Better Call Saul: Alpine Shepherd Boy
March 2, 2015 9:39 PM - Season 1, Episode 5 - Subscribe

When his efforts to drum up new business are interrupted by alarming news, Jimmy is pressured to make a difficult choice.
posted by Catblack (52 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Where do you even begin?? Vince Gilligan is reaching Coen Brothers-levels of artistic excellence.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:15 PM on March 2, 2015 [7 favorites]


I loved how the vast majority of the Mike story at the end unwrapped in silence. Entirely in keeping with the character.
posted by transient at 4:11 AM on March 3, 2015 [7 favorites]


This was the first episode I was kind of disappointed by. It felt like 2/3 of an episode stretched out to the length of a full episode. Everything felt really slow, the hospital scene especially. It may have been intentional, but if so it didn't work for me.

I was also kind of pulled out by the talking toilet gag, which felt too broad even for this show.

I still love the show, but this felt like a dip in momentum.
posted by dfan at 5:17 AM on March 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


It may have been intentional

I thought it was the theme, really. Jimmy's plans: slowed. Chuck's plans: slowed. Jimmy and Kim's plans: slowed. Mike's plans: slowed. Howard's plans: slowed.

The hospital scene was particularly slow, but I felt like it gave us a real-time look into Jimmy's processing of the idea that Chuck's problem may be more than simply physical.

I know it doesn't fit the timeline, but when Jimmy was at the nursing home I just kept waiting to hear "Ding!"
posted by Room 641-A at 6:02 AM on March 3, 2015 [11 favorites]


It felt like not a lot happened but it was an important episode. We saw Jimmy begin to build his business and find a specialty. ("Need a will? Call McGill!" will evolve to "Better Call Saul", I wonder how many other mottos we'll have in between?) we learned about Chuck's condition. Really, this was the first time they described what was going on with him.

We also learned that there is more to this quiet guy in the ticket booth. Sure, we all know there's more, but in the show's timeline, where there is no Walter and Gus, all we knew about Mike so far was that he works in a ticket booth and he used to be a cop.

So not a lot happened, but we needed this episode. We needed nothing to happen so they could just kind of show us what the hell is going on.

Not the best, most exciting episode, but still a good one. And still filled with so much Vince Gilliagany goodness. Toilet POV!
posted by bondcliff at 6:54 AM on March 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


They could have stretched the episode out to two hours and it would have still been worth sitting through just for Bob Odenkirk's masterful acting during the opening scene at the ranch with the sovereign citizen. The expressions on his face as he begins to contemplate fleecing the guy for $500k, only to realize it was monopoly money... Simply perfect.

Sure, the pacing was slower than what we're used to, but I think Gilligan and his team have established that they know what they're doing, so my hunch is that most of it served a purpose to build tension for future episodes, especially the bits with Mike at the end.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:19 AM on March 3, 2015 [9 favorites]


I was also kind of pulled out by the talking toilet gag, which felt too broad even for this show.

I can see that. It was a little broad.

But it kind of worked for me, since we were getting the gamut of nutters contacting Jimmy on the heels of the billboard stunt.

Libertarian guy looked like a huge score, then even at one point a total mark...but his lack of faith in the federal reserve was going to be the deal breaker. Sex toilet guy was just plain delusional and disturbing.

Then on the other end of the spectrum you had the figurine lady who was only going to bring in $140 for a pretty hefty investment of Jimmy's time, which she mostly wanted to use for chit chat. For that client, he might as well be working for minimum wage.

With sex toilet guy, there was just no way Jimmy could even go through the motions of doing the patent work because, well, everyone has standards, and all this would be was a failed patent application for a creepy commode.

So he's used a con to drum up honest business, but the business walking in the door isn't worth it. They're even less of a pay day than the $700 bucks a pop he gets doing public defender work. What does the world want from Jimmy? Gawd, a guy tries this hard to make an honest living and look where it gets you.

Meanwhile, Chuck uses his symptoms to guilt Jimmy into not slippin'. It's obvious that Chuck believes in his own symptoms, but they get a little better when Jimmy swears up and down he's not slippin'.

And it takes one to know one. Jimmy knows Howard is running some kind of long con with his brother and is working some angle to screw him out of his fair share of the practice.

Everyone's running a con of some kind. Some are crazy/delusional (libertarian guy and toilet guy), some are just tight-fisted and want to take advantage of a flat rate for some momentary companionship (figurine lady) and some are just straight-up steely-eyed predators (Howard Hamlin).

