Better Call Saul: Something Stupid
September 18, 2018 7:03 AM - Season 4, Episode 7 - Subscribe

Jimmy expands his business, but runs into a problem that only Kim can solve; Gus intervenes in Hector's medical care; Mike deals with a setback.

Better Call Saul’ Recap: Something Stupid -- The gap between Jimmy and Kim widens, and we get a little closer to our man going full Saul Goodman (Alan Sepinwall for Rolling Stone)
“You do your thing, I’ll do mine.” -Jimmy

Jimmy‘s legal suspension began midway through Season Three, which means we have now been through more than an entire season’s worth of Saul episodes without our main character being able to practice his chosen profession. That is a lot, even for a series that’s happiest when it’s moving slowly, and which has only covered two months of that suspension prior to this week’s episode, “Something Stupid.”

A time jump had to happen sooner or later, or else the show risked our hero not becoming Saul until Bob Odenkirk needed a walker to get around. That jump finally occurs in the brilliant opening montage of “Something Stupid,” as we follow Jimmy and Kim through roughly nine months where they keep moving further apart, even as they always seem to be side by side. This idea is conveyed in an elegantly simple yet unmistakable way: from the moment the image of the couple brushing their teeth together splits into two images of them doing it on different days, there is a thick black line running vertically down the middle of the screen, whether we are watching them separately or together. Occasionally, one of them crosses this artificial divide — Jimmy to pour Kim some wine with dinner, Kim to throw her leg over Jimmy’s body while they sleep — but for the most part it literalizes the respectful barrier they have created between one another.
Almost everybody says or does something stupid on a momentous Better Call Saul (Donna Bowman for TV/AV Club)
We see time pass with the accumulation of glass cowboys in Kim’s office (shot from behind the shelf, looking through them to Kim reaching up to position the next one, a lovely camera placement), and with the dates typed on Jimmy’s probation forms. And as the episode moves from storyline to storyline, we realize that Jimmy’s regaining his law license is only one of the events the show has placed months in the future; Gus building the underground lab, and Hector’s rehabilitation, also were set up to take some time. So after we watch Jimmy and Kim waiting out that period, we find ourselves at a different place in those stories as well — further along, certainly, but also with a new set of problems. Hector is learning to tap his finger to communicate (the eventual “ding!” that will replace that tap is left to the viewer’s memory to provide), and as Gus monitors his progress with the John Hopkins doctor, he realizes that the lecherous old man is absolutely still in there. And the underground construction is going slowly and taking a toll on the quarantined German workers.
Songs from this episode identified on Tunefind
posted by filthy light thief (62 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Jimmy's at his best when he's lawyering. When he's unable to practice (and impress Kim) the lure of Slippin' Jimmy is too much to bear. He's so awash in the quasi-legal after months of selling burner phones that he even suggests some legal gimmickry to Kim to help get Huell off. He should know better.

Once Kim is gone from his life, there won't be anything tying him to the straight and narrow, and he'll have even more resentment and rage to take out on the system.
posted by Shohn at 7:27 AM on September 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


Wow, Jimmy has gone full cuckoo bananas in this episode, huh? It's almost as if he's the cartoon character of Saul Goodman at this point. He is so out of left field with how he is relating to Kim I can't believe it.

It broke my heart in the car, before Kim's work party, when he asked who he should talk to or not talk to - that "fear of embarrassing you" thing is the dynamic he had with Chuck way back when, visiting him and Rebecca as the dorky underachieving brother. But then the show flips that script and even though he basically waits for a nod from Kim to join a group talking that includes her boss, he immediately goes into sell-grift-embarrass-YOU mode, and it's ugly and painful to see. Shocking, even.

The rest of the episode felt like a collection of scenes. I am wondering how Mike will ensure "R and R" for the crew working on the lab. The German in charge is right - you can't keep people locked up in a hole without seeing the sky for months without them going nuts - no matter how much beer and pinball there is available.
posted by agregoli at 7:30 AM on September 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


I have to say, they very masterfully set the groundwork for three plotlines that all benefited from a timejump: Jimmy's suspension from the bar, the building of the superlab, and Salamanca's recovery.

However, while I'm still enjoying the show, it's really leaned into being a Breaking Bad prequel this season and feels more like a jigsaw puzzle than its own story.
posted by Automocar at 7:46 AM on September 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


So many great bits in this episode. The opening montage was just amazing, so beautifully depicting the sadness of Jimmy and Kim drifting slowly apart (and handling a time jump in the show.) When the doctor was at Gus’ house, there was one moment where she starts talking about Hector and he gets this look in his eye, as his fingers go to the kitchen knife he’s holding and start feeling the edge on the blade. That shot was easy to miss but it was sinister, and gave a great little added oomph to him deciding Hector is now just crippled enough. And when Kim says “You’ve been selling drop phones on the street?!?” was, to me at least, the moment she decided that they were done. We’ll see.
posted by azpenguin at 7:50 AM on September 18, 2018 [8 favorites]


The way everything starts to disintegrate in this episode is really great. The Jimmy / Kim interactions were heartbreaking, and the last moment where she decides to do something unorthodox, whatever it is, just to stick it to the judge, is both fuck-yeah-Kim and fuck-no-Jimmy at the same time. We watched him turn into a petty child when he realizes that his small-potatoes law firm couldn't offer what she has at S&C, and she seems set to have her own, Kim-style, tantrum when her lawyering can't keep Huell out of jail. Yes, it's sparked by what she's afraid Jimmy is going to do, but it's also pride in her work and shame at the judge's slur against Jimmy.

Gus continues to be stone-cold, Mike continues to be methodical. The next episode is going to be madcap, I would think, where the German boys get their R&R, Kim's school-supply plan is revealed, and Gus tries to ensure that Hector is never well enough to be a problem again. No? Although with only three episodes left in the season I don't know that comic-relief is what to expect.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:19 AM on September 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


I am wondering how Mike will ensure "R and R" for the crew working on the lab.

As Jimmy said: party bus.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 8:27 AM on September 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


I don't think those workers know where they are staying OR working. No way they go on a party bus or anything where they could grok their location.
posted by agregoli at 8:41 AM on September 18, 2018


Jimmy's at his best when he's lawyering. When he's unable to practice (and impress Kim) the lure of Slippin' Jimmy is too much to bear. He's so awash in the quasi-legal after months of selling burner phones that he even suggests some legal gimmickry to Kim to help get Huell off. He should know better.

Except, is he? Really? His legal gambit in this episode is to make a cop smell drunk and rile him up in court, maybe physically trip him to look like even more of a lush. Kim, on the other hand, instantly knows she case material for penal code 34-22, sections 22 to 27, and then pulls the similar cases that the State's lawyer defended [sorry, this terminology may be all wrong]. Kim does her homework, Jimmy wants to turn the court into a bit of a circus.

Once Kim is gone from his life, there won't be anything tying him to the straight and narrow, and he'll have even more resentment and rage to take out on the system.

I get what you're trying to say here, but this is putting a lot of weight on Kim, which maybe Jimmy is really doing, but Kim isn't there to be his moral compass, that's on him.


The Jimmy / Kim interactions were heartbreaking, and the last moment where she decides to do something unorthodox, whatever it is, just to stick it to the judge, is both fuck-yeah-Kim and fuck-no-Jimmy at the same time.

But will she? She's creative, not a criminal lawyer, that's Jimmy's thing. The post-it notes made me think of Kim's post-it and cold-call note montage from 205 "Rebecca", where she hustled to get a big client for HHM. And that episode also which reminds me that Jimmy's been fine with bending the law for a long time, bribing the clerk for better hearing dates.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:45 AM on September 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


But will she? She's creative, not a criminal lawyer, that's Jimmy's thing

Whatever idea she had that requires all those markers is unorthodox, at the least. Fully-legal, definitely. But also unusual.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:13 AM on September 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


True, but she's creative, and not one to jeopardize her career, particularly now that she's (on her way to becoming?) a partner at Schweikart and Cokely.

