Better Call Saul: Winner
October 9, 2018 10:40 AM - Season 4, Episode 10 - Subscribe

Jimmy turns the page on his reputation; Lalo tracks a loose end in Gus' operation; Mike is forced to make a difficult decision. [Season Finale]

The judges will decide, the likes of us abide—unless you're Jimmy McGill and it's the Better Call Saul season finale (Donna Bowman for TV/AV Club)
We’ve seen some jaw-dropping cold opens this season. But for sheer delight, I’m not sure anything can top this one. When Chuck grabs the mic from Jimmy and belts out the bridge to “The Winner Takes It All” on the karaoke stage, my giddy laughter could probably be heard three houses over. Not only is it Michael! McKean! Singing! which is more than I ever could have hoped for from this casting. But it’s also a perfect flashback to what makes the Chuck-Jimmy relationship so infuriating. There’s Chuck standing up at the bar to present Jimmy, mentioning “my brother” in a way that Kim (sitting behind them, just as she will in the closing scene) takes as pride, but we know is also intended as belittling and diminishing. There’s Chuck staying aloof from the celebration, and demurring uncomfortably when Jimmy tries to get him onstage. There he is adorably crooning one line — “the loser standing small” — when Jimmy sticks the mic in his face. And there he is, ultimately sidelining Jimmy at his own party, seeing a chance to make it all about him and taking it. Taking it all.
‘Better Call Saul’ Season Finale Recap: Winner Takes It All -- Jimmy expresses “remorse” in a big way and Mike crosses a line in the season’s heartbreaking finale (Alan Sepinwall for Rolling Stone)
“You made a mistake, and they are never forgetting it. As far as they are concerned, your mistake, that’s who you are.” -Jimmy

And here he is: Saul Goodman.

But s’all not good, man.

“Winner” takes us to a moment we all once assumed would arrive much sooner than it did. Back then, the audience, the writers and Kim Wexler hadn’t all fallen in love with Jimmy McGill. Saul Goodman was fun, and inevitable. Who, we might have wondered back then, could possibly have wanted to watch a Saul show where he wasn’t even really Saul? Even Peter Gould (who co-wrote the finale with Thomas Schnauz) and Vince Gilligan intended for him to go full Goodman by the end of Season One, if not sooner. But then Jimmy charmed the pants off of all of us, and Better Call Saul became not a Breaking Bad bonus feature, but a kind of parallel tragedy to the original show. Walter White was a man the world believed to be good, only for circumstance, arrogance and sheer force of will to reveal the monster that was always hiding underneath that beige wardrobe. Jimmy McGill, on the other hand, was a man the world believed to be bad, despite his tremendous capacity for decency and self-sacrifice. And that continued skepticism combined with his own abundant flaws to become a self-fulfilling prophecy: he opted to live down to everyone’s lowest expectations of him. Like Walt’s transformation into Heisenberg, Jimmy becoming Saul isn’t something to be raced through, and we are all very fortunate that the creative team realized this as the show went along.
Name that tune: who sang what in Karaoke, via Tunefind
posted by filthy light thief (89 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
I loved this episode. Everything was so on point.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:46 AM on October 9


We all thought BCS was a Saul Goodman origin story, turns out it's half Mike Ermmentraut origin story. The tedium of the superlab construction storyline seems to have been intentional to get us to a place where "Full Measures" Mike finally commits to being both a criminal and a bad guy, shades of his conversation with the terrible drug dealer who had his baseball cards stolen by Nacho. Perhaps this is why he disliked Walter White so much--he saw himself in him.

Speaking of Nacho, I think his absence from most of the season is also intentional--after he became the thrall of Gus, he was basically disposed of, both in the world of the show and in the story structure. No one actually cares about Nacho--he's always been a convenient means to an end.

The weirdness of this season in terms of Jimmy's world also came into stark clarity last night as we see the full extent of Jimmy suppressing his feelings about Chuck's death. The season felt off because all the characters were off.
posted by Automocar at 10:58 AM on October 9 [3 favorites]


Eh, I'm done. The crooning scene was great, and Kim's reactions throughout were wonderful, but the complete sidelining of Nacho and Mike as developing characters in favor of the Germans and the lab was a terrible decision that weighed down this season horribly, and I can't imagine the BB fan service getting any less intrusive from here out.

It was a really good run up to this last half-season, and that final glib "S'all good, man" as Jimmy leaves a stunned Kim in the dust is as solid an ending as I think this series is ever gonna deliver.
posted by mediareport at 11:01 AM on October 9 [9 favorites]


I was transfixed. SO GOOD. And so heartbreaking. That opening! Seeing Chuck as the caring brother? Oof. Sure, he stole the show (and sang well, to boot), but Jimmy gave it to him. There was some push-and-pull for attention, but it looked like Jimmy honestly and willingly stood back so Chuck could shine in a social setting, to make Chuck more human and warm to his co-workers.

And now, a bit of unnecessary pedantry:
  • Random background bits: DaVita Medical Group is a new name on the Albuquerque skyline, after they bought out a local health practice, ABQ Health Partners
  • Unlike Jimmy's reference to The Matrix (1999), Werner's Crocs were probably ahead of their time, assuming we're in 2003 or maybe 2004 (maybe he was an early adopter? ;))
  • I'm not sure where those hot springs were, and there's no Dulce Vega Hot Springs that I can find in New Mexico. Though if they really were by Jemez, they might have been one of these five hot springs listed in Yelp as being in or near Jemez Springs (Wikipedia, with the pronunciation suggestion of HEH-mes, or you could say HAY-mis, but definitely not whatever Mike said, but I'll forgive him as a recent arrival to New Mexico, because Jemez is a tricky one).
I'll leave it at that for nit-picking ;)

And if you hadn't heard (or didn't remember), AMC picked this up for a 5th season weeks before Season 4 even started to air.


I can't imagine the BB fan service getting any less intrusive from here out.

On some level, I get calling it fan service, but at the same time, the timelines will merge, so it's not so much fan service as it is joining two stories with overlapping characters. There were loose threads, like Lalo and Nacho, written into the very scripts of BB, much like the sprawling Star Wars universe, there for the grabbing.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:01 AM on October 9 [6 favorites]


I get the merging timelines, but did we really need to spend time on the origin of Hector's bell? There was so much great interpersonal stuff going on between so many characters in the early years of this series, but it all seems to me to be falling by the wayside as we get closer to The Merging. I'm just much less interested in The Merging than I was in the new characters and relationships, and have realized the show isn't giving me enough to keep going anymore. It's cool; I know lots of folks feel differently and I'm happy saying farewell here.
posted by mediareport at 11:09 AM on October 9 [2 favorites]


Perhaps this is why he disliked Walter White so much--he saw himself in him.

I was thinking Walter White would remind Mike of Werner as well. A "family" man those mixed priorities create problems. Of course Werner isn't anywhere near the complete asshole Walter White was. White was such a gigantic asshole that Mike doesn't really need any personal issues of his own to dislike Walter but his experience with similarly conflicted individuals, including himself would bring the point home rather strongly.
posted by juiceCake at 11:10 AM on October 9 [1 favorite]


Kim realizing she'd been conned by Jimmy's performance in front of the panel was devastating. I don't see how they bounce back from that, despite her promise that she was "with him".
posted by emkelley at 11:25 AM on October 9 [18 favorites]


Finally a good episode.

I was basically done with BCS. In spite of my previous enthousiasm about BB and the BCS seasons so far.
The chewing gum sequence was classic BB & BCS. I don't know whether there's another tv series that can create similar puzzlement and anticipation.
posted by jouke at 11:31 AM on October 9 [3 favorites]


I get the merging timelines, but did we really need to spend time on the origin of Hector's bell?

Dude, I have to say, I don’t get why you’re so upset about Hector’s bell. Considering that the bell became a pretty damn major plot point for Gus Fring in Breaking Bad, it’s not exactly weird that the bell was introduced here as an Easter egg for BB fans. And it took all of, what, one to two minutes of screen time in Better Call Saul?

I was a bit stymied by the end of the Werner storyline. I’m sure I’m missing something, but why would Werner take such a huge risk for so little potential reward? I mean, he was married to his wife for 26 years and he was going to see her again in a few months, or maybe less. So why would he have cut and run just for few days with his wife of many years, knowing that it would put him, his men, and very likely his wife at massive risk? It wasn’t part of his character that he was impulsive or careless. I don’t know, that whole plot arc didn’t make a lot of sense to me, but as I said, I’m sure I’m missing something.
posted by O Sock My Sock at 11:44 AM on October 9 [15 favorites]


Werner realizing he's about to get killed and offering to disappear reminded me a bit of a similar scene with Prop Joe in The Wire. There was another scene in Barry (on HBO... watch it if you haven't, it's excellent) that was similar... a guy knows he's about to die so he starts bargaining.