Obviously, Mike's gonna need a lawyer soon, and things are coming to a head with Hamlin and Chuck. This episode set that up well.

Like tonycpsu, I think Odenkirk's acting in this episode was really satisfying to watch. Dude's good. Real good.

I heard an interview with Peter Gould a week ago where he was saying that because Saul had been a bit of comic relief in BB, they weren't sure how far Odenkirk would take the character in a dramatic direction in BCS. It's not that they thought he couldn't do it, but that they didn't realize just how far out of the park he was going to hit it over and over again.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:37 AM on March 3, 2015 [9 favorites]


I haven't had a chance to pull up the relevant Breaking Bad episode to confirm but maybe someone else knows already. Was that the same nursing home where Hector Salamanca was living, or just set up to remind us of it?
posted by komara at 8:17 AM on March 3, 2015


Meanwhile, Chuck uses his symptoms to guilt Jimmy into not slippin'. It's obvious that Chuck believes in his own symptoms, but they get a little better when Jimmy swears up and down he's not slippin'.

I was a little disappointed that he got up so quickly after Jimmy made this promise. He just confirmed Jimmy's theory of getting sick when he read about the billboard.

And it takes one to know one. Jimmy knows Howard is running some kind of long con with his brother and is working some angle to screw him out of his fair share of the practice.

I didn't understand what Jimmy meant when he told Howard he was going to lose his cash chow? What value is Chuck adding to the business that he could be considered a cash cow?
posted by GrapeApiary at 8:34 AM on March 3, 2015


I thought he was referring to Chuck's goodwill value. Chuck's name and professional reputation has value in attracting clients.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:40 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I didn't understand what Jimmy meant when he told Howard he was going to lose his cash chow? What value is Chuck adding to the business that he could be considered a cash cow?

Yeah, that's a head scratcher.

My speculation is that depending on Chuck's subject matter expertise, maybe he's their go-to partner for certain types of litigation, or his reputation in a certain area of law precedes him (e.g., he's won a huge career-making case in a particular area or something), so at minimum HMM at least needs to keep his name on their shingle?

There were a couple of scenes in this episode where Chuck's quoting both legislation and case law precedent chapter and verse from memory, so we know he's no hack.

There was that scene where Hamlin hands Jimmy a stack of "this month's filings," so maybe he's still handling some client work (in hard copy only, of course)?
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:43 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


What value is Chuck adding to the business that he could be considered a cash cow?

I feel like maybe this is just weird wording. Although, typically law firm profits go to partners, so perhaps having one inactive senior partner allows Hamlin to extract additional money from the firm somehow? We do know that he wants to avoid having to buy Chuck out of the firm, so perhaps just delaying also allows him to extract more value from it. It seems a bit odd, but it's also not a huge stretch that some lawyers could connive a way that it is beneficial to have Chuck on leave but not part of the firm.
posted by snofoam at 9:11 AM on March 3, 2015


Perhaps it's the damage that would be done to the firm, if it becomes public that a senior partner has been committed to a psych facility? Loss of revenue if clients get scared-off?
posted by Thorzdad at 9:25 AM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


In E2 of the podcast they talk about how everyone really likes Rhea Seemon (Kim) and Bob Odenkirk talks about how well they got along instantly off-screen and I think we're really starting to see the chemistry unfold. I normally hate the whole "will they/won't they" thing because inevitability it gets addressed and it kills the tension *coughPamandJimcough* but I love that this is also "did they/didn't they" and that we onto even know what their relationship is/was. (Also addressed on the podcast.)


It's not that they thought he couldn't do it, but that they didn't realize just how far out of the park he was going to hit it over and over again.

I've been thinking of Bob Odenkirk as sort of a reverse Jon Hamm: since most people were introduced to Hamm in Mad Men they think of him as a great serious actor who turned out to be great a comedic actor and Odenkirk as a great comedian who turned it to be a great actor. (I happen to think it could have gone either way with Jon Hamm but his big break came from a drama.)

Was that the same nursing home where Hector Salamanca was living, or just set up to remind us of it?

I wasn't sure myself. I think a comment from a recap said it wasn't but I'm not sure about that.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:38 AM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


Was that the same nursing home where Hector Salamanca was living, or just set up to remind us of it?

