Better Call Saul: JMM
March 31, 2020 11:24 AM - Season 5, Episode 7 - Subscribe

Kim and Jimmy turn to Huell for help with a legal firewall; Jimmy is compromised as Kim struggles to work things out with her clients; despite the issues he faces, Gus navigates his way to build an empire; Mike tries to do damage control.

It's Saul Goodman on the streets and Jimmy McGill between the sheets on a gorgeous Better Call Saul (Donna Bowman for TV/AV Club; rating: A)
From the very first frames of this episode, I was head over heels. There are more right angles than an episode of “The Anal-Retentive Chef.” DP Marshall Adams and director Melissa Bernstein square up the camera like they’ve been studying their Wes Anderson, keeping all their actors in profile, face-on, or back-turned. But because this is Albuquerque and we’ve got a Gilligan house style, Adams captures these perpendicularities from some unexpected placements, like underneath the mesh of a metal bench. And movement creates multiple combinations, as when Jimmy and Kim turn from facing the marriage license clerk into a profile view facing each other—echoed in the moment when the judge has to make a turning gesture to get them into vows-reciting position.
‘Better Call Saul’ Recap: Just Make Money -- Saul gets a new client, Kim lays down the law, Gus takes countermeasures against a power play—and did we mention there’s a wedding and a fire? (Alan Sepinwall for Rolling Stone)
A review of “JMM,” this week’s Better Call Saul, coming up just as soon as lightning bolts shoot from my fingertips…

“But, do you want to be a ‘Friend of the Cartel’?” -Kim


The letters that form the title of “JMM” are expanded three different ways in the episode. First, they are the initials of James Morgan McGill, whose full name is recited by the judge marrying Jimmy and Kim in a brisk civil ceremony. Second, they are the slogan Jimmy coined for himself — “Justice Matters Most” — when Kim gave him the monogrammed briefcase after he had already changed his professional name. It’s a lame motto — in public, Jimmy has already moved beyond it to the “Speedy justice for you” catchphrase — and one that Lalo suggests could be improved to our third version: Just. Make. Money.
posted by filthy light thief (55 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
The three JMMs nicely telegraph how this was a bridging episode, where every character has locked into their third and final position for the remainder. Mike’s made his choice about how to play, Kim’s gone all in, Nacho revealed his cards and wants out, Gus sacrificed his eight quarter winning streak and the last shreds of Jimmy have been sold out.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:34 AM on March 31 [2 favorites]


One word: Luftwaffle
posted by ShooBoo at 11:38 AM on March 31 [15 favorites]


Heh, yeah, I got a real kick out of Luftwaffle.

Kim continues to be the most interesting character. I wonder if she was in the background all through "Breaking Bad," and will show up at the Cinnabon.
posted by No Robots at 12:14 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]


Here's (half of) the Madrigal Electromotive (Houston) family (of food chains): Whiskerstay's, Haau Chuen Wok, Polmieri Pizzeria, Luftwaffle, and Stingin' Rays Hawaiian BBQ

Kim continues to be the most interesting character. I wonder if she was in the background all through "Breaking Bad," and will show up at the Cinnabon.

She wasn't originally, but I would kind of love it if she was retconned into a 20th Anniversary Remastered edition or something ;)

(Remember that Better Call Saul was originally sketched as "Dr. Katz" ripoff, where famous comics would come in with their legal problems [SF Gate article, archived], and that these characters bloomed in part because of their actors making them bigger than the lines in the scripts).
posted by filthy light thief at 12:30 PM on March 31 [5 favorites]


The wedding scenes were so good, both of them totally killing it as usual and Huell too! But also loved the "lightning bolts from my finger tips" rant at the end- he unraveled so quickly but naturally/believably as you watch him go from 0 to 10.
posted by p3t3 at 4:50 PM on March 31 [2 favorites]


That was how and where I got married, too. Bernalillo County Courthouse. Also where we got the marriage license—but there was (and almost certainly still is) a waiting period between the license and the marriage. Also it wasn't in the courtroom but rather in the judge's public office and he was way more chill than this guy. We also didn't have rings, but my friend who acted as one of our witnesses (the other was someone they grabbed from the hallway) lent us one to use and we exchanged it for the ceremony, which was awkward.

Also, when I was asked "if [I] take..." etc., I thought I was funny when I responded, "Oh, I suppose so."

My ex probably experienced some PTSD when she saw this episode.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:21 PM on March 31 [11 favorites]


This episode had so much amazing, hilarious, smart, beautiful stuff in it. I was screaming throughout.

When Kim said "Hey you old creepy perv*, do what I tell you to do or GTFO", I really felt that.
*Because it became clear to her, and me, that Kevin thought he was entitled to some kind of creepy paternalistic stake in who she dates, and that's why he didn't just dismiss Jimmy's presentation when his lawyers told him to.

The wonderfully staid and officious marriage ceremony. Followed by what I'm taking as confirmation that Kim didn't just do this for the technicalities. I will continue to think she likes being Mrs. Goodman deep down until she lets me know that's not the case.

