Better Call Saul: Bali Ha'i
March 21, 2016 9:14 PM - Season 2, Episode 6 - Subscribe

Wicker balls return! Mike wheels and deals. Kim explores her options.
posted by mandolin conspiracy (58 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I eagerly await y'all's interesting and pointed commentary, but right now I can only think in simple terms:
- twins/cousins: so scary.
- howard: such a dick.
- mike: such giant balls. UGGHH on edge forever from now on.
- cupholder: gtfo.
- other law firm's business card design: not so slick (gold letter on purple) as beautiful Hamlindigo blue branding. but potential for Kim to move up: intriguing.
- Kim/Rhea Seehorn: master of subtle facial expressions.
- did she spend *six* years in the HHM mail room, or did I mis-hear?

this episode shines such a nice light on the good in Kim & Jimmy's relationship. partners in crime (slippin'), and partners in encouraging the other to make the good, "right" choices. parallel in hustling for their work, and both knowing far more than higher-ups would ever deign to admit. makes you, yet again, especially sad for whenever the relationship eventually goes kaput.

the choice of the South Pacific tune... is Kim being lured to Jimmy's fantasy island? and what's he got on that special island?

I used to just love when people sang me voicemails. why does no one sing voicemails anymore? (or even know how to check their own goddamn voicemails?) [/rant] [/rave]
posted by cluebucket at 10:30 PM on March 21, 2016 [7 favorites]

Six years in the mail room seems a bit much, but not totally impossible.

The way I think the show wants us to see it is:
Years 1 to 3 - Kim shows her talents to HHM, and is recognized as a talent to be reckoned with. HHM offers to cover law school expenses.
Years 3-6 - Kim works in mail room simultaneously going to law school.

How I think a similar situation would work out in the real world:
Years 1 to 3 - Kim shows her talents to HHM, and is recognized as a talent to be reckoned with. HHM offers to cover law school expenses.
Year 4 - Kim works in mail room simultaneously going to law school.
Year 4 summer. Kim given a "summer associate-ship" and is evaluated to see how she's shaping up.
Year 5-6 - Kim works as law clerk while simultaneously going to law school. Maybe another "summer associate-ship" during summer of year 5, but I doubt it.

I'm loving Jimmy's visceral uncomfortableness over the life he's ended up in, but I think they spent too much time with the metaphors of him being unable to sleep and deal with the cup holders and not enough with him just hating the job while he's at it.

The scene where they're checking evidence logs was so uncomfortable, but for me, a guy who does a reasonable amount of litigation, the thing I couldn't get past was the size of the "deposition". No deposition is that small. The few pages they held up would barely cover the nearly mandatory introduction to depositions (where the deponent is sworn in and identified, where the deposing attorney describes what a deposition is and the difference between an estimate and a guess, and so on). It brought me out of the scene a bit. Especially as filling up the room with reams of reasonably sized depositions would have made Jimmy looked even more overwhelmed and trapped.

On the little things that figuratively show people aren't happy with their place in life, I loved some Kim's. One little thing that I dug was Kim's lack of horror when Jimmy said he knew a guy who could help pass the check. Kim of episode two and three wouldn't have let that pass. The second was her emotional inability to hang up a personal picture in HMM again. That was a great bit of showing disconnection, and so much subtler than the stuff they did with Saul.

Which, now that I think of it, is really interesting directing. Saul is such a larger than life character that they can play him doing this big, essentially comic, fits of dissatisfaction with his environment that verge on the pathetic fallacy. Kim, whom is played so close to the chest, just can't be played like that.

I'm really looking forward to the blow back to Kim for taking a lunch at all so soon after she was put back in her own office.
posted by bswinburn at 11:01 PM on March 21, 2016 [3 favorites]

- Davis & Main re-did the commercial with the "swirls"... so sad. (And funny to me because I don't think it makes Davis & Main's "brand" look any better than Jimmy's commercial. It seems just as low-rent and slimy.)

- Two classic infomercials, Chia Pet and Billy Mays!

- First appearance of "Ice Station Zebra Associates." I wonder if Jimmy eventually cashes that check, or just uses the company name again later.

- I was wondering if Kim's new job would take her out of New Mexico... that would be an obvious explanation of where she went in the future.

- Mike's situation seemed so clear-cut before--he did a clever thing and took care of Tuco. Now, not so much. It seems like that might have been Mike's big mistake that led to his slipping further and further into Hector's (Gus's?) drug empire.

- Howard's grimace during the long hallway walk with Kim, followed by his face changing to a smile just before meeting the clients... so perfect.

- Mike does more clever things with everyday objects. He's truly the Mr. Wizard of crime.
posted by mmoncur at 1:34 AM on March 22, 2016 [5 favorites]

First Tio and now the twins. I dunno, does anyone else feel like the show gets....smaller everytime they introduce another Breaking Bad character? Like the story options - so wide and interesting in the first season - only get more limited the more they focus on characters we already know the outcomes for? I mean, the writers seem to be aware it can be a problem, but I've had the same feeling twice in two weeks now, and can only hope there are more fans out there like me who really don't need constant BB callbacks to enjoy this show.

Anyway, here are the writers worrying that they're not moving fast enough with the Breaking Bad elements:

The “Better Call Saul” team feels the urgency to move its storyline along to catch up with the “Breaking Bad” era, but they’re also enjoying exploring the life of Jimmy McGill before he transformed into Saul Goodman...

“I was saying all the time in the room to the writers, ‘We better get cracking here. We better get to Saul Goodman because if people tune in, a safe assumption is that’s who they’re tuning in to see,’ ” Gilligan said during the screening and Q&A at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, which was moderated by Variety‘s Debra Birnbaum. Gilligan admitted that he had been nervous the character of Saul, the shady criminal lawyer who became a central figure in “Breaking Bad,” wasn’t developing fast enough for the audience.

