Better Call Saul: Pimento
March 30, 2015 9:29 PM - Season 1, Episode 9 - Subscribe

Tables turn.

Mike supplements his income with an odd job, and shows up packing the caviar of the south.

Kim gives Jimmy some solid advice based on inside information.

Chuck steps out of the house, and despite Jimmy's sartorial support, lays bare his true feelings about Jimmy's career.

Turns out Howard's not the real problem.
posted by mandolin conspiracy (132 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
"I thought you were proud of me."

That was utterly brutal. Poor Jimmy.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:58 PM on March 30, 2015 [7 favorites]


Daaaaaaaaaaaang.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 10:02 PM on March 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Every second with Price was sweet, sweet, awkward, sweet agony.
posted by books for weapons at 10:39 PM on March 30, 2015 [7 favorites]


Good Lord. Poor Jimmy.

Was Kim told about Chuck's request?
posted by quince at 11:28 PM on March 30, 2015


Was Kim told about Chuck's request?

I think given the look of pity on her face, yes.

Poor Jimmy. Such betrayal.

I'm so glad they balanced that heavy storyline with Mike's. Price was cringe-ily awesome. I thought for a second when the buyers got out of the van that it was the Cousins from BB, except that they spoke and were pretty low-key.
posted by tracicle at 12:09 AM on March 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


Oh I knew when he used Jimmy's phone this was going to go down. I so wanted to argue for Jimmy to Chuck. I was like "BUT JIMMY CAME UP WITH THIS WHOLE GOD DAMNED CASE WHILE YOU WERE HIDING FROM CELLPHONES! You struggled?! He's living in a storage room and managed to come up with a multi-million dollar case THAT IS ACTUALLY HELPING PEOPLE. You're the guy lying to him in order to keep him from succeeding."

I am still pissed.
posted by miss-lapin at 1:08 AM on March 31, 2015 [23 favorites]


THAT WAS GREAT BUT I AM NOT OKAY. Like I haven't been this upset by TV since the devastating end of Hannibal's second season. Like I knew the case would go wrong and the brothers would probably be split but still NOT LIKE THIS PLEASE NO.
posted by sparkletone at 1:48 AM on March 31, 2015 [8 favorites]


Was Kim told about Chuck's request?

Yes. Like the worst thing here is that we have been trained to think of Howard as this face of institutional evil. And yet he's not here. Howard and Kim both try to spare Jimmy and us this heartbreak and NOPE.

This is beautifully constructed when you unwrap it on many levels, but oh god, it ripped my heart straight the fuck out.
posted by sparkletone at 1:56 AM on March 31, 2015 [22 favorites]


Knowing now that Chuck's ashamed of him doesn't make Jimmy want to give up the McGill name, does it? I feel like there's still another devastating push in that direction ahead, something to do with Kim, I fear.

BTW, a friend of mine drew a one-panel comic. Her antipathy towards Hamlin just utterly reversed tonight.
posted by vaghjar at 2:34 AM on March 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


I loved this episode. It felt like one of those quizzes that keep dropping clues until the answer is deduced.

The middle of the night phone call.

The vague declaration of a partners agreement not to hire any more associates.

The closed meeting with Howard explaining to Kim why he wouldn't hire Jimmy.

Kim trying to talk Jimmy into taking the deal without saying why.

I think I picked it up pretty late - only after the closed door meeting. It made me say to the screen "Check your phone Jimmy" after Kim had visited. Cracking stuff
posted by Start with Dessert at 3:11 AM on March 31, 2015


vaghjar, I'm wondering if Jimmy will ditch the McGill name out of spite, now, to hurt Chuck.

The line that really hit me in the gut was when Chuck said he was proud of Jimmy getting a job in the mailroom. He wasn't proud of him finishing law school (well, it wasn't a 'real' school) or passing the bar, but working in the mailroom was just right for Jimmy- a good place for him.

I wonder how long it was after Jimmy passed the bar and started practicing law that Chuck started to have his electromagnetic problems. There's been discussion about Chuck doing better when Jimmy's doing well, but it may be the opposite- Jimmy becomes an attorney and Chuck starts to slide. Was that so much of a chock to Chuck's system and identity that he couldn't handle his little fuck-up brother in the same profession?

I knew this had to happen in some way, but man, I didn't see it coming like this.

Hamlin's a pretty okay dude after all.
posted by Shohn at 6:51 AM on March 31, 2015 [7 favorites]


I wonder how long it was after Jimmy passed the bar and started practicing law that Chuck started to have his electromagnetic problems. There's been discussion about Chuck doing better when Jimmy's doing well, but it may be the opposite- Jimmy becomes an attorney and Chuck starts to slide. Was that so much of a chock to Chuck's system and identity that he couldn't handle his little fuck-up brother in the same profession?

Munchausen syndrome maybe?

My assumption all along had been that the shark tank of the partnership had stressed Chuck to the breaking point and they were juicing him for his remaining brand equity.

Well, shit.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:55 AM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


The asshole is coming from inside the house!
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:19 AM on March 31, 2015 [35 favorites]


Dammit. Last night was the first episode I'd watched all the way through (against my better judgment -- I really don't like going out of order) and I clearly missed how big that was.
posted by St. Hubbins at 7:23 AM on March 31, 2015


I love this show so much.

Everything about this was just so good, but after the scene with Kim in Hamlin's office I realized my heart was pounding and my hand was scrunched up in a tight stress-grip.

Nice cameo by the parking lot.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:31 AM on March 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


There's a moment when Hamlin, Jimmy and Chuck are alone in the room and Hamlin glances at Chuck, just for an instant, and that's when I started thinking, noooooo. And then, the phone call. The only two people Chuck might have called were Kim (although she's close to Jimmy, not so much to Chuck) or Hamlin.

I did wonder, in that last scene, whether Chuck was going to say he wasn't a partner any more. That would also have made sense, but I guess Chuck's not going anywhere. In fact, Jimmy potentially just saved Chuck from his "allergies" by getting him working, which makes the blow just that much bigger. Jimmy really was there for his brother, no matter what, and this is what Chuck has really thought of him all along.

Suddenly Chuck has become a giant asshole.
posted by tracicle at 7:37 AM on March 31, 2015 [5 favorites]


"Suddenly Chuck has become a giant asshole."

Yeah, I never fully trusted Chuck - his sanctimonious and weary act when dealing with Slippin' Jimmy antics made me dislike him.

... but I had no idea just how far it went. Totally unforgivable.
posted by komara at 7:41 AM on March 31, 2015 [4 favorites]


The showdown between Jimmy and Chuck almost had me standing on the coffee table giving them a standing ovation. Both Odenkirk and McKean were awesome in that scene.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:03 AM on March 31, 2015 [7 favorites]


> I clearly missed how big that was
posted by St. Hubbins

I really think you're just making much too big a thing out of it.
posted by ceiriog at 8:06 AM on March 31, 2015 [9 favorites]


I just wanted to say that the hardest part of my two-week, self-imposed MeFi hiatus was not being able to discuss this show with you all.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:11 AM on March 31, 2015


I love this show, and this episode in particular was gut-wrenchingly beautiful. But if Chuck's feelings about Jimmy were this strong and inflexible, what was Chuck doing last week when they seemed to be working so well together? I would understand Chuck peeking at Jimmy's files out of skull-numbing boredom, but why would he deign to assign legal tasks to Jimmy? It seems like Chuck resents Jimmy doing anything in the legal profession above answering mail, so I'm having a hard time making sense of last week's episode in light of this one.
posted by joan cusack the second at 8:25 AM on March 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


I really think you're just making much too big a thing out of it.

It's like, how much more meta could this be? And the answer is none. None more meta.

Have to admit I was really happy, watching last night, to see McKean in such a plum part.
posted by St. Hubbins at 8:31 AM on March 31, 2015 [8 favorites]


what was Chuck doing last week when they seemed to be working so well together?

I think it makes sense. Chuck was skeptical about Jimmy's case at first, but when he saw the RICO angle, saw an opportunity to get his creative juices flowing and do interesting work again. It was making him feel good personally to work such a big case, and he was so engrossed in it that he walked outside not even thinking about his condition.