New Mexico pedantry: they accidentally included the NM Rail Runner Express train in the background of some shots, but those scenes take place in 2004 and the Rail Runner didn't begin operations until July 14, 2006. In 2005, a name and a branding scheme was chosen.

*Pushes glasses up nose* so, uh, where do I pick up my internet points ;)

Another note on that scene: Jimmy is wearing green, where he's arguing with the undercover cop, possibly implying that he's somewhere between the criminal red and law-abiding blue.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:17 AM on September 18, 2018 [3 favorites]


Also, I miss Nacho.
posted by agregoli at 9:27 AM on September 18, 2018 [4 favorites]


@filthy light thief: I do think that the best iteration of Jimmy McGill we've seen is when he was working as a lawyer, maybe when he was fully invested in elder law and the Sandpiper case. He was doing good work, he had Kim's respect and admiration, and he wasn't really pulling any slipping jimmies (I think. Memory is hazy). My point is that he's been too long now in the burner-phone hustling, tracksuit-wearing, punk-intimidating, Hummel-stealing life while trying to maintain a veneer of respectability to keep Kim in his life. His natural tendencies, plus a full-bore return to life just barely inside the legal have tipped his scales a little bit. That's why he's suggesting to Kim that they pull a fast one on that cop. He's slipped a little further, maybe past the point of no return, and I think Kim sees that.

I also don't mean to put that weight on Kim; I think it's entirely Jimmy who is unfairly making her his moral compass. She was maybe okay with it when the corrections were smaller, but they're getting bigger now, and I think she's starting to see that. It's all on him, though.
posted by Shohn at 10:27 AM on September 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


Shohn, good point - when he was invested in his elder care law work, he was definitely at his best. I was surprised that he was written away from elder care, except we know that's not where he'll end up, but that was one of the shifts or breaks that felt forced or artificial on this show, where so much is well done and feels so natural and real.

Thinking on this episode, so much of it is about progress. Jimmy's progress towards his goal of being a "damn good lawyer," having more clients, winning more cases, will apparently be limited by his knowledge of the law, and his desire for shortcuts, falling back to Slippin' Jimmy type of tactics, moving on from "slip 'n fall season" scams to other questionable legal-ish tactics. In comparison, Kim is flying -- how many branch "trophies" does she have in her office now? Meanwhile, she's still doing PD work to feed her soul, and has some (tastefully framed) letters to prove it and remind her she can also help people very directly. They've grown apart, to the point that Jimmy's eating dinner at home with a fish, and Kim is eating dinner at work, with the file box mirroring the fish tank.

When Gus sees that Mr. Salamanca has recovered to the point that he can again manipulate the world around him for his own pleasure, but is unable to talk or walk, Fring decides that's far enough. "Perhaps we should temper our expectations." Meanwhile, the Germans are dealing with their own expectations when Mike visits. The team is getting impatient at their slow pace, and then their progress is set back by knocking the piling back, so they must build a new concrete form and straighten the rebar before they can get back to where they were.

But that's another unearned moment, forced perhaps by the truncated time: we didn't see Kai as any sort of instigator this time, unlike last time where he was so casually getting himself a beer when Mike called them all over. So when Mike asks if he can send Kai back to Germany, I was wondering "why, because he sassed your German in German?" Sure, that's insubordination, but they're going stir-crazy, and it wasn't Kai who was about to brawl on the excavation site (right?).
posted by filthy light thief at 12:03 PM on September 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


Another thought: this episode title is a distorted mirror of 403, "Something Beautiful," which seems to indicate the arc of a graph to me. 403 was definitely on the incline, with Kim and Jimmy getting along better, peaking with Jimmy talking honestly and openly with Kim in 405, "Quote a Ride," and this is quite clearly the decline for their relationship, in fast-forward, thanks to this teaser/intro.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:14 PM on September 18, 2018


I don't think those workers know where they are staying OR working. No way they go on a party bus or anything where they could grok their location.

Party panel truck, then.

Probably not, though, because even if Mike does arrange another long blindfolded road-trip for them, I doubt he trusts any of them except maybe Werner to be allowed off the leash unattended. I suspect this might end up being an excuse to revisit another Breaking Bad location: take 'em to the strip club that Jesse blows Walt's RV money on in BB S3E5 Más.

It just seemed to me that the show was drawing a parallel between Jimmy's over-eagerly over-planning of Schweikart & Cokely's corporate retreat versus the Germans' need for one.

(And speaking of Jesse, was that another "wait, could that be....?" moment during Jimmy and Huell's selling montage, in which Jimmy sells a phone to somebody driving a shitbox car whose face was very deliberately thrown out-of-focus by the framing?)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:15 PM on September 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


New Mexico pedantry: they accidentally included the NM Rail Runner Express train in the background of some shots, but those scenes take place in 2004 and the Rail Runner didn't begin operations until July 14, 2006. In 2005, a name and a branding scheme was chosen.

I will forever be confused by the timeframe of Saul, but I thought we're already in 2007 or so?
But no matter what, that's an interesting fun fact, nevertheless! :)
posted by bigendian at 12:25 PM on September 18, 2018


and the last moment where she decides to do something unorthodox, whatever it is

"Crooked Cop Found Highlighted to Death, Buried in Post-Its."

My best guess is that she is planning to comb through the prosecutor's record and prove a history of racial discrimination. When she's arguing with her in the courtroom, her reaction is less "Hey why won't you cut me a deal here?" and more "Hey, why *won't* you cut me a deal here?" After she secures this scenario where everyone (except the prosecutor) wins, she'll end her relationship with Jimmy.
posted by mikepop at 12:27 PM on September 18, 2018 [5 favorites]


it wasn't Kai who was about to brawl on the excavation site (right?)

Kai wasn't the man driving the excavator, but I think he was the one that instigated the shoving match after the accident.

I was wondering "why, because he sassed your German in German?" Sure, that's insubordination

Loyalty's kind of a big deal to Mike, though.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:37 PM on September 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


But that's another unearned moment, forced perhaps by the truncated time: we didn't see Kai as any sort of instigator this time, unlike last time where he was so casually getting himself a beer when Mike called them all over. So when Mike asks if he can send Kai back to Germany, I was wondering "why, because he sassed your German in German?" Sure, that's insubordination, but they're going stir-crazy, and it wasn't Kai who was about to brawl on the excavation site (right?).

You do your job well, show proper respect and loyalty, and Mike will have your back until kingdom come. Fail on any of those counts, and he's not gonna care much what happens to you.
posted by azpenguin at 1:04 PM on September 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


bigendian: I will forever be confused by the timeframe of Saul, but I thought we're already in 2007 or so?

Up to/through last episode, we were in 2003, but now we've progressed into 2004, just before Jimmy can once again practice law (this episode's teaser/intro set those dates, and Jimmy tells Kim "See, now, I-I would help Huell myself if I could, but I don't think he's gonna wait around a month for me to be reinstated," and he was only disbarred for a year).
posted by filthy light thief at 1:47 PM on September 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


Much has been said, and very well, about the time jumps in the episode, from the clever black bar cinematography of the teaser's double montage to the more compressed way the show indicates the progress of construction on Gus's superlab. One subtlety of that teaser: Initially, the action in the scenes of Jimmy and Kim is parallel -- Jimmy's phones and Kim's Mesa Verde boxes moving out, for example -- but the visual composition is unbalanced, not parallel. Indeed, watch carefully and you can see that they're slightly out of sync even in the very first shots where they're brushing their teeth at the same time; buy the end, however, they're back to parallel action after some divergences, but now are shown eating with their backs to one another. It's foreshadowing their work "together" on Huell's case at the end, where they each have divergent, conflicting ideas for how to achieve a similar end.

