Better Call Saul: Nailed
April 11, 2016 9:17 PM - Season 2, Episode 9 - Subscribe

Jimmy's and Mike's respective schemes seem to play out successfully, but not without dire consequences.
posted by Sys Rq (88 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
This was a really good episode. I've been re-watching some of the BB episodes with Saul in them. After watching BCS, I've forgotten how conniving and duplicitous he eventually becomes, with very little hint of remorse. I mean, I feel that there's almost nothing left of the Jimmy that we seem like we know in BCS, and it makes me feel sad. I've commented before at how tragic BB seems in retrospect, now that we are getting backstory to some characters that we care about. But I'm actually having something of a hard time watching Saul Goodman, as I keep thinking we'll see something of his conflicted nature. But he seems to be pretty much gone most of the time.

I don't know how intentional it was to make the characters so different between the shows, or if Jimmy was constructed as being more innocent, knowing the journey needed to get to where he eventually arrives. But it seems that he and Walter White were actually on similar trajectories, where there was something latent and unattended to in seemingly decent people that eventually became something pretty bad. I'd like to see the black and white intros to each season of BB eventually resolve in Jimmy's redemption, which would be the antithesis of Walter's end game. It's hard to say if that would or should happen. To get from where we are to where he eventually arrives, I feel as if Jimmy has to cross a moral line of no return to make it coherent between the two shows.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:29 PM on April 11, 2016 [13 favorites]


Oh Jesus. I am cruisin' for a bruisin' with my Jimmy/Kim love.

Kim was AMAZING, I loved this episode. That last scene with them in bed before the excruciating ending was so funny and on point.
posted by stoneandstar at 9:30 PM on April 11, 2016 [13 favorites]


I really hope there is redemption for Jimmy/Saul (naturally) but yes, it was easy to remember after this episode how he eventually wheels and deals in murder.
posted by stoneandstar at 9:31 PM on April 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


That ending was really difficult to watch, and really tense. Jimmy absolutely better do something, or else we'll have something on par with Walter White standing by while Jesse's girlfriend died of the drug overdose.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:32 PM on April 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


I also thought this was a great episode, with both Jimmy and Mike standing on the edge of a moral cliff.

Kim was awesome - the punches in the arm: "Asshole! You put me in this position!"

She's got the clarity to tell Jimmy there's some things he might need to do to get the loose ends of this scam cleaned up, but the consequences of that are totally unintended.

She's with Jimmy for now. But if Chuck ends up dead...oh man.

With Mike, he thought he had it clean end-to-end, but he didn't forsee the unintended consequence of a civilian getting executed for happening across the truck driver.

So...
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:58 PM on April 11, 2016 [3 favorites]


Oh man Kim is so smart. I just LOVE how smart she is. She's like "I know it's 99% likely true but if you don't have any proof, I'm not about to go blow up my own career over something that can't be proven. And BTW Jimmy - something that can't be proven."
posted by bleep at 10:27 PM on April 11, 2016 [32 favorites]


I love how Chuck had Jimmy's scheme 100% figured out, and meanwhile Kim had both Chuck and Jimmy 100% figured out.

I hope Chuck doesn't end up like Ted. I felt bad for Jimmy, he really didn't want to hurt Chuck. Just destroy his credibility.
posted by mmoncur at 4:50 AM on April 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


I. Love. Kim.
posted by gaspode at 5:24 AM on April 12, 2016 [9 favorites]


Mike continues to deal in half-measures - even in the best case scenario the truck driver was going to be tortured, potentially to death, in an attempt to uncover his non-existent accomplice/s because, as Nacho points out, how else does a cartel truck carrying $250,000 get robbed and the driver live if it wasn't an inside job. I got Mike's motivations right, but his method wrong - although he did tease a potential working-for-the-Salamanca's with his "you guys aren't half as smart as you think you are" line. I wonder what will cause him to finally deal in full measures.

I really enjoyed how Kim's situation was crafted, and how it was used to shows how much of a reflection Jimmy and Chuck are of one another... "Kim, please endanger your career to allow me to continue my vendetta against my brother" is the pitch both Jimmy and Chuck are making to her, and they both employ moral arguments to sway her to their point of view - "You are meant for Mason Verde..." vs "As a sworn officer of the court...". Another instance of this mirroring, Chuck's usage of the "I am an officer of the court" to the copycentre employee versus Jimmy's usage of it on Tuco in the first season.
posted by kithrater at 5:30 AM on April 12, 2016 [11 favorites]


This was a stunning episode. I hope Jimmy doesn't blow his cover at the end. Surely Ernie or Lance will have the nous to call 911. Speaking of ... I thought Lance was going to crack, and I think he might have done if the woman hadn't called him away to help her.

Kim is awesome, and it's both worrying and reassuring that she didn't feature in BB. Worrying because something really bad might happen to her before the end of BCS, and reassuring because something really good might happen to her before the end of BCS. Given her ties with Jimmy, my money's on really bad.

Also, I'm pissed off that we have to wait another week to see the commercial.
posted by essexjan at 9:17 AM on April 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


Rhea Seehorn's face transitioning from "what the fuck" to "oh my God, Chuck is totally right" to "Jimmy you motherfucker" to "I don't care, I'm not letting Chuck take this away from me," and then her last response in that scene at Chuck's house was amazing. I hope she submits this episode for the Emmys, because damn.
posted by invitapriore at 12:44 PM on April 12, 2016 [21 favorites]


On the theme of 'color red = criminality', I enjoyed the scene of Jimmy and Kim painting their new office.
posted by isthmus at 12:52 PM on April 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


I enjoyed the scene of Jimmy and Kim painting their new office.

I like the whole "pretending to be surprised" act that Jimmy needed to keep up in this episode. That was some good acting. He did this with Kim when she got the phone call (and we could see right through it), and then with Chuck, and Kim could see right through it. Jimmy is always living with this perception that he can fool people all the time, but it always comes to roost with Chuck and Kim in interesting ways that take him down a notch or three.
posted by SpacemanStix at 1:29 PM on April 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


After Jimmy did his photocopying last episode I was wondering why he didn't pay off the shop keeper immediately. I figured he'd done enough of this sort of thing to do that by default so it wasn't shown. It surprised me that he didn't do it immediately after all. I suppose he felt there was no way Charles would figure it out?
posted by juiceCake at 2:02 PM on April 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


My suspicion is that whatever happens to Chuck - and everyone knowing it comes down to Jimmy even if they can't prove it - is going to be the thing that finally puts him out in the cold. Perhaps Kim goes back to Howard.

Criminal lawyer or not, Jimmy'd missed calling is grindhouse director, really.
posted by Grangousier at 2:30 PM on April 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


Kim is fighting a good fight, and has been throughout the entire show, but she's letting herself get pulled down to Jimmy's level. I think she's a lot more like him than she wishes she were, and I'm betting she's no stranger to a life that plays fast and loose with the rules. I think that's what she wanted to get away from in Nebraska, and that's what explains her attraction to Jimmy in the first place. She should know that she can't associate with him and continue to do things the right way. She's cut from the same cloth, ultimately.
posted by Shohn at 2:33 PM on April 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


Yeah, Kim seemed to know an awful lot about covering one's tracks when committing a crime for somebody who was an innocent victim of all of this.
posted by mmoncur at 3:11 PM on April 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


Colorwise, I noticed in this episode that Kim's toothbrush is blue.
posted by rhizome at 4:01 PM on April 12, 2016


It seems that Jimmy is the never the one who has to pay his bills when they come due, that falls on those around him. I'm worried that in the end, Kim will end up disbarred, and Jimmy will get away scot-free to become Saul.
posted by insert.witticism.here at 4:06 PM on April 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


Anyone else notice Hector popping those meds while he's throwing his fit? Strokewatch is on.
posted by absalom at 4:48 PM on April 12, 2016 [13 favorites]


Sometimes I'm really frustrated by good writing. The writing is good enough that a happy end or a tragic end for Kim are equally plausible. Damn it, be predictable and lame so I don't stress out between episodes!
posted by Drinky Die at 4:51 PM on April 12, 2016 [9 favorites]


After last episode's mirrors and parallels, we get one more here: the shot of Jimmy and Kim in bed is framed just like the earlier flashback shot of Chuck and Rebecca. And as int hat episode, we see a rift between a McGill brother and his significant other, one caused partly because the other McGill brother shows up with some effective rhetoric. And as there, one brother poisons the well for the other, only to have it backfire. Chuck warned Rebecca about Jimmy, but this meant that Jimmy's charms put the lie to Chuck's warnings. And Jimmy, here, gaslights Chuck to achieve the same effect, but Chuck's logic puts the lie to Jimmy's "innocent" act.