That whole scene was heartbreaking. I know Mike is "The Bad Guy" in that scene but I still felt bad for him. Werner is his friend, he tried to save him, but he knows that there's no way out and Mike doing the deed is probably Werner's best option.

I don't mind the BB fan service. This whole show is BB fan service. I mean, sure, I'm glad Jesse Pinkman doesn't show up saying "Bitch!" at random but I'm happy to see the lab and Gus' world. The bell was a bit unnecessary but I think they spent about 30 seconds total on it. As others have said, the bell is a very important part of BB.

I was a bit stymied by the end of the Werner storyline. I’m sure I’m missing something, but why would Werner take such a huge risk for so little potential reward?

My feeling is he felt that he and Mike were friends, and he underestimated Mike's warning about the real people behind the project. I think he felt that, worst case, Mike would be pissed at him but he'd get over it.

Really, I think there were a couple of weak moments this season but it was still excellent, and far better than almost anything else on TV. I'm looking forward to Season 5, which I suspect will be the last.
posted by bondcliff at 11:54 AM on October 9 [8 favorites]


Did we really need to spend time on the origin of Hector's bell?

Not really, and it did feel like a bit of indulgent tying-a-bow-on-it. But in retrospect that scene is also mostly about showing us more of Lalo, no? They introduced him late in the season, he's pretty significant in this episode, and I can only imagine he's going to be more of an antagonist to Gus and/or Mike next season. In that light, Lalo's monologue to Hector was mostly about bringing us up to speed on Lalo's character and motivations; the bell was a bonus.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:10 PM on October 9 [11 favorites]


The whole thing with the bell also gives us some insight into Lalo's character. He went back into a burning building to get a souvenir to help him remember a great time he had murdering with Hector. We get a little fun thing about the bell we know from BB, but also some backstory on a new character.
posted by Shohn at 12:12 PM on October 9 [11 favorites]


Beat me to it, We had a deal, Kyle.
posted by Shohn at 12:14 PM on October 9


My feeling is he felt that he and Mike were friends, and he underestimated Mike's warning about the real people behind the project. I think he felt that, worst case, Mike would be pissed at him but he'd get over it.

That was pretty much Werner's answer to Mike's question:
"I want to know what your end game was. What did you think was gonna happen?"
"I thought I would come back and my friend Michael would be very, very angry, but in time, he would understand and forgive."
"It was never up to me."
And yeah, I think Werner didn't realize how harshly Gus would react, because he does't know Gus. Werner met Gus at the interview; I suspect that was the only time, that Gus has been running this all hands-off through Mike.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:17 PM on October 9 [6 favorites]


Last season the finale started out with Chuck and Jimmy being sweet together and ended in Chuck's death, and this season ended with the brothers being sweet together and ended in Jimmy's death. Bah, I hate it, I'm going to miss Jimmy. I really liked that guy.

I sort of saw it coming when Chuck and Jimmy were lying in that bed together in the cold open, and they were singing, but their heads were in shadow. From the way the light looked and how they were lying down, it looked like they were dead bodies lying on that bed. Guess they're both gone now.

Jimmy fooled me in that last scene, though, too. Poor Kim. She's going to miss her bf. Why couldn't Jimmy have eventually found his soul again after Chuck died? How come he couldn't bounce back from that better?

That said, I guess he loves being Saul. I guess he also wanted to be a lawyer more than he even imagined. I think it means the world to him, more than anybody or anything else does (even himself). But I mean, what DOES the law mean to him?
posted by rue72 at 12:20 PM on October 9 [8 favorites]


I think Werner didn't realize how harshly Gus would react, because he does't know Gus.

Yes, I think you're right. The thing is that as loony as it was for Werner to run off like he did, he actually did have a good handle on how Mike would react. Mike DID want to forgive it as a terrible and foolish mistake, and begged for Werner's life multiple times. What Werner got wrong isn't how Mike would react, it's that Mike's reaction wouldn't matter.
posted by rue72 at 12:23 PM on October 9 [19 favorites]


What Werner got wrong isn't how Mike would react, it's that Mike's reaction wouldn't matter.

This exactly. He might have even thought Mike would cover for him - why report it to the big boss who is never there, when the work would continue and he'd be back before anyone (besides Mike and the guards) was the wiser.
posted by mikepop at 12:34 PM on October 9 [1 favorite]


I think what was so devastating for Kim (and us) is not just that Jimmy used Chuck's death callously or that Jimmy claimed to care so much about the good name of McGill and then instantly jettisoned it to become Saul so he could continue to work with his new criminal underground buddies. Or even that he did all this without confiding in her and so when he finally seemed to be plumbing the depths of his loss it was genuinely moving and hopeful.

No, I think what was so devastating for Kim (and us) is that really for the first time Bob Odenkirk plays Jimmy's con with full conviction, such that we (and she) are allowed to be fooled. Up until this episode, Jimmy's cons were always played broadly enough that we could easily see through them. Kim has been surprised before by some of the choices he's made and lengths he'd go to, but not entirely fooled by the underlying motives. Just like Skylar in BB could always tell when WW was lying to her, Kim has always been able to call bullshit on Jimmy.

But in this episode, she finally met Saul. And Saul turned out to be a master manipulator way beyond what Kim was prepared for, and his total disdain for the people he fooled was genuinely troubling. Because she was fooled, too. So that even if she decides that she wants to stay with Jimmy, she just learned - really learned - that she can never trust him again.

Just like poor Werner. That's the lesson you learn in this episode. Once you lose trust in this universe, you're a liability. Remains to be seen what Kim decides to do with that. At least it seems unlikely that she'll drive Saul out to the desert and shoot him.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:00 PM on October 9 [19 favorites]


What frustrates me the most is I understand Jimmy/Saul *less* now after this season than I did before. What is he? I can't join the dots and it doesn't feel like a legitimate air of ambiguity to the character, it just feels confusing. To me.

Also, here is a list of things:

An Alpine Shephard Boy figurine. Hector's bell. The twins. Saul fleeing at the end of Breaking Bad. Gene in Cinnabon. Some new guy that was mentioned once in Breaking Bad. Someone played by Marc Evan Jackson pretending to be grieving. Howard with insomnia. A dodgy connection in some dynamite. Other... stuff.

I think it would be impossible for anyone to weave a coherent narrative using these elements, and am not clear why they tried.
posted by chill at 1:00 PM on October 9 [2 favorites]


He's a dude with an inclination toward taking the easy way and with a certain moral looseness who followed his brother into law, was submarined by his brother, who saw Jimmy's failings coupled with a career in law as dangerous.

This season was the aftermath. Jimmy was in free fall, bouncing back and forth between wanting to be Jimmy McGil, Esquire, and acting like Slipping' Jimmy when it worked to his advantage. With a small amount of accidental encouragement from Kim, he was able to scam his way back into the legal profession, and with that, the two identities merged -- McGill and Jimmy became Saul Goodman.

I agree that the season felt odd, but I agree with Automocar: the season felt off because the characters were off. All of them were spinning wheels or trying out things that didn't quite fit them. Unfortunately for Jimmy and Mike, all it did was reenforce that the thing they are is what they became in this episode: A criminal-lawyer and an enforcer for a meth dealer.
posted by maxsparber at 1:08 PM on October 9 [5 favorites]


Aw man, Kim's face when she clicked what Jimmy / Saul had just done. You could see her heart break - fantastic acting.

And let's hear it for Ernie - dude was belting that shit out...
posted by jontyjago at 1:46 PM on October 9 [7 favorites]


But in this episode, she finally met Saul. And Saul turned out to be a master manipulator way beyond what Kim was prepared for, and his total disdain for the people he fooled was genuinely troubling. Because she was fooled, too. So that even if she decides that she wants to stay with Jimmy, she just learned - really learned - that she can never trust him again.

I definitely agree, but I think that she also tricked herself (and I know that as an audience member, I tricked myself) that a catharsis WAS going to come, and when it did, this heartlessness and callousness would melt away and Jimmy would be "himself" again.

