Better Call Saul: Hero
February 24, 2015 6:52 AM - Season 1, Episode 4 - Subscribe

Jimmy comes to agreements with the tent people and his most recent client. Our newly confident "Hero" gets serious about marketing.
posted by sylvanshine (74 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
'Saul Good, Man! I was not expecting to get that little bit of backstory so early in the show. This has quickly become my favorite thing on television.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:02 AM on February 24, 2015 [7 favorites]


So the opener was the Chicago sunroof? I guess not, since it seemed successful. And it was a good setup for the moment the Kettlemans offered him the cash. Would he take it based on his personal history?

I really hope he's playing some long game with his billboard campaign, because stealing HMM's brand is like Law101, right? He can't be that naive.

I loved the suit-buying scene. My husband and I both thought, "Aww, he has specifications for his Success Suit" and it wasn't until he asked for Sparta curls (or whatever he said) that I thought he had something weird planned, and didn't just have terrible fashion sense. The scene with him and HMM Partner Guy was hilarious. Even the pocket handkerchiefs were folded identically!
posted by tracicle at 7:34 AM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


tracicle: "I really hope he's playing some long game with his billboard campaign, because stealing HMM's brand is like Law101, right? He can't be that naive."

Wasn't the long game getting a news agency involved for a piece on his struggle against the big law firm, standing there while the billboard was taking down in the background and the guy he hired would fall and rescued by him?
He failed to get a big news agency to come down and film it but it seems like having the students and a bunch of bystanders there did the trick just as well to get his name into the press. And as a hero, no less.

It was a real slap on the head moment for me because although you had the scam scene at the beginning of the episode it took me a bit to realize that this too wasn't a chance accident as the scene played out.
posted by bigendian at 7:59 AM on February 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


'S all good, man. Holy effing shit.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:07 AM on February 24, 2015 [10 favorites]


His brother's response when seeing the news article really cemented the "It's a scam" feeling about the fallen worker. (That and the guy telling him to hurry up.)
But I still cringed at the thought of climbing that sign wearing leather soled shoes.
posted by Seamus at 8:35 AM on February 24, 2015


His brother's response when seeing the news article really cemented the "It's a scam" feeling about the fallen worker. (That and the guy telling him to hurry up.)

That and the little fist-bumpy thing they did after he hauled him back up.

I really hope he's playing some long game with his billboard campaign

My sense is that he is - I think he's got a good sense of what Hamlin's time is worth on an hourly basis, soooo....maybe he's taking Sun Tzu's advice on that topic.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:41 AM on February 24, 2015


Did you miss when Saul and the billboard worker shook hands? It was made clear it was a scam the second he Saul rescued him.

I loved the scam in the opening scene. I didn't really see that one coming.

"You're the sort of lawyer guilty people hire" kind of sums up the character.

Saul eyeing the orange shirts... perfect.

I'm liking this show more and more each episode. I was expecting to love it because Breaking Bad was so good and this seemed sort of like a prequel to Breaking Bad, but it's really its own show. It has a nod to BB here and there but they're doing a good job of not turning it into nothing but BB fan service.
posted by bondcliff at 8:41 AM on February 24, 2015 [15 favorites]




So the opener was the Chicago sunroof?

I don't think so, no. Chuck says a Chicago Sunroof could be considered sexual assault, and I don't think that applies here. I doubt we'll ever find out what it is. I hope not.

I think these flashbacks are totally separate episodes of backstory, with this one setting up the idea that Jimmy is not just a two-bit slip-'n'-sue man but actually an experienced flimflam artist and an expert manipulator of people. (I am totally on board. Ain't never seen a grifter story I didn't like.) That's something that needs to be firmly established for the complex billboard scheme to seem even remotely believable.

I really hope he's playing some long game with his billboard campaign, because stealing HMM's brand is like Law101, right? He can't be that naive.

He's already had the payoff. Deliberately ape the brand, put it in a place Strawberry Fields Forever Spartacus Ringlets (<---loved that!) will see it, ride the C&D all the way to an injunction in which Jimmy's forced to take it down, finagle a news crew to the scene, stage a rescue, make the papers, check for messages. And the greatest thing is that until the rescue, we're being strung along too. We know there's spite there, and we know there's desperate self promotion, but we don't know there's genius until we see the whole picture. I keep saying this in every thread, but I love the way this show doles out one little clue at a time like that.

That and the little fist-bumpy thing they did after he hauled him back up.

Pretty sure that was a delivery of payment. In any case, yeah, the dialogue there makes it abundantly clear it was a setup.

'S all good, man. Holy effing shit.

Doy!
posted by Sys Rq at 8:53 AM on February 24, 2015 [12 favorites]


He's already had the payoff. Deliberately ape the brand, put it in a place Strawberry Fields Forever Spartacus Ringlets (---loved that!) will see it, ride the C&D all the way to an injunction in which Jimmy's forced to take it down, finagle a news crew to the scene, stage a rescue, make the papers, check for messages. And the greatest thing is that until the rescue, we're being strung along too. We know there's spite there, and we know there's desperate self promotion, but we don't know there's genius until we see the whole picture.

