Better Call Saul: Piñata
September 11, 2018 7:01 AM - Season 4, Episode 6 - Subscribe

While Jimmy dreams of Wexler-McGill, Kim makes a bold move; Mike puts a plan into motion for Gus.
posted by filthy light thief (52 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Better Call Saul Recap: Cell Awaits (Kenny Herzog for Vulture)
Howard’s End, indeed. The title of Clara’s pick for, well, every major 1993 Oscar (it did win a couple, though Unforgiven snagged the big prize) could just as well headline the story of Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill come 2003. Howard Hamlin, Jimmy’s inherent adversary-turned-feeble insomniac, continues sharing too much, confiding in Jimmy that desks are empty around HHM because of what the consultants call “right-sizing.” He hasn’t slept in God knows how long, the thickness of his stubble is — as Jimmy cruelly observes — threatening to overshadow the fine hair atop his head, and a combination of the firm’s stained reputation and financial burdens triggered by Chuck’s death have left him a shell. “Get your shit together,” Jimmy admonishes, echoing his unsolicited dressing down of Mr. Niff.
I'm already due for a rewatch of this episode, because I totally missed that less-than-subtle foreshadowing of Howards End (no apostrophe in the title). "Howards End all the way down, huh?" Indeed, Jimmy. Indeed. And the continuation of that conversation is even more foreshadowing, or at least a reflection on Jimmy, and on Kim:

"I just love Emma Thompson."
Jimmy: "Who doesn't?"
"She's so pragmatic."
J: "Yeah, well, fingers crossed."

Then Kim shows herself to be focused on law, where Jimmy is ... just Jimmy. And in my viewing of this, it's not Chuck who influences Jimmy to get into law, but Kim. Where Chuck is puffed up on the accolades, Kim is clearly excited for Chuck's skill, asking him further questions about other ways he could have approached the case. When Jimmy tells Kim "That'll be you soon," her reply is a short "Yep."

Also, further reinforcing Howard's lack of lawyerly chops, Kim's summary of that day's celebrations are that "Chuck won a case that Howard thought was unwinnable using only the power of obscure case law." Emphasis mine, because Howard is not a fighter, but instead happy to celebrate with the winner. As Jimmy said, he's a salesman. (FFS, he has Hamlindigo Blue pillars in his office.)
posted by filthy light thief at 7:15 AM on September 11 [6 favorites]


I thought Jimmy's calling-in of the (I assume) bikers to deal with the three punks seemed a bit sudden, in terms of his falling further into Saulspace. But, I guess the crossing of that line had to happen eventually.

The creation of the living space for the German team was pretty fun. Though the foreshadowing of the one problematic worker was a little heavy-handed to me. I have this feeling he will transgress and be dealt-with in a very...narco...manner, and he'll turn out to be the head German's son/nephew/something close. Problems will ensue.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:34 AM on September 11


Again we get echoes in the episode: the cold open shows Kim effortlessly recalling case law while Jimmy can't even remember which party is the client; later we see Kim struggle to care enough to find the case law; finally Jimmy remembers every detail about Mrs. Strauss and her family. Kim and Jimmy are both people of enormous talents, when applied toward things they really care about.

You could argue that Jimmy's recall of Mrs. Strauss' estate is because of the Hummel grift, but I think that overlooks it as an indication of his people skills. It's clear that he's at his best when he's executing a con, and you can't do that without knowing more about your mark than they do about you. Even his (relatively-well-intentioned) dig at Hamlin is indicative; he's got Howard's number and wants to let him know it.

I wonder if it wasn't intentional to let us see the name of the restaurant where Jimmy meets Kim (Forque). The sign could have been removed or obscured or a different location chosen for Jimmy's version of the incipient panic attack that Kim experiences in Mesa Verde's model room, but they let us know that we're at a "fork." Which is either coincidence or cornier than a moonshiner's mash.

There's lots more in this episode, of course. I thought we could have gotten a little more background from Gus than we got. His little parable about the coati and the fruit is fine, but doesn't really reveal anything about him that we don't already know. The unruly German is, yeah, surprisingly unsubtle for this show, and almost seems like a misdirection.

The last couple of episodes have really been killing it, this was a great time.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:37 AM on September 11 [5 favorites]


I was always under the impression from BB that Gus came from a powerful family in Chile.

One of Jimmy's goons was Huell, no? Is that the first we've seen of him? I wonder if Bill Burr's Kuby will show up one of these days.
posted by bondcliff at 8:10 AM on September 11 [2 favorites]


We saw Huell last season when the vet connected him with Jimmy. He was the one who planted the charged cell phone battery on Chuck at the hearing.

I think the other one was the big guy that was one of the bodyguards Mike was 'competing' with for the baseball card collecting pharmacist?
posted by Jugwine at 8:26 AM on September 11 [5 favorites]


The flashback was a nice demonstration of why present-day HHM would be struggling. The firm was clearly dependent on Chuck's brilliance, but they also couldn't recognize or develop talent. Back in 1993, Kim gets the chance to show a partner how sharp she is...and nine years later, when the series opens, they still aren't giving her anything meaningful to do.
posted by chimpsonfilm at 9:18 AM on September 11 [20 favorites]


I wonder if it wasn't intentional to let us see the name of the restaurant where Jimmy meets Kim (Forque).

I thought that the big FORQUE in the background was a sly way to smuggle a "fuck" into the moment where Jimmy's daydreams collapsed.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:45 AM on September 11 [4 favorites]


Anyone knowledgeable about the law want to chime in about how realistic Kim's plan is? Being a partner building out an entirely new division in a law firm and yet still spending a bunch of time on pro bono public defender cases seems a little pie-in-the-sky.
posted by Automocar at 10:00 AM on September 11 [1 favorite]


Did anyone find a screen-grab of Jimmy's notebook yet? The two columns that Kim looked at were a lot less standard-def + middle-aged-eyesight friendly than Walt's pros-and-cons list in Breaking Bad.

It felt to me like this episode was firmly planting a pair of "you know, you're not supposed to be rooting for Walter White" flags. Jimmy's morally ambiguous but Saul is definitely not a good person. Gus is magnetic to watch but is definitely not a good person and never has been; his ruthless cruelty far predates his involvement with the cartel.

I liked the way that the final shot danced all the way to the edge of the Finger-Twitching Revival trope but didn't succumb to it. It would have been so cheap for them to have Hector's hand move; glad they didn't.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:40 AM on September 11 [5 favorites]


Would she still be doing as much PD work now that she's in a firm? I was never clear if there was a set length of time she was sentenced to by the judge.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:41 AM on September 11


I think it's realistic since the building of the new division in this case is largely just dropping in Mesa Verde. It's more like pre-fab, really, and as she states she'll have a group of associates to help out.

And in retrospect, she pretty much spells out why she reacted the way she did when she saw the room full of bank building models - she saw her future played out as a series of cookie-cutter (different giant statuary notwithstanding) cases. While it might have been satisfying to bring Mesa Verde up from scrappy local bank to regional powerhouse, it must feel a lot less fulfilling to Kim to move a bank from regional powerhouse to somewhat-bigger regional powerhouse for the rest of your career.

