Better Call Saul: Rebecca
March 14, 2016 8:05 PM - Season 2, Episode 5 - Subscribe

Jimmy chafes. Kim hustles like hell at HHM. Chuck gives some back story.

We see Chuck go electric in flashback.

Mr. Salamanca, I presume?
posted by mandolin conspiracy (106 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 


Kim's struggles on her cold calls to be taken seriously as a lawyer instead of a fun party girl were the most feminist thing I've ever seen on a TV show like this one.
posted by cardboard at 8:46 PM on March 14, 2016 [19 favorites]


Oh Jebus, that ending. This show has a way of making you want more so much. If it was Netflix I would have binged every episode so far in one sitting.

So much went on, the amazing opening dinner scenes are like a long lost memory because so much other stuff happened. Oh Chuck, you just can't help but let that little bit of jealously peek out. No matter how right you are about Jimmy, you still wish you could make her laugh with a dumb lawyer joke the way he can. You still wish Dad trusted your word more than his, in that case justifiably.

If you didn't check out last week's thread, check it out when you are done here. It was Fanfare at top form. Kewb and Stoneandstar especially (but definitely not only) drilled deep down into what was going on, and reading their insights made this episode even more amazing to watch because it seems like they were right on about where this story is headed. Last season made it seem like Chuck drove Jimmy to crime, this time we are looking at how his own flaws led him down that path.

God damn it Jimmy, Erin is not your enemy! She is trying to save your job! Acknowledge to yourself you need the damn help or quit the damn job because you don't want to do it, not because Chuck doesn't want you to do it.

I liked that Chuck had awareness that asking a professional colleague who was a woman to make him coffee was problematic and apologized for it, and offered to pour the next cup. It's a little thing but yet another point to add to the idea that Jimmy's perspective on him as a total douchebag is colored by his own longstanding issues.

I love that the soundtrack always makes sure you can hear his tinfoil suit.

I noticed a very heavy blue color scheme associated with HHM in this episode. Has that always been there and I didn't notice or is it new? Do the folks who enjoyed analyzing color in BB have any theories on the meaning?
posted by Drinky Die at 9:00 PM on March 14, 2016 [11 favorites]


Kim's struggles on her cold calls to be taken seriously as a lawyer instead of a fun party girl were the most feminist thing I've ever seen on a TV show like this one.

Yeah, as the scenes went on I started to think they might write it so that she does eventually ask for Jimmy's help, because despite all his other flaws selling people is what he does best. It was so much better to write it the way they did. She worked hard and did it right and made a connection Jimmy probably wouldn't have. And besides, as the last episode showed, his sales tactics don't necessarily work so well with other legal professionals.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:09 PM on March 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


Rhea Seehorn was awesome in this episode. So good.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:21 PM on March 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


Great episode, but in a way infuriating in that it was entirely slow burn and setup. I know, intellectually, that is part of what makes the show great, but my gut wants some action, not just exposition!
posted by wierdo at 12:30 AM on March 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Seeing a lot of speculation in other discussions online that Chuck is wrong about Jimmy taking the money from his father. Not lying, but maybe as a moralizing personality he swept in at the end and didn't have the full story, assumed some stuff that may have not been the case. Could be, but I think a dollar here or there (eventually becoming a lot of dollars) from the till is something someone like Jimmy could easily rationalize at the time.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:51 AM on March 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


More interestingly, Jimmy's dissatisfaction with his new position and his yearning to be back in the trenches, so to speak, was so palpable in the bathroom scene. The way it was written and shot made that so clear without saying it outright was just masterful.

You could tell he cares more about the fight than he does the perks of Davis & Main. It was oozing out of Odenkirk in a really visceral way. Maybe he likes the Benz and the nice office, but he would just rather be Saul. It'll be interesting to see how Chuck takes it when he does finally give up and put on his Saul persona full time.

And it was a bit of a mindfuck to see that, this time, it really was largely Howard being a dick to Kim and not all on Chuck after all.
posted by wierdo at 12:55 AM on March 15, 2016 [10 favorites]


Maybe he likes the Benz

But the cupholder....
posted by Drinky Die at 12:58 AM on March 15, 2016 [11 favorites]


A beautiful and depressing episode...

Kim "doing it her way" and standing up to Jimmy's "help" was great. Jimmy's not going to last long in that D&M job.

And I guess Howard can be kind of a dick too. (He did the same thing to Kim last season, and I don't think Chuck was behind it then.)

I always like to see Mark Margolis but Tio Salamanca is scary. The $5000 seemed like a lowball offer for Mike, but I felt like there's also an unspoken threat if he doesn't accept the deal.

Then again, I know how Mike ends up and how Tio ends up so maybe I'm worried for the wrong person.

Jimmy introducing Mike as "My Grandpa" was adorable.

The flashback was interesting... and Chuck's house was dark even with electric lighting. Hopefully more explanation will be coming, I can't wait to see how Chuck blames Jimmy for Rebecca leaving him.
posted by mmoncur at 1:52 AM on March 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


Tio Salamanca is scary.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:10 AM on March 15, 2016 [35 favorites]


I noticed a very heavy blue color scheme associated with HHM in this episode. Has that always been there and I didn't notice or is it new? Do the folks who enjoyed analyzing color in BB have any theories on the meaning?

Yes - in Season One, it's revealed that HHM has their own signature colour, "Hamlindigo Blue", which is one of the many things Howard accuses Jimmy of ripping off during the billboard ploy.
posted by kithrater at 4:50 AM on March 15, 2016 [7 favorites]


The direction on her calls and yellow highlighting and pacing on the balcony and in the fire escapes was just so wonderfully beautiful.
posted by unliteral at 4:58 AM on March 15, 2016 [11 favorites]


I think Howard's a pretty interesting character, and a lot more nuanced than we thought he was for most of season 1, obviously. I kinda thought it was him who was punishing Kim, though like wierdo said upthread, it jarred a little bit for it to be so explicit and cold.

But if you think about it, he's just been burned by Jimmy for the first time, and he's angry and embarrassed; it's perfectly logical in his mind to take it out on Kim. She was Jimmy's biggest supported, and even though he always liked Jimmy, she's the one who really made the case that HHM should recommend Jimmy to Davis and Main.

And, even though Howard seems to have some real affection and respect for Chuck, he's got to be embarrassed by that whole situation, too. He can't get at Jimmy any more, and he certainly can't do anything to Chuck. Taking out his frustration on Kim is about the only thing he can do. He's a proud dude, and appearances obviously mean a lot to him.
posted by Shohn at 6:38 AM on March 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


But if you think about it, he's just been burned by Jimmy for the first time, and he's angry and embarrassed; it's perfectly logical in his mind to take it out on Kim. She was Jimmy's biggest supported, and even though he always liked Jimmy, she's the one who really made the case that HHM should recommend Jimmy to Davis and Main.

The irony being that Kim's the real "Charlie Hustle," as Hamlin liked to call Jimmy, but even so, when she lands a whale of a client for the firm, he unceremoniously sends her right back to doc review.

But if you think about it, he's just been burned by Jimmy for the first time, and he's angry and embarrassed

That look on Howard's face when he's having a drink with Chuck seems to telegraph that maybe he recognizes he has been a real pig fucker in the way he's treated Kim and he's realizing that he let his anger at Jimmy cloud his judgement. Great acting - it's the look of someone who's in the grip of deep regret in what should be a celebratory moment.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:53 AM on March 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


It seems like for the last three or four episodes things start out slow and I think "ok, they're finally gonna make a not-very-good episode" and then it just gets really goddamn good.

Took me a bit to figure out that was Hector. I liked how they kept him out of focus and showed him from behind for a while.

Loved the Kim montage and the crushing, crushing blow when Roger Danish told her he'd "put Francis on it."

Does the scene with Hector and Mike take place before or after the flash-forward scene with Gus at the Cartel's compound in BB? I would guess after.

Did anyone else notice the tips of a certain pair of boots in the previews for next week?
posted by bondcliff at 8:36 AM on March 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


Minor quibble: was the slang usage of sick to mean awesome in such common usage in 2002 that some schlub in the DA's office would have been tossing it around?
posted by QuakerMel at 8:38 AM on March 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


"You don't save me. I save me."

