Better Call Saul: Switch
February 16, 2016 10:29 AM - Season 2, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Jimmy and Kim's relationship takes a new turn. Mike decides it's for the best to sever his affiliation with an unrestrained associate.
posted by LizBoBiz (48 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Nice start with the Cinnabon. I guess we'll see a similar flashback at the beginning of every season though I wonder if we'll ever get an extended look at his post-BB life in Omaha.

I was so happy to see them scam Ken Wins. Also I was told the tequila they were drinking was the same type Gus brought to Don Eladio.

I can't for the life of me remember what that nerdy, H2-driving dude was doing for Marco. I assume he'll need a lawyer pretty soon and Saul/Jimmy will be the man.

All in all a decent start to the season.
posted by bondcliff at 10:54 AM on February 16, 2016 [6 favorites]


I noticed the tequila too!

The H2 dude is selling pills to Marco.
posted by LizBoBiz at 11:04 AM on February 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


Raising a glass of cucumber water to this very strong opener; I'm so excited for this season.

Talking Saul with Chris Hardwick is a new thing this series, and quite enjoyable with some behind the scenes bits and interviews. There's some good trivia /Easter eggs at the end of this Vulture review.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 11:04 AM on February 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


This was a great opener for S2! I fell asleep during the last six or seven minutes, then woke up for Talking Saul, then watched it again and fell asleep again! I definitely missed the scene with the switch so I'm going to hold off on rambling comments.

Also, The Better Call Saul Insider podcast is back and S2E1 is up now.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:23 AM on February 16, 2016


Immediately shut things the fuck down as soon as Talking Saul popped up - happy for such things to exist as standalones but I hate being plunged into them, also they are always spoilerfests.
posted by Artw at 11:24 AM on February 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Same, I was going to watch Talking Saul just out of enthusiasm for the episode but quickly realized what a bad idea that was.

I loooooved the episode. So great to see Jimmy and Kim working the angles together. Of course it will end in ruin and pain but it was sweet for now.
posted by stoneandstar at 1:50 PM on February 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Hoo boy that cold open had me on edge. Anything at all could befall Gene in the present day.
posted by whuppy at 1:58 PM on February 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


That was fun. High point for me was watching him show Kim the life of Slip Jimmy, but everyone reacting to the clueless pill salesman was also pretty great.
posted by mordax at 2:52 PM on February 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Hoo boy that cold open had me on edge. Anything at all could befall Gene in the present day.

It was really interesting, I think, due to possible misdirection. The sign on the exit sort of made you think that he was worried that the alarm would go off and the police would come (the sign said as much), and with his fake identity, perhaps that would be a no-no. I'm pretty sure, though, that he was worried that there was someone on the other side of the door to take him out, and locking him in was part of that setup. It would mirror his concern about the random guy from the season one opener. If that's the case, it would have been incredibly nerve wracking to sit there for hours, and probably why he felt compelled to leave his little mark on the world. It's also why he shuffled out of there so quickly when the door opened. He would have left the room never knowing if it was ever actually the case, which would certainly add to his level of general paranoia about being found out.

Maybe this was obvious to most, but I had to think about it for a bit. One of the things I love about this show.
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:42 PM on February 16, 2016 [11 favorites]


As if the show wasn't cool enough, did you guys know that Mark Proksch (Pryce) is K-Strass the yo-yo guy and Nate from The Office?? I totally didn't recognize him!
posted by Room 641-A at 4:59 PM on February 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


Enjoyed Pryce mirroring another type of straight guy turns to dealing drugs model in the Breaking Bad Universe.
posted by juiceCake at 6:56 PM on February 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm so glad Saul is back!

- I had a little trouble getting into this in the first 10 minutes because I watched "With Bob and David" between seasons and kept wondering when David Cross was going to show up.