With his dream of Wexler/McGill crushed (and the end of his time in elder care law resurfaced/emphasized), Jimmy practices what he preaches to Howard about fighting back and commits to something he knows he is good at since he can't get to lawyering yet. I love that he wore an entire track suit, knowing that his main role in that encounter would be running away.
posted by mikepop at 10:50 AM on September 11 [6 favorites]


So what's the drink in copper mugs called?
posted by jouke at 11:08 AM on September 11


Anyone knowledgeable about the law want to chime in about how realistic Kim's plan is? Being a partner building out an entirely new division in a law firm and yet still spending a bunch of time on pro bono public defender cases seems a little pie-in-the-sky.

IANAL, but I've worked for a Very Large Partnership before, and the same operating principles apply: revenue as billable hours and building/nurturing client relationships.

Kim's already brought S&C a billable hours golden goose in the form Gatwood, and she's coming at them again with another ready-made client.

Her job as the partner with the relationship would be more on the "care and feeding" side ("Are you getting what you need?" "I thought about the issue you were having over X. Here's a strategy for dealing with it. Let me know if you want us to proceed with the work." "I know a great spot for Moscow Mules for our next lunch."), rather than the in-the-trenches grunt work she's doing now. She can sell the big-picture legal strategy to the client and then have her minions do the work.

There's probably also a "corporate social responsibility" angle with which to sell pro-bono PD work at S&C ("In addition to heading up our Banking practice, Kim Wexler generously donates her time to pro-bono public defender work..." would be something right at home in her corporate bio).

So yeah, as mikepop says, it seems plausible as a goal.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:14 AM on September 11 [6 favorites]


So what's the drink in copper mugs called?

Moscow Mule!
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:15 AM on September 11 [2 favorites]


Would she still be doing as much PD work now that she's in a firm? I was never clear if there was a set length of time she was sentenced to by the judge.

She's doing it because she wants to do it, not because she was ordered to.
posted by Automocar at 11:17 AM on September 11 [1 favorite]


uncleozzy: I wonder if it wasn't intentional to let us see the name of the restaurant where Jimmy meets Kim (Forque). The sign could have been removed or obscured or a different location chosen for Jimmy's version of the incipient panic attack that Kim experiences in Mesa Verde's model room, but they let us know that we're at a "fork." Which is either coincidence or cornier than a moonshiner's mash.

We had a deal, Kyle: I thought that the big FORQUE in the background was a sly way to smuggle a "fuck" into the moment where Jimmy's daydreams collapsed.

Forque Kitchen and Bar (Yelp page) is a real place in downtown Albuquerque. I drive by it often enough, but in my years here, I still haven't eaten there.


We had a deal, Kyle: Did anyone find a screen-grab of Jimmy's notebook yet? The two columns that Kim looked at were a lot less standard-def + middle-aged-eyesight friendly than Walt's pros-and-cons list in Breaking Bad.

Here you go (98kb JPG, or 671kb PNG), brightened for ease of review. It's all the same sort of thing:

Kim Wexler                  James McGill
&
Banking Law                  Insurance Law


Where "Insurance" is the replaced with Immigration, Bankruptcy, Gaming, and Intellectual Amnesty (?)

The next page are his plans for a GIANT WM sign, because he asks about who makes "those huge signs that casinos have," like this one or these (both Google maps streetviews of New Mexico casino highway signs).
posted by filthy light thief at 11:41 AM on September 11 [3 favorites]


Just want to say thanks for all the insightful commentary in this thread. I feel like this show is really getting to be more like a novel than a show and like in a novel I often don’t understand what’s going on but I like it once someone explains it to me and it seems obvious.
posted by bleep at 11:48 AM on September 11 [5 favorites]


I liked the way that the final shot danced all the way to the edge of the Finger-Twitching Revival trope but didn't succumb to it. It would have been so cheap for them to have Hector's hand move; glad they didn't.

I was expecting the fingers to twitch but then I realized they were just focusing on those fingers after Gus' monologue because it is those fingers which will eventually kill Gus.

These shows rarely go for the easy shot. They never do what you're going to expect. That's why I love them.
posted by bondcliff at 11:49 AM on September 11 [11 favorites]


Thanks for the list. So when Kim is skeptical about Jimmy saying he's been thinking about criminal law/public defending, she knows it didn't even make his fantasy list.
posted by mikepop at 11:49 AM on September 11 [8 favorites]


Thorzdad: The creation of the living space for the German team was pretty fun. Though the foreshadowing of the one problematic worker was a little heavy-handed to me. I have this feeling he will transgress and be dealt-with in a very...narco...manner, and he'll turn out to be the head German's son/nephew/something close. Problems will ensue.

Yeah, it was pretty clearly telegraphed, so I expect it to be flipped somehow, like, as We had a deal, Kyle noted: the way that the final shot danced all the way to the edge of the Finger-Twitching Revival trope but didn't succumb to it. It would have been so cheap for them to have Hector's hand move; glad they didn't.

They didn't have to - we know he'll recover (and that his twitch, with his bell, is the only way he interacts with the world, beyond shitting in his pants in response to police inquiries). [On refresh, bondcliff has it!]

I hope that the BCS crew aren't heavy-handed with anything, and I don't think they will be. In the prior BCS Insider podcast (summary coming up tonight, I'll finally get around to cleaning it up), Peter was talking about how he appreciated the skill of the actors, which let him work more with subtlety, even pushing it farther this season.

They also talked about how after getting robbed, Jimmy finally opened up a bit to Kim. This episode, they grew even farther together, where Jimmy is honest with Kim, and asks for her permission to try and work through it with his job and trying to move on by himself. He says "Is that OK?" and Kim is taken aback a bit, but says "Yeah. Of course, Jimmy. Yeah."


bleep: Just want to say thanks for all the insightful commentary in this thread. I feel like this show is really getting to be more like a novel than a show and like in a novel I often don’t understand what’s going on but I like it once someone explains it to me and it seems obvious.

Here, here, agreed! One thought on that -- in the podcast for 403, Joe DeRosa (Dr. Caldera, the vet) comments on Jimmy eating cereal while reading the will, and says it was a great, small choice to reinforce this not wanting to grow up. The episode writer, Gordon Smith, said they didn't really discuss it in that much detail, and Joe gives him credit, saying they still chose to write it that way, instead of him eating eggs or something, which could have been a subconscious choice. In other words, sometimes I feel like we're digging too deep for meanings that may not have intentionally been made. It isn't a bad thing, just a thing.

To counter my own statement, I'll say that this close watching makes me more engaged with the story, and that there are intentional choices that were made that slipped by me until others here pointed them out, so I really enjoy and appreciate it all.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:58 AM on September 11 [2 favorites]


It’s probably “Intellectual Property Law” which goes to show how much of a daydream the list is. Jimmy doesn’t have the background to make even a half-hearted go at IP law. Kim is seeing Jimmy spin and doesn’t want to tie her professional future to him.
posted by emkelley at 12:16 PM on September 11 [3 favorites]


Howard Hamlin doesn't know how to stand on his own as a man. He was pushed into HHM by his father, and then was under Chuck's thumb. It looked like he was going to grow up when he gave Chuck a swift boot out the door, but nope, he's failing. Contrast him with Kim, who can totally stand on her own as a man. A soft and sexy man at that!
posted by riruro at 1:14 PM on September 11 [5 favorites]


One of the things this episode really hammered home to me is how much Jimmy is willing to shift his plans to adapt to whatever Kim wants/does/says, EXCEPT when it involves standing on his own and bettering himself. She's so annoyed by it that she's gone out of her way to offer herself a job and then lie to Jimmy (saying that they offered her the job).