In other words, it was all about him. Sure, he was happy for Jimmy, but he didn't consider him a real lawyer, so he was just a blind squirrel who found the proverbial nut.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:33 AM on March 31, 2015 [9 favorites]


Yeah, the Chuck and Jimmy scenes were amazing but... HOLY SHIT MIKE IS BEING THE MIKE WE KNOW!

That pimento scene in the parking lot was so good. The second that idiot started talking I knew things were going to go bad for him. There's been talk that sometimes Mike is sort of an unrealistic superhero but I think Mike is just very good at reading people and knew that guy was all talk and knew he'd be able to disarm him easily.

I was a bit confused because of the lighting at the meetup but that was Natcho who bought the pills, correct?

On the podcast they revealed that the guy selling the pills is this guy.
posted by bondcliff at 8:40 AM on March 31, 2015 [12 favorites]


The part that I wondered about, when Chuck was revealing his true colors: I thought by definition being a "real" lawyer meant passing the bar and has much less to do with where you received your degree. Until you pass the bar, you are just some dude with a J.D. I could be wrong about that though, but my friends tell me that passing the bar by itself is impressive enough that it earns respect, and then you get your real chops by getting out there and working. Would Chuck have realistically been hung up on the school thing? I suppose you could explain it by saying that Chuck has been ill, or there's something seething under the surface that came out in an uncharitable ways, but Chuck is pretty legally competent, and his assessment didn't seem consistent with his character.

Regardless, the real story here is about the a brother's betrayal of someone who simply wanted to earn his approval, probably more than he wanted to be a lawyer. Totally heartbreaking.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:16 AM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


Can't decide if the guy playing Hamlin or if Michael McKean should play the next Bond villain. This episode was all the resume either of them needed to prove they have the chops.
posted by GrapeApiary at 9:35 AM on March 31, 2015


Nice cameo by the parking lot.

Yes! That was Steven Ogg, best known as Grand Theft Auto V's best/worst character Trevor Phillips. All through the scene I was trying to place him, and eventually I just digitized his face and had it immediately.

This series drags for me in places, the law is never going to be as brutal and shocking as the drug business every week, but when it hits it hits hard.
posted by yellowbinder at 10:03 AM on March 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yes! That was Steven Ogg

Ha, no I literally meant the parking lot, which I'm sure we saw in BB.

(For a second I thought the drug deal went down at Fring's institutional laundromat.)
posted by Room 641-A at 10:21 AM on March 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


This show is outstanding. It's better than Breaking Bad ever was.

I'm looking forward to seeing Jimmy explode out into the open as Saul. He'll do it partly to spite his brother and partly because he'll conform to a looking-glass self. ("That's how you see me, huh? Fine, that's what I am.") But I hope that being Saul gives him a sense of peace and self-affirmation, and it isn't just a continuous tragic and spiteful slide that keeps him jealous and hating himself. Happily, in the black and white season opener, he put on his Better Call Saul videos, suggesting that he was proud of those days. It will be interesting to see Jimmy come to terms with his life as Saul when he knows that he could have hit the big time if it weren't for his brother's rejection.

Of course, that season opener makes me hate Walt even more. Walt fucked up a lot of lives, but I didn't especially care at the time that he fucked up Saul's. Now I'm mad at him for that most of all.
posted by painquale at 11:22 AM on March 31, 2015 [19 favorites]


Brett Martin says: "Best part of last night's (altogether excellent) Better Call Saul: meeting Mike's first Walt—the guy who *doesn't* become Heisenberg."
posted by komara at 11:50 AM on March 31, 2015 [10 favorites]


Would Chuck have realistically been hung up on the school thing?

Heck Yes. There's a whole eschelon of snobbery in the legal profession that starts with the rankings of the law school from which you graduated and spins out from there. HHM isn't necessarily "Biglaw" like we think of a big multinational firm, but it's typical of a regional white shoe law firm that has established itself as a top firm in the area, in no small part because Chuck is clearly a genius. Consequently, HHM is the type of firm that would probably prefer grads from elite T14, but if it can't get those grads, they'd look at grads from regional law schools like UNM only if said grads were ranked in the top 10 of their class. My bet is that Kim was in the latter category.

So this whole backdrop of snobbery connects beautifully back to episode 1, when the Kettlemans chose the big flashy firm over Jimmy the solo prac, because that's what happens in real life: High profile defendants or litigants who can afford to pay a premium for legal services generally flock toward the firms like HHM before they knock on the doors of solo practitioners.

The thing that kills me is that Chuck was absolutely right about two people getting overwhelmed by litigation of the size of which they were dealing. Sandpiper's counsel would have buried them in litigation not only because it would be to their advantage to overwhelm their opponents with work, but also 'cause hey....associates gotta make their billable hour requirements and discovery is a gold mine of billable hours.
posted by Dr. Zira at 11:53 AM on March 31, 2015 [25 favorites]


Thanks, bondcliff - I knew I recognized the pill seller from something! What a familiar weirdo.

This was great. Part of me actually understood what Chuck was saying. Jimmy IS and will be Slippin' Jimmy, as evidenced by the attempted car accident scam and his acceptance of the Kettleman bribe (though he later set it right). And isn't it awful when someone takes something you love and just does it all wrong and for the wrong reasons? Of course I felt for Jimmy, but they made Chuck's reasons believable for me.

So happy to see Nacho again, can't wait for more involvement in the criminal underworld.

One more thing: that space blanket-lined suit would be unbearably hot, c'mon. Its whole purpose is to keep in your body heat!
posted by bobobox at 12:01 PM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


I thought it was the laundromat too, Room 641-A.

This episode killed me. I was miserable for the last 20 minutes.
posted by minsies at 12:30 PM on March 31, 2015


I can't believe next week is the last episode of the season.
posted by Room 641-A at 12:41 PM on March 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Slippin' Jimmy with a law degree is like a chimp with a machine gun!"
posted by isthmus at 1:01 PM on March 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


I loved Mike in the parking lot;

As soon as the Frontin' shmuck approached Mike, I said to my wife:

"I believe we are about to see a Demonstration Of Competence"

Hoo boy, was I right!

It was a lot like these scenes from Ronin (in spirit, if not in execution).
posted by lalochezia at 1:21 PM on March 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


Ronin was the first thing that jumped into my mind as soon as that guy started namechecking specific firearms.
posted by Uncle Ira at 1:54 PM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh, and when the big guy ran away!
posted by Room 641-A at 1:55 PM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was worried about this show when it was first announced, as honestly the idea of a background story about Saul didn't sound all that interesting to me. Here's what I think it does, though, that makes it a home run:

1. It takes characters that we knew about and liked, and made their back-stories tragic. Mike, in that he wasn't a prototypical bad guy, but he had an extremely sympathetic back-story that revolves around the death of his son and the future of his granddaughter. Regarding Jimmy, we're seeing that unfold right now. Not just a quirky lawyer looking to make a buck, but he was put on a path in which he felt betrayed and unappreciated in ways that were important to him. We don't just know these guys now as interesting characters, but we kind of love them a bit like family.

2. The tie-ins with Breaking Bad. Honestly, this is brilliant simply as a concept, but the execution has been wonderful. And it's not just an occasional easter egg, but it's going on all the time, regularly, in a way that isn't gimmicky or overplayed. So, we get regular reminders about how it's all tied into a story that was one of the best on television, and in a convincing way, and it keeps the universe alive in a way that we care about.

Assuming already good writing, camera work, and character development (which we've grown to expect from Gilligan), I think that's much of the formula that takes it to the next level.
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:03 PM on March 31, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm such a dummy that it didn't even occur to me until about an hour ago that Mike's speech about, "you can be a good criminal or a bad criminal - but you're still a criminal" was directed at Price, sure, but we're meant to be thinking of it in the context of Jimmy and what his brother says/thinks about him at the end of the episode.