Like, you tell the Beast "I love you" and he turns into the prince you know he was meant to be all along. You kiss Sleeping Beauty and the spell imprisoning her dissolves and she turns back into the living girl who everyone thought had been lost. You say Rumplestiltskin's name and his curse is broken and you get to keep your beloved after all. It seemed so poetic, so cinematic, so narratively right that that catharsis would happen for Jimmy in the courtroom, too. And Kim didn't just buy Jimmy's act, she bought the moment of catharsis for herself, that she finally had her man back again.

But then it turned out it didn't really happen. The catharsis was fake. Jimmy is fake. Something like that is very disorienting but it's also outright scary in terms of your trust in yourself, your own judgement. How trustworthy IS Kim's judgement that she's with this lowlife disbarred lawyer? The look on her face at the end made me think she felt as though the scales had just fallen from her eyes.

Maybe both Chuck and Kim were ultimately just marks for Jimmy? People to exploit, like he exploits everyone he can? It certainly seems as though that's all Chuck was to him in the end. It's a scary thought.
posted by rue72 at 1:47 PM on October 9 [10 favorites]


I definitely agree, but I think that she also tricked herself (and I know that as an audience member, I tricked myself) that a catharsis WAS going to come, and when it did, this heartlessness and callousness would melt away and Jimmy would be "himself" again.

That scene with Jimmy outright sobbing in his rundown little shitheap car, the exact opposite of his grandiose grief for the Bar, was Jimmy's farewell to himself. What was left of Jimmy was tied to his relationship with Chuck, and he's finally let go of that last bit of authentic grief. It was heartbreaking that when he finally let it come, he did it alone, in the dark, and still didn't let Kim see it.

We did see a catharsis, but it was in a way that Jimmy would never let on to the world. Shoddy, inelegant, insignificant loss. I wish he could just embrace all the shit he's locked down, but then we'd never get Saul Goodman.
posted by tracicle at 1:57 PM on October 9 [8 favorites]


I'm sadly standing with the naysayers: this was a real bummer of a season for me. I think if I'd been played just the Jimmy and Kim scenes, it'd have real promise as the first half of a season. But that's it. I hope we'll be able to revisit this season as a weak outlier rather than as the start of a downward trend.

Also, the bell's origin story is so cringy, I think, because giving a weighty story to mundane but recognizable objects has become such a hackneyed trope for prequels. Maybe in a vacuum it would be fine and even stirring, but prequels are everywhere and you can't watch any without learning how Han got his dice or whatever. If you're familiar with the trope the scene makes you immediately feel the writers' presence and a paint-by-numbers lack of originality.
posted by painquale at 2:20 PM on October 9 [6 favorites]


In a way, I'm kind of surprised Gus didn't allow Werner to come back, finish the job, then off him (and maybe all of the workers? who knows?) Then again, there needed to be that moment when Mike went entirely to the dark side.

Loved the karaoke scene. I told my wife, I hope Michael McKean gets up and sings. It probably would have been a bit much if he had done a Spinal Tap song, though, I guess.

I was really thrown off by the scene with Jimmy sitting in on that scholarship panel. Was it mentioned that he was doing it earlier and I just missed it? I was trying to make sense of it as a flashback, but that didn't make any sense, either.

Kim looking like she's been cut loose from the universe after Jimmy turns into Saul was so powerful, and heartbreaking.

Speaking of Kim...Have those eyebrows been getting more and more wicked as the season progressed?

Gale messing his pants over the hole in the ground was pretty funny.

I'm sort-of on the fence about this season. It did seem like it was a "we gotta get from A to C real quick" season.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:53 PM on October 9 [1 favorite]


I meant to mention this in the last thread (or the one before?) but there's no elevator in the SuperLab, in BB. Everyone comes in from roughly the same place as now, with a stairway and catwalk. I suspect that boulder is a problem that doesn't get solved.

I agree that the bell is a little gratuitous, but as a device to tell us all about Lalo, it works, so I'll forgive them that.
I also wanted more time with Jimmy, and more time with Jimmy and Kim.. but I don't think Jimmy DBA'ing as Saul going into next season is a switch that means we're now looking at the Saul that Walter meets. I think it's just as likely it's a persona that he's able, for a least some time, to keep separate.
Or maybe I just hope that's how it goes.

I felt bad for the scholarship girl he unloaded all his Chuck guilt onto. Try doing some of your own emotional labor there, Jimmy.
posted by ApathyGirl at 2:53 PM on October 9 [3 favorites]


I meant to mention this in the last thread (or the one before?) but there's no elevator in the SuperLab, in BB.

There wasn't in the initial superlab episodes, but they quietly retconned it in during season 4; most notably, at the end of S4E13 Face Off Walt arrives in the lab via the freight elevator.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 3:11 PM on October 9 [4 favorites]


What was left of Jimmy was tied to his relationship with Chuck, and he's finally let go of that last bit of authentic grief. It was heartbreaking that when he finally let it come, he did it alone, in the dark, and still didn't let Kim see it.

I think that's the last bit of Saul Goodman's grief for Jimmy McGill, certainly, but the death of Jimmy McGill to my eyes was two scenes earlier, when the last great Jimmy McGill pitch on behalf of Christy Esposito, when Jimmy's sale didn't go through in that room, dominated by the unctuous Howard Hamlin and the glowering image of Charles McGill, Esq. There, in the room where she will forever be "the shoplifter" and he will forever be "Slippin' Jimmy," is where James McGill, Esq.'s existence became impossible. Saul Goodman even gives Jimmy a eulogy shortly afterwards, in his bizarre and creepy little "motivational" speech to Christy. It's the send-off to Jimmy as a mostly straight lawyer, trading at least on his own name, pulling cons in tight spots but otherwise making an effort at lawyering with a few cut corners here and there.

Howard is a hell of a salesman in that crowd because they trust him and see him as a he wishes to be seen; but in that same room, under those Chuck eyes, James McGill can't make the pitch even when he does pour his sense of self into it. So Jimmy just can't keep going. But Saul Goodman? Saul Goodman wants them to know he's a fraud, and be unable to prove it; wants to get to call them assholes when they bust him and assholes when they fall for it. It's easy to call yourself the winner when all you wanna do is see the loser take the fall. (Jimmy learned something from Chuck after all, and it killed him.)

But that little speech to an obviously scared, uncomfortable teenager is also the coming-out party for Saul Goodman, the real Saul Goodman, a man whose engine is contempt for anyone who'd hold him in contempt, the insistence that doing whatever it takes is alright because only a sucker plays a rigged game, the man who will embrace being "the kind of lawyer guilty people hire" and shove it in the faces of others. And in the end, that's who he chooses to be: someone living his anger, living out all the things he wanted to rub Chuck's nose in all those years, the man who (as we saw last episode) is going to keep projecting Chuck onto anyone he thinks isn't 100% on his side and rage against. It's not just his glee at conning the Bar Association that rattles Kim and reveals the full face of Saul; it's the sheer contempt that animates it, the final split from whatever actual grief we might expect Jimmy to have for the brother who at least once loved him, if not the lawyer who labeled him, poisoned his career, and betrayed him.

And Mike, too, assumes his final role, the man who, between "the job" and his heart, will pick the job every time. Werner's foolish, unprofessional conduct due to an ache of the heart is a crude foil to this, of course, but the season has also been about Mike isolating himself from personal connections and immersing himself in the world of the professional criminal. His daughter is still a sort of lodestar for him, but it's been made clear that's all she is, and even her mother -- Mike's own daughter-in-law -- is just a means to the end of making Kaylee happy to pay down an emotional debt to Matty. Gus Fring's stony face underlines this: the very image of sociopathic anger, cold-burning, meticulous....but in the end professional. Mike's desire to "fix it" is, in the end, a verbal contract, and his last real words to Werner are about the logistics of covering up his death, another sort of verbal contract, complete with assurances that lawyers will be involved. (And this of course signals that the law and crime plots will merge with the advent of both Saul the shyster and Mike the cleaner.)

But that's not the point here. The real point is something else, the collateral damage of these men and their transformations. Again, yes, Werner, the obvious, but also consider one of the returning guest stars of the episode: Ernesto, naively belting his heart out, unknowing that his emotional loyalty to Jimmy and professional disloyalty to Chuck will make him a forgotten casualty of the McGill brothers' war, never even mentioned again by Jimmy after Ernesto throws away his career to protect him. Notice, too, the emotional damage implied for Margerithe and Kim; the deaths of Werner and the wire service clerk reflect a more spectacular, shocking sort of damage in the "Gus and Mike take on the cartel" plotline, but imagine your last words from a loved one being a belittling, befuddling rage followed by an unexpected death. You'd have as hard a time processing it as Kim seems to think Jimmy should have processing Chuck's death. How many German lawyers does it take to explain that away?