She set up this opportunity so that she could detach herself from Jimmy and from Mesa Verde while also pursuing what she really wanted. And then when she tells him about it, he STILL is trying to find ways to insert himself into her plans. It's so infuriating because she clearly doesn't want that. And she knows it's all bullshit because she saw the notepad and it revealed to her how not-aligned they really were.

Oh, also, his passive-aggressive line, "You gotta do what's best for you", is throwing it back in her face — she said that to him in the morning when he was trying to justify why he didn't want to go to the therapist.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:51 PM on September 11 [12 favorites]


Brilliant episode.

I got a chuckle with Jimmy's writing of Wexler McGill's signage like a high school girl doodling her name as a married name with whomever she is dating at the time.

That being said, it looks like it's a done deal that Jimmy and Kim break up in the not so distant future. (Future past? Past future?) People liked to think that she gets killed in some cartel shenanigans, but it seems much more likely that they have an acrimonious breakup and we simply don't see much of her as Jimmy slides further down the ever-steepening slope toward full Saul. But I want to see more of Rhea Seehorn, so hopefully I'm wrong.

I liked the whole setup with the German workers, but it seems too pat, too simple. I realize that it's supposed to be Mike's security OCD coupled with Gus' overpowering desire to do the job right, whatever the cost, but I can't see it going well. Although we do know that the superlab eventually gets built, we don't know what hoops they have to jump through to make it a reality.

Loved the bit with man mountain and Buell at the end scaring the kids who robbed Jimmy, but I was dying to see Kuby pull off the mask. That and it became obvious that the kid Kim defended in the earlier episode was in fact not one of the kids who robbed Jimmy.

Still a great episode in an increasingly great season.
posted by Sphinx at 3:27 PM on September 11 [2 favorites]


I found it odd Gus spoke English to Hector rather than Spanish. Can't recall if this was the case in BB? I take it Gus spoke English rather than Spanish because it was long and America?
posted by juiceCake at 3:54 PM on September 11


I found it odd Gus spoke English to Hector rather than Spanish. Can't recall if this was the case in BB?

It was; for example Gus taunting him in English "will you look at me now, Hector?" I think only the Mexico flashback sequence was in Spanish.

I take it Gus spoke English rather than Spanish because it was long and America?

And because Giancarlo Espositio isn't a native speaker of Spanish; his Spanish in Breaking Bad is quite wobbly.

In-universe, though: Gus speaking to Hector in English is about asserting power over him; emphasizing Hector's diminished and disadvantaged position.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 4:28 PM on September 11 [4 favorites]


The Moscow Mule thing bugs. Too recent. Wasn't the mojito the it drink of 2004?
posted by fluttering hellfire at 4:41 PM on September 11


Moscow Mules have been around since the 40s.
posted by agregoli at 5:58 PM on September 11 [2 favorites]


When Jimmy is reacting to the phone call about the death of Mrs. Strauss I had the feeling that part of his reaction was him realizing that he won't be able to do another robbery of a Hummel Alpine Shepherd Boy. I do think he was upset about her death, but also frustrated that a chance for easy money had escaped him.
posted by ShooBoo at 6:17 PM on September 11 [1 favorite]


Oh I really don't think so. He cared a lot about that particular lady and he already rejected stealing from her once.
posted by agregoli at 6:22 PM on September 11 [6 favorites]


Anyone knowledgeable about the law want to chime in about how realistic Kim's plan is? Being a partner building out an entirely new division in a law firm and yet still spending a bunch of time on pro bono public defender cases seems a little pie-in-the-sky.
posted by Automocar at 1:00 PM on September 11 [+] [!]


Kim's plan would be entirely realistic as long as she keeps the public defender work at a reasonable level. Whether it's mandatory or just strongly encouraged, most reputable firms expect their lawyers to meet the Bar Association's recommendation to do around 50 hours of pro bono work annually. I don't know how this works in New Mexico specifically, but I expect that a firm like this would be happy to add a partner who could fulfill this expectation so enthusiastically and so well. It's one way a high-end firm advertises itself, as opposed to Jimmy's matchbooks and Saul's bus bench signs.
posted by Corvid at 7:37 PM on September 11 [3 favorites]


2 sweet scenes:
In the opening flashback, mailroom Jimmy peeks meekly into the HHM law library, as if it's a holy space -- which it is to Big Brother Chuck, Kim's hero of the moment. If Jimmy can earn entry into the holy space, maybe pretty Kim will admire him instead? Poor Jimmy will try so hard to make himself good enough to earn Kim's love, and he'll almost succeed.

When Kim sees Jimmy's notebook with the doodled Wexler & McGill signs, her face instantly ages about 15 years. She sees that Jimmy's plans include a version of herself that she doesn't want to become, any more than she wanted to marry the home town slacker and work at the [not Piggly Wiggly, I've forgotten the name of the local rinky dink grocery].
posted by Corvid at 7:55 PM on September 11 [4 favorites]


The Moscow Mule thing bugs. Too recent. Wasn't the mojito the it drink of 2004?

I don't know about that, but it's Mr. Schweikart's favorite drink, and he took Kim there a couple of seasons ago when he was trying to hire her. So Kim taking Jimmy to the Moscow Mule place is just another way of showing us (and Jimmy, he's probably aware) that Kim is all in with S&K and definitely not with W&M.

I loved seeing Jimmy moving a pallet of burner phones into the back of the nail salon.

I thought Jimmy's calling-in of the (I assume) bikers to deal with the three punks seemed a bit sudden

I'm pretty sure that was Huell and another guy the Vet sent (not sure on the other guy.) I doubt the bikers would go that far to help Jimmy, and they might let the violence get out of control pretty fast... it was more theatre than actual violence.

I don't know why Jimmy went to such effort, though. I'm not sure those three kids are "connected" enough to successfully inform the entire criminal underworld to leave Jimmy alone. I would think Jimmy was better off just hiring Huell to go with him when he makes sales.

I think Jimmy really cared about Mrs. Strauss... and wanted to make sure Clarence only got the Alpine Shepherd Boy if he finished college. (Maybe if he didn't finish college Jimmy would have had some ideas though.)
posted by mmoncur at 8:46 PM on September 11 [3 favorites]


Gus' speech to Hector was ridiculous, macho nonsense. It seemed like it was lifted from so-so gangster movie, not in keeping with Gus' character or this show in general.

