the BCS team was thinking with the ball bouncing, but I will always think of Toby and his Spalding when I see someone doing that, trying to work something out.
posted by ApathyGirl at 2:34 PM on August 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Haven't seen Mission Impossible III, and Fargo's on my "Series to Check Out" list, so not those.

Freddy Quimby's alleged beating of the French Waiter?

Definitely.

Maybe Terence Stamp in this scene from The Limey?

Also definitely!

(TVTropes names this the Battle Discretion Shot, FWIW.)

I'm beyond thrilled to have a term for this. Thank you!

I think y'all have convinced me I'm recalling a mashup of Battle Discretion Shots in my head, and that it's more of a "use of a trope that's appeared in lots of stuff" scenario.

I'm thinking this should have been an AskMe, so sorry for the derail. In any case, it was a great scene.

Thanks everybody!
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:42 PM on August 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


More likely he'll get a visit from Corporate after his sales spike and they shut down his unapproved campaign and he gets fired/quits in disgust.

Oooh. That sounds about right.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:02 PM on August 28, 2018


The episode's called "Talk," but talk -- more precisely, emotional labor -- is just one of the categories of its real theme: work. This is an episode about occupation and preoccupation, about characters looking for a change and characters trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives. What is each one's true avocation? What work can they do that will feel like their authentic selves?

Ignacio Varga's forced servitude to Gus Salamanca is arguably the nastiest bit of work in the whole episode, an uncompensated job in which he's expected to use up his body and his soul, but not to sacrifice them, as there is "more to do." It's ironic that Gus treats his fast-food employees in a paternalistic fashion, and his criminal associates in the fashion of an uncaring manager who sees them as interchangeable cogs in a strangely corporate design. Madrigal Electromotive is a good image for this Gus -- mechanical motions, calculated precisely, and a live current straight through to ensure the job is done. The "brotherly love" of the Los Pollos Hermanos working family is just the front for the steel heart of its owner and operator.

But if Nacho and Gus represent labor at its most obviously exploitative, Mike's plot and Kim's find an odd parallel in the way we see both characters deal with difficult emotional labor by returning to their professional dreams and habits. Realizing she can't reach Jimmy -- the he won't do "the work" with her -- and that Mesa Verde is not what she wants her life to be, Kim turns instead towards criminal law, indeed, the very sort of criminal law that jimmy sweated through as of...well, the beginning of this very series.

In this she seeks a kind of grounded, honest fulfillment, but also, as the condescending judge suggests, perhaps a fulfillment she's not finding elsewhere. He's wrong, and a massive sexist ass, in thinking he knows the kind of emotional labor Kim wants her job to provide, but he's not entirely off in seeing that she's not there to pick up billable hours. (He himself seems more like the spoiled Romantic he projects onto Kim; one wonders how many other lawyers he's crapped on over the years because of this. There's only one troll in his court.) Even the unromantic docket he discusses is made up of people who can't express themselves healthily: it's full of petty crimes of passion, violence and degradation speaking for implied emotional rifts and faults.

And in Mike, we see how he falls back, instantly, to his old habits as a cop, directly in his suspicions of Henry (which are tantalizingly not confirmed, not directly) and in ignoring Stacey's phone call at Madrigal, but taking Gus's. And when Gus tries to turn their relationship into an interpersonal drama about his revenge, Mike spins it around to home in on the dirty job he knows Gus is angling him towards. He won't pay a false debt or stomach a liar; that interferes with the purity of the work. And yet emotional labor, he can't do anymore; Matty's death finished his willingness to do this except entirely on his own terms, which is to say, not at all.

That opening sequence is amazing, in a way. The Mike who would let his smooth, professional job of laying down concrete slabs be marred as a loving gesture is neither seen nor spoken of. The mislead int hat opening cut from this flashback to Mike's "I talked." line might imply that he told the group this story, but when we loop back around to that later in the episode, we see instead that he has bitterly, destructively rejected that sort of openness to others. Is his expression when he hears Stacey speak of not thinking of Matty one of grief that he can't move on, or of jealousy?

No, I think it reads as rage -- the rage he'll soon express at the entire group, after warming up on Henry -- that Stacey might dare to move on. No one's allowed to move on from Matty; everyone has to do Mike's endless, fruitless work of grief and self-recrimination with him or they're not family, except for Kaylee, Mike's second chance at doing Matty right. (Well, we Breaking Bad fans know how well that works out.) Indeed, he spits on the idea of therapy, of getting real help to do the one job he won't and can't, and his exposure(?) of Henry is far more destructive to the others in the group than simply allowing Henry to perhaps lie to them would ever be.

Mike rejects the very idea of moving on; Matty's dead, and it's his fault, so he's dead, too, and so should anyone who's lost a loved one. His desire to bring back the body of the Samaritan, implicitly to bring back the body for Anita, starts to seem less like an effort to bring closure in retrospect and more like a desire that everyone have their permanent memorial, the tangible burden of their loss, forevermore.

And then there's Jimmy. Jimmy is always the guy who gets to mirror conflicting ends of the theme and turn it upside down, and here he does so in subtle fashion. He's bored more than anything, but only just the right job will do. Yet of all the characters,. he's the one discovering his true, beloved avocation after all. Where Kim and Mike bury themselves in impersonal work to distance themselves from intractable emotional issues -- relationships with the dead at heart, in Kim's case, and the plain old dead, in Mike's -- Jimmy is peculiarly finding emotional fulfillment in the addictive joys of successful crime and crime-adjacent business. In his scenes we see echoes of the Gus stuff, such as another criminal with a food service truck as his cover, and of the numbing routine some of the other characters seem to be seeking or have thrust upon them.

But his solution is to paint a gaudy vision over that dull, drab life, ands the sign he paints -- "Privacy Sold Here" -- isn't just a foreshadowing of Saul Goodman's abuse of attorney-client privilege and burner phones, but also an offer to take money in exchange for helping others hide themselves away from outsiders. Read it as a rejection of Kim's request that he do therapy, share feelings with her, anything; read it, too, as Jimmy setting himself up as a parody of a therapist, of a policeman, of a dedicated PD who finds a mission in her or his clients. Talk to whomever you like, about whatever you like, without accountability or remorse except on your own terms....and those of the service contract, of course. Jimmy McGill doesn't want legitimate work, whether it's emotional or vocational labor. What he enjoys, and the work he will devote himself to, is making sure no one but him knows who's getting away with what.
posted by kewb at 3:39 PM on August 28, 2018 [16 favorites]


Sometimes I can't avoid strange reactions to drama. Ethan Phillips performed perfectly well as Judge Benedict Munninger but I couldn't get over the fact that Neelix was on BCS.
posted by juiceCake at 3:53 PM on August 28, 2018 [9 favorites]


In my fantasy world, they'll bring Judge Munninger back on an episode with René Auberjonois as a fussy lawyer and Inga Swenson as his sharp-tongued elderly client in a case before the court.
posted by mubba at 6:35 PM on August 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


Kim used a Post-It note for the counselor's name! Remember when she was stuck in the basement at HHM doing document review and she made giant grids of Post-It notes to do sales calls on her lunch break? And then they landed one of those clients but she didn't get to work on that? She's so organized, she does what a reasonable person is supposed to do to change the situation, but the change doesn't (permanently) stick! JUST LIKE A POST-IT NOTE. Kinda.