That line, combined with Jimmy's expression of awe, pretty much made me fist pump the air in exultation. This was a power episode for Kim, and it was great.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 8:45 AM on March 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


I feel like part of Howard's visit to Chuck could have been to see if Chuck would give him any cues on how to handle Kim after she redeemed herself by getting the client.
posted by snofoam at 8:47 AM on March 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


I wonder how many throw-away Breaking Bad callbacks I miss in any given episode; in the dinner scene Jimmy mentions that he's staying at the Beachcomber, a name that would have been lost on me if I wasn't currently rewatching BB. I like those touches; details that don't really matter if you miss them, but build continuity if you notice them.

Raise your hand if you were worried that Jimmy was going to angrily/carelessy throw his Wexler vs HHM filing into a trash can or recycling bin after Kim rejected it (particularly after Erin lectured him about finding a soda can in the wrong receptacle.)

The revelation about the missing money from Chuck & Jimmy's dad's store seems like a challenge to the audience. Like, "If you're still rooting for Jimmy despite the fact that he's an inveterate con artist and potentially going to screw up both Kim's career and the Sandpiper case and inevitably going to become the criminal lawyer we meet in Breaking Bad, how do you feel about him after learning that he pilfered $14K from his own dad?" The theory that Chuck didn't have the whole story is interesting but at this point I'm happy to just let things unfold without thinking too much about it, because this show is so continuously, pleasingly surprising.

What a brilliant use of the order-up bell as omen/leitmotif.
posted by usonian at 9:04 AM on March 15, 2016 [15 favorites]


Chuck's house was dark even with electric lighting

YES! I thought that too. Pools of low light, but mostly dark shadows. (And Kim's doc-review dungeon is lit kinda similarly...)

Flashback-Jimmy is looking into living at The Beachcomber, which was where Walt went (briefly) after Skyler left him: "It's actually very nice. Not as high-end as The Oakwood, but you know, not as corporate."

Flashback-Chuck knows the lawyer joke, but fluffs the timing on delivering it: he's not good at pretending to be someone he's not.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:06 AM on March 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


(Oh hey should have previewed that "1 new comment".)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:07 AM on March 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Raise your hand if you were worried that Jimmy was going to angrily/carelessy throw his Wexler vs HHM filing into a trash can or recycling bin after Kim rejected it (particularly after Erin lectured him about finding a soda can in the wrong receptacle.)

*raises hand*

Now that you mention it...that whole thing suggests that D&M takes document security very seriously - the recycling thing has nothing less to do with being environmentally friendly than it does with secure document management and destruction. There is only one place for any documents - and that's in secure shredding bins. That's why they check the garbage/recycling.

I feel like part of Howard's visit to Chuck could have been to see if Chuck would give him any cues on how to handle Kim after she redeemed herself by getting the client.

This makes so much sense. The immediate aftermath of that scene is them heading to the HMM office in the middle of the night.

One of my favourite scenes in the whole episode was Chuck charging into the HMM office in the dead of night, half in the bag and clutching a lantern like Annie Lennox in the video for "Here Comes the Rain Again."
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:14 AM on March 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


Also, great use of music in Kim's montage, and that reminds me of a thing: they seem to be using music a lot more sparingly in Better Call Saul than in Breaking Bad. Dave Porter's score in BB was often almost an additional character in itself, all tension and foreboding, and BB also used a lot of songs in very memorable ways.

Did they drop the use of a composed score this season? Looking at IMDB, Dave Porter is credited as composer on all 10 episodes of last season, but on none of this season's episodes. (They are still using Thomas Golubic as music supervisor, another carry-over from BB.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:17 AM on March 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


The irony being that Kim's the real "Charlie Hustle," as Hamlin liked to call Jimmy

Do you know who else is know as Charlie Hustle? A guy with amazing natural ability hamstrung by his moral failings, Pete Rose.
posted by peeedro at 9:37 AM on March 15, 2016 [7 favorites]


Looking at IMDB, Dave Porter is credited as composer on all 10 episodes of last season, but on none of this season's episodes.

Huh: after writing this I listened to the last half of last week's Insider podcast on my commute, and Gilligan specifically mentions Dave Porter's score under the final scenes.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:31 AM on March 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Two things:

1. This is like watching a train wreck in slow motion at this point. So painful.

2. Chuck HATED himself for telling the lawyer joke in bed, you can tell immediately after he tells it. He was repulsed that he got caught up in doing something that compromised his values because of Jimmy's influence.
posted by SpacemanStix at 1:11 PM on March 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


I don't know much about the U.S. legal system, but he very specifically told a joke about attorneys rather than lawyers. Also, laudation to Michael McKean, for whom it must be difficult to tell a joke in a way that's very obviously not funny.

What I like about the series is that the writers very obviously love their characters and want to make them real and complex - although the show's named after one character, what it allows all the other characters (and their actors) to do is wonderful. While that was also true of Breaking Bad, hopefully fewer of these characters will end up dissolved in acid.

And, yes, it was only after Mr Salamanca referred to his nephew that I said "fuck, it's Tio!"
posted by Grangousier at 3:01 PM on March 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


God damn it Jimmy, Erin is not your enemy! She is trying to save your job! Acknowledge to yourself you need the damn help or quit the damn job because you don't want to do it, not because Chuck doesn't want you to do it.

I initially wondered if Erin is someone who was a gunner in law school and has stayed in that mode as a partner-track associate. Assuming the University of American Samoa School of Law is a correspondence school, Jimmy might not know how to deal with one. Then I realized that if she were in gunner-mode, then she wouldn't be trying to help him because she'd be focused on making partner herself. She's just someone who is very systematic and procedure-driven -- excellent lawyer material one might say.
posted by Ranucci at 4:42 PM on March 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


Rhea Seehorn was awesome in this episode. So good.

I demand a Better Call Kim spinoff show after this one is done. But then I share Vince Gilligan's apparent predilection for Lauren Bacall-style blondes, so of course I'd say that.

Last week, I made an off-hand comment that the fan reaction to Chuck was "Skyler all over again". I probably should have clarified that I meant both of them manage to completely see through the protagonist's flimsy self-justifications but nobody wants to believe them -- in Skyler's case because she's a woman, in Chuck's case because he's a abrasive stickler with a mental illness that people are constantly being reminded about.

Chuck asking Kim to go make coffee is a perfect example of why nobody wants to take him seriously. It's a real dick move, asking a female subordinate to make him coffee, even if he justifies it with a reference to his condition. (Then why not just invite her to chat without coffee, Chuck?) And then she asks him a pointed question, the only question that matters to her life right now and one that a partner really ought to be able to answer, but he deflects with a story about how rotten Jimmy is. You're not wrong, Chuck, you're just an asshole.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:24 PM on March 15, 2016 [11 favorites]


Chuck HATED himself for telling the lawyer joke in bed, you can tell immediately after he tells it. He was repulsed that he got caught up in doing something that compromised his values because of Jimmy's influence.

The shot of Chuck's profile in bed at the end of that scene -- as the forced laughter drained out of his face -- was such a beautifully composed shot. McKean's expression changed so slightly, and we could see all the anger and bitterness Chuck harbors against Jimmy.

I love this show, but it's one of the few things I watch where I sometimes get distracted by how well made it is.
posted by gladly at 6:23 PM on March 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


I read a good analysis that compared Jimmy wooing Chuck's wife in the beginning with Chuck wooing Kim at the end of the movie. The implication being, Chuck isn't going to punish Kim, he's going to get in close with her. He set it up such that Kim has reason to dislike Jimmy even more (with the story of their dad), and he's going to be the one who rescues her, not Jimmy, who has been trying desperately to save her from the basement. Chuck, I think, was behind it all from the beginning, but from Kim's perspective, it's been Howard. Chuck steals Kim from Jimmy, and it's probably all down hill from there in Kim's relationship with Jimmy. And it's going to suck to watch, because it's going to break Jimmy's heart; with Kim, but even more with his brother.
posted by SpacemanStix at 6:36 PM on March 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


Multi-layered, nuanced characters who don't fall easily into "bad" and "good"! Restrained, slow-paced scenes whose cinematography is breathtaking! Crisply detailed sound editing! Tiny, brilliant touches like Mike's note of exasperation as the final scene blacked out! I can't seem to stop exclaiming!

And let us now rejoice that AMC just renewed BCS for a third season.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 7:24 PM on March 15, 2016 [18 favorites]


I look forward to these threads almost as much as the show. I really, really enjoy reading everyone's thoughtful take on it.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:04 PM on March 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


Multi-layered, nuanced characters who don't fall easily into "bad" and "good"!