But Kim is the real power here. Jimmy was previously a border-crossing figure, a person who could move between the legal world and the criminal world if not easily, then at least playfully. But here, and last episode,, his desperation to make reality fit his preferred model of it sends him straight into outright criminal activity. This is not Jimmy being persuaded to crime by the crimes of others; this is Jimmy originating the crime, and slipping into illicit act after illicit act: forgery, bribery, and the rest.

But it's lying to Kim that has the biggest consequences here. And Kim, interestingly, becomes a character who can tell the truth *and* lie at the same time, as she does in her magnificent speech to Chuck, and in her subtler, but equally powerful rebuke to Jimmy. She's not just advising him to cover up his schemes; she's also putting distance between them, and not incidentally proving to herself entirely that he *did* gaslight Chuck. Jimmy might praise Chuck as a lawyer, and Chuck praise Jimmy as a manipulator, but here, Kim successfully "lawyers" Chuck in what is essentially a cross-examination -- "where's the evidence?" "Maybe you made a mistake?" -- and successfully manipulates Jimmy.

She's finally realizing what's been true from episode one of this season, maybe since the Kettleman case: Jimmy doesn't see her as an equal, a trusted partner in life. He sees her as as someone he can "earn," as someone who needs him to do the dirty work, as his reward and his incentive. (Maybe there's a reason the corner store flashback introduces young Jimmy ogling Playboy pictorials.) And now she knows that with clarity.

And she knows that Jimmy lied to her. He just plain lied to her. And I think that was the thing that let her forgive him before: he might scam other people, but she was let in. But in Jimmy's world, there are only two kinds of people: marks and co-conspirators. That isn't all Kim wants to be for a variety of reasons, but here she is, drafted into both roles because Jimmy does what Jimmy wants. Chuck is right to say that Jimmy isn't lazy, exactly, but he remains unwilling to do real work for real reasons.

Ultimately, Jimmy is horrifically bad at relating to others as people, certainly as adult people, but he has the grift and the charm to coast for awhile anyway. He puts them on pedestals, or tries to get them to play his short-term con games, or decides they're creeps who deserve conning or privileged assholes who deserve gaslighting because they never let him have his way. And with his father and brother, who could blame him? (Jimmy's mother is the missing piece here; I think it's telling that, outside of wanting to protect her feelings in the Chicago jailhouse flashback, Jimmy and Chuck never seem to talk or think of her at all.)

And then there's Mike, who falls deeper into self-deception than he ever has before on the show. It must feel good to an ex-cop hanging on to a sense of (unearned) moral righteousness -- the criminal who doesn't kill, who only busts on guys who deserve it -- to get his bloodless revenge on a pierce of crap like Hector Salamanca. Hector broke Mike's private rules, so Mike struck back at him to prove those rules matter. But they don't; they're just a rationalization, a half-measure on the road to embracing criminality. And their symptom is all the other half-measures Mike indulges in, as noted so clearly by kithrater.

Mike, like Jimmy, doesn't relate to others as people, as equals. He breaks the world down into good Samaritans and malicious thugs, honest criminals and dishonest ones, and then tries to keep himself on one side of that line. But it's a line that exists mostly in his head. Like Jimmy, Mike is fearsomely competent when he needs to be; like Jimmy, he's shortsighted; and like Jimmy, his attitudes betray an often unacknowledged but persistent tendency to devalue people who don't do things his way, who don't bend their attitudes and behaviors to match the alternative reality in his head. But actual reality has a nasty tendency to spoil all that, and actual people have a nasty habit of deciding to behave like actual people.
posted by kewb at 5:49 PM on April 12, 2016 [28 favorites]


It's going to be awfully hard to erase the night's videotape after a guy happens to topple over and crack his head while in the middle of an argument with the clerk, minutes after Jimmy leaves. The cops are going to want to see for themselves what happened.
posted by Flashman at 7:42 PM on April 12, 2016 [9 favorites]


After last episode's mirrors and parallels, we get one more here: the shot of Jimmy and Kim in bed is framed just like the earlier flashback shot of Chuck and Rebecca.

On that front - has anyone mentioned that the season opens with the reveal of a poorly-concealed hidey-hole, and the B-plot of the penultimate episode centers on a very well concealed hidey-hole?

Jimmy might praise Chuck as a lawyer, and Chuck praise Jimmy as a manipulator, but here, Kim successfully "lawyers" Chuck in what is essentially a cross-examination -- "where's the evidence?" "Maybe you made a mistake?" -- and successfully manipulates Jimmy.

I think that scene and the scene in the bed kind of show that, on some level, Kim is more adept at both games than either of the McGill boys are willing to admit. Kim never really disagrees with Chuck's logic, but instead uses Chuck's own near-fanatical devotion to the law-as-principal against him. "Where is the evidence" indeed?

And then, later, in bed, Kim uses that same relentless, ruthless questioning style to deconstruct what she knows but can't prove about Jimmy. It's a perfect demonstration that she understands both of their worlds a lot better than either really appreciates.

I think the image of Jimmy "walking out" on Kim really works here, too. Even if there was not that really uncomfortable ending, what happens when Jimmy comes home in the middle of the night after all but confirming that all of Kim's good fortune is because of him. This is the exact thing he agreed not to do when they went into partnership.

Or, rather, swore not to tell her he was doing. What does Kim see when she looks in the mirror at this crossroads? (The mirror with the $10,000 check stuck in it.)

It's funny, Mike and Jimmy are of course the protagonists of the show, but I think in season 2 they've done a masterful job bringing out Kim Wexler as a protagonist in her own right. Chuck, too: just because he's petty doesn't make him *wrong*, and they're the two people we've come to be vested in whose outcomes are unclear.

Oh, and of course, Nacho. Nacho is the unsung mortar of the B-plot here. In my heart of hearts, I'm starting to hope that Nacho is who Mike is talking about in BB when he says "You - are not the guy. You're not capable of being the guy. I had a guy, but now I don't. You - are not the guy." Such an apt pupil.
posted by absalom at 7:54 PM on April 12, 2016 [16 favorites]


Yeah, Kim's bit in that scene in Chuck's study is a real barn-burner. Chuck obviously thought that his previous revelation to Kim about Jimmy's role in the ruin of the family store (or "revelation", as I still suspect that there's more to the story than Chuck is letting on) was laying the ground for her both possibly giving back Mesa Verde and splitting up with Jimmy, both professionally and personally. I think that Kim learned an entirely different lesson from that talk, though, about Chuck, and I also think that Chuck doesn't have a clue about Giselle and Viktor. And while there's no way that Kim could know that Chuck would end up cracking his head on a copy shop counter, I think that she probably already knew that he was running on fumes during his fairly-brief public outings. Speaking of the copy shop scene, I was thinking that Chuck could probably have had a space-blanket-lined raincoat and hat made, but that his pride wouldn't have let him go out in public looking like that, just as he couldn't have simply let Ernesto handle the copy shop guy by himself. (Poor Ernesto.)

And poor Mike, thinking that he could keep his hands clean while fucking with the Salamancas. Stacey and Kaylee are living in a house that will be paid for by the blood of a random good Samaritan.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:19 PM on April 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


Oh, and also: the car that Mike uses for the robbery, which I'm guessing he hotwired, is blue. Also, although Rupert Holmes is indeed British, and as far as I can tell never lived in the ABQ, the school is named after a New Mexico native, Bill Mauldin, a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist who is also known for his WWII cartoons of Willie and Joe. I have no idea if this is significant at all. (I also noticed a reflection in the window of Mike's favorite diner of a woman in a purple dress walking with a man, and wondered if it was Marie Schrader, but I didn't think so on second glance.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:37 PM on April 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


More colour symbolism: makeup lady applies powder to tone down the (Irish?) red in Jimmy's skin.