Separately: I'm thinking about Mike, about how in this episode he conflates strength and dominance. And how the concrete love he had for Matty and the ephemeral, delicate French toast way that Stacey expressed her love for Matty are both love, even if one of them sticks around unchanged and the other can ebb as memory leaches away and lives move on.
posted by brainwane at 7:36 PM on August 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


My spouse recognized Neelix; I recognized a The Good Place actor (the guy playing Henry).
posted by brainwane at 7:38 PM on August 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


To me, this episode is for Mike what last episode was for Jimmy: the first step towards their own (colloquial) breaking bad. And, in some ways, I can see why Saul and Mike eventually find even ground.

These last two episodes seem to see Jimmy and Mike both developing the mentality that "sheep deserve to be shorn." Jimmy's disgust with the Heff Copier people leading to a fateful partnership to fleece them, and now Mike starting to develop disgust for the vulnerability allowed by empathy - as we see in the therapy session - as well as a disdain for sloppy work and excuses - as we see at Madrigal. It turns out that meticulousness and lack of empathy are tremendously good traits for your #1.

(PS: Jimmy has a huge list of Hummel targets! How many Hummels did he put into wills in earlier seasons? I guess we know where Ira and Saul come from in BB.)

(PPS: OMG KEVIN!!!!/SHAWN!!!!)
posted by absalom at 8:02 PM on August 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


This is the first episode of the season that I've really loved.

I feel bad for Nacho. Jimmy, Mike and Kim still seem to have some control over their fates, it looks like Nacho is already stuck deep.

Kim's scene at the courthouse was great, and the look on her face after getting the judge's warning but showing up in court again was priceless.
posted by skewed at 8:17 PM on August 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Lester Burns was in New Mexico?
posted by Ideefixe at 9:12 PM on August 28, 2018


I feel bad for Nacho. Jimmy, Mike and Kim still seem to have some control over their fates, it looks like Nacho is already stuck deep.

It makes me even more curious about what Saul blames him for in Breaking Bad (2x08, as Jesse holds him at gunpoint, Saul says - thinking Jesse is from the cartel - "It wasn't me, it was Ignacio! He's the one!")
posted by AFABulous at 9:13 PM on August 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


I couldn't take my eyes of Jonathan Banks in that scene, especially while Stacy was talking

Yeah, he was killing it. This was the scene of the show for me. Kim's stuff was good, the bit with Nacho and his father was nice, but everything else was ... maybe a bit much for me? I'm not sure exactly what.

And I still don't get Stacy's acting. It's ... not natural. Really jarring next to everybody else on the show.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:20 AM on August 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


Anybody? Or am I just imagining it?

There's the scene in Kill Bill 2, where the assassins walk into the church where Thurman's character is getting married. Our view is from the outside as they walk in and there's screaming and shots fired and whatnot. It's pretty quick, though. Not extended like the BCS scene.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:57 AM on August 29, 2018


kewb: And yet emotional labor, he can't do anymore; Matty's death finished his willingness to do this except entirely on his own terms, which is to say, not at all.

Maybe I'm not defining emotional labor right, but he did get involved with Stacey's church playground in Expenses (307 on Wikipedia), but after Stacey volunteered him for the effort in the prior episode, Off Brand (Wiki). Here's the exchange that kicks it off, after the first support meeting:
Stacey: Thanks for coming. It means a lot.
Mike: Well, honey, if it makes you feel any better, I'm all for it.
Stacey: Enough that you'd come again?
Mike: We'll see.
Stacey: Well thing is, I sort of volunteered you for something.
Mike: What?
Stacey: To help with the new playground. The kids deserve way better than that, don't you think?
Mike: Sure, but why me?
Stacey: Well, they need someone who knows how to pour concrete. And the slide and the swings need something called footings, I think.
Mike: Sweetheart, that's not really my department.
Stacey: Sure it is, Pop. You built a carport when Matty was a kid.
Mike: I did?
Stacey: Yeah. He told me about it a bunch of times. He said that when you were pricing it out, you thought that all the people who gave you quotes were crooks, [chuckling] so you decided to do it yourself.
And you let Matty write his initials in the wet cement. Pop, the way he talked about you, it was like you hung the moon. Sorry. I can get you out of it. I just thought it was
Mike: No, it's fine. Just tell me when and where.
So it's not a volunteering on his own, and you could say he's pressed into service by Stacey playing on Mike's memories and guilt for Matty.

kewb: No one's allowed to move on from Matty; everyone has to do Mike's endless, fruitless work of grief and self-recrimination with him or they're not family, except for Kaylee, Mike's second chance at doing Matty right.

Another take, which I picked up from the previous BCS Insider podcast (link to my notes on the podcast, in the prior FF episode thread): if Mike is feeling anything like Jimmy now, he's putting all the pressure on himself, as Jimmy is because of Chuck's suicide. When everything's good with Kim, he's having trouble accepting being this person who essentially caused his brother's death, and Kim could love him? That doesn't seem right, she shouldn't love him. He's awful, he's a terrible person. And that's the thing that spurs him to swap the Hummel, calling on Ira. But here Mike can't let himself forget Matty (he already forgot making the carport and having Matty sign his name, until Stacey reminded him of it last season), because Matty is dead only because of what Mike did. Stacey is also a victim here, and because of that she can move on.

And Mike may be lashing out at Henry because how can you make up someone, when he himself lost his son and is forgetting him? And his daughter-in-law has anguish over forgetting him? Yet here's this fraud, feeding off of the emotional support of this group.

Yet he's disdainful of the group -- "All wrapped up in your sad, little stories, feeding off each other's misery."

uncleozzy: And I still don't get Stacy's acting. It's ... not natural. Really jarring next to everybody else on the show.