“There’s no master plan. The thing is we do know a lot. We know how Saul Goodman dresses, we know how he expresses himself, the things he’s willing to do and we also know who Jimmy McGill is and we know how Jimmy dresses, thinks, expresses himself and what Jimmy’s not willing to do,” Gould said. “We kind of have these end points, but how we get from New York to L.A. is a big question. Sometimes we talk about it like the Transcontinental Railroad. We built half of it on ‘Breaking Bad’ and now here we are starting from the west going back east. You kind of hope you don’t end up three states apart,” Gould joked."

And here's one mentioning her doubts about bringing the twins in so soon after Tio:

It was actually pretty late in the process that we decided it would be the Cousins. When we originally conceived of the scene of them watching Mike it was three henchmen. We talked a lot about how many is too many, how many isn’t enough. Eventually, I can’t remember who brought it up, someone said “What if it’s the Cousins?” I was a little hesitant, because we just brought Hector back and you don’t want to overdo it with too many “Breaking Bad” people...

Q: Looking ahead: We saw Hector last week and the Cousins this week. Should we expect more “Breaking Bad” characters before the end of the season or is there a risk as you said of overdoing it?

I can’t really say. I feel like if this is all we do, I feel like that’s pretty good as far as having the familiarity of “Breaking Bad.” If this is it, I would be satisfied, personally.

I'd be satisfied, too, if they laid off on any more Breaking Bad characters for a while, and can't think of a single time while watching the show that I thought to myself, "wow these writers better get cracking to show me Saul Goodman pretty quick."
posted by mediareport at 4:39 AM on March 22, 2016 [7 favorites]

First Tio and now the twins. I dunno, does anyone else feel like the show gets....smaller everytime they introduce another Breaking Bad character?

It occurred to me while watching last night that, not only are we going to to see how Jimmy becomes Saul, but we're also going to see how Mike gets the gig of running security for Gus. Mike needs to be sucked into that world, and perhaps he'll get to Gus by getting wrapped up with Gus' rivals.

I really enjoyed seeing the Cousins. I thought it made sense, given that "family is all."

Those square wooden arty things over Kim's bed reminded me of her Post-it note arrays from last episode.
posted by bondcliff at 6:04 AM on March 22, 2016

I'm just noting a feeling of disappointment every time the writers pander to BB expectations a little too often. I like this show a lot; I know it ends with Walt walking into Saul's office or something but don't need so many reminders and cameos when the new story they're telling is so unusual and interesting. I was just wondering how much of a minority opinion that was in these parts.
posted by mediareport at 6:43 AM on March 22, 2016

And was anyone else thinking that Kim's "engineer" mark is going to turn out to be, like, an assistant attorney general? During that whole scene I was thinking "well, this stupid decision is going to turn out horribly for her."
posted by mediareport at 6:50 AM on March 22, 2016 [6 favorites]

I don't feel like the introduction of BB characters has been problematic at all. It's all unfolded organically for me. If you accept that Tuco is part of the BCS world, then it makes sense that his uncle (who is also involved in the criminal enterprise) would also be around. Likewise, when Tio Hector had a tough job (getting Mike to agree to his terms) it makes sense that he would call in his in-family enforcers: the twins.
posted by Shohn at 7:34 AM on March 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

I did kind of wonder if the twins were too big of muscle to come deal with Mike but then I thought
1) The cousins may have only been baby bad asses back then and have gained experience so that by they time they appear on BB they really are super bad asses and
2) They just learned that Mike really is a bad ass so its time to bring out some big guns.

I like the introduction of the BB characters, I loved that whole world and would love to be able to learn more about the peripheral characters. But this is really about Saul growth, and Mike's journey. I think Gus will be introduced by the end of this season.

What I think would be neat would be to see Walt and Skyler and Flynn walking around in the background of ABQ doing totally normal family stuff.
posted by LizBoBiz at 7:43 AM on March 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

It's interesting to see more reveals of it being Howard who is punishing Kim, when Jimmy and the viewers (myself included) wanted to believe that was instigated by Chuck. Even last week, there were people willing to brush aside the embezzlement story or find excuses for it. But Jimmy is a con man, why wouldn't he have embezzled the money? Or if it's somehow a lie and the dad stole the money, wouldn't Chuck still understandably think that Jimmy embezzled it? That's some real mental gymnastics to get around the probably real truth that Jimmy is a thief who also stole from his family.
I've been feeling much more sympathetic to Chuck after having a conversation about BCS with my dad, who is very much the successful, "golden child" from a dysfunctional family of enablers and alcoholics. He watched the episode where Chuck didn't want Jimmy on the Sandpiper case and he told me his first reaction was, "Well, Chuck is right, Jimmy is a con man and will bend the law. We know exactly how Jimmy will end up, and you can't blame that on Chuck." Jimmy is responsible for Jimmy. I can see Jimmy from my dad's perspective, as someone who was often faced with trying to protect himself and his reputation from his siblings' very poor behavior (and simultaneously being insulted for being a "goody two shoes" or "unloving" of his family). And why did Jimmy feel entitled to a job at HHM? I mean before Sandpiper, he did correspondence school and then expected his brother to get him a job at his firm? Chuck should have been honest with Jimmy and not used Howard as the bad guy. Absolutely! I think Chuck paid a pretty high mental health toll for his dishonesty to Jimmy. Chuck shouldn't have asked Kim to make him coffee. But whatever happens to Kim, I think her friendship with Jimmy is going to end much more badly than with a cup of coffee.
Jimmy is so sweet (plus Odenkirk is so great) that it's hard to see him as Chuck sees him, but Chuck has had a lifetime of "bad Jimmy" to clean up after. Chuck's extreme moral rigidity is a direct result of his brother's moral flexibility.
Ask MeFi: My brother is a charming, funny guy who is also a professional con man. He loves conning money out of people and he's so smart and likable that he usually gets away with it. He sometimes creates elaborate ruses to women to get them to sleep with him. He once defecated in someone's car WHILE there were two children in the car. He's lucky he wasn't charged with a sex offense. Early in my law career, I left an important clerkship to come home and help the family business. I was so disgusted to find my brother, who was pampered and treated so well by my loving father, had stolen $14,000 from my dad's store. Our family and friends overlook my brother's mistakes and criminal behaviors because they like him. I like him too, but I'm the one he calls to bail him out of jail and clean up his messes. I moved across the country and after many years of hard work, have built a very successful law firm. Now my "morally flexible" brother has committed too many crimes in our hometown and has moved to my city to start anew. After I moved so far and started this new life, he is here. I tried to support his "fresh start" and even gave him a job in my firm. But now he wants to be a lawyer and feels entitled to a junior associate position at my firm! He is very well liked because he's a friendly person and a hard worker, but the associates at our firm are top students with very successful backgrounds, from the top percent of their class from top law schools. He has a criminal background and he graduated with a correspondence degree. It took him three attempts to pass the bar. And I'm proud of him, but that record is just not up to my firm's standards. I feel that hiring him as an attorney would be a clear display of nepotism and could create morale divisions in our staff. Most of all, I worry just one small misstep back to his "con ways" could erase the professional reputation I have painstakingly built. Being around him also causes me anxiety and I think may contribute to a new, serious mental health issue. Hive mind, should I hire my brother? If I don't, how I can tell him without irrevocably damaging our relationship?
posted by areaperson at 8:41 AM on March 22, 2016 [23 favorites]

