Better Call Saul: Klick
April 18, 2016 11:29 PM - Season 2, Episode 10 - Subscribe

Jimmy is forced to make a hard choice. Mike takes matters into his own hands. Hamlin relays shocking news while Chuck's condition continues to evolve.
posted by tjgrathwell (93 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Even though I really didn't want him to do it, I was surprised to find myself tearing up with Jimmy's trying to stabilize Chuck in the beginning of the episode.

Still, I don't think the show really earned Jimmy's fuckup of a confession. No doubt, everyone was a bit frazzled after going through all that in the hospital. But I don't think Chuck putting up some new wallpaper and doing some hammy acting about "the electricity!!" should've been enough to make Jimmy spill the beans. With all the brothers fancy maneuvering this season, it seems cheap for him to fall into such an obvious trap.
posted by tjgrathwell at 11:37 PM on April 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


Well, he could still be a bit frazzled and guilt-wracked by the possiblility that he'd actually killed, or come close to killing, his brother. All for what was supposed to be a fairly inconsequential typo. That seems sort of frazzleworthy.

Or it might be that Jimmy knows full well exactly what's going on, but believes he has argued his case well enough that Chuck won't turn the tape over. (If so, he is wrong.)

Or maybe he just knows that everyone thinks Chuck is cuckoo bananas and won't take him seriously at all, and that there's enough plausible deniability in the confession re: talking Chuck down by telling him what he wanted to hear, that it'll just go away.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:14 AM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


Jimmy could also leverage that Temporary Guardianship against Chuck and his blackmail tape.
posted by ApathyGirl at 1:08 AM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Don't
posted by whuppy at 4:35 AM on April 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


While I have so much fun watching the use of color and other visual metaphors, it was interesting to see (hear?) how, this week, the big twists are all revealed in the sound design.

Big twist 1: Mike gets a warning.
All we hear for quiet some time are the cicadas chirping in the background. Long enough that I stopped hearing them, they just became background sound. Until they stopped. It's that same creepy feeling when you are out in the woods and then all the sudden the birds stop chirping and it takes you a minute to figure out why the hairs are standing up on the back of your neck. THEN the horn blares.

Big twist 2: Jimmy on tape
I'm so annoyed it took me until the very end to actively notice the ticking of the tape recorder. It sounds so much like a clock ticking, which is such a normal sound to hear in a living room setting that it easily gets shuffled into the back of my mind as background noise. But it is there the ENTIRE time they are talking.

One twist is revealed by the absence of sound, the other with the addition of it. Very nice.

And, because I can't turn away from a good visual metaphor... an additional detail from earlier in the episode that I thought was very well done was letting us hear the truck driver struggling in the back of Nacho's van before showing us the visual. This paired nicely with the discussions of Chuck's medical tests/scans in the previous scene. We know he will find the tests incredibly painful and violent- so when the screen first goes black and all we hear is grunting and struggling, my first assumption was that it was Chuck undergoing tests. Even when I first saw the duct tape and blood, for a moment, I still thought that it was Chuck. Such is the power of that editing choice- putting Chuck's tests and a kidnapped, abused man next to each other, contextualizing both- that for a moment, their experiences and trauma were linked together. That is a FANTASTIC visual metaphor! (And, I think, a good example of the Kuleshov effect)


On the color front:
Was it ever in doubt that Jimmy was going to do the right thing for his brother? He's in head to toe blue and stays that way until he gets Chuck home.

And Ernie, doing the right wrong thing all in purple. I'd miss the mailroom too, if I had to play babysitter and referee every day...

I'm not sure what to take away from so much yellow/brown and green with Mike. They are obviously the right colors to be using if you want to be blending into the environment, but wonder if there isn't something about moral relativism is the use of yellows. Jimmy, or more accurately, Saul is associated pretty strongly with yellow in my mind. I'm not sure, I'll have to think it over...
posted by Bibliogeek at 4:43 AM on April 19, 2016 [20 favorites]


I think Jimmy knows damn well it was a trap (although he might not know about the tape). Jimmy always takes shortcuts, but when he's pressed, he'll always do the right thing.

And it wasn't the space blanket fortress that convinced him. It was quitting HH&M. That's the one thing Chuck would never do--he wouldn't even consider it last time he was in the hospital and unable to function. The law is everything to him.