I'm on the fence with her, whether it's her acting, or her character, that is odd. I feel like she's playing Mike, knowing he's doing or has done things that are less than legal, possibly because she knew cops were corrupt back in Philadelphia, or because she knew he was one of the corrupt ones, where Matty wasn't. Either way, she seems to be happy to press him into (small) work for her, feigning like she doesn't really want or need his help just enough to not seem too eager to take it when he offers (after she mentions some issue with her work schedule, or where they live). I get the feeling that they don't have an honest relationship, and if it weren't for Kaylee, Mike wouldn't be so involved with Stacey's life post-Matty.


absalom: And, in some ways, I can see why Saul and Mike eventually find even ground.

And possibly Gus is here, too. I will make the case that his "public" persona of owner of the Los Pollos Hermanos franchise is not a front, but an honest part of himself. Before he broke bad, he was a kind young man, though one who was already looking into distributing meth under cover of his chicken restaurants. But his (romantic?) partner, Maximino Arciniega, is killed in the most callus of ways, and that's what starts him on a path of revenge. Perhaps Gus initially had a similar mindset to Gail, that "consenting adults want what they want," and simply selling them drugs isn't an evil thing to do, but after Tio Salamanca killed Maximino at Don Eladio Vuente's sudden request, Gus (rightfully so) sees the drug world as a very violent and brutal one. So possibly in his eyes, anyone who chooses to enter it is doing so at their own risk, and anyone under him is going to profit, but can also expect some very harsh treatment. Fast food workers, on the other hand, earn very little but are treated like family, because he can't rule them with finances and fear like he does the drug world. Jimmy and Mike both treat certain people respect with the utmost care and respect (for Jimmy, the elderly, and for Mike, it's kids), but others should know better, especially criminals.


absalom: PS: Jimmy has a huge list of Hummel targets! How many Hummels did he put into wills in earlier seasons? I guess we know where Ira and Saul come from in BB

I am such a goon, I failed to put Jimmy's inventorying of Hummel's last season into this knowledge of the Hummel buyer's world this season.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:03 AM on August 29, 2018 [7 favorites]


Please, please PLEASE don't let Jimmy steal another Hummel figure from those sweet little old ladies. My heart couldn't take it!

Nacho asking his dad to rest at his house was also so painful. And Mike! Sheesh, this episode.

LOVED Kim's gangster stance sitting in the courtroom after that asshole judge talked down to her. I'll keep observing your courtroom, thank you, as is my right.
posted by agregoli at 9:03 AM on August 29, 2018 [9 favorites]


It's ironic that Gus treats his fast-food employees in a paternalistic fashion, and his criminal associates in the fashion of an uncaring manager who sees them as interchangeable cogs in a strangely corporate design.

I've been thinking of this as well, but not been able to fully articulate it. Is his apparent genuine concern for, and over-the-top niceness to, his Hermanos staff just part of his cover act? It seems obvious that the answer should be yes, but maybe it's not. Maybe it is his only outlet for the compassion that he can't afford to have in his other life as a cartel boss?
posted by 256 at 10:19 AM on August 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


I'm pretty sure Jimmy did not steal Hummels from any old ladies. He bought the cheaper substitute. If he had any intention of stealing old lady Hummels, he would have mentioned it to Ira. as a next gig.
posted by emkelley at 10:54 AM on August 29, 2018


I kind of love that we don't know what the fuck Kim is up to. Everyone is questioning her, being condescending and basically treating her like crap. At this point, if she just got up in the middle of a scene and left the show forever I'd be like, "Hell yeah, fly high and keep being classy af!"

I just want to imagine her being left alone, doing whatever the hell she wants. To the degree that I'm ok if even we, the audience, don't get to know. Why do we need to know? Hasn't she been through enough lol

(Yes, I know she's a character and not real, but goddamnit Rhea Seahorn is that good.)
posted by iamkimiam at 10:59 AM on August 29, 2018 [10 favorites]


I fully agree with iamkimiam!! (eponysterical?)

256, yeah, his concern and kindness for his staff and local community has various benefits for him (loyalty, only making the enemies he means to, better profits and legitimate business growth to make the smuggling easier, friendships with law enforcement).

I wonder whether one additional way to read Gus Fring's extreme niceness to his Hermanos staff is through the lens of chivalry, machismo, and territorialism. He controls his fiefdom, and violence is something he chooses to wield only in defense of that fiefdom from threats foreign and domestic.

And he's so into precision, elegance. There's something artistically satisfying at not just beating your enemies, but doing so while also adhering to a self-chosen constraint.
posted by brainwane at 11:19 AM on August 29, 2018 [7 favorites]


Pollos is his cover, he needs to protect it at all costs and being a good citizen and boss is part and parcel to that. I don't think there's much more to it.
posted by rhizome at 12:10 PM on August 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


Gus' restaurant management style also insulates him against the kinds of management/labor relations inquiries that might lead to less convenient inquiries about suppliers and vendor relationships. Employees who are paid and treated well don't file wage complaints that trigger workplace investigations.

And he's so into precision, elegance. There's something artistically satisfying at not just beating your enemies, but doing so while also adhering to a self-chosen constraint.

I love the way you put this! Gus Fring: Indomitable Sonneteer*

probably not a real word, sorrynotsorry
posted by Fish, fish, are you doing your duty? at 12:10 PM on August 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


"At this point, if she just got up in the middle of a scene and left the show forever I'd be like, 'Hell yeah, fly high and keep being classy af!'"

I'm cool with that too, but can I watch The Kim Wexler Show? I love love love BCS but if I had to choose which story to learn more about, I'd follow Kim to the ends of the earth and never know anything else about Saul, Gus, Nacho (though I do love me some Nacho, I'd miss him a lot), or Mike.

I have a fantasy show featuring the law firm of Lockhart, Wexler, & Quinn, with Mars and Sharma as investigators. CJ Cregg can do the PR/comms side of the firm.
posted by emkelley at 12:15 PM on August 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


If he had any intention of stealing old lady Hummels, he would have mentioned it to Ira. as a next gig.

Just because he hasn’t yet doesn’t mean he won’t.
posted by LizBoBiz at 12:34 PM on August 29, 2018


Yeah, and he only kinda put Ira off about it right? Like Ira was all "you got any more of those bad boys" and Jimmy essentially demurs.
posted by rhizome at 12:39 PM on August 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


I've been thinking of this as well, but not been able to fully articulate it. Is his apparent genuine concern for, and over-the-top niceness to, his Hermanos staff just part of his cover act? It seems obvious that the answer should be yes, but maybe it's not. Maybe it is his only outlet for the compassion that he can't afford to have in his other life as a cartel boss?