And a subtlety of the Gus construction material: mechanical motion is used there to signal time, both the movement of the truck and, cleverly, an actual shot of a timecard being punched at the laundry. It's a witty commentary on what the episode is doing and the power of visual imagery and technology to compress and manipulate time, much as we'll later see Gus using videotape to replay a crucial moment when Hector's male gaze reveals that he's fully back to his nasty self.

But the time-clock, like the opening montage, is also there to signal something else: what's lost or built with time. For the German builders, it's the creature comforts and, to a growing extent, their human spirits. For Jimmy and Kim, it's not only their emotional intimacy, but also the future of their relationship. And, more starkly for Huell, it's the threat of two-and-a-half years of hard time, of life lost in a miserable setting. But Kim and Gus, as well as Mike and the Germans, also use this time to build other things to compensate for the loss, to reach for a future or for a more livable, revised selfhood.

As in the previous episode, we're still seeing men acting out their toxic masculinity in various ways, whether its Jimmy's crude one-upsmanship at the Schweikart and Cokely party as compensation for feeling out-of-place and incapable of matching what Kim already has, Kai's bro-ish dominance games and Mike's more seasoned and world-weary ones, or both Gus and Hector using relatively crude methods to control female heath care professionals in service of their objectifying desires. (Hector is as much the object of Gus's vengeful gaze as the nurse is the object of Hector's vicious, sex-is-power gaze.) But here the games for the most part reflect diminished power. Only Gus is really in charge, while Jimmy and Hector are, in various ways, reacting to a sense of powerlessness. Even Gus's crude dismissal of the doctor from Johns Hopkins occurs when her efforts to do her job threaten to make Hector a subject, not an object.

And again, it's the women expected to do the real, difficult work: the doctor, not Gus, patiently coaxes Hector back to full mental capacity; Kim, not Jimmy, does the work of rebuilding a legal career and developing a defense for Huell; and even Mike and the German engineer's conversation hints, indirectly, at hiring sex workers as a proxy for the loss of human connection one feels locked onto one's job site, however kickass the rec room might seem.

Male professionalism is demonstrative, swaggering, and ultimately a very unprofessional sort of insecurity or power-game; female professionalism is patient, thoughtful, and meticulous. Is there any better example of this than showing Kim in her well-appointed office, working on the paperwork, while we see Jimmy -- whose tracksuit at one point matches the hue of Kim's under-the-table stress ball -- literally putting up a "back in a Jiffy" sign? Her escape from the grind is to do fulfilling version of legal work; his is to walk off of a dull job at a dead cellphone store in favor of a criminal adventure.

If, as agregoli notes, this is something of a cartoon version of Saul Goodman, Jimmy's self-image as the man who can wheel-and-deal anything, the man resuming the same old life, is increasingly undercut by the fraying outer self, the increasing visibility to others of the shabby, shortsighted impulses which he indulges. It's significant that the scene right before the police officer's arrival depicts Jimmy checking his lined face, his thinning hair, in a car mirror, as though a man in a tracksuit selling drop phones will ever seem like something besides a "scumbag disbarred lawyer selling drop phones to drug dealers;" he's fallen even from his position in the pilot as "the kind of lawyer guilty people hire," and his major ambition is to become exactly that and imagine that Kim will go right along.

And so here's the way Jimmy twists the "passing time is either building something or losing something" bit: he simply refuses to acknowledge that he can't go right back to the place he was before all this mess with disbarment and Chuck and so forth ever started. He neither builds anything real nor recognizes what has already been lost. He thinks he is the Jimmy McGill we first met, a dash of Slippin' Jimmy and a bit of James McGill, Esq., would-be impresser of Kim.

Indeed, the sheer number of plans Jimmy returns to from Seasons 1 and 2 is striking: imagining a dream office with Kim, as he did once before, right down to the corner office gimmick; scheming to rig evidence and testimony to get a criminal client off, as he did before for Daniel Wormald; and trying to talk through a situation with a powerful authority figure, here the cop and once before the air force officer he'd scammed.

But this time, no one else is playing along, and everyone else can see the shabbiness. The prosecutor sums up the reality that strikes against Jimmy's delusions of a repeat of his usual courtroom performances from Season 1; the police officer can't be intimidated by Jimmy's patter; Kim doesn't even bother to vocalize her rejection of Jimmy's strategy and shuts him out of her office, then recalls his impulsivity and works to beat him to the punch; and, most telling of all, Jimmy's tour of his proposed office space for Wexler-McGill is entirely in POV, seen through Huell's eyes, and looks precisely as threadbare and desperate as it frankly is. Only Jimmy can't see that time has passed, just as, two episodes ago, he couldn't see that he wasn't a youthful hustler anymore.

Saul Goodman is a cartoon: the fantasy Jimmy McGill has constructed, a simply drawn caricature of the person the Kettlemans saw in the very first episode. Saul is a testament to Jimmy McGill's refusal to grow beyond his damage or even accept that he may be accountable to others. Saul Goodman isn't just the guy who sells drop phones to criminals, e's the guy who sees his hard-working, hard-won respectability of his partner and can't imagine that this would be a dealbreaker, or that she might be anything other than a willing accomplice. Everyone else feels time passing with regret, or uses time to methodically build something for themselves: Jimmy, for the most part, repeats himself,. He doesn't use time or lose it, he simply marks it.
posted by kewb at 3:54 PM on September 18, 2018 [7 favorites]


If the Holiday party was December 2004, why does The Breeders "No Aloha" (1993) play in the car on the way home?
posted by armacy at 6:37 PM on September 18, 2018


That vertical black line broke my heart.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:59 PM on September 18, 2018 [9 favorites]


My money is Kim having Jimmysaul plan a protest. Jimmy knows a lot of phone-having people who will show up. And betting that all the other people who the judge gave lenient sentences were white.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:42 AM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


This could be the end of her though. Those receipts will be tied to her. She’s acting impulsively, fueled by her misplaced rage at the judge (she’s really angry with Jimmy). If she gets at all tangled up with trying to take down a judge in order to manipulate a case on behalf of her criminal boyfriend’s bodyguard … oh boy.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:48 AM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


One thing I can’t wrap my head around though is why does Kim believe that this story went down the way that Jimmy told it to her? She has no reason to believe he’s telling it full and straight. Plus, it sounds ridiculous.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:51 AM on September 19, 2018


FYI I believe that was the prosecutor, not a judge.

I am very concerned about Nacho as well. Last we saw him he was half dead on his dad's couch.
posted by LizBoBiz at 2:30 AM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


why does The Breeders "No Aloha" (1993) play in the car on the way home?

My guess is the show's music producer was heavily into the recently released All Nerve and pulled this wistful ballad of love and loss out of the Breeders hole they had fallen into.

Also, they're saving "Huffer" for a montage.
posted by whuppy at 4:28 AM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


One thing I can’t wrap my head around though is why does Kim believe that this story went down the way that Jimmy told it to her? She has no reason to believe he’s telling it full and straight. Plus, it sounds ridiculous.

I read this as Kim working to protect Jimmy from himself, which s itself a way to protect her own life from upheavals,. She sees him as a damaged person, probably acting out from unprocessed grief and guilt, and while she's incredulous at the sheer stupidity of what he's gotten himself into, she also tends to believe Jimmy when he "comes clean." And perhaps she's (unfairly) taking this in as her failure to monitor Jimmy, as if his decisions are her responsibility. There may also be some general career fallout here: her co-workers and all her professional network in ABQ know that Jimmy is her life partner, so if he winds up in serious legal trouble, that's still going to (unfairly) reflect on her.