As ever, the Jimmy part of the plot -- and it's maybe the last time any of us will get to call it that rather than "the Saul part of the plot" -- twists and shimmies to a warped iteration of the theme. The emotional damage visible in Kim is the symmetry of the unseen damage to Margarithe, but Jimmy does not really mourn for himself after all. And for we, the viewers, perhaps damaged, sometimes slipping, but always striving Jimmy McGill is the ultimate collateral damage of Saul Goodman taking center stage.

If the speech to Christy Esposito is a eulogy for Jimmy McGill, it's one full of as much contempt for the struggling Jimmy McGill of Season 1 as Saul Goodman later has for anyone who falls for his games. Saul is born from Jimmy deciding that Jimmy McGill is, for all his con-game power, ultimately more mark than artist, more sheep than wolf. Saul Goodman isn't the name McGill, the name of his father; it's the sort of name that grifter long ago would give his son, an in-joke aimed at anyone stupid enough to take things at face value.

Well, or trusting, right? Because the difference between a magician's misdirection and a confidence game is that the latter always relies on some kind of trust, ad this episode (and, in retrospect, most of the cons this season) have been built not on flashy spectacles but on exploiting trust: Werner using Mike's sympathy to get that phone call and set up a visit from his wife, Kim playing on the shared bond between two working women in Lubbock, even Mike and Lalo working the wire service clerk with varying degrees of success. They all depend on someone feeling empathy while the con artist doesn't.

I wonder, too, if the other element of the show is this: that Jimmy McGill (and probably Chuck, and probably even Howard) are, by implication, still stuck in the roles they played as children. It's most obvious with Jimmy in this episode: his impatience with the costly game of pretending to grieve for his brother to win sympathy with the Bar gives way to his childish plan of saving the judge from a fire, the same story he invented for Huell Babineaux two episodes back. And Saul Goodman, in a way, is a sort of fantasy figure in which Jimmy McGill, flawed adult, is buried. Now wonder the only person Jimmy really, truly bares his soul to in tis episode is a high school student who's made a foolish mistake; that's roughly the emotional level Saul Goodman exists at. It's telling that the ultimate torment for Saul is to become Gene, someone living a perfectly workable life as a mundane, low-status, routine job of the sort that unsuccessful grown-ups live every day in real life....but with at least some of the ridiculous, secret money of Saul Goodman, drug lawyer to the empire-builders.

That may apply to the show writ large, as well: hasn't the crime part of the plot always held the adolescent appeal, while the legal part of it is about the difficulties of adult relationships? It's the fandom, isn't it? The ones who want the thrills of a criminal adventure complain about the law plot, and the ones who want the adult complexity mourn that same crime stuff and the inevitable turn to Saul Goodman's cultivated cartoonishness. When Jimmy says he's going to be the best Man and the best McGill he can, we know he's going back on the "McGill" part and changing his working name. But in that same moment, isn't he going back on the "man" part in favor of the disillusioned adolescent he's never stopped being? Perhaps that what Kim sees, finally, in the moment that most starkly reminds us that this was always headed towards Breaking Bad and especially Saul's role in it, the over-the-top, funny, sleazeball lawyer.

So there's the final Jimmy inversion of plot and theme: while other characters remain stuck in a defining moment or develop into something new, Jimmy willfully loses dimensions, because it's easier to be driven by Saul Goodman's impulsivity, rage, greed, and ego than to do the hard work of understanding, mourning, or empathizing with anyone except wounded little Jimmy McGill.
posted by kewb at 3:20 PM on October 9 [22 favorites]


NB: Believe it or not, I didn't read the other comments first. (You probably believe it.) But rue72 is all over this stuff, and in a succinct, sharp way.
posted by kewb at 3:25 PM on October 9 [5 favorites]


I mean, this is the first time that JIMMY is the persona worn to carry out a con. Or at least the first time Kim or the audience can see that Jimmy McGill is just a persona, too. No more real than Saul (anymore)...maybe less so, ffs.
posted by rue72 at 3:57 PM on October 9 [4 favorites]


Better Call Primal Fear

Martin Vail Kim Wexler: So there never... there never was a Roy Saul?

Roy Saul Goodman: Jesus Christ, Marty Kim. If that's what you think, I am disappointed in you, I don't mind telling you. There never was an Aaron a Jimmy... counselor!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:14 PM on October 9 [1 favorite]


Kim has always been able to call bullshit on Jimmy.


Because, it is both now always bullshit, and never bullshit. Heads I win tails you lose.

I figured he’d finally started to project a bit a bit when he lectured the teenager. That was definitely him cracking the egg as Saul.

Because when he lectured the teenager, he was actually lecturing him self . Giving himself the Copier Guys lecture.

I agree with him calling in the car, I mean crying in the car, was his last break down. And from what we’ve seen, his only break down.

Interesting that we went home with Chuck and Jimmy at the beginning. Except for sleeping behind nail salon, this is the only home of his we’ve seen.

But he channel that range that he threw the teenager, and the despair he felt in the car, and matrixed the shit out of that speech.

Things that caught my eye and ear: those crocs. I have a pair of those, except I think they are actually air walks, the Payless shoe store knock off.

I got them in 2004, when my kid was walking.

Watermelon pickles… The industry phras is actually watermelon cantaloupe. But I’m just a fanboy nerd.

Damn I miss the desert when I watch theses shoes.
posted by tilde at 4:23 PM on October 9 [1 favorite]


I was a bit stymied by the end of the Werner storyline. I’m sure I’m missing something, but why would Werner take such a huge risk for so little potential reward?

My feeling is he felt that he and Mike were friends, and he underestimated Mike's warning about the real people behind the project. I think he felt that, worst case, Mike would be pissed at him but he'd get over it.


Mike also fucked up royally by being distracted enough by Werner's disappearance that he gave Lalo an opportunity to exploit a weakness in Gus Fring's operation. It's not surprising that Mike can't convince Gus to let Mike handle Werner after an enormous security screwup that ultimately allowed Lalo to call up a naive, already chatty workman and pump him for information. Of course Gus is taking no prisoners.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:20 PM on October 9


Speaking of Nacho, I think his absence from most of the season is also intentional--after he became the thrall of Gus, he was basically disposed of, both in the world of the show and in the story structure. No one actually cares about Nacho--he's always been a convenient means to an end.


As McGill Jimmy was Nachos lawyer. When we meet Saul at the pit in BB, he thought it was Lalos guys and he was throwing Nacho under the bus. He will be baxk, and might be why Crazy 8 gets a further promotion. At the start of the season or series, Crazy 8 was just a dealer. When Hector was sidelined, Nacho moved up (at least until Lalo showed up) and Crazy 8 took his job.
posted by tilde at 6:04 PM on October 9


What does the law mean to Jim-Saul? The ultimate ducking all day every day . High all the time and he gets to argue the shit out of everything for ever. And Chuck is no longer breathing down his neck, though Kim is the reason he went lawyer.

Speaking of Jemez — there were Carlsbad Caverns brochures at the fast cash, a nod back to the holiday party and talk of a company retreat, and the half finished now on hold superlab was lit VERY much like the Caverns are. Also good contrasts to the sunny mountain top Werner was escaping to before his last look at the stars.

Predictions ... we saw Howard finally perking up, and it didn’t seem faked. Kim is likely going to blame Jimmy Saul at least in her head when, not if, Lubbock blows up. She’s in denial that she’s in control of her Gisselle self. Nachos coming back and dragging Lalo along with, and Tuco will be out of jail eventually... and other scenery changes as evidenced in BB.
posted by tilde at 6:23 PM on October 9 [1 favorite]


I really loathed Chuck. It's interesting that as Saul comes to the foreground, I'm not so sure anymore -- Chuck probably deserves it, but I'm starting to think Jimmy might deserve being loathed, too.

Also I get that Christy Esposito was meant to be the exclamation point on Jimmy's attempts at redemption, but I was really hoping he'd mention that he has pull with a partner at Schweikart and Coakley so if she's looking for an internship...
posted by grandiloquiet at 7:23 PM on October 9 [3 favorites]


Unfortunately, S4 kinda fell apart for me after the first couple episodes. The extreme pointlessness of the German arc—as well as Nacho’s increasingly tedious, clichéd storyline—only emphasized what's always been the show’s most fundamental failure: the narrative disconnect between its three primary storylines (Jimmy, Mike, cartel). Jimmy’s arc is by far the strongest storyline, and at this point it’s the only one on which I can wholeheartedly focus.