Maybe Pollos Hermanos-Gus is the Gus he would have been if Don Eladio hadn't killed his best friend/business partner/lover?
posted by skewed at 1:35 PM on August 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


So, I vaguely recall that we saw the inside of Gus' house at some point during BB and that there were toys there appropriate for a toddler. Am I misremembering? Or does Gus have kids later in the BB-verse? Or are we to assume that this was just misdirection on Gus's part?
posted by 256 at 2:02 PM on August 29, 2018


On the other hand, Vince Gilligan is on record that Gus's mysterious background in Chile was meant to hint that he was connected to Pinochet's regime, so "kindly Gus" may not be the reality.
posted by kewb at 2:12 PM on August 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


Oh yeah, I forgot the scene in BB where Gus dares the snipers to shoot him and they refuse to do so, and some comments from various narcos about "who" he is. But I can't remember who said that? Was it Don Eladio's people? Other cartel? How do we square Gus' position now with how is he treated in the BB era? It doesn't seem to be just a function of him being richer and more powerful.
posted by skewed at 3:39 PM on August 29, 2018


Gus says he has a wife and children at some point in BB (I think maybe when he has Jessie over for dinner?), but we never see them.
posted by skewed at 3:55 PM on August 29, 2018


In S3E11 Aniquiú Gus has Walt over for dinner: "This is a Chilean dish that I love, but I never get to make it. The kids won't eat it."

I suspect this was not so much Gus misdirecting as it was a loose thread that Gilligan & co decided to quietly drop; we never again see or hear anything about Gus having any family life.

But I can't remember who said that? Was it Don Eladio's people?

Yep. S4E8 Hermanos; Don Eladio tells Gus: "The only reason you are alive and he is not is because l know who you are. But understand. You are not in Chile anymore." I think Hector also mockingly mentions Gus's connections at one point, but can't remember where/when.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 4:00 PM on August 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


A few notes:

- In addition to The Good Place, Marc Evan Jackson (Henry) has also been on Brooklyn Nine-Nine as Holt's husband, and I thought that he was just great here; he so perfectly projects an air of fragility that Mike almost seems like a monster for outing him as a fake. And maybe he really is badly wounded, if he's faking his way through a grief support group (like the narrator of Fight Club, trying to batten onto support groups that he doesn't belong to in order to try to sleep). Mike seems just as contemptuous of the people who really do need the group for its intended purpose, which should include him. I don't think that he's quite managed to push Anita away, and I think that she has more interest in him than just as a fellow group member.

- I also had a few moments in Ethan Phillips' scenes where some of his Neelixness seemed to come through, but we just finished the Voyager rewatch, so that may be part of that. I wonder if Kim is going to completely give up Mesa Verde, or just end up doing some of these cases as both pro bono work and her way of assuaging her conscience.

- That Battle Discretion Shot reminded me of a bit in Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's first Punisher miniseries, in which the Russian, a very large and brutal mercenary, is attacked in his home, a relatively small cabin, by an entire squad of mercenaries; the only survivor is sent out as a warning. I'm not really fond of people whose description of being impossibly badass and tough is due mostly to plot armor, and the Cousins have a whiff of that (especially in Breaking Bad), and I'm glad that they got at least a little bit of help from Nacho.

- Especially as a fan of The Wire, I am very pleased that it looks as if Jimmy's real entry into the ranks of criminal lawyers may come as a result of marketing burner phones.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:24 PM on August 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'm not really fond of people whose description of being impossibly badass and tough is due mostly to plot armor, and the Cousins have a whiff of that

I thought plot armor was more like someone important not dying, the only reason being that they’re important. I don’t feel that with the cousins. Their entire character ark is pretty much be bad ass killers. I really enjoyed the fight scene but I think if there’s any plot armor there it’s Nacho not getting noticed and shot by anyone because Nachos going to live for at least a little bit (and not even really, they established pretty well how he was able to get that far). Nacho’s also got some plot armor for that bullet wound, I doubt it’s going to kill him.

None of this is to say that plot armor itself is bad, just that I don’t agree that it’s the cousins who have it (although really anyone who was alive in BB has it)
posted by LizBoBiz at 12:14 AM on August 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


It's a small detail, but I feel like this is the first time in forever (ever?) that Kim hasn't been in various shades of blue. Instead, sort of an orange-yellow shade...which makes me slightly suspicious of her motivations sitting in that court....
posted by Bibliogeek at 1:40 AM on August 30, 2018 [4 favorites]


The judge assumes she’s shopping for defendants, but what if she’s shopping for lawyers? (I don’t know why, though; unless she’s thought of One Weird Trick That Howard Hamlin Hates.)
posted by uncleozzy at 3:14 AM on August 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


No one's allowed to move on from Matty; everyone has to do Mike's endless, fruitless work of grief and self-recrimination with him or they're not family, except for Kaylee, Mike's second chance at doing Matty right.


Yup.

Jimmy is going to bring me up the numbers by selling and buying (or confiscating unpaid) phones.

Back then it was tougher to get a burner, needed registration.
posted by tilde at 3:27 AM on August 30, 2018


mikepop: More likely he'll get a visit from Corporate after his sales spike and they shut down his unapproved campaign and he gets fired/quits in disgust.

As with Davis and Main, the problem Jimmy will run into is that the image he uses and customer base it attracts, while profitable, are not those the larger business wants. (With Davis and Main, there was the further issue of the very strict rules about legal solicitation; in real life, there are actually a lot of states with strong regulations about what legal advertising on television can contain and how specifically it can target members of a class or suggest specific case outcomes.)

One way of looking at Saul Goodman is to see him as someone who serves an underserved niche in the real economy: gray and black market consumers that other businesses don't touch because it alienates the wider society and opens up potential legal problems for them. (Hey, look at how Jimmy/Saul/Gene ended up.)

In this sense, Saul's celebrated tackiness isn't just how he makes his real business invisible to the people who want to uphold bourgeois respectability, it's also how he makes himself visible to exactly those people who'd want a criminal attorney. The same thing that makes Davis and Main or perhaps CC Mobile not want him representing them is exactly what makes people like Jesse and Badger want that same thing.

There's an irony here: Slippin' Jimmy's fraud, his Chicago sunroofs, and his ambition merely to eke out enough beer, weed, and rent money to stay on the margins made him one sort of problem for a capitalist society, that of the person who opts out of the game and breaks its rules. But Jimmy the mobile pitchman and Saul the lawyer are a different problem, because they represent market service and profit-seeking taken to one logical extreme.