Chuck probably did that to call Jimmy's bluff, and put up all of the blankets just to push him further... but Jimmy was eager to confess when he realized the damage he'd done to Chuck. He didn't want to hurt him "that much".

I don't think Jimmy realizes that Chuck will play the tape for Howard, and will try to involve the police. But I don't think Chuck realizes that Jimmy will look like a hero for saying just what Chuck needed to hear to get better, and Chuck will look like a lunatic. ("Yes, Your Honor, I did tell him I was confessing to a felony. But I also pretended to take his crazy Electrosensitivity story seriously. I was trying to make a mentally ill man feel better.")

I do think all of the space blankets were a bit much, that looked more like something the set designers did to make impressive camera shots than something one not-terribly-well 65-year-old man could do.

The Mike scenes were quiet but good -- I was constantly wondering if Hector was about to get shot in the head and end up in a wheelchair.

Seems like no reason for this episode's title to start with a "K" unless the anagram theory that was floating around is correct...

And is that the end of the season? This didn't really feel like a season-ending episode.
posted by mmoncur at 4:46 AM on April 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


On Talking Saul, Vince Gilligan coyly confirmed the anagram theory. "We thought we were being really clever, but I guess we underestimated our fans." Something like that.

wonder if there isn't something about moral relativism is the use of yellows. Jimmy, or more accurately, Saul is associated pretty strongly with yellow in my mind.

Speaking of the anagram theory, the other character I associate with yellow is Gus Fring. He, Mike, and Jimmy/Saul also all share a sense of professionalism that matters more to them than a traditional moral code.

I totally missed that the ticking sound in Chuck's mylar cave was coming from the tape recorder, but I did like the multiple other hints in the dialogue about the recording. Jimmy talks about "rat-fucking", then Nixon's name comes up.

The obvious thing to do would be for Chuck to deliver Jimmy an ultimatum: stop practicing law, and I won't release the tape. And the obvious thing after that would be for Jimmy to change his name to Saul Goodman to get around it. But this show isn't gonna do that, which is why it's great.

I do think Season 3 will be about the origins of Jimmy's Saul alter ego, but it'll probably happen some other way entirely. Just like Chuck's head injury turned out to be not that serious but catalysed a series of events with very serious consequences, I think the tape itself will prove to be a major story catalyst in a different way than what we might naively expect. (It's noteworthy that Jimmy never consents to being recorded, for instance, so Chuck actually committed a pretty serious crime as well.)
posted by tobascodagama at 5:24 AM on April 19, 2016 [7 favorites]


And is that the end of the season? This didn't really feel like a season-ending episode.

We have to wait a year to find out if the elder clients get their coffee?!?!?!
posted by snofoam at 5:29 AM on April 19, 2016 [28 favorites]


Someone bean-plate the multiple examples of Kim being asked to get coffee and what that says about her relationship to the themes of the show.

Also, the Better Call subreddit pointed out that, in New Mexico, only one party is required to consent to being recorded, so Chuck was recording Jimmy legally. (Of course he was, it's Chuck, I never should have doubted.)
posted by tobascodagama at 5:45 AM on April 19, 2016 [14 favorites]


Still, I don't think the show really earned Jimmy's fuckup of a confession. No doubt, everyone was a bit frazzled after going through all that in the hospital. But I don't think Chuck putting up some new wallpaper and doing some hammy acting about "the electricity!!" should've been enough to make Jimmy spill the beans.

It's possible that this is all a part of Jimmy's plan, but there was a lot of discussion around the first season that observed that Jimmy has aware of the connection between his aberrant behavior and Chuck's medical condition. With everything escalating, it's possible that this was a true confession moment where he decided to just face the consequences.

Two things are interesting, though. First, the way that he said everything seems to have some plausible deniability built into it, in that it can be seen as placating a sick individual. Also, I do wonder if he knew about the tape recorder. When he left the room, he seemed to be pretty ticked about something, and it didn't quite fit with the flow of a true confession, nor did it seem like simple frustration.

Second, Jimmy isn't always the kind of guy that confesses, even if his relationships are at stake. He lets things linger with Kim, knowing that they both know. What it reminds me of, though, is his confession in the first season when he's playing bingo and has a bit of a breakdown. He does have his genuine moments of confession when things are pushed to the breaking point.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:19 AM on April 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


On Talking Saul, Vince Gilligan coyly confirmed the anagram theory. "We thought we were being really clever, but I guess we underestimated our fans." Something like that.