It's ruining me for other shows. I just tried to start watching Blue Bloods on Netflix. There is a lot to like there, but I just can't take how the only moral grey area presented in the episodes I watched is, "How much should our perfect law enforcement good guys compromise their values to get the pure 100% evil bad guy of the week? Let's go ahead and write it so there is no doubt he should torture the guy." (seriously, even I would have gone with torture the way they set it up.)
posted by Drinky Die at 8:12 PM on March 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


Rewatching the dinner scene, Jimmy's delivery of the jokes was so great. The way he got just halfway through praising lawyers only to bust out another joke every time was such perfect comic timing over and over. Flawless. You would think this guy is a comedian, not a lawyer! :P
posted by Drinky Die at 8:29 PM on March 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


I don't know much about the U.S. legal system, but he very specifically told a joke about attorneys rather than lawyers.

In the American legal system the two words are interchangeable. There is no barrister/solicitor type distinction in the USA.
posted by bswinburn at 10:43 PM on March 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


Nobody on this show except Kim is a reliable narrator and nothing is what it seems so I was imagining Chuck's story being very different while he was telling it. It could be accurate or not but it's better to just not take anything at face value. It's equally believable that Slipping Jimmy was making bank and their Dad had gambling debts with the mob or some shit.
posted by bleep at 11:26 PM on March 15, 2016 [8 favorites]


There must be more complexity to it somehow, probably in a very unexpected way. If I were to guess, I'd say maybe their father put himself into debt in an illegal way in order to help pay for Chuck's college education.
posted by isthmus at 12:01 AM on March 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


We learned in season one that Chuck is also a really, really good liar.

(Man, if you want poignancy, go back and watch the episode where Chuck and Jimmy start working together on Sandpiper stuff. So happy together.)
posted by mediareport at 3:27 AM on March 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Chuck steals Kim from Jimmy, and it's probably all down hill from there in Kim's relationship with Jimmy. And it's going to suck to watch, because it's going to break Jimmy's heart; with Kim, but even more with his brother.

Yes, yes, yes, that's exactly what I thought! Maybe Chuck is doing this to poison Kim against Jimmy. She's already pissed at Jimmy, and knows that he's bad for her. How many bad things has Jimmy ever said to her about Chuck? All Chuck has to do now is keep being helpful, present, and honest, and Jimmy will look radioactive in comparison. It wouldn't even have to be because he wants to hurt Jimmy; this would make him look and feel like the superior brother, and he would love that.

The doc review position is awful though. She doesn't want to stay there, and everyone knows she can do better. If Howard won't help her, maybe Chuck will. I'll bet Chuck could pull strings and get a nice job for her somewhere far away if he wanted to. Do we know of anything that's really keeping her in ABQ?

The opening flashback was exquisite, as was the Gipsy Kings "My Way" montage.
posted by heatvision at 5:01 AM on March 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


It's equally believable that Slipping Jimmy was making bank and their Dad had gambling debts with the mob or some shit.

That would be an interesting callback to the story of Mike's son. The incorruptible guy gets corrupted and pays for it while the crooked guy (Jimmy) gets away free.

But it's way more plausible that Jimmy was just skimming the till and telling himself, "Hey, it's just a buck here and there, no big deal, the old man wasn't gonna spend it on anything." Probably with some nudging from Marco.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:09 AM on March 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


so, when I had some stupid filing job for a family law attorney when I was an undergrad, in the office I repeated the lawyer joke that family lawyers were the proctologists of law, and boy, that was an uncomfortable moment

and then I went to a fancy law school (no lawyer jokes) and then public interest law (no lawyer jokes, possibly because we all fervently believed we were on the side of the angels).

so the lawyer joke thing works really well in two ways: 1) It corresponds with Chuck's disdain of Jimmy's degree from a correspondence school and overall how he sees THE LAW 2) joke-telling is such a visceral, family thing.

My brother is a math genius but in our family, his (sometimes disturbing) sense of humor carries more weight. When I had a medical mishap recently, I spent some time thinking about the most disgusting way I could depict it to my brother, because that's how humor runs in our family: grossing somebody out is like the ultimate con.

So when Chuck blows the timing on the lawyer joke, and his face sunk into lines of deep resentment, I totally got it.
posted by angrycat at 5:13 AM on March 16, 2016 [10 favorites]


But it's way more plausible that Jimmy was just skimming the till and telling himself, "Hey, it's just a buck here and there, no big deal, the old man wasn't gonna spend it on anything."

This isn't in line with Jimmy's code, his scamming code. We've only seen him scam those who deserved it. The Slippin' Jimmy/Marco scams only work if the mark is a greedy asshole. The scam he played with Kim only worked because Ken Wins wanted to bilk them out of the inheritance. Jimmy gives people their comeuppance. He has a clear line of right and wrong, even if it's not in line with the actual legal system.

I don't buy for a second that Jimmy took the $14K from his dad, and I'm sure we'll hear the rest of the story by the end of the season.
posted by aabbbiee at 6:49 AM on March 16, 2016 [17 favorites]


Another brilliant episode. I'm eager to find out what happened to Chuck's wife, and how/if her death? departure? led to Chuck's aversion to electricity. My first thought was, she dies by electrocution. Maybe an accident, maybe it was Chuck's fault?
posted by jbickers at 6:52 AM on March 16, 2016


Yeah, I'm leaning toward "Chuck blamed the failure of Chuck Sr.'s business on Jimmy because he can't possibly admit that the old man may have faults of his own." A $14K loss over several years is not the sort of loss that puts people out of business--it's not impossible, just unlikely--and, as aabbbiee points out, that's just not the sort of scam that Jimmy likes to run. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Jimmy noticed that some of his dad's business receipts were missing, figured out that his dad was gambling it away or sending it to a mail-order bride somewhere or something and tried to make up for the shortfall by putting money in to his dad's business from some of his scams. (This is the same guy who took care of his brother for who knows how long before he found out the truth about why he didn't get a job at the firm.) And Chuck wouldn't be able to accept that any more than he'd be able to accept that his dad had shortcomings.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:22 AM on March 16, 2016 [14 favorites]


This isn't in line with Jimmy's code, his scamming code. We've only seen him scam those who deserved it.

Also, Chuck doesn't register Jimmy's code, just like the other lawyers they work with. To everyone (probably rightly), the Law is the Law, and you don't bend it or it breaks.

Except people make laws, and people are really flexible in a variety of interesting ways, like their love of Beanie Babies. Is that $5 toy a bribe? Technically, yes. But what about flowers, treats, or other minor gifts? What if it's something for the whole office instead of a single employee who handles the calendar for judges? Look closely enough, and you'll find some grey edges around that black and white law.

Chuck and Rebecca are an interesting couple. Chuck takes everything in their work-worlds seriously, as seen by his efforts to push her to raise an issue with whats-her-name who "takes the whole section for granted." He keeps pushing, talking about the other woman "compromising the work" and latching onto the issue of moral, while she takes more of a wait-and-see attitude. One way to read this is that he treats both of their jobs as Serious Work, which should be Treated With Respect, whereas she isn't quite so intense on it all being Just So. When she joins in with Jimmy on the lawyer jokes, I feel she might just as easily jump in with musician jokes, because she can laugh at herself and her profession, where Chuck is clearly in pain while trying to quite belatedly join the fun.

And I loved that she overlooked Chuck's repeated ear-tugging, because Jimmy was just telling lawyer jokes, what's the harm? She thought they were amusing, why stop? (And if you didn't already, know, here's Carol Burnett discussing why she pulled her ear on TV.)

It all made me think of my father, who became a lawyer later in his life. He went to night school, which wasn't University of American Samoa, but definitely wasn't Harvard. I'm sure he's told lawyer jokes and laughed along with them, but then again he and his study buddies made their own shirts with iron-on text with slogans that were repeated by their law professors. In short, they weren't (yet) tied to the Professional Image of The Lawyer.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:27 AM on March 16, 2016 [6 favorites]


He keeps pushing, talking about the other woman "compromising the work" and latching onto the issue of moral, while she takes more of a wait-and-see attitude. One way to read this is that he treats both of their jobs as Serious Work, which should be Treated With Respect, whereas she isn't quite so intense on it all being Just So.

True, that's one way to read it. The other way is that Rebecca knows that pushy shit usually only works for men. Same reason Kim doesn't want to sue her way out of doc review. In either case, whatever immediate satisfaction they would attain is far outweighed by the long-term career damage they would suffer for being branded troublemakers.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:30 PM on March 16, 2016 [4 favorites]


It's worth listening to the podcast for Rhea Seehorn talking about what she's not saying during the coffee scene.
posted by Grangousier at 1:07 PM on March 16, 2016 [4 favorites]


I do not think there is another show that would make me willing - and even happy - to watch someone highlighting documents. Kim, you are too good for everyone and everything around you.