I was just so overwhelmed by the ending that I didn't think back to how that tied in to the earlier theme.
posted by komara at 2:04 PM on March 31, 2015 [8 favorites]


The panning shot of our pill seller gave me a giggle as it was a brief homage to our Walter.
posted by quince at 2:20 PM on March 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


"you can be a good criminal or a bad criminal - but you're still a criminal"

I thought that speech was the lynchpin of the whole series: whether or not you're a good person isn't defined by the colour of your hat. What I like about the series is how many people in it are fundamentally decent, even the people who do bad things.
posted by Grangousier at 2:23 PM on March 31, 2015 [10 favorites]


Mike's first Walt

We started referring to him as Walter Off-White.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:49 PM on March 31, 2015 [25 favorites]


I mean, I knew Mike was good at taking guns off guys, but he's at least as good at reading people. He's probably the most hardboiled, in the genre-fiction sense, character in the BB universe--that whole scene, from showing up first to 'guy like you probably has an ankle piece' (paraphrased) to listening to him describe his research to Price to 'you can pay me now' (again), was a wonderful showpiece of that quality.
posted by box at 5:39 PM on March 31, 2015 [9 favorites]


Nice cameo by the parking lot.

Is the elevated carpark where the Mike, Man-Mountain and the Doofus meet the same parking lot where Walt will someday rig Fring's car?

I thought it was a perfectly written scene and could not showcase the magic combination of humour, cool, hypercompetence, and unbearable awkwardness better.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:00 PM on March 31, 2015 [4 favorites]


By the way -- I may have missed it, but have we ever found out who the other Hamlin is in HHM?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:04 PM on March 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


One more paraphrased perfect hardboiled moment:

Nacho: Are you willing to kill this deal over twenty bucks?
Mike: Are you?
posted by box at 6:09 PM on March 31, 2015 [4 favorites]


I just have to go back to my original idea of "Jimmy isn't a worse lawyer than Chuck, he's just a different kind of excellent lawyer." It felt very much like someone interrogating a witness on the stand in that final scene with Chuck, or at least how it's done on TV. From the retrospective "don't ask any questions you don't know the answer to" to starting innocuously enough and then slowly questioning around the edge of a story until trapping the witness in a snare of lies.

Chuck knows all the case law in the world, and can cite statue chapter and verse, but at the end of the day Chuck doesn't seem to really understand people, he only understands law.

Agree with those above that said "knew a betrayal was coming, but Jesus, man..."
posted by absalom at 6:10 PM on March 31, 2015 [10 favorites]


Spaceman Stix: 2. The tie-ins with Breaking Bad.

I know. They've done it so ridiculously well. It just seems so...organic. It's like they're not even trying to. But making it that subtle and natural takes a lot of trying.

As a side note, the guitar tone in the opening credits is just tasty. I also love the little bits that are the backdrop for it - the foot massager, then the Jimmy matchbook in the urinal. I like that they've thought about those little bookends for the show too.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:16 PM on March 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


Walter Off-White (great name) is played by Mark Proksch, whom I recognized from Portlandia.
posted by willF at 6:24 PM on March 31, 2015


Yes! That was Steven Ogg, best known as Grand Theft Auto V's best/worst character Trevor Phillips. All through the scene I was trying to place him, and eventually I just digitized his face and had it immediately.

He's also deliciously creepy in Broad City as a locksmith.

There is something of Walter White in Chuck. Like the man who may have inadvertently created Saul Goodman, the man who would be the eventual undoing of Saul was a man who believed that his expertise made him better than the people around him and who treated most people like a means to an end.
posted by gladly at 7:20 PM on March 31, 2015 [10 favorites]


Mark Proksch

Oh, crazy. He's from my home town.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:20 PM on March 31, 2015


The only (and first) nit I really have to pick with the show was Jimmy's explanation for how he found out about Chucks phone call.

I was a cell phone owner in the time period, and calling the phone company seems like such a convoluted solution. Even if you've turned it off every other time, I bet Occam could come up with at least two or three better scenarios, including "Oops, I forgot to turn off my phone."

Is the elevated carpark where the Mike, Man-Mountain and the Doofus meet the same parking lot where Walt will someday rig Fring's car?

Yes that's exactly what I was thinking of. Come to think of it, I also wouldn't rule out multiple appearances.

It just seems so...organic.

That's a great way to put it.

He's also deliciously creepy in Broad City as a locksmith

Oh, I knew he looked familiar from somewhere!
posted by Room 641-A at 7:47 PM on March 31, 2015


Normally my husband and I refer to combat-type trousers tucked into boots as "those racist pants" (cf: the male villain in Hannah) but when I saw that mouthy dude with Mike in the parking garage it was more like "that whole silhouette is racist, damn!" We immediately transformed into that Michael Jackson eating popcorn gif watching Mike whip his stupid ass.

We actually backed it up because I couldn't stop whooping with delight and we wanted a closer look at the trash guns getting dumped.

Mike is the best of all possible types of criminals, can't help but fear and respect his level of restraint.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 8:01 PM on March 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


Hamlin's a pretty okay dude after all.

Sure, but I'd still bet my life his son is played by the guy who played Joffrey.

FanFare: I just digitized his face and had it immediately.

Team Price!
posted by juiceCake at 8:02 PM on March 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


I had a theory awhile back that Chuck's illness was due to him placing the law in some kind of fetish/idol role (not like in the sex fetish way but as in object worship). Jimmy bringing his conman ways to corrupt something he saw as pure and holy basically stressed him out so severely that he collapsed. Not knowing or being able to admit the source, his unconscious takes a guess as its wont to do. This episode totally proved my theory. Chuck admits as such. He sees Jimmy doing law like he did his old con games and he hates it.
posted by bleep at 8:27 PM on March 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think Chuck's return to the office where he got a standing ovation probably served to reinforce that he earned accolades of that nature after years and years of hard work. It stands in stark contrast to Jimmy wanting an office (just a few minujtes later) right next door to him after working up relatively quickly from the mail room on a cheap correspondence degree. While we think Chuck is being a jerk (and we really feel for Jimmy), there has to be something here that hits deeply for him, too, where he fears that his years of hard work will be invalidated by giving away the kingdom too easily, and as such, discredits the things he had to do to make others "proud of him," too. Perhaps because they are brothers, they have the same need for affirmation from others, but it is clashing very directly in how they define how it is that they get what they need.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:48 PM on March 31, 2015 [8 favorites]


Hamlin's a pretty okay dude after all.

I think Hamlin's a big fucking jagoff who treats those around him poorly, despite the fact that in the particular instance, Chuck was the bigger jagoff.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:59 PM on March 31, 2015 [18 favorites]


This was an enjoyable episode of television.
posted by skewed at 10:04 PM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't know how I missed that Walter Off-White was Mark Proksch. He was on The Office as one of Dwight's guys, but around here we know him best as Kenny Strasser the Yo-Yo Master.
posted by St. Hubbins at 10:43 PM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


Jimmy's such a GOOD guy in this episode. (A "good criminal" in Mike's terminology.)

I knew he was going to confront Chuck, and I so wanted him to scream "I'M not a real lawyer, captain space blanket???" or take out his cell phone and angrily shove it close to Chuck's face. But he just listened and then calmly took his leave.

I had some sympathy for Chuck -- yeah, he's just worried his brother will be an embarrassment or a legal risk, but he might be right -- and I even had some sympathy for Hamlin. Hamlin's just a slick businessman. I think he would have humored Jimmy with a corner office and a paycheck in order to get a big case and get Chuck back on board. He certainly would have if Chuck asked him to.

The whole sequence with Mike and Walter Off-White was awesome too. I was so worried it would go south.
posted by mmoncur at 11:00 PM on March 31, 2015


I love the little snarls that escape Mike's placid exterior when he's truly disgusted by whatever confronts him.

Also, fuck Kraft the Jell-O protecting morons.
posted by fullerine at 1:51 AM on April 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


In the opening scene the brothers get off the bench and turn in two different directions back to the house. It's not really abnormal behavior but the bench is positioned at the extreme right of the frame which I think highlights this "split" visually. You want Jimmy to walk into the frame, following his brother, but he doesn't.
posted by sylvanshine at 4:57 AM on April 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


Beyond just being absolutely heartbreaking for Jimmy, this puts the flashback last episode into new light. All season, we've been led to see Hamlin as the bad guy. However, it is entirely possible that Hamlin's rejection of Jimmy in the mailroom (after Jimmy passed the bar) is the mirror of what happened just now -- that Hamlin was not the driving force, but instead Chuck pushed Hamlin to play the bad guy, so he didn't have to.

Basically, Jimmy has spent years hating Hamlin when, in fact, Chuck has been the one keeping him down the whole time.