And he has to hide the local paper from Chuck because he's gonna see right through it the instant he finds out. Kim, meanwhile, is grudgingly impressed. That little smirk she cracks while watching the news in the boardroom with the rest of the HMM partners says it all. "I know you're a con artist, but holy shit. You're good."
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:06 AM on February 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


That little smirk she cracks while watching the news in the boardroom with the rest of the HMM partners says it all. "I know you're a con artist, but holy shit. You're good."

Looking at her small and kind of crappy-looking office, I wonder how much she actually likes working for HMM.
posted by tracicle at 11:14 AM on February 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


Dammit, Slippin' Jimmy always gets me. Every time, I think this won't end well, and then, hey, it's a con.

I love this show.
posted by minsies at 11:22 AM on February 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


Brilliant structure of this episode.

In the introduction, we fall for the con, in miniature.

The next 30 or so minutes, we fall for the con, again, but we have no excuse this time! We've been primed, and we're still suckered. It's a master class in manipulation - I want to watch it again and see how it convinced me that Saul was flailing. There's a lot of subconscious, subtle viewer-trickery going on - the scene where Saul pitches the story to news outlets had me convinced he had no game plan.
posted by naju at 11:44 AM on February 24, 2015 [14 favorites]


'S all good, man. Holy effing shit.

Doy!


Yes! My husband gave me a stricken look at that line and said, "Jesus, I never put that together," and I was like, "WELL MAYBE YOU SHOULD JOIN METAFILTER."
posted by something something at 12:34 PM on February 24, 2015 [11 favorites]


Am I the only one who caught the shoutout to The Sting in the first con?

Henry Gondorff on Luther ST. Ho-lee mo-lee!
posted by pjern at 12:48 PM on February 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


The other thing about "Goodman" - I'd always figured it was meaningful in the way character names have some meaning - Walter White, Saul Goodman, etc. But it actually seems to be an example of the subliminal marketing McGill is so good at - as demonstrated in this episode. That "attorney becomes local hero" bit of trickery, to make clients believe they're hiring a good guy, rather than "the attorney guilty people hire"? The same thing is going on with the choice of Goodman as a last name. Clients read Goodman and subliminally think he's a good guy. (I don't remember whether that was explained in BB but it never struck me until now.)
posted by naju at 12:51 PM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Brilliant ep! Man, Saul Goodman. Wow. No retcon needed, either.

I find most current television, especially good tv, to be a little too hyperkinetic. Major Stuffs is Happening all the time, no rest, gotta keep viewer attention, etc.

BSC (and BB) seems to have lots of well timed, well spaced "quiet moments."

It really works for me, the little bits of introspection or waiting for the shoe to drop. They contrast really well with the frenetic montage scenes.

Kim and Jimmy's interactions at the salon parlour really felt like a big sister/younger brother relationship, or a platonic relationship since they were children. A tiny touch of Mulder lusting after Scully, but Jimmy knows deep down that it'll never be in the cards although Kim might possibly be into it if things were different, but would never admit it and knows that it wouldn't work out because she knows Jimmy too well.
posted by porpoise at 2:10 PM on February 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


Clients read Goodman and subliminally think he's a good guy. (I don't remember whether that was explained in BB but it never struck me until now.)

As I recall, his explanation in BB was that criminal clients want Jewish lawyers: "for the homeboys who want a member of the tribe."
posted by maxsparber at 3:55 PM on February 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


I didn't realize being filmed in front of the billboard was part of a scam until the guy fell... But there's coincidence and coincidence, y'know? And it felt good to have that confirmed once Saul climbed up there. I didn't see that coming as a natural follow up to his initial idea (david vs goliath) failing though, and yet it makes perfect sense. I wonder what the consequences with Chuck will be.

This week I also really, really loved Odenkirk's rant to Nacho after being confronted about warning the Kettelman's. A nice evolution of Jimmy from his "you should be thanking me!" response to the complaints of one of the hurt skateboarders a couple episodes ago.

Finally, Sepinwall notes in his review that we can finally say with certainty that there's a pattern to the opening titles, and it's VHS-quality imagery from Jimmy's life as Saul. That hadn't occurred to me till this episode either.
posted by sparkletone at 4:21 PM on February 24, 2015


I think I saw an N-Gage in that drawer of cell phones. I'm pleased to know that Saul Goodman was Sidetalkin'.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:43 PM on February 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


Hah, one of my co-workers (back in 200x) is in the last Sidetalkin' gallery, holding up an XBox dev kit. A bit later, I ended up being a developer on Pocket Kingdom for N-Gage, which was one of the more fun jobs I ever had (although Symbian wasn't great to develop for). So was happy to see that N-Gage!