And I really liked that Jimmy came to her immediately with the Lalo thing - it shows that Jimmy is honestly trying his best here. I'm so sick of these shows where the big tough guy goes out and cracks heads and keeps everything from his fretting, whining wife (Ray Donovan seasons 1-3 for example). Rhea managed to take this proto-Skyler and turn it all the way around. I want to see a real partnership between spouses for once.
posted by bleep at 5:34 PM on March 31 [7 favorites]


yellowbinder from last ep:
More and more I'm convinced that nothing happens to Kim, except for Jimmy disappearing without a word to Omaha. Maybe she'll find her way to Gene.

No Robots from this ep:
I wonder if she . . . will show up at the Cinnabon

I like this line of thinking a lot. Remember she's from Nebraska.

Here's my bold prediction (which will no doubt need to be completely revised after the very next episode): This season ends the pre-BB storyline. Next season belongs to Gene and Kim.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some happy ending fan fiction to furiously scribble.
posted by whuppy at 6:29 PM on March 31 [6 favorites]


I usually notice the shots in these episodes, and the obvious one to focus on here would be Jimmy's face, half-reflected and half-real, at the ned, as he stares at the grieving family while the ADA tries to explain why justice was denied. Or we could go with those shots of Jimmy and Kim int he darkness together, which parallel, int heir way, Gus, blurred int he background of the hotel room celebration, failing to toast with Peter Schuler and Lydia Rodarte-Quayle and going unnoticed as the two obliviously carry on in front of him.

But instead, I like a set of three shots -- really, four shots, but two of them are paired -- that set up the interesting nature of what was, above, so succinctly termed a "bridge" episode by the appositely nymediamkimiam. Those shots are, in order of appearance:

* the upward view of Kim and Jimmy through the diamond-shaped mesh of an outdoor table while they hash out their arrangements as a married couple and agree to mutual transparency

* the oddly angled bird's eye view outside the courtroom and the grid of downtown Albuquerque following their quick ceremony

* and the similarly oddly angled long shot at the end of the Mike and Nacho meeting that captures the grid-like pattern of pavement stones delineated by the green grass peeking through

The first of the shots is a nice bit of visual irony, of course. Jimmy and Kim are looking each other in the eye, but the viewer sees them through the mesh, from below, watching them promise to bare all to each other . he shots make su suspicious from the start, not just because Jimmy tends to lie out of a misguided paternalism towards Kim, but also because seeing obscured faces is a standard cinematic signal of secrecy and untrustworthiness. But no, the episode later makes clear that the two really will bare all to one another, in several senses; Jimmy really does follow through on his promise, however reluctantly.

So what of those two other griddy shots, the ons with the disorienting angles? Well, they do two things. The one outside the courthouse, after the marriage, suggests structures out of kilter; the same happens with the sidewalk. But int he first, the off-kilter effect is heightened, both by the disorienting angle and the disorienting perspective. It's not a location shot, but a dislocation shot, and all those grid-like building structures and street layouts seem incomplete, disconnected, both from the dialogue and from a sense of order space.

Like the picnic table mesh shots earlier, this is an odd thing to film when two characters take this step, and it plays off of the officious nature of the non-ceremony around their wedding. But it also suggest the unmatched structures that dwarf Kim and Jimmy, or will. With Jimmy, at least, we know the structure: the cartel, or rather, the cartel and its secret rival, between whom Jimmy will be tugged and torn later in this episode and, presumably, this season.

It's the structure of hidden power that makes a mockery of his efforts to invent himself, and that feeds him his desires in a twisted way. He's always wanted to make it big? well, then, he can be a friend of the cartel, raking in the cash but abandoning both his sentimental morality and, deep down, knowing how close he'll always be to death.

He wanted his past sins to be forgotten and to practice with HHM at the beginning of the series? Well, here it is, now the he can't take it, now that it's too painful to take, and now that even Howard's forgiveness -- indeed, the blithe way he seems able to forgive, as if it costs him nothing and therefore means nothing -- becomes one more reminder that Jimmy McGill only gets to be a conduit for the great dark powers of the world.

He wants a permanent romantic and professional partnership with Kim? Well, now they can be each other's legal shields but can't work together, and their marriage, as Jimmy sadly notes, is hardly anyone's idea of a dream wedding, even if their emotional intimacy is real and true.

His "unhinged' rant at Howard, and, really, at a Howard who's not even there now, is interesting because it is about Jimmy's failure to live int he narrative he wanted to craft. Everything about the stories he spins to save himself seems to get coopted for other purposes in this episode, and, tellingly, Jimmy spends it as a mark. Lalo casually rewrites his supposed motto on the fly, and Gus and Mike create the legal fabrications that set Lalo loose on bail. Deven Kim gets to brazen it out in the way Jimmy usually would.

And Jimmy? He gets to spend the episode forced to compromise himself, and ultimately to lie to himself. Remember when Kim told him he did that in the previous episode? He and Kim have agreed to be honest with each other, but Jimmy's problem is that he can't really be honest with himself. He wants to do the wrong thing for what he sees as the right reasons, and so does she. this episode, however, is nothing but Jimmy doing things for reasons he would never choose.