Maybe I've missed something, but I don't really think that the idea of a nursing home is so uncommon that an appearance in both of these related series means that it has to be the same one or for one to remind us of the other. For instance, there are also hospitals in both series.

I liked this episode, but yeah...the pacing was a bit off. Maybe it's just a bit more fun when he has a 'big' case, like the 'theft and kidnap yourselves' family (sorry, forgot the name already).
posted by destructive cactus at 10:40 AM on March 3, 2015


For instance, there are also hospitals in both series.

Yes, but it's something they're actively doing with this show. At least one of the restaurants they've used in BCS was used previously in Breaking Bad. They're tossing in little easter eggs like this on purpose. I also thought it might have been the same nursing home though I haven't yet tried to confirm it.
posted by bondcliff at 11:01 AM on March 3, 2015


"Maybe I've missed something, but I don't really think that the idea of a nursing home is so uncommon that an appearance in both of these related series means that it has to be the same one "

I totally understand that sentiment. However, this show has already proven that it's interested in tying itself into the Breaking Bad universe in tiny ah-ha! ways for the dedicated viewers. For instance, the skateboard brothers were hanging out on Juan Tabo Boulevard which is the street where Gale Boetticher lived. That's an absolutely inconsequential detail that provides absolutely inconsequential trivia.

So when I as a viewer see the nursing home and something feels familiar I can't help but think that this feeling has been intentionally cultivated by the creators of the show, even if there's no consequence.

that we know of
yet
maybe

so that right there ^ - that feeling of fun? That's why I asked. I'm just curious. And you're right, there could be other nursing homes. I also didn't get that feeling from the hospital or from any other locations this episode, which ...

you get the point
posted by komara at 11:02 AM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


It looked like Hector's nursing home to me, komara, for whatever that's worth. It was just something about those specific pastel shades on the floor and walls. I guess most nursing homes look about the same, though.

Is that the first time Mike's daughter has appeared? I can't remember if she ever showed up (even just as a glimpse of her arm or leg) during one of the Kaylee exchanges in Breaking Bad.

The pacing of this didn't bother me - I could watch Jimmy try to make his elder law business work for hours.
posted by minsies at 11:34 AM on March 3, 2015


I thought the toilet was hilarious. Y'all have never had anyone breathlessly tell you their "Idea of a Lifetime" then I take it. And the NDA! So real it hurts. You can hear the infomercial in his voice too, "They just didn't want to use the commode!"
posted by books for weapons at 11:40 AM on March 3, 2015 [8 favorites]


I think komara really nailed how I feel about things like this on the show: it's fun! And VG knows the fans are watching closely. That's what's so great about the podcasts.

OTOH, one of my favorite comments I saw somewhere last week during a similar discussion was, "Guys, BCS is set in New Mexico. I'm pretty sure that's a callback to Breaking Bad!" I don't think anyone is taking it too seriously. Yet.

On preview, "Hey, buddy, you're the one with the sex toilet!"
posted by Room 641-A at 11:47 AM on March 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


What I loved about this episode is how just a conversation with your buddy can change your career direction. I loved that aspect of it. I'm sure something bad will happen with his foray into elder law, because it must.

Also the way the scene in the hospital ended reminded us of how we are following Jimmy around, and seeing everything from his perspective.

Which is why when we finally got around to Mike, alone on camera, it felt like a major shift. And I loved that it was finally happening. That they just teased us at the end was wonderful. I can't wait to see where they go from here.
posted by Catblack at 12:23 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


And Mike in the coffee shop! I was half expecting Lydia to show up and start whispering.
posted by Room 641-A at 4:15 PM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


The thing i'm getting is that Jimmy is not a very good lawyer. He's not a *bad* lawyer, but he's pretty mediocre at actual law. Which is no crime, but Chuck is obviously some sort of prodigy super-lawyer. I have a feeling that Jimmy only went to law school as some sort of bargain with Chuck in the wake of whatever made Jimmy leave Cicero.

I think, oddly enough, of Robert Frost's son or all the other tragic sorts who try to follow a brother or parent into a field where the elder is a superstar. It can't be easy only being average at your job, but when the person you're styling yourself after is the best of the best.... it can't be easy on the ego or the confidence.