Irony alert: a guy who works best by gaslight gets (briefly) gaslighted.
posted by maudlin at 9:42 PM on April 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


Since it has become such a big theme in these discussions I figured other people here might enjoy this 16 minute video essay on Colour in Storytelling.
posted by bswinburn at 10:56 PM on April 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


It was also interesting to see Mike indulge in a bit of calculated sloppiness by buying the room a round. A tiny echo of Pryce's hummer, in that he was throwing money around that he should have kept quiet, except he knew what he was doing and presumably weighed up the pros and cons.
posted by Grangousier at 1:09 AM on April 13, 2016 [9 favorites]


Oh, hey: a theory involving an anagram of the first letters of this season's episode titles that's so crazy, it has a decent chance of being true. [SPOILERS for Breaking Bad, although I think that that's kind of assumed here.]
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:44 AM on April 13, 2016 [10 favorites]


Some notes from the Better Call Saul Insider podcast for this episode:
  • Jennifer Bryan, costume designer for the final season of Breaking Bad and both seasons of BCS riffed with Jonathan Banks, and talked about some very keen details, including
  • the fact that Jimmy is the only one to wear double-breasted jackets in BCS, and even when he was wearing brown jackets, he stood out from the rest;
  • despite (or in keeping with) Jennifer's talk about sourcing authentic clothing for characters and time periods, Elisha Yaffe, the copy guy Lance, wore his own shirt in the prior episode because she didn't know if she could top it, but she made his shirt from three other shirts for this episode; and
  • looking back to BB, when Jesse was locked in the white power dudes' underground meth lab, Jennifer put Jesse in one of Todd's old shirts - specifically the one he wore from the conflict in Dead Freight (s05e05 FanFare link), a detail she added herself that made Vince Gilligan pretty happy, saying it's the kind of thing that writers geek out about when they think of it
  • Mike's nailed hose scene was set out near Cochiti Lake (Google maps aerial view of the region)
  • Yes, that school scene is just up the road from where the redheaded skater twins staged their crash (Google maps streetview)
  • Indiana University presented Jonathan Banks with an honorary doctoral degree (press release stating that the event would happen on April 10, I couldn't find any after-the-fact reporting) - and Jonathan was very emotional about the honor, talking about his family connection to the university, going back to his grandfather who was pulled from school after 6th grade, who helped lay the foundation of Franklin Hall, future home of The Media School.

posted by filthy light thief at 7:49 AM on April 13, 2016 [7 favorites]


"I think that she probably already knew that he was running on fumes during his fairly-brief public outings."

One of the things I wanted Kim to say to Chuck, and which I think she was thinking and informed her decisions, is that while he's very concerned about the responsibility to the client, Mesa Verde, and Jimmy's influence on her, he's standing there wearing a space blanket.

I wondered how Jimmy internally reacted to Kim's retort to Chuck. I wondered if he would feel validated, if he would respond very positively. Or if he would partly feel reflexively defensive on Chuck's behalf. (I think a truism in close relationships, especially marriage, is that while they can complain incessantly about a parent/child or other close relation of theirs, you're asking for trouble if you offer your own criticism.) Jimmy still idolizes Chuck and is still mostly blind to the deeper truths of how Chuck has hurt him. Which is to say, he sees what Chuck does in the immediate sense, but I think he still makes excuses for it and, more importantly, I don't think he has any awareness at all of how the dynamic between them has shaped who is is and has damaged him in deep ways.

And, importantly, I don't think that he's truly aware of how deeply and hurtfully insecure Chuck is, how much of what Chuck does is ultimately about himself even as he claims (to others and himself) that it's about principle. Chuck is actually a lot like Walter White, just not nearly so rotten inside. Just a little rotten inside, maybe, but in the same ways. Pride and self-regard and resentment of some people around him. If Chuck had been thwarted in his quest for professional acclaim, as Walter was, maybe Chuck would have become more poisonous like Walter.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:58 AM on April 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


Follow-up thoughts on the podcast:

They were pretty stoked on the billboard for the Oasis hotel, saying it looked great. It did, but it looked new-old because it wasn't faded. It was worn, but the colors were way too vivid. As someone who has seen a good bit of the state and its faded signs (Google street view).


Grangousier: It was also interesting to see Mike indulge in a bit of calculated sloppiness by buying the room a round. A tiny echo of Pryce's hummer, in that he was throwing money around that he should have kept quiet, except he knew what he was doing and presumably weighed up the pros and cons.

I thought about this - it looked like he was going to pay for his drink, but had a wallet full of hundreds, so instead of asking for change he opted to drop it on a round. I'm not sure which would draw more attention - but he was feeling good, before he was made aware of the unintended consequences of his actions.


isthmus: On the theme of 'color red = criminality', I enjoyed the scene of Jimmy and Kim painting their new office.

I wonder if he's keeping the yellow room with the rainbow.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:59 AM on April 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


Oh - two final things from the podcast: Michael McKean did his own head-bashing stunt, with the aid of a single wire that stopped him right before he hit his head on the counter. He agreed to do it after seeing someone else try out the set-up.

And they picked Rupert Holmes because they wanted Jimmy to sing the song, but as a bonus Easter egg, Rupert wrote the scripts and music for AMC's first scripted show, Remember WENN.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:01 AM on April 13, 2016 [6 favorites]


That cold open was like a Wile E. Coyote/Road Runner scene, especially in the establishing shots taking in the desert landscape and then focusing on the trap set-up. Right up until the driver hit the breaks I was expecting something to go wrong.
posted by cardboard at 8:09 AM on April 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'm starting to hope that Nacho is who Mike is talking about in BB when he says "You - are not the guy. You're not capable of being the guy. I had a guy, but now I don't. You - are not the guy." Such an apt pupil.

No, he was talking about Victor, the guy killed by Gus after he was spotted at Gale's house. That was Mike's guy.

I don't think anything too bad is going to happen to Kim, I think she's just going to eventually get sick of Jimmy's shenanigans and move on, breaking Jimmy's heart and pushing him one step closer to Saul. Though, I guess like in Breaking Bad, it's very possible the main character's actions will destroy the lives of all those around him.
posted by bondcliff at 8:16 AM on April 13, 2016 [9 favorites]


cardboard: That cold open was like a Wile E. Coyote/Road Runner scene, especially in the establishing shots taking in the desert landscape and then focusing on the trap set-up. Right up until the driver hit the breaks I was expecting something to go wrong.

But it's Mike we're talking about (and everyone pretty much knew it was him, even if he was in all black, in an attempt to make him anonymous - he still wore his usual shoes, and stood in his usual stance, which made him him, even as a silhouette). Sure, there's the hubris in the "perfection" of his plan to not kill the driver, but on the technical stuff, I have faith in Mike.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:10 AM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


So, in rewatching some BB episodes, I noticed that Mike looks older in the prequel than in BB, which takes place later. This is to be expected, as he actually is an older actor at this point. However, Jimmy looks a lot younger in BCS, and in watching BB, it looks like he's aged a bit. So, they did some magic in taking a few years off of him for BCS. I think it's in part the haircut.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:27 AM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


I really didn't like how Chuck's fall ended up with him whacking his head on the counter. It would have been a better scene had there been greater ambiguity as to the severity of the injury and also for not having gone to pretty much the worst outcome possible.

Jimmy would rightly have all the same fears and worries about the outcome if Chuck had just fallen to the floor and it would have seemed less just-so to me.
posted by wierdo at 11:36 AM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


They aged up both Bryan Cranston and Bob Odenkirk in Breaking Bad, making them both look much older on that show than they did in real life. Both of them looked 10 years older on that show than in real life.
posted by aabbbiee at 11:38 AM on April 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


I wish they didn't have Chuck bonk his head.

They've done such great character work this season. There was already so much legitimate drama between Kim and Jimmy and Chuck, waiting to be explored. Making Chuck slip into a coma or die or wake with some sort of permanent brain injury are soap-opera shenanigans. They get in way of the good stuff.

I found myself thinking of Mr. Rogers speaking to Congress:
"We don't have to bop somebody over the head to...make drama on the screen. We deal with such things as getting a haircut, or the feelings about brothers and sisters, and the kind of anger that arises in simple family situations. And we speak to it constructively. ... I think that it's much more dramatic that two men could be working out their feelings of anger -- much more dramatic than showing something of gunfire."
I'm not saying they need to make a show about Jimmy getting a haircut, just that I love how they've been exploring the complicated interior lives and histories of Kim and Jimmy and Chuck, and was looking forward to seeing the relationships between these three play out in a natural way. (Which now appears unlikely.)

For your non-Mr.-Rogers-approved genre thrills and gunfire, you've already got Mike's storyline, which even in this episode was incredibly exciting. I get that they want a cliffhanger to end the season on next week, but I wish they'd chosen a different cliff.
posted by Missiles K. Monster at 11:38 AM on April 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


The head injury really bothered me too. I cringe even thinking of it.
I'm a little surprised to read so much criticism of Chuck here. Again, what exactly did he do to Jimmy? Lie to him because he didn't want to give him a job and "steal" a client from Kim- a client that already belonged to his firm. He should not have lied, that was very wrong and he did it repeatedly. Terrible. But Jimmy's actions are far, far more outrageous. Unquestionably. Jimmy's actions are illegal, immoral and unethical. That Chuck knew instantly what Jimmy had done - that he could perfectly guess such a manipulative plot and be right - illustrates the behavior Chuck has witnessed in the past. Maybe it's because I have some family history with addicts and untrustworthy behavior, but I really felt for Chuck in that scene at his home when he looked at the papers and he just knew what Jimmy had done. But he couldn't prove it. That hit me right in the gut. And Jimmy's scheme totally undermined Chuck's capability as an attorney, which must have been the biggest blow to him. As he says, he's never been so humiliated. His brother did that to him because of a client. And I love Kim, but I just call bs that Chuck is responsible for Jimmy. Jimmy's an adult. Chuck's not even his parent! I just really hope he's not impaired. Ugh what if he winds up in that nursing home Hector blows up?
I had a real "Skyler" vibe from Kim in the bedroom scene. Skyler was a good crime partner for Walt when she was laundering money and creating that gambling story. I was getting that mob wife vibe from Kim this week too. Skyler didn't leave when she should have, but maybe Chuck's injury will be the tipping point Kim needs to get away from Jimmy.
Still, I cannot wait to see the commercial! I loved when I realized they were at the school just for the flag. And they brought a wheel chair for a dolly again! Love it.
Oh and it is so great to see Nacho. I'd love to see his character developed more.
posted by areaperson at 12:12 PM on April 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


I really felt for Chuck in that scene at his home when he looked at the papers and he just knew what Jimmy had done.
One of my favorite moments this season. Howard says, "We all make mistakes," and just the echo of the word mistake in Chuck's mind brings up thoughts of Jimmy. Love how Michael McKean lets his face show every moment of Chuck's train of thought.
posted by Missiles K. Monster at 12:26 PM on April 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


I was telling my boyfriend last week that I would like about one full season of Jimmy and Kim practicing law together-but-separate before DRAMAAA has to happen. Obviously that is not going to be the case with the head-thwacking. Wish it were, though. The character work in this episode was so amazing.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:29 PM on April 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


I also felt really bad for Chuck.
posted by bleep at 1:23 PM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


areaperson: I'm a little surprised to read so much criticism of Chuck here.