So, too, does Nacho, whose desperate efforts to believe there's a way out are punctured a few times by Mike. But in cooperating with Guis and Mike, Nacho clings to the hope that Mike really will, in the end, care about his father, if not Nacho himself. That grass poking up through the pavement gaps in that bright new Mexico sun is a hint of escape, of getting out from under the grid, the trap, the cartel and its shadow. Nacho is trapped, but int he trap he sees the promise of freedom.

Not Gus: for Gus, the trap requires a sacrifice. He contemplates that fry basket again, perhaps the same one he forced his manager to scrub beyond perfection, the one that makes those great Spicy Curls. In that earlier episode, the mesh ultimately signaled Gus's bitter grasping of some power over the situation, some damage control; here, for all Gus's gestures of control, he has to eat the damage to both his dignity and his restaurant, not to mento his initial plan to put Lalo Salamanca out of the picture. He brings about what he needs to in the moment, but in a way that hurts him deeply and drives home his lack of control over the situation, both in the hotel at the conference and later in his car as he watches his restaurant burn in the side mirror. So much for eight-point-something growth.

In an episode unusually heavy with Breaking Bad call forwards, down to some deliberate parallel shots -- Schuler eating that Spicy Curl after dipping it, for example -- the most interesting shots are the ones that remind us that , to these characters, all of this feels less like an overarching plot and more like the foreclosure of choices ad the forcing of compromise and the demand to sacrifice without redemption or reward. For them, this is less a fictional universe coming together than a personal sense of self being encroached upon, and ultimately captured, by the inexorable logic of prior choices, by people who currently hold the cards and force others to accept what's dealt them. where we, the viewers, see patterns and craft, they see only each other; we watch them through the mesh and in reflections, but they have to look at each other, and at themselves, directly.
posted by kewb at 6:32 PM on March 31 [7 favorites]


"Luftwaffle" was great. "Lightning bolts shooting from my fingertips" was great. But when Gus set up the plucked fuse for the arson job on his own restaurant?

CHICK-A-BOOM

sorrynotsorry
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:12 PM on March 31 [15 favorites]


* and the similarly oddly angled long shot at the end of the Mike and Nacho meeting that captures the grid-like pattern of pavement stones delineated by the green grass peeking through

Also...the snail’s-eye view of the courtroom during Lalo’s bail hearing and the water-stained grid of the acoustic tile ceiling.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:16 PM on March 31 [3 favorites]


kewb: So much for eight-point-something growth.

But is Los Pollos Hermanos really growing that well, or is their growth report used to mask money laundering? If the (German?) regional manager of themed chains is in on the laundry facility, he's in on the drug dealing.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:21 PM on March 31 [4 favorites]


....we watch them through the mesh and in reflections, but they have to look at each other, and at themselves, directly.

I love these discussions. Thanks, kewb.

New ad slogan:

“Los Pollos Hermanos: The Slippery Chicken”
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:23 PM on March 31 [2 favorites]


I'm a little bit surprised at how cheap Kim's heels are in the open, especially when her briefcase is halfway decent. Or at least very poorly re-heeled. If new, heel stud not trimmed/ poor quality control, if re-heeled, poorly or not at all trimmed on The Machine after replacement.

otoh, Fring's boots? Leather soles, totally repairable (with stitching, not just glue), and the quality of the glossiness of the uppers suggest that they may have been before.

/progeny of a shoemaker/ leatherworker of the old school

iirc, she had decent quality boots when meeting the Texan fella in the oilfield.

Holy crap, they went and did it. But... it's an intellectual marriage, not an emotional one, Saul asking for a second kiss notwithstanding.

--

"But... do you want to be a .. friend.. of the cartel?"

Kim's clawed* left hand, tendons straining, immediately afterwards before giving in to intellect.

(*to stop short of being clenched)

--

Mike: "The cops won't solve this"
Nacho: "You got a way?"
Mike: "What are you holding out?"

That deserted auto shop - verdant plants growing from between the cracks in between the concrete slabbing, in a desert - really speaks to me.

--

Ouch.

Jimmy got Hamlim, the extras were stupid; breaking down/ Hamlin showing "wtf, idk" is a breaking point for Jimmy.

Jimmy probably doesn't have a real problem with Hamlin, Jimmy's mad at himself.

I'm right there, I understand. But I'm not in a position to break bad (to get to the position of "oh shit, I want to undo a bunch of stuff/ saved game") for sufficient gain.

But, yeah, I've recently Jimmy-ed-out++ but had regulatory requirements responsibilities that I needed to protect myself from gaslighting-denial senior managers.

posted by porpoise at 11:32 PM on March 31 [2 favorites]


A small metaphorical detail I enjoyed...The shots of Kim and Jimmy, from the judges POV, in the marriage ceremony conspicuously included a view of a rather nasty section of water-damaged ceiling tiles on Jimmy's side of the room.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:20 AM on April 1 [9 favorites]


It seemed to me that the "lightning bolts" rant was more a result of a contact-high that Saul got from the realization that he was about to transform into a new, powerful, demigod type being (he imagines) as a result of his becoming a "friend of the cartel".