Brutal.
posted by tocts at 5:13 AM on April 1, 2015 [20 favorites]


I loved that even when he went to confront him about his horrendous betrayal, he put the cell phone in the mailbox because it's just automatic to him to be decent about that.

The best line of the conversation to me was when Chuck tries to convince Jimmy to let him off the hook by agreeing with him... "You see that, don't you?" Extremely well played by McKean.
posted by ftm at 6:06 AM on April 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


Normally my husband and I refer to combat-type trousers tucked into boots as "those racist pants"

Thank you (and your husband) for crystallizing the subconscious reaction I've always had to such pants. I have words for the pants now.

I think Hamlin's a big fucking jagoff who treats those around him poorly, despite the fact that in the particular instance, Chuck was the bigger jagoff.

Totally agree.

I think it was in the 108 Insider podcast where Patrick Fabian kind of hints at what's to come - I can't remember his exact words, but it's something along the lines of "Yeah, Hamlin's a total douche, but there's a little more to him than that."

So yeah, in the land of the jagoffs, the semi-jagoff is king. Or something.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:33 AM on April 1, 2015


I like that the irresolvable, Brechtian question of this first season is what Jimmy would have turned into if the betrayal hadn't happened. He's both things at once: He's an incredibly hard-working, smart, dedicated lawyer, and he's slippin' Jimmy, willing to take short cuts, bribes, and engage in little cons to get ahead. He might have turned into a great lawyer, and he might, as his brother said, have been a chimp with a machine gun.

And the whole season was about Jimmy trying not to be Saul, and he so badly wants not to be Saul that it provides a marvelous dramatic thrust to the show. I mean, it's heartbreaking, genuinely heartbreaking. And it's heartbreaking despite the fact that we love Saul and want him to become Saul, in the same way Mike's narrative is heartbreaking despite the fact that we love Mike and want him to be Mike.

Brilliant. Amazing writing and acting. I am so glad this show has turned out to be as good as it has.
posted by maxsparber at 6:46 AM on April 1, 2015 [16 favorites]


I've been thinking about the relationship between Slippin' Jimmy, Jimmy McGill and Saul Goodman for most of the season now.
Saul does not feel to me like Jimmy accepting his Slippin' Jimmy persona and owning it as a lawyer. Slippin' Jimmy is a trickster and a con man, but I never remember Saul conning anybody out of anything. He was a lawyer for the fallen. He always seemed to be on the up and up even when running cover for an illegal business.
It seems to me that with the betrayal by Chuck, Jimmy has a few choices. He can go back to being Slippin' Jimmy, tricking people out of their money to make some easy cash, or he can go back to bein Jimmy McGill, working his ass off as an underpaid attorney with no credentials to slowly age and wither on the mean streets of Albuquerque. Saul Goodman seems to me like the third way presented to Jimmy by Nacho and his experience with the Kettelmans, become a lawyer for the Dark Side. He still can honestly work for the best interests of his clients without conning them out of their money, but the money will be better because he will be working on the wrong side of the law.

Also, "racist pants" are only racist pants when you are wearing them in an urban environment. When you are in the woods and you blouse your trousers, they are called "OH-GOD-I-DON'T-WANT-ANOTHER-TICK-ON-MY-SACK pants". Just needed to clear that up.
posted by Seamus at 8:27 AM on April 1, 2015 [12 favorites]


My memory of him never conning anyone out of anything obviously does not extend very far. Yeah, I forgot the whole sign caper.
posted by Seamus at 8:28 AM on April 1, 2015


Also, "racist pants" are only racist pants when you are wearing them in an urban environment. When you are in the woods and you blouse your trousers, they are called "OH-GOD-I-DON'T-WANT-ANOTHER-TICK-ON-MY-SACK pants".

Agreed. I do the same with my pants in tick country.

Pairing them with a black bomber jacket is force majeure that automatically renders them racist pants on white people.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:37 AM on April 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


Beyond just being absolutely heartbreaking for Jimmy, this puts the flashback last episode into new light. All season, we've been led to see Hamlin as the bad guy. However, it is entirely possible that Hamlin's rejection of Jimmy in the mailroom (after Jimmy passed the bar) is the mirror of what happened just now -- that Hamlin was not the driving force, but instead Chuck pushed Hamlin to play the bad guy, so he didn't have to.

It's also painfully clear now that Chuck wasn't just being socially awkward when Jimmy passed the bar (the discussion in Chuck's office when Jimmy got the letter), but he had a hard time coming to terms with it right away for reasons that were revealed later. When Jimmy asked Chuck to now be considered as a lawyer, Chuck's answer was conveniently disconnected from a personal decision: "Well, it wouldn't just be my decision, but the other partners, too." He didn't like the idea at all, and he handed off the responsibility for the "no" almost immediately in his thinking.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:00 AM on April 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


I never remember Saul conning anybody out of anything.

Remember the whole deal with Jimmy In-And-Out in Breaking Bad? The first service Saul performs for Walter and Jesse seems like a classic Slippin' Jimmy-type con. He's not conning his clients, he's conning the cops and the justice system on behalf of his clients.
posted by isthmus at 9:04 AM on April 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


what Jimmy would have turned into if the betrayal hadn't happened.

And what would ever have become of Walter White?

I love the little snarls that escape Mike's placid exterior when he's truly disgusted by whatever confronts him.

On the podcast Jonathan Banks mentioned he's gotten "Less stink eye." as direction from Vince Gilligan.

Mike: Are you?

I found that a very attractive display of quiet confidence.

Pairing them with a black bomber jacket is force majeure that automatically renders them racist pants on white people.


Will Forte does weird so well; I'd love to see him do some weird, Skinhead-in-a-Members Only-jacket character.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:24 AM on April 1, 2015


This video is the ne plus ultra of "racist pants" -- people avoiding parasites by pants-tucking are obvs excluded from that pejorative being applied to them or their menswear.

Jimmy McGill: *puts on turn signal* Hey, Chuck, I need to merge, can you let me over?

Chuck McGill: You need to stay in your lane, Jimmy.

Hamlin/Kim: *taps brakes gently to keep Jimmy from passing on the right or exiting the highway*

Saul Goodman: Guess I'll just have to run us all off the road, then. *accelerates, sideswipes cars in all lanes*
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 9:29 AM on April 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


I just had a horrible idea. What if Jimmy changes his name to Saul Goodman, not because it makes good business sense, but because he feels disowned by his family and the name that goes with it?

*cries*
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:46 AM on April 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


Fridge Logic question: if Jimmy's cell phone went dead overnight, how did HHM know Chuck and Jimmy were coming into the office that day?
posted by cardboard at 11:19 AM on April 1, 2015


After Chuck convinced him to give the case to HHM, Jimmy said he would call Kim and set up the meeting. That was after the restraining order hearing and Chuck didn't call Hamlin until 2am - there was plenty of time for Jimmy to set up the meeting offscreen.
posted by InfidelZombie at 12:08 PM on April 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure how eschewing the family name would be punishing to Chuck. Obviously he DOES side with HHM to some degree that having a lawyer like Jimmy associated with the name does diminish it so if anything I would think that Chuck would be pleased if Jimmy used another name. I do think Jimmy's decision to create a new name is not only to reject the family that betrayed him, but also to show Chuck he doesn't need the McGill name to succeed. That he is an independent success, instead of coasting on the reputation of his brother.
posted by miss-lapin at 12:14 PM on April 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


I figured Chuck knows that 'Saul Goodman' was an alias Jimmy used in his cons, and by adopting that name Jimmy is saying "Fine, you think I'm just a con man? Now I'm a full-on con man." This would also be one reason for plastering his ads all over the city and airwaves - it's a way of shoving it in Chuck's face.
posted by isthmus at 12:22 PM on April 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


I do think Jimmy's decision to create a new name is not only to reject the family that betrayed him, but also to show Chuck he doesn't need the McGill name to succeed. That he is an independent success, instead of coasting on the reputation of his brother.