I also don't agree that Jimmy took the $14k from his dad. If anything, if their dad was as good as Chuck said he was, Jimmy would've never seen him as a mark, like other folks have said. The only way Jimmy taking the money works for me is if he was using it to try to scam someone else, and got in over his head there somehow, so he wasn't able to return it.

Tio Salamanca standing in the background and adjusting his trousers before he sits down with Mike? Superb.
posted by minsies at 1:12 PM on March 16, 2016 [4 favorites]


I totally believe that Jimmy took the money from the till. I think he thought it was no big deal-- a lot of people have very little money sense when it comes to "a little here and there." I'm sure he also loved his dad, and thought no one would ever notice or care. It's the perfect distinction between Jimmy and Chuck-- Jimmy relentlessly cuts corners without any concept of the big picture, and as long as he keeps moving he's golden. Being asked to stay in one place, e.g. Davis and Main? Like suicide. Chuck, on the other hand, is the person who succeeds through hard work. Thus his stern advice for Rebecca, who enjoys the validation but doesn't believe that moral behavior adheres to a strict code. Everywhere he goes, he ionizes the atmosphere around him with justice. Chuck is the person who notices. Their father sounds like a normal person who is neither loose with morals or painfully morally exacting.

And that's why it was a perfect story to tell Kim. It's really not that Jimmy is a bad person. He feels deeply. He's just incredibly bad at putting the big picture ahead of his instincts, so he does bad things through omission or negligence. He did something horrible and shortsighted to tank Kim, and then he tries to do something horrible and shortsighted to save her. Because he really cares about Kim! But he just can't understand the value of painstaking work, or perspective. He doesn't like being humiliated, whether through being dumped in doc review or being leashed to a company car and office.

We've seen Jimmy do plenty of bad things in BCS. The scene in the courthouse with the "babysitter" was perfect for that reason-- we see the little Ty Beanie Baby and we're like "ha ha, typical Jimmy," but it isn't until she snatches it out of his hand that we're really hit with the fact that what he's doing is bad! Very bad! (It's also a great contrast between the moral world of BB and BCS, in that those absurd touches felt at home in the underworld of BB, but here we're still relatively innocent.)

It’s also, to me, an amazing depiction of the law. One side is slimy, underhanded, flexible, yes, but the really frightening side is Chuck’s side, where everything is perfectly just. Because no one is perfectly just: people skim off the top all the time, whether in terms of money in a till, or paying out-of-state taxes, or time theft, or whatnot, and after being in the presence of normalized bad behavior like Jimmy’s it’s terrifying to be in the presence of People who Notice. It feels a bit tinged with Kafka or Patricia Highsmith or Inspector Javert. (Much like in BB, where Hank was depicted as a meathead most of the time, but once he got on Walt’s trail, the walls started to close in. The apparatus is chilling in light of character and ambiguity.)

And the scene in the bathroom, mwah. I've never seen such a perfect TV encapsulation of the "you can't go back home" dilemma.

The ending with Mike's angry grimace was PERFECT, loved it. One of those perfect Vince Gilligan touches that is so expressive yet surreal.
posted by stoneandstar at 2:07 PM on March 16, 2016 [7 favorites]


"Dad's Store" is a brand-new thing, right, or at least this is the most we've heard about it so far? I think there's a lot we don't know, and Chuck certainly elides, "I was clerking at the time...Jimmy grew up in that store." The $14K could be anything at this point, and it seems apparent that Chuck and Jimmy's relationships with Dad were quite different.

Can we say, "Chuck is the bringer of darkness," yet? The intro kinda sealed that for me. He's such the wet blanket in a perfunctory marriage.

In one of the first episodes of the season there is a square-on shot of Erin at one of the meetings, it might be her first appearance, and when that image hit me I thought instantly "Jimmy's gonna sex her or something." I definitely took a single-shot of her as a kind of foreshadowing, but then again this whole series is foreshadowing. I don't know if she'll factor into Jimmy-Kim, Jimmy-Cliff, or Jimmy-Saul, but she's gonna factor into something.

Has anybody gamed out a connection with Hitchcock's "Rebecca"? I don't know my Du Maurier, but maybe Kim will become "The second Mrs. McGill!"
posted by rhizome at 2:55 PM on March 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


I actually thought the scenes with Chuck and Rebecca were quite moving. He's the kind of person who can't... quite... love the way people need him to, and he's hurting inside. He's covered his pain with the armor of righteousness, and thus when he sees someone else in distress, that's the only thing he can extend to them in service.

It may be I’m just identifying with him a little too much as the perennial “bad guy” who no one likes for doing the right thing. He definitely goes overboard, but everyone has their flaws. Some people just don't know how to party.

It's true, they might have had very different relationships with Dad, but even so I think what Chuck is really telegraphing here is that Jimmy didn't take care of their dad. Even if Dad said sure Jimmy take a little out of the till every now and again, Chuck thinks Jimmy should have realized that Dad was too dear to say no.

Of course, it could be something else entirely, I just feel like Saul is a more interesting character if he's capable of sweetness and also petty theft.

I thought the show was setting up Jimmy / Erin sexy times too, but now not so much? She seems so young. I don't really see Kim / Chuck happening either, he seems to be more of a father type figure to her. He's definitely not overly warm. When Kim asked if she had a future and he went off on that spiel it felt very genuine in terms of a mentee going to a mentor who can’t give her a straight answer, and has other things on his mind.

On the other hand, Jimmy / Rebecca, that I can see happening.
posted by stoneandstar at 3:33 PM on March 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


That little touch of him telling a “great story” about Carol Burnett but having noooo sense of humor himself was nice, too.
posted by stoneandstar at 3:34 PM on March 16, 2016 [4 favorites]


Yeah, Rebecca is a big mystery right now. The episode is named after her, but she's only in it for about five minutes at the beginning, and nothing else seems to tie in directly to that scene. Which I love! I love that this show can just go, "Eh, we'll do a flashback that sets a new piece on the table in the first 10 seconds and then just spends a few minutes doing nothing but develop our characters." I love it. They don't feel the pressure to keep advancing the plot or delivering some dramatic turnabout with every minute of screen time, and it benefits the show so much.

The talk about Erin reminds me how shitty it was of Jimmy to pull rank on her. He might have been pulled in with higher status, but she's actually been at D&M and knows the "house style", both in a literal sense and in the sense of knowing how the machine works. It's also a profoundly un-Jimmy move. He's the guy who's not supposed to care about that bullshit. I wonder what it means about him that he suddenly turns into a status-oriented guy in that moment. Was it just a ploy to get her off his back, or is it a reaction to being an online-course lawyer in a "legit" law firm?

On the other hand, Jimmy / Rebecca, that I can see happening.

I can see it, too. I'm not totally sold on it, but it's a possibility. It's perhaps more likely that Jimmy ends that relationship in a less direct way -- by bringing out a side of Chuck that Rebecca doesn't like, for instance.
posted by tobascodagama at 3:40 PM on March 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


Was it just a ploy to get her off his back, or is it a reaction to being an online-course lawyer in a "legit" law firm?

My read is that Jimmy is like, "I do it how I do it and I'm not really interested in whatever you're talking about," and pulled the ejection lever. That, or he simply cannot work with others. That whole thing was totally a refrain of not reviewing the commercial with Cliff, down to my brain yelling at the TV when he sneaks out. It might be time to start drawing some conclusions about why Saul's is a solo practice.

I don't think Chuck-Kim is a thing at all, but the writers choosing "Rebecca" for her name has to have involved a Hitchcock conversation in the writer's room.

Man, I so loved, "Kim bringing in business all by her own self." The editing for those scenes is so awesome with the out-of-sync visual/audio cuts (I bet there's a technical term), and the master shot after she hangs up after getting that meeting is my favorite thing of the week so far.
posted by rhizome at 3:57 PM on March 16, 2016 [8 favorites]


This isn't in line with Jimmy's code, his scamming code. We've only seen him scam those who deserved it.

But this is Jimmy's thought process; the people he scams "deserve it." This is the view that there are people who deserve to be cheated out of money, to have their trust or, yes, their petty ambitions taken advantage of. And that being the person who does so is great fun indeed.