There is a broader problem, of course, which is that the signs that Jimmy is reckless, impulsive, and dangerous to be around have been there since...well, since at least Jimmy's forgery of those Mesa Verde documents to "help" Kim against her express wishes and to her subsequent regret. Over the last two episodes, it's hard to see why Kim sticks with Jimmy. Everything she's seen from him over the last year of in-show time -- the notebook doodles, the discovery that he's back on the game, even his obvious mini-freakout in the restaurant when she tells him about her career plans -- should be a series of big red flags. But Kim seems to see the best in Jimmy no matter what; she wants him to make it on his talent and charisma, and even occasionally likes his cons as long as they don't go too far and the targets are obnoxious enough. But she doesn't seem to see or acknowledge just how far in he's willing to go, especially when he's using his cons to act out the feelings he doesn't want to deal with.

Again, the bigger signs of how dangerous Jimmy can be have been there since at least his dark "let's steal this guy's credit card because I'm mad about other stuff" moment, and then there's his idiotic breaking into Chuck's house and threatening violence. These aren't the actions of someone to stay with, but Kim sees something in him, and Jimmy has used a lot of manipulation to guide their relationship in the directions he wants it to go. I think Kim has always been smart enough to see through that, but she hasn't always been willing to think about what that might say about this person she's decided to be with.

The other big angle on Kim is that she was introduced as a workaholic with a "work hard, play hard" streak -- hints of heavy law school drinking in some of those "rainmaking" phone calls in Season 1, getting drunk with Jimmy on scammed tequila and resuming their romantic relationship, and so forth. It's possible she's traditionally seen Jimmy the same way: someone with a serious, real work ethic, but also someone who needs a big stress-release now and again. Again, though, this season Jimmy has been Mr. Red Flags, and a lot of his previous actions -- almost passing up Davis and Main because he'd rather be Slippin' Jimmy by the pool, illegal and borderline illegal shenanigans with Wormald and later the bar hearing, and so forth -- should now seem very different, especially since his more recent behavior can't simply be blamed on Jimmy kicking against Chuck's mistreatment of him.
posted by kewb at 5:06 AM on September 19, 2018 [5 favorites]


LizBoBiz is right — that was a prosecutor, not a judge. Talking to the judge without the other side present is a big fat straight-to-the-disciplinary-committee type no-no.
posted by holborne at 6:48 AM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


Party panel truck to party bus to strip club and white sands (NOT CARLSBAD CANYONS)
Kim's school-supply plan is revealed, and Gus


Office Supplies. I do that when stressed.

Plus the closed captions said so. :-P
posted by tilde at 7:04 AM on September 19, 2018


Just getting to the latest episode this morning. A few thoughts:

Man that opening montage was depressing. I guess it kind of hit a little too close to home for me. I do like how they kind of left us in the dark just where Jim & Kim are in their relationship at the moment.

Gus and the doctor all dressed up and eating seafood was great, Gus' tiny smile when he saw Salamanca tipping the cup to check out the nurse was so small, yet conveyed so much emotion.

I like the time skip, we were pretty much stagnant on where the plot could go pre skip, now they've opened up and matured some of the plot points that could have taken an entire season in their own right. Nobody wanted to see months and months of Grumpy Mike and the Germans.

Hoping we see more Nacho and his dilemma, which couldn't possibly have gotten any easier to deal with after eight or so months.

The actor who plays Huell has gotten a little grayer and thinner since BB, and it takes me out of the prequel mindset a bit. I loved him assaulting the cop with a bag of sandwiches though, he must have really walloped him to knock him down like that. A bag of sandwiches can't contain all that much weight.

Finally, I can't see Kim keeping on with her current position. I didn't think she enjoyed the Mesa Verde bank stuff when she was the only person doing it, even though she apparently has at least one more staffer on it, it just sounds boring as all hell to me. I see her doing much more PD work in the future.

All in all, another tight episode.
posted by Sphinx at 9:56 AM on September 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


Nobody wanted to see months and months of Grumpy Mike and the Germans.

You are WRONG WRONG WRONG
posted by azpenguin at 10:35 AM on September 19, 2018 [14 favorites]


Grumpy Mike and the Germans

my new band name
posted by litlnemo at 1:35 PM on September 19, 2018 [6 favorites]


> azpenguin:
You are WRONG WRONG WRONG"

Really? I thought that whole plot got summed up pretty well post skip. The Germans are doing a good job, but they're getting cabin fever and starting to screw up. I like Mike as much as the next guy, but I didn't need to see seven episodes with the same thing.
posted by Sphinx at 1:42 PM on September 19, 2018


It's nice to see Mike exploring his heritage by yelling in German.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:58 PM on September 19, 2018


I would watch an entire show of Grumpy Mike and the Germans. Really, I just want an entire show of Grumpy Mike being competent and grumpy, with or without the Germans.
posted by Stacey at 8:25 AM on September 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


Man, I would watch the hell out of a buddy comedy featuring Grumpy Mike and Herr Kontractor. Perhaps a road movie where they team up and build all kinds of structures for questionable owners, learning German and having grumpy hijinks all the way. At the end they'll roll their eyes and huff into the sunset, marking the beginning of a beautiful Freundschaft.
posted by Liesl at 12:50 PM on September 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


Car nerdery: Kim drives an Audi A8 now. That’s the top of the line sedan for Audi, so it really emphasizes her partner status. Is the firm Schweikart, Cokely, and Wexler yet? In any case it beats the shit out of Davis and Main’s entry level Mercedes C240 for Jimmy.
posted by Monochrome at 9:31 PM on September 20, 2018


Kim's sweet ride made me wonder why Jimmy's keeping his shitboxmobile. Surely the cellphone hustle is worth a lightly used Celica or maybe a Kia? I guess the writers want it to be a capital S Statement when he's finally driving the Caddy.
posted by whuppy at 5:03 AM on September 21, 2018


He made it pretty clear to Huell that he's saving the phone money to rent / furnish the law office.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:39 AM on September 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


I will be so disappointed if the Germans end up at a strip club. It's the really obvious thing to do and this show has done the not-obvious so beautifully so far.
posted by the webmistress at 6:16 AM on September 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


I think that the Germans will end up at a legal Nevada brothel. It's far enough away from the warehouse and laundromat to maintain secrecy, and I don't think that Mike et al. want to risk them getting busted.

Also: is this the first time we've seen the "Saul Goodman" business card?
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:03 AM on September 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


Oh, yeah: my prediction for the outcome of Huell's case is that he'll get off, but it will come back to S&C and they'll have words with Kim about her "pro bono" work, especially as it pertains to Jimmy, and potential consequences to S&C and Kim's partnership there. (I can't imagine that they'd want it publicly known that their newest partner helped get a guy who assaulted a cop off scot free.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:18 AM on September 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


I think this season's portrayal of Kim and Jimmy's relationship is really weird. They've only been together for like 18 months of in-universe time, right? And they don't seem to have had any fun or so much as a warm embrace the entire season. It's not really clear based on the relationship as depicted why Kim is still around (we still see Jimmy doodling their initials in his notebooks, so he's still in love). Is she just waiting for the reinstatement and giving Jimmy the chance to get himself back together? Or has she already checked out but doesn't have the time/energy for an official break-up?

Kim is a rainmaking partner now--a lead counsel for a rapidly expanding regional bank is gonna be making ridiculous cash for her firm, enough that they'll even put up with her oafish boyfriend embarrassing himself at office gatherings. And we saw last episode that Kim has been working toward this kind of traditional big firm legal success since she was in law school. But don't know yet how satisfied she is with her current mix of business and pro bono work, and if she can really balance the demands that she's placing on herself. She seems to take at least some pride from her bank trophies--but she's also breaking out the stress ball in meetings. And nothing in the montage that would indicate real happiness, more like grim satisfaction.
posted by skewed at 11:54 AM on September 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


To be perfectly nerdy, the S8 is the top-of-line Audi sedan.
posted by Brocktoon at 1:03 PM on September 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


but she's also breaking out the stress ball in meetings.