- I loved seeing Kim jump right in and help Jimmy scam Mr. Wall Street out of an expensive bottle. It finally answered the "What does she see in him?" question once and for all -- Kim wants to be successful and serious but Jimmy's the other side of her personality, someone she can have fun and break the rules with. (And he's a good guy, ultimately.)

- I was surprised that Jimmy went back to Davis & Main and took the job. I hope he gets that Cocobolo desk, if only for a while.

- Cinnabon cold open: I think Jimmy was just worried about what would happen if the cops showed up because of the alarm and started asking questions. He knows his new identity might not hold up and knows that people way worse than the police also might hear about it. I don't think anyone was on the other side of the door. (I also imagine this was about the 3rd time he got locked in like that.)

- Pryce (Walter off-white?) was hilarious with his H2, I'm glad he's back. I assume he'll be Jimmy's
first drug dealer client. I love how it shows how someone without Heisenberg potential deals with being a drug dealer.

- The whole thing is so bittersweet... seeing Jimmy have fun with Kim and knowing he's going to go too far into "criminal lawyer" territory and lose her, and seeing him in the fancy office and knowing he's going to lose that too.

- Minor correction: The guy who Pryce was selling drugs to is Nacho. Marco was Jimmy's friend from Cicero. (Speaking of which: No "o" titles this time I guess!)
posted by mmoncur at 8:23 PM on February 16, 2016 [7 favorites]


>I had a little trouble getting into this in the first 10 minutes because I watched "With Bob and David" between seasons and kept wondering when David Cross was going to show up.

Now I really, really want a Ronnie Dobbs cameo.
posted by Catblack at 8:30 PM on February 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm so glad this show is back. I just wish I had time to re-watch season 1 before diving into season 2. It really took me a while to remember where things left off, and even then I think there are probably key things I'm forgetting. But even with those gaps, I really enjoyed the episode.

So, is the switch significant in some larger way, or does it truly do nothing and was just a way for Jimmy to rebel?
posted by primethyme at 11:16 PM on February 16, 2016


I missed this show so much. It took me a while to figure out where I had seen Ken before, then I said "Teddy!" out loud, probably in the middle of Jimmy doing something important. (It took me another few minutes to remember what show Teddy was in - Brooklyn Nine-Nine, for the record.)
posted by minsies at 5:39 AM on February 17, 2016


Oh, and Price's shoes! The best, especially when paired with his too-short trousers.
posted by minsies at 5:44 AM on February 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


Minor correction: The guy who Pryce was selling drugs to is Nacho. Marco was Jimmy's friend from Cicero.

Yeah, I realized that after the edit window had closed. As primethyme said, I really wish I had re-watched Season 1 because I really don't remember much of what happened. I may just go ahead and binge it this weekend.

I saw Hail Caesar! last night and Ken Wins showed up for a scene.
posted by bondcliff at 6:35 AM on February 17, 2016


I like the idea of Mike and Jimmy having had to deal with a Walter White type before. At least one! If not more! I want to go back and watch BB now to see how often they eye roll when Walter acts as if he is a special snowflake.
posted by tofu_crouton at 6:45 AM on February 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


Oh, and Price's shoes! The best, especially when paired with his too-short trousers.

There was a yellow watch, too, but I only caught glimpses. When we saw that Hummer in the parking garage, my husband called it that it was being driven by Not Walter White, and I totally dismissed his theory before the window rolled down.

Loved his tiny house with the giant Hummer in the driveway, and his certainty that he could handle the police questions about the missing baseball cards while not raising any suspicions when handwaving away the missing money. I am really glad we're seeing Not Walter White again this season.
posted by aabbbiee at 6:48 AM on February 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


So, is the switch significant in some larger way, or does it truly do nothing and was just a way for Jimmy to rebel?