I don't think there is much to do with Gus character, they can't develop him in many interesting ways without messing up the character already established in BB. Or maybe there are interesting tings they can do, but just aren't doing it. Other than fan service for a great performance in a good role, Gus' part in this show is just not doing it for me. Same with Mike at this point, though his development in season 1-3 was wonderful. At this point, he's allied himself unquestionably with Gus, and he knows enough about Gus' operation that he obviously has gotten over whatever moral issues he might previously have had with such a job.
posted by skewed at 6:37 AM on September 12 [7 favorites]


Hinky Dinky!
posted by agregoli at 6:59 AM on September 12 [1 favorite]


The entire backstory of Mike shows us he never had many moral qualms tho. At least when murder isn't involved.
posted by agregoli at 7:01 AM on September 12


The entire backstory of Mike shows us he never had many moral qualms tho. At least when murder isn't involved.


Yeah, he's never been an angel--he was a dirty cop, and he resorted to murder when he couldn't get justice for his son. But we spent most of season 2 dealing with Mike's elaborate plan to avoid killing Tuco Salamanca (trying to send him to jail instead). Then when that went haywire, and ultimately led to his complicity in the murder of a semi-innocent truck-driver, Mike decides he's willing to kill Hector. His moral reckoning is not one I'd be comfortable with, but something we can understand, and at least approaches reasonable. Violence is to be avoided, unless someone really deserves it, or is dangerous? Something like that.

With Gus this season, Mike seems to have abandoned whatever standard he had, and it's not clear to me what has changed. He hasn't done anything overtly violent for Gus (correct me if I'm wrong?), but based on the scope and nature of the operation, Mike knows that Gus' operation is inherently dangerous and violent, no less so than if he were working with the Salamancas or the actual cartel. Gus is ruthless and amoral, but Mike doesn't seem to have any reservation about this … because Gus isn't impulsive and chaotic like the Salamancas? Because Gus gives Mike an opportunity to feel important and valued? These seem like thin reasons for Mike to actively try to involve himself more deeply with Gus, as has been doing this season. Does Mike just not realize what Gus is like at this point? Hard for me to believe. Does he not care? Why not?

I just don't think they've earned Mike's position here. It's hard for me to imagine the Mike we got to know in season 1-2 so unreservedly working with Gus. If we didn't already "know" Mike would end up as one of Gus' top men, I don't think this season would make much sense for him.
posted by skewed at 7:54 AM on September 12 [2 favorites]


I wonder if the writing team failed to fully plot the course for Gus and Mike, and found themselves in a bind when they realized their paths for Jimmy and Kim were more clearly plotted, and they had to force the arcs for Gus and Mike because of that.

That said, I feel less comfortable with Mike's progression than Gus' -- maybe because I bought or accepted his split nature, that of the caring, pleasant man who can also be ruthless against those he deems to be his enemies, from Breaking Bad. He may have been naive when approaching the Cartel to develop and move meth instead of cocaine, which lead to the death of his partner, but I felt like this episode just reinforced his back-story of being driven in a quiet, intense, and in some cases, very violent and brutal way. He'll be pleasant to all, except those who get in his way, and he plays long games, not worrying so much about the costs to get from here to there, when he can carry them.

Mike, though -- his switch from complicated man to full partner in crime felt like a light switch being flicked. Maybe he had another "no half measures" moment (the first was the one he recalled in Half Measures, BB312 -- rough transcript). If you're going to something, do it right and go all the way, or people get killed, like the good Samaritan, and like Gordie's wife or girlfriend.

If you're getting paid for criminal activities, you're a criminal, so do it the right way. That way, maybe you can stay out of trouble, and keep your family safe.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:34 AM on September 12 [3 favorites]


I think Mike appreciates Gus' caution - like him, he is a meticulous man, who isn't going to be caught by some dumb mistake. Mike sees a great opportunity to work with a man with great capital and SOME moral standards, and he likes that. Mike's bottom line is earning money with little risk, and Gus is a great bet. I also think Mike sees that Gus respected Mike's attempt to make things right - he didn't want to kill the truck driver he hijacked, and he was filled with moral outrage that the innocent bystander was killed because of his hijacking actions. He wanted to make it as right as he could. Gus respected that.

I think filthy light thief has it too - Mike knows what it takes to be a real criminal - the kind that doesn't get caught (and, you'll note - he never WAS caught. At anything, that we know about). He's aware of himself and is confident in his decisions. Also, I think the cartel annoys him, with their ruthlessness and indiscriminate killing. He wants to be a criminal alongside them, but the RIGHT KIND of criminal. He is a man who has scorn for people who are careless or bad liars (the grief group guy!) but respect for those who can operate in the shadows without getting sloppy.
posted by agregoli at 9:07 AM on September 12 [7 favorites]


Mike's bottom line is earning money with little risk, and Gus is a great bet. … He wants to be a criminal alongside them, but the RIGHT KIND of criminal.

I think this is a good interpretation, Mike is more criminally inclined than I gave him credit for.
posted by skewed at 9:14 AM on September 12


I think this is a good interpretation, Mike is more criminally inclined than I gave him credit for.

What's the difference between a Bad guy and a Criminal?
posted by lalochezia at 10:12 AM on September 12


So Kim is going to join the firm that’s defending Sandpiper?
posted by Ideefixe at 12:03 PM on September 12 [5 favorites]


I think the other one was the big guy that was one of the bodyguards Mike was 'competing' with for the baseball card collecting pharmacist?

David Mattey, known as 'Man Mountain' in the BCS universe.
posted by box at 12:24 PM on September 12 [2 favorites]


I think the tragedy of Mike is that he sees himself as a lost cause. He was a dirty cop because that was the world he inhabited when he was on the job, and as mentioned upthread he murdered Matty's killers (which may have been morally justifiable to some, but murder nonetheless). I don't think he has any delusions about the work he's doing or the world he inhabits now- he knows he's a criminal. But I think he doesn't see any other way at this point in his life. His mission now is to provide for Stacy and Kaylee as much as he can- that's his penance and he doesn't care how he makes the money necessary to do that. With that calculus, Gus is a much better bet for an employer than just about anyone else, for the reasons enumerated above.

If Walter White hadn't come along to fuck up everything, he'd probably still be doing just fine.
posted by Shohn at 12:35 PM on September 12 [4 favorites]


I think Mike admires Gus's tradecraft; he knows criminals and he recognizes Gus as being exceptional. The meticulous planning; the attention to detail; the hiding-in-plain-sight cover story. If Mike has to hitch his wagon to a criminal enterprise to support his remaining family, Gus's operation is by far the best option.

If Walter White hadn't come along to fuck up everything, he'd probably still be doing just fine.

BB S5E7 Say My Name:
We had a good thing you stupid son of a bitch! We had Fring. We had a lab. We had everything we needed, and it all ran like clockwork. You could've shut your mouth, cooked, and made as much money as you ever needed. It was perfect. But no, you just had to blow it up. You and your pride and your ego! You just had to be the man. If you'd done your job, known your place, we'd all be fine right now.
This is mostly Mike being angry at Walt, but it's also Mike taking pride in what he and Gus had accomplished together before Walt tore it apart. Mike's drawn to Gus because Gus wants to build something perfect.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 1:14 PM on September 12 [13 favorites]


These seem like thin reasons for Mike to actively try to involve himself more deeply with Gus, as has been doing this season. Does Mike just not realize what Gus is like at this point? Hard for me to believe. Does he not care? Why not?