If the anagram theory was confirmed, I definitely missed it.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:22 AM on April 19, 2016


If the anagram theory was confirmed, I definitely missed it.

We're assuming Fring set Mike's car horn off and left the "Don't" note. It fits his cautious style, and Mike has to connect to Fring at some point pretty soon.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:17 AM on April 19, 2016 [9 favorites]


Bibliogeek: And, because I can't turn away from a good visual metaphor...

Good points on the level of pain and torture against their will - I caught the parallels, but didn't realize how close they were (both were bound at the wrists and ankles, one blindfolded, the other sedated, one died and the other went catatonic for a short while).

Other connections in this episode:
- Jimmy pushes Chuck to eat while he could stay with Chuck in someone's time of need, with differences --
-- initially, he says "Seriously, Chuck, we got to eat" and Chuck rebuffs him, saying "Jimmy. You want to eat? Go eat," while
-- in the end of the episode, Jimmy wants Ernie to come back to check on Chuck, finally saying "You need someone looking in on you. You got to eat, right?" To which Chuck replies, "All right."

- Jimmy has really grown up, because he seems a lot more concerned about Chuck now than he was for their mother (what a heart-breaking scene, with her uttering Jimmy's name twice, despite Chuck trying to tell her who was really there for her), being present in the hospital, waiting for Chuck in the hospital for more than a day (though their mom was in the hospital for 3 days, so maybe he would leave Chuck after 3 days?)

- Not at all subtle, but touching - Kim is looking up at the TV screens running Jimmy's ad with as much approval and happiness as the old folks in that commercial - she's beaming. Which makes me feel good, but cringe because he didn't get permits or clearance for at least two of those four shots (Fudge and the flag - was that a real farmer, or did he sneak onto a farm with another photogenic older gentleman?). "Because moxie is in such short supply these days."

(Which made me happy that Jimmy is [currently/once again] embracing the do-good law of elder care.)

And Ernie, doing the right wrong thing all in purple.

Well put. And Jimmy kept the rainbow in the/his law office waiting room, so he's open to all shades of legal and illegal activities (now, or in the future?)

I'm not sure what to take away from so much yellow/brown and green with Mike.

Those scenes felt like some of the brutal settings for Breaking Bad. But if you want to classify nature, it's amoral, neutral in the struggles of people. At least, that's my take.

A question on a detail: what is the computer in Chuck's garage? I was thinking it's an old Apple computer, but I can't match it to any early models. I think that might give us an idea of how long Chuck has had his hyper-sensitivity to electricity.


tobascodagama: The obvious thing to do would be for Chuck to deliver Jimmy an ultimatum: stop practicing law, and I won't release the tape. And the obvious thing after that would be for Jimmy to change his name to Saul Goodman to get around it. But this show isn't gonna do that, which is why it's great.

But I think there's still a teaser of what's to come from this episode: "Hey! Hey. How're you gonna retire before you get me disbarred? Before you run me out of town on a rail, huh? I'll be the only McGill carrying the family name. We can't have that." No, we can't, you will become Saul Goodman, one way or another, with no sign of a McGill in BB.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:18 AM on April 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


If the anagram theory was confirmed, I definitely missed it.

Technically, all they confirmed is that there was in fact an anagram embedded in the first letters of the episode titles. They didn't elaborate on how it might relate to events on the show.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:21 AM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


A question on a detail: what is the computer in Chuck's garage?

Looks like a Macintosh SE (or SE/30) to me.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 8:23 AM on April 19, 2016 [6 favorites]


We're assuming Fring set Mike's car horn off and left the "Don't" note. It fits his cautious style, and Mike has to connect to Fring at some point pretty soon.

This is really interesting if true. In part because there is nothing to tip the hand except for the anagram (I thought Nacho was behind the car horn somehow), and it is entirely possible that nobody would ever have seen it. Maybe the anagram was one of those things that was supposed to be fully appreciated in retrospect, like at the beginning of next season.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:01 AM on April 19, 2016


This was one of the best hours of television I've ever seen. Damn. If Michael McKean doesn't get an Emmy for this episode, then there is no justice in the world.