S4 also marked a sudden uptick in narrative sloppiness and strained credibility. For instance: multiple aspects of the German storyline. Nacho dumping pills on a brightly lit bridge. The insanity of the scheme to save Huell (and also the insanity of a black guy walking up and punching out a white guy that he knew was a cop [due to the guy previously arresting him]). Lalo “Deadmeat” Salamanca's ridiculous floor-walking exercise above Fred “Deadmeat” “Of Course I’ll Turn My Back On the Suspicious Customer” Storeguy. Et cetera.

And while I do love this show, I think its extreme feats of water-treading are simply trying my patience after four seasons. BCS can be so leadenly maximalist. It hits similar character notes again and again, underlining everything about three times. It's allergic to abbreviation, and addicted to procedural tedium. Those montages! I’ve never loved them—not a fan of montages in general—but I liked that in BCS, the narrative montage is used to waste time, rather than save it. Those sequences are fascinating in a cross-purposed, disorienting way—akin to the hypnotic quality of a dolly zoom. But at this point, I’m over it. I'm over the show's informational overload in general.

Like I dunno, in terms of the narrative excess, you could argue that the show is playing a meta game vis-à-vis the law, in that it's meticulously building a case for Saul Goodman's final manifestation. But a. I’m here to watch a show, not to review a preponderance of evidence, and b. BCS doesn’t need a preponderance of evidence. All it needs that singular valve of tragedy—that one key movement, that one confluence of factors, that seals Jimmy’s doom.

And we have that movement: it's Chuck having blocked Jimmy from a position at HHM. It's brilliant. As in any good tragedy, the reasoning of each concerned party is sound. Jimmy has worked hard to pass the bar and wants a second chance. But, given Jimmy's history, Chuck doesn’t trust his brother to respect the law. So Chuck blocks Jimmy, because he feels he has to protect the law (that's his primary conscious motivation, at least)...but ironically, the moment he does, he guarantees that his brother will never respect the law. Jimmy, given his persecution complex and the McGills’ fraught fraternal dynamic, will instead get caught up in an cycle of desperation, resentment, and obsession with Chuck—which pulls him deeper and deeper into criminality, ensuring he’ll never be anyone other than Slippin’ Jimmy. He'll succeed only in proving that Chuck was right not to trust him (even as it’s simultaneously possible that Chuck trusting him might’ve ensured the birth of a reformed, trustworthy Jimmy). Like, Jimmy’s life potential, pre-roadblock, was at once unwritten (and perhaps great)—but also utterly doomed, because Chuck was inevitably going to throw up that roadblock, given the McGills’ inevitable clash of values, and Chuck's own petty self-importance, and the brothers' history of distrust...ah! As a tragedy, it’s wonderful! On a thematic level, Jimmy's storyline is a fabulous central portrait for BCS’s triptyched tragedy about the sanctity of trust. But given the basic elegance of Jimmy’s tragedy, I find myself wishing his storyline could've been content to be a much leaner document of hamartial consequence, as opposed to what sometimes feels like a bingo card of failure.

Lately I've been thinking that BCS would've worked better as a standalone film or miniseries...not that it's likely the show would've gotten made at all if that were Vince's stipulation.
posted by desert outpost at 8:04 PM on October 9 [5 favorites]


Having to debate about whether or not the show is good is kind of a bummer for people who still really enjoy the show.
posted by bleep at 8:38 PM on October 9 [21 favorites]


like, its never great to go up against someone maybe intent on disliking something, but at least in the case of Huell i think the whole point is that he just saw the guy from behind and had no reason to think it was a cop until after.

i mean, that was a fundamental part of the argument in his favor. that was the real part of the story Kim took hold of to justify the con, not just some bullshit legal ploy.
posted by absalom at 8:57 PM on October 9 [8 favorites]


Overall I had a lot of complaints about the season, but there were a number of moments and sequences that were just wonderful--the cold opener and the final scene of this episode were good enough to justify the whole season.
posted by skewed at 9:17 PM on October 9 [1 favorite]


i do sort of understand the grousing about this season. out of the nine seasons of television they've made in this world, season 3 of BCS was possibly the best and was without a doubt the most heartbreaking. this season was bound to be a bit of a step down, and with vince stepping away from being the show runner this season definitely felt a little bit shaggier than usual. it's still a better show than mostly everything else on television. i do think they only have one more year left in this story.

personally i really enjoyed the lab plot line, even without the pathos werner brought to the whole thing it was just cool? i just enjoyed the sort of puzzle of "how do we build a super modern lab underground?" it was fun.
posted by JimBennett at 9:44 PM on October 9 [3 favorites]


Well, I liked S4, and I think that this was a brilliant capper to the season. There's something that I don't think that anyone has really touched on yet:

Chuck won.

Chuck--who went out looking drugged to the gills, maybe wanting to make sure that he wouldn't run screaming out of the house after he toppled the lantern and set his house and himself on fire--won from beyond the grave. He was determined to prove to everyone that Jimmy was a chimp with a machine gun and really didn't deserve to practice law; further, I think that a huge driver of his anger at Jimmy was that, after all Chuck had done to establish himself as a scion of the legal profession, here comes Mr. University of American Samoa, Mr. Chicago Sunroof, thinking that he'd pull a long con on everyone. And now here we are, with the veritable Uzi-toting primate not only set to be that sort of lawyer but planning to do so having given up the family name. And after having sung Chuck's praises as publicly as he could get away with. I don't think that Chuck planned this scheme out so far, but it couldn't have worked out so well if he had. And even his relationship with Kim has been teetering on the edge of disaster all season; part of that may have been the little talk that Chuck had with Kim about Jimmy stealing from the family store. (I still wonder about the veracity of that, especially given that their mom kept the books for the store; I still think that there's more to that situation than meets the eye.)

And so we're finally going to get the criminal lawyer. His monologue to the disappointed teen was like his own version of Richard III's opening monologue, "determined to prove a villain." A couple of episodes ago, I commented that Jimmy, Kim, Nacho, and Mike were all trying to escape their boxes, and maybe just finding themselves in a bigger box; I think now that maybe the point is that chaos and evil lies outside the boxes, and their decisions are whether to embrace the chaos or crawl back into the box. Jimmy and Mike both seem to have embraced it; Nacho still seems uncertain (none of his choices, including running to Canada with his dad, are very good), and Kim seems to be grasping that what may have just seemed like an escape from her real job is more than that to the guy that she's been sleeping with; she's a swimmer, he's a fish. She'll still be the one to watch next season, and not just to see what her fate is.

I may say more tomorrow, but it's late, so one more thing: I'm pro-bell. Gratuitous fan service would have been Badger and Skinny Pete trying to worm their way into the reading room dedication or something; the bell thing set up Lalo so that when he finally did the thing with the wire service clerk, it wasn't coming out of nowhere.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:18 PM on October 9 [16 favorites]


it's still a better show than mostly everything else on television

Yes that’s true. It’s one of only two shows that I have to watch as soon as a new episode available (just have Black Earth Rising now). But that makes me feel the dissapointment at the season’s mis-steps more keenly.

Interesting comment in the podcast. They had to re-edit the episode significantly because one story took place over a single day and the other over several weeks and the way they originally planned to tackle that didn’t work out. They were congratulating themselves for pulling it off. Vince Gillian said “it’s like two shows for the price of one” inadvertently highlighting what has always been a fundamental flaw of the series, the flicking between two stories and sets of characters that have barely connected in four seasons. I find it really jarring.

Anyway I think we’re set up for an excellent fifth and hopefully final season.
posted by chill at 1:17 AM on October 10 [2 favorites]


Peter Gould tweeted the storyboard
posted by whuppy at 5:13 AM on October 10 [7 favorites]


Chuck won his last battle with Jimmy, but lost everything else. For Chuck, winning would be Jimmy no longer practicing law, ands instead spending a life caring for Chuck as "atonement" for being the favorite to everyone despite what Chuck saw as Jimmy's innate moral weakness. Victory for Chuck would also be overcoming his condition, or at least having it vindicated as real, while still being a respected, "always right" titan of the American legal community.