I would have given bonus points to the writers for using the phrases "tiger blood" "King Kong ain't got nothin' on me" or "I am GOD HERE!"
posted by some loser at 6:18 AM on April 1 [3 favorites]


It's an interesting bit of thematic comparisons, from Jimmy reading some semi-ridiculous luxury homes to rather ridiculous super villain rant.

First: "Imagine a magical land called 'home,' Watch the sun set across your own private meadow, as wild flowers sway in the breeze" in a "stunning desert retreat [that] promotes a casual yet luxurious lifestyle" with a five car garage ("What? How's that gonna work? We only get 2 and a half cars each?") It sounds like Jimmy is looking at bigger and bigger homes, but playing it off a bit as a lark with Kim. Then he mentions the perks of being "a friend of the cartel" -- "Ranch in Montana kind of money, like, uh, private jet kind of money; press conferences, TV news, the works."

"But do you want to be a friend of the cartel," Kim asks. "No. No. Absolutely not. I ...." Jimmy says.

Then in the face of Howard's continued peace-making efforts, Saul goes all Super Saiyan (Dragon Ball Fandom). He is "so far beyond" Hamlin -- "I travel in worlds you can't even imagine! You can't conceive of what I'm capable of! [...] I'm like a God in human clothing! Lightning bolts shoot from my fingertips!"

At some level, both gigs are the same -- working for HHM or working for the Cartel, he's still not really in charge of his life. But the Cartel Life offers bigger perks, and it's that scale that appeals to Jimmy. So much for using his (super) lawyer powers for good.

Just make money.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:55 AM on April 1 [2 favorites]


I see Saul despising Howard for all kinds of good reasons, reasons that make even the Cartel seem like a better option.
posted by No Robots at 9:32 AM on April 1 [1 favorite]


I mean, really, a collar bar? Who could work for a guy like that? ;)
posted by No Robots at 9:37 AM on April 1 [1 favorite]


Hamlin’s suit was so perfectly horrendous that it made me angry just watching him.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:47 AM on April 1 [2 favorites]


When an actor is skillful enough to make me viscerally loathe their character, I attribute that to great acting.

Patrick Fabian is doing a phenomenal job making me absolutely despise Hamlin. The suits and that fucking collar bar are the small, attentive bits* that really glue the whole thing together. I know we like to fawn over Odenkirk and especially Seehorn, but hot damn Fabian deserves some recognition for his efforts here.

They've been putting out so many outstanding episodes this year that I'm finding myself expecting greatness on a regular schedule, which I know isn't particularly rational but there it is. How high can the bar go?

* I know the actor doesn't pick the wardrobe, but he inhabits it with such verisimilitude that I find myself clenching my hands into fists whenever he's onscreen.
posted by Sphinx at 11:39 AM on April 1 [9 favorites]


Patrick Fabian is doing a phenomenal job

Fur shur. He was great on "Talking Saul."
posted by No Robots at 12:07 PM on April 1


Gus set up the plucked fuse

Look, this is important information: you can sing "chicken arson" to the tune of Falco's "Amadeus".
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:34 PM on April 1 [4 favorites]


I actually like Hamlin as someone who isn't the same obnoxious dick he was years ago working under Chuck. Unfortunately since he stepped up and took responsibility for what happened to Chuck, Jimmy has been happy to agree that it was all his fault and that he should be the receptacle for all the negative feelings Jimmy has about that (as evidence, remember Jimmy's reaction to Hamlin getting this off his chest was to make coffee and whistle a jaunty tune).
posted by bleep at 1:38 PM on April 1 [9 favorites]


Hamlin’s suit was so perfectly horrendous that it made me angry just watching him.

A couple episodes back there was a shot of Howard and Jimmy where Jimmy had a particularly loud suit on, and you see Howard eyballing it, while wearing an equally awful suit himself. it was perfect.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 4:18 PM on April 1 [3 favorites]


"Sir, do you have documentation of your two previous dissolutions?" I loved that.

All this talk about Hamlin's style and nothing about Huell's sequined jacket, which accomplishes the rare feat of being both fabulous *and* understated? And Huell's reactions throughout that whole scene were a hoot.

This episode had so much amazing, hilarious, smart, beautiful stuff in it.

It really was a great, rich episode, filled with little character details, of which my fave is one kewb described: Fring taking a moment to inspect that empty fryer cage before moving it aside for his chicken explosion setup. This week restores my faith in the writers' ability to surprise and delight with these characters.

But the Cartel Life offers bigger perks, and it's that scale that appeals to Jimmy.

He's still clearly having serious doubts after he sees Lalo's non-reaction to finding out who the red-head family was. Same for him peeking around the corner at the family in the hallway after the hearing. He does not like what he's being forced to become here. The money by itself isn't enough motivation. Yet.