Probably for rehab after the broken arm.
posted by azpenguin at 1:21 PM on September 21, 2018 [6 favorites]


Together 18 months but knownfor nearly a decade. I think it’s very hard, despite her wanting to rescue herself, tough to break up during me a bad time for nebulous reasons if the nebulosity May seem temporary “I’m a partner here and you have your license back” and she thinks he will find his path.
posted by tilde at 5:12 PM on September 21, 2018


They said Carlsbad Caverns National Park. I have no idea why anyone would have a company retreat there. I don't know how that would work. But Ten Thousand Waves is pretty awesome.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:52 AM on September 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


I wonder how many people besides myself are watching BCS without having watched BB first.
posted by the webmistress at 9:51 AM on September 22, 2018


I actually kind of envy you, like people who have never seen Star Wars and so can watch it freshly in Machete Order.
posted by rhizome at 12:23 PM on September 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


my wife likes BCS but bailed on BB after three or so episodes, so some are out there.
posted by skewed at 2:31 PM on September 22, 2018


I started BCS with having seen only the first couple of BB episodes. After the first season I realized that I wanted to know all of that world so we watched the whole series before the start of season 2.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 2:35 PM on September 22, 2018


I think BCS is one of the best tv shows I've ever seen. I feel like I have read too many spoilers of BB here in the BCS comments to maybe not want to watch it. I know so much of what happens, like who makes it to BB and who doesn't, and the eventual outcome of many of the people on BCS.

I am pretty obsessed with BCS though. I would be content with never seeing BB but would love more Saul.
posted by the webmistress at 2:41 PM on September 22, 2018


I watched BB, but my wife had no interest in it. She's just as in to BCS as I am, though. Occasionally, I will pause an episode to give her some backstory that I know from BB. I don't know if it really enhances her appreciation, though.

BB was so good, and very compelling. I didn't really love any of the characters, though (notable exception: Mike). I do love the characters in BCS, though, and as a result I've got to say I like the show more than BB.
posted by Shohn at 6:17 AM on September 24, 2018


BB was a struggle for me, those first few episodes. After that, it was fine. But those first couple were a little gruesome and I wasn't sure I wanted to press on. (it was worth it.)
posted by ApathyGirl at 3:13 PM on September 24, 2018


Is it just me or does it seem like every last one of the German lab excavation crew is going to get murdered at Gus’ command? Perhaps it will be because Kai compromises them somehow. Chekov’s Kai, that is.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:47 PM on September 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


I watched BB for the first time a few weeks before this season started. I hated every second of the Walt parts, but the Jimmy, Mike & Gus parts made BCS a better show so I guess it was worth it.
posted by bleep at 8:24 PM on September 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


It seems like BCS is telling the story of how this mega-drug manufacturing operation got started, with some involvement from Saul (we haven't seen Gus & Saul cross paths in any way yet right? So far their only connection is Mike?) and BB is the story of an asshole who came in and ruined everything.

I love love love BB (even though I hated WW, I don't think you have to like the main character to find a show compelling and engrossing) and I love love love BCS. I must admit that my favorite part of both shows, other than Saul's hijinks!, is Gus. He's the bestest, coldest, bad-assest (?) person on the show in my opinion.
posted by LizBoBiz at 8:11 AM on September 25, 2018


> bad-assest

baddest-ast
posted by komara at 8:21 AM on September 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


Haha I’ve got a personal injury lawyer ad on amc playback.

He got his clients over $250,000 !!!
posted by tilde at 1:36 PM on September 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


Rather late on this one, because I had the notion that I'd go through and fix it up with proper credits, then I said "nah, I'll edit it down to the more crucial bits" and then I said "WTF, I'm already two episodes behind, I'll leave it rough and call it a day." [I'm bad with crediting the guests here, and in the next episode, so my apologies in advance]