(Loved many, many things about this episode, but especially the "Nixon would have been proud of me" line followed by the reveal of a hidden cassette recorder.)
posted by jbickers at 9:06 AM on April 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


(I thought Nacho was behind the car horn somehow)

Wasn't Nacho with Tio? I thought the reason Mike didn't take the shot was because Nacho was in the way. Which means some heretofore unknown party has been observing Mike and has some interest in how this plays out. And that points to Fring.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 9:29 AM on April 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


Yeah, Gus was always a man of few words. Writing "Don't" on an index card would be a very Gus thing to do.
posted by jbickers at 9:34 AM on April 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


It had to have been Fring, or one of Fring's henchmen, who left the note. I can't imagine they'd introduce a non-BB third party at this point. Gus was always three steps ahead of anyone he did business with.

I predict Victor (from BB) will be in the early part of next season, with Fring showing up near the end of the season. In BB Mike seemed like he was pretty comfortable around Gus, like he'd been working with him a long time.

Fring might be too big a secret to keep; if Gus is in next season I wouldn't be surprised if it's announced beforehand.
posted by bondcliff at 10:17 AM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


bondcliff: Fring might be too big a secret to keep; if Gus is in next season I wouldn't be surprised if it's announced beforehand.

On one of the prior podcasts for this season, they mentioned how hard it was to keep Tio Salamanca a secret, noting that once it's on IMDb or anywhere else, the cat's out of the bag. I think they did a good job making his reveal a decent surprise. You could guess that he might show up, given we had Tuco, who clearly isn't the brains behind any family operations. A great guy for management, but not one for large-scope planning. But that could have been someone besides Tio, so it wasn't a given until we saw him, IMO.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:31 AM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Pater Aletheias: We're assuming Fring set Mike's car horn off and left the "Don't" note. It fits his cautious style, and Mike has to connect to Fring at some point pretty soon.

Being the second tail on a (possible) competitor in the drug trade? Seems like too hands-on for Gustavo, and pretty risky - that's two parties who might shoot at you if they see you. Though he did a good job hiring and training his staff, so maybe a lower, expendable associate.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:37 AM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Victor?
posted by isthmus at 10:49 AM on April 19, 2016


Hopefully there will never be a scene where Gus looks at Victor and says "If you ever screw up like this again, I will cut your throat with a box cutter."
posted by isthmus at 11:03 AM on April 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


Victor is a pretty safe bet, I think.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:28 AM on April 19, 2016


(Which made me happy that Jimmy is [currently/once again] embracing the do-good law of elder care.)

Yeah, it's worrying too though. Older people can be easy prey for scammers and he's already established their confidence in him. When he starts to break bad more again I can easily see him taking advantage of them if he is desperate for money for some reason.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:51 AM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Wasn't Nacho with Tio? I thought the reason Mike didn't take the shot was because Nacho was in the way. Which means some heretofore unknown party has been observing Mike and has some interest in how this plays out.

My thought was that Nacho was the only one who has an inkling regarding Mike's disposition towards the whole thing, and would have had Mike tailed by someone else (while being with Tio). Mike was a little bit transparent in how he was feeling when he found out the good samaritan was killed, Nacho told Mike to back off, and he may have worried a bit more about what might come next. This would put Nacho one-up on Mike, though, and I think we are supposed to go, "Who in the world could tail Mike??" That points towards Fring. I do wonder though if this would be Gus's style, but who knows. I like the idea that as Mike tailed the Salamancas who "weren't as careful as they think they are," Mike was also being tailed by someone who plays the game just as well.

If I've learned anything, it's that none of my best guesses ever come to fruition, because Gilligan is so good at taking what you think might happen and writing something else that is just as good. Sometimes I get a feeling that he first asks what people might guess comes next, and then intentionally does something else. It's still pretty fun to speculate, though.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:55 AM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it's worrying too though. Older people can be easy prey for scammers and he's already established their confidence in him. When he starts to break bad more again I can easily see him taking advantage of them if he is desperate for money for some reason.

I could foresee him using the name/identity of an elderly client to do that - maybe not actually scam them out of any money, just use their identity for his purposes, e.g., setting up shell companies in their name to facilitate money laundering, or some such. Ice Station Zebra Associates, IIRC, hasn't actually been created as a legal entity yet.