At first I though the scam he was pulling with infringing the HMM trademark etc. was to up the stakes so that they'd be content with just letting him keep using his name. I didn't expect it to go further.
posted by Emanuel at 4:54 PM on February 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


I didn't realize being filmed in front of the billboard was part of a scam until the guy fell...

When the guy fell and Jimmy started climbing, I was rolling my eyes and thinking "yeah right, this show has suddenly gotten very corny". Until I saw the hand-slap.

Slippin' Jimmy conned me good.
posted by isthmus at 5:30 PM on February 24, 2015 [6 favorites]


I definitely didn't think anything of the super quick establishing shot that showed the worker up there. Jimmy can't afford the billboard for that long, or is caving so it's gotta come down soon was what I was thinking initially.
posted by sparkletone at 5:34 PM on February 24, 2015


Reading the comments here, I totally missed so many things in this episode. Damn, the writing on it is totally fantastic (if slightly subtle, next time I'll keep my distracting electronics off while watching it).
posted by mathowie at 6:05 PM on February 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


"Upon this rock, I will build my church."

Another great misuse of a quote, this time from the Bible.
posted by cardboard at 7:59 PM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Here's another misused quote from Jimmy, "The worm has turned," to describe the change in his fortune.

However, it could be a right usage if you consider that the whole billboard ploy came about because he'd been pushed too far.
posted by vaghjar at 8:13 PM on February 24, 2015


"Upon this rock, I will build my church."

> Another great misuse of a quote, this time from the Bible.


A brilliant, brilliant moment: that's the scene where Jesus decides that the disciple typically known as Simon will henceforth be known as Peter. It's literally about someone's name changing to fit with their new mission--and it's sandwiched in a context about the identity of Jesus, and the need for secrecy about who he really is. Fantastic allusion, and so, so subtle.

I love this show.
13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

14 “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”

15 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. 18 Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

20 Then he sternly warned the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

--Matthew 16:13-20
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:20 PM on February 24, 2015 [23 favorites]


Until I saw the hand-slap.


Yup, that was really clever - loved the way they set the hand-slap up from the opening. It's a master class.

I worry for Chuck. I have a bad feeling that he's going to get dragged out of his house by unthinking police.
posted by mattoxic at 8:25 PM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's hard to believe that these first four episodes could be improved...on? upon? but the BCS Insider podcast adds so much insight it's like watching the episode with a DVD commentary track.

I'm also really looking forward to VG's other new show, Battle Creek, which premieres on March 1, but wow, BCS is already casting a loong shadow.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:40 PM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


This one really felt like a visual nod to Hopper paintings for the first half or so. Beautiful.
posted by tautological at 12:28 AM on February 25, 2015


I love in the scene where Jimmy takes over from the student to set up the all important shot that it cuts to these beautifully composed shots of Jimmy with the blue sky and billboard behind him. In these shots you can see the tip of the boom that the sound guy is holding peaking through. It's like, 'this looks like a mistake, but it's not a mistake.' Genius.
posted by Elmore at 1:23 AM on February 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


Am I right in thinking he's going for a longer scam? That is to say his aim isn't so much to set up a profitable business on the back of Hamlin's reputation (as Hamlin thinks and is going after Jimmy for), but rather to become such a huge thorn in Hamlin's side that he's prepared to pay a colossal amount of money to make the problem go away (hence the need to create Saul Goodman).

I think I already like this series a lot more than Breaking Bad. I also like the idea of the Breaking Bad universe - were it not for the fact that it would be a much more difficult sell, we could have a series about What Skyler Did Next, or stories about Gale or Mike (or perhaps a sitcom set in Hermanos Pollos, which doesn't betray anything about the chain's secret). If it were novels, that sort of thing would be possible (indeed likely), but I suppose the logistics and economics of TV series commissioning mitigate against it.
posted by Grangousier at 3:59 AM on February 25, 2015 [8 favorites]


The other thing about "Goodman" - I'd always figured it was meaningful in the way character names have some meaning - Walter White, Saul Goodman, etc.

For that matter, "Slippin' JImmy" tells us about Jimmy/Saul's journey: at every turn, he starts out trying to do the right thing, to live up to his brother's expectations, to be patient and put int he hard work....and it's hard, or no one will give him a chance. And so he takes a shortcut -- he "slips," morally *and* in the sense of running a con -- to get himself on track. And every time, it's a one-off: it's just to get the Kettlemans as starter clients, it's just to get his client Nacho out of jail for the one crime he didn't quite commit, it's just to get publicity so he can get his practice off the ground.

Saul isn't Walter White, a guy with A Mission and An Ego and A Grievance that justifies everything. He's not a man of master narratives or grandiose self-delusions. He's a guy improvising his way through for beer money or tomorrow morning, a guy whose big mission is a charge from his brother and not a choice of his own. He does bad by increments, stumble by stumble, slip by slip.