I would be a lot of money that this is what ends up happening. I'd also bet that he is still planning to play it straight, which is why he chooses the name Goodman.
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:40 PM on April 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Mike still liked pimento cheese sandwiches in Breaking Bad S4E6 Cornered; he offers Jesse one when they're staking out a meth-house. "I don't care for unpredictable, so we wait."
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:00 PM on April 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


I mean, Albuquerque isn't a huge city, and lawyers are a fairly small professional class. I imagine that most of the law-connected gossips in town would be well aware that the guy with the shouty tv commercials is the estranged brother of one of the guys whose name is on the HHM building, no matter what name McGill/Goodman goes by.
posted by box at 5:15 PM on April 1, 2015


Not if Jimmy doesn't blow them all up with a carbomb planted in Natcho's van.
posted by Abon Sapi at 5:19 PM on April 1, 2015


I think we now know the answer to the question "What problem is solved by becoming Saul Goodman."

What a damn fine episode of TV.
posted by localroger at 5:25 PM on April 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


"Obviously he DOES side with HHM to some degree that having a lawyer like Jimmy associated with the name does diminish it so if anything I would think that Chuck would be pleased if Jimmy used another name."

I think that this has been 95% Chuck all along. I mean, I can see Hamlin and others not being pleased at someone with Jimmy's credentials being an associate, but he's Chuck's brother and I think they'd have stifled their distaste if Chuck had actually wanted JImmy to be an associate. And not just because of Chuck, but in the flashbacks we saw that people there seemed to like Jimmy, too. I'm pretty convinced that Chuck's blackballed him from HHM from the beginning (not counting working in the mailroom).

We were primed to see Hamlin as Jimmy saw him and so every example of him seeming to be nice was interpreted as sleaze. And that scene with Kim was brilliantly written in how it appeared to finally show us Hamlin with his mask off, as he sneers at Kim. But what really happened, we learn later, is that Hamlin has been forced by Chuck to be the face of what has actually been Chuck's betrayal of his brother. I think that Hamlin actually likes Jimmy and has hated playing this role and this extreme example of it, and with Kim also seeing him as the bad guy, just made Hamlin very angry at being forced into this position. It's also why he wouldn't do a pay-out of Chuck leaving the firm because, really, there's never been any question at all that no matter how ill and deluded Chuck has been, he built that firm with his genius, which everyone and especially Hamlin knows, and Chuck calls the shots. Period. Even sick and from home. HHM wouldn't survive with Chuck cashing out, and it is self-interest, but it's not as if Chuck sees that as an unfortunate consequence that he resists because he cares -- I think that he actually has held that over HHM to ensure that he gets his way. Both with keeping him on the payroll and with Jimmy.

None of this is to say that Hamlin isn't also a jerk in other ways. The clearest example is how how treated Kim after the Kettleman's case went bad.

But there's something wrong with Chuck. Chuck and Jimmy's relationship reminds me of relationships of addicts with their partners and/or families. Chuck is right that Jimmy has been untrustworthy in the past and there's reason to be suspicious, and this is never more true than when someone is giving you their whole "I'm reformed, I'm better, everything is going to be great" spiel. But, also, the non-addict partner and the "good" parent and "good" sibling often end up in codependent roles with the addict where they are getting a lot out of this dysfunctional relationship, too, and they don't actually want it to change, even if they think that they do. We see that Chuck has a huge investment in his self-image as the good kid in contrast to Jimmy as the bad kid -- Jimmy is sort of his reference point and a reformed Jimmy working in the mailroom is just about exactly the amount of reform that he's comfortable with. So what happens in reality and what happened on this show is that the good reasons to be suspicious of someone like Jimmy are powerful rationales for actually doing things to sabotage Jimmy doing better. People never see it this way, because they're always so deeply sure of their own virtue in being the supportive and long-suffering person.

Chuck's illness put him in a position where he wouldn't be expected to somehow help Jimmy along in his legal career and it meant that right when Jimmy most needed to concentrate on his legal career, he becomes increasingly consumed in being a caretaker of Chuck. Which Chuck, no doubt, sees as richly deserved, given how hard he's worked and how he's helped out Jimmy in the past, etc. And, as discussed above, it's also arguably a psychosomatic manifestation of his anxiety about how his world has gone topsy-turvy. His illness destabilized Jimmy's circumstances, both practical and emotional, and pushed Jimmy back in the Slippin' Jimmy direction as he became increasingly frazzled and desperate. Discovering the newspaper article about the billboard incident wasn't tragic for Chuck, it was kind of a victory. Though, again, he's telling himself the exact opposite. But that's why he was so motivated to go get the paper. He needed that vindication of who he's thought Jimmy really is.

Despite Jimmy's past cons and irresponsibilities, what we've seen repeatedly in this season and on Breaking Bad is that Jimmy tries to treat the people around him pretty well. Sometimes he can't help himself about being honest and sticking his neck out to help someone. It's a weird personality for this kind of character, but the point is that Jimmy is very much not a sociopath or a narcissist (like Walt), but rather he's impulsive and occasionally myopically self-serving but otherwise pretty warmhearted -- he emphatically doesn't see the "big picture", like Chuck, but Jimmy definitely sees the people right in front of him. This is what Kim sees in him -- which is significant because Kim is the most sympathetic and admirable character on the show. Why does she like Jimmy so much? Because she sees that although he's a bit of a fuck-up, he's also a pretty good person.

I wonder if the writers have been influenced by Scott Turow's Personal Injuries, my favorite Turow book (who is so far above the rest of the legal thriller writers that there's no comparison). You should read that Publisher's Weekly bit about the book I linked and see if you get some of the same vibe. Turow's "Robbie Feaver" is a character I occasionally think about -- he was fascinating and infuriating and I came to love him, like many of the people in the book did, even though he was so untrustworthy in so many respects. For someone who lied and cheated, who would try to justify those lies with more lies and who was prone to some self-pity and some self-delusion, when it came down to it he had a deep integrity and kindness about him -- he was just like Mike described as being a good criminal. You can lie and cheat and steal but still, somehow, be a good person. That doesn't mean that lying and cheating and stealing don't hurt other people, because they very much do and I have little patience for self-justifying people who don't see the damage they cause to others in these ways. But there's a difference between Walt's lying and cheating and stealing and Jimmy's/Saul's, and it has something to do with the good/bad distinction that Mike was trying to make. There was something malevolently self-regarding in Walt, which I see a bit of in Chuck, that Jimmy totally lacks. Jimmy is an accident waiting to happen, but Walt was himself a kind of cancer.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:44 PM on April 1, 2015 [36 favorites]


I'm so pleased to see this show working so well. I didn't see the reveal about Chuck coming, and when it did, I really wanted to hit Chuck in the face, and then felt a little sick about that feeling because Chuck had been so well established previously as a sympathetic character. WELL DONE
posted by angrycat at 3:13 AM on April 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


The Mike storyline is so Elmore Leonard-esque that it feels like they've hired his ghost to write for the series. The stakeout on the Kettleman's could have been an offshoot from Soderbergh's Out of Sight, but it's not just the cinematography and mise en scène. It's also the dialogue. As pointed to above:

Nacho: Are you willing to kill this deal over twenty bucks?
Mike: Are you?

This is Leonard at his most laconic, least pyrotechnic. Also the parking lot scene. Gilligan et al are drinking from a deep well.
posted by kandinski at 3:59 AM on April 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


"The Mike storyline is so Elmore Leonard-esque that it feels like they've hired his ghost to write for the series."

This has always been the case with Mike. I was certain that the sequence in the third season Breaking Bad episode, "Full Measure" -- the one that begins with Mike's granddaughter's balloons, his dispatch of numerous goons, and ending with that shot through the wall -- was explictily an homage to Elmore Leonard as filmed by Soderbergh in Out of Sight and Tarantino in Jackie Brown. I mean, it was the action combined with the dialogue that followed.

Mike has always seemed to me to be a full-on Elmore Leonard character and a lot of his interactions with other criminals just sort of naturally and inevitably lead to a Leonard-esque view of things. 90% of Leonard's criminals are idiotic but think they're brilliant because it occurred to them to steal shit and beat people instead of doing something that required more effort. The rare competent criminals are often almost hyper-competent, although that might partly be from the contrast. And they're often laconic in a world full of buffoons who excessively posture. There's a lot of the Western, which he wrote before he turned to crime novels, in Leonard's presentation of masculinity and Mike is very much in that mold and that scene a good example of it.