Jimmy's mad at himself

Yeah, exactly. Jimmy's deeply conflicted feelings about who he is in that moment are what fuels his oversized reaction to Hamlin's smugness, a reaction that's a fantastic reveal of where his confused head is at. To me, that brilliant bluster isn't a signal he's now Saul Goodman, instead it's the opposite: he's seriously resisting becoming Saul Goodman for the first time in a while.
posted by mediareport at 5:18 PM on April 1 [8 favorites]


Saul asking for a second kiss notwithstanding.

That was Huell, who went "psst" to get Jimmy's attention and motioned for them to kiss again so he could get a second shot with the Instamatic.
posted by mediareport at 5:40 PM on April 1 [2 favorites]


"I actually like Hamlin as someone who isn't the same obnoxious dick he was years ago working under Chuck."

He's always been smarmy, but he's always genuinely liked and tried to help Jimmy. It's just that the show concealed that from the audience and let us believe, as Jimmy believed, that Howard was holding Jimmy back when it was really Chuck all along. Much later, we find out that Howard argued with Chuck about Jimmy and repeatedly spoke up for him but Chuck shut him down—and Howard was always super-intimidated by Chuck (and Chuck was condescending to him), which aggravated Howard's insecurities about being in his father's shadow.

In my opinion, Howard's attempts to woo Jimmy and all his praise and affection expressed to him hugely angers Jimmy not because Howard deserves this anger, but because it's an emotional displacement by Jimmy.

Howard represents everything that was wrong between Chuck and Jimmy. Chuck was the big-brother/mentor to Howard he never was to Jimmy. Howard is respectable in the way Jimmy never has been. Howard always played the heavy with Jimmy at HHM and Jimmy thought Howard was phony and had been dishonest with him.

But, worse, it turns out Chuck never thought much of Howard, either, and treated him badly, too. Howard is smarmy; only by accident of birth is he not hustling after clients like Jimmy. And it turns out Howard was forced by Chuck to play the heavy with Jimmy; that Howard's seeming avuncular concern for Jimmy's well-being wasn't a facade, but was real; Howard was as liberated by Chuck's death as Jimmy was; and in many ways has been kind of a gormless sucker in all this.

There are far too many things in that which hit very close to home in Jimmy. Jimmy thought that Howard was who Jimmy was trying to be, but he wasn't. Howard was more like Jimmy than Jimmy knew. And Jimmy as "Charlie Hustle" was an earnest sucker trying in vain to please Chuck, just like it turns out Howard also was. Jimmy hates suckers. He hates himself for being played by Chuck, and he hates Howard for being played by Chuck.

There are many things he hated about Chuck and himself, and he hates his ambvilance and inability to reconcile all this. Howard is basically a bunch of issues of Jimmy's all wrapped up in a package such that, regardless of it being well-intended, Howard's reaching out to Jimmy feels like an attack where he's most vulnerable. And when Jimmy feels the most vulnerable, he can be the most self-righteously vicious.

Jimmy doesn't understand a whole bunch about himself so he doesn't remotely have the perspective to work this out or to respond genuinely to Howard. Howard's chief sin in this is that he doesn't understand Jimmy at all and, when it comes down to it, hasn't really tried.

I don't dislike Howard. I think he's good at heart. But he's hugely privileged and blind to it. He's smug without meaning to be or any awareness of it and wouldn't want to be if he knew, which is sometimes worse.

To me, the villains in these two shows have been Walter White and Charles McGill. Chuck doesn't make his professional mistakes until after the show has begun; Walter did so before his show began. They both struggle with illness as a prequel and early manifestation of their doomed struggles with the worst within themselves. They both are
gifted with powerful intellects that they believe justify their hubris and their choices and they are both adept at constructing self-serving delusions that they are deeply caring and benevolent people when they are not. They both in their arrogance manipulate people and leave others capsized in their wakes.

And both their stories are as much or more the stories of these other people, also damaged, who find any hard-won ability to be healthier and live their lives completely undermined by Walter and Chuck.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:18 PM on April 1 [17 favorites]


"Sir, do you have documentation of your two previous dissolutions?" I loved that.

Was this the first we ever heard of Jimmy having been married before, let alone twice before? It certainly surprised me, but I also don't pay as close attention as well as many of you.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:38 AM on April 2 [6 favorites]


The idea that Chuck is the Walter of BCS is something that I'll have to take some time to look at, but on the surface of it, it doesn't seem wrong.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:55 AM on April 2 [1 favorite]


Was this the first we ever heard of Jimmy having been married before, let alone twice before?

That's why I loved that it was treated like a throwaway detail. I mean, of *course* Slippin' Jimmy had a couple of benders or something that resulted in marriages, but they've never been mentioned.

Oh, and I lied about Fring's fryer moment being my favorite; my favorite was Kim refusing to let Kevin hold her failure over her and turning it around on him. Brilliant Kim being brilliant is one of the most fun things about this series, and for extra fun, watch the reactions of Rich and Paige during that scene. The actress who plays Paige is fantastic at underplaying her responses to some of the surprisingly brave things Kim does to Kevin, and her face, and Rich's "I'll go along but have no idea what you're doing" confusion, are beautiful quiet moments of acting in an intense scene between two other characters.