I wonder if it was metaphorical for the anticlimatic nature of him switching back to his old life. He seemed to be having fun initially, but without Marco, and without the support of Kim, who tasted of his life and set it aside, he was lonely. Which brought him back to accept the job at the lawfirm. My guess is that his transgressive nature comes back in the way that he practices law, where he tries to get the best of both worlds that can't actually be kept in the same place. His brother moved him away from the lawfirm, Kim is moving him back toward it, and he'll forever be in tension. Maybe that's why his practice becomes something of a shady parody by the time Breaking Bad rolls around.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:27 AM on February 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


"So, is the switch significant in some larger way, or does it truly do nothing and was just a way for Jimmy to rebel?"

I just took it as a callback (call-forward?) to the B&W opening scenes where Jimmy is so kowtowed and ruined that he can't even bring himself to use the emergency exit because the sign says "Don't do it."

But old Jimmy? Back-in-the-day Jimmy? He'll peel off a warning and flip the switch just for fun.

Just the show reminding us where he is now, and where he'll end up. Makes the opening scene even more depressing.
posted by komara at 9:06 AM on February 17, 2016 [16 favorites]


Loved his tiny house with the giant Hummer in the driveway, and his certainty that he could handle the police questions about the missing baseball cards while not raising any suspicions when handwaving away the missing money.

Hmm. The baseball cards might have been an attempt at money laundering, too, now that he has (had) the cash to amass such a collection.

This episode got me thinking about cocobolo again.

Someone pointed out in this reddit thread that Google searches for "cocobolo" spiked around the original air date of "Bingo" in season 1.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:13 AM on February 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


So, is the switch significant in some larger way, or does it truly do nothing and was just a way for Jimmy to rebel?


I like the idea of how it contrasts with the "Emergency Exit" lever that Jimmy doesn't dare press. (Contrast that with the Cucumber Water too!)

But also it just shows Jimmy's personality, which I now realize is very much like mine--he can't just leave something alone, he has to touch it to see what happens. He can't leave con-jobs alone when Chuck tells him to go straight. He can't leave the Sandpiper case to the big guys when they ask him to politely get out of the way. And some day when the perfect mark walks into Cinnabon in an expensive suit and asks Jimmy if he has change for a $100, he won't be able to resist that.

This episode got me thinking about cocobolo again.

It's a beautiful wood. I like to make pens out of it. It's from Mexico and other parts of Central America, so it's about the most luxurious thing someone in New Mexico could ask for. It's also becoming extremely expensive right now due to import restrictions. Jimmy's Cocobolo desk is probably worth somewhere around $3000 in raw wood in his timeline, and about $20,000 now.
posted by mmoncur at 6:00 PM on February 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


It's a beautiful wood

It is! I've picked up and played some lovely guitars made from it (which, alas, I can't afford).

The guitar connection is the only reason I knew what it was.

It was originally an alternative to endangered Brazilian rosewood for that purpose, but demand outstripped supply and so...
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:25 PM on February 17, 2016


I, too like to say "cocobolo."
COCOBOLO
posted by Dr. Zira at 6:35 PM on February 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


This is probably the first of many times this season that I'll gush about how brilliant I think this show is. The characters are compelling and complex, many scenes are attractive to look at as visual art, and the tie-ins with Breaking Bad are intentional but unforced, and make me want to go back and watch Breaking Bad again. From a marketing perspective, this has to be printing some extra money from a machine that they thought was put in the garage awhile back.

I think one of the things I find most compelling, though, is how tragic Breaking Bad becomes in retrospect, and how much it keeps making Walter White a bigger villain. Mike and Jimmy are insanely likable, sympathetic, and humanized characters here, in ways that go well beyond what we saw years ago. (And we know how that turns out later, and of which we've been reminded in black and white at the beginning of each season.) I'm pretty sure I'll watch anything that Gilligan and company do from here on out. They've earned the public trust with their art, and that's a rare thing.

Last season there was a very clear midpoint that wove Jimmy's and Mike's stories together, and it was subtle and well done. I only noticed it when I watched straight through on a second time. I'll be interested to see if that happens again this season.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:29 PM on February 17, 2016 [9 favorites]


I, too like to say "cocobolo."
COCOBOLO


I know!