I think many people side with at least part of Kim's analysis Jimmy from this episode:
Kim: You made a mistake, and instead of just facing up to it, you accuse your brother of plotting against you. You come up ‭with this elaborate scheme.

Chuck: He's capable of this! You know he is!

Kim: I know he's not perfect! And I know he cuts corners. But you're the one who made him this way. He idolizes you. He accepts you. He takes care of you. And all he ever wanted was your love and support, but all you've ever done is judge him. You never believed in him. You never wanted him to succeed.

And you know what? I feel sorry for him.

And I feel sorry for you.
Kim doesn't say "No, Jimmy isn't capable of this," she softens his apparent evil, as portrayed by Chuck here.

For me, this stems from the gut-punch of "chimp with a machine gun" speech Chuck gave Jimmy at the end of last season. Chuck sees absolutely no chance for Jimmy to redeem himself, and definitely no way he could become Chuck's peer. He'll always be Chuck's little brother, the fun-time con-man.

Maybe I'm naive or idealistic, but I think that if Chuck didn't put himself on a pedestal of Perfect Lawyer and keep Jimmy down below among the lesser mortals (where Paige also resides, though she might deign some recognition from time to time, as she appears to be a half-decent lawyer, even though she questioned Chuck's absolute truths in this episode), he could actually help Jimmy avoid the path of becoming Saul. How? At least be proud of his brother for toiling and earning a law degree, and trying to steer him on the straight and narrow. He could have become a mentor, instead of an adversary.

Except that would mean Chuck would have to deal with his brother's "easy routes" in ways other than the chiding older brother, and Officer of the (One, True, Holy) Law.

Could Chuck have made an error, either on his own or by picking up something that had an error and sticking with that number throughout his writing? Yes. But to admit that would be to admit he was fallible, and when you have to wear a space blanket to travel in a car, any sign of errors could point to an issue in your thinking, which could lead to people thinking the electro-sensitivity is some unfounded paranoia and not a real physical, medical issue.

Does Chuck have reasons to cling to his work as being literally flawless? Yes. But if he had a bit more of his brother's ability to grin and go with whatever gets thrown at him, reacting and continuing to move forward, even if that means a path that isn't straight and narrrow, he wouldn't have elevated a typo to "the worst professional humiliation" in his life.

In short: I think Chuck is an asshole, more so to his own brother. If they shared more traits, instead of almost fighting the potential to become more alike, they'd both do better in the world.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:25 PM on April 13, 2016 [7 favorites]


I don't feel bad for Chuck at all. He worked his magic to keep Mesa Verde to spite Jimmy; Kim, whose best interests Chuck claims to have at heart, was just collateral damage. What Chuck did was legal, even ethical, but not really right. He undermined a colleague's fledgling law practice in order to hurt his brother. Period. Jimmy did something illegal and unethical in order to help Kim, who was an innocent victim of his brother's machinations. Jimmy's motives were not pure -- Kim's happiness is important to his own, and certainly sticking it to Chuck makes him happy -- but they are purer than Chuck's, who acted pretty much entirely out of rancor. What's legal versus what's right seems to be a prevailing theme on the show to date; I think what's next is the slippery slope a person encounters when he decides to transcend the letter of the law and appoint himself an authority on its spirit.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:34 PM on April 13, 2016 [6 favorites]


I feel bad for Chuck because he's mentally ill. And I think the one thing Jimmy has truly done to hurt Chuck was last season when he had a chance to have Chuck committed and he didn't take it. As cruel as that would have been, Chuck would have gotten some of the help he needed.

Jimmy might feel responsible for Chuck hitting his head, but regardless of the circumstances it was his mental illness that caused the injury, and it could have just as easily happened in the HH&M office as in the copy shop.
posted by mmoncur at 3:56 PM on April 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


Part of me is seeing it as an opportunity for Jimmy to learn about outcomes being connected to initial conditions. He didn't smack Chuck's head, but...

I've said before I think a difference between Kim and Jimmy is that Jimmy is an ends-justify-the-means guy, and Kim is a "good work achieves good goals" person (with some flexibility, it would appear), and Jimmy could (we probably already know he doesn't) reflect on the missing middle of "the means" in his ethics.
posted by rhizome at 4:39 PM on April 13, 2016


I hear you guys, but I just completely disagree. Jimmy is fun and likeable and Chuck is uptight and irritable, but Jimmy is the bad guy. We know exactly what he did to his brother and it can't be excused by "Chuck took a client! Chuck didn't respect his brother's career potential! Chuck didn't give his brother a fourth or fifth or sixth chance." We know Jimmy's background and Chuck knows more than us. And he was right - Jimmy is a chimp with a machine gun. Saul Goodman is a guy who advises Walt to kill Jesse and Hank.
Walt was responsible for his actions and so is Jimmy. I'm remembering reading a chat board where Walt's criminal behavior was blamed on his mother, Gretchen & Elliot and of course, Skyler.
posted by areaperson at 5:01 PM on April 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


Jimmy might feel responsible for Chuck hitting his head, but regardless of the circumstances it was his mental illness that caused the injury, and it could have just as easily happened in the HH&M office as in the copy shop.

Yeah, ultimately something like this could have happened to Chuck in court or somewhere the clients could see it at any time leading to Kim getting them back anyway. But Jimmy believes his brother really will be flawless if he doesn't interfere.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:50 PM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Part of me is seeing it as an opportunity for Jimmy to learn about outcomes being connected to initial conditions. He didn't smack Chuck's head, but...

Which is the thing that connects Jimmy's arc to Mike's, even though they often seem to be in completely different worlds. Mike didn't whack the good Samaritan, but...
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:53 PM on April 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


Hoping there's a hook-up between Mike and the waitress soon.
posted by areaperson at 5:53 PM on April 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


"I didn't order pie."
posted by rhizome at 6:19 PM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


The waitress, Fran, is apparently the same one as from Breaking Bad when Mike meets Lydia at the diner.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:20 PM on April 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


I think Chuck is a Javert-style character. He's lawful good(?), Jimmy is chaotic good/neutral/eventually kinda evil. Is Chuck doing anything overtly wrong? No. Would Chuck look the other way so Jean Valjean could steal a loaf of bread for his family? Probably no.

It's a difficult gut problem, because Chuck is essentially blameless. He's a successful, law-abiding citizen with impeccable boundaries re: his crazy family. Metafilter in particular cannot find fault with that. And yet, there's a point where funneling all your anger and resentment into a laser-point of strict adherence to the law in pursuit of your ends is a bit fanatical and in bad taste.

But police, lawyers (and hey, journalists) all have professions where doing your job well is "in bad taste." Chuck, on the other hand, has let it get to him in the extreme.

It also seems inevitable. With his dopey father needing rescuing on the one hand, and his cunning brother slipping around town on the other, he probably feels quite beset.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:41 PM on April 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


Good thread, good job, everyone.

I like the whole "pretending to be surprised" act that Jimmy needed to keep up in this episode. That was some good acting. He did this with Kim when she got the phone call (and we could see right through it), and then with Chuck, and Kim could see right through it.

I'm sure Chuck could see right through it too. Jimmy's reaction to Chuck's accusations has always been outrage, but this time he was pretty cool about it, even laughing it off. If Chuck's accusations were false, a sibling who cared at all would react with concern at the kinds of things Chuck was saying! It seems like he might not have expected Chuck to figure it all out and walked into an ambush--or else he just doesn't care if Chuck knows. But I don't think he was really trying to fool anyone in that scene, maybe just squeak out of a tight spot and be polite at the bare minimum. Not even that polite really...