One of the better elements of the show for me so far is the way that, as of this episode, we see that almost everyone lies to themselves, Saul is a little too smart to fool himself, but we've had:

-- Hamlin, who clearly buys into his own "pillar of the community" rep and justifies what he does in terms of the good of his firm
-- the Kettlemans, who still imagine themselves as respectable people who earned that money they stole, darnit, and therefore aren't the kind of "guilty people" who need to hire the disreputable/NOKD Jimmy
-- Chuck, whose mantra is "I will beat this!" and demonstrates a his rather Candide/Pollyanna-like view that everyone *except* his brother has the best intentions and everything will work out for the best if we all just stay patient and work hard
-- Kim, who seems to have convinced herself that Hamlin et al. will see her real talent and value her if she just sticks it out
-- Tuco, who imagines himself a great man and a loyal grandson instead of a murdering psychopath thug

Nacho and Mike are maybe the only major character on this show who hasn't lied to anyone or himself, at least not on camera, and Nacho is an unrepentant criminal while Mike is eventually going to imagine he can be a lethal enforcer and still be a family man and a kindly old grandfather. His eventual attempt to partition what he does from who he is, to justify evil, collapses in the sequel show in a spectacular and horrifying fashion. (Even here, we see that he's slightly less jaded than he wants to pretend. And this is assuming his job isn't cover for surveilling courthouse clients on behalf of someone else.,)

Jimmy is trying to fight himself and his own worst instincts in a world that, right now, seems to reward hypocrites and criminals. But unfortunately for him, it's also a universe where the arc of narrative bends towards poetic justice.
posted by kewb at 7:04 AM on February 25, 2015 [17 favorites]


In short, I think some of the professional reviewers are wrong: the publicity stunt/con job here isn't Jimmy choosing to become Saul, it's Jimmy making a bigger slip. I think we're going to see him zig-zag quite a bit and get himself in deeper and deeper under the delusion that each of his cons or stunts is a one-time thing, a justifiable thing after which he can be a "good man" again, a true McGill brother.
posted by kewb at 7:06 AM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


And this is assuming his job isn't cover for surveilling courthouse clients on behalf of someone else

That's some A-Game shit right there, that is.
posted by digitalprimate at 9:34 AM on February 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


So to speculate to the point of the conspiratorial, we know from BB that Mike was working for the smooth Los Hermanos brand at the same time as he was working for - and unbeknownst to - Saul nee Jimmy. We know Saul knows Tuco and probably now Mike at least knows of Nacho. We know Saul wants desperately to use his own name (or does he!?) but ultimately doesn't. I'm thinking the name change in concert with a new "clientele" is the season finale. Or maybe inish'Allah that takes seven seasons. Place your bets folks.

Also since some one else gone and else done it, I'm referencing spoilers to BB so mods smite me if needed pls.
posted by digitalprimate at 9:41 AM on February 25, 2015


The billboard con was beautiful in how it also played the audience--knowingly leveraging some Breaking Bad patterns of expectations too. Dig it: early Breaking Bad frequently had Walter having to madly improvise from things going horribly off the rails at the worst possible moments (the bathtub not being the place for an acid bath; Hank showing up at the door of the RV, etc etc) and pulling things back to track by a combination of genius and luck.

And I got played too. I'm fully on board with expecting Jimmy to be acting out of petty jealousy in the brand theft, just being ineffectual in trying to get some news PR that didn't even attract real news. When the "workman" slipped and fell, my immediate thought was, even that wasn't working out for poor Jimmy. Things had gone horribly off the rails at the worst possible moment. And then when he dashed to climbing up to rescue, the a ha! moment hit.

I was skeptical about the show when I first heard plans for it were in the works. A prequel? About Saul? Really? Leave it alone, I thought. I'm now thoroughly won over.
posted by Drastic at 11:35 AM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


I love that if the theme to BB was "how does a science teacher turn into Al Capone," the theme of Saul is "How does someone turn into Al Capone's lawyer?"
posted by maxsparber at 11:56 AM on February 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


Kewb, I see Jimmy a little differently. Originally, I assumed that he had gradually, reluctantly, slipped over to the dark side of the law due to temptations and predicaments he encountered as he struggled to establish himself as a new lawyer. This week's opening scene, though, with the Rolex con, makes me think that Jimmy is just a born con artist. I can imagine a flashback to little Jimmy conning the other kids out of their lunch money on the playground, just because conning people is Jimmy's natural way of interacting with the world. Saul isn't a lawyer who found it useful to become a criminal -- he's a criminal who found it useful to become a lawyer. At least that's how it looks this week.
posted by Corvid at 1:05 PM on February 25, 2015 [8 favorites]


Maybe the next show is a prequel to this, showing Craig Kettleman being a dedicated accountant and how he gets a job as a county treasurer.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 1:30 PM on February 25, 2015 [8 favorites]


And why his wife is a robot.