Jimmy's proposed lawsuit against HHM is a great example of his flaws: he sees himself as dashing, clever, charming, a little guy pulling one over on the big guys or fighting back against a world that doesn't give him a break.

But Erin, instead, gives us another view: a guy who won't do things the right way, who does stuff that, if noticed by he wrong people, undermines justice. Listen to Jimmy's dialogue in the public courthouse scene: "You gotta grease the wheels of justice." That's not Erin being naive, that's *Jimmy* saying that his filing should go ahead of everyone else's because he knows what gift to bring.

But to Jimmy, it's just the way of the world. There's a continuum here to Hector Salamanca's "it's what's best for everyone" rationalization-slash-veiled-threat on on side, and Kim's hard work and networking prowess on the other. The episode is giving us people who can't use social engineering and off-the-books maneuvering the way Jimmy does, because they're women, because others wield unfair power over them, or because they know the practical -- indeed, the *legal* limits of it.

Chuck is interesting in this light: he is at least as manipulative at his brother, but he relies on institutional support and hierarchical social cues for it. And it's interesting that we have two episodes running now where Chuck insists that he loves his brother right before referring to his brother's conduct as pathological. The last time, it was to Jimmy himself. Maybe it's manipulation, but maybe it's also how Chuck keeps loving his brother despite his own envy and despite his brother's shortcutting and (somewhat verifiably) destructive and short-sighted behavior. He finds a way to think that it's not Jimmy's choice to be these things. It's a lawyer arguing the insanity defense to himself.

And the irony of Chuck calling someone else pathological is surely intended; and so, too, is the idea that Chuck screwing in a lightbulb in the flashback just before envy of Jimmy will poison his relationship with Rebecca bookends, as pointed out above, with Chuck int he throes of his EM sensitivity conversion disorder sitting in a dark office, poisoning Kim's relationship with Jimmy. Is this conscious manipulation, or self-delusion of a different sort? Is it more than Jimmy's arrival, but perhaps also the collapse of Chuck's perfect, tidy, elite little life with Rebecca in Hamlindigo blue that triggered his breakdown?

But the series is starting to shift our attention to the people that both the Jimmys and the Chucks of the world screw over. Will Erin be blamed if Jimmy keeps up his shenanigans, since she's taken on the role of his minder? Can Kim survive both Jimmy and the HHM partners unraveling her life at both ends because they can't -- in very different ways -- get over themselves?

Jimmy learns int he bathroom, perhaps, that he's not the struggling little guy any more. Maybe he never was, wha with a brother who'd bail him out of that sunroof incident and a friend and partner like Kim who'd go out on a limb for him so often. But is he willing to believe it, or is there just what Jimmy wants and what Jimmy wants to be true, the same way that Chuck makes the world bend around his rationalizations and self-delusions?
posted by kewb at 5:47 PM on March 16, 2016 [9 favorites]


On Chuck and darkness, their frickin dining room.
posted by rhizome at 6:15 PM on March 16, 2016 [4 favorites]


But to Jimmy, it's just the way of the world. There's a continuum here to Hector Salamanca's "it's what's best for everyone" rationalization-slash-veiled-threat on on side, and Kim's hard work and networking prowess on the other.

Until you wrote that, I hadn't thought about the symmetry between Jimmy offering a Beanie Baby to the clerk to get his case on the docket sooner and Tio Salamanca offering Mike $5000 to get Tuco out of jail sooner. Kim, Erin, Cliff, Chuck, and Howard are all trying to rein Jimmy in. (And it's hard right now not to see them as all working for Jimmy's best interest, though Chuck's methods are particularly flawed.) The one person in this episode who also indulges in bribery and shortcuts? Hector. That's a neat telegraphing of the kind of company Jimmy will eventually surround himself with.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:44 PM on March 16, 2016 [10 favorites]


stoneandstar:
I thought the show was setting up Jimmy / Erin sexy times too, but now not so much?

I like the idea they're just saying she's a young, ambitious lawyer doing her job. Natch, a pain in the ass for Jimmy because she's by the book - and probably smarter than him in some respects. We know Jimmy goes from the corporate apartment to the anonymous Cinnabon job living in fear of every person who walks in the door. Erin probably ends up in better place.

So, at the sane time her character is a great foil for Jimmy's in pointing out where he's not at in terms of following rules.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:46 PM on March 16, 2016


This isn't in line with Jimmy's code, his scamming code. We've only seen him scam those who deserved it.

I agree with this While it's easy to imagine Jimmy skimming the till - especially from a boss or father who deserved that -- I feel like he wouldn't have done it if his father was really such a good guy. Think of how loyal he's been to Chuck, and how easy it would have been for him to steal some money from Chuck (like when Howard was trying to buy him out last season.)

I see one of these revelations coming:

a) Jimmy's dad wasn't as nice as Chuck said. Or he was really nice to Chuck and not so nice to Jimmy. Thus he "deserved" it.

b) Jimmy was just asking Dad for loans (and failing to see the big picture) and kindhearted Dad couldn't say no.

c) Someone else took the money.

My wild-card prediction: their father had a gambling problem and lost the money himself. Jimmy (who would probably find out first, being connected with the crime world, or even participated) let Chuck blame him to avoid letting Chuck know their father had a huge flaw.

Then again, this might just be me trying to make Jimmy a flat-out "good guy". Considering that this is from the guy who wrote Walter White, this might not be the case. On the other hand he also created Mike, who definitely has a code and has made at least one speech about it.
posted by mmoncur at 7:57 PM on March 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


The thing with Erin just makes me realize Jimmy has gotten himself into a job where virtually none of his strengths are useful.

As an independent Lawyer, he could do really well - he knows how to grease the wheels, and he knows how to push the limits of "solicitation" to get clients. He knows how to advertise and get lots of calls. And heaven knows it's not like he's the only slightly corrupt lawyer. That clerk isn't taking Beanie Babies from Jimmy alone, she's part of a corrupt system where clerks, prosecutors, and cops are bending the rules all over the place.

Really, Chuck (and Erin) are seeing an imaginary version of the justice system where the Law is pure and holy and nobody ever bends the rules. But Jimmy can't work that system at Davis and Main, he needs to be a team player, and a rule follower, and he simply isn't one.
posted by mmoncur at 8:09 PM on March 16, 2016 [9 favorites]


This isn't in line with Jimmy's code, his scamming code. We've only seen him scam those who deserved it.

I mean, there was an entire episode of him running every con in the book and if all those victims deserved it the show certainly didn't establish it.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:09 PM on March 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


Grangrousier:

It's worth listening to the podcast for Rhea Seehorn talking about what she's not saying during the coffee scene.

Just listened to the podcast. Yes, awesome.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:23 PM on March 16, 2016


I mean, there was an entire episode of him running every con in the book and if all those victims deserved it the show certainly didn't establish it.

Not to mention that it's pretty easy to stretch "won't shut up about my goody two-shoes brother" into "deserving mark".
posted by tobascodagama at 8:26 PM on March 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


Or maybe he favored Jimmy over Chuck and Chuck couldn't handle that so he constructed a new reality where Dad was a good man and Jimmy was the bad guy. Dad didn't give Chuck the job at the store because he didn't want to corrupt his upright boy with the actual goings-on there, and Chuck always resented him for that, not knowing the true reason. God only knows what a run down little corner store in Cicero in the 70s was getting up to. I mean there's a million baseless fanfics you could write. But why not let the show tell its own story first?
posted by bleep at 9:25 PM on March 16, 2016 [4 favorites]


Because it's fun to speculate!

Curious if Jimmy ever mentioned his dad.
posted by rhizome at 10:21 PM on March 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Rhea Seehorn suggests in the podcast that as we already know that Jimmy is aware of Kim's relationship with her dad, and considering the nature and intensity of their friendship, it's very likely she's heard this story before from Jimmy (although his version). Chuck thinks he's manipulating her against him, but in fact she's sitting there thinking "Asshole! I need to talk about my career and all he's interested in is telling me this story against his brother."
posted by Grangousier at 2:50 AM on March 17, 2016 [6 favorites]


But he just can't understand the value of painstaking work, or perspective.
I can't remember the exact incidents or language, but there have been two or three scenes now where Jimmy exasperatedly says something like "What did I do that that was so wrong?" and seems to sincerely mean it. What makes it an interesting character flaw is that he knows on some level that he is transgressing; Jimmy's problem isn't that he doesn't know the all the rules, it's that he genuinely can't understand why it's not OK to occasionally bend or break some of them.
posted by usonian at 4:47 AM on March 17, 2016 [10 favorites]


I love this show and I love you guys. It says something about this show that every week you're spinning out analyses and theories about characters, future plot, and previous plot for days instead of there just being a brief flurry and then silence until next Monday. I don't even remember Mad Men being like this, partially because my questions were always "What will Matthew Weiner have these characters do next?" rather than "What will these people do next?"