Better Call Saul Insider Podcast 407: Something Stupid- written by Alison Tatlock, directed by Deborah Chow; podcast hosted by Chris McCaleb (no Kelley again), with Peter and Vince, Joey Reinisch, "the world's okay-est brother" [Alison? What?], who co-edited 408, and guests Alison, Debora, and executive producer, Melissa Bernstein.
  • Chris has been busy. In addition to hosting this podcast, the show premiered 2-3 days before the recording of this podcast, and on that same day they finished their cut of the season finale, 410.
  • Peter and Chris just saw this episode a few days before recording the podcast, because Skip edited this one. This was Alison's first episode for BCS, and she enjoyed watching the final cut on the big screen of the mixing stage. Vince: Don't watch this on a phone. Peter: Watch it however you can, but you'll get more out of it if you can watch it on a big screen with all the channels. If you're watching it on a phone, you're still watching it. Vince: Ehh... Peter: I don't want to turn anyone off of watching this.
  • Alison's prior works: Halt and Catch Fire, with Melissa Bernstein. Vince: Who was Halt and who was Catch Fire? Alison: That's such a good question, we would debate that sometimes. We had a little bit of a wrestling match over who got to be Halt and who got to be Fire. I felt like I was Fire, but then sometimes I was Halt. When it got too firey, I would switch over to Halt. Maternal instincts, this is getting too hot in here, it has to Halt. Before that I was on the first season of Stranger Things, and a bunch of other stuff before that, and I'm glad to be here.
  • Also Deborah's first episode of BCS, and first time in Albuquerque. She worked with Melissa on Shut Eye before, and worked with Marshall Adams, the DP, and Matt Credle, the camera operator, before, and with Judy Rhee, production designer on Jessica Jones, but otherwise it was firsts across the board. Mostly worked on genre stuff for TV, including Lost in Space, The Man in the High Castle, Jessica Jones, and she's enjoyed "stepping aside and not doing zombies and robots." You can do these big shows with robots and such, but at the end of the day, it's comes down to the story and the performance, "and you don't have to spend that much money to make a better episode. That's cool." Her first feature, which she made back in Montreal [The High Cost of Living? -- ed.] is "kind of hard to think about now, because you can see all your mistakes." Vince: We all do that. The folks who are the best do that to themselves, and they see the mistakes that no one else sees. Deborah: I think some people are seeing the mistakes in that movie. But it's OK, it was a great experience.
  • Peter: I think we all have to own our pasts. And to prove that, I'm doing an interview today for the special edition of Double Dragon (trailer), which is my first professional credit, from 1993. Michael Davis, my writing partner at the time, are doing the interview. It brings back fond memories, I had fun writing with Michael, and dating Nora, who is my wife now, taking her to the set and all that. But enough about Double Dragon. Vince: I want to hear more about Double Dragon! Alison: I do, too! Chris: You got yourself a wife out of it! A wonderful wife! Peter: I did, I did. I think I got the best deal of anybody on that movie, for sure. Vince: Were you also an extra? Did you get your butt kicked by ... Double Dragon? Peter: No, I was only on the set for maybe an hour. There's a whole long story, and if you want to hear about it, there's going to be a whole special edition of Double Dragon. But that's the last time I'm saying those two words on this podcast. Chris? Special Edition? Great, because this going to be all Double Dragons this episode.
  • Chris: Well, speaking about double dragons, this teaser. Reading the script was emotional enough. I'm tearing up thinking about when I saw it for the first time. Skip showed me a version of it, and I teared up watching it on his couch. Deborah: Chris is really tearing up. Chris: Yeah, it's really emotional. It so perfectly encapsulates this, if anybody's been through this, where two people are moving in two different directions. Time is passing and you're watching two people grow apart. Deborah: I'm so moved by your response.
  • Chris: And the music, how you write for a split screen, we could spend a whole episode just talking about the teaser. Vince: How did you first come up with the split screen? Alison: I feel like we were talking about how to move through time with two lead characters. I think Peter maybe mentioned split screen first. Peter: I don't know who said it. I love that when we think we've run out of ideas for a montage scene, there's one more thing. And the nice thing about this one in particular is that it didn't come out of someone saying "let's do a technical trick," it came out of "how do we explore the change in a relationship over time, trying to use cinema to do that." For me, when we're talking about montages, I say "how does it start, how do you set up the rules for the montage, and how does it end? They don't teach you how to write this, but Alison did such an elegant job of giving specifics but also keeping emotional. And then Deborah translated that. I've seen this montage probably about 100 times. In the sound mix, I couldn't resist saying "let's watch it again to see if there's anything else to say," because I couldn't resist watching it on the big screen with all the sound one more time, even though we were paying nine trillion dollars per minute to use the sound studio. You may think, if you're a film student, that Deborah went out and shot a bunch of stuff then we put it all together, but it was so pre-visualized. Otherwise, you don't get these results. One thing I noticed was that you'd line things up, horizontally, like the mirrors in the bathroom. How did you do that? Deborah: That was a lot of help from the camera operators, and from Marshall. It wasn't all shot in one day, we did it as we shot other scenes, so you pick up a piece of it in the morning or in the afternoon. We had to keep our heads about it, because we'd do one screen one day, and the other screen three days later. When we really got down the OCD rabbit hole, there were a lot of tape measures out. We were taking the still from the one and matching it with the other one. The camera operators were walking back to the other set to look at the tape marks to get exactly the right focal length. It got very precise. Vince: But you didn't have a video switcher so you could toggle on your director's monitor. Deborah: No, in retrospect, we probably should have. We started and I knew it would need to be fairly precise to do it. But we were all dialed in, and we had the same operators doing both scenes, so he knew what he shot in the first one. Vince: And our operators are great, Paul and Matt. Vince: Paul, who is an Englishman who is dryly witty, and a few days later he was so excited about this. People think that there are creative people and not creative people on the set. Everybody is so emotionally engaged in what we're doing. You can tell you can't get a sequence like this if we're not all pulling in the same direction. Vince: We're all storytellers. Peter: I got over and over again how happy they were to work with Deborah. Melissa: It was easier that some key people had already worked with Deborah. Deborah: It was really a cross-department ensemble effort. The costume department had so much to do. It was 10 months of time that passed, and it's so fast for this show, because it's in hyper-real time. We don't really play up seasons, we don't have the Christmas or Thanksgiving episode. So we asked the set deck "can we get a poster for a fun run for a turkey trot?" We put these subtle time markers in there. Can this person wear a coat? Can Huell wear shorts? All of that had a great deal of scrutiny, and Deborah put together a costume document like I had never seen. Melissa: How do you describe that, what Deborah accomplished? Alison: Like a Beautiful Mind? Melissa: It was. It was like a wall of madness, in the form of a PDF. And without it, I don't know how it would have happened. Deborah: Normally, when you're doing approvals on costumes, you don't get that many in an episode. There's multiple characters, and sometimes they're doing three changes in a single strip, in 1/8th of a page. I was hoping to see a subtle visual movement over the course of the montage. To have it all make sense, I had to put everything in the split screen with the costumes. But then I feel like the response was "Oh my god." I think that won over Nina Jack, producer. Alison: That was when we realized we had found the perfect director for this episode. Everybody comes with different strengths, and I would have no doubt thrived with another one, but this one benefited so much from your helming it. Melissa: It was like an initiation into a high-powered club of extremely accomplished women. I saw those emails flying back and forth in the middle of the night, and Deborah was like "You're one of us!" Vince: One of us, one of us. [Laughter] Backing up, I'm not getting this. You had photos of costumes arranged against each-other, in a split screen. Deborah: And then in order, so you're seeing the evolution. But you're also seeing how they oppose one another. And Rhea Seehorn, to her credit, noted that this woman doesn't have a thousand new costumes, she's a real, working woman who doesn't have time to shop, so we're going to see some repeats, and things she's worn in other episodes.
  • Vince: How did the framing work out? You're not set up for 16:9, but 8:9. How does that work? Alison: It was a challenge. Marshall met on a Saturday to go over this. You have to think about blocking differently, because you only have half a screen, and there's trying to balance the level of activity. If one side is very active, you want to slow down the other side, because you don't want to have to look back and forth all the time. It got tricky, for instance in scene where Kim is squeezing the exercise ball under the table. That had four people in it, and it became a bit of a family portrait, trying to fit everyone in half a screen. It was definitely a challenge, but that's what made it interesting. Peter: That's another great moment, because that exercise ball is green, and across the screen, Jimmy is in a green track suit. Alison: And that's why the costumes became so important. Deborah: And there was a costume pallet shift, too, I think. Vince: I've seen it 4 or 5 times, and now I have to see it even more times. So, on the monitor, do you tape off the sides, so you're only seeing one half at a time? Editorial and Peter came up with a great idea, to put it in center, so we could move it around without being locked into one side. Alison: And that was one of the joys, watching the montage with Peter for the first time. It was so challenging to to articulate it, and a bit intimidating being on the show for the first time. Not just trying to articulate the montage, but how things crossed the panel, and them seeing it come to life on the set. And then seeing it all come together. Peter was shouting. With joy. Peter: You have to enjoy it when something works, because god knows it doesn't happen every day. It was a gamble for us, creatively. It's not out of the television playbook, do one of these, it's something we tried to tell the story. If there's a difference for me, personally, as we've gone on from Breaking Bad to this show, I felt bolder about just swinging for the fences sometimes, because the team is so great, and I think it energizes everybody to try something different.