I think it's also telling that Slippin' Jimmy and Jimmy McGill forms real interpersonal relationships through work, but Saul Goodman mostly seem to have accomplices. There's no way to mix emotional labor and professional work in those areas. This is also something Mike seems to find out again and again: not only do we have his rejection of "half measures," but also the way his paternal affection for Jesse in Breaking Bad causes him to put up with Walt well past the point where that's safe for him. Even in BCS, Mike's fall (further) from grace has been in part his mixing a personal vengeance against the Salamancas with his usual professionalism, thus getting him in with Gus Fring.

The difference, as was shown in the previous episode, is that Jimmy doesn't have the vestigial moral code that informs some of Mike's choice of jobs. BB veterans will have to ask themselves if this series is also showing Mike in the process of no longer caring if he works for "good criminals" or "bad criminals," or if Mike never fully drops that code. I suppose it depends on which category you put Gus Fring into, though Gus's response to Nacho having his own feelings and goals seems to me to be what Mike would've called "bad" criminal behavior in previous seasons.

On that note, I don't fear for Nacho in the short term anywhere nearly as much as I fear for Nacho's father; it's not like we haven't seen Gus threaten innocent family members in that other series if he feels it will work, and Gus doesn't want to be in the position of offering Nacho a benefit for his service because that would get in the way of the message that Nacho is firmly beneath his thumb.
posted by kewb at 5:24 AM on August 30, 2018 [7 favorites]


Back then it was tougher to get a burner, needed registration.

Prepaid mobile phones date back to the mid-nineties. At this point, BCS takes place in 2003 at the earliest, which we know because of a date on a check in an earlier season.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:33 AM on August 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


There's a really prominent shot of a display labeled "Pay-as-you-go" while Jimmy is wandering around the store.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:50 AM on August 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


There's a really prominent shot of a display labeled "Pay-as-you-go" while Jimmy is wandering around the store.

That's interesting, perhaps it's there to set up the conflict between Jimmy and management--Jimmy could start selling way more burners than CC mobile is comfortable with, and not enough contract-phones which they see as the better business.
posted by skewed at 7:14 AM on August 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


I just went back and watched a last-season Breaking Bad episode in which we see Walter White interact with various people. White needs to feel superior to everyone he interacts with but doesn't have enough discipline to keep his other desires (especially the desire to be liked or feared) from getting in the way... and he lies to himself, a lot, about what he actually wants, so that makes it pretty hard for him to ever genuinely be magnanimous. In contrast, Fring needs to be superior and is willing to give up both being liked and being feared, as appropriate to his goals. And Fring is certain of who he is and what he wants, and carries the calm bearing that comes with that.

Once BCS wraps up I'll be pretty hungry for a "Management Secrets of the Breakingverse" analysis!
posted by brainwane at 1:28 PM on August 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


Back then it was tougher to get a burner, needed registration.

Prepaid mobile phones date back to the mid-nineties. At this point, BCS takes place in 2003 at the earliest, which we know because of a date on a check in an earlier season.


Only a few brands you could buy and not register; I’d tried. I started out with Primeco in 99 and moved to cingular in 2001. (Dumping my beeper; can’t remeber the service)

I bought the primeco for 99$ at Sears or JC penny and you couldn’t get “cards”, you had to sign up prepaid with a debit or credit card. Primeco ran my credit on my teeny Motorola.


RadioShack wouldn’t let you buy a battery much less a phone without registration and most cell shops wouldn’t either (I did have one radio shack guy try to save a sale by practically begging me to just make up my registration info). I think “prepaid” was a requirement for people with bad credit scores?

Tracfones were pretty burny and still are. You can now get them in the us at discount dept stores, drug stores, groceries stores... along with Net 10 (bought by trac I think) and the usual big brand card based. .

I’m a sneaky type and wanted a business line at first and phones for my kids this last decade.

Heh, I have a 120 min card in my wallet to top up the tweens phone right now. Lol.

ANYWAY, he’s got a variety. Maybe the phones are like repos or trade ins that got dumped and he needed them and struck a deal with whoever took over the store to keep them active.
posted by tilde at 5:02 PM on August 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


To give it a little more background — prepaid and pay as you go was to expand the market. My analog phone was $99 on sale, retail was like $129. (Analog signal, without e911) pull out antenna. My Cingular phone was more like $300 I think ... but integrated antenna (a littl thingy sticking up an inch ... and I’ve not seen it on BCS or BB ).

Anyway the reason they wanted the registration info for prepaid was one to get their money and two because it was a way to make a customer for life (keep them upgrading) etc. esp since you had to stay with your company to keep your phone number. You were STUCK. Prepaid was more per month too, cost of having shitty credit.

But the meat of it was lowering the cost of acquisition and maximizing the customer lifetime value.
posted by tilde at 5:16 PM on August 30, 2018


Prepaid mobile phones date back to the mid-nineties. At this point, BCS takes place in 2003 at the earliest, which we know because of a date on a check in an earlier season.

Yes, the case numbers in this last episode were 2003XXXXXXXXX. I didn't get a good look at the rest of the numbers, bit its clear they're in 2003.
posted by Quonab at 5:39 PM on August 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


Back then it was tougher to get a burner, needed registration.

The episode of The Wire that brought the term "burner" into broader use came out in 2004, roughly the same time that this episode of BCS is supposed to take place in. I think they have the timing for selling untraceable phones for small-time crooks down right.
posted by skewed at 6:41 PM on August 30, 2018 [3 favorites]


Hah! Guess I shoulda watched the wire!
posted by tilde at 2:43 AM on August 31, 2018


I had the feeling watching this that Kim was in the courtroom to watch Judge Neelix, not to find a case that would inspire her. I don't know why, though. I feel like there's a huge other shoe about to drop with Kim but it didn't happen yet.
posted by mmoncur at 4:22 AM on August 31, 2018 [5 favorites]


Oh that's a great read--maybe Kim knows Mesa Verde's financials well enough to know that they shouldn't be able to do some of the stuff they are doing, or get approval for it (I don't know anything about banking or what a state judge would have to do with it, but seems at least plausible). If she saw down at the courthouse that it was this judge who is granting stuff he shouldn't be granting, that could be very interesting.
posted by skewed at 8:14 AM on August 31, 2018 [1 favorite]


I think Kim's in a panic. I don't know why and I don't know what she's up to, but something freaked her out about Mesa Verde's expansion plans and caused her to start acting differently. Letting her paralegal do work she'd normally handle herself, observing court, being kind of weird with Jimmy, wearing different colors even. I don't think it has anything to do with this particular judge. The exchange she had with the bailiff (?) about what the judges had that day sounded like she's done this before. She just picked Neelix's courtroom that day.