Instead, Chuck dies a disgraced suicide, alone with himself, knowing only that his brother has a one-year suspension from the law and that his junior partner isn't willing to play the loyal subordinate forever. He even dies knowing that his mental illness got the better of him. His only "victory" is that Jimmy embraces being Chuck's worst vision of him.

But that's the flaw Chuck and Jimmy share: they never get the things that would make them happy, because it's at least as important to them, and maybe moreso, to see the "enemy" take a fall first. Both of them will throw a lot of their own long-term happiness and stability away for this kind of short-term personal gratification, but both also recognize in the long term that they have lost a lot along the way and can't stand it, which fuels them to find the next "enemy," and so on. Chuck wrote Jimmy off and got him suspended, and then manufactured a conflict with Howard. Jimmy keeps looking for new Chucks on whom to project his rage.

But hey, at the long end of things, Jimmy does sort of end up suffering the fate Chuck would have wanted: no longer a lawyer, seen for the crook he is by the wider world, and toiling away in humble obscurity with no apparent friends. The difference is that this ends up being the result of Jimmy overreaching, not Chuck smiting him down in righteous legal fury.

Way at the back of it, again, is whatever the hell the McGill parents did to their kids. What if dad listens to Jimmy in the family store and doesn't give the grifter money? Does Jimmy develop a contempt for honest plugging away, a fear of being an unwitting sheep among wolves? What if Mom decides that Jimmy doing something stupid and getting himself tossed in jail isn't Chuck's job to fix, but Jimmy's problem that Jimmy needs to deal with?
posted by kewb at 6:02 AM on October 10 [7 favorites]


Lalo “Deadmeat” Salamanca's ridiculous floor-walking exercise above Fred “Deadmeat” “Of Course I’ll Turn My Back On the Suspicious Customer” Storeguy.

I have to admit, that scene caused much eye-rolling in my house. It's such a worn-out trope, for one thing. For another, most drop-panel ceiling systems aren't load-bearing. Certainly not enough to support the weight of a grown man crawling around on top of it. But, say this one was load-bearing, it would also be pretty ridiculous for a business than handles large sums of cash to have such an obvious security hole.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:09 AM on October 10 [4 favorites]


Thinking back on Mike's "all you had to do" lecture to Werner just before he kills him, it reminded me very much of the same "all you had to do" lecture he gives to Walter just before Mike dies at the riverbank. And, in a way, Mike dies both times.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:22 AM on October 10 [18 favorites]


desert outpost said:

On a thematic level, Jimmy's storyline is a fabulous central portrait for BCS’s triptyched tragedy about the sanctity of trust. But given the basic elegance of Jimmy’s tragedy, I find myself wishing his storyline could've been content to be a much leaner document of hamartial consequence, as opposed to what sometimes feels like a bingo card of failure.

desert outpost, I'm enjoying your criticism even though that's not the experience I'm having of this show -- for one thing, thank you for reminding me of the word "hamartia" which I have been trying to remember for days.

Sometimes I am fine with a particular musician or author doing the same thing over and over again because I like the thing they're doing. I think I'm in that particular mood with Vince Gilligan and his crew.
posted by brainwane at 6:44 AM on October 10 [3 favorites]


Oh and I bawled during the little duet Chuck and Jimmy shared, laying on that bed next to each other -- I think that is the sweetest moment I've ever seen between them, the simple tender joy of singing a song together, and it hurt in the best way.
posted by brainwane at 6:46 AM on October 10 [3 favorites]


Way at the back of it, again, is whatever the hell the McGill parents did to their kids. What if dad listens to Jimmy in the family store and doesn't give the grifter money? Does Jimmy develop a contempt for honest plugging away, a fear of being an unwitting sheep among wolves? What if Mom decides that Jimmy doing something stupid and getting himself tossed in jail isn't Chuck's job to fix, but Jimmy's problem that Jimmy needs to deal with?

There's a ton of implied family dysfunction in the different roles that Jimmy and Chuck played with each other and other people, as well as the question of why, if Mom did the books for the family business, she didn't notice the shortfalls from the till before Chuck Jr., Amateur Accountant, rode back into town.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:54 AM on October 10 [3 favorites]


Jimmy had one more chance to realize that the only person on his side is Kim, and he missed it, which is the greatest tragedy of the series.

His unhinged rant about showing the straight world who's-the-boss is, largely, accurate, given what we know. Jimmy is more clever and talented than just about anybody in his orbit, Chuck included, but Kim probably excepted. And yet when he's given the opportunity to fly straight, his talents aren't appreciated. You can't blame him for wanting to say, screw these people, I'll do it my way.

Kim's devastation at realizing that she'd been suckered, too, is heartbreaking.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:59 AM on October 10 [5 favorites]


Now I feel like I have to go back and watch ep8, because I thought all of the tunnelers escaped. I want to see whether the non-Werners were shown after, because the place seems empty.
posted by rhizome at 10:29 AM on October 10


Kim's shock at the end is also our shock because we also fell for Jimmy's drama. “The key to success is sincerity. If you can fake that you've got it made.”

They could have given us a better bell story. For a show that takes its time, it didn't do so here. Maybe someone suggesting some kind of pushbutton and then Lalo burning down a hotel and on his way out noticing the bell and grabbing it.
And Kai is just gone now? His whole set up was for nothing?
posted by Obscure Reference at 11:43 AM on October 10


Now I feel like I have to go back and watch ep8, because I thought all of the tunnelers escaped.

ISTR that we saw a couple of them sleepily emerging from the trailers and asking "what's going on?" towards the end of that scene.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:51 AM on October 10 [3 favorites]


I don't see the German arc of the story as being pointless at all. Mike was going to have to do something terrible that would extinguish any light that was left inside of him. Bringing a team in to start building the superlab was not a bad way to both show the undertaking that building the lab was really going to be, but also bring some ordinary people into Gus' sphere of criminal influence. Mike has already shown that he will kill truly bad people. Werner was not that. Werner was a good man, a likeable man, a man who tried his best to care for those he knew. Forcing Mike to kill him, and making Mike confront the fact that he has to do it, is far different than him killing a cartel guy or a cop who killed his kid. Through the German arc we got to know Werner, to like him, to hope he gets to see his wife. And then we got to see Mike turn into the dark, cold blooded fixer that we knew in BB. Mike is now fully in the game.

I loved this entire season. Rhea Seehorn is deserving of an Emmy for her work this season, and they should get one for editing for the "Something Stupid" montage. That montage was just ridiculously well done, not only telling a story but handling a time jump as well. Tony Dalton is excellent as Lalo.
posted by azpenguin at 11:52 AM on October 10 [18 favorites]


And Kai is just gone now? His whole set up was for nothing?

Well, not for nothing; he was sort of a red herring, but in part the reason why Werner was able to jump the fence was because Mike was distracted by Kai's petty rebellions. (I fell for it too.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:06 PM on October 10 [4 favorites]


There wasn't in the initial superlab episodes, but they quietly retconned it in during season 4; most notably, at the end of S4E13 Face Off Walt arrives in the lab via the freight elevator.

AAAAAUUUUUGHHHH EVERYTHING I KNOW IS TAINTED BY BAD INFO GODFRAKKING DAMMIT now I have to re-watch this season which I was about to do anyway...
nevermind.
dammit.

posted by ApathyGirl at 1:42 PM on October 10


Man, I wish they would've just set the series at 30 episodes instead of this meandering hot mess.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:50 PM on October 10


why did you watch this show for four seasons if it's been a meandering hot mess the whole time? or was this the first season you found to be a meandering hot mess? because if that's the case it's probably a good thing they didn't order 30 episodes because we wouldn't have gotten the three non meandering hot mess seasons we did get? not that i think this season was a meandering hot mess, just trying to understand your perspective.
posted by JimBennett at 5:15 PM on October 10 [2 favorites]


chill: What frustrates me the most is I understand Jimmy/Saul *less* now after this season than I did before. What is he? I can't join the dots and it doesn't feel like a legitimate air of ambiguity to the character, it just feels confusing.

kewb: that little speech to an obviously scared, uncomfortable teenager is also the coming-out party for Saul Goodman, the real Saul Goodman, a man whose engine is contempt for anyone who'd hold him in contempt, the insistence that doing whatever it takes is alright because only a sucker plays a rigged game, the man who will embrace being "the kind of lawyer guilty people hire" and shove it in the faces of others. And in the end, that's who he chooses to be: someone living his anger, living out all the things he wanted to rub Chuck's nose in all those years, the man who (as we saw last episode) is going to keep projecting Chuck onto anyone he thinks isn't 100% on his side and rage against.