† That's a link to the scene on AMC, worth watching again even if you remember it well.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:43 AM on April 2, 2015 [7 favorites]


† That's a link to the scene on AMC, worth watching again even if you remember it well.

Holy shit. I can't believe I forgot about that scene. Thanks!
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:26 AM on April 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


(sweating) "She drives a Camry"
"Good"
posted by lalochezia at 8:26 AM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm so pleased to see this show working so well. I didn't see the reveal about Chuck coming, and when it did, I really wanted to hit Chuck in the face, and then felt a little sick about that feeling because Chuck had been so well established previously as a sympathetic character.

You couldn't have seen it coming because the writers didn't know, either. They mention on the last podcast that it wasn't until episode seven that they realized it was Chuck who had been sabotaging Jimmy. They said there was a certain underlying pridefulness in McKean's depiction of the character that led them down that road.

Listening to them talk about their process is pretty fascinating to me, because it seems like a show this good would have all the big plot beats worked out from the start of the season, but it really sounds like they pick a direction and see what happens next, and a lot of it is influenced by what the actors bring to the table.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:03 AM on April 2, 2015 [6 favorites]


Listening to them talk about their process is pretty fascinating to me, because it seems like a show this good would have all the big plot beats worked out from the start of the season, but it really sounds like they pick a direction and see what happens next, and a lot of it is influenced by what the actors bring to the table.

Yeah, that makes it fine, fine directing. Letting the actors take the character where he or she needs to go rather than trying to oversteer things.

I've also been getting the sense that based on their work together on BB, there's a certain level of trust, or maybe just being on the same page, when it comes to making plot decisions. Just like in other lines of work, that goes a long way to running a well-oiled machine. I think that's part of the reason why some of the episodes of the podcasts have been pretty backslappy - but they're a good window into how they're interacting to create the show.

One of the other things they bring up is that (unlike a 90-minute movie) you've got dozens - if not hundreds - of hours in serial TV to develop characters. That hands them the freedom to keep something open-ended until they make the call on how something's going to play out. Maybe part of the reason this is so great and organic is that they're making decisions that both make sense in the pre-BB universe, but also feel right for the characters as the actors get settled into their characters' shoes.

They know where they need to take Jimmy in the end - the trick is making his journey feel right and make it all look effortless.

So far so good, man.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:25 AM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Listening to them talk about their process is pretty fascinating to me, because it seems like a show this good would have all the big plot beats worked out from the start of the season, but it really sounds like they pick a direction and see what happens next, and a lot of it is influenced by what the actors bring to the table.

I'm trying to figure out why I like it in this instance, but it drove me crazy for a show like Lost, such that I had to stop watching it. I think it's a difference between "making it up as you go along" versus "trying to discover the story." I remember reading Stephen King's discussion about story writing, and he seemed to genuinely feel (and perhaps still does) that story writing is more about discovering something rather than inventing it whole-cloth, as if platonic representations of stories exist in an abstract sense to be mined and unearthed. This, then, is in large part what story writing is, and it respects the story more than it does the creator, making the author something of a conduit rather than a deity creating ex nehilo. Whether or not you adopt this view of the world, I think it identifies real differences in story-writing posture. My feeling is that what Gilligan and team are doing is more creative discovery, versus what I felt was happening after while on Lost.

My appologies to everyone who liked Lost.

posted by SpacemanStix at 11:16 AM on April 2, 2015 [13 favorites]


I like that the show has carried back Saul's scattershot cultural references from Breaking Bad. ("You're just full of colorful metaphors, aren't you Saul?") This week: "we can Erin Brockovich the shit out of this case."

Also, it felt like Combat Pants got a little sprinkle of it too: "send Uncle Fester there home."
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:22 AM on April 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


You couldn't have seen it coming because the writers didn't know, either. They mention on the last podcast that it wasn't until episode seven that they realized it was Chuck who had been sabotaging Jimmy.

Ugh, they're still doing this? How disappointing. It worked out great for them this time, but the fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants writing was responsible for the absolute worst moments in Breaking Bad, including the ridiculous resolution to the pink-bear-in-the-pool tease, and the robot car killing the horde of white supremacists.
posted by painquale at 11:50 AM on April 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm trying to figure out why I like it in this instance, but it drove me crazy for a show like Lost, such that I had to stop watching it. I think it's a difference between "making it up as you go along" versus "trying to discover the story." I remember reading Stephen King's discussion about story writing, and he seemed to genuinely feel (and perhaps still does) that story writing is more about discovering something rather than inventing it whole-cloth, as if platonic representations of stories exist in an abstract sense to be mined and unearthed.

It helps that nothing was presented as a mystery to be solved, but instead as a superficially "readable" situation. In a way, it doesn't matter whether it's all planned from the beginning or not, as long as the emotional dimensions of the performances and the emerging character dynamics support it. It helps that Jimmy's line of work is not (yet) the sort of thing in which immediate physical dangers or spectacular consequences might threaten him.

Lost built its plot around the mysteries, and in some ways the reason the plot went off the rails is that the show decided to be about the characters *instead* of the impersonal plot. Here, the plot is personal from the start, so that splitting effect doesn't happen. Heck, as painquale points out, Breaking Bad's tendency towards spectacularly physical plot resolutions backfired for some viewers; every example painquale lists from BB arguably works in terms of character and theme but does not work nearly as well -- or at all -- in terms of the more realist sense of "event plausibility" or "consistency of world" the show had established. (It is worth noting, though, that the air collision was based on a real incident.)

Beyond that, Better Call Saul perhaps has an inherent advantage, since it's a show about people who construct realities by constructing narratives around evidence and around personalities. That's what a lawyer and a con man and a criminal all have in common: they tell stories and try to make them real, they rationalize actions and events. The action within the show is the production of narrative and images, and that's of course the business of television, too. By this I don't mean that the show is "meta" or whatever, but rather that it is about rhetoric, personalities, and rationalizations, not mystical phenomena or chemical wizardry. "What problem is solved by Saul Goodman" is "what problem is solved by changing your name and telling a different story about yourself and your world."
posted by kewb at 12:04 PM on April 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


The pink bear thing was awful, and season 2 was by far the worst of BB. I think the difference here is that they aren't predetermining a future scene via flash forward and then scrambling to get there. This is almost the opposite--leaving it open-ended and seeing what develops organically. Since we know where Jimmy winds up, I'd be surprised to see BB style future glimpses, and I think BCS will be better for it.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 1:00 PM on April 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


The thing about Chuck's balking at the University of wherever law degree rang true to me. I don't know about other current or former (me) lawyers in this thread, but I remember quite a bit of clenching over whether we were ranked #x or #y when I was in law school.
posted by angrycat at 1:02 PM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


and I had no idea people were mad about the pink bear thing. huh.
posted by angrycat at 1:04 PM on April 2, 2015


I don't think I'm mad about the pink bear thing. I can try to scrounge up a little bit of indignation, though, if it's important. Let me hit my thumb with this hammer first.
posted by SpacemanStix at 1:41 PM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sorry if that sounded overly snarky. I'm feeling a little bit punchy after lunch. I absolutely get why story-telling things like this rankle at times.
posted by SpacemanStix at 1:49 PM on April 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Regarding Jimmy as a "monkey with a machine gun..."

I think they've done a super job of showing that Jimmy would actually plug a large hole that exists in HHM. Jimmy recovered the Kettlemans for them by seeing the human side of their case and discovered the eldercare fraud because he was getting personal with them. This is a kind of personal touch that complements the brilliant but bloodless lawyering of HHM, and I wouldn't be surprised if the class action goes south because they don't have the ability to connect with the old people the way Jimmy could.

Jimmy really might have been Erin Brockovich, nosing outside the lines but coming home when necessary to the firm's bedrock principles. But Chuck's thrown him away, and now he has a really excellent reason to disown his name and embrace what Mrs. Kettleman called him, "the kind of lawyer guilty people hire."

After all, guilty people need lawyers too, and a lot of them can pay. As for Slippin' Jimmy, well he might just decide to embrace that too.

Remember how he was introduced to us in BB: "Sometimes you need a criminal attorney, but sometimes you need a criminal attorney."