Co-co-bo-lo.

It just sounds like a tasty wood. Even though it's actually kind of resinous.

So...Pryce. I just listened to the first BCS Insider podcast of this season...I had no idea about his previous deal as Zim Zam Yo-Yo Man aka K-Strass. That's bananas.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:01 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


So...Pryce. I just listened to the first BCS Insider podcast of this season...I had no idea about his previous deal as Zim Zam Yo-Yo Man aka K-Strass. That's bananas.

And he's from my hometown! No kidding.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:12 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


My favorite thing about this show is the way they allow scenes to run looooong. Certainly I'm a fan of deft editing and quickly telegraphed info in films and TV, but in the right hands the naturalistic unfolding of a scene is something to behold. A lesser work would have had the cops walk into that dude's house and, with a few zingers and side-eyes to the camera, tipped us off that they knew something was up in about five seconds. But instead: the mounting incredulity, the drug dealer repeating himself, the obsessive details about the baseball cards, the cops gently steering the dealer back to more pressing subjects even as he addresses them like a jerk harassing retail workers at the mall...it's a little absurd but it feels very real, and the non-standard flow of the scene means we really don't have a sense of where it's going or where it will end.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:56 PM on February 17, 2016 [17 favorites]


My favorite thing about this show is the way they allow scenes to run looooong. Certainly I'm a fan of deft editing and quickly telegraphed info in films and TV, but in the right hands the naturalistic unfolding of a scene is something to behold.

I think one of my favorite examples of this last season was the copy room scene where everyone was celebrating with Jimmy, and what's-his-name bad lawyer turned not-so-bad-when-you-found-out-all-the-details came in to tell him that he wasn't going to be working at the firm. It was a long one-take scene and it takes you from happiness to sadness, and in the final moments showing rather than telling, as much of the conversation happens such that you can't hear it behind the closed door and hum of the copiers.

One scene that I really liked visually from this episode was when Pryce was trying to talk Mike into getting into his ostentatious vehicle, and it fills the whole screen with the rims just spinning on both ends. The whole thing was ridiculous and punctuated by Mike, who stood right in the middle of the screen in his nondescript brown jacket. It was somewhat mesmerizing.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:47 PM on February 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


- Cinnabon cold open: I think Jimmy was just worried about what would happen if the cops showed up because of the alarm and started asking questions. He knows his new identity might not hold up and knows that people way worse than the police also might hear about it. I don't think anyone was on the other side of the door.

I rewatched this scene, and you changed my mind; I think this is the right interpretation of events. You can see when he almost goes out that he's struggling against being transgressive and going out, when the old Jimmy would have done it in a heartbeat. It's also probably why he left his old initials on the wall, because he was missing who he was (and probably needed some sort of a rebellious outlet). It's also why he left irritated, because he just sat in that room for more than two hours pretty much being told he had to sit there in place and not use the door. Yeah, it's pretty much rock bottom for him emotionally.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:00 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


My favorite thing about this show is the way they allow scenes to run looooong

I'm copying this from my response to a similar comment last season:

Last night I saw the live taping of The Kevin Pollack Chat Show with his guest Vince Gilligan and he talked about this in relation to Fargo. KP asked him if he'd seen the show and he said he'd had seen the first season and will catch up with season two when he has time. He said he really liked it, and KP pointed out some similarities. VG said that it was because they both took their time telling the story. The instinct is to keep the person's attention, from script readers to the audience, and from commercial to commercial to act break, boom boom and you think the way to do that is to throw everything you have at them to hook them, but it's ok to let the story tell itself. I think he said the writer's strike taught him that, since they had to stop writing.
posted by Room 641-A at 1:39 AM on February 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


He carves 'SG' not 'JM'. It's really Saul that he identifies as his true self.
posted by tofu_crouton at 5:15 AM on February 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


komara: I just took it as a callback (call-forward?) to the B&W opening scenes where Jimmy is so kowtowed and ruined that he can't even bring himself to use the emergency exit because the sign says "Don't do it."