Howard is basically a bunch of issues of Jimmy's all wrapped up in a package such that, regardless of it being well-intended, Howard's reaching out to Jimmy feels like an attack where he's most vulnerable...Jimmy doesn't understand a whole bunch about himself so he doesn't remotely have the perspective to work this out or to respond genuinely to Howard. Howard's chief sin in this is that he doesn't understand Jimmy *at all* and, when it comes down to it, hasn't really tried.

Wow, that is really good, probably the best analysis of the relationship between those two that I've read.

I don't dislike Howard. I think he's good at heart. But he's hugely privileged and blind to it. He's smug without meaning to be or any awareness of it and wouldn't want to be if he knew, which is sometimes worse.

I agree there've been plenty of times Howard's been sympathetic, and even likeable for a spell after we found out just how much Chuck had been in control, but his smugness is often purposeful and manipulative, as in the scene in a restaurant where he patronizingly walks up to Kim while she's with her Mesa Verde clients and just oozes passive-aggressive smarm and meanness. He knows exactly what he's doing, which is why she turns the tables on him a minute later by doing the same when she hands him a check to pay off the $14,000 she owes HHM. Howard's complex, but I'd balk a little at "good at heart."
posted by mediareport at 5:39 AM on April 2 [8 favorites]


MST3K fans might recognize Gus's Madrigal boss Peter Schuler (whom Wikipedia suggests was also in the Breaking Bad episode "Madrigal") as the villain from City Limits (FF previously)—the actor's name is Norbert Weisser. (Apparently he was in The Thing!)

I did successfully make the connection mentally, but it took me about nine or ten seconds, wherein I paused the show, waved at the air, said "It's not the Vigo-worshipper guy from Ghostbusters II, is it? No, not a chance… wait, wait, it's almost there…" while my wife became increasingly annoyed. Then I saw the tiny soulpatch in my mind's eye, and that was the key.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:21 AM on April 2 [2 favorites]


I just can't hate on someone just for being smug, there's nothing wrong with that (I am often accused of smugness).
posted by bleep at 9:05 AM on April 2 [1 favorite]


whom Wikipedia suggests was also in the Breaking Bad episode "Madrigal"

He was the guy who killed himself with the AED when the DEA came to investigate Madrigal, wasn't he?

Was this the first we ever heard of Jimmy having been married before, let alone twice before?

When we first met Jimmy in BB he mentioned an ex wife, or possibly his "second wife" so I took that little scene to explain that away so the writers are now free to go in whatever direction they want to go in with the Kim and Jimmy marriage.
posted by bondcliff at 11:51 AM on April 2 [3 favorites]


Was this the first we ever heard of Jimmy having been married before, let alone twice before?


Throwaway line in BB; I was unsure if Kim would be #1 or #3. Kim kicking Kevin is the best.

That Madrigal guy seems not all there, very controlled by Lydia and whatever shared past he and Gus have. Figureheadish.
posted by tilde at 12:32 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


I nosed around and realized I totally forgot the whole reason for the Chicago Sunroof incident was that Chet slept with Jimmy's first wife. Here's the quote from Jimmy's bingo breakdown scene in S1 Ep10 where he explains to a roomful of seniors how he shit into the sunroof of a car while Chet's Cub Scout kids watched from the back seat:

"Now Chet was a real asshole. He might have owed me some money. He might have slept with my wife...before she became my ex-wife. The details don't matter. Suffice it to say I was wronged."

The quote from Breaking Bad comes in S3 Ep4, after Walt creates a scene at Ted's office when he finds out Skyler cheated on him. Mike screeches up and throws Walt into his car to meet with Jimmy, who says:

"What the hell's wrong with you? You act like you're the first guy this ever happened to. I caught my second wife screwing my stepdad, ok? It's a cruel world, Walt. Grow up."


In a 2018 interview with Screen Rant, Vince Gilligan talks about the difficulties of writing a prequel, mentions he wishes Saul had known Gus in Breaking Bad so they could use them together in Better Call Saul, and then talks about Saul's second wife comment:

I’ll tell you a tricky one. Off the top of my head, there was some casual reference Saul Goodman made way back in Breaking Bad about being married twice or three times or something like that. That one has bedeviled us for sure. It was just a goofy throwaway line in an episode of Breaking Bad where Saul Goodman talked about his second wife or some such and that has bedeviled us. We’re trying to figure that one out. When did he a wife? And who was the second wife? Who was his first wife? Blah blah blah. That was a tricky one.