Phew, that turned out to be a novel! Also wanted to say I was really glad to see Kim get a job offer. Damn straight she deserves it. I have a bad feeling she'll tank it with her "light con" antics.
Another note: The diner where Hector finds Mike is the same diner where Lydia meets Mike in BB. (She sits in the booth behind him to try to be sneaky). Mike is a guy very set in his routines.
posted by areaperson at 8:48 AM on March 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

And was anyone else thinking that Kim's "engineer" mark is going to turn out to be, like, an assistant attorney general? During that whole scene I was thinking "well, this stupid decision is going to turn out horribly for her."
I wasn't thinking that this new mark was undercover or anything, but now more than ever I do still worry that these cons are going to come back and bite her on the ass.

I really hope Vince Gilligan & company don't feel like they have to rush to catch up to Breaking Bad; the way things are currently paced it seems like there's at least another season between Jimmy McGill as we now know him and full-blown Saul Goodman as we meet him in S2 of Breaking Bad. All I can think of is how things went for Twin Peaks after ABC pressured Lynch/Frost to solve The Big Mystery halfway through season 2.

When rumors for BCS first started circulating I assumed it would be more like a dark dramatic-comedy borrowing the 1980's The Fall Guy / Highway to Heaven / Quantum Leap formula where Saul helps a new criminal each week. Which would probably have been great in its own fashion! But what they've come up with is so much richer, and I'm having a hard time imagining how far they could go with it once Jimmy truly becomes Saul. The writers have an unenviable problem; the closer the transformation gets, the harder it's going to be for them to walk the line between "Compelling character study" and "Breaking Bad fan service".

One thing I thought was interesting about this episode was that Jimmy's arc stays pretty much where it is while Kim and Mike's stories progressed. We already know where Mike is ultimately headed, but it's not so clear what's going to happen to Kim. At this point Howard seems like such a spiteful dick that I could imagine him going after Kim even (especially) if she takes a position with Schweikart and Cokely. If he somehow finds out about her cons with Jimmy that would certainly give him ammunition.
posted by usonian at 9:11 AM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

After Hector confronted Mike last week, I was expecting him to cave right away, and I thought this week would have Mike calling Jimmy to help him deal with his false confession of gun ownership, and then Tuco somehow seeing and recognizing Jimmy, thus setting up Jimmy's eventual cartel involvement.

I'm impressed that they drew it out another week. But surely that stuff happens next week, right?

(Note: I don't watch the 'next week' teasers and prefer not to know what they showed. Pure speculation please!)
posted by isthmus at 9:36 AM on March 22, 2016

I look away the second the teasers come on, because I, too would rather speculate wildly on my own.

Damn straight she deserves it. I have a bad feeling she'll tank it with her "light con" antics.

Yeah, the "Remember these faces!" line that Jimmy or Kim (IIRC it was Jimmy) dropped while they were talking to the mark was potentially some Chekhov's gun. As is the cheque on the mirror. I wonder if Jimmy's going to cash it.

"Jimmy, where's the cheque?"

"I cashed it!"

"You did WHAT?"

"Don't worry, I know a guy."

And as others have said above, what if the mark ends up being Important and Local? It crossed my mind that this bar, being an apparent haunt of Rick Schweikart, would be the right venue for a celebratory drink for the senior partners of S&C to welcome their newest lawyer...and guess who walks in?

Also, with the return of Schweikart, I'm reminded of some previous dialogue from S1E8:

Rick Schweikart: Sorry to interrupt you this evening, enjoy "The Magic Flute".
[Hangs up the phone]
Jimmy McGill: Blow my magic flute.

I do share the hesitance around "Whoa, whoa - let's not rush into the rollout of BB characters here. This is a rich world worth exploring on its own merits." Although I'm thinking that with the cousins, in the BB world, they start off from Mexico before they appear in ABQ, so I'm thinking there's a lot of road between where they are now and where they end up.

And yeah, standing O for Patrick Fabian and his silent Howard-with-a-rod-the-size-of-the-Eiffel-Tower-up-his-ass walk to the client meeting.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:47 AM on March 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

Oh, also. I had no idea that copper mugs for Moscow mules were a thing.