Seriously, I'm convinced she's a robot.
posted by maxsparber at 1:31 PM on February 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm also really looking forward to VG's other new show, Battle Creek, which premieres on March 1

I'm kind of dreading that actually. I take a look at network television shows from time to time and they are usually simply and unbelievably awful. I hope CBS leaves him alone and doesn't do what most mainstream networks and movie studios do, which is to hire someone for the great work they've done and then make sure they aren't able to do it anymore or make sure that the CBS executives get some input.

I'll be shocked if it isn't terrible, such is my cynicism, given the history of such things.
posted by juiceCake at 1:34 PM on February 25, 2015


I love that if the theme to BB was "how does a science teacher turn into Al Capone," the theme of Saul is "How does someone turn into Al Capone's lawyer?"

I've been listening to the Insider podcast today, and Peter Gould has said a few times that the thesis statement for this show is "What problem is solved by becoming Saul Goodman?"
posted by zixyer at 1:38 PM on February 25, 2015 [13 favorites]


Being Jimmy McGill?
posted by Grangousier at 2:29 PM on February 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


"I think we're going to see him zig-zag quite a bit and get himself in deeper and deeper under the delusion that each of his cons or stunts is a one-time thing, a justifiable thing after which he can be a 'good man' again, a true McGill brother."

We're watching Jimmy break bad in a very different way than Walter White did. And while it's true that Jimmy was a young con artist, it's been established that, with his brother's insistence, Jimmy first "broke good" and had been struggling to be the person that his brother wanted him to be. I think he deeply wants his brother's approval and respect and especially now when he's in sort of a caretaker position with their roles somewhat reversed.

In his own mind, for these reasons, I think he very much wanted to be the kind of lawyer that his brother wants him to be and it's painful for him to break away from that vision of himself. Like Walter White, he's breaking bad under duress, pragmatically; and also like Walter White, he's better at being bad than being good. But very much unlike Walter White, Jimmy isn't deeply insecure with a burning, narcissistic desire to dominate the people around him. There's nothing about Jimmy that would lead to Scarface and, likewise, he was never much like Mister Chips, either. He's not capable of being monstrous and it's a lot easier to like him. That doesn't mean that innocent people around him won't eventually pay part of the price for his crimes -- my sense is that this is Kim's eventual fate. As lovable as Jimmy is, I don't think that Vince Gilligan is going to shy away from depicting the consequences of Jimmy's choices.

"Maybe the next show is a prequel to this, showing Craig Kettleman being a dedicated accountant and how he gets a job as a county treasurer."

It's an elected position. In fact, there was a push to recall the current Bernalillo County Treasurer last year (about mismanagement of funds).

I watch the show with family and we're all native Albuquerqueans. It's really quite amazing how many details they get right that other shows would't bother with. Or, if they did bother throwing in these local details, they'd mangle them.

In the first episode they referred to Hamlin playing golf at Four Hills, which is a country club where my grandparents were founding members, and this detail signals something in that it's not the Albuquerque Country Club which is very old money, but also not Tanoan or some others, which are very new money -- Four Hills was new money in the sixties when there was only ACC. In this episode the newspaper is the Albuquerque Journal and the local news was KOB channel 4. Jimmy's office address is at the corner of Central and Jaun Tabo, which is realistic (and not a great location even for a nail salon). Jimmy's billboard is obviously on I-25 just south of the interchange, placing it near downtown which is surely where HH&M's offices are (though not quite downtown, but in a leafy neighborhood nearby), and Kim pointed out that this was right on Hamlin's drive to work.

The Kettleman's home was way up in the foothills -- I mean, even where they shot the exteriors -- and which places it just right such that they could walk out their backyard and up a trail leading into the Sandias.

Tuco's grandmother's house was in a neighborhood that I couldn't quite identify but which I can narrow down and would basically be what you'd expect if Tuco bought his grandmother a nice middle-class house in an older part of the northeast or southeast heights and not in very white McMansionville out on the west mesa, where she surely wouldn't have been comfortable.

I'd have thought from the nighttime exteriors that Chuck's house was in the very leafy and distinctive ACC area (which is where Jesse's aunt's house was) but this episode's daytime scene is the first one where I'm confounded in identifying the neighborhood and which made me half-suspect that they're filming McKean's scenes in LA. The style of his house is atypical for Albuquerque, but also sort of reminds me of the neighborhood where my mom grew up -- old enough to be leafy now and not southwestern architecture, but more white middle-class fifties. But someone like Chuck wouldn't live in that neighborhood now -- he made a lot of money at HH&M, after all. Maybe he sold his much nicer house and moved into this one because of his health concerns?