But to SpacemanStix's point, speculation may be futile anyway. Still fun though.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:58 AM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


I giggled last night when I was thinking about the fact that Chuck hadn't changed his head bandage and allowed it to soak through. And then - oh right - big splotch of red on his face as he's scamming Jimmy. I loves it.
posted by bleep at 12:03 PM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


SpacemanStix: If I've learned anything, it's that none of my best guesses ever come to fruition, because Gilligan is so good at taking what you think might happen and writing something else that is just as good. Sometimes I get a feeling that he first asks what people might guess comes next, and then intentionally does something else. It's still pretty fun to speculate, though.

Good point - they actually twisted some of the expectation from the end of Season 1 to the beginning of Season 2, only after they realized they had an opening in the way a scene was shot. It's a very fluid show.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:12 PM on April 19, 2016


I think we are supposed to go, "Who in the world could tail Mike??" That points towards Fring. I do wonder though if this would be Gus's style, but who knows.

"Keep your friends close, and your enemies even closer" -- Darth Vader

The Salamancas were Gus' enemies and, as we learned in BB, Gus spent years plotting his revenge on them. I'd suspect that as soon as Gus had the means he started keeping an eye on Hector and co. Then one day Gus' guy, who has been tailing Hector, notices this other guy tailing Hector. Now Gus' guy is tailing the tailer, and probably noticing that he has his shit together, and first of all they better warn him against doing anything rash, because that could lead to Very Bad Things, and also maybe they should hire this guy because he's pretty good at this whole tailing Hector thing.
posted by bondcliff at 12:19 PM on April 19, 2016 [33 favorites]


Sepinwall interview of Gilligan and Gould, in which there is rapid backpedaling away from the anagram.

also maybe they should hire this guy because he's pretty good at this whole tailing Hector thing.

I actually found the "Mike tailing Nacho & co" somewhat suspending-of-disbelief-ey: they're in the middle of a huge flat landscape, and Mike arrives at the gate almost immediately after Nacho locks it? Surely they'd notice, hey, what's that beat-up Cadillac doing following us?
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:26 PM on April 19, 2016 [11 favorites]


I agree, that was a little too close. I just figured they were pressed for time and had to kind of abbreviate the tailing thing.
posted by bondcliff at 12:28 PM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


I also thought Mike was way too close. That's part of the reason I thought it was Nacho who left the "Don't" note, because he had seen Mike get too close.

I am supermegaOK with the note-leaver being Gus, though (or at least someone Gus-adjacent).

And oh, Ernie. You poor guy. You need some hugs.
posted by minsies at 12:37 PM on April 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


Oh, and was the klick from the episode title not just the noise of the tape recorder, but also the distance Mike was shooting?

I don't know how plausible that is, since I don't know anything about guns and how far they can shoot accurately.
posted by minsies at 12:42 PM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


I actually found the "Mike tailing Nacho & co" somewhat suspending-of-disbelief-ey: they're in the middle of a huge flat landscape, and Mike arrives at the gate almost immediately after Nacho locks it? Surely they'd notice, hey, what's that beat-up Cadillac doing following us?

See also: Jimmy's mom dying less than a minute after he leaves the room.

I think you have to accept that there's some compression of time and space going on in those two particular scenes. It stands out mostly because the show doesn't normally have to cheat things like that.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:42 PM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


Oh, and was the klick from the episode title not just the noise of the tape recorder, but also the distance Mike was shooting?

I don't know how plausible that is, since I don't know anything about guns and how far they can shoot accurately.


A one-kilometer shot is impressive but doesn't stretch believability for a trained sniper.

"Klick" definitely refers to the distance, it's military jargon for "kilometer".
posted by tobascodagama at 12:44 PM on April 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


I just want to thank everyone for the discussion of the use of color. I rarely notice these things, and being able to read your analysis is so fascinating!
We should have a thread for the use of color in the BB/BCS world.
posted by ApathyGirl at 12:45 PM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


A one-kilometer shot is impressive but doesn't stretch believability for a trained sniper.

Quantifying that a bit more, Mike was using the M40 he almost bought from Lawson a few episodes ago. 1000m is maybe 10% beyond the cited maximum effective range for an average shooter, but Mike is obviously above-average. After his target practice with Lawson, I had concerns he was going to shoot Nacho by accident due to windage, but Gilligan never picks up Chekov's gun the way you'd expect him to.
posted by cardboard at 1:14 PM on April 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


A little quickly-found background on 1000yd sniper shots.