Now I know. Is there anything this show can't do?
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:55 AM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

I tried to imagine how this episode would have been without the BB references.

- When the cousins appear and make gestures toward Mike's granddaughter... I can imagine that being equally scary regardless of whether you know who they are.

- When Mike talks to Hector in the restaurant, I feel like it would have been way more tense without BB -- I know Mike isn't going to pull out his gun because I know Mike, Hector, and the cousins have to survive. Nacho is the only question mark there.

Nonetheless, I do get a thrill when I see these guys... even though I like "Saul" way better than BB.

Definitely no hurry. I could watch 5 seasons of Jimmy doing poorly at various lawyer jobs and running small cons...
posted by mmoncur at 10:22 AM on March 22, 2016 [6 favorites]

Definitely no hurry. I could watch 5 seasons of Jimmy doing poorly at various lawyer jobs and running small cons...

Yes please!
posted by isthmus at 10:32 AM on March 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

My best moment this episode: when Kim and Howard were walking through the building on their way to meet the clients and Howard's face was pure ice until he pasted on his smile as they turned the corner to the conference room.
posted by essexjan at 10:38 AM on March 22, 2016 [5 favorites]

Aw, man - forgot about this from season seems even more poignant now that Kim's Stockholm syndrome for HHM seems to be lifting...

But as quickly as my dreams of Wexler, McGill & Associates Elder Law Firm were born, they died. Kim is flattered and truly touched by Jimmy’s offer but she has to turn it down. She feels indebted to HHM, who paid her way through law school, and she’s put a lot of hard work in to get where she is. She thinks that she’ll even be partner in two years. Jimmy knows all this, and he understands where she’s coming from but he’s still heartbroken. He tries to keep it all easy-breezy but Kim knows how hurt he is and she starts to get visibly uncomfortable. She leaves to check out the kitchen and Jimmy stares sadly out the window. It would seem he was dreaming a bit too big.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:51 AM on March 22, 2016

I think her continued involvement with Jimmy fairly illustrates how strongly loyalty is a Kim thing, perhaps to her eventual detriment. I think the job offer is not so much a Get Out Of HHM Free Card as a pretty obvious, "Hey, you did good in there, how about we hire you and take you off the case?" I'm not sure she heard it that way, but her demurral (in the interest of loyalty) reaches the same exit point. She seemed like prey in that whole scene, which maybe caused her to be a little too enthusiastic in turn about her "mark." She doesn't really know what "a live one" is, plus "WOW SURPRISE MY BROTHER SHOWED UP" probably cheesed it pretty good.

Did anybody else notice the use of the color red in this episode? Not sure of its role, but it was definitely an accent.
posted by rhizome at 12:36 PM on March 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

Vince Gilligan has stated, several times, in the "Better Call Saul Insider" podcast that the color red, in the Better Call Saul universe, is used to denote some sort of criminality.
posted by bswinburn at 1:31 PM on March 22, 2016

I've heard that before, but I was thrown by its use in the opening Kim-on-the-bed scene. The bedspread includes pink (orange?), a few books are red, and then each of the posters (the corner of the bedroom and in the hallway) have red accents. This then seems to key off of the red of the answering machine message indicator. Probably overthinking, but it really popped for me with that scene.

In the possible tie-in department, the hall print is for Oscar Wilde's "Salome," which could have some connections going forward.
posted by rhizome at 2:44 PM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

My take is that this is the episode where Kim and Jimmy decide to stop playing the games other make and start trying to create their own. Jimmy took the Davis and Main job because that's the game of respectability everyone, especially Kim, is playing; last episode Kim tries to get out of doc review the right way, and fails, and then tries another right way, currying favor with higher-ups, and she finds out she's still screwed.

So now neither one is going to keep playing nicely. Jimmy's use of the wicker balls to literally play his own games is less on the nose than his impromptu car customization or preference for his seedy boiler room apartment, of course, but Kim refusing to stay for lunch and play either the loyalty game or the shame game is another. It's interesting, though, that Kim still has limits Jimmy doesn't. And Mike does, too. He's still the guy who wouldn't take the money and run, given a chance; he's the character who resists breaking his code, who ends up knuckling under to someone else's rules, in this episode.

Ironically, of course, these are the rules of criminals, not the rules of professionals. But both worlds now seem to operate on the same principles: family or firm loyalty is leveraged, personal grudges and aversions shape events behind closed doors or in secret, shared glances while a face of harmony, legitimacy, and normalcy is presented to the world. Only a fool would trust a stranger in a bar or a welcome mat on the stoop; only a fool would obey the signals.
posted by kewb at 4:08 PM on March 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

And I should add that breaking the rules or making new ones is still more a diversion or a desperation move for KIm, while for Jimmy it's an ethos.
posted by kewb at 4:09 PM on March 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

I wasn't thinking that this new mark was undercover or anything

Oh, neither was I. It's possible the mark was just an asshole looking to cheat on his wife/girlfriend with the hot chick at the bar, and then watched bemused as she and her "brother" tried to run a scam on him. Watch the scene again; he doesn't seem taken in at all. Like mandolin conspiracy said, it's a good set-up for him to be important later on as a partner or something. I mean, what are the chances he saw or read a local news story about Jimmy's "rescue" of the billboard guy?

Anyway, I usually skip over speculation about where the show is going to just enjoy the surprises but that scene definitely seemed like it could pay off negatively down the road.

p.s. I think Howard's frustration is mostly anger at Chuck jerking him around about punishing and then relieving Kim. I get that folks feel affection for Gentle Ole Troubled Chuck (I do too) but he's been a manipulative asshole before so it shouldn't surprise anyone if some of us suspect he's doing it again. Howard being frustrated at being played when he's nominally in charge would certainly explain that stone-faced walk.
posted by mediareport at 6:24 PM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh crap, now that I notice the red touches in Kim's room I am extra nervous for her! If red = crime will Kim end up in jail? Nice find, rhizome.
Mandolin conspiracy, that "remember these faces" line is really unnerving! Oh Kim, get it together!
posted by areaperson at 6:27 PM on March 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

My jaw dropped when I realized that the shot of Kim and Howard walking through the maze of offices to the conference room was one ginormously long, Scorcese-worthy tracking shot.