I strongly agree with Kim that Chuck could be (will be/is/would have been?) a dangerous enemy, so doing this in a way that even Chuck alone would know what happened isn't just sloppy work, it's reckless.

Jimmy doesn't see her as an equal, a trusted partner in life. He sees her as as someone he can "earn," as someone who needs him to do the dirty work, as his reward and his incentive.

It burns that she's that smart and he still thinks he can fool her. Jimmy is a fun guy, but wow, what a shithead.

Oh, hey: a theory involving an anagram of the first letters of this season's episode titles that's so crazy, it has a decent chance of being true. [SPOILERS for Breaking Bad, although I think that that's kind of assumed here.]


Whoa. I believe that. So... in the season finale? I just hope Nacho doesn't go away. I agree with you all, he's a good actor and an engaging character. I'm always happy to see him.

I know quite a few of you prefer this show over BB because it's lighter, but it's more difficult for me to enjoy. The way these shows depict crime is a struggle for me: these characters have plainly chosen a life of crime, but some people are better than others at recognizing that fact, and behaving appropriately. I have huge complicated feelings about Walt that I won't take up this thread with, but in short, I think that BB did a good job of making the vast majority of his decisions seem cold as ice but necessary if you bought the basic premise of the show, and you knew he was doomed anyway.

Jimmy is merely doing this because it thrills him and he's fairly adept at it, and he is to some degree laboring under the same delusions as Henry in Goodfellas in regards to Normal People Work. He's warm and likeable in a way that Walt never really was. But he thinks he's too special to have to wait for success. Seeing him be sloppy and careless is difficult for me, because I know he's smart enough to be a successful crook; he just hasn't scraped away enough of his humanity or gotten his knuckles rapped badly enough yet to get wise about it. His shenanigans make me nervous because it's such a high-wire act every time.
posted by heatvision at 4:03 AM on April 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


Jimmy is fun and likeable and Chuck is uptight and irritable, but Jimmy is the bad guy.

I am right there with you. There is nothing unethical or even unexpected about Chuck helping Howard retain a huge new client for their firm. Sure, Kim brought them in, but she brought them to HHM, and sold them on HHM, not on Kim Wexler as an individual. I mean, sure, it might be really, really nice if in addition to hiring her, training her, giving her a start, and letting her have a parting gift of $15,000 in student loan debt forgiveness, HHM also handed her an enormous new client without even trying to retain their business-- a client that is probably way too much for any one attorney to handle--but they didn't do anything remotely wrong or underhanded. Jimmy, on the other hand, committed forgery to get a client back for his girlfriend that she lost in a completely fair way--and he did it knowing that she wanted to run an ethical practice.

The real tragedy of this episode to me is Jimmy's corrupting influence on Kim. She really wanted to do everything ethically but having Mesa Verde back as a client was too big a prize. She would have never committed forgery herself. She would have stopped Jimmy if she had known what he was going to do. Chuck is absolutely right about what she should do now. She knows what Jimmy did, and even without proof she has an ethical obligation to contact Mesa Verde and inform them that something hinky has taken place. But she doesn't. There's too much money on the table now to leave it alone. And that's why she hits Jimmy in the car. She has enough moral fiber not to seek to win by cheating; but having found herself made a winner by someone else's cheating, she's not strong enough to give it up. So she takes in and intentionally tries to gaslight Chuck to keep her victory.

Having done that, she becomes committed to keeping Mesa Verde and protecting herself as someone who is now entangled in Jimmy's crimes. Thus the bedroom conversation that prompts Jimmy to race back to the coffee shop.

Part of me is seeing it as an opportunity for Jimmy to learn about outcomes being connected to initial conditions. He didn't smack Chuck's head, but...
Which is the thing that connects Jimmy's arc to Mike's, even though they often seem to be in completely different worlds. Mike didn't whack the good Samaritan, but...
And Kim didn't bribe Lance the copy guy, but...
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:45 AM on April 14, 2016 [10 favorites]


No, he was talking about Victor, the guy killed by Gus after he was spotted at Gale's house. That was Mike's guy.


Yeah, no joke. You don't think I got that was the meaning on the initial writing. I was suggesting the potential that things we've already taken for granted might be recontextualized by what plays out in BCS. I mean, if I had said "this entire season is Mike learning his 'no-half measures' methodology from Breaking Bad," would "Actually, No! In Breaking Bad they said he learned that lesson back in PA," have been a response that was either useful or accurate?

ACTUALLY, no.

I mean, the idea that we might come to discover new and interesting contexts from Breaking Bad - AS HAS ALREADY HAPPENED - that was *clearly* what I was saying. Just couldn't control that "WELL, ACTUALLY" impulse, could ya? Just gotta define the PROPER reading for everyone, eh?

Sorry if I misread your tone, but it struck me as pretty condescending and a smidge rude. Congratulations on scoring your Internet Pedant Point.
posted by absalom at 8:48 AM on April 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


I was suggesting the potential that things we've already taken for granted might be recontextualized by what plays out in BCS.

Although it isn't without limitations, the recontextualizing question is really interesting. I was watching BB last night (burning through the series again and realizing how much I've forgotten), and it was the episode in season four where Saul is trying to find a place for Jesse to buy to launder his money. Where do they meet? A nail salon, where Saul is getting a pedicure. Saul wants Jesse to buy it to launder his money to look legit. I totally forgot about this.

In the context of the BB, there is no way that the writers were thinking that far ahead to BCS, where Jimmy starts his entire career in the basement of a nail salon. But after the fact, as the story grows and develops in the second series, you look at that BB episode and remember the guy Saul was when he was idealistic, sitting in the salon chairs with Kim, just trying to make life work. It made me grieve a bit for the person he used to be. Although not "original" authorial intent, I think that's legit, because 1) stories sometimes take on a universe of its own with developing rules of consistency, and 2) I think the writers probably thought back to this exact BB episode when they started thinking about writing Jimmy's origins story. What it allows them to do is something I've never seen in television before, at least on this level: write back-meaning into the BB story in a very significant and meaningful way, because they know people will be looking for these kinds of connections as part of what it is to enjoy the show.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:15 AM on April 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


I have huge complicated feelings about Walt that I won't take up this thread with, but in short, I think that BB did a good job of making the vast majority of his decisions seem cold as ice but necessary if you bought the basic premise of the show, and you knew he was doomed anyway.

Jimmy is merely doing this because it thrills him and he's fairly adept at it, and he is to some degree laboring under the same delusions as Henry in Goodfellas in regards to Normal People Work. He's warm and likeable in a way that Walt never really was. But he thinks he's too special to have to wait for success.


Consider this my invitation to clutter up the thread - this is all fascinating, and I would be delighted to hash out some old BB stuff if no one else objects.

Going first... I actually think Jimmy and Walt are more alike than unalike. Jimmy's joy at the whole thing is more on display, but that's just how he is - Walt has a baseline grimmer personality. When Walter had his parting conversation with Skyler, he admitted that he was Heisenberg because he loved it. He got to use his talents in a way that he found personally satisfying. Jimmy's no different - Saul Goodman style shenanigans let him 'win' in a way he never could, playing the game straight.

Both men are also spurred, in part, by jealousy. Jimmy's forever living in Chuck's shadow - he could be a successful lawyer easily. He's smart and he's talented, but he will simply never be Chuck. Their initial Sandpiper collaboration made that clear - Jimmy is better than Chuck at certain aspects of lawyering, but not the ones everyone respects. (While Chuck's no slouch as a showman, Jimmy's got a real gift, but their social class finds that gift unseemly.)

Walt had that life too - he had a family. He had the love of his wife and son, nice house, etc. But he wasn't filthy rich like Elliott, nor was he manly and respected like Hank - he felt he was living in the shadow of people who got more respect, more material privileges, and he could never beat them playing it straight, either.

Neither man 'had' to do what they did. Walter talked a good game, but his entire 'I gotta save up $X dollars' thing is predicated on the assumption that Skyler was completely useless. Not only does the show itself demonstrate that's untrue, (Skyler is able to get a *good* job early in, and even muddle through after Walter has burned her public image), but... you know, I was raised by a single mother with far fewer resources than Skyler had - the notion that she couldn't handle stuff in his absence was a heady mix of misogyny and ego.

Jimmy's actions here feel similar to me - deep down, he's acting like Kim needs him. We, the audience, know that she does not. She couldn't have kept Mesa Verde without his shenanigans, but she didn't really need to - she could've made a good living as a solo practitioner without his 'help,' especially given Howard's generosity. The truth is that the fallout from his actions are liable to ruin her, the way Skyler's life was wrecked. It is, again, a heady mix of ego and misogyny on display, IMO - "I will do what she cannot," when the reality is, "I'm gonna screw this up without asking her permission."

I am, however, very curious about your read on the situation despite likely disagreeing with it. (Something I love about the BB-verse is how intricate and complex it is, giving us rich ground to try and work out what's going on.)