  • Peter: I'm interested in genre things, things where you're creating a whole new world. The problem is if you're using all your cinematic energy with creating that world, with dragons or whatever, but you can't do something like this sequence. Maybe we will see something like this in Game of Thrones some day. I find it real exciting. Chris: I think you did this in the first season of this show, in the finale, with that Vorkapić (right reference?). That was a crazy stylistic choice. Peter: There was not only that, but there was the breadsticks ... we've had [movie?] fun. Vince: After being more involved in the start of the show, after reading the script, I remember thinking "Oh my god, I am so glad I don't have to direct this episode." [All laugh] Because what a mcgilla that was. Melissa, how many days was this? Melissa: It took place at so many locations. We had to shoot what we could when we were in different places. Vince: So this is a triumph of scheduling, too. Deborah: To mention Doug Carter, who was also on Halt and Catch Fire, this was his second episode. His first was 405, and he was still ADing that with Michael Morris. So we had to hand him the script and ask him "Can you help us number the scenes?" It was an insane assignment for his second episode. Peter: For the writers listening, the thing that helped us, I think, was to use scenes were we already using in this episode. We also stole some shots of Jimmy throwing the ball from another episode, which we had planned. Even though we come up with these crazy ideas in the writers' room, we try to at least make a gesture towards shootability. Deborah: The biggest challenge in terms of the scheduling was Rhea's cast. Because we're dealing with 10 months of activity, a little piece like Rhea dictating in her office, she has the cast on in the first one, but not the other two. And we needed a lock-up on the camera, so we would have to lock-up the camera, and the cast was quite a big deal. It was a real cast. It took her an hour and a half in the morning to get ready. Alison: We could hide it in sheets in one scene, but that was it. Deborah: And even when we cut the cast off, her arm would pucker a little from where the cast had been, so then with the seasons and the costume changes, the cast was the biggest deal. Alison: I thought we were going to have an Anna Gunn thing like on BB, where when she final had the baby, she said "death to the belly!" I wanted to have a "Death to this cast" party. Melissa: It's a cast party!
  • On the song: there were a couple of options. Peter: Deborah used the Frank and Nancy Sinatra version in her cut, but it was too short. We liked the tone and feel of the song, and the fact that it was a duet. Thomas Golubic solicited Lola Marsh, the name of a band but not the individual people in the band. They did a demo for us, and then we had them make some changes. What Lola Marsh did so wonderfully was create a sense of movement through the piece; the instrument changes, which vocal takes the lead changes, and in the mix it sounded just incredible. When we mix music, we usually put it mostly in the center speakers because it otherwise interferes with the sound effects. But this was the soundtrack for the scene. Vince: The male is off to the right, and the female singer is off to the left. Peter: This sequence is made for stereo.
  • ~~~ And just like that, we've been transported to a different time and place ~~~ Quick interview with Thomas Golubic. Chris: how do you pronounce your name? We've been having competing ways of pronouncing your name. Thomas: I think my family has competing ways of pronouncing it. When my father came to the United States from the former Yugoslavia, no one could pronounce his name, so he went by Professor "Golubik," which I never loved, and felt weird with. When I found the name was really "Golubich," with the emphasis on the G, so you stumble into the name. Chris: "Golubich." Thomas: Yeah, exactly. Chris: So we don't have to say "Golubik" or "Golubiché" - Thomas: No, no. I mean, the word "bitch" is in there, so that kind of add some fun. Chris: Yeah, bitch! Keeping it in BB ... theme. Thomas: Parlance. Chris: Yes. We wanted you to talk about 407, and we have been talking about that teaser for about half an hour [true -- ed.] And we wanted you to a bit about how that music came to exist. Thomas: It went through a number of changes and shifts. One of the best thing about our show is how collaborative it is. Everybody works together to get to the right answer. We tried several different avenues, including Lou Reed's "Perfect Day" - Chris: It was also used in an episode of Fear of the Walking Dead, which I cut. Thomas: Really? Oh dear god. *Chris laughs* Thomas: Hence the reason it made it in there? The picture gets bigger now. Chris: I wish I could take credit for that, but Phil McLaughlin, who was an assistant at that time and is now an editor, that was his suggestion. I loved it, and the show runner said "Lou Reed's my favorite," so it was perfect. Thomas: It's an incredible song ... Chris: And it's been used a lot. Thomas: It's been used a lot, and not to say it shouldn't be used again. And this is always that difficulty: for every great use of a song, do we then retire that song? There was another song this season that was used elsewhere, and I don't know where we are in the line of things. Chris: This is 407. Thomas: OK, I won't name the song, but I pitched it really unconfortably for the montage and I really didn't want to include it, and it was one of those things where it worked so well. It came to my attention when somebody told me it was used in another film, and then we had to make the decision, do we keep it because it works so well, or do we get cerebral about it and pull it because we're worried someone will see this and think we stole the idea from a movie? We ended up going with it. In this case, it was down to "Perfect Day" and "Something Stupid" by Frank Sinatra and Nancy Sinatra, and that song in and of itself is incredibly creepy because it's a romantic love song sung between a father and a daughter, which somehow seemed like a good idea back then. But the song has a real magic to it, it has that energy and swing, and Frank Sinatra has one of the most charismatic voices of the 20th century, and it is really hard to find a way to replicate it. We tried other songs, but Peter keep coming back to "Something Stupid," which had a number of problems with it. It was too short, and when we got the quote to use it, the price was astronomical. We were already having budget problems this season. Chris: As a music supervisor, in addition to finding perfect matches for scenes, you're also in charge of staying on budget and making deals with the labels. Thomas: All the time. And in this case, this was an orchestral piece, and it was a union orchestra, which means there are union reuse fees, which can be astronomical. It means everyone gets paid. Chris: Which is great for the musicians, but very difficult on a budget. Thomas: Totally, you can't go in saying we'll clear a song for this number, and not know that maybe you'll have that number and maybe double when you're getting the fees back. You're perpetually in this really awkward spot, trying to balance budget, the feel of the show, and the message of the scene. So we ended up concluding that we should building something from scratch. Chris: How did you go about doing that? How did you find Lola Marsh? Your breadth and depth of musical knowledge, with your exceptional taste, I don't understand how you know all of these things that are going on in every different genre. How did you come to Lola Marsh, or how did they come to you? Thomas: Sometimes the come to you, which is exactly right. In this instance, we had a number of issues, one of which was time. We only had two weeks until we were locking picture, which meant that we were going to have a song that was adjusted to picture, and it had to happen in two weeks. And Sony had placed the rule that they would own the song in the end. The musicians would be paid a fee to perform the song, but they had no control over it after that. That means almost any major label or major publisher would say "absolutely not, you're not allowed to do that," so that really limited the options. We reached out to a number of colleagues with a detailed brief. We gave them a BPM, that we're looking for a duet, and we wanted that song covered but extended from about two and a half minutes to five minutes. Come back with a demo. We got a lot back. I'd say that there were a few that were really fantastic, and 14 that were really special. We listened to them with production, and I took copious notes, like "we don't like the xylophone at that moment," so I could go back to the selected band and give them clear direction. We narrowed it down to two, and both were basically given the green light to finish it up in about a week and a half. I did a very long Skype session with both, and the Lola Marsh session went on for a several hours. They had just finished a show in Tel Aviv, and they did this Skype session, which I think they thought would be 5 minutes or something. And to their great credit, we went through every bar of that song, went through how we could punch it up and how the vocals were working. And then we went through the technical aspects to make sure we had splits on all the instruments so we had options on the stage. There were so many details to it, and they were so enjoyable for people who had literally just performed, and it was 4 AM their time. When we got it back, they hit everything we asked for, so they clearly had taken good notes. That is the one we ended up with. Chris: It's beautiful, and I can't imagine a different piece of music there, or a different version. It's just so perfect, what an insane journey. Thomas: I think the wonderful thing about our show, and any kind of art, is that it's an immense amount of work to make it look easy. And when it looks easy, it feels wonderful. When it looks hard, when it looks like there were competing ideas, it takes away some of the luster and magic. What's so wonderful about the song is its so beautiful. The charm of each of their voices, the surges of enthusiasm in the instruments, the hand quality in the way the instruments are played, it's just special and unique, and I have to give them huge respect [let's hear it again! -- ed.], and huge respect for the other band who did another, very different interpretation. Hopefully some day we'll find a home for that, too. ~~~
  • (Who?): I need to add to something - Chris also worked on Halt and Catch Fire. Chris: Let's get into it - Halt and Catch Fire Season 4 ... There are so many other things we can talk about. Peter: Can I just mention that there is one person who brought most of us together? It's Melissa Bernstein. I wouldn't have been on Breaking Bad if it weren't for her. She brought basically everybody at this table here, except for Joey. Sorry Joey. Alison: This is awkward, Joey. Peter: Someone will write her story some day. Or she'll write a self-help book.