And did anyone else wonder, when the twins showed up while Mike's granddaughter was in the pool, if this whole thing with Tuco and the gun will lead to Mike's estrangement from his DIL's life? (There was a restraining order against him in BB, wasn't there?)

I agree with the thoughts upthread; I could watch an entire season of what others might deem "filler" episodes, just to watch these characters go about their everyday business. I don't mind the BB callbacks and references one bit. It just makes it all the more fun. And I'd also be happy if every episode featured a scene with Mark Margolis, because he chews up the scenery so deliciously well.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 6:34 PM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

I don't recall a restraining order against Mike, but I remember thinking the DIL didn't want to see Mike. He was allowed time with his granddaughter, but the mom didn't seem to want to talk to him.
posted by areaperson at 7:03 PM on March 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yeah, in the one scene Kaylee's mom appears in BB, she comes out of the house and waves and Mike says "OK, there's your mom, time to go." or something like that. It's a different actress. It's pretty vague as to what their relationship is.

I do recall when Mike has a bunch of ill-gotten money in BB, though, he leaves instructions that it should be deposited in Kaylee's name -- not Stacey's. Then again his whole personal life wasn't really filled in in that show, so that may not mean anything.

p.s. I think Howard's frustration is mostly anger at Chuck jerking him around about punishing and then relieving Kim.

Agreed, I think Howard wants to run the firm himself and he's bothered that Chuck is sticking his nose in for his own weird reasons. He tried to buy Chuck out last season, after all.
posted by mmoncur at 7:51 PM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

It never occurred to me before this season that we would get to see Hector Salamanca in something approximating his prime, but I love it. I love it so much.

I'd love to entertain some optimism about Kim jumping ship to S&C or somehow starting a firm with Jimmy. But I still can't shake the feeling that things will go very badly for her. The bar must be fairly close to the courthouse; even if the mark doesn't come back and spot her later, someone on the waitstaff is bound to recognise "Giselle" the next time she's there.

At any rate, Kim's extracurricular activities will be discovered, and then she'll be forced out of the legal business. We know that Jimmy gets away with worse, all the time, but the Kim's arc so far has shown that she just doesn't get the leeway he does, ever.

(If Kim and Jimmy start their own firm, they'll definitely do it by cashing the Ice Station Zebra check. They might even properly incorporate it first, since we know the entity still exists for Saul to use later on.)

On another note, I really loved the contrast in this episode between Kim's cozy, tastefully-decorated studio apartment and Mike's empty, bare-walled house.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:56 PM on March 22, 2016

It's interesting to watch this knowing it leads to, and may run parallel with, Breaking Bad. Because there are all these people, and they have their lives, and they have years of history, and they all reach some sort of detente, and then Walter White comes out of nowhere and instead of being some clueless school teacher, or perhaps because he's a clueless school teacher, he's just a wrecking ball. A huge number of the characters we meet will die because of Walter, and we know it, but here they are, on a crash course with destiny, and none of them know it.
posted by maxsparber at 8:35 PM on March 22, 2016 [13 favorites]

knuckling under to someone else's rules

That's what this whole episode felt like to me, submission. Jimmy is suffocating, and only fleeing from it occasionally. Mike thinks he's tough and smart enough to avoid playing by Tio's rules, but even if he flees from place to place with Kaylee, he can't get away from them. Kim thinks Schweikart and Cokely's offer sounds like a pretty sexy deal, but then at the bar, being hit on seems to put it in a different perspective... is it actually a good deal or is it merely flattering? She tries playing a con game on the guy, but it doesn't make her feel any better the next morning, because the new firm would be paying for her tuition, and she'd be under someone else's thumb after all. I think that is Kim's Bali Ha'i; she thought she could get to a place where she was actually free, but she can't. Only officers can get to Bali Ha'i.

I agree that too many BB characters are showing up. At the same time, those wicker balls were reminding me of the eyeball that kept appearing in BB.
posted by heatvision at 5:01 AM on March 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

One of the things that amused me when Schweikart was telling his own story of being put on the spot by another lawyer leaving him to solo a court appearance was a similar scene in Daredevil, which I shotgunned over the weekend. Hopefully without spoiling anything, it had a very different outcome in that show, with a very different lesson learned. I wouldn't trust Schweikart any further than I could throw him, but it's really something to see him being all collegial with Kim--obviously trying to lure her over to the dark side, but still--versus Howard giving her the silent treatment. I think that there was something about her being told that she was essentially being played for a sucker that encouraged her to play a potential sucker of her own. I also think that there's something poignant about Jimmy not being able to sleep unless he's in his glorified storage room in the back of the nail salon; speaking of other shows, there was an old one named Profit, starring Adrian Pasdar as a ruthless businessman, who can only sleep in a trash-littered cardboard box, the same one that he had to sleep in as an abused child. That's what Jimmy's scene reminded me of.

Also, I don't think that there are too many BB characters coming back; after all, when we meet Mike in BB, he's already pretty deep into Gus' operation, and I don't think that that happens overnight. (Have we even seen Los Pollos Hermanos in any background shots? I don't think so.) I doubt that we'll see the Cousins again--they're really the nuclear option--and I think that the BB people have been used very well; of course it's more horrifying seeing the Cousins show up knowing what they eventually get up to, but I could imagine not having seen BB, and not knowing that, and still being chilled at the shot of them on that roof with the church behind them, overlooking the pool.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:53 AM on March 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

In the possible tie-in department, the hall print is for Oscar Wilde's "Salome," which could have some connections going forward.