And Mike has just told us that there are good criminals and bad criminals. We know which kind Jimmy, er, Saul will be. Betrayal isn't part of his character.
posted by localroger at 3:27 PM on April 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


Wasn't S2, with the pink bear, actually the only season of Breaking Bad that Gilligan & co fully plotted out before production started? That's the way I remember it from the podcasts etc: S1 was cut short by the writers' strike and they ended up having a longer-than-normal interval before S2 production started.

The pink bear teasers rankled because the final episode of the season reveals that they were all all misdirection: what's happened at the White house, oh my god are those Walt's glasses, WHY ARE THERE BODY BAGS? Usually Breaking Bad played it pretty straight: what you see is pretty much what's happening, or at least how it's perceived by the protagonists. So the HAHA FOOLED YOU twist felt cheap.

But if you ignore the pink bear gimmick and, if you like, the last five minutes of the last episode: S2 is actually pretty good. There's a lot of significant character development; two major characters are introduced, three if you count Mike's brief appearance; and it contains probably the most shocking moment of the entire series.

(Conversely, the flash-forward cold opens in S5E1 and S5E9 absolutely were Gilligan painting his writers into a corner and challenging them to get out.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 4:44 PM on April 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


Would Chuck have realistically been hung up on the school thing?

Well, I am trying to see it on the longer run. Chuck is the plodder; Jimmy (I typed Saul there) is the charmer. And I assume he grew up working hard for crap, and seeing Jimmy schmooze his way into getting them. And he worked hard to be a good lawyer and start a good firm while Jimmy ran cons, then slid his way into law school and wants to immediately get all the rewards Chuck worked much harder for -- yes, passing the bar is hard, but Chuck also did that.

I'm not saying that Chuck is right in what he's doing (he's not! what a jerk!), but I think he's totally *understandable* in it. Jimmy's the prodigal son, and I always felt the brother was being treated harshly.

I saw it coming early on in this episode and the creeping dread all 45 minutes was just killer.
posted by jeather at 6:22 PM on April 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think I remember that they knew that the pink bear came from an airplane crash (which is how they were able to salt the hidden message '737 down over ABQ' in the episode titles), and they knew they wanted Walt to be responsible for the disaster somehow, but they didn't have a plan to get there. And boy, does it ever show.

That being said, sometimes the writers do really well when they paint themselves into a corner. Walt figuring out how to get the money to his family in the final episode was one of those moments, and it was clever.
posted by painquale at 6:25 PM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Could we please try to keep the discussion focused on BCS. If you're going to reference BB please keep in mind some of us don't know what the pink bear is. Not because of spoilers but because this conversation stopped making sense on this massive BB derail.
posted by bleep at 6:45 PM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think the difference here is that they aren't predetermining a future scene via flash forward and then scrambling to get there.

This comment confuses me because the first scene of the first episode was a flash forward.
posted by bleep at 6:49 PM on April 2, 2015


This comment confuses me because the first scene of the first episode was a flash forward.

Yeah. I think where this comment is going is that - not to BB derail - that in some cases, BB flashed forward with cold opens in a lot of individual episodes. BCS isn't doing that - to its benefit. The only flash forward is the ride toward Jimmy's eventual outcome. Since that's the only flash forward involved, it gives BCS as a series a lot of room to breathe.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:57 PM on April 2, 2015


I wonder if the "books included" tag could be used for BCS for BB-included discussions, and not otherwise.
posted by jeather at 7:03 PM on April 2, 2015


Er, that is, split the BCS discussions into two.
posted by jeather at 7:06 PM on April 2, 2015


Personally I like it when people bring in discussion from breaking bad because I don't want to have to go back and watch it. But all I would ask is that the overall discussion stays focused on BCS. And some context is included if knowing the basic plot and major character arcs of breaking bad isn't enough to understand your comment.
posted by bleep at 7:14 PM on April 2, 2015


(Yes, that's what I meant. There was the very opening scene showing us where Jimmy/Saul is now, but that didn't really tell BB viewers anything we didn't already know. But so far the series has avoided the "here's an inscrutable glimpse at the future" in favor of occasional teasers set in Jimmy's past, and I think that's a much better choice.)
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:22 PM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


For me, the really beautiful/heartbreaking thing about that scene with Chuck is that you realize that EACH brother thinks the other one is delusional, and has been trying to protect the other one from that fact of how he really sees him. All along Jimmy has been coddling Chuck's condition, acting like it's as real and serious as Chuck makes it out to be, but this is exactly what Chuck has been doing with Jimmy's ambition to be a lawyer: helping him out with it and treating it like a real ambition, hiding his real attitude so as to preserve his brother's pride and their relationship.
posted by felix grundy at 8:32 PM on April 2, 2015 [14 favorites]


Hmm, I see it them differently. I think it's important and revealing that Jimmy didn't think that Chuck is delusional. We saw this in the hospital. If he wasn't entirely certain that Chuck really is allergic to electromagnetism, I think we are supposed to conclude in that episode that Jimmy at least worked very hard to try to convince himself that Chuck's illness wasn't psychological. I think that Jimmy instinctively rebelled against thinking of Chuck in that patronizing way where he's certain that Chuck is delusional.

Jimmy's caretaking has never been condescending. There were times it was a little paternalistic, especially in his going against Chuck's wishes about Chuck leaving HHM, but mostly he was notably good about accepting Chuck on his own terms. As a disabled person myself, I'm very aware of that difference. A lot of people are unable to decouple any helping or caretaking from a very patronizing condescension. I think a lot of people don't understand why that's insulting and wrong, but Jimmy does.

And Chuck is very much the kind of person who doesn't. Chuck's condescending to Jimmy at the best of times. This really gets the heart of the difference between them. I think what we're shown of this sibling relationship gives us a lot of clues about the best part of Jimmy and the worst part of Chuck.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:58 PM on April 2, 2015 [8 favorites]


Hard to disentangle Breaking Bad from this because Saul is very present in it from mid-season-2 onwards. In a sense, that entire run is a flash-forward for Better Call Saul: because viewers who also watched Breaking Bad know how he presents himself, and his trajectory, in those episodes.

The flash-forward opening at the start of Better Call Saul is mostly fan-service to Breaking Bad: it pays off a throwaway remark made towards the end of the run.

Curious though: how did that opening it play to non-viewers? It's showing two future versions of Jimmy: the Saul of the commercials (which we mostly only hear in audio, all we see is the slight reflection of color in Gene's glasses), and the Cinnabon-manager Gene of the distant future. Is it, for non-Breaking-Bad viewers, more about setting up a "things are going to go sadly wrong for this person" aura?
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:03 PM on April 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


I was thinking "I guess Bob Odenkirk's character had to skip town after the events of Breaking Bad. Now he lives somewhere cold instead of Albuquerque. He's afraid people are looking for him. Now we're going to find out what happened before Breaking Bad."
posted by bleep at 9:15 PM on April 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


He saves his brother and gets kicked to the curb.

No good deed goes unpunished.
posted by whuppy at 6:46 AM on April 3, 2015


I had a theory awhile back that Chuck's illness was due to him placing the law in some kind of fetish/idol role (not like in the sex fetish way but as in object worship). Jimmy bringing his conman ways to corrupt something he saw as pure and holy basically stressed him out so severely that he collapsed.

I am finding this theory very plausible. When Chuck ended up in the hospital, I was wondering what had changed in Chuck's life to bring on this severe mental condition. It now seems pretty clear that his condition started some time soon after Jimmy announced that he had passed the bar.
posted by isthmus at 9:51 PM on April 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


bleep, I think you covered all the major relevant facts.
posted by isthmus at 10:02 PM on April 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hmm, I see it them differently. I think it's important and revealing that Jimmy didn't think that Chuck is delusional. We saw this in the hospital.

I didn't see it that way. I think Jimmy knew it was delusional -- he wasn't surprised when the nurse turned something on and Chuck couldn't tell. And he told Chuck to take off the Space Blanket when he was obviously using it as an attention-getting device.

And Jimmy's a smart guy who gets curious and figures things out. You KNOW he tried sneaking a cell phone in a few times to see if Chuck could tell, probably long before we met Chuck.

But he RESPECTED Chuck. If Chuck thought he was Teddy Roosevelt Jimmy would have called him Mr. President. Because he had looked up to Chuck his whole life, saw him as the "good" brother and the better person. If Chuck was delusional it didn't change that, he would just respect the delusion.