The thing is, Jimmy is actually amazing at certain parts of law: the retail parts. The part that Chuck never *had* to bother being good at because he has encyclopedic knowledge of local, state, and federal case law. He's not the kind of lawyer who could probably beat Hamlin in court, but he's the kind of lawyer who can recognize wolves when he sees them, no matter how well disguised.
posted by absalom at 4:58 PM on March 3, 2015 [9 favorites]


I felt like some of the segments with potential clients stretched a little long. Almost like they had a montage planned and then thought, "You know, we do too many montages, let's just do the scenes." Jimmy's impression of the disturbingly suggestive toilet was worth it though. The scenes about Chuck and the Mike stuff were all fantastic though.

I haven't listened to the podcast for this episode just yet. Presumably they changed the episode title from Jello either because of trademark issues or to avoid Cosby association? Shame they couldn't come up with an alternate one that still fit the pattern of the rest of the season though.
posted by sparkletone at 6:34 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I was oddly disappointed with the episode name not conforming to the pattern, especially since they mentioned it a couple of times on the podcast.
posted by skewed at 7:25 PM on March 3, 2015


So far we have:

sex robot
sex toilet

Collect the whole set.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:39 PM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Is the choice of the name 'Hamlin' an LA Law reference?
posted by box at 3:30 AM on March 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


So...what should Jimmy do with regard to his brother? Because the doctor isn't entirely wrong: as the police see when they (quite creepily) peer into the house, his living conditions aren't all that safe and he doesn't have a good way to call for help if something happens.

More broadly, this is an episode about conflicts of perception and about the way perceptions are experiential realities. But, crucuially, they aren't *shared* experiential realities. The conflicting views from inside and outside Chuck's condition is the most obvious of these conflicts, but there's also the contest between what Jimmy sees regarding Hamlin and what everyone else sees, the professional image Jimmy thinks he's projecting at both ends of the episode vs. the way he's actually seen by others (look at the way the old woman reacts to him, the way Mike reacts to his Matlock act at the end), Chuck's view of his conduct and those of the police and the doctors, the way Mike is seen by Jimmy and his daughter(?) and the way he and the police see him, and (arguably) the way Jimmy and Kim take her speech about "elder law."

Viewed in this light, Jimmy's clients are a comical way to set up the stuff that plays as drama in the hospital and later at Chuck's home. But even in the comedic scenes, the reason Jimmy fails is because he mistakes crucial things about how each client sees the world.

A successful con job is about managing the mark's perceptions while knowing the truth yourself, but the show is still giving us relatively unsuccessful cons of various sorts, because Jimmy still isn't sure who he is and runs into trouble when his self-perception turns out to be just as partial, just as subjective, as everyone else's. Ironically, this is because of the degree to which he's still "good;" he doesn't fully abstract his own and others' emotional experiences as he will later because he *cares* about Chuck, about Kim, and even about an idiosyncratic definition of justice.

Notice that he only tries to con the separatist nut, who he clearly considers a deserving target; with the wannabe inventor, he's brutally honest, and with the elderly client, he's solicitous but does the job she asks him to and charges a flat rate. More broadly, Jimmy hasn't yet worked out that flashy stunts get you exactly the sort of clients who fall for flashy stunts; he's forgotten that the mark is a mark for a reason, and he still doesn't want to accept the full import of what Betsy Kettleman told him. There's a dearth of honest self-examination on this show, because self-examination would mean putting in serious, painful effort and changing; it means bing able to be wrong about treasured notions and feelings. The tragicomic element is that we know what Jimmy will eventually figure out about himself, and that he will, in the end, refuse to change. If Walter White's tragic flaw was was Pride, Jimmy McGill's tragicomic weakness is Sloth.
posted by kewb at 3:56 AM on March 4, 2015 [17 favorites]


I wonder if there are two levels to the idea that how you look is how you want people to perceive you. We see Jimmy suiting up to impress the old folks with his Matlock impersonation, and not long after we have a long setup with no dialogue whatsoever to draw our conclusions about Mike's life.

Is it a warning that we viewers shouldn't make assumptions about Mike based on what we see?
posted by tracicle at 4:14 AM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Casa Tranquila is the nursing home where Hector stayed.

The media is dismissive enough of seniors as people that I feel like this elder care element had to be a very deliberate choice, and that it's going to lead somewhere meaningful for Jimmy. In other words, I don't think it's the same as just having him appear in a hospital during the story. It hadn't occurred to me that it could be a link to Hector; maybe it is that, or maybe the writers are just suggesting it because they enjoy zigzagging and subverting our expectations. Surely the music in that scene was meant to be reminiscent of The Third Man, though, right?