A couple of tiny reactions:

1) Yeah, there's definitely way more to that $14k story. But it's possible there isn't much! We are all rooting for Jimmy but he really is pretty selfish and thoughtless despite his charm and the fact that we know there's a heart of gold in there, sorta.

2) I got zero evidence that there will be/will have been anything at all with Jimmy & Erin or Jimmy & Rebecca, other than that they are women. I think the show is better than that. (Also, I get the sense that Jimmy's "scam drive" overwhelms his sex drive.)

3) Days later I still grin from ear to ear when I think about that bell at the beginning of the diner scene.
posted by dfan at 5:11 AM on March 17, 2016 [9 favorites]


My favorite part of the show was when Kim takes her big call down to the parking garage.

She's standing under a huge sign marking the exit of the garage that says "OUT". Her purple outfit even matches the color of the sign. And I thought, "That is a such a great visual metaphor! This call is her way out of doc review!"

And then I thought, "Hmm, to really really complete this metaphor, they need to find some reason for her to walk out the OUT way." And, of course, she doesn't, she walks back towards the office.

At that point in the episode, I just figured that while it was a neat visual, maybe it didn't really signify much.

But then after Howard breaks her hopes into a million pieces, I realized it really was a complete visual metaphor.

The call wasn't her way out. It just looked like it was.
posted by Bibliogeek at 5:32 AM on March 17, 2016 [18 favorites]


I think it settles the question of who's in charge really, though: Even though she brings in a huge contract, Howard doesn't have the power to pull her out of doc review, which Chuck can basically offer to do over coffee. If he feels like it.
posted by Grangousier at 5:48 AM on March 17, 2016


My favorite part of the show was when Kim takes her big call down to the parking garage.
She's standing under a huge sign marking the exit of the garage that says "OUT".

She's also standing in front of this huge machinery, air handling systems or I don't know what, after grinding her own gears for days and days, hustling in her own time. Gorgeous framing, as always.
posted by aabbbiee at 8:56 AM on March 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


I think it settles the question of who's in charge really, though: Even though she brings in a huge contract, Howard doesn't have the power to pull her out of doc review, which Chuck can basically offer to do over coffee. If he feels like it.

Chuck is a partner. Howard is the senior partner. Despite his age and the deference everyone shows Chuck, Howard is the one with absolute power in the firm. He's the one with a goddamned colour named after him.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:02 AM on March 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yeah, it really read to me like this was Howard's call, but Chuck decided to use his influence to intervene on Kim's behalf.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 9:39 AM on March 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


Chuck is a partner. Howard is the senior partner.

The firm is Hamlin Hamlin McGill. Chuck is a senior partner, too. I am reasonably certain (though I don't think it's been clarified in the show) that Chuck started the firm with Howard's dad; there's a missing Hamlin in the name and Chuck and Howard are of different generations.

I don't think Howard is supposed to be senior to Chuck, except that Howard is the only partner currently at the firm full-time, due to Chuck's illness, and so therefore Howard has more real power.
posted by aabbbiee at 9:45 AM on March 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


mmoncur: The thing with Erin just makes me realize Jimmy has gotten himself into a job where virtually none of his strengths are useful.

More than not useful, they go against the company standards, down to the number of spaces after a period.

That clerk isn't taking Beanie Babies from Jimmy alone, she's part of a corrupt system where clerks, prosecutors, and cops are bending the rules all over the place.

Maybe I'm too heavily on Team Jimmy, but I'd like to think there's a difference between being corrupt and being willing to bend rules. The clerk didn't say "there's no appointments available, but I can check again" then slide Jimmy a Beanie Baby catalog with a few toys circled for emphasis. She bumped him up a few weeks for $5 toy.

Really, Chuck (and Erin) are seeing an imaginary version of the justice system where the Law is pure and holy and nobody ever bends the rules. But Jimmy can't work that system at Davis and Main, he needs to be a team player, and a rule follower, and he simply isn't one.

My take is that HHM and Davis & Main operate in the realms of High Law, as compared to the Low Law of ambulance chasers and Criminal Lawyers. They both operate under the law, but the former build an image of superiority and professional operations in all efforts, from the swirls on their class-action lawsuit videos to the formatting of their reports. Offering cars and housing as perks also enforces this image, because it's all something the company manages, down to the wicker balls that are found "in every corporate apartment in the world." They don't want anyone to see their lawyers driving anything unbecoming of their company image, or living somewhere that says anything other than "I am a rich, professional lawyer, and that is what you get when I work for you."

Jimmy knows image is part of the game, thus the billboard last season - he was tweaking Howard's obsession with image for his own gain. He also plays with image, moreso than his brother and the others.
"Faith and begorrah! A fellow potato eater! My real name's McGill. The Jew thing I just do for the homeboys. They all want a pipe-hitting member of the tribe, so to speak... "
It's all about image, but Chuck and Jimmy are courting different kinds of clients, and that's something that is part of their nature and how they relate to The Law.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:03 AM on March 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


Catching up on this thread has been the best part of my day thus far.

I wonder what it means about him that he suddenly turns into a status-oriented guy in that moment. Was it just a ploy to get her off his back, or is it a reaction to being an online-course lawyer in a "legit" law firm?

I think the bathroom scene, and Jimmy's crestfallen spirit (so evident in his shoulders and face), was a pivotal moment for him. He realized that not only does he hate this job, he also hates this life, and he misses the slippin' world (in which cars have larger cupholders). Erin is the personification of what he's getting closer and closer to outright rejecting. I think it wasn't so much an out-of-character move, but rather the petulant impatience of a child who knows he's in the wrong and knows he has to quit but will only do it on his own terms.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 10:23 AM on March 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


The corner-store story, and the dinner-party opening, rather inverted my assumptions about Chuck and Jimmy's class background. I had assumed that Jimmy was the fallen black sheep of a comfortably-well-off family, but it seems that it's more the case that Chuck was the social climber who escaped to law school and a higher, more cultured status.

Chuck's wine versus Jimmy's "little taste of home" beer is a nice illustration of this. Jimmy intended it as a nostalgic gift (and put some effort in: "had to look all over town to find a place that had it") but Chuck isn't nostalgic for home and doesn't drink beer any more.

(Jimmy is Martin to Chuck's Frasier, right? A persistent reminder of the humble origins he'd rather forget.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:00 PM on March 17, 2016 [11 favorites]


If "Frasier" had been written by Noah Baumbach. :)
posted by rhizome at 12:16 PM on March 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


it seems that it's more the case that Chuck was the social climber who escaped to law school and a higher, more cultured status

I think it makes sense of his very serious attitude, too. As a person who “escaped” the small-town, economically depressed Midwest, taking yourself a liiiittle too seriously is par for the course. Everyone around you wants to knock you down a few pegs under the guise of kidding around, no one really cares about your life/career/ambitions outside of “oh yeah, I guess they’re fancy now,” etc. He’s dead serious about it because when he was climbing that ladder, he had a long way to fall.

People who are born into money and culture see the hypocrisy faster than people who are dead set on living that way. (Or at least, they're more comfortable with ambiguity.) You have to have an exceedingly wise character for a young person to see the hypocrisy and yet work hard enough to be a part of that world anyway. Jimmy sees the contradictions and goes "pthhbbbbtttt."
posted by stoneandstar at 12:38 PM on March 17, 2016 [9 favorites]


Has anybody gamed out a connection with Hitchcock's "Rebecca"? I don't know my Du Maurier, but maybe Kim will become "The second Mrs. McGill!"

I absolutely think that there's a Hitchcock connection with "Rebecca"-- namely, it will turn out that Chuck recollections of his father are heavily tinted by rose-colored glasses and not at all accurate, much as the reality of Rebecca in the Hitchcock picture turned out to be completely different from the second Mrs. de Winter's (and the audience's) impression of her at the beginning of the picture. Or maybe Chuck's and Rebecca's marriage wasn't how he remembers it.
posted by holborne at 2:41 PM on March 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


I look forward to these threads almost as much as the show.

I love that this is a show that you can sincerely deconstruct. It's been awhile since I've found a show that feels like it isn't being made up in some way as you go along, and as such, you can successfully talk about things like the motivations of the characters, internal consistency issues that are carefully crafted, and authorial intent that might help us understand all of these things better.