I just don't think they've earned Mike's position here. It's hard for me to imagine the Mike we got to know in season 1-2 so unreservedly working with Gus. If we didn't already "know" Mike would end up as one of Gus' top men, I don't think this season would make much sense for him.


I am really ok with where Mike's at because if you think about it he has been hanging around the Albuquerque goon squad for hire scene, doing odd jobs for unpredictable amounts of cash, having to hold down both that and the parking lot job, and getting on the bad side of a powerful cartel.

Gus is letting him trade that in for: stability, sanity, predictable cash, a good, legit job (the security consultant gig) in addition to the goon work that lets him do what he's good at, all while working for someone he respects. Mike would be a fool to let that go, and he's no fool.
posted by bleep at 5:47 PM on September 12 [5 favorites]


anybody else feel like mike was just bored? there were lots of shots of him sitting around watching baseball on his tiny ass television earlier this season, then he started fucking with madrigal, now he's setting up a meth lab for a drug kingpin. the arc here, to me, is the meaninglessness of mike's life outside of his granddaughter. he won't let himself get close to anyone so he has to throw himself into his work. when he no longer had any work to do, he found some.
posted by JimBennett at 6:21 PM on September 12 [11 favorites]


The other part of the puzzle for Mike is that he's seeing Stacy start to heal, to move on, in a way he can't, and his initial reaction has been to lash out at her rather than coming to terms with himself. Now he wants the connection back, but he also wants to keep wearing the hairshirt, as he puts it. It's not just that he sees himself as a"lost cause," it's that he's still very binary in his thinking: there are Good People and Bad People, and there are also Civilians and Criminals. Now, these are two axes on which to judge people, but that's still a two-dimensional mindset in a multidimensional world. The closest thing Mike has to a code of honor now is his insistent professionalism, but he fetishizes a kind of innocence that he sees as irretrievable for himself: Matty was innocent, Kaylee was innocent, and so on.

A lot of this episode is about men putting people on pedestals and either being disappointed by them, or subtly dehumanizing them. Unsurprisingly, given that the show is written in our reality, a lot of those put on pedestals by the male characters are women. And the episode demolishes that in so many ways: the focus on Kim's face, on Stacy's body language and use of the door, all show us that they are real and rounded, indeed, more so than the men int he show playing out their ideas of grand dramas and romances. Jimmy, we see, cast Kim as the endpoint of a quest, the prop in a fantasy, a long time ago. Turns out it was never Chuck he idolized, but Kim he wanted to impress.

But this isn't healthy: it's not relating to someone else as a person, and the scenes where he evasively informs her he won't seek therapy and the scene in which she discovers his notebook with their names paired up[ in endless configurations, the very icon of adolescent infatuation, speak to his stunted inner self. But it's not just him: the dynamic of this episode is that it gives us scene after scene after scene of men posturing in front of other men. The rebellious Kai is unsubtle, yes, but so is Jimmy's intimidation stunt with the teen gang that mugged him last time. Even our flashback with Chuck and Jimmy is about two adult men indulging in childish snubs, making a show of their indifference to one another. These scenes, and Jimmy's Glengarry Glen Ross-esque motivational speech to Howard, are all about men who have lost status in real, intimate relationships posturing to one another, using the weaponry of belittling speech, profanity, and, finally, physical intimidation.

Across the episode, we see the women of the show taking up the burden of making real lives and of setting boundaries, while all around them the guys strut and pose at each other, and then try to impress the women -- either impress them in the usual sense, or impress them into their selfish desires. Mike wants time with Kaylee, and his non-apology to Stacy is transparent; he doesn't even wait to ask to pick her up from school, and asks to do it tomorrow. Howard would rather wallow in self-recrimination than recognize his own strengths. Gus is utterly lost in his long-term plans for revenge on the cartel, solemnly telling stories that unveil his ultimately juvenile, sociopathic response to the world around him. (This isn't just foreshadowing Hector's eventual state; it's also foreshadowing Gus's major limitation, his need to fit Hector to the impossible role of his eternal victim, a desire that finally gets Gus killed inBreaking Bad.)

And how do Kim and Stacy respond? They make decisions to create boundaries to protect themselves, but they also make the compromises they can live with in the name of practicality and safety. Letting Mike pick Kaylee up is likely a genuine help; it's also, perhaps, a response to the intimidating presence of someone who's already shown that he's capable of real physical and emotional violence. And Kim looks for something that will offer her security, but also a way out of Jimmy's childish fantasies.

And Jimmy? By the episode's end, he retreats further into those fantasies. I think it's probably a pure coincidence that I was reminded of two silly things by that final sequence: the old Simpsons episode "Bart the General," all about luring the bully into a water-balloon ambush, and The Dark Knight has a shot near the end of the villain hanging upside down, but shot in vertiginous fashion that puts him right-side up. If the show is using this kind of scene setting and visual language, even by coincidence, it's because that shooting style, that very sort of scenario, better fits the gaudy spectacle of childish satisfactions and pat narrative outcomes. It's an emblem of the way Jimmy is further choosing to immerse himself fully in the theater of tough guys and wily con men, the whole melodrama of the game she loves to play.

Recall how he greets Kim as Giselle, his former partner in role-playing, and she gently corrects him, then informs him she's joining the real world in an irrevocable, concrete fashion. And then notice that he spends the rest of the episode on one regressive fantasy after another, finally ending up where? In a warehouse full of piñatas, something for children's birthdays. Gus's story of terror starts with him, as a child, having a treat he compares to caramel, and then segueing into a tale of enacting his power fantasies that clearly remains in the ostensible adult we see talking to a comatose Hector. Even the German workers' setup is replete with the entertainments of a prolonged adolescence, resembling nothing so much as a posh school's freshman dorm. And all of them act down to it.

The inevitable "twist" of Jimmy's take on the theme this time is that he, unlike the other men, doesn't bother to dress up his juvenile inner life under any sort of facade of adult professionalism, and his final bit of game-playing is against actual adolescents (albeit genuinely dangerous ones). More generally, it's that he does know it's play-acting; there's to be no real bat to the face, for example. But he's still not interested in moving on from these childish ways of being in the world, and anyone who instead pretends to do the work of adulting earns his contempt. but those who really do this work, like Kim? That's truly terrifying, far more than a switchblade; there, it's Jimmy's world that spins, and blurs, as a he recognizes a daring, difficult move he's too terrified to make even with a willing partner.
posted by kewb at 6:49 PM on September 12 [16 favorites]


I really enjoy the lab backstory. So many things exist in fictional worlds that never explain how they could have possibly come to be. A James Bond villain building a massive fortress in a volcano that employs hundreds of people is an extreme example. I feel like this show is deliberately targeting that type of lazy fiction. Hell, I watched The Mayans the other night and SO MANY PEOPLE DIED VIOLENTLY. The entire FBI would descend on these clowns if that kind of shit actually happened. The lab story is a challenge. How do we make this heavily dramatized situation, which isn't remotely close to reality, actually feel real?
posted by Brocktoon at 12:30 AM on September 13 [8 favorites]