But police, lawyers (and hey, journalists) all have professions where doing your job well is "in bad taste." Chuck, on the other hand, has let it get to him in the extreme.

You have articulated my feelings about Chuck really well. He hasn't done anything wrong, but he's letting this get to him, and it's making him act out in ways that are hard to sympathize with, even though I know he's right. Worse, I don't truly believe I'd do better than him in similar circumstances - I get why he sabotaged Jimmy, I truly do. And yet.

Heh.
posted by mordax at 9:40 AM on April 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


Sorry if I misread your tone, but it struck me as pretty condescending and a smidge rude. Congratulations on scoring your Internet Pedant Point.

Yeah, you missed my tone. Completely. I was pointing out something that could have easily have been missed in Breaking Bad, in case perhaps you missed it, because, up until now I assumed Fanfare was a place for friendly discussion about television shows where people weren't, you know, dicks to each other.

Your hostility is a bit unwarranted, dude. No half measures, I guess.
posted by bondcliff at 10:32 AM on April 14, 2016 [20 favorites]


I agree with everything you said, mordax, and feel like I did a poor job of articulating my point. I immediately regretted saying that Walt's actions seem necessary because that statement has a lot of caveats-- The writers were very clever about engineering situations that limited Walt's choices, so that if he didn't want to be murdered or die in prison, he had to double down on his grand plan and commit a larger crime than before. As we saw at the end, abandoning his family was the last thing he wanted to do, even if he wasn't treating them well at all, so that wasn't really an option for him. And for sure, Walt got into the situations he got into because he decided to become a criminal; at first he thought he could do that without hurting anyone, but somewhere along the way he discovered that he coveted power so much that he didn't care if he hurt anyone. I don't think that Walt ever took pleasure in the acts of murder or drug crime, but I think he loved being a good chemist and controlling people. The throne promo image was apt. Even by season 4, though, he was saying aloud that he should have simply died because he could hardly bear the cost of his own decisions.

I strongly agree that he and Jimmy have a lot in common. I think that Jimmy has a serious empathy deficiency, but I don't know where that comes from...

BB pulled kind of a trick, in which they played some things off as jokes, or Looney Tunes mayhem in the beginning that were actually not so funny later. He's abusive to Jesse in a way that seems two-sided and funny early on, but then you see how unfunny it all is later, when he's berating him, physically hitting him, and worse. Same with Sky, he has some allegedly snappy one-liners in the first few episodes, but looking back they're like warning signs for what a horrible husband he becomes.

Saul Goodman gave so much heartless advice. I don't know how someone can serve in the ways that he did if they really care about people. So now I have this unpleasant feeling that we're going to see, and pretty soon, how he becomes that way. Or worse, that he's always been that way, and that pretending to care for people is just another song and dance for him. Saul seems kind of hollow and sad.

If Walt had failed, he would have gotten what he deserved, because he was not making the world a better place. He was going to die anyway, and there is no point in the series at which him suddenly being gone wouldn't be a blessing in disguise for his family. But I can't help but to have hope for Jimmy, because the show is still cleverly only having him victimize people who can take it--beyond the hurt feelings of interpersonal relationships that is. Those aren't insignificant but they aren't his goal. It's still giving us an out to believe that he may have a heart. So I'm on pins and needles in a way that I wasn't with BB.
posted by heatvision at 10:54 AM on April 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


And for sure, Walt got into the situations he got into because he decided to become a criminal; at first he thought he could do that without hurting anyone, but somewhere along the way he discovered that he coveted power so much that he didn't care if he hurt anyone. I don't think that Walt ever took pleasure in the acts of murder or drug crime, but I think he loved being a good chemist and controlling people

Mm. Yes, that's a good point - I guess we don't disagree after all. I do think you're quite right that he enjoyed the 'soft' aspects of being Heisenberg - the authority, making the best product - rather than all the bodies in barrels.

It's still giving us an out to believe that he may have a heart. So I'm on pins and needles in a way that I wasn't with BB.

Yes, that makes tons of sense, thank you for the clarification. :)

I also do agree that while the stakes here are lower from a 'bodies buried' point of view, it is harder to watch. Everything with Kim, in particular, just has me on the edge of my seat. I don't feel that way as much with Mike because I know his granddaughter makes it, but... man. This is not a lighthearted romp, S2 has made that very clear.
posted by mordax at 11:56 AM on April 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


Your hostility is a bit unwarranted, dude. No half measures, I guess.

I'll cop to that. I apologize for not being more charitable in my reading of what you wrote.

And, unlike all the characters from our favorite universe, I won't try to make any excuses for it.
posted by absalom at 2:28 PM on April 14, 2016 [7 favorites]


Accepted, thank you. Let's talk about TV.

I wish all internet fights went like this.
posted by bondcliff at 2:41 PM on April 14, 2016 [6 favorites]


I had a real "Skyler" vibe from Kim in the bedroom scene.

Kim is a secret cigarette smoker, as well. I want so badly for a flashback on her backstory!
posted by thelonius at 6:53 PM on April 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


when you have to wear a space blanket to travel in a car, any sign of errors could point to an issue in your thinking, which could lead to people thinking the electro-sensitivity is some unfounded paranoia and not a real physical, medical issue

It's so tempting at times to think of Chuck's electrosensitivity as a random character work, but it's been woven so tightly into the tapestry of this show now. I love it so much. This show (and BB) are just operating on a completely different level of craft than anything else on television. It's like the TV version of Mad Max: Fury Road, where the plot you can see tells a really interesting story but you also get whole other narratives that spin out of individual pieces of costuming.

She has enough moral fiber not to seek to win by cheating; but having found herself made a winner by someone else's cheating, she's not strong enough to give it up.

I have a different take on that. It's not about choosing to "give up" what she won through Jimmy's cheating -- she originally won Mesa Verde on her own merits, she has literally nothing to prove in this regard -- but she has to weigh doing the right thing against the future of her practice.

The money from Mesa Verde is something Kim could take or leave. Having it would be an enormous boon, single-handedly covering all the costs of her practice. But she's a damned good lawyer, and she's tenacious in hunting down clients, so we know she'll be fine without them. There shouldn't be any doubt about that.

But.

It would be considerably harder for Kim to continue to operate as a lawyer if people found out that she was benefiting from Jimmy's illegal shenanigans. Even if she doesn't actually get disbarred, she'd be ruined as a lawyer by association. Remember that what Chuck asked her to do is tell Mesa Verde what happened, which would at the very, very least drive a wedge between Kim and Paige, one of her few real connections in non-ambulance-chaser law.

The irony in this situation is that the only way Kim can protect the ethical firewall she put up between her practice and Jimmy's is to defend him in a way that lets her maintain plausible deniability. Which she does, literally acting as a defence attorney by cross examining Chuck and trying to establish reasonable doubt.

Anyway, as for the final scene, I don't think Chuck is actually going to die from this. But I do think this accident will be the last nail in the coffin of his career at HHM, whatever the actual outcome of the injury. (The really soap opera-y way to play this is that the crack on the head cures his electrosensitivity. Heh.) His obsession with Jimmy and his fainting spells have discredited him in the eyes of everyone else at HHM, or at least in the eyes of Howard. If Chuck's head injury doesn't disable him any more than the electrosensitivity already has, I think Howard is going to have a nice, long talk with Chuck about how maybe it's time to throw in the towel and retire with his legacy intact.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:44 AM on April 15, 2016 [7 favorites]


It's so tempting at times to think of Chuck's electrosensitivity as a random character work

Blah, I mean a random character quirk.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:52 AM on April 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Rhea Seehorn is being interviewed on CBC's Q right now. (If you miss it, the site should have the whole interview up later today.)
posted by maudlin at 7:15 AM on April 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


I hear you guys, but I just completely disagree. Jimmy is fun and likeable and Chuck is uptight and irritable, but Jimmy is the bad guy. We know exactly what he did to his brother and it can't be excused by "Chuck took a client! Chuck didn't respect his brother's career potential! Chuck didn't give his brother a fourth or fifth or sixth chance." We know Jimmy's background and Chuck knows more than us. And he was right - Jimmy is a chimp with a machine gun. Saul Goodman is a guy who advises Walt to kill Jesse and Hank.

I think part of what makes this show so good is the characters have more nuance than even in BB, where we focused on Walt turning into a bad man who tries to control everything, but blames everyone for his negative actions. Here, we have Jimmy before he is Saul. We know where he'll go, but he's not there yet. Remember when he was following Chuck's guidance, doing his best first as a public defender in hopeless cases, then trying to make a go at senior services law, which got him looking into Sandpiper Crossing? All above-board, but then he also used Howard's own fixation to leverage limited funds to get free coverage, even by endangering the guy who was dangling from the billboard.