I am enjoying this show so much more than I ever thought I would. I was a massive Breaking Bad fan and always loved Bob Odenkirk*, but I wasn't sure somehow that I would want to watch a whole show about Saul. Boy, was I wrong, and I'm glad I was wrong!

*Is anyone else watching this show with a friend or loved one and quoting Mr. Show a whole lot?
posted by heatvision at 5:11 AM on March 4, 2015


They confirmed in the podcast that the nursing home is the same one where Hector was kept in Breaking Bad, the hospital where Chuck went was the same one where they took Brock in BB, and the nurse was the same actor playing the same nurse character in both shows.

They are making a point to show that these shows are not only in the same universe, but the same town.
posted by bondcliff at 6:36 AM on March 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


They are making a point to show that these shows are not only in the same universe, but the same town.

Though, of course, even in a smaller city than Albuquerque, there's more than one nurse at more than one hospital. Wouldn't Brock and Chuck be in different places if they were admitted? This smacks of writers who don't know how to write small towns rather than world-building.

I know it's a specific choice they're making, I get that, and I do love this show. But there are a lot of us in smaller towns than Albuquerque, really.

Loved seeing Clea Duvall as the doctor, even if she looked way more middle-aged than I was ready for. (She's two months older than me.)
posted by aabbbiee at 7:11 AM on March 4, 2015


kewb: "Notice that he only tries to con the separatist nut, who he clearly considers a deserving target"

I wouldn't say he was trying to con the guy, any more than any lawyer who takes on a client who is guaranteed to be unsuccessful. He can still provide him competent legal representation, even if he is a nutjob. And yeah, that look on his face when the guy asked if he would like the retainer in cash was just amazing.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:32 AM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


I loved this episode, and it may be my favorite one yet. I admire the way they're not playing Chuck's mental illness for laughs, and the entire, deliciously slow sequence with Mike (including sitting outside the house where I'm sure his beloved granddaughter lives) was pure magic. What Jonathan Banks does just with one eyebrow! Goodness gracious. Odenkirk's acting in the nursing home was really terrific, just the right balance of genuine friendliness and slurpy, sticky, Jello-consistency salesmanship. Also, Matlock!

To me this show is already so completely different from Breaking Bad that I can't even compare them anymore. And I love it with the same amount of fervor and hope.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 10:23 AM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Presumably they changed the episode title from Jello either because of trademark issues or to avoid Cosby association?

Yes, the podcast addresses this quite early on: they couldn't get permission to use the Jello trademark. Gilligan & Gould also mention that it was this episode that started them on the "why not end all the titles with -o" thing.

Also, Rhea Seehorn is on the podcast again this week, and is again fascinating: she's so enthusiastic and appreciative of being given the role, but also very professional about the craft of acting. A long discussion in this one of her attending the set even on days and scenes where she wasn't scheduled, both as "a free masterclass" and to observe the practices and habits of the production to be able to integrate better into it. In particular: the observation that BCS uses a lot of wide shots so "save it for the closeup" doesn't work well.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:22 AM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Odenkirk's acting in the nursing home was really terrific, just the right balance of genuine friendliness and slurpy, sticky, Jello-consistency salesmanship. Also, Matlock!

Also, his sketching of the Matlock suit: a little like Peter Parker sketching the Spiderman outfit. And an echo of his copying of Hamlin's suit in the previous episode. Need-A-Will-McGill is another identity that Jimmy's trying on for size.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:29 AM on March 4, 2015 [8 favorites]


He's not the kind of lawyer who could probably beat Hamlin in court.

I don't know, I think we just saw Jimmy beat Hamlin. (And on his home court, if you will.)

I am enjoying this show so much more than I ever thought I would.


This, plus it's so much better than I thought I could be! I'm so glad FanFare s around for this.

Misc: Intricate cake shaped liked Bob Odenkirk's head
posted by Room 641-A at 12:30 PM on March 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


So, this is extremely trivial, but something my girlfriend and I both noticed (and obsessed about) while watching the episode. In the tighter shot of Mike's daughter (I assume) in the SUV, we can see the vehicle's inspection stickers. They are definitely Pennsylvania inspection stickers, and the plates on the SUV are Pennsylvania plates. The question, then, is: In 2002, was Pennsylvania (or parts of it, anyway) requiring inspections every 6 months? Or did they have separate safety and emissions inspections?
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 10:31 AM on March 6, 2015


We do have separate safety and emissions inspections in PA, and have for as long as I've been driving (1990-ish.) Generally they're done at the same time and both are required annually, but they do put separate stickers on.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:43 AM on March 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Mike's daughter (I assume)

She's been mentioned as being his daughter here before, but I thought it was his daughter-in-law?
posted by Room 641-A at 10:47 AM on March 6, 2015


What value is Chuck adding to the business that he could be considered a cash cow?