Also, a lot of people are complaining about how events in this episode are unambiguous. Take a look at the title. There are actual pinatas in this episode.
posted by Brocktoon at 7:06 AM on September 13


Better Call Saul Insider Podcast 406: Pinata - written by Gennifer Hutchison; podcast hosted by this episode's editor, Chris McCaleb (no Kelley this episode), with Peter and Vince, Joey Reinisch, and guests Gennifer and Patrick Fabian.
  • Patrick is ready for the Malibu Triathlon, where he will compete against, and lose to Jonathan Cryer, who, per Patrick looks a little hairy, but has even less body fat than Mario Lopez, if that's possible; he won the triathlon the same year he hosted the Emmys, when he also won an Emmy; "he may have peaked on that very day." Chris: Do you think this is all a long, extended part of Hiding Out? [much revelry in that deep cut]
  • This teaser is the first (re)appearance of Chuck. Genny: we knew we wanted to bring Chuck back in a flashback early in the writing, but it was fun to wait until later in the season. And then it was a question in what capacity. Then we thought it would also be fun to see an early glimpse of Jimmy and Kim's relationship since this season is so centered on that relationship, "and to see a moment of Jimmy very clearly falling for her," and Kim planting a seed of hope in Jimmy; also, this may be the first time that Kim sees the Chuck-Jimmy dynamic, where Chuck is so condescending to Jimmy, and how Jimmy almost doesn't even notice it. Chris: It's just so casual, the way Chuck dismisses him. And just before Patrick walks in. Patrick: It's so funny to hear you talk about this. I want to come to his defense. Chuck doesn't treat him badly. He has a business to run, he just came from being a real lawyer and not an Oscar pool guy. But this was also thinking on the beginning of the season, where I didn't realize I wouldn't have the mighty Michael McKean until I stood in front of the burnt house with Jimmy and Kim, and then it became real. I knew from the last season when Peter and Vince were very clear that he was dead, but it wasn't real until then. There was always this reliance on Michael, because I had a lot of scenes with him, "and not having him there is a real limb lost." And so we get to 406 and everyone is in their right place. I have this great energy with Kim, because I feel like I'm already grooming her, but "it's this great big swinging dick moment when I get to swoop in and see him. If we had the behavioral manners of high-fiving, we would, but because of who we are, I say let's go drink by ourselves. But we're not drinking the stuff we're drinking later in the show, we're drinking stuff on the way up." Gennifer: We did have a long discussion about which is the right whiskey to drink. Peter: Genny's Oscar pool dialog makes me laugh every time, and we had an interesting discussion about the case that Kim talks about, because it almost gets to be too interesting. Genny writes so well and she tells stories so well, so in some versions of this scene that case is riveting, so you want hear more about it. As it plays, I am interested in that case. Who knows, it might come back. Vince: But it's made up? Gennifer: Yes, it's a completely fake case, based on research and scenarios, but the case they cite is accurate. There is a video game reference in the name of the case [Isaacson vs. Vakarian Holdings, Inc., possibly referencing Garrus Vakarian from BioWare's Mass Effect?]. I always try to get references in, and that one made it through. And I'm a big movie buff, and Emma Thompson one of my absolute favorite actors. Peter: She's so pragmatic! Gennifer: She's kind of like a model for me, and when we realized the year we're in and it's the year of that movie, I got really excited to play with all the dialog and create Clara.
  • Patrick: Are the changes you self-editing, or bringing it to the writers' room? Gennifer: it's based on notes from Peter's reading of it. Peter: There are a lot of shows that do table scripts, where you bring the script into the writers' room and everyone makes notes for the writer, but we don't do that. Patrick: That sounds awful. Peter: It's more of just a conversation.
  • Peter: I also love the way Kim plays her admiration for Chuck. This is the first time we've seen Kim Wexler, before she's become a lawyer. We've seen Jimmy earlier in Albuquerque. Vince: What year was that? Gennifer: 1993. Vince: And what year are we in now in BCS? Gennifer: 2003. This scene is also Kim taking her shot at impressing Chuck. Patrick: Oh, lawyer-flirt stuff. Gennifer: Right, it's both smart but also respectful, and not second-guessing him but showing him that I've been thinking about it. It's the Hermione Granger moment. Patrick: I love working with Rhea, and I learn from her just like I learn from Michael McKean, watching the depths and the layers of their study. You give her that writing with that depth, but she delivers that and you see the seeds of who she is. She makes her gambit, but it's not in a cloying nor in a supplicant sort of way. It's a moment of saying 'I know things, too.' I think Chuck recognizes that, because he appreciates intellect above all. Gennifer: And he tests her, he plays this game with her, where he asks her 'what's the case law,' where he clearly knows it. I think it is a scene that has happened in the real world many times. It's that thing where you're trying to move up the ladder and you're trying to impress your boss, and they want to be impressed by you, so it's a little bit of theater that you're doing.
  • Vince: I'm not as tough on Chuck here. Gennifer: Jimmy's being kind of a dummy. Vince: I have brothers, and I yitz them, and they yitz me. If he was also condescending to Kim, he'd be an arch-villain. He's rooting for her, especially in a very pragmatic sense, he and Patrick are paying their tuition, helping her become a lawyer. Patrick: Let's not bring in the whole tuition thing. That's still sort of a sore subject for me, from season 3, but that's cool.
  • Vince: This episode was directed by Oscar-winner Andrew Stanton, one of the first employees of Pixar. Peter: He's on his way to an EGOT, I heard him practice his singing in his trailer. But he's down to earth and a humble guy. I was watching Stranger Things Season 2 and I thought there was something special in some episodes, and he directed them. He also directed John Carter, and this is only the second time he's worked in television. Gennifer: I think having that collaborative background from Pixar was great, he came on and was ready to be part of the team and deliver this vision. He was amazing with the crew, maybe Patrick can talk about that. Patrick: He treated me like a cartoon, and I acted like one. [all laugh] Chris: There was a real Wall-E quality to your performance in this episode. Gennifer: Yeah, we did all of it mo-cap. Wall-E is so good. If you want to learn about story-telling, watch Wall-E. It's like a perfectly structured movie. Chris: Full disclosure, I had not seen the movie. I watched it the week that he was here, working with me, because I felt like I have to had seen it. Also, Joey has the toys in the office. Is that embarrassing? Joey: No, no. Patrick: Way to call him out on that. Chris: I think they're cool, I'm a collector of things also. Joey: Andrew signed them, too. Chris: Toys is the wrong word. Statues? Joey: Collectables? Chris: Yeah. Patrick: He was really gracious, and he was really open. He said this is kind of new to me, so we're all in this together.
  • Vince: This is going to sound like the most pointless segue. I was in Northern California with my assistant, Jen Carrol. I was on Myth Busters Jr., on a nice but modest sound stage. It was the sound stage where the Millennium Falcon was first filmed, with the models. It was ILM's headquarters. We saw the first THX theater [Skywalker Ranch may not be the home to the first THX theater -- ed.]. Patrick: [imitating the THX sound] Vince: We were walking down this hallway, it was not what you're picturing in your mind's eye, it's not fancy. We passed a little room where Pixar started, it wasn't bigger than the room we are in. Peter: You can find home movies of people making Star Wars. Vince: I mis-spoke. Star Wars came out in '77 and shot in Van Nuys, this was built in '79, and they made Empire here. Peter: George Lucas put his money into it. He took a big risk, seems to have paid off.