From listening to the Better Call Saul Insider podcasts, everything is thought out, from the the colors and the art pieces selected, to how each character goes about a certain task.

Jimmy's use of the wicker balls to literally play his own games ...


On the use of BB people, the writers have a wall of characters they can pull into the story, and they mentioned in the 3rd podcast that Albuquerque is a small place. While they were talking about locations shot in the show, it is also true for social circles. While they could expand the world, it could also make the show too big, and lose more casual watchers.

As for the pacing, I think they show creators are in a tough spot - they don't know how many seasons of this show they have, but they know where it will go. It will likely end before the start of Breaking Bad, unless they opt to continue telling the story from the point of view of Jimmy/Saul, who isn't a really key player in the beginning. While they got renewed for season 3, it's something that seems to come one season at a time, so they can only plan so far out. Is this total arc one that takes another season, or two? Or will they get five seasons like BB? Until they know that, they are probably better of trying to rush a bit, but they've said that the story is going "as the characters tell us," allowing the characters to progress naturally, instead of forcing actions to fit plot points.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:47 AM on March 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have zero confidence that the story Schweikart tells Kim is real. It parallels her situation too perfectly. The guy seems like he has a lot of training at telling perfect stories.
posted by dfan at 2:34 PM on March 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

I've been thinking about the series from the perspective of someone who hasn't watched Breaking Bad. The old characters don't seem intrusive: there's no way to tell Nacho from Tio, for instance. Which one was in Breaking Bad, which one wasn't? The writers are doing a great job of serving both constituencies, and future watchers of both series should be able to see them in any order (original airing or chronological) and get the full joy of recognising a beloved character from a previous viewing.

Imagine for instance my daughters (now 6) watching this series a dozen years frm now, when she and her friends decide they want to watch [some corny old tv/the classics]. They watch Better Call Saul first because they're fans of Bob Odenkirk after mainlining Mr Show. Next, they watch Breaking Bad. Tuco and Tio Salamanca appear in season 1/2, which makes sense because Alburquerque and drugs, right? And then, midway through season 2, a beloved character reappears! It's Saul! Then Mike does too. This is so good! They're tying up all the knots!

Compare to the Star Wars prequels and how Lucas managed to be all fanservice, all the time, while mishandling the characters, making the plots nonsensical and inconsequential, and focusing too much on the main characters' fall itself, and less on how that fall could come to be. There's a whole dissertation both of work in outlining the differences in plotting between both sets of prequels.

In BCS, eventually we'll have to get to Jessie, who's the character who introduces Saul to the Breaking Bad timeline. A possible ending for BCS would be to have some someone tell Jessie the difference between (a (criminal lawyer)) and (a (criminal) (lawyer)). I'm not in a hurry to get there. I'd also pay money for a final BCS season where they Rosenkrantz-and-Guildenstern the some of the plot Breaking Bad from Saul's point of view.

However, some of the fun of watching the series in chronological order might be spoiled by cramming BCS too full of characters that we DO want to see.

For instance, in the BCS timeline, Hank is still alive. Do you think he'll square off against a mouthy criminal lawyer working for a drug dealer? You bet he will. Whether it's onscreen or offscreen, Saul and Hank know about each other by the first frame of BB. If he's onscreen, will Hank mention a certain loser brother in law? I hope he won't, it would make no sense. Would Hank's presence in BCS start diluting the Breaking Bad-as-sequel experience? Possibly, but I trust the writers.

Also, the fact that Kim does not appear in BB at all worries me. I like Kim. I'd like her to save her.
posted by kandinski at 3:04 PM on March 23, 2016 [9 favorites]

As for the pacing, I think they show creators are in a tough spot - they don't know how many seasons of this show they have, but they know where it will go. It will likely end before the start of Breaking Bad, unless they opt to continue telling the story from the point of view of Jimmy/Saul, who isn't a really key player in the beginning.

I would watch an entire final season that was after Jimmy starts working at Cinnabon. Something has to get resolved for the poor guy. It could be pretty exciting if some of his deeper fears about being in hiding are realized and he has to deal with them.
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:26 PM on March 23, 2016 [5 favorites]

Kim running the con in the bar has the same feel as Chuck telling a lawyer joke. Somehow Jimmy can get away with that stuff -- they can't.

That long walk to the conference room -- I was too busy being mesmerized by Kim's face to notice Howard's much. She was spitting nails.

I'm surprised to find that I'm enjoying Kim's story more than anyone else's. Rhea Seehorn is getting so damn good. More Kim, please. And please don't let anything terrible happen to her (I'm afraid I'll be disappointed on that one).
posted by Corvid at 3:35 PM on March 23, 2016 [5 favorites]

I was too busy being mesmerized by Kim's face to notice Howard's much.

It does. not. move. I kept scanning back and forth while they were walking, anxious not to miss anything, and he goes from snapping into walking mode to cruising through the office stone-faced, then snapping into his smile.

As an aside, I'm starting to notice Howard being kind of over-dressed. Either as a pretense or aspiration, I don't know, but he loves his circa-Boardwalk-Empire rounded collar-bar shirts and nobody else seems to emulate him.

Any lawyers in the house? Is there any significance to HHM's main line of business apparently being brought on as co-counsel?
posted by rhizome at 3:53 PM on March 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

Also, the fact that Kim does not appear in BB at all worries me. I like Kim. I'd like her to save her.

This doesn't worry me too much. In BB, we don't see enough of Jimmy/Saul's personal life to know who he is/isn't in a relationship with, or associates with in his free time, do we? I'll admit that I'm not enough of a BB connoisseur to remember all of it, but it seems like there's room for Kim to still exist and be in Saul's life, but be off screen.
posted by primethyme at 8:23 PM on March 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think Jimmy will have a very definite and final separation from both Kim and Chuck before he becomes Saul Goodman. They are the only factors that keep him from diving headlong into that world right now.