Some viewers apparently figured Jimmy was bullshitting - though his dad did die soon after selling the store, so I suppose there was room for mom to have remarried and stepdad to have fucked Jimmy's 2nd wife - but it looks like the writers decided to at least keep the possibility open that Jimmy's offhand remark to Walt was actually true.
posted by mediareport at 2:23 PM on April 2 [4 favorites]


I just rewatched The Thing, but couldn't place Norbert Weisser--if he was one of the Norwegians, they're wearing parkas so that makes sense. And he's been in some Albert Pyun films, which puts him in the category of people with serious dramacred who have also been in some staggeringly cheesy stuff.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:48 PM on April 2


Discussing this with Mrs. Dr. Robots, I am now thinking that Howard sees Jimmy as the person to fill the void in his life caused by Chuck's death. Jimmy responds by subjecting Howard to abuse openly, where Chuck had always done it on the sly.
posted by No Robots at 5:24 PM on April 2 [7 favorites]


Interesting to note that, while Jimmy has taken so much effort to distance himself from the surname made legally prestigious by Chuck - Kim has just acquired it by marriage.
posted by rongorongo at 12:59 AM on April 5 [2 favorites]


No, she kept hers.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:24 AM on April 5 [2 favorites]


Huell: She gonna be a McGill or a Goodman?
Jimmy: Wexler.
Huell: *double take*
posted by mediareport at 5:10 AM on April 5 [4 favorites]


That could be interesting. I know of women who didn’t take their hubby’s name then later did. She might be gone at the end to Hamlin as a McGill. “Mentored under Chuck, married his brother a while; we put her through law school, too!”

Writing out Chuck suddenly gives me huge insight into Charlie Hustle — Charles McGill and his little brother, Charley Hustle. Probably why the elder is Charles in this series.
posted by tilde at 6:56 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]


Interesting, too, that the judge makes particular note that Kim doesn't have/use a middle name.
I know it isn't too uncommon for a person not to have a middle name, but to have it pointed out like that makes one wonder if it is an important detail. Or, y'know, nothing at all.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:02 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]


He was the guy who killed himself with the AED when the DEA came to investigate Madrigal, wasn't he?

Yes, you're right. That was in the Breaking Bad episode Madrigal (Fanfare link).
posted by Monochrome at 3:55 PM on April 5


Middle name - depends on age. Back in the day, “the state” would move women’s maiden names to middle names. I have no middle name; she might be Kimberly Wexler McGill. I use both my last names (maiden NOT as a middle name) and I get things addressed to Kim McGill constantly. I just corrected a temp agency and my logins are STILL and permanently Kmcgill@narrowbrains.ugh instead of KWexlerMcGill. I tried for a while working as KWexler but my checks still said KMcGill. I would have been the age then that Kim is then.

Also “no middle name” is not ... unusual in legal proceedings; but unless that dude does a lot of weddings it’s not so weird. #SmashPatriarchyEtc
posted by tilde at 4:26 PM on April 5


she might be Kimberly Wexler McGill
It was stated clearly that she is keeping Wexler as her last name. No McGill.

As I noted, the judge made particular note that Kim had no middle name (this was right after he read Jimmy's full name, including middle name) in a sort of "Huh. That's interesting" way.

All I am saying it it's an odd point to specifically write into the show unless it has some bearing on the character, that's all.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:56 AM on April 6


The theoretical she - future she if she later takes McGill and is an M in HHM.

But in more mundane reality what she wants and what she’s treated as in a practical way name wise might be a pain in the ass as it is for many many women in the real world and Jimmy/Saul in the show.

As for the judge calling out no middle name, maybe I’ve watched too many night court episodes. Bob no middle name Wheeler and their exploding chickens.... so I assume it’s a standard practice.
posted by tilde at 7:01 AM on April 6


As I noted, the judge made particular note that Kim had no middle name (this was right after he read Jimmy's full name, including middle name) in a sort of "Huh. That's interesting" way.

I read this as the show pointing up the informal and unceremonious nature of this wedding by having the judge performing it get distracted in the middle by trivial details. He was behaving as if it were a perfunctory legal matter, not the most important day in two people’s lives.
posted by ejs at 7:15 PM on April 6 [1 favorite]


The judge starts the marriage ceremony by saying "Wexler and McGill?". That reminded me of all Jimmy's doodles and dreams about establishing a law firm with Kim: Wexler and McGill. So now he has a "legal" partnership with her, but of a different kind than he imagined. And it's on her terms, not his.
posted by Corvid at 7:23 PM on April 6 [4 favorites]


"He was behaving as if it were a perfunctory legal matter, not the most important day in two people’s lives."

In reality, when the judge performed the ceremony when I was married in the Bernalillo County Courthouse, the judge was delighted to do so—he said it was the favorite part of his job.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:01 PM on April 6 [1 favorite]


So now he has a "legal" partnership with her, but of a different kind than he imagined. And it's on her terms, not his.