The Neelix thing raised a question for me though. I didn't watch much BB, so maybe this is a dumb question, but how could Saul practice law in Albuquerque without running across any judges or other attorneys or paralegals or clerks or bailiffs or anyone who recognized him as Jimmy? Both versions of him are pretty memorable and he schmoozes a lot of people.
posted by Dojie at 8:27 PM on August 31, 2018 [5 favorites]


Yeah, after she saw the models at Mesa Verde I thought for sure Kim was going to just leave town in a hurry. (Wild guess: she has an abusive ex-husband who is a judge or DA in North Platte, Nebraska, who she is technically still married to.)

But now she's sitting and watching court. I can't figure out why. Maybe this is just where she goes when she's having a crisis of confidence, and she's still deciding what to do.
posted by mmoncur at 12:16 AM on September 1, 2018


At this point, BCS takes place in 2003 at the earliest, which we know because of a date on a check in an earlier season.

I'm a tremendous nerd about this show. The check that Howard gives Rebecca for the estate is dated April 7, 2003, which was a Monday. If we assume the date on the check was the current date, that's the day Jimmy interviewed at Neff and CC Mobile. He got the job the next day, and I think he started the same day. It's unclear when he met with Ira, but it was certainly within that week. He'd have to go get paint, so I think he painted the windows on April 12, 2003. This show moves a lot slower than BB, which concerns some people because we have 5 years to go to catch up. (September 7, 2008 - BB spoilers here)

Potential BCS timeline spoilers via Vince Gilligan interview
posted by AFABulous at 8:46 AM on September 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


Dojie: In Breaking Bad, Saul reveals his real name to Walter White (the main character) the first time they meet. So he's not trying very hard to hide it. My guess is that 'Saul Goodman is Jimmy McGill' is an open secret in Albuquerque's legal community. But because his clients are low class (sex offenders and petty criminals), no one high up in the legal hierarchy cares.
posted by riruro at 9:55 AM on September 1, 2018 [5 favorites]