  • Chris: Speaking of taking big risks, Kim Wexler [all laugh] took a big risk to start this relationship with Mesa Verde, but she's clearly distracted because her heart is pulled into the PD files. Going to bed, she sees that Jimmy still has his heart in something she may not still her heart in. The in the morning, more juicing -- we might have more juicing per minute in this season than we've seen before. Gennifer: It's just a fun transition. Peter: I thought AMC was going to promote it that way, but they keep coming back to Breaking Bad tie-ins. Chris: We know Gordon Smith loves it. [I don't get this one -ed.]
  • Chris: We see that Jimmy tells Kim that he's not going to see a therapist. Why now? And why does Jimmy have to torpedo all the good things in his life? Gennifer: All people deal with grief differently, and some people deal with it in ways that society would look at as more healthy, like therapists or encounter groups, handling it in a timely fashion. Some people stuff it. There's an infinite ways to deal with grief, and none are more or less valid than the other. The thing that's going on with Jimmy for me, while it's certainly not invalid, it's not helping him and his development as a person. Kim sees this, and Kim loves Jimmy, and wants to help him move on from the loss of a family member, but also someone was a villain in Jimmy's life. And Kim doesn't know this, but Jimmy is also trying to cope with what he sees as own culpability. So what Kim's trying to do is to find ways for Jimmy to process his grief in ways that she can understand so he can go on with his life. He seems fine, but she perceives that he's not fine. Then he sees Howard, and that's clearly not working. Patrick: Let's not blame Howard. Gennifer: That's also Howard's process, and it's also a valid process that will come to a different conclusion. Jimmy could like to Kim here, but he makes a healthy and appropriate decision to tell Kim instead of lying to her. But because we know Jimmy, and Kim knows Jimmy, and, this is my interpretation, he's avoiding that. That frees her of a role in this decision. And it kind of frees her up to make the decisions that are the best for her, including Wexler-McGill. She worked herself so hard she almost died in a car crash, and she's well on her path to doing it again -- she has to remain financially solvent, and she wants to pursue the thing that makes her happy. She has to find the solution that's going to allow her to do that, and she can't keep bending herself to Jimmy's dreams. When he says 'I have to do what's best for me,' she has to trust that, so why not trust herself that she's going to do the thing that's best for her. Patrick: I see. That's going to give her clarity to operate on her side of the street with less guilt. Gennifer: This is all what's coming from my head into this scene. There's also Rhea and her thoughts, and Bob with his thoughts, and they're all equally valid thoughts. I also really love the idea of when the person you really love is under stress or strain and you want to be supportive, you have to be in your best place in order to be a good partner for them. Rhea and I specifically mentioned that, and for Kim to help Jimmy, she has to be in a work situation that works for her. These are all the thoughts that go into the scene, then the actors take it and make it their own. Patrick: I'll take that and say 'Can I say it like this instead?'
  • Chris: This has been a very different year for you. I think I said this last year when we were seeing different shades of you. He was already dealing with grief, but after Jimmy allowed the transfer of guilt, "that's your cross to bear" - Patrick: I'm trying to dig myself out of one more hole. No, I'm trying to take care of him one more time, because the evidence backs me - sorry, I'm a little hot about this. But honestly, from the very beginning of the show, the very beginning, he calls me Lord Vader, and then he tries to extort me in my office. All the things that have been going on from my behavior has been trying to help him out, and to shield him from his brother's wrath, and to get him a job at Schweikart, and he has the desk and the car, and after the fact, I go to him after his brother's killed himself, and I try to take him off the hook for that by letting him know I'm probably the one who did it, his best response is "'you have a cross to bear'? FUCK you, that's what I gotta say. Chris: I'll tell you what, that's the best justification for all of Howard Hamlin's behavior in this entire series. Patrick: I'll tell you what, it's all there, it's all there on the page. All you have to do is open your eyes and watch it. [Then Patrick does a low, throaty cackle.]Gennifer: I'm glad we gave you that 'fuck you' moment, it's been building in the last 5-6 episodes. Vince: How did we get to use the f-bomb? Gennifer: It's the golden age of television, Vince. Chris: Use 'em when we need them. Peter: If everyone were dropping f-bombs, then Howard saying that ... if this were Deadwood, we'd just be having a beer saying that. Patrick: In my mind, that acts as a bookend for this season, when Kim unloads on Howard in 402. That's a very powerful, cathartic moment, and a very surprising moment. That one-two punch of Jimmy in 401 and Kim in 402 has me festering in that awful bathroom. Jen Bryan in wardrobe, I'm so sorry, they made me take the tie pin off, they made me have my tie disheveled. And here we are in 406 and I'm probably at my lowest. I haven't shaved. For those at home, it probably takes me 6 weeks advance notice to run up to a beard, but that's a different conversation. Vince: You look like the world's most handsome bum in this scene. Patrick: This was a very satisfying moment to do with Bob, he comes with from different angles and levels. He has his own opinions about that, and it provoked different reactions. Am I still talking? Sorry about that. Vince: This is what this all about! Patrick: Gen gave me 'Fuck you,' it's a big ace, a big card to play. You don't want to, pardon the pun, fuck it up. So how do you deliver it? How do you make it? You can't see me right now, but I'm making the serious face, I'm squinting, I'm furrowing my brow. This is so overthinking the moment. That's overthinking it. Listening to Bob and having him poking me in certain ways gets a better reaction. Pre-planning that great "fuck you" that's coming up at the end of the scene is death for any actor.
  • Genny: we were planning the excavation team for a while, back into last season, but the two trailers in the huge warehouse were new this season. The warehouse is 5-10 times bigger than we planned. Given that there's so much space to cover to move from space to space, there's a lot of need for "pocket dialog," the talking that happens when people walk somewhere but the dialog isn't important. And the number of Germans wasn't set for a while. We knew we wanted the wily guy, Kai, who you kind of want to punch, but you're kind of in to. Chris: How often do we see someone stand up to Mike like that, and just poke him in the face? Genny: Like, right out of the gate. Vince: It seems ill-advised.
  • ~~~ Time warp ~~~ in the podcast for 405, Cara Pifko talked about the Germans, who hadn't yet been on the show, so Chris, through the magic of audio editing, takes us back to last week's guest to hear her thoughts: Cara knew Ben Bela Böhm from before the show, and was surprised to see him on the set. He was in the U.S. for another gig, and when he got this role, he stayed here for a while more. ~~~ Warping Back to the Present ~~~
  • The Germans ended up filling their own characters a bit. Genny said she watched how they bonded and interacted on set to write their "pocket dialog." Patrick: for any actors out there, just because it's in the background, don't discount pocket dialog. Learn the lines cold like any other lines, because you don't know if your pocket dialog becomes primary dialog. For instance, a director of photography (DP) might decide that morning to track a group moving across a scene.
  • Genny: I don't speak German, but our Germans speak German, either natively or have learned, and we have a German translator who translates what I write in English into the appropriate German, for the age and familiarity of the team.