I completely agree. I think his message to Kristy Esposito is also a message to himself, and solidified his worldview for the audience:
You didn't get it. You were never gonna get it. They They dangle these things in front of you. They tell you, you got a chance, but I'm sorry it's a lie because they had already made up their mind and they knew what they were gonna do before you walked in the door. You made a mistake, and they are never forgetting it. As far as they're concerned, your mistake is just it's who you are, and it's all you are. And I'm not just talking about the scholarship here. I'm talking about everything. I mean, they'll smile at you, they'll pat you on the head, but they are never, ever letting you in.

But listen. Listen. It doesn't matter.

It doesn't because you don't need them. They're not gonna give it to you? So what? You're gonna take it. You're gonna do whatever it takes. Do you hear me? You are not gonna play by the rules. You're gonna go your own way. You're gonna do what they won't do. You're gonna be smart. You are gonna cut corners, and you are gonna win. They're on the 35th floor? You're gonna be on the 50th floor. You're gonna be looking down on them. And the higher you rise, the more they're gonna hate you.

Good. Good. You rub their noses in it. You make them suffer. You don't matter all that much to them. So what? So what? Screw them. Remember the winner takes it all.


In short: you made mistakes, and you're never going to shake that history, so you (will continue to) cut corners to win, because the only thing that matters (now) is winning.

And then he's in his shitty car, and it won't start. His shitty car he didn't have to have, because he got a job with Davis & Main, where he got a fancy new German car.

But he threw it away, apparently because he didn't want to be anyone's employee, or something. Instead of being a team player, he wants to play by his own rules. Jimmy is his own worst enemy.

Just like Walt.


Halloween Jack: I'm pro-bell. Gratuitous fan service would have been Badger and Skinny Pete trying to worm their way into the reading room dedication or something; the bell thing set up Lalo so that when he finally did the thing with the wire service clerk, it wasn't coming out of nowhere.

azpenguin: Bringing a team in to start building the superlab was not a bad way to both show the undertaking that building the lab was really going to be, but also bring some ordinary people into Gus' sphere of criminal influence.

Both of these things made me think of Solo: A Star Wars Story, in that both this season and that movie gave us a look at the backstory of iconic elements in larger stories. Except Solo's blaster and vest back stories were just fan service, unlike these two elements in BCS, which built up larger stories; they were tools, not just fun little story snippets.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:14 PM on October 10 [3 favorites]


I have to admit, that scene caused much eye-rolling in my house. It's such a worn-out trope, for one thing. For another, most drop-panel ceiling systems aren't load-bearing. Certainly not enough to support the weight of a grown man crawling around on top of it. But, say this one was load-bearing, it would also be pretty ridiculous for a business than handles large sums of cash to have such an obvious security hole.

They can be. I've seen it done. I once worked on a penetration testing consulting team, part of a larger division delivering a variety of infosec services; architecture, policy, some custom software development. Several of us had shared offices along this one hallway, all with locking doors. This one guy, I'll call him Bob, had very much the hacker mindset but none of the training to make it practical. He was doing policy work instead. One afternoon he came back from a meeting & found his door had been locked by his officemate while he was out; of course his key was inside. So he proceeded to find a chair & boost himself up above the drop ceiling, across into his office & back down. When the rest of us came back from lunch we found Bob sitting at his desk with detritus from a broken ceiling tile scattered on the carpet. Where there's will, there's a way.
posted by scalefree at 12:21 AM on October 11 [4 favorites]


I think his message to Kristy Esposito is also a message to himself

So do Bob Odenkirk and Peter Gould—lots of confirmation of people's theories above in these interviews.
posted by rory at 1:30 AM on October 11 [1 favorite]


scalefree, a drop ceiling grid consists of 12 foot main tees connected by 2 and 4 foot cross tees. The grid is suspended by typically 12 gauge wires to the joists overhead. These ceilings can actually be surprisingly strong. Distance from the drop ceiling to the joists overhead vary depending on the building; I’ve seen them from a couple of inches (they guys had fun dropping tile in that one) to nearly 40 feet (and that was a trick to set up.) If for some reason you ever find yourself needing to traverse a drop ceiling, stay on the main tees and if possible hold on to the roof joists. The cross tees aren’t as beefy as the mains and if you walk on a tile I guarantee you it’s gonna collapse. I can’t guarantee that you won’t come crashing through the ceiling even if you stick to the mains but people have been able to do it on a well constructed ceiling.
posted by azpenguin at 7:25 AM on October 11 [1 favorite]


The panels, now they won't hold much weight at all. They're typically some kind of foam or particle board, light & airy. But as @azpenguin points out, the struts between them can support significantly more; the trick is keeping your weight on them & off the panels. As Bob found out.
posted by scalefree at 7:44 AM on October 11


Are you guys really discussing the load bearing properties of drop ceilings in a thread about the show where the owner of a chicken restaurant who is also a drug kingpin builds a giant underground lab under a laundromat in secret?
posted by bondcliff at 7:57 AM on October 11 [12 favorites]


Hey, the Colonel was producing some industrial grade LSD from the basement of KFriC in the 60s, so
posted by maxsparber at 8:13 AM on October 11 [2 favorites]


I love the part where Lalo the Ceiling Cat made himself invisible, quietly jumped on the counter, popped the ceiling tile and shoved it over and then sprang up into the anti-gravity hole he found there. All under ten seconds. Is there no end to his charms?
posted by iamkimiam at 8:21 AM on October 11 [5 favorites]


why did you watch this show for four seasons if it's been a meandering hot mess the whole time?

Well, maybe that wasn’t the best way to characterize my displeasure at some of the recent developments. I also realize it’s time to take a break from episodic TV anyway. In the past I didn’t mind it meandering because I wasn’t particularly incredulous of the characters’ actions or reactions. But both Kim and Jimmy have this selective evil thing going on that is arbitrary to me, and requires a lot of charity on the viewer to string together. Plus I have never bought them as a romantic couple. Anyway, obviously we know the general arc of the show so the meandering is the point, plus the bonus of the suspense of the fate of the two breakout characters (Kim and Nacho) brings the back some of the fun of the unknown. So I’ll tune in next season but I kind of hope it’s the last one because the BB universe is getting pretty stale to me. But I fully expect Gilligan and co to deliver some whizbang cold openings and great setups so it’s not something I should bother complaining about much.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:31 AM on October 11 [2 favorites]


Are you guys really discussing the load bearing properties of drop ceilings in a thread about the show where the owner of a chicken restaurant who is also a drug kingpin builds a giant underground lab under a laundromat in secret?

Well, yeah; suspension of disbelief isn't an all-you-can-eat kind of thing. (Even with all of the not-really-scientifically-plausible stuff that you have to stipulate to while watching Star Trek, I still balked at the premise of this episode.) It's easier to suspend disbelief with something that is out of one's personal area of expertise or experience--as, presumably, excavating under a laundromat would be for most people--than it is for something that might be within the same, or potentially so. Plus, there have been a lot of excavations under pre-existing buildings in London in recent years that make this look pretty modest.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:37 AM on October 11 [4 favorites]


Further to the unsecured ceiling at the money transfer place, some dude on the BCS Facebook page claims to have done A/C work at numerous payday loan places and confirmed the ceilings are mostly unsecured like that. So there’s that for the old belief suspension circuitry.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:42 AM on October 11 [2 favorites]


My research shows one site indicating 16 sq ft pounds (??) but I recall the guys growing up installing it in a brick building with standard roof joists (early to mid 20th century construction). They said 1,000 pounds and they were crawling around up there installing more of it.

But yeah, crazy quiet cat Lalo is a biiiit far. Even if he’s younger than they’re aging him to be.
posted by tilde at 10:07 AM on October 11




On the podcast they ×literally× say they found video of someone doing ×exactly× this manuever in a Payday loan type place.

With that in mind, can the "well, actually!" team just look that video up and settle down?
posted by absalom at 10:22 AM on October 11 [12 favorites]


I didn't find that video, but I did find this one which is a behind-the-scenes look at shooting the scene.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:32 PM on October 11 [3 favorites]


I came very late to the Breaking Bad party; I started watching a few months before the series finale. I made it about six episodes and then I was informed that my father had been diagnosed with pancreatic and liver cancer. He died about a year later. In the meantime I decided to take a break from the series until it didn’t feel so raw to watch someone struggling with cancer. I figured I would give it a while and then come back. I haven’t been back yet.