What he couldn't respect -- what finally broke the relationship -- was betrayal.

I don't think Chuck respected Jimmy's "delusion" in the same way. I think he just considered Jimmy a lesser creature, like a child, who he could placate with lies. Jimmy finally saw what was really happening this episode.

Man, I'm still mad at Chuck. This is good TV...
posted by mmoncur at 12:00 AM on April 4, 2015 [15 favorites]


It so is good. It's been said a lot but the show really is such an unexpected delight. Mainly, it's made by people who have been making great TV for so long that they're just in post-zenith mode, effortlessly generating nuanced and lovable characters operating in a milieu so fertile, and making just about every moment a well-composed and visually pleasing screenshot. They seem to have evolved the TV landscape and made it look easy.
posted by Abon Sapi at 12:23 AM on April 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


What he couldn't respect -- what finally broke the relationship -- was betrayal.

Even at this point, I'm not sure it was a lack of respect as much as being totally heart broken. I think if Chuck would have apologized, there could have been hope for their relationship. I think Jimmy is also the forgiving sort.

I think what will take this to its inevitable conclusion is that Chuck won't compromise at all on this, and Jimmy knows it. Up until now, Chuck was spending some limited time outside with Jimmy, but he couldn't bring himself to step past the threshold of his door to chase Jimmy down when calling out to him. The last shot of him was looking outside tentatively, probably triggered again by the whole discussion about Jimmy being a lawyer, watching Jimmy drive away instead.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:27 AM on April 4, 2015


I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Jimmy goes back to Chuck. Either after an apology or (more likely) after Chuck gets stressed out by the situation and goes full-on space-blanket crazy. (Whether that's a real mental problem or a way to manipulate Jimmy into coming back, who will be able to tell...)
posted by mmoncur at 10:53 PM on April 4, 2015


I don't see Jimmy going back. Remember the arc of the story ends with Jimmy becoming Saul, and what we just saw was Jimmy being shattered. I think we might see Jimmy tempted, but when that happens he will remind himself that Chuck not only betrayed him, Chuck used Jimmy's own cell phone to do it.
posted by localroger at 5:59 AM on April 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also on Jimmy going back: As I mentioned above I have a feeling HHM is going to botch the big case because they don't have Jimmy to relate to the elderfolk. It would be sweeeet if one day Chuck has to come to Jimmy with a mea culpa and plea for help only to have Jimmy throw "But I"m just a monkey with a machine gun" right back at him.
posted by localroger at 7:36 AM on April 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


I haven't read all the many comments in this thread, but while it's still fresh I just need to say (what probably everyone else has said):

That was one of the most gutwrenching moments I've seen on television - on par with anything from BB. I'm sitting here replaying everything that's happened in the season so far, reconfiguring it all. That betrayal is a knife to the chest - and it doesn't rely on anyone dying or any massive event happening - just the quietly demonstrated internal life, pride, and motivations of our likeable protagonist, developing shakily but steadily over 7 hours, getting horribly and permanently eviscerated, and we're right there with Jimmy feeling gutted. The way everything was set up to arrive at this moment is right out of Shakespeare or classical Greek tragedy. ARRRRGHGEHIGF"WE(IFHJ
posted by naju at 12:42 PM on April 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


The more I reflect on it, the more shocked I am that they hadn't been intentionally leading up to that single moment. It's such a perfect climax that it seems like the rest of the show was constructed to lead up to it. And yet, Chuck's motivations were only discovered by the writers part way through the season. It was sheer luck that they hadn't committed to anything that made that outcome impossible.

I wonder how often movie scripts are written without an ending in mind? Probably rarely. But even when a screenwriter or novelist does discover a new ending, they can go back and edit the beginning of the text to make the new ending possible. Episodic fiction doesn't allow revisions; it's entirely dependent on chance. George R. R. Martin has recently said that he has just come up with a very satisfying, surprising, and organic ending for a few Game of Thrones characters that he hadn't foreseen, but the TV show will not be able to follow him, because they've made a couple of crucially different choices that have made that ending impossible. Unlucky for them. Authorial luckiness in episodic fiction is an interesting topic that I haven't really seen discussed before.
posted by painquale at 1:43 PM on April 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Also yes: to those asking, the "you're not a real lawyer" stuff is absolutely, 100% true to my experience as a lawyer. I'm someone who's seen things from a variety of practice points in my short career so far: from interning with a small town solo practitioner, to being a partner-track associate at a major large firm aspiring to the very top. The question of prestige and reputation is central to this whole fucked-up profession, I assure you. Those who are top 14 grads with law review and stellar clerkship experience are extremely proud of their rise, and how hard they've worked at it. They openly sneer at the fourth-tier graduates eking out a living in elder law. That stuff hit really, really close to home for me. The show is somewhat stressful because it opens up some wounds around all this stuff and my never feeling entirely adequate compared to my colleagues. There's an everpresent insecurity that the entire profession and traditional law firm lockstep model seems set up to deliberately exploit, at times.
posted by naju at 2:24 PM on April 5, 2015 [15 favorites]


The back story of Mike makes Breaking Bad even more nuanced. When watching Breaking Bad, I thought the real questions of actions centered around Jesse Pinkman. He is a criminal, but good. He is torn by decisions and their impacts on those around him. It is his fragmentation, not Walt's, that is the greater question. Walt chose to stay on his narcissistic path, his transformation was complete. Jesse's was more in the air. So, Mike's back story of his son and his perception as a dad who failed and "broke" his boy makes his discussions with Jesse more pertinent. Jesse reminds Mike of a young man "gotten to" by an older mentor, just like his son's partner by their sergeant. He tries to draw Jesse away from Walter because of his previous knowledge that nothing good can come out of it.

Jimmy's story is also of a failed mentoring relationship that is given more edge because of the family tie. Jimmy so desperately wants to be with Chuck and have Chuck be proud of him. He wants his office next to Chuck because he wants to be in Chuck's orbit. Chuck's betrayal was cruel and deceiving. For all of Chuck's brilliance he could not escape his nouveau riche fears of the past. Jimmy reminded him of his less than well heeled background that he worked hard to escape with his hard work and law partnership. Jimmy's brashness in his idealized world of law is a rebuke, in a way, to Chuck's choices, a cheapening, if you will. The actors are brilliant in the series, so much emotion in few words and telegraphed with slumped shoulders and subtle gestures.
posted by jadepearl at 7:57 PM on April 5, 2015 [11 favorites]


I'm wondering if we'll find out tonight who the second Hamlin is.
posted by box at 5:27 PM on April 6, 2015


I just rewatched the series to this point, and I don't want to put a spoiler in the Episode 1 thread... but watching that episode, and the other early ones, knowing what I know now, it was amazing how sympathetic Hamlin was, and how borderline-evil Chuck seemed.

The worst thing Hamlin does is move Kim to the cornfield* when she loses the Kettlemans. Otherwise I can almost see him as a good guy the whole time, except when he says the words "Hamlindigo Blue"...

* awesome Twilight Zone reference from Jimmy...
posted by mmoncur at 1:28 AM on October 3, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'm a few years late to this conversation, but wanted to thank you all for being here for the conversation. I've been tepid about "BCS," because I just finished watching "Breaking Bad" for the first time (I know, I know), and Saul's development is slow by comparison. But that last scene between Jimmy and Chuck made me break into tears. Chuck made up his mind years ago about the size and shape and contents of Jimmy, and has never allowed his brother to grow or change or make meaningful progress--in his mind--despite evidence of Jimmy's effort. Chuck is capable of loyalty and love--look at his feelings for the law and for HHM--but not towards his own brother, because he has Made Up His Mind. And because he has made this case in his head, Jimmy's life has been stunted. Jimmy, who for all of his scamming tendencies, has accepted and worked with his brother's condition. Jimmy, who loves him anyhow and still wants his approval, and who brings his brother a way to say alive. Jimmy, who wanted not simply for his brother to be proud of him but also to see him as a human being capable of standing on his own two feet... this man was told last night that none of his efforts have meant a thing, and that his family does not want him to be a real person--only a delivery boy.

So yeah, I cried pretty hard.
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:13 AM on July 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


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