At first I thought this was an odd turn of phrase, since the key words around Chuck have been "cashing out", i.e. the firm would lose a catastrophic amount of money and maybe be forced to liquidate. But it's also highly probable that Chuck is THE major cash cow for the firm. In episode one, both things are spun out in the conversation between Chuck and Jimmy. Chuck mentions that if he cashes out, "my clients would be scattered to the wind." A moment later Jimmy says, "You built that place single-handedly while Hamlin was at Four Hills working on his bunker shot." So a picture is painted where all of the major client relationships of this firm have been built on Chuck's legal genius and perceptiveness. All of which the firm is continuing to work with and bill major amounts to. Chuck has literally built the continuing value of the firm and made its reputation. It sounds like he doesn't just have a book of business, the clientele IS his book of business. And they will find another firm if their favorite partner is out of the picture. (This also plays into why Hamlin continues to mail filings to Chuck. It's not just the paper trail for a future court case; the appearance of Chuck still working on matters is important to retaining these clients. And Chuck is naive enough about Hamlin taking advantage of him, not just with the potential cash-out but in their entire business relationship, that he misses everything. Poor sweet Chuck.)

So yeah: he leaves, his clients leave. Wave goodbye to your cash cow.
posted by naju at 3:20 PM on March 6, 2015 [8 favorites]


I came in here to write in a less eloquent way what Naju wrote above.

I did not think I would like this show but it's super growing on me. I have very little patience for shows that don't make me LOL these days but it's still pretty good. It seems like there's at least one or two LOL's per episode.
posted by bleep at 9:50 PM on March 6, 2015


(This also plays into why Hamlin continues to mail filings to Chuck. It's not just the paper trail for a future court case; the appearance of Chuck still working on matters is important to retaining these clients. And Chuck is naive enough about Hamlin taking advantage of him, not just with the potential cash-out but in their entire business relationship, that he misses everything. Poor sweet Chuck.)

Read this way, Chuck has bought into a kind of naive Calvinism, where virtue and toil are linked to prosperity and vice versa. He sees Hamlin as virtuous not only because Hamlin is his friend and associate, but also because he believes that no one can "make it" and keep on "making it" unless they're working hard and doing things The Right Way. It's not just that he's sweetly naive, it's that he'll rationalize the actions of a guy like Hamlin as "OK" in ways he won't rationalize what Jimmy is doing. (Notice that he agrees with Hamlin that Jimmy's use of his own surname in promotional materials is potentially confusing.) But are "Hamlindigo Blue" an a trademarked logo any less a kind of showmanship than Jimmy's promos?

We know from both this show and Breaking Bad that this isn't how Vince Gilligan's fictional world works; doing the wrong thing has consequences, but they aren't financial so much as spiritual. (I wonder what Chuck would make of someone like Gus Fring, both before and after knowing the whole story. Heck, I wonder what he'd make of the Kettlemans. Would he read their appearance of middle-class respectability as evidence of innate decency, or would he judge them for their actions and motives?
posted by kewb at 6:26 AM on March 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Heck, I wonder what he'd make of the Kettlemans. Would he read their appearance of middle-class respectability as evidence of innate decency, or would he judge them for their actions and motives?

From what we know about Chuck thus far I would be really surprised if he were so shallow and naive as to be taken in by the Kettle Team's outward appearance. Otherwise he would not have risked everything to go get the paper. He was wise enough to be suspicious of Jimmy's performance of respectability.
posted by bleep at 5:13 PM on March 7, 2015


Chuck doesn't believe he's mentally ill, Chuck believes he's 100% mentally competent, so why shouldn't he be working from home? I don't think this is naivete, it's just a symptom of his illness.
posted by bleep at 5:15 PM on March 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


mandolin conspiracy: So he's used a con to drum up honest business, but the business walking in the door isn't worth it. They're even less of a pay day than the $700 bucks a pop he gets doing public defender work. What does the world want from Jimmy? Gawd, a guy tries this hard to make an honest living and look where it gets you.