The only thing that's bugged me was the thing with the Kettlemans and the skateboarders because the neighborhood where they intercepted the car was very near downtown and would have been at least a twenty minute drive from their home. That's an example where location scouting and filming practicalities trumped any sort of verisimilitude because, really, who's going to care? But they could have this attitude about almost everything, and yet they don't. I do think this actually matters because even if the accuracy of the details really doesn't matter, the mere effort of it feeds into an authenticity of place that can't be faked and which almost always plays a big role in making the best stuff work.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:35 PM on February 25, 2015 [29 favorites]


In the Insider podcast, they talked at length about how much trouble it was to find a house that was plausibly the Kettlemans' and also right on the edge of wilderness. They also mentioned that the spot where they filmed the Kettlemans' campsite was really near the place Mike dies in Breaking Bad.

Also mentioned the nail salon where Jimmy has his office is a real business (but that there isn't actually an office in the back).
posted by Emanuel at 3:03 PM on February 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


"They also mentioned that the spot where they filmed the Kettlemans' campsite was really near the place Mike dies in Breaking Bad."

Oh, yeah, I noticed that but forgot about it. It was clearly down by the river in the bosque and not in the mountains. I wondered at the time why they chose that and not filming in the mountains. They couldn't filmed at any locations actually on the west face of the mountains (the Kettlemans totally might have just gone north and then up La Luz trail), but they could have just driven east on I-40 into Tijeras canyon and then up the road to the crest and filmed somewhere there. Or, really, anywhere north or south of canyon.

It's a weird thing about both Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul that the actual mountains don't seem to really exist. In reality, you might be as likely to take someone and shoot them in the woods somewhere in the Sandias as way out there on the west mesa where people can see you for miles and miles.

I've sort of come to believe that this is one of the ways in which these two shows sees Albuquerque, related to how it doesn't think there's winter or snow (despite being a mile in altitude, like Denver). But you pretty much never see the mountains in stuff shot in LA, either. Locals think of Griffith Park as essential to LA (I think), but we rarely see anything about it other than the observatory.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:36 PM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's a weird thing about both Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul that the actual mountains don't seem to really exist. In reality, you might be as likely to take someone and shoot them in the woods somewhere in the Sandias as way out there on the west mesa where people can see you for miles and miles.

I think this is indirectly addressed in the E2 Insider podcast where they talk about always needing to shoot into the sun so the scene set-ups are always shifting in the direction so I think this is more abiut technical reasons than a creative decision about the mountains, per se.

(Re Griffith Park, my personal feeling on that is that the Santa Monica Mountains itself, where Griffith Park is located, are much more the landmark (and are definitely the local marker for "north") than Griffith Park, and for someone like me who lives waaaay to the west of Griffith Park the Getty is my version of the observatory and Will Rogers State Park is much more essential to "my" L.A., if that makes any sense. Basically, LA is just to big to make the comparison I think.)
posted by Room 641-A at 4:17 PM on February 25, 2015


Kewb, I see Jimmy a little differently. Originally, I assumed that he had gradually, reluctantly, slipped over to the dark side of the law due to temptations and predicaments he encountered as he struggled to establish himself as a new lawyer. This week's opening scene, though, with the Rolex con, makes me think that Jimmy is just a born con artist. I can imagine a flashback to little Jimmy conning the other kids out of their lunch money on the playground, just because conning people is Jimmy's natural way of interacting with the world. Saul isn't a lawyer who found it useful to become a criminal -- he's a criminal who found it useful to become a lawyer. At least that's how it looks this week.

I think we're mostly on the same page here. I just may not have expressed myself as well as I should have. I agree that Jimmy is a born con man, but I think he's genuinely trying to keep his promise to his brother and "be good." It's just that he's really bad at being good, and he's used to the easy rewards and minimal responsibilities of his old life.

The signature scene of this episode, for me, at least, is Jimmy in his office, at night, by himself totting up the money from the Kettlemans and constructing a rationale where it's not a bribe, where he's still doing his job as a lawyer. No one else is there to see him. The Kettlemans aren't going to acknowledge any such bill. And Jimmy can't really tell Chuck this story either. The only person that rationalization is for is Jimmy himself; he's trying to tell himself that he's not Slippin' Jimmy now when he knows deep down that he *is*.
posted by kewb at 4:24 PM on February 25, 2015 [10 favorites]


"(Re Griffith Park, my personal feeling on that is that the Santa Monica Mountains itself, where Griffith Park is located, are much more the landmark (and are definitely the local marker for "north") than Griffith Park, and for someone like me who lives waaaay to the west of Griffith Park the Getty is my version of the observatory and Will Rogers State Park is much more essential to "my" L.A., if that makes any sense. Basically, LA is just to big to make the comparison I think.)"