I think he will continue to try as best he can to please Chuck and keep Kim in his life, but his less-than-excellent choices will eventually catch up to him. His commercial stunt causing Kim to get sent to doc review is just the start. There will be more episodes like that.

I also think there's a very good possibility that Kim and/or Chuck may die as a result of one of Jimmy's scams.
posted by Shohn at 5:50 AM on March 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Davis & Main re-did the commercial with the "swirls"... so sad. (And funny to me because I don't think it makes Davis & Main's "brand" look any better than Jimmy's commercial. It seems just as low-rent and slimy.)

I took it that they have to do bland adverts like that as anything more assertive (let alone flamboyant) will offer a potential vector of attack to the opposing team. It may well be that Jimmy's masterpiece doesn't violate any rules, but that's something that will use resources to ascertain, and Swirls is a much more straightforward call to make.
posted by Grangousier at 9:47 AM on March 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh, and is it that as long as the cheque isn't cashed they've not technically committed a crime, but as soon as it is they have?
posted by Grangousier at 9:54 AM on March 24, 2016

In BB, we don't see enough of Jimmy/Saul's personal life to know who he is/isn't in a relationship with, or associates with in his free time, do we?

Strictly speaking, no, we don't, and maybe that's enough room to retcon into.

But I certainly got the feeling from BB that what we saw of Saul was all there was: and what we saw felt both sleazier and lonelier than BCS's Jimmy. (His habitual hitting on his receptionist; and Jesse is kept waiting in Blood Money while Saul receives a massage that the show implies may not be purely therapeutic: "barn door open".)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:51 AM on March 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

In BB Saul also mentioned his "second ex wife" which could have been just him bullshitting, but I do wonder if they'll cover that. I don't expect Kim is one of those Exes.
posted by bondcliff at 12:05 PM on March 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've now watched the Pacino "Salome"...for science.
posted by rhizome at 1:33 PM on March 24, 2016

I also think there's a very good possibility that Kim and/or Chuck may die as a result of one of Jimmy's scams.

I made the prediction that Kim will die back in Ep 3 of this season, "Amarillo," where she introduces Jimmy to the Ice Station Zebra. My bet is that he continues to use the name as his company name when he becomes Saul Goodman as a way to honor his dead love. Another possibility is that she gets somehow critically injured/disabled but lives, and Jimmy/Saul sets up Ice Station Zebra as a way to take care of her financially.
posted by Saxon Kane at 1:52 PM on March 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yay great episode! Except I was screaming at the TV when Kim pulls a con at the fancy Moscow Mule joint in ABQ. Don't shit where you eat, Kim. The whole thing with Schweikart saying "it's a small town", not to mention Jimmy's "remember these faces" line. The setup is just too, too obvious. Maybe so obvious they'll actually go a different direction?

What year is this show set up? Wikipedia says 2002. The bit about the dotcom startup investment felt a bit off to me; there was a serious downturn in tech startups 2000–2005 or so. The "one more investor and we have to go public" thing is half real though.
posted by Nelson at 9:01 PM on March 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

So much good stuff in this episode. I've been wondering if Mike has been going out of his way not to use his gun in a way that would kill someone. He seemed to be struggling with it before, but it seemed more clear in this episode. Last episode, he chose not to buy a rifle, but took a beating instead. It was framed like it was a better plan, but he seemed to be choosing it as a form of penance as well. In this episode, he beat the two intruders with his gun, but never fired a shot. As he was rinsing off the gun and his hands in the sink, it seemed pretty clear that he was struggling with having "blood on his hands." He does have blood on his hands, and perhaps he's conflicted with how his life circumstances are sending him further down a dark road after killing the other officers. He was crooked before that, but I'm not sure it's clear that he ever murdered anyone. Even though we feel he was quite justified in shooting his son's killers, Mike seems to have his own internal struggles between who he's becoming versus a more idealized version of himself.

Jimmy and Mike are walking down similar roads built on social and internal tensions that we know to be heading in an inevitable direction. Sort of like a certain person named Walter White, but it seems a more noble struggle in this case. The common thread that ties them all together between the shows seems to be the inevitability of where we see it all going, as if fate takes their weaknesses and insecurities and makes them into something that can't be ignored.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:31 PM on March 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm loving this show so much. I have every confidence that they'll play this out with some satisfying story lines and get to Saul's practice in BB in a convincing way. My biggest concern is for Jonathan Banks. He's no spring chicken and he never looks particularly healthy to me. I can't imagine this show without Mike...
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 5:49 AM on March 28, 2016

Banks is only 69. He's rough-looking, but he's always been a bit rough-looking. At the very least, I don't think we have to worry about him dying of old age anytime soon.
posted by maxsparber at 9:15 AM on March 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm rarely happy to get back to work after the weekend, but sitting here on a Monday I'm occasionally reminded of the new episode tonight, and it makes the start of the new week a bit better. Although at this time, everyone in the show is making me nervous. It probably goes to show how excellent their characters are. I care for just about all of them (even Chuck and Howard), or at least have a vested interest in their outcome.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:53 AM on March 28, 2016

I was also noticing how old Mike looked, particularly when his hands trembled briefly at the sink. The character looks significantly older now than he did back in Breaking Bad. Given the power of costume and makeup I assume that's a deliberate choice, to make Mike look weary. Perhaps he hasn't found the fury that sustains him yet.
posted by Nelson at 12:03 PM on March 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Because I couldn't remember when everyone first shows up/meets each other in Breaking Bad, I went back and looked at the wiki to refresh my memory:

Saul - Season 2:
When Badger is arrested for selling blue meth, Saul is sent to negotiate with him. It comes to call his attention that Hank Schrader and Steven Gomez, two DEA agents, are trying to interrogate Badger. Deducing they were interested in his client, he made a deal with the DEA for Badger to testify against his dealer “Heisenberg.”