I know that there are some plot points that Gilligan and company said that they discovered as things went on, but that's the key: you feel as if you are watching a show that was in part discovered by the team rather than simply created out of whole cloth. In a way, they are trying to be faithful to a story that is truthful because they are in the process of finding it, rather than trying to convince us that something is super interesting simply on the merits of talented creators. I don't want to downplay the skills involved at all (as it is some serious craftsmanship), but I also don't think that "true" stories are always sufficiently explainable by ex nehilo creations of talented people, and good artists feels as if they are stewards of the stories that are being found and investigated.

As such, I feel as if these threads have substance in their deliberations, and aren't simply reader/response based on what we would like to be true about the show. Our opinions actually have better or lesser merit based on data and narrative observation.
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:21 PM on March 17, 2016 [9 favorites]


As a person who “escaped” the small-town, economically depressed Midwest, taking yourself a liiiittle too seriously is par for the course. Everyone around you wants to knock you down a few pegs under the guise of kidding around, no one really cares about your life/career/ambitions outside of “oh yeah, I guess they’re fancy now,” etc.

And this brings us back to the bathroom scene. Chuck wants to escape his humble origins; Jimmy wants to escape that which Chuck has worked so hard to achieve.

This show, man.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 4:12 PM on March 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


The small-town stuff (now that you guys have explained it to me) really makes me understand where Chuck's behavior comes from.

(Jimmy is Martin to Chuck's Frasier, right? A persistent reminder of the humble origins he'd rather forget.)

Great parallel. Definitely.

Chuck was ashamed of his small-town origins, his poor father, his criminal brother... So he went to great lengths to build a world where he could be someone different: a law degree, nice suits, a huge house, wine... maybe even his choice of Rebecca, with her musical culture background.

Then Jimmy, perhaps the most shameful part of his past, invades the city Chuck moved to and the profession he holds dear. Every time Jimmy appears it just shines a light on Chuck's true self, to himself if not to everyone around him. No wonder Chuck wants to hide from the light...

(I know it's electricity he hides from, but I was enjoying the metaphor...)
posted by mmoncur at 3:26 AM on March 18, 2016 [7 favorites]


Interesting crackpot theory here.

The reference to the slippery floor definitely seems deliberate, but I think it's more metaphor than something that is literally going to occur.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:31 AM on March 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


And maybe there's some slippery slope meaning here too? Okay, a Beanie Baby, no big deal...but what next? Where do the ethical violations end? Well, at Saul Goodman. That's what everybody is trying to tell him. The little violations become bigger ones over time, so strive for ethical purity instead of striving for what you can get away with.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:47 AM on March 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


(I know it's electricity he hides from, but I was enjoying the metaphor...)

No, it's definitely the running metaphor; this episode really pushed it to the forefront, but every prior episode has used turning off the lights and cutting off the outside world as the ways people work with Chuck's psychosomatic condition. It's the indicator lights on the hospital bed that signal Chuck is delusional; a little it of light that he can't see and would shrink from.

Conveniently, this electrophobia also means Chuck's conversations are always off the record; the one time he uses a phone, it reveals his duplicity to Jimmy. Light is shed, and Chuck's image is damaged. And where does the truth about Jimmy's billboard scam lie? Why in that newspaper lying out in the sun, where Chuck must suffer to find it out.

But notice how dark Jimmy's boiler room office was and how he keeps those blinds drawn in his new corporate office; Kim is the only character who sneaks out of the dark to get a little sunshine. Everyone else waits til they can turn out the lights. And Kim's moment of self-delusion is the dark parking garage; her shattering realization happens in the daylight outside HHM. (There's a different use of light and darkness in Mike's plots, though, and in Jimmy's Matlock act. I haven't thought about how or if these two motifs fit together.)

And there's the added bonus of Chuck getting to cast himself as Diogenes, the man with the lamp looking for an honest man. Only it's usually Chuck's visitors that light the lamp and start carrying it around in his house, isn't it?
posted by kewb at 4:40 AM on March 18, 2016 [17 favorites]


And maybe there's some slippery slope meaning here too? Okay, a Beanie Baby, no big deal...but what next? Where do the ethical violations end?

That's absolutely how I read that. Erin might seem overly rigid, but we already know where bending rules is going to lead Jimmy. At this point, everything he will do as Saul is already in place--some little bribes, some fabricated evidence, some lies to the police, some, erm, enthusiastic solicitation. He's got his connections to the criminal underworld. At first his desire to make Chuck proud kept him striving toward the high road. Then it was his desire to be respected (and loved?) by Kim. But corporate law is stifling and the perks don't mean much to him. Playing fast and loose to get criminals off the hook is fun, and he's good at it. So he loses Kim, there's nothing to keep him from burning it all to the ground and recasting himself as Saul.

I love this moment we are at. If he could play by the rules he could have a life very much like Chuck's. He's been given a chance and he has the talent. But that's not going to happen. I think there's a lot of chew on there. I mean, what is keeping him really going straight? Is it that he doesn't want that life or that he does want it but he can't shake his bad habits? As he transforms into Saul, is that more because self-sabotage kept him from a better life, or because Saul was the most personally fulfilling thing he could be?
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:53 AM on March 18, 2016 [8 favorites]


mmoncur: Then Jimmy, perhaps the most shameful part of his past, invades the city Chuck moved to and the profession he holds dear. Every time Jimmy appears it just shines a light on Chuck's true self, to himself if not to everyone around him. No wonder Chuck wants to hide from the light...

Minor correction: Chuck saved Jimmy and brought him to Albuquerque, where he set him on the path of the straight-and-narrow, by getting him a job in the mail room.
Jimmy: I came here to say goodbye. I'm moving to Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Marco: Mexico? You skipped bail?
Jimmy: New Mexico... You know, like, uh, Bugs Bunny and the Road Runner, you know?
Marco: Yeah. What are you gonna do there?
Jimmy: I'm gonna work at his law firm, like, in the mailroom. It's a start, anyways.
Marco: [Chuckles] What? N... now you're talking crazy, man. You just got out of jail. Now you want to go back? Because working for him... That's all that is.
Jimmy: Marco... I was done. You understand? I didn't beat the rap. Chuck flew in and saved my ass.
But Jimmy did pull Chuck's past back to stare him in the face with the beer. Chuck didn't even humor his brother and drink one, instead drinking wine with his wife. And then Jimmy "gets above himself" (in the eyes of Chuck) and becomes a lawyer, mocking everything Chuck holds true and good.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:32 AM on March 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


What is really good about this show (well, one of the good things) is that relationships are genuinely complicated. There's no binary good and bad, as has been noted, but even in the situations in which people are morally and emotionally complex, you see some of the real tensions of life that ring true. Chuck cares for Jimmy on some level (he helped him out when he didn't have to), but he's really frustrated by how things have turned out. Real relationships are sometimes like that.

Chuck actually has a bit of Jimmy in him, in that he's playing the "game" to subvert Jimmy's efforts, but he's doing it in a different way than Jimmy plays the game. Their machinations are cut from similar cloth, it seems. They are both incredibly skilled at getting what they want, but those skills orbit around a different set of values, motivations, and pride in their own accomplishments. Chuck is being a jerk, but he's not that different from Jimmy when it comes to insisting on living the kind of life he wants, and then trying to get the people around him to get on board. Chuck just happens to have more power than Jimmy. Jimmy waggles the little stuffed puppy dog and gets in trouble, Chuck tells a subversive story over coffee and provides an offer to move out of the basement, and the world moves. Jimmy can't win in this particular dynamic, as he doesn't have an equal amount of power, and it's an environment that keeps seeing right through him.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:10 AM on March 18, 2016 [5 favorites]


I've never really been to Chicago, but it seems weird to me that people keep referring to Cicero as "small-town". Just from the map, the relationship between Chicago and Cicero looks more like Brooklyn to Manhattan or Medford to Boston.
posted by tobascodagama at 10:00 AM on March 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


Jimmy can't win in this particular dynamic, as he doesn't have an equal amount of power, and it's an environment that keeps seeing right through him.

Exactly. That's why he has to change the game he's playing. Neither Jimmy nor Chuck can beat the other at the other's own game. Jimmy's in over his head just like Chuck would be on the street, where Jimmy would be in his element.