  • Vince: When I read the script, I thought they'd have to put all their energy into this teaser and there's going to be nothing left for the rest of the episode. I'm saying this now because it so did not happen. The rest of this episode is just killer. There was that great cut, the magic man cut, where Jimmy is talking to Huell on the bench. Deborah: It wasn't scripted this way, it was supposed to be outside, but it was so windy and there were threats of lightning, so we had to shoot inside. It was this serendipitous thing. We framed up this frontal shot, and there's something about this shot, this combination of humor. We shot this first, and because we needed the Schweikart and Cokely logo, I thought let's just match it. I didn't know if it would end up in the cut because it wasn't exactly as scripted, but it was such a funny cut that we just did it. Alison: Did you use a tape measure? How did you line it up so perfectly? Deborah: It was Matt, the camera operator. He lined up the first one for me, and we discussed the little white box on the wall, and we got a bit OCD about "should we frame it in, should we frame it out?" We were so dialed in to what we had done in the other one, that he was able to replicate it in the next shot. Vince: Did you try to get Bob to move his head in a certain way to match the shot from the other one? Deborah: No, that was just some more serendipity. Peter: It's just such a perfect cut, Jimmy saying "I can handle this," then the first thing he does is run to his girlfriend. And Bob, by the way, is great in this, of course. But he has some interesting challenges, like the direct address to the camera. I talked about this with him after it, and he was concerned it would take him back to a Mr. Show sketch where he was direct-addressing the camera. But you guys worked it out, and he was great. Deborah: So vulnerable. Peter: He's so nervous about Kim liking his office. Chris: Lavell couldn't be a better counterpoint. He is so great in this episode. This is the most we've seen of Huell. Peter: More Lavell Crawford, is all I can say. Vince: Was it a oner? Deborah: Yes, it was a oner, and it was scripted as a oner. Vince: Was it a steadicam? Deborah: yes, but if you see the outtakes, you can see Paul hit the door frame about seven times to get through that office. Vince: How many takes was it? Deborah: About 10 or 11, and only the last two takes worked. I don't know which one we used, but in one of the best ones, Paul had lost the use of monitor due to a technical issue, but he kept going with it because he had done it so many times that he was going on muscle memory. There's a point where he comes down the hallway and he frames it in a 50/50, and he frames it just perfectly without being able to see. Vince: He's the man. Has anyone at this table had a steadicam on? Alison: Heavy, right? Vince: It's beyond, it's a torture device. I had one once for 10 minutes, between setups on a Breaking Bad episodes I was directing, and they said "do you want to try this on?" You're constantly falling forwards. And you feel it in your lower back. Doing ten of those takes ... you've got to be a glutton for punishment to be a steadicam operator. God bless him and all steadicam operators, because that job sucks. Alison: It looked really challenging, and it's one of the first things we shot. Bob had to do it over and over, but he thought, and I agreed, that it got stronger and stronger, and Bob got more vulnerable. Vince: I love how you guys roll with it. I asked if you put those in. Alison: No, we changed the script because we wanted to reference the actual surroundings. And Bob wanted a little legal language when he looked in the bathroom. I thought "oh my god, it's my second scene on my first day, and I don't know how to write that! I can't write legal language! Mallory (?), thanks to her law schooling, provided on-the-spot legalese, which was fed into the scene right then and there by Bob. Peter: Were were lucky to have Mallory while we did, and she has since gone on to staff a show called ... Mike Bearmantraut: The Enemy Within. Melissa: Bears have very good memories. Vince: He occasionally kills and eats a P.A. Chris: But that's the risk you run, the price you pay for perfection.
  • On the uberlab, as called by Alison: Vince asks "Where'd you find a hole in the ground that big?" Answers range from "We dug it" to "really good location scouting." Peter: Shout outs to Judy Rhee, production designer, and Steve Brown, construction coordinator, art director Paul Desanto, and the construction crew who had to build the scene, which wasn't built very far away from the original/future Breaking Bad superlab, within "several dozen feet." Deborah: And also Marshall and Steve Lateki, for lighting the set. Peter: Marshall had the idea, after we talked to 2001 A Space Oddysy, the moon sequence where they uncovered Tycho Magnetic Anomaly 1, TMA 1. Melissa: That's a nerd-out for you. Vince: A complete nerdfest. Peter: It's a wonderful, wonderful scene, one of the first scenes shot on the film, which they held for a year before adding the matte painting ... sorry, I'm getting off on 2001 nerdery here. But we loved the way the lights looked, and the different kinds of reflections. Marshall had the idea of shooting the scene with anamorphic lenses - just Wiki it, but in short, it allows you to make a wide-screen image from a more-or-less square piee of film. Optically, these lenses are very complicated, and they have wonderful flares that come out of the inside, very organic, interesting looking flares. The other movie I think of for this is Close Encounters. Deborah: It's otherworldly. Peter: There were actually three different sets - the laundry, the superlab set, and then the transitional set, where the actual hatch is. Deborah: We called it the landing, because you can't shoot both directions in the set. And then there's the layer surrounding the hatch, another Deborah Chow special. The layers of visqueen, the plastic.
  • Peter: And because we didn't give you enough, we had that accident. How much stuff is in this episode? Chris: Reading the script, I was wondering, How are they going to do that? How did you do that? Deborah: We had to do a test, and we had a camera on the beam. Melissa: It actually went really smoothly, which is definitely a testament to special effects and all the departments that put it together. But you are seeing it; it is a giant beam that crashed down and broke a bunch of stuff. We knew we were going to be limited in the number of times we could do that, and limited in time, so when we did the test, we had a camera on the beam, and then we did the take with cameras on the day, and we got most of it in the first take, which was good because we didn't have much time. Vince: Were they all stunt men, or the real actors? Deborah: There was one stunt man driving the tractor, but everybody else was the real actors. They were very game, and it was hard for us to keep them away from it. Chris: They were boys, as Werner says [That was what I was going to say! -- ed] Melissa: they wouldn't even let us drive the bobcat. We had to do a cowboy switcheroo, swap the stuntman for the real actor mid-take, where everyone froze in their spot. This was the last shot, which rapped at three o'clock in the morning. It was an amazing feat by Deborah, I remember telling her afterwords "I don't know how you did it, you're a magician." And she gave credit to Marshall, and Paul, and Matt, who captured it all. The day was already running late, and they didn't have coverage shots, so Paul and Matt just put the cameras on their shoulders and did it all with no rehearsal, no focus marks, and got it all done in 15 minutes. It was just intuitive, knowing which angles to get, who to follow. Deborah: I thought "Well, we're not going to get it, I don't know what any of that means, I don't know what's going to happen to any of us. Chris: How do you deal with that as a film maker, when you realize you have all this to get done but you're an hour behind? Is there a tactical approach? Analyzing a list of shots? Deborah: You prioritize, combine as many shots as you can and simplify, it. Go for the stuff that's really important, with who's there. You can come back and shoot the set, but not all the actors in the space. Vince: As a director, do you shot-list or storyboard? Deborah: It depends. For the montage, it was completely storyboarded. In some ways this was two episodes for me: the montage and the rest. When it's not so much action, or effects heavy, or doesn't need to be so precise, I just shot-list it. Vince: That's what I do. Do you storyboard it yourself? Deborah: I do, with little stick-figures. With TV, I don't have the time to have it done, and sometimes the script keeps changing, so it was really lovely to have a script that wasn't changing. I think the first script I got was very nearly the last script I got. Vince: Thanks to Sony and AMC for giving us enough lead-time. Peter: I think the extra time we have for writing saves us during production. As a director, it saves days. You're a real director, so you can think on your feet, but what I really hate as a director is having to change everything because of some new element. Chris: As someone who has cut three of your episodes, I want to say that Peter is being very modest. He is a very good director, and he thinks on his feet well. Peter: I'm also neurotic. Vince: It's the hair. [And a weird tangent into hair-talk - everybody has good hair!] Deborah: I was in awe of how well everybody treated each-other, you wouldn't know it was a freak-out moment.
  • Peter: We've talked a lot about technical details, but there's a scene I love, where Bob pitches getting a cop drunk. Then Kim leans back on the couch. Alison: She's taking it all in. Peter: She takes the right amount of time. You follow her process completely. Vince: In a oner. Peter: We talk about anamorphic lenses, and I have a love of every aspect of film-making, but that for me is true movie magic. Deborah: You know all the things that Jimmy has been up to that he hasn't been telling her, you'd think she'd hear this and her head would fly off, but she's so solutions-oriented. You can tell she's still upset. Chris: Justifiably so. Deborah: Very justifiably so, but she's still thinking "what's next." Peter: I don't want to pull the curtain back too far, but we omitted a lot of dialog that Alison wrote so wonderfully, but it just wasn't necessary because these performances were just so strong. It turns out that once we were watching the scene in editing, the need for the dialog just fell away.
  • The sandwich assault: it was 90 degrees, and suddenly two people rose out of the ground. There were people living in basically a service tunnel.
  • Jimmy repeatedly torpedoing the good things in his life, at the work party, and then going to Kim, ending on "you do things your way"; the classic office supplies cliff-hanger, you learn about it in film school. Chris: It's a 200 level thing, you learn about it in sophomore year.
  • BCS outro: Alison solo, after much debate about duets.

posted by filthy light thief at 9:00 PM on October 1, 2018


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