Later that day, Walter White and Jesse Pinkman decide to look for Saul Goodman in his office. Walt, posing as Badger’s uncle "Mr. Mayhew", hires Saul to keep Badger out of prison. Citing rumors that Heisenberg's associate crushed a man's head with an ATM, Walt asks if Badger should fear reprisals if he snitches. "The guy who got his head smooshed used to be a client of mine. His wife killed him," Saul replies. He plans to get Badger "singing like a canary." "Ten thousand dollars," Walt blurts out before succumbing to a coughing fit. He doesn't want Saul to throw the case, but "no talking to the DEA," he says. Saul then kicks Walt out of his office for trying to bribe him.

Mike (Season 2):
Saul manages to arrange a meeting with Gustavo Fring for Walter White and Jesse Pinkman to make a deal about selling Walt's Blue Sky. The contact referred to is probably Mike; as Saul says he "knows a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy [Gus]" ("Mandala").

After Jane overdosed on heroin, Walt called Saul for advice; which in response, Saul sent Mike to remove all incriminating that could link to drug use. He instructs Jesse on what procedure to follow and what to tell the paramedics (or cops) when they show up: "I woke up, I found her. That's all I know." Shortly thereafter, Jesse runs off to a crack house known as the "shooting gallery" after being devastated by what happened to Jane. Concerned about his well-being, Walt has Mike drive him to the drug den to retrieve Jesse ("ABQ").

Little is known about Gus' past, except that he originally came from Chile. He emigrated to Mexico in 1986 during the Pinochet regime, and a few years later, in 1989, he was granted an entry visa into the United States ("Hermanos"). While Gus is a Chilean national, Hank Schrader mentions that there are no records of him ever living there - that is, no records exist of his life prior to 1986. Gus explains this by saying that General Augusto Pinochet's government was "guilty of a great many sins: first and foremost were his human rights abuses, but it was also notoriously unreliable about keeping records" ("Hermanos"). Mike reassures Gus that if he can't find out anything about him before he emigrated from Mexico to the U.S. (1989), it is unlikely that the DEA will either. The only thing that is currently known about the secret of Gus's backstory in Chile is that it has something to do with the Pinochet government. Gus also claims to have children, though they have never been seen nor anybody else in his family life has been revealed. It is also implied that Fring is using an alias as speculated by Hank himself.

In the late 80s, Gus and his partner, a gifted chemist named Maximino Arciniega, started a chain of Los Pollos Hermanos restaurants in Mexico. They developed a high-class strain of meth under cover of the pair's burgeoning chicken restaurant business. Hoping to strike up a partnership with the Mexican cartel, they hooked up the foot soldiers of its head figure, Don Eladio Vuente, with samples of their product. Gus and Max's pitch is for Eladio to diversify his Colombian cocaine distribution operation with a homegrown product, one whose production he controls and whose profits he need not pass along to a supplier. But Eladio finds their approach less clever and more disrespectful; they produced drugs in his territory and maneuvered him into a meeting.

As his henchman Hector "Tio" Salamanca shoots Maximino in the head as punishment for this impertinence, Eladio tells Gustavo that the only reason he’s still alive is “because I know who you are. But understand. You are not in Chile any more” - an allusion that suggests Don Eladio knows about Gustavo's still mysterious Chilean past.

I don't know if the showrunners have discussed it at all but I would LOVE it if we learned more about Gus's background.
posted by triggerfinger at 12:10 PM on March 28, 2016 [4 favorites]

I would LOVE it if we learned more about Gus's background.

I would, too. I especially want to know more about his partner who was killed. Gus was so devastated that any backstory would be really interesting. A lot of the tragedies in BB that we look back on in retrospect create feelings of empathy when we get a more humanizing backstory.
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:20 PM on March 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

After Jane overdosed on heroin, Walt called Saul for advice; which in response, Saul sent Mike to remove all incriminating that could link to drug use
I recall in a previous Insider podcast they mentioned that the script originally called for Saul himself to do the cleanup, but that Bob Odenkirk wasn't available, so they introduced the character of Mike to do it. What a happy accident.
posted by borsboom at 4:32 PM on March 28, 2016 [5 favorites]

As a legal ethics professional, I feel compelled to point out that if Kim does move to S&C, all of her previous legal work is imputed to the new firm and it's as if she had done it there. Schweikart doesn't explicitly (I think) say that they'd put up an ethical wall between Kim and the rest of the firm barring her from knowing anything about their work on the Sandpiper case, but that's basically what he's implying. However, an ethical wall would not solve this conflict. They would need to get Kim's former clients to consent to her joining the new firm, and I'm honestly not even sure how that works in a class-action scenario. Also, they'd have absolutely no reason to consent to such a thing. If it were a friendly transaction, maybe, but ongoing litigation directly adverse to the new firm where she's been appearing in front of a court? No way.

Suffice it to say that it's not a very realistic possibility. I've seen people kept on garden leave for a year for much less obvious conflicts of interest, and that's probably not even an option here since this litigation is likely to drag on for years. This stuff is one of the reasons why people tend to spend their whole careers on one side or the other of major divides in litigation like being on the plaintiff or defendant side of class action suits (insurers vs. insureds is another big one).
posted by Copronymus at 9:34 PM on April 19, 2016 [3 favorites]

Jimmy IS Bali Ha'i. Recall him floating in the pool and beckoning Kim to his scam. He is the island. I keep thinking about this, maybe because I don't know how you can fail to be charmed by his singing messages.
posted by fiercecupcake at 10:41 AM on July 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

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