Jimmy has aware of the connection between his aberrant behavior and Chuck's medical condition. With everything escalating, it's possible that this was a true confession moment where he decided to just face the consequences.

Jimmy has an expediency problem. The last third (act!) of the episode was full of Jimmy considering neither the past that brought them there, nor the future that his actions will affect. Perhaps all of this winds up with his disbarment or similar, after which he finds an actual Saul Goodman who just happened to die at the right time to have their identity stolen. Seems facile, but that's my imagination in a nutshell. Expediency!

After sleeping on this episode, which still hasn't sunk in yet, I am left with a theory that Chuck is now woke. He went through the CAT scan and other hospital technologies and didn't die. The self-induced catatonia was Chuck unwinding his sense of himself and coming up with a plan, or at least a perspective with which to move forward. When he wakes up, he is not distressed at all, and when he goes home he overdoes it on the crazy-foil, drawing Jimmy evermore into caretaker mode. Chuck played Jimmy for a patsy in a classic con-man's progression. "I'll show you a dirty trick."

But Jimmy honestly cares for Chuck to the end. Chuck, on the other hand, has long had animosity toward Jimmy. Chuck pauses when Jimmy asks if mom woke up or said anything. "No." Chuck is fundamentally antagonistic toward Jimmy, perhaps with reason, who knows yet.
posted by rhizome at 1:25 PM on April 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


I haven't been active in the BCS Fanfare threads for season 2, but I'll step in for the finale to say:

What a great show!

I do have some criticisms. The last two episodes were a little hokey with their melodramatic and soap operatic plot movements -- a head injury and a recorded confession as cliffhangers are one step away from amnesia, and Chuck is teetering on becoming one-note. And I don't like the color-coding that seems to enamor the writing staff so much -- I think it's simplistic. But the end result is artfully done and they wield those blunt tools as subtly as possible.

My guess is that the cold open of the next season will reveal that when Jimmy left Chuck's Faraday cage, he smelled something was off, so he sneaked around to the window and peeked in to learn that Check has the tape. And then he'll hire Mike to steal it, and we'll get some plot crossover between those two again.
posted by painquale at 1:48 PM on April 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


I like that! However, the curtains are pulled on the windows that aren't yet covered with foil.

One thing about the foil room: Chuck is not in a panic knowing that he was and is exposed to electromagnetism until he gets the foil up. I think that's a hint he knows it's harmless to him.
posted by rhizome at 1:58 PM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


I don't know if that's true. He was still using the foil and tongs when searching the garage.
posted by painquale at 2:03 PM on April 19, 2016 [11 favorites]


Maybe the anagram was one of those things that was supposed to be fully appreciated in retrospect, like at the beginning of next season.

I think during Talking Saul, Gilligan implied that they would "announce" the hidden message at some point. They just assumed people wouldn't start looking so hard until then.

Boyfriend's theory is that Chuck and Jimmy will get into some kind of imbroglio where Chuck finally drops his revenge plot but cuts him off totally as his brother and uses his legal leverage (maybe with blackmail tape?) to make Jimmy swear to never again practice law under the name "McGill." Jimmy's little jab that he'd be the only McGill left in business kind of alludes to that.
posted by stoneandstar at 2:24 PM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


I wasn't a huge fan of the finale (WHERE WAS KIM, MORE KIM) but I hope this is true:

... so he sneaked around to the window and peeked in to learn that Check has the tape. And then he'll hire Mike to steal it, and we'll get some plot crossover between those two again.
posted by stoneandstar at 2:26 PM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I hate to say it, but as good an episode as this was...it felt like it should have been the episode before the finale. Who left the note and what will Chuck do with the tape are curious questions, but not earthshaking ones -- mostly because we know Jimmy won't be disbarred and we know Mike won't get killed.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:08 PM on April 19, 2016 [10 favorites]


I have another crackpot theory that as he is being disbarred, Jimmy will meet an elderly man on his deathbed. That man's name? Saul Goodman.
posted by rhizome at 3:15 PM on April 19, 2016


Yeah, two swaggering lawyers who plaster their faces on everything and have the same goddamned hair part stretches credibility. Jimmy obviously avoids disbarment, but I don't think that's how he does it.

I don't know if that's true. He was still using the foil and tongs when searching the garage.