Well, what I had in mind was some recent scenes in Togetherness that were set in the mountains. As someone not familiar with LA and having only visited a few times, but who like every other person alive has seen eight trillion movies and television shows set in LA, it's really quite remarkable to me how rarely that aspect of LA geography is depicted as opposed to, of course, the beach. There are a lot more urban shots set in forested, hilly, mountainous areas, but it's as if, for example, the Angeles National Forest doesn't exist. It's just not an aspect of LA that we see almost at all.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:59 PM on February 25, 2015


I don't want to derail about LA so I sent you a Memail to clarify!
posted by Room 641-A at 5:34 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Loved the structure of this episode, with the opening con setting up the long-con. Whenever you catch the long con (for me it was as he's climbing the ladder and I'm thinking "this is so ridiculously dangerous, and silly, people don't just all randomly-oohhhhh") you realize that the rest of the episode that didn't really make sense the first time through all fits well.

And I did not catch the explicit allusion to the Sting, thanks for pointing that out, I'll be sure to look out for it when I rewatch with my wife.
posted by skewed at 7:00 AM on February 26, 2015


I think it's interesting that it's in the nature of the Rolex scam that the mark has to be a fundamentally dishonest person. I realise that that's what all con men tell themselves, but in order for the scam to work, the mark needs to be willingly complicit with emptying out the wallet, recognise the supposed worth of the Rolex and actively con Jimmy/Saul out of it.

I'm trying to think of an example (from anywhere) of Saul actively harming someone rather than working for the benefit of harmful people.

Oh, and I think there's something important in Chuck's recurring question: "Have you grounded yourself?" I suspect it's a very important part of Jimmy's development that he learns to be practical (however much of a bullshitter he is, that he doesn't believe it himself).
posted by Grangousier at 7:14 AM on February 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


(Also, I just noticed the development from Breaking Bad to Better Call Saul. Presumably the third story would be Best something.)
posted by Grangousier at 7:16 AM on February 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


Loved the structure of this episode, with the opening con setting up the long-con.

Very nice, and a bit of a happy accident. On the podcast they mention this episode was written without a flashback, but it came in much shorter than expected when filmed. There was no way to expand the main story that much without messing up the pacing, so they decided to write a flashback.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:00 AM on February 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


"I think it's interesting that it's in the nature of the Rolex scam that the mark has to be a fundamentally dishonest person."

I think the majority of cons leverage this. I don't think that the mark has to be "fundamentally dishonest" -- that's why you have things like the guy being an egregious jerk who actually threatens them.

Cons very often place marks in positions where they are provided with powerful rationalizations for the decisions they make -- in this example, the guy got passing-out drunk and dropped his wallet in the middle of the alley (someone would have stolen the money, if not them) and then when they tried to help him out, was abusive and even threatening. Also, he was rich. And he was entitled about it. To people that were trying to help him.

And then, once the mark has already demonstrated a willingness to take the money in the wallet, he's enticed with the watch which, in his mind, he's sort of doing Jimmy a favor because even though he suspects it's worth a lot of money, he doesn't know exactly how much he'll get for it or how much trouble that will be and so, hey, he's even being a stand-up guy by throwing the money from his own wallet into the deal to make it more fair to Jimmy.

There are a lot of cons that just prey on people's naivete, that's true. But for the people who do this shall we say "professionally" (and not just that they're simple opportunists), cons tend to leverage the mark's avarice by giving them reasons to rationalize it in self-justifying terms, often that appeal to their vanity.

I've not seen The Sting since I was a kid and it was actually in the theaters. So I don't recall what people are seeing as a reference. But I do know that The Sting featured some well-known cons and so maybe this was just a reference to it? Off the top of my head, I don't recognize it but I feel pretty certain that it's well-known and has a name.

I recommend the classic book The Big Con: The Story of the Confidence Man by David Maurer.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:05 PM on February 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've not seen The Sting since I was a kid and it was actually in the theaters. So I don't recall what people are seeing as a reference.

The name on the driver's license was Henry Gondorff, which was the name of Paul Newman' character in the movie.
posted by Room 641-A at 1:54 PM on February 26, 2015 [6 favorites]


Oh, wow, that's cool.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:56 PM on February 26, 2015


Even cooler: I just checked IMDB to see if the actual character was named Henry Gondorff but he's only credited as "Alley Guy" so it's possible that's a fake license and it's a meta-meta joke in the show, too.

This show is blowing my mind!
posted by Room 641-A at 2:08 PM on February 26, 2015


I'd expect that Jimmy and his accomplice wouldn't use the accomplice's real license in the dropped wallet, that would just be asking for trouble. It's cheeky of them to use that name but not really much of a risk. I don't think it's a joke to the audience, I think it's just typical attention-to-detail in the show's writing and/or props department.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:40 PM on February 26, 2015


For this particular con, I wonder if the money in the alley wallet was funny money or real money? There are at least a couple of risks here - the mark takes the alley wallet money and/or watch and runs, or the mark doesn't throw in any of his own money (or have any to throw in).