  • Peter: props to Robin Sweet, who made that space work. It was a solar panel manufacturing facility that is now closed down ( :( ), and the lights all buzzed to the point that the space was unusable for sound. She worked with Mark Melee and the electrical crew to change out all the lights. Andrew Stanton shot it so remarkably. Genny: We then added in the light buzzing in post, to make it realistic. Peter: We couldn't pick up that sound live, because it would change from every shot, because the microphones are pointed different directions. Much of what we do in post is create the illusion of continuous time, get the shots and sound all go together and match. If we didn't have to worry about that, it would make our lives much easier. And all those video monitoring scenes had to be shot, on security cameras that had to be set up. It's not live video. Genny: It's all burn-in, swapped in post, but we did have something up on the monitors for ambient light. Vince: We could shoot live, but because of scheduling, we recorded at different times. And it's 8 monitors, covering three different cameras each, so its a lot of possible footage to show. Chris: It's a lot of footage to go through to make the right moment. And unlike the regular cameras that have a time code, they aren't connected in any way. You sort of have to look for key moments to sync. Peter: You shoot the basketball game from different angles, so you have to look for the right bounce to sync them. Chris: And they're at different places in each reel.
  • Andrew Stanton, the director, who is also an actor but wasn't intending to be in the show, worked with Bob as Brett Dunst, Mrs. Strauss's nephew. (Genny: Brett Dunst is a friend of my husband, who did a full Cinabon Gene costume, and may have even contacted Corporate to get official logos. I brought in a photo of his costume to the writers' room and everyone loved it, so he got his name in the show.) Joey Reinish performed the role as temped-in audio, but it was usable, so he's a voice-only cameo in the episode, and was paid for that work. Patrick: Joey, you're not going to get a bigger trailer than me now. Joey: Not until Brett gets his spin-off show. The only lead character that is only on the phone. Genny: Utah business man. Chris: Dunst Checks In. [Groaning, some laughter] But wait, there's more! Karly Jenkins, another "post-production player," was the person on the other end of the line when Bob is calling about the giant Wexler-McGill sign. They both had to take off in the middle of a day to re-record their temped-in audio in an ADR studio. And they both did a great job, especially Joey. If he didn't play it right, the whole scene would fall flat. Patrick: Joey, were you nervous? Joey: Very. One of the things that's different from recording the podcast is that these mics are right in your face, while in ADR, there are shotgun mics, so it feels like you're talking into nothing, but apparently it works out at the end. Kathryn Madsen, the ADR supervisor, made me sound like I knew what I was doing. Patrick: It's different that you finish a scene and say 'that's it!' but sometimes it's not. It feels weird to record like that. Vince: But you have more work because you're trying to match your own lips, right? Patrick: It's not so bad when you're trying to recreate your own cadence, because it's easy to play myself. It's harder if you have to change a tone but still match your cadence in your face and lips. Peter: Kathryn 's credit is ADR Superisor, but she's more of a dialog magician. She's the one who's there with you, shooting ADR with you. She has to understand the scene, and the characters. Patrick: We trust her, just like when you have a good director on the set, you can trust them, relax and go. She has a really good way of dialing you into yourself. Then she'll say "We've got it. Do you want to do something for yourself?" Then invariably your ego takes over and you say "Yeah, I can do it better" and then you completely fuck it up.
  • Genny: We should talk about that piñata scene. Vince: Sony was upset because the piñata budget was waaay higher than we had estimated. Genny: The piñata themselves, that was an amazing feat coordinated between special effects to get them to break on command like that, unlike real piñatas at parties that take a lot more to break, and the props and art departments. We built this entire set on stage. And also stunts, because we're literally hanging three guys upside down. We had to have multiples because each take, Huell and Man Mountain* were hitting them and candy was going everywhere. I have never seen so many piñatas in one place, and such diversity. But if you had a birthday or other celebration at that time and wanted a piñata, I'm sorry, because we bought up all the piñatas for miles around. It was incredible, and very scary, actually hanging guys upside down. And they only have 1 minute 30 seconds for the actors to be hanging upside down, which means less than a minute of filming. Stunt guys can hang upside down for 2, maybe 3 minutes, but it's not that much longer for filming. Peter: Chris, as the editor of this scene, this scene has a mix of shots being upside down and right-side up. I know Andrew had storyboards for all this, I saw them, they were beautiful. Are the scenes shot upside-down, or do you flip it? If not, how do you decide it? Chris: The only thing that was shot upside down was when Rocko [who? --ed.] was yanked up into position, because the camera is attached to him. But as I was cutting the scene, it started in their perspective. It's sort of like they say that astronauts have to create an "up" or "down" in space, or they start to go crazy. We didn't want anyone to get astronaut brain from watching this - Peter: I want an astronaut watch. Chris: I want astronaut ice cream. But it felt very disorienting to suddenly flip perspectives, so I started flipping shots to keep things in the boys' perspective, and we first see Jimmy upside down. We knew we couldn't play the whole scene like that, so we flipped the scene when Jimmy rips the tape off. Peter: I came into the editing room and saw the baseball bat being dragged in, and I said "let's flip that," but it didn't work. Pretty much all the edits were kept the same way you set them. Chris: That's the beauty of working on a digital platform like Avid, because you can play around with things, were cutting on film means sending the footage out for reprints whenever you make changes. [Chris, though young, did cut film in school, and cut film for Sunshine State, worked on location; reminisces about syncing sound and the awful smells, and preparing actually daily dailies, for John Sayles, and his now well-regarded associate editor, Plummy Tucker; Peter shares an "old man story" about being an extra on Baby It's You, another Sayles film, where Peter paid attention to the lighting work of Michael Ballhaus, father of Florian Ballhaus, and a movie where Garrett Brown, inventor of the Oscar-winning Steadicam camera stabilizer was using ... the Steadicam] Chris, back to the general topic of BCS: the people at the top set the tone, make people want to work there. People cut their rates because they like to work on Sayles' indie productions, which he paid for with his earnings from his bigger works, quick re-writes, and so forth.
  • Patrick does the honors of providing the outro, after a weird energy burst / promo shout-out that no one asked for
Seems that Patrick is Hamlin, in his head, or perhaps he was just cast into a role that closely resembles him? I recall this from a prior podcast where he was a guest, but damn, he was in full defensive mode here. I get it, it's your character, and those are your motivations, but speaking in first person about his character seems like he's really living in the character.

* And Gennifer Hutchison confirmed that the two "thugs" in the piñata scene were Huell and Man Mountain, though they're (now) credited on IMDb, so it's not really a secret thing.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:16 PM on September 17 [4 favorites]


I don't know why Jimmy went to such effort, though. I'm not sure those three kids are "connected" enough to successfully inform the entire criminal underworld to leave Jimmy alone. I would think Jimmy was better off just hiring Huell to go with him when he makes sales.

That's not the Saul Goodman way. Saul is dramatic. He creates a scene, an image, a narrative. In another life he could be a director. He's already tried his hand at it in this life. For Saul, the play's the thing.
posted by scalefree at 9:24 PM on September 17 [3 favorites]


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