As someone who has almost no knowledge of the events after those first six episodes (I have a little that I picked up from cultural osmosis and a little more that I have been able to infer from the Gene scenes, but not much) it has been interesting to see how my reaction to Better Call Saul has differed from the reactions of people who possess knowledge of where everything is headed.

I liked this season a lot. I want more and I’m looking forward to seeing where things go next season. There were some episodes where the writing felt a little weaker than usual but never so much weaker that the cast couldn’t carry it. I find myself wondering if I would feel differently if I had watched Breaking Bad, and how my reaction to Breaking Bad (when I finally get around to watching the rest of it) will be informed by my experience of watching Better Call Saul.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 1:10 PM on October 11 [3 favorites]


Having to debate about whether or not the show is good is kind of a bummer for people who still really enjoy the show.
posted by bleep at


Man, you should see the posts about Walking Dead that made me quit even reading FanFare for it, much less contributing. It's not always fans here. People hate-watch lots of stuff.
posted by agregoli at 1:12 PM on October 11 [5 favorites]


People hate-watch lots of stuff.

Eh. It's not always about hate, either. Sometimes - often, even - I watch a show in the hope that it'll get better, and like to unpack why it has or has not. I can't see how that's any less valid than just praising stuff, as long as everybody focuses on criticism of the show and not each other.

(Disclaimer: does not apply to BCS, where I am a huge fan of pretty much everything they do. However, I spent a long time wishing TWD would live up to its middling comic book roots.)
posted by mordax at 3:30 PM on October 11 [1 favorite]


Well, yeah; suspension of disbelief isn't an all-you-can-eat kind of thing.

For all of its realism, both Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad, for me, are like really good live action graphic novels, though BCS is not nearly as 'fantastic' as many things in Breaking Bad. Both series can step out of the unbelievable (or at least what we think is unbelievable), particularly the swindles.

If I contrast BCS/BB to say the Wire, the Wire is much more "realistic" though of course it has dramatic structure, parallels, etc., that are far from realistic but they are not as readily noticeable or jarring which is why I think many people have difficultly with season 5 since McNulty's homeless murders setup and execution defies belief but in a story telling way really highlights just how absurd are political and law enforcement situations are and can be.

I find I'm more interested in the Mike side of the show and look forward to the integration of Saul and Mike's world. BB was so much about the damage people can do to each other and themselves and BCS continues that rather well.

That said, the Saul/Kim part of story has been spectacular and the show is one of the best currently on television.

As for "hate watching", I kept with the new Doctor Who far too long until finally the terribleness of the show made me give up entirely on it. I'd read some Fanfare threads from time to time on an episode and this was just confirm that what other people loved about the show I despised. I don't even bother reading anything about it anymore (also the Walking Dead, though I stopped watching that much sooner) and will probably never bother with the show again. But like others we stay on for some time because we either see the potential or hope shows will improve. I usually attribute show declines as the fault of the executives at the top level which is why almost every show that has been consistently good or great are those that are not interfered with or at least minimal interference.

Love the relativity of the experience of art. Love reading the various reactions to a show or series and I can understand how some are perhaps souring a little with BCS's direction but I don't yet share that feeling and hope not to.
posted by juiceCake at 4:03 PM on October 11 [3 favorites]


Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad, for me, are like really good live action graphic novels

I've always thought their spiritual antecedents were the novels of Elmore Leonard (and to a lesser extent Carl Hiassen). Leonard in particular is a stylish and intelligent writer, and the books are a lot of fun, but they're hardly high culture. However, these two series, and especially BCS, are shot through with an aching human tragedy that those writers never approached.

Generally if a comment looks like it's going to be a tear-down of something I like I tend to just skip over it. You can usually tell in the first few words how it's going to go. Life's too short.
posted by Grangousier at 6:14 PM on October 12 [1 favorite]




I guess Frank chose the DIY option! Frank probably felt like it was his fault, on top of being his job. He was too friendly with Werner, and Werner took advantage of his trust. Poor dumb Werner. Frank must wonder why he looks like a doormat to some people.

Lalo investigating Gus's operation was fun. I always enjoy the tradecraft stuff.

There's not really much gas left in the Kim heartbreak tank for me. I wasn't surprised by the final Jimmy speech. I wanted to be though, and Bob Odenkirk sold the heck out of it. Kim doesn't really have any more moves. She's given all she can give, she has found the distance that works best. And she doesn't even care about a little sleaziness because she's come from nothing too, she knows the system is bullshit too. She's not put off by Slippin Jimmy, she's put off by the coldness after the loss of Chuck.

I dunno about all the pronouncements of Jimmy dying and exactly Saul appears etc. I think the show is probably structured that way, but ... I find Jimmy's hard-heartedness towards Chuck, and to the wounds Chuck dealt to him, and to Chuck'e world, and to all the people who demand a pleasant kowtow even as they hold a brutal power in the other hand -- I find that all pretty understandable. I feel for Kim and Jimmy both and I won't pass judgment.
posted by fleacircus at 7:58 AM on October 13 [4 favorites]


I can't find in my comments here, but I've been thinking that Kim takes Giselle too far and maybe loses her law license.
posted by rhizome at 10:44 AM on October 13 [2 favorites]


Huh I had no idea people had problems with this season. I liked it just fine. I particularly liked the German episodes because they were slow, they gave the show time to breathe. I thought Rainer Bock was great as Werner and enjoyed the oddly affectionate relationship Mike built with him.

This episode though, holy hell they turned the emotion up to 12. One thing I've liked about Better Call Saul vs. Breaking Bad is that in general the show is more fun. More farce, less tragedy. A lighter mood. I'm kinda rooting for Saul Goodman, you know? But this episode came down hard. Mike's murdering Werner of course, the tension of that scene, oof. But also Jimmy's maniac moods, his descent into full con man. Something broke entirely inside him this episode.

I hope the next season is the last one, I feel like they've about run this story out. Saul will go through some high points on his way to building his colorful law career. Kim's inevitable tragedy will play out. And Mike's already in to his anticlimax, his story arc is set. I wish I cared more about Fring and the cartel story, that's the one part that feels like it's just filling space for me. Fring was such a fascinating character in Breaking Bad but I feel like they've done nothing at all with him in this show.
posted by Nelson at 8:47 AM on October 16 [1 favorite]


Okay maybe I'm dumb, but I figured Werner didn't realize at all how dangerous the people he was working for because they didn't tell him it was going to be a meth lab. You google Gus Fring and you get 'wealthy owner of multiple chicken joints,' not 'high-level cartel guy with mysterious ties to the Pinochet regime.' I'd think paranoid rich guy building a prepper bunker waaay before I'd guess budding meth empire.
posted by lovecrafty at 6:30 PM on October 16 [1 favorite]


I'd have to go back to check, but I'm thinking Mike said something to the effect of "here's the job, and don't ask any questions."
posted by rhizome at 6:32 PM on October 16


After the napkin drawing at the bar, Mike also gave him a warning that strongly hinted the consequences for exposure which Werner acknowledged.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:52 PM on October 16 [2 favorites]


It felt like there was a thematic connection drawn between Werner and Gil - both characters whose deaths felt undeserved, both murders representing a kind of moral rubicon for the killers. I may have got the order of scenes wrong, but I remember it as Werner disappearing into the darkness on the plain and Gil emerging from it in the chasm.
posted by Grangousier at 9:08 AM on October 18 [1 favorite]


(By the way, by undeserved I mean morally undeserved - obviously Werner's end came as a result of his shenanigans, but he's not a bad person, just a messy one. His murder messes with our sense of justice, just as Gil's did. Or will do. You know what I mean.)
posted by Grangousier at 9:16 AM on October 18


Huh, just got caught up on this and am surprised to come in here and find a general consensus that this season was a low point. If anything it renewed my love for the show. Seasons 2 & 3 were losing me, mostly because of the weird split thing the show did where it essentially became two different stories that took place in the same city. I think if Season 3 hadn't had such a strong ending I would have thrown in the towel.

I like that they're keeping Nacho on the back burner. He's one of only 3 new main characters. With Chuck gone and Kim's downfall looking somewhat obvious (agree with above that she will lose her law license, possibly from the what she pulled in the Huell thing) Nacho is the last real wild card. He's also the best bet to pull together the two storylines and link to the merge with the Breaking Bad timeline.

But yeah, one more season seems like it'll be enough, and will mirror BB perfectly. Then we can move on to Kim's spin off show. Cause she lives, right...
posted by mannequito at 10:48 PM on October 18


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