The tragedy is that they're brothers, and there's some actual affection there, and both of them want to maintain a relationship, but Chuck's terms are unbearable for Jimmy, as his are for Chuck.
posted by Shohn at 10:48 AM on March 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


And then Jimmy "gets above himself" (in the eyes of Chuck) and becomes a lawyer, mocking everything Chuck holds true and good.

Both Chuck and Jimmy grew up under their dad, who was not a lawyer, how did the law become the be-all end-all to Chuck? They were both once blue collar kids, Chuck made a big break at some point, but also has an all-positive sense of their dad as "not being able to see sin in anyone."
posted by rhizome at 11:39 AM on March 18, 2016


I think one of the reasons I love this show is the relationship between Chuck and Jimmy feels so real to me. It reminds me of a very close friend from college and his brother. My friend was always the "bad one" (despite making the dean's list and never getting in any actual trouble) and his brother was "the good one." When I was in graduate school, their mother became (terminally) ill. The younger brother was in college in another state and couldn't visit often, while the older brother (my friend) was working as a writer full time in the same city as the hospital and so could spend a lot of time with her. Suddenly my friend was the "good one" and the younger brother the "bad one." The issues this stirred up, the resentment and frustration, was startling to me (I'm an only child). The effects of that reversal lasted for years after the death of their mother. When I watch Jimmy and Chuck, I'm reminded of that. Neither one of them is good or bad,but deeply flawed and struggling to deal with circumstances they never expected.
posted by miss-lapin at 2:35 PM on March 18, 2016 [11 favorites]


Just from the map, the relationship between Chicago and Cicero looks more like Brooklyn to Manhattan or Medford to Boston.

Cicero's population in the 1960s-80s (when Chuck and Jimmy would have been growing up) was around 60,000, and it's definitely nothing like Brooklyn.
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 9:50 AM on March 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


I was catching up with last week's episode earlier today and was thinking how nice it is to see Michael McKean, who I've been watching since his Lenny days on "Laverne and Shirley", get such meaty material to work with at this stage in his career. Then I finally got caught up to this episode and had the pleasure of seeing Rhea Seehorn, who prior to BCS I had only known for her thankless, forgettable supporting role in the awful sitcom "Whitney" just absolutely hit it out of the park with her heartbreaking performance is this highlight episode.

Having spent my entire career in sales, though, the scenes of her desperately cold-calling to try to drum up business were almost too painful for me to watch. Hit way too close to home.
posted by The Gooch at 12:41 AM on March 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Minor correction: Chuck saved Jimmy and brought him to Albuquerque, where he set him on the path of the straight-and-narrow, by getting him a job in the mail room.

True. I see this as Chuck trying to control the situation. If he had a brother who was in prison, that would be a matter of record and a constant source of shame. So he brings Jimmy to the mailroom and as long as he "knows his place" everything will be just fine...

Of course there's some compassion in there too.

Unfortunately Jimmy's idea of being a "good guy" is to be a lawyer like Chuck, so he can't just stay in the mailroom.

Both Chuck and Jimmy grew up under their dad, who was not a lawyer, how did the law become the be-all end-all to Chuck?

My guess: he watched various lawyers show up to confront their father about his financial issues, to take away his shop, and so on, so the lawyers seemed like the people with the power and Chuck decided he wanted to have that power. Meanwhile Jimmy just realized that life isn't fair and you have to take what you can to survive...

Let's face it, I just like making up stories about these characters. Such a good show...
posted by mmoncur at 1:31 AM on March 20, 2016


I used to do that while watching Breaking Bad. I have to say, the writers always come up with something different from anything I could think of, but much better.
posted by Grangousier at 4:08 AM on March 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Welp, I watched Rebecca this weekend. I'll be looking for parallels between Jimmy and either Favell or the second Mrs. de Winter.
posted by rhizome at 11:55 PM on March 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Both Chuck and Jimmy grew up under their dad, who was not a lawyer, how did the law become the be-all end-all to Chuck?

A fanfic idea I was thinking of suggesting to a friend who writes because I don't: their father paid for music lessons, hoping that it would lead to better things for them than simply running a shop. While guitar didn't take for Jimmy (who found other ways to meet girls), Chuck managed to learn piano. He had a talent for and found satisfaction in interpreting abstract marks on paper and following rules/music theory that lead to the creation of something beautiful and expressive, that also has impact. Music also opened up a more cultured and civilized world than he was previously exposed to, maybe even a path to college through a music scholarship, not to mention meeting the kind of girl who's a rule-follower like him (and ultimately to Rebecca, a masterfully talented violinist). Somewhere in that fanfic, there'd also have to be some mention of classical mythology, of Apollo, the god of music and light (whose birth was witnessed by Themis, mother of Dike/Justitia), and of Roman law and its impact on modern law.
posted by vaghjar at 12:17 AM on March 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


Their attitudes are just so different that I've been imagining Chuck's personality to be more deeply-seated than "Dad's business acumen." We see Chuck's behavior in marriage, is that from his family example, or maybe a failure to reinvent?

One thing that occurred to me as I was digging around is that their mom is still alive at the dinner scene here (she called Chuck to fix the Chicago Sunroof jail thing). The show's current day is 2002 and she died in 1999.

A ha! Maybe Mom was the first Mrs. de Winter!
posted by rhizome at 1:49 PM on March 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


The beginning starts off with one of those fake-outs that Gilligan loves so much. You see Chuck lighting the tiniest electric lights and you wonder, does he finally have electricity in his house? They are even designed to look like candles! Then you realize it's a flashback.

Jimmy grew up working in a convenient store while Chuck did... what? Although BCS is the story of the prodigal son, I could see Jimmy as a teenager thinking that it's Chuck who is the prodigal son. He's the one busting his butt for the family while Chuck does what he wants. Probably finding ways to distance himself from his family through culture.
posted by tofu_crouton at 7:56 AM on March 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Jimmy grew up working in a convenient store

It was just downstairs. How much more convenient can you get?
posted by Grangousier at 4:10 PM on March 23, 2016 [7 favorites]


tofu_crouton: Jimmy grew up working in a convenient store while Chuck did... what?

Chuck: "I, um, had a clerkship at the time, but I came home to help him get his books in order, set the ship straight."

In other words, he was a law student or recent law graduate who practiced law under the guidance of a judge or licensed attorney, already moved beyond Cicero, but he came back to fix things, just like he came to fix Slippin' Jimmy's legal troubles and life in general.

For those not listening to the podcast because you don't have hours to spend, but you want to hear more about what goes into making this show, I strongly suggest listening to the Better Call Saul Insider episode for this episode. It's 1 hour 9 minutes and some, but you get to hear a lot about how this show significantly improved by various people, from the writers and directors to editors and actors, who each are really invested in the show.

In this particular podcast episode, Rhea Seehorn shares a lot of insights on what it's like to be a theater actor who gets the chance to perform with her whole body on TV (versus lots of tight shots "between the eyebrows and the chin" as someone says), and how performing theater in the round really makes you work with your whole body so you give a complete show to people on all sides of you. Also, how much thought she and the other key actors put into the backstory to their character for almost every scene. So many good lines, about the power of not speaking in a scene (Kim sits in Chuck's office, holding coffee cup, uncertain if she can put it down without a coaster, waiting to take a cue from Chuck - not in the script, but something that Rhea thought Kim should do, and it makes so much sense). And these podcasts have given me a real appreciation for editors, who really create some scenes that could otherwise be lackluster.

And these podcasts make me want to re-watch Breaking Bad just so I can look at how scenes are shot and how people interact with the camera, and to listen to that podcast, too.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:21 PM on March 31, 2016


I mean, there was an entire episode of him running every con in the book and if all those victims deserved it the show certainly didn't establish it.

They didn't do outside context to show that the marks were bad people, but the thing is that all of the cons Jimmy was running in that sequence (and I think most cons generally) only work if the mark actively chooses to do something immoral. The one with the guy in the alley doesn't work if you say, "No, I'm not stealing anything from this passed-out drunk." The coin one only works if you horn in on a private transaction because you think you can make a buck for yourself out of it while exploiting someone who's fallen on hard times. The one with the spray-painted money or whatever only works if you're fine with helping someone smuggle a significant amount of cash into the country. The deservingness is baked into the con itself, especially with how Jimmy tends to play things as the hapless rube with his wallet hanging out of his pants just waiting to be snatched. Even the one this season with the asshole stockbroker only worked because that guy was so bent on appearing magnanimous (while knowing he was going to bilk these suckers) that he demanded to pay the check even after Jimmy (er, Viktor) offered first.
posted by Copronymus at 9:03 PM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


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