But old Jimmy? Back-in-the-day Jimmy? He'll peel off a warning and flip the switch just for fun.


I'm siding with "afraid of the cops blowing his cover," but I forgot about the potential that his blown cover might also lead to really bad guys coming after him. (I remember BCS pretty well, having watched it when it aired then again a few months later, but BB's ending is a blur for me.) And peeling off the warning didn't seem like "just for fun," but rather an inquisitive and slightly reckless personality that disappears, due to his interactions with Walter.


SpacemanStix: I think one of the things I find most compelling, though, is how tragic Breaking Bad becomes in retrospect, and how much it keeps making Walter White a bigger villain.

I love that Walter Off-White came back, but in an H2 and matching shoes and watch, but is still so far from the villain that Walter becomes. Off-White is almost likable, or at least you feel sorry for his stupidity. Walter does it all to himself (and everyone around him).


mmoncur: I loved seeing Kim jump right in and help Jimmy scam Mr. Wall Street out of an expensive bottle. It finally answered the "What does she see in him?" question once and for all -- Kim wants to be successful and serious but Jimmy's the other side of her personality, someone she can have fun and break the rules with. (And he's a good guy, ultimately.)

Kim, being a good lawyer, is also quick to think (and scheme), which I can imagine is the fun, unfettered side of a lawyer's mind. You think quickly in the courtroom, but within the confines of the law. As a scammer, it's all fair game, and the danger is part of the fun.

In all, so good!
posted by filthy light thief at 3:11 PM on February 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


I thought the thing with the switch was meant to echo the thing at the bar. He saw the warning and wanted to find out what would happen. He got what he wanted and nothing changed. It was actually fine. He could continue to be himself here, Kim might come along and maybe it would be ok. Ugh this show is brilliant and I'm so happy it's back.
posted by bleep at 1:06 AM on February 20, 2016


I'm not sure if I expressed what I was thinking clearly above but I guess another way of putting it was that the light switch was showing Jimmy's attraction to the con game; the pointless and arbitrary rules of propriety don't apply to him because he's above it all, that trying to be good just made him a sucker, that he can see something he wants and take it and it's all so pointless that no one notices. So seeing this play out writ so small turns what felt like a defeat in taking the job into a victory; because now he realizes he can still do what he wants except from a position of strength. And another cool thing is how reading this thread I realized that this contrasts with how cautious he is later on at the Cinnabon.

Also yeah I'm going to go back and watch the last episode, I feel like there was some overlap with this one. I also want to watch this one again because it looked like he had carved JG which I didn't really understand.
posted by bleep at 1:17 AM on February 20, 2016


I just checked, it's definitely "SG WAS HERE" that he carved.

And he was locked in for about 2 hours 40 minutes.
posted by mmoncur at 3:09 AM on February 20, 2016


- Pryce (Walter off-white?)

Heh, that's pretty good.

I'm going with the "didn't want to deal with the cops" side, myself, but the season opener reminded me of a mystery that was circling around my head from last season's opener: what happened to all of Jimmy/Saul's money? Remember, he got a big cut of Walter's money, and even if that was only the money that Saul laundered for the Whites (and therefore might exclude any of the post-Mike cash, i.e. the really big pile of money), he should still be sitting on a small fortune, not to mention whatever he made from other people--the "Better Call Saul" episode of BB implied that this was hardly his first time at the rodeo. Did he spend it all setting up a trust fund for Chuck? Does Kim have something to do with it? It's really the big mystery of BCS, and makes me wonder (hope, really) that the final arc is some sort of parallel story to the last two or three seasons of BB (maybe with cameos from Cranston, Paul and others?) that shows things from Saul's perspective and answers some of these questions.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:44 AM on February 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


Maybe he's slowly laundering that money through the Cinnabon. Maybe he's sitting on it but can't spend it in fear of getting caught, the same way he couldn't bring himself to use the emergency exit because of the alarm...