"Chimp with a machine gun" was Chuck's view of Jimmy, completely opposite of what his elderly clients would say about him. On reflection, I can see how he becomes that chimp as Saul, because once you start helping criminals get away with crimes (and worse, coaching them towards ways to commit violence), he's that chimp, but he's not there yet. I see some hope for him, even if I know that's not the way the story plays. His fate is written, but he still has a way to sink before he becomes another villain in BB.

And I support HHM's right to retain their major client, and I recognize that Howard is well within the rules of business to get in touch with Mesa Verde the instance Kim quits. But the way Chuck gets involved, in part after Howard implies (or at least doesn't clarify Chuck's read) that Jimmy "svengali'd" Kim into becoming partners. If it was just Kim on her own, would Chuck get involved? Or if Kim split with Jimmy and started off on her own? Chuck would say she's crazy, but likely wait for her to fail to support Mesa Verde and let them come back to HHM.

Instead, he put himself at risk to foil Jimmy's fortunes, because he saw Kim getting Mesa Verde as a boon for Jimmy, Kim's partner (as Chuck believed it). That would mean that Jimmy would be practicing law in a big way, and Chuck can't have that. I think Chuck is trying to keep Jimmy out of Big Time Law, because that's also where he's a chimp with a machine gun - his "colorful" tactics would get lots of people hurt, because they trust him to work within the confines of the law, and his wild plans would backfire, burning everyone.

I can see how you look ahead and see Saul, and understand what Chuck is saying. But now, Jimmy's not Saul. The number swap was definitely beyond the scope of the law, but again it was complicated by the personalities, specifically that of Chuck. If Chuck wasn't there, Howard might have been able to smooth everything over. Everyone makes some mistakes, right? OK, so the banking commission staff did research on the wrong location, but it's on the same block, Howard might say. What did they really miss by looking down the block, on the other side of the street? Howard would take the blame with HHM, and Mesa Verde folks would be upset, but not as pissed when Chuck said Paige was wrong, and tried to bluster through and get everyone to realize he was right and they were wrong.

Everyone is flawed, and everyone has good qualities. There are no Breaking Bad level villains, except for the drug cartel, but that's to be expected with a drug cartel, right?
posted by filthy light thief at 7:21 AM on April 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


...helping criminals get away with crimes (and worse, coaching them towards ways to commit violence)

He's clearly not on board with violence, but even in the first episode he's actively orchestrating criminal fraud by setting up that con on Mrs. Kettleman that goes so horribly wrong. And by season two he's actively lying to the police to protect a(n admittedly stupid) person involved in the drug trade.

Jimmy is likable, but his actions do have collateral damage. That's obviously shown through the dilemma he leaves Kim in and through Chuck's head injury, but it's also there in Mesa Verde having their branch opening postponed six months (and how many people's lives does that screw with) because *Jimmy* created an issue in the paperwork. Chuck handled it very poorly, but without Jimmy there's nothing *to* handle, poorly or otherwise.

Again, this is how con men think, how they rationalize: as long as the mark is a shitty person, or they were greedy too, or whatever other personality flaw can be found in them, then somehow it must be okay to abuse their trust and take some of their money or (in Chuck's case) their sense of dignity and self. There's no real way to defend committing fraud in order to gaslight a mentally ill person, especially when it involves abusing trust -- Chuck's and Ernesto's ultimate trust in Jimmy as a caretaker -- to do so.

The retort is that Chuck abused Jimmy's trust and admiration, and that's true...but how, exactly, do two wrongs make a right, or at least a wash of it all? And how does abusing Kim's trust to get at Chuck factor in? Or deciding that you don't care what might happen to the employees of Mesa Verde or maybe to someone like Ernesto (who is not so far removed from Omar, really) as long as you get what you want?

It's also how Mike thinks: the two corrupt cops killed my son and there's no way to achieve justice He never even entertains the possibility of going state's evidence and shutting down *all* the corrupt bullshit at cost to himself, just as he'd never imagine, say, killing the two cops and then being honest enough about it to take the rap for double homicide. Even Nacho seems to think it's OK to rob other crooks in part because, hey, they're crooks, not civilians! Notice that Nacho is upset when the Salamancas kill regular folks, but he's happy to prey on anyone who brings themselves into the game. I mean, big deal, right?

There are shitty, destructive people in this world, but as with BrBa, the right solution isn't to decide you have a license to be just as shitty and destructive. Mike's whole plotline is about the idea that there's not really such a thing as an honest criminal, as wicked means to good ends. And so is Jimmy's.
posted by kewb at 8:30 AM on April 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


kewb: it's also there in Mesa Verde having their branch opening postponed six months (and how many people's lives does that screw with)

Correction: "Now, uh, the soonest we could revisit this matter... well, it... it looks like six weeks from Friday." That's a long time, but not half a year. Sure, it sucks, and it makes a lot of people look like idiots, but I think that a (regionally) major bank could probably survive a small set-back like that with minimal fiscal impacts.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:11 AM on April 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


He never even entertains the possibility of going state's evidence and shutting down *all* the corrupt bullshit at cost to himself

I don't think one person could go state's evidence and clean up a large group of corrupt police. I think you'd need a more systematic approach to root out corruption and prevent it from coming back, but that's just my take on the situation.

I agree, there's a lot of "two wrongs," but that's what makes this show compelling to me - no one is perfect and no one is pure. And the one "saint" was fleeced by con men, which was (a major part of) why he lost his store and impacted his family, so I think the show is also pointing out that it's damned hard to be good all the time and get ahead. And I think it's more realistic that way, though it's hard to root for anyone all the time.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:17 AM on April 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


I just never have understood why many people insist on a zero-sum analysis of moral responsibility -- that if person A does something bad, and person B contributed in some way to that, then that means that person A is less responsible. It doesn't work that way. Each person is responsible for their decisions and what comes of them. Chuck doing the wrong things, or the right things for the wrong reasons, is a problem. He's part of who Jimmy is and he does things that, really, push Jimmy in the direction of Saul even when he thinks he's doing the opposite (and that's because Chuck doesn't really want Jimmy to reform, he has a vested emotional interest in Jimmy being Slippin' Jimmy). Chuck's responsible for this. None of that -- none of that -- makes Jimmy any less responsible for his actions. Criticism of Chuck is not excusing Jimmy.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:59 AM on April 15, 2016 [9 favorites]


Also, I don't think Kim's decision was much motivated by her own self-interest. It was a small part of it. But I think that, realistically, almost no outcome were she to go to Mesa Verde and the ethics board would exclude Mesa Verde going with a firm that was neither Kim nor HHM, would exclude revealing to many people the extent of Chuck's mental impairment (and that he and HHM are concealing this from their clients), would exclude Kim from being suspect and scrutinized and sanctioned (because she had the most to gain and is the more obvious suspect and maybe she just got cold feet and is trying to claim it was someone else), would exclude (at best) Jimmy's past investigated and being sanctioned (if there was no evidence and he didn't confess) and (at worst), losing his license and being prosecuted. Ultimately, Chuck was responsible for those documents and Chuck and HHM were responsible for catching that error, regardless of what Jimmy did. The most likely best outcome is still very bad for Chuck, the most likely worst outcome is that all three of them no longer practice law and two of them are disbarred and prosecuted.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:06 PM on April 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


Sorry to serial comment, but of course it's the case that my previous comment only strengthens the argument that telling Mesa Verde and the ethics board is the right thing to do -- for Mesa Verde and for the law. But I'm suspicious of whether Chuck would actually be as gung-ho were he to be aware of what it would mean to him. He might be, because his identity is built around that perspective. Even so, I don't necessarily think it's wrong of Kim to think in terms of what is more or less harmful to the people involved who are blameless -- specifically Chuck and Howard and herself. And whether she's willing to see the guy she loves lose his license and be prosecuted. That's a lot to ask of anyone for the sake of adherence to a rules-bound view of what's right.

Honestly, I could easily be persuaded that because of the nature of the practice of law and the greater good of society, it's really important to be slavishly devoted to rules-keeping like this and that Kim or any other lawyer should be expected to do this and not be excused, even informally, for failing to do this. Even so, I'm still very sympathetic to a more personal, less abstracted analysis that identifies the specific people involved and looks for a least-harm resolution. I think most people are at least sympathetic to this approach and many wholeheartedly prefer it, unless they're like Chuck.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:17 PM on April 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


It's been pretty apparent that Chuck had a big hand in making Jimmy who he is, as Kim states so perfectly in this episode, but now I'm wondering how much the inverse is true. Who would Chuck be without Jimmy?
posted by speicus at 12:52 PM on April 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


In corporate liability defense?
posted by rhizome at 1:02 PM on April 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Happily married?
posted by heatvision at 1:44 PM on April 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


Correction: "Now, uh, the soonest we could revisit this matter... well, it... it looks like six weeks from Friday." That's a long time, but not half a year. Sure, it sucks, and it makes a lot of people look like idiots, but I think that a (regionally) major bank could probably survive a small set-back like that with minimal fiscal impacts.