Like, maybe back in the day people routinely had $500-600 in their wallets (payday!) but who has that much cash on them anymore unless they were putting down a deposit or are in the process of buying street drugs.

I suppose Jimmy would have identified this particular mark because he had a wallet full of cash (and a belly full of booze on top of being a fundamentally dishonest person). I'm guessing that this particular incident was before the advent of mobile phones - the timing would have been dicey; alley guy just killing a couple of hours in the alley and alley wallet sitting in the middle of the alley for a couple of hours.

But then, I'm not an accomplished con artist.
posted by porpoise at 4:06 PM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


OH! I'm a dummy. That was what the howling was all about.
posted by porpoise at 4:08 PM on February 26, 2015 [17 favorites]


Ohh, I didn't catch that. Nice!
posted by isthmus at 4:31 PM on February 26, 2015


Ohh!!!!
posted by Room 641-A at 4:34 PM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I didn't catch that, either. You'd need to let Alley Guy know they were coming. The howling thing is a great solution to the problem. The mark did it (I totally recognize that actor and it's bugging me), but jimmy could have easily gotten away with howling himself.

But I do think you have a point with the money in Alley Guy's wallet. Wouldn't want to risk losing it if it were real by the mark just running off, and there's no way to know for sure that he'd go for the watch. But I wouldn't be surprised if there were con artists who are so confident of their ability to both pick the right mark and to entice them with the watch that they'd risk it, anyway.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:44 PM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


The mark appears to be "Stevie," played by Kevin Weisman. And yeah, Jimmy howls, too, when they get closer to the spot (just before "Saul Good, Man").
posted by porpoise at 5:29 PM on February 26, 2015


I assumed it was funny money.
posted by isthmus at 5:50 PM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Ohh!!!!"
nice
/high five
//miss

posted by porpoise at 8:43 PM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


I loved the scene where Nacho was freed. The best thing for Jimmy to do is say "okay, you're out, we're square," and walk away as fast as he can. But he can't. He keeps starting to walk away, but only ever gets a couple of steps before he turns back to continue his narrative. Not only is he trying to convince Nacho that he did right by him, but he seems to be compelled to tell his story. He can't leave it alone. It's similar to him telling himself the story of what he "billed" the Kettlemans for, all alone in his office. He has to tell his story.
posted by Shohn at 6:03 AM on February 27, 2015 [10 favorites]


He has to tell his story.

Yes! On the podcast someone said that talking is his superpower.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:52 AM on February 27, 2015


If you ever been a smoker you can you usually tell when a non-smoking actor is playing a smoker because there's just a way that cigarettes become extensions of your arm and hand that appears unnatural or forced when a non-smoker toys to imitate it. Anyway, nice job automatically covering the top of the bong, Jimmy.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:07 PM on February 27, 2015 [17 favorites]


(Also, I just noticed the development from Breaking Bad to Better Call Saul. Presumably the third story would be Best something.)

Part III is the reveal that Chuck in Better Call Saul is Michael McKean's character from Best In Show before his electromagnetism-paranoia got better and he fell in love with an attractive young boyfriend.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:29 PM on February 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


Off the top of my head, I don't recognize it but I feel pretty certain that it's well-known and has a name.

Yeah, I can't recall what the details of this usually are, but as soon as I saw the wallet on the ground i was like "OH SHIT YES THERE IS A CON ABOUT TO GO DOWN"
posted by Greg Nog at 12:32 PM on February 28, 2015


I love these FanFare threads, because I pick up so much more about the show.


kewb: Tuco, who imagines himself a great man and a loyal grandson instead of a murdering psychopath thug

Why does it have to be either/or? He's a loyal man with his family, and a psychopath to the rest of the world.


Corvid: Saul isn't a lawyer who found it useful to become a criminal -- he's a criminal who found it useful to become a lawyer. At least that's how it looks this week.

"You don't want a criminal lawyer, you want a criminal lawyer."


Ivan Fyodorovich: I've sort of come to believe that this is one of the ways in which these two shows sees Albuquerque, related to how it doesn't think there's winter or snow

When my wife and I were going to watch this episode, she said "let's watch BCS so we can remember when Albuquerque was warm," before we had the record-breaking snowfall.


The only thing that's bugged me was the thing with the Kettlemans and the skateboarders because the neighborhood where they intercepted the car was very near downtown and would have been at least a twenty minute drive from their home.


Didn't Saul say something about the mom picking up the kids from school? The skater con took place in front of Cafe Lush*, which is just around the corner from a Catholic school (Google street view), so they could have a reason to drive out there. I'm not sure why she'd turn that direction, but they're 90% of the way to that scenario making sense, which is pretty impressive, better than the bosque camping trip bothered me and my wife.

*If you do find yourself in ABQ and want delicious food, Cafe Lush is as good as that blurb makes it sound, but it is a small restaurant, and finding (free) parking can be a tricky.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:30 AM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


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