Actually, the sequence of Chuck going outside to the garage very pointedly didn't use the trademark Chuck Is In Electromagnetic Distress sound filter and camera angles. No scene after he went into the CAT scan did. I'm not prepared to make the jump to Chuck being cured, but it did feel like a deliberate choice that we were meant to notice.
posted by tobascodagama at 3:48 PM on April 19, 2016 [9 favorites]


God, I love the way this show gives us information and expects us to figure out what's going to happen before it does. This is why I'm ok with the colour scheme, where in any other show I think it would feel heavy-handed.

Because so many other shows get off on concealing things from the audience and shouting "SURPRISE!" at us at whatever Very Shocking Thing they came up with that week, like a hack magician. "Nothing up my sleeve, just kidding I've got a dove up there!" Whereas BrBa/BCS feels more like a Penn & Teller show, where they straight up tell you how a trick works, demonstrate all the sneaky clever stuff meant to hide the illusion from you, then put it together into into a novel combination and finish with a flourish that surprises us by providing a new twist on the trick you've just had explained to you.
posted by tobascodagama at 4:10 PM on April 19, 2016 [11 favorites]


Those sounds usually mean he's had too much exposure/stress and is about to freak out. The lack of the sounds just means he's not stressed.
posted by bleep at 4:11 PM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


Maybe it's the cautious arachnophobe in me, but I kind of assumed he was using tongs reaching into that box to avoid the bites of venomous spiders and/or scorpions.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:14 PM on April 19, 2016


He used the tongs to hit stop on the tape recorder after Jimmy had left as well.
posted by painquale at 4:16 PM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


Chuck has often conveniently been able to put his sensitivity aside when it suits him. His denial is deep and multilayered. He may have hatched his plan while "catatonic," but I don't think that necessarily means he's gained self-awareness about his condition. He's just been stewing in his hatred for Jimmy, who had just forced him to undergo a CAT scan, on top of the document switch. And nothing motivates him like hatred for Jimmy.
posted by mubba at 4:16 PM on April 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


He also used the tongs to work the tape recorder; and I kind of feel like in the front of his mind the foil everywhere was to con Jimmy while in the back of his mind he actually did kind of like it. Especially with the tape recorder running. Kind of like how you'll enjoy something "ironically" because you don't want to admit your real feelings.
posted by bleep at 4:19 PM on April 19, 2016


Also, I'm having trouble buying that whoever warned off Mike waited until it was almost too late — he could have already taken the shot by the time the car horn started. Were they just also thousands of feet away and waited to act until they actually saw him get out of the car with a rifle? Did they have the index card ready? The car horn probably would have been enough on its own.

Another possibility: the DEA is watching the Salamancas. They would certainly have an interest in keeping Hector alive. And maybe they were already there, and were surprised by Mike's appearance. However, that doesn't really fit with the Salamanca organization still operating during the Breaking Bad era. (So Hank Schrader seems like a longshot to appear next season.)
posted by mubba at 4:55 PM on April 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


I can honestly say that sometimes I forget I'm watching TV with BCS. This does not happen to me any other time.

For example, while I've sometimes felt that Chuck's illness is leaned on a lot, what I felt about his illness in this episode was that it stood in for a human foible or emotionally invested perception of oneself that any of us could have. And the show succeeded so well in putting me in Chuck's shoes, almost like a novel, that I universalized his particular despair into my own fears, and so his fear of being pushed into the CAT scanner became mine and reminded me of things that push my buttons. And when this happens, I forget I'm watching a show! Amazing.

I saw the extensive foil lining of his house as symbolic of being even further inside his brain, gray matter if you will.
posted by sylvanshine at 6:15 PM on April 19, 2016 [10 favorites]


The parallels between this finale and the last one are striking as well, especially that final Jimmy-n-Chuck scene. Then, it was Chuck revealing something; here, it's Jimmy revealing something. And Chuck, finally, cons the con man; he pulls a Slippin' Jimmy of his own, and abuses Howard's trust and Jimmy's kindness to do it. The clever trap of the show is that Chuck is right for the wrong reasons, and Jimmy is wrong, often for the right reasons. And both of them go through hell for it.

And each season's final two episodes depicts a McGill brother undone by a coverup here -- how Nixonian! Jimmy fails to realize how far his coverup of his fraud will push Chuck, much as Chuck was caught off-guard by how persistently Jimmy would work to unravel his manipulations behind the doors of HHM to keep Jimmy in he mailroom.


More interestingly, there's the way Chuck's