But how many days, on average, does it take to get that sweet $700 pay-out? I imagine each trial can take a few days, and while you could run a few cases at once, I think that in the PD gig, it would make the most sense to figure out the quickest defensible situation per case and move to the next one. You don't do hourly billing, you're stuck until the end to get paid (so it appears). On the other hand, a single will might be $140, but that's something you can crank out in a few hours at worst, probably a half hour at best. Do a couple of those a day, and you're ahead of the PD game.


aabbbieeWouldn't Brock and Chuck be in different places if they were admitted? This smacks of writers who don't know how to write small towns rather than world-building.

I think it's more of leaving easter eggs for fans who pay attention to these kind of details. I get the feeling they know Albuquerque pretty well, though they make some decisions based on preferred appearances rather than the true reality of New Mexico (see: the distance from the Kettleman's house to their camping site in the bosque).


Weird moment that made this episode really real for me and my wife: seeing the ABQ PD car. I know, its a trivial thing to get a proper police car for a scene, but there's something about seeing the white car with the painted design, versus the usual black and white units. And honestly, I was worried they'd go further with the APD violence against the mentally ill, as a jab at the real APD/an attempt to mimic reality. Some dark part of me felt that the use of tasers wasn't realistic, given the terrible history of APD fatally shooting unarmed mentally ill individuals
posted by filthy light thief at 11:54 AM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


It feels to me that the way they're playing Jimmy is that he's immoral, but not amoral. He's sleazy but only selectively exploitative: there's almost a feeling that the people that he exploits are deserving of it. He exploits Hamlyn's pride to further his own end; he takes the Kettleman's bribe; but he doesn't try to rook the secessionist or the talking-toilet inventor after establishing that they're deluded, and he deals patiently and honestly with the Hummel lady. Even the pigeon-drop scam in last episode's cold open: it works only because the mark is dishonest and greedy.

Maybe this is the direction out of the elder-law turn he's in at the moment. It's another suit he's trying on, and his justification to Chuck is simply parroting Kim's "seniors need someone on their side" description earlier in the episode. I wonder if the nursing-home schmoozing ends up feeling just a little too sleazy and exploitative-of-the-innocent for Jimmy.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 4:44 PM on March 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't know, I like thinking of Jimmy that way but I also wonder if it isn't that he just sees law as another hustle. It's a good hustle because the rules are finite and if he plays by the rules he'll get money and not go to jail. But I don't know how much over-arching morality is actually going on or how much we want to believe is going on. Everything he's done so far that we could consider moral, except for the Chuck stuff, could also be seen as things he did to not lose his law license - not taking bribes, not being an accessory to the murder of the skateboarding twins, not swindling the weirdos who called him. Limiting your con games to people who are already in trouble is just another way to con people without going to jail. The only moral thing he has going for him is feeling responsible for his brother's illness and trying to take care of him.
posted by bleep at 6:08 PM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yes, it may be wishful thinking on my part. Breaking Bad similarly played a lot with "how far are you, the viewer, willing to rationalize our protagonist's bad actions" boundary-breaking.

I do find Odenkirk innately likeable; but hard to untangle how much of that likeability naturally carries over into his performance versus how much is him deliberately playing up Jimmy's con-man charm.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 2:33 PM on March 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've been thinking about this show a lot, rewatching it a bunch, reading these threads, and trying to articulate what I feel. Jimmy sees law as an allowable con. Chuck sees (or saw) law as reason and logic applied to justice and goodness. This is how Chuck made sense of a chaotic world and felt ok in it. Jimmy's approach was the opposite, to embrace the chaos by creating it and profiting from it. Then he took up a law career, probably at Chuck's urging, and continued to create chaos and try to profit from it. Jimmy's debasement of Chuck's idol stresses Chuck out so bad that he can't deal at all anymore.
posted by bleep at 12:39 PM on March 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


I like that.

Chuck's symptoms eased strongly -- letting go of the space blanket, puttering off to make coffee -- when Jimmy reassured him that he was going to "play by the rules." It seemed ambiguous to me how much that was real for Chuck: was he genuinely distressed by Jimmy's shenanigans, or was he playing it up to try to manipulate Jimmy into flying straight? Or (my guess) somewhere inbetween?
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:07 PM on March 13, 2015


I hadn't considered that he might be playing it up. I think he's in the dark. But I could be wrong, they are brothers, perhaps they're both conmen!
posted by bleep at 5:48 PM on March 13, 2015


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