Actually, I think you can read the episode in a way that supports this interpretation. Walter Off-White/Walter Beige screws himself by living out loud and failing to come up with a plausible excuse for his sudden cash windfall. At the same time, we see SG trying to claw his back way out from under Gene's skin but being (mostly) kept in check. I don't think that's a coincidence at all.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:42 PM on February 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's really the big mystery of BCS, and makes me wonder (hope, really) that the final arc is some sort of parallel story to the last two or three seasons of BB (maybe with cameos from Cranston, Paul and others?) that shows things from Saul's perspective and answers some of these questions.

This would make for some really amazing television, and I hope upon hope that it goes this route. There are all kinds of connections being made all the time between series such that it would be really compelling for them to connect somewhere in a substantial way.

Also, I'd like to see the story arcs somehow reconcile with Jimmy's post BB life stuck in Cinnahell. Although it's running independently to either series, as sort of its own black and white mini-show in the future, it would be awesome if there are implications from both BCS and BB that tie into his eventual redemption.
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:45 PM on February 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


- Pryce (Walter off-white?)

Heh, that's pretty good.


Credit where credit is due: First used by Mr. Bad Example in The thread for 'Pimento'.

I agree about Saul's money: I think Gene has a huge stash of cash buried under a stack of old Cinnabon boxes in his basement or something, but doesn't dare spend it for fear that (a) the police or (b) someone worse will be alerted.

Incidentally, I went to a Cinnabon yesterday and they had a huge cardboard cutout of Saul as Gene-the-Cinnabon-manager and a sign that said "Take a selfie with Saul". I kind of felt like they were cross-promoting the show in a really weird way by emphasizing the character's bleak and hopeless future.

Plus, they were out of Cinnabons.
posted by mmoncur at 7:48 PM on February 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


So: the paintings in Jimmy's office are a man slipping on ice (Slippin' Jimmy) and a train car reminiscent of the big heist in Breaking Bad, right? Not subtle, but nice touches.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:13 PM on February 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


Saul as Gene-the-Cinnabon-manager

I've just started these and I've been wondering who the hell the cinnabon guy was since the last series.

I did not realise it was future? saul / jimmy?
Which would explain why it isn't listed on IMDB.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 6:41 AM on March 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


I just checked, it's definitely "SG WAS HERE" that he carved.

In the Better Call Saul Insider podcast for the first episode, that was written in the script to imply "Saul was here, but that was the past and now it's Gene." And Gene is willing to bang on a door and wait for help, where Saul would have pushed the alarmed back door and dealt with the police.

The podcast also includes interesting reflection on how the editing of the last scene from last season allowed for a minor "gotcha" in this episode - Jimmy didn't just drive off and leave Kim hanging about the Davis & Main offer.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:01 AM on March 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


I keep thinking about the pool scene from this episode. What a brilliant microcosm of Jimmy's arc so far. He looks like he's living the high life off his Sandpiper money, but actually he's running a con. He can't actually kick back and relax, it's just not possible for him. As it is with the pool, so it will be with his cushy D&M gig.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:20 PM on March 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


Better Call Saul has genius product placement... yet again I found myself seriously planning a trip to the nearest Cinnabon... which in the UK is 80 miles away!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:53 AM on March 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


mmoncur: Speaking of which: No "o" titles this time I guess!

Reading along the list of "something-o" titles from last season and none in this season, "Switch" also feels like an indication that they put that pattern behind them and are switching it up (or just off).
posted by filthy light thief at 10:28 AM on April 19, 2016


I think Saul spent all his money getting his new life in Omaha. IIRC from BB that service didn't come cheap.
posted by InfidelZombie at 8:43 AM on April 10, 2017 [1 favorite]


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