In the "Insider" podcast, someone noted that they got a joint work space for love, but then got married for legal purposes. That said, they're not indifferent to the events, and actually get caught up in the ceremony, however perfunctory the acts. Jimmy even carries Kim over the threshold, apparently half in jest, but also because they realize this is something special.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:07 AM on April 7


More from the podcast:
- This was Melissa Bernstein's first time being a director. Of any thing. She's been a hands-on executive producer for both Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. Vince pushed her to direct an episode, and she did a bang-up job.
- Los Pollos Hermanos don't freeze their chickens, so this is one that Gus prepared specifically for this explosion
-- and that shot required VFX, with a wire to control the descent of the chicken, and some paint to make it look properly frozen
- That explosion was an actual explosion -- no visual effects, and it was an actual Blakes Lotaburger (Wikipedia) that was slated for destruction. Blakes also let them put a poisoned burger in a Blakes bag. Big up Blakes from everyone. Also, Gus did. not. blink. No post-processing to "freeze" his eyelids to remove the blink.
- Bob said that he felt the ending was a good place for Jimmy/ Saul to "act up and act out," letting a lot of emotions out, where it was initially written as more of a triumphant moment.
-- Chris McCaleb, episode editor and podcast host, notes that Jimmy blows up at Howard, but it doesn't have the same impact on Howard because he's done so much self improvement (see: NAMAST3 license plate -- douchey but appropriate for Howard), so it does more damage to Jimmy.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:07 PM on April 7 [3 favorites]


I liked that Jimmy finally showed some real emotion in this episode. Even if it was kind of soppy and embarrassing and overly sentimental (that's par for the course with him, though). I think the wedding/marriage really moved him, and that's why he was open to being moved by the grief of the victim's family, and why he was so vulnerable when Howard (very gently) confronted him. I hope that the marriage's defrosting effect survives the Howard freakout, though, and Jimmy doesn't just shut down again (which is also par for the course with him).

I agree that Jimmy's rage at Howard is misplaced rage at himself and Chuck. I think mostly himself. He's just so fucking insecure when it comes to Howard! It's like Howard's very existence throws into stark relief all of Jimmy's shortcomings (in Jimmy's mind). I think Howard makes him feel like a failure. Even though Howard himself doesn't seem to think of Jimmy as a failure, and I think actually is reasonably humble and kind as a human being underneath the popped collar douchery that is his native idiom.

The thing about Howard is that he just wants to stay in his lane. He strives for conventionality. Whereas Jimmy for the life of him can't ever fit in, and can't seem to be conventional even when he wants desperately to be. They're never going to understand each other. Howard is never going to understand that Jimmy wants to but genuinely can't be ~a conventional success~ just like Howard, and Jimmy is never going to understand that Howard doesn't actually think that Jimmy dancing to the beat of his own drummer is a bad thing.

Jimmy has all these corny dreams about making it big and owning a ranch or a big house or whatever, but when it comes down to it, I think money = security to him and it's the sense of security that matters. Which is why it's such a mistake for him to trade his sense of safety for big money by becoming "a friend of the cartel." But since when has Jimmy been self-aware. And ironically, his insecurity is probably going to drive him into thinking he has "no choice" but to become a friend of the cartel, because it would be "too dangerous" to pass up the opportunity for big money. Jimmy is money-grubbing in the most two-bit way and it's a bit depressing. Like, opportunities for real money come along, like this job offer from Howard, and he gets all upset and does his best to ruin his chances. But some harebrained scheme that involves existential risk? Sign him up! This is like when he didn't want that check from Chuck's estate and refused that sales job but meanwhile cooked up some stupid thing about stealing tchotchkes from the place that tried to hire him. That was never going to net him more actual money than just cashing his check and taking the job but. That's Jimmy for you.

Anyhow, the wedding scene was lovely. The marriage became real to both of them during the ceremony. I hope those crazy kids make it.
posted by rue72 at 10:28 PM on April 9 [4 favorites]


I really loathed Chuck (he was the worst), but as I watch Kim's relationship with Jimmy unfold I'm starting to get more sympathy for him. There's a good chance that this is just what being close to Jimmy is like...even when he's fervently devoted to you, he keeps timebomb secrets that are going to derail your life.

It probably says something bad about me that I like Howard. But he's....fine? Maybe I'm grading him on too much of a curve. There are clearly better people (Kim), tougher people (Mike, Kim), more purposeful people (Gus, Jimmy, Kim, basically everyone on the show who isn't a drug addict). But his class is "other people born on third base," and by that standard, he puts in his time and probably isn't a creep. I really wouldn't mind working with him. I hope he learns his lesson well enough to avoid Jimmy. There's no point in trying to beat someone when you're not playing the same game.

I have to admit a lot of the cartel drama leaves me cold, since we saw basically all the heavies alive in Breaking Bad.
posted by grandiloquiet at 8:50 PM on April 13 [2 favorites]


Late to watch.. But did anyone else think Jimmy's "lightning bolts shoot from my fingertips" speech was intended as a comedic, sad mirror of the "One who Knocks" speech in Breaking Bad? That speech is the fulcrum of BB, the moment Walt fully inhabits his monstrous and dangerous persona. Similarly Jimmy seems to be fully imagining his new power as a "friend of the cartel" and summons all his bluster to brag about it, only to fall into the custard pie he's holding in his hand. It's really awful and also hilarious.
posted by Nelson at 7:15 AM on April 15 [3 favorites]


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