Finally finished writing up the latest Better Call Saul Insider Podcast (404): with Chris McCaleb hosting, Kelley Dixon popping in late (she's back in L.A.), with Peter and Vince, assistant editor Joey Reinisch on the boards and sometimes on the mic, and four guests: episode writer Heather Marion (she likes BCS better than her new show, until their podcast ;)), and podcast virgins, supervising sound editor Kurt Nicholas "Nick" Forshager , plus Luis and Daniel Moncada, aka the Cousins Marco and Leonel Salamanca, respectively
  • On the teaser (intro): Heather says they broke this last, figuring out what would be shown or portrayed. Chris says it was a tough job matching the music to the scene, because they had so many pieces to work with; young Matty and a young Jonathan Banks double, who could have played Jonathan ... at a distance, at least (Chris is hedging his bets ;) -- not sure who this is, as he's not clearly credited in IMDb at the moment). Heather: we always intended this to be from Matty's point of view, focused on the work and not his dad's face. Peter take a moment to appreciate "the tidal pool" reflection that it is, something you look back on later in the episode
  • Breaking Bad tangent: Luis's favorite episodes are 307 (FF rewatch) and their first appearance (301; FF rewatch). On the big explosion: Luis and Daniel are getting set for the big boom, which is one take, everyone's prepping them, and then everyone backs waaay up, leaving Luis and Danny on set and in the blast radius [YT - bonus "making of" footage, before seeing the cut from the episode]. Luis' message to Danny, on his first day on his first job: there's a fire truck over there. So, if the explosion and you catch on fire, your arm or your pant, keep walking. If something hits you, and it doesn't knock you out, keep walking. If you can't put up with it, fall on the ground or whatever and they'll put you out. But as long as you can, keep fucking walking ("there were a lot of fucks"). Peter: you look so cool, you don't flinch, you don't blink, how did you do it? Luis: we weren't expecting it to be that big. But we were ready for that, like if you're waiting for someone to punch you. Vince: what did you think about it the first time? Luis: holy shit. Danny: I asked Brian, who directed the episode, should I keep smoking? Luis threw his cigarette, but should I keep it? Brian first said "don't worry about it, no one will notice it." Then he came back and said "after the explosion, why don't you take a drag, like you're walking in the park." Luis is pretty proud of his little brother's first day on set. "Heather, what do I always say about him? He's a ninja." Danny: "Infected with ninjavitus"
  • Chris: you guys definitely did some ninja shit in this episode. [Fun fact: This was recorded on Aug. 23, the Thursday before the air date]
  • Nick, on building out the "sonic landscape" in the hotel night scene: it starts in the spotting session, talking about it with Peter and Chris and everybody. Peter's direction was that he wanted to feel like Pirates of the Caribbean, moving from one room to the next, with a progression, and sound bleed from one room to another. There was lots of walla*, but mostly it was the musical journey through the whole motel. Chris: we don't usually temp in music, but we did this time, because it's all diegetic music [def: in the scene], it's more of a sound effect that surrounds everything. Peter: I wanted a robot to shoot a cannon, too, but it didn't work. Chris: And a dog with keys in his mouth.
  • * def of walla (Wikipedia article): background actors pretend to talk, but their sounds get dubbed in from ADR or Loop Sessions with non-specific Group Actors; this was one of our biggest group, with some Spanish speaking wallas; there was people doing drugs, people mimicing having sex, and Vince provided his own sex sounds because why not? Loop group is also cheaper than paying all background actors SAG rate, which would kill most budgets. Loop groups generally ad-lib, but they also get specific things to say if they're doing a specific scene, like a hospital.
  • Chris: how often do the cousins speak? Luis: You know, I had to get a Dialect Coach because of all my speaking. Can you cut it in half? Because I have a life. [All laugh] Chris: the most you've said was in the last episode. Luis: before this, the most I said was to Gus about swapping Dean (?) for Walt. [Did he mean David Costabile, who played Gale Boetticher? -- ed.]
  • Chris: switching gears, talk about the cousins going completely homicidal on everybody at the hotel. Luis: What? Not us. Danny: We're teddy bears. Heather: We started with Gus's master plan: he got a guy and pinned it on this rival gang, and he took Diego (the guy who Mike tracked through the dead drops in 302) to go in and drop the drugs. It was Nacho's job to finger those other guys to the cousins, Gus knowing full well that they'd take everyone out. Peter had a whiteboard and drew up what he thought the motel would look like. But we found something a little different. It was an amazing job by every department to bring that motel together. Chris: yeah, it's a real location, but it doens't look like a war zone. Peter: There are people living there. They had to move out. Heather: There were four permanent residents there. And it's calle the Westward Ho Motel [for reals, you can see it there via Google Streetview -- ed.]. Before we started writing, we decided that it would take place from Nacho's experience. The carnage was really fun to write and see, but it was less about the carnage and destruction, and more about Nacho's emotional reaction to it, and more about his decision to go in and save these guys, knowing he might die. Knowing that if he doesn't, they might get onto him and kill him, but if he does go in, he could screw up Gus's plan, so he's screwed either way. And he's still injured. He has to take out a guy at the entrance, and he's a tough guy, but I don't know if he's killed that many people. He's there when the three guys, who we called Huey, Dewey, and Louie, which was confusing because we never remembered who was who, so next time we'll call them Tic, Tac and Toe. Vince: that doesn't sound any easier. Heather: He saw them come in and he thought the brothers were trapped, so he had to go in after "the fucking Salamancas," as he called them.
  • Peter: One thing I love about the way this plays is that it's like a radio play, and we put it all on Nick. We're sitting there with Nacho, we see the cousins go in and we know it's on. Then we hear all this mayhem behind the fence. Nacho goes on this journey, and we see this big explosion, but that was added in production - Heather: yeah, that was a [John] Shiban [the episode director] Special - Peter: it's a bit .. flirtatious with the audience. Are they going to show it? Are they not going to show it? Heather: and you did this thing that wasn't scripted, where Luis raised and lowered his guns, and we knew it's going down. Vince: Nick, where do you get all the sound effects? Nick: I have a huge, huge library, with millions of sound effects, and guns are a big part of that. In a big production, we have time to go out and record sounds, but for TV, we don't have that luxury at times. We might go out and record a car if it's something specific. But for guns, we generally have to rely on what we have. But the beauty is that we have so many guns, recorded in so many different perspectives - close, medium field, and distant. Chris and Joey did a great job of making a blueprint of the action that was going to happen. Before Nick comes in and makes it perfect, we have to make it function, so it feels scary and the scene works. So I said Joey - Joey: I think this was my first day on the show. "Why don't you start building the radio play of the gun fight" Oookay ... Chris: I had Mary filling for Joey on Episode 2, because he was wrapping up on our previous show, Lodge 49, and then it was headlong into the fire. Joey: I think the initial version, which is not where we landed, sounded like a 50 person war zone. It was way too much stuff. There were three audio tracks, with what Nacho was hearing, and bullets ricocheting off of things, and then we slid things around to match the action. It was a fun first experiment here. Chris: and then when you guys got your hands on it, you took it to a whole new level with those group actors, to get reactions in Spanish. When the cousins are in there, causing mass mayhem, it feels real, we really buy it. Nick: what's great about it is that it has the stages. Starting with Nacho, it's outside sounds, and we started with Joey's element, which a lot of production sound - Joey: a lot of the guns were - Nick: for guns, you'd never use because they're too puny, but they had a great echo because they were recorded in the space. So I tried to find gun shots with distant echo to mimic what was there, but different guns. When we laid it on top of what Joey had there, it had a rounder, fuller sound, but didn't take away from what was there. And similar to what Joey said, when we added more layers, it was too busy. We worked in the phases, starting with Nacho in the car, then out of the car and moving towards the action. The third phase started with the explosion, when he was going into the mayhem. He doesn't know what he's going to see, just like the audience.
  • Chris: "we love those natural sounds. A lot of us here at the table are fans and -" Vince: "Heat" Chris: "graduates of the Michael Mann school of film-making. I remember Michael talking about that, and it's sort of like Hollywood lore that the team built all those sound effects, pristine guns and all that, and in the end they went with production sound ricocheting and slapping around the buildings of downtown Los Angeles." [YT - the scene in question, jumped ahead to 4 minutes in to the shooting] Vince: "That's the greatest shoot-out in the history of movies. I defy anyone to come up with a better one." Nick: "This is a close second, I'd say." Heather: "This is the best in TV" Nick: "This is the Heat of television." Peter: "If only Heat had Macadas, then they'd have something." Luis: "They're remaking it in 2020"