I did not make a mistake. Clearly you broke in in the middle of the night and changed the transcript. And the audio track to the episode.

More seriously, the debate between Ivan Fyodorovich and flithy light thief* is one of those "you're both right" situations." I don't think the show sugar-coats the difficulty of doing the right thing, and it doesn't posit that good deeds will earn rewards. But it does posit that bad deeds come back around, and that everyone is responsible for the moral choices they make.

I also wonder how we should define "good" here. Is Jimmy's dad "good," or is he neglecting (and ignoring) his son and his family? Is it part of his moral responsibility to question circumstances?

I think that the show's central theme is still narrative, just as BrBa centered on chemistry (change, volatility, chirality, etc.). The problem is that the characters think it's either a reductive narrative or, worse, a close-ended one. Part of why the long takes and the long scenes work so well is that we keep being reminded that the happy, self-serving little stories Jimmy, or Chuck, or Mike believes they're a part of -- the clever scam, the masterful little speech or closing argument, the storied career of good choices, the flawless and bloodless caper, and so forth -- are not the end.

The ripples of these actions keep spreading, and unpredictable things happen. There are no master strokes, no final moves; the world stubbornly keeps going on, and other people stubbornly refuse to stick to the script in any one character's head. Maybe Kim defends you and Chuck is "beaten," but that doesn't mean you don't have to spend time with Kim later on or that Chuck vanishes after a defeat like some movie villain or video game baddie.

Lawyers and con men create narratives and dismantle other narratives, albeit sometimes in quite different ways. You'd think they'd all know better than to buy into their own just-so stories about themselves and their actions.
posted by kewb at 3:51 PM on April 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


(The really soap opera-y way to play this is that the crack on the head cures his electrosensitivity. Heh.)

I thought the same thing -- I don't know how much of the condition is Chuck's mental illness and how much is him "faking it" but I could easily imagine him deciding that he was "cured". I think that would be hilarious.

I think Chuck is trying to keep Jimmy out of Big Time Law, because that's also where he's a chimp with a machine gun - his "colorful" tactics would get lots of people hurt, because they trust him to work within the confines of the law, and his wild plans would backfire, burning everyone.

I think a big part of why Chuck wants to keep Jimmy out of Big Time Law is the effect it would have on Chuck. It's not just that people would get hurt, but people would be hurt by Chuck's brother, and it would reflect badly on him. And even before people get hurt Chuck has the risk of being embarrassed by Jimmy's "colorful tactics" and maybe a legal risk of being implicated when Jimmy bends the law.

I mean, Chuck is essentially right, but his concern about Jimmy isn't purely altruistic concern for all of the innocent people out there who might get hurt. If there was a random guy named Saul who had no relationship with Chuck out there doing the same things, Chuck wouldn't be as motivated to stop him because none of it spills over onto Chuck.

(And maybe that's the deal they will strike.)

By the way, the more we talk about all of these nuances the more I realize that the casting has made this possible. Jimmy's kind of a reprehensible character in a lot of ways, and Chuck is unlikeable in some other ways. The fact that we still feel empathy for both of them, I think, is largely because of the way Bob Odenkirk and Michael McKean play the characters. It's hard to imagine it working at all with lesser actors.
posted by mmoncur at 9:28 PM on April 15, 2016 [7 favorites]


(The really soap opera-y way to play this is that the crack on the head cures his electrosensitivity. Heh.)

"You won't believe the dream I just had"
posted by rhizome at 2:23 PM on April 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


I am SO PISSED at Jimmy over what he did to Kim, I don't even think I can watch the next episode (well, maybe).

During their celebratory hot dog dinner, Jimmy tried to convince Kim to leave her resignation letter in Howard's office that night, to give her a chance to contact Paige about keeping Mesa Verde before Howard knew Kim was leaving. Kim very clearly, emphatically, says NO, LET ME DO THIS MY WAY. Does Jimmy respect this? Nope, not a bit. He bulldozes right over Kim's desire to run her law practice according to her own ethical standards.

Even if Kim survives this, and establishes a successful practice, she can never have the satisfaction of knowing that she earned it all by her own smarts and diligence, because Jimmy has stolen that from her. She will always know that she got that first big client back from HHM with the "help" of Jimmy's egregious duplicity.

Jimmy seems to have a need to believe that no one can really succeed if they're not willing to play dirty now and then. This is how he rationalizes being a con man -- everybody does it, you have to do it unless you want to be a loser. Having people around him who are successful while still being honorable makes Jimmy feel insecure and jealous. He can't stand to see Kim, or Chuck, succeed while playing by the rules, and he sabotages them both.

Sorry, Kim. DTMFA. He doesn't respect you, and never will.
posted by Corvid at 3:19 PM on April 16, 2016 [10 favorites]


I mean, I feel that there's almost nothing left of the Jimmy that we seem like we know in BCS, and it makes me feel sad.
The question that they set out to answer with BCS was, "What problem is solved by becoming Saul Goodman?" and as much as we've gotten to know his character I'm still not sure what the whole answer is. Part of it is definitely style and personality; the whole Davis & Main storyline definitely highlights how incompatible Jimmy is with that straight and narrow world. But you can be colorful without being totally crooked, so it seems like maybe "why does Jimmy wind up being a criminal lawyer?" will be the part of the origin question they answer next season. (Holy crap that anagram fan theory! If it's correct and Jimmy/Mike's arcs come back together in the finale, it could set the stage for us to start seeing more and more Saul next season.)

All of the tension in this series (for me, anyway) now hangs on whether/how Kim escapes Jimmy's orbit. Earlier in the season it seemed likely that she was going to wind up disbarred or worse. Up to this point we've seen her in a subordinate role at HHM, and contemplating a similar role at Schweikert & Coakley, but now that she's on her own and confronted with the situation at Chuck's house, we see she's just as quick on her feet as Jimmy is, in her own way. With only one episode left it doesn't seem likely to happen this season, but I'd like to think that *maybe* the whole Mesa Verde debacle has finally opened her eyes to how badly Jimmy is going to continue to fuck things up for her by trying to "help". Maybe she starts running a con of her own, playing off Jimmy's predictable behavior to get out of her half of the lease and the hell away from his destructive influence? No idea what that might look like or where she might go that's not HHM or S&C, but I would love for her to get untangled, go on to truly greener pastures, and leave Jimmy cold.

(Not forgetting of course lingering questions about why she left Nebraska, or the cons she's run with Jimmy this season... I mean maybe she's got some skeletons in her closet too but as we know her in BCS she seems to be trying to build an honest career when Jimmy's not being a bad influence, and at this point she's the only character I'm really rooting for; Chuck's an asshole even if he's right about Jimmy, and we know where Jimmy and Mike wind up.)
posted by usonian at 2:56 PM on April 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


My feeling/hope at the moment is that Kim ends the season on a relatively high note, with Mesa Verde working out (for now?) and her relationship with Jimmy earning a huge stink-eye that gets resolved next season.

And Season 3 starts in like two weeks, right? A man can hope.
posted by rhizome at 5:01 PM on April 18, 2016


Holy crap that anagram fan theory!

I really, really want this to be true. My prediction is that when Mike does something decisive against the Salamancas is when he and Gus hook up together in a mutually protective relationship.

I don't know if I start to imagine connections that aren't there after while, but I was watching the episode yesterday of BB when Mike is trying to catch Jesse's attention when he is going downhill, and he brings in the guy who stole Jesse's money at the house party, all tied up. Jesse doesn't bat an eye and says, "You know how I know you aren't going to kill him? You went through the trouble of blindfolding him." You could tell Mike knew Jesse figured it out.

Just now, I'm rewatching this episode of BCS for the finale, and it's the part when Mike runs the truck off the road and he ties up the driver. The driver is blindfolded (well, with duct-tape). He revs his saw as he's going to saw open the tires looking for the money. The blindfolded guy freaks out in a big way, because he thinks he's going to be dismembered or something (I know I would). Mike looks at him like he's somewhat disgusted at the idea, as his plan is to keep him alive. Mike leaving him alive and making note that he was blindfolded the whole time was integral to his discussion later with Nacho.

Sometimes the connections are subtle. And... sometimes I might imagine things that I want to be true.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:39 PM on April 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


Sorry, Kim. DTMFA. He doesn't respect you, and never will.

The thing of it is that she doesn't really respect him, either (not that he's necessarily deserving of respect). She knows exactly what he is and does, and I've never gotten the impression that she thinks there's much of a long-term future in their relationship. She likes him and enjoys the antics as long as they stay on the legal side of the line, but I think she also knows that they don't exactly have compatible goals. She's going places and he's never going to make it past small-time stuff.
posted by Copronymus at 11:46 PM on April 26, 2016


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