  • Chris, to the brothers: do you have gun training? Some actors, not to name names, look awkward holding guns. Is there anyone on the set advising? Luis: We don't have formal training, but we have a lot of stunt friends from the gym, so we can ask them, they teach us, and we go to the range many, many times. Danny: there's always someone to advise you, and ask "do you know how to handle a gun?" If you're not comfortable, they'll train you. Chris: like an armorer? Vince: there's the stunt coordinator, and the prop master knows a lot. Luis: we'll still go through the motions with Al Goto to make sure things look natural. Heather: and there's a stunt that Al had Luis do with a knife up his sleeve. Luis: that was Al's choreography there. When we weren't rolling, the knife would stay, but when we were rolling it'd fall out, until the wardrobe put a two-sided piece of tape to make it stick there. "It looked nice, again with the ninja shit" Chris: And that bag of guns, how much did it weigh? Heather: 80 pounds? Danny: It was pretty heavy. At the beginning, I was like "I can take care of it," but later on, I was like "I need a break." On the third take, my side was numb. Luis: "Can we put some feathers in this maybe?"
  • Vince: we were talking about this before the break, but I want to hear from you gentlemen about what a badass Heather is. Luis: "Ooh! Ooh! I gotta talk about that." Danny: "Ninja Heather!" Heather: "Just preemptively, I pay him to say this." Luis: "No, no, serious shit, so Heather trains with me. I competed in Muay Thai and boxing, [and] now I train people in this. I train people how to be bad motherfuckers. Last year, Heather started to train with me, and she hadn't ever thrown a punch." She's athletic, but she took to it really fast, and now people ask if she's a professional fighter. Luis: "Nah nah, I say. She's not a fighter, she's a writer." Luis says he'd like to take her to show a class how to do some moves. Vince: "This is what's worrying me. We can't give her notes from now on." Luis: "No, no, the cool thing is from now on, if anything else happens, you can just go 'Heather, kick his ass.' " Heather: "I'm training to be a Salamanca, because they're all dead." ... Luis: "We're going to have to shave your head. And you're gonna need to tan a little bit." Heather: "The 3rd cousin." Peter: "You're also training Melissa Bernstein," who is also hardcore dedicated to becoming, as Danny says, a ninja.
  • Vince: I want to hear about the moving you're doing. Who is directing? Danny: "It is someone who's not too famous, you know. His name is Clint Eastwood." It's The Mule, based on the the true story of Leo Sharp [NYT], who was put in prison at the age of 90, for transporting $3 million worth of cocaine through Michigan in a beat-up old truck. Vince: And Clint Eastwood is directing and acting in it. Danny: "When I first got the job, I was like 'Fuck, I'm going to work with Clint Eastwood.' " Luis: This is the same shit he did ... he gets star-struck. The first day we get to the set, the day of the explosion, we get out of the van and Brian is directing. We get out, and Danny taps me on the shoulder and says "Look, look, that's the guy from Malcolm in the Middle." [All laugh]. You know, me being the big brother, I said "shut the fuck up." Danny: "You know, I saw Malcolm in the Middle when I was in prison..." Luis: "We don't call it prison, we call it the five star hotel." Danny: "- College, excuse me, the five star hotel." And the same thing with Clint Eastwood.
  • Kelley comes in at the 42 minute mark. Kelley: "It's the cousins! It's the cousins!" ... "This season, it's so Breaking Bad-ish." Having been on Breaking Bad since the beginning, and then BCS, it's weird watching the episode as a viewer. Vince: "Does it bother you that we make you buy episode on iTunes?" Kelley: "I'll tell you what, since we're only on the week of what, 403, you want to give that code out to get all the new episodes on iTunes ahead of time?" Luis: "What, WHAAAT? We're going to have to talk about this. This is killing me, you talk about this shoot-out, but we haven't seen it." Kelley: "But you lived it!" Kelley misses the other perspective, working with the people and making the show, but she's still thrilled to be watching and talking about it.
  • Luis: being the bad guy is fun. Kelley: Do you know what's really trippy? Hearing you guys talk. Luis: it was so built-up when we were first going to talk, I was worried my voice wouldn't match my on-screen persona. Should my voice be deeper? Vince: You should have had a squeeky voice.
  • Chris: getting back to the show ... and then there's [Benedict] Munninger. Peter: Ethan Phillips is wonderful! Chris: Alicia, our post-supervisor was excited, because she knew him as Neelix, which is apparently a Star Trek character? So that's fun. It's an interesting challenge that he gave Kim. Vince: He tells her that story, tell me about that. Peter: One of my all-time favorite court room movies, David Mamet wrote it [The Verdict]. Kelley: Isn't it Paul Newman? Doesn't he play a drunk? Peter: Amongst other things, yeah. And while we're talking about guest cast, I have to say I'm so excited that Marc Evan Jackson made it onto the show. He plays the hell out of that character, Henry, which is a very delicate thing he does, in so many things, including The Good Place (on FanFare), and in my household, The Thrilling Adventure Hour (on FanFare). Vince: He's Henry, who's lying about his dead wife, right? He did a great job. Chris: He had to do such a tight-rope act because he kind of has to be invisible, but as a viewer, we have to watch what he's doing. He did such a nuanced roll, and he's so consistent. And it's comedy that's not big-laugh comedy, but it's funny for its context. Heather: if we didn't know that, we wouldn't know that he's lying. Chris: and ultimately, that's the last straw for Mike, it just sets him off, and plays against Henry. He's wounded, very wounded! Vince: What happens if what Henry is actually telling the truth? Peter: He's going to go to Kim and try to sue for psychic battery. Chris: you don't want to let them know what's going to go on in the next episode. Peter: I'm trying to think of something more for Mark Evan Jackson to do, because he's great. You guys (the brothers) are great, too, and we're always trying to think of ways to bring you into the story, because that's money in the bank. Luis: Well, let me give you a few ideas...
  • Kelley: when do you guys start thinking of bringing in characters? Is it at the beginning of the year, or is it "hey Jen, call their agents and see if the Cousins are available?" Peter: It's more like that. If we were going to say it at the beginning of the season, we'd just list all the people we want to see, but we have to listen to the damned story.
  • Chris: Speaking of which, there's Ira. We see Jimmy take that job at the cell phone store to avoid seeing the psychiatrist as Kim would like him to, but there's nothing to do. Peter: there's that mini-montage, thanks to John Shiban, who goes way back to The X-Files with Vince. He also opened the flood-gates for writer-directors, and has a great ear for music, like "Turn Off the Fear". Chris: And that was John's idea, though [Thomas] Golubic may have provided the song. I was initially cutting it with something else because I thought the song was too low-tempo for what that was going to be, but when I finally got the shape of the scene with Jimmy painting the windows, it just worked so well, so I re-cut it to that song.
  • Peter: And then there were the jump-cuts with Jimmy being bored in the store. We had the crazy idea to change the music with each cut, but I didn't think about how much it was going to cost with all those songs. Kelley: Really? Chris: Even library music cost money. Peter: but it made those scenes come alive, it really makes the comedy-boredom; it's not actual boredom, but comedy boredom. Nick: we talked about making it one song, but we agreed it was good. "Nobody would cut the music off in the middle of the phrase like that, over and over and over to create storytelling out of that." Peter: "Nobody in their right mind would do it!" Nick: "You were totally in the right mind, because it was brilliant. It really was awesome." Kelley: As someone who has cut a lot of montages, it's refreshing to find a spin to put on editing a scene. "It makes you see 'how artistic can I be?' " Peter: When it seems like we've run out of a way to do a montage, we think of something new.
  • Final teaser -- Heather is working on a Hulu show called The Act, a drama that is based on true events. Release date TBD, no other details available at this time. [But Hollywood Reporter has the scoop on this true crime anthology series]
  • Better Call Saul outro by Danny Moncada
Editor's note: I tried to use quotes when I was actually quoting someone, but otherwise stick to summaries, to keep things a bit briefer (hah!).
posted by filthy light thief at 8:38 PM on September 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


Luis: before this, the most I said was to Gus about swapping Dean (?) for Walt. [Did he mean David Costabile, who played Gale Boetticher? -- ed.]

Dean = Dean Norris; they're referring to the scene in BB S3E6 Sunset in which Gus and the Cousins meet in the desert and he tells them that they can't kill Walt but they can instead kill Hank.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:33 PM on September 2, 2018 [2 favorites]



Yep. S4E8 Hermanos; Don Eladio tells Gus: "The only reason you are alive and he is not is because l know who you are. But understand. You are not in Chile anymore." I think Hector also mockingly mentions Gus's connections at one point, but can't remember where/when.


In a flashback scene, Hector Salamanca mockingly refers to him as "Grand Generalissimo", implying that Gus may have had connections to the Pinochet regime. (wikipedia)
posted by lalochezia at 10:46 PM on September 5, 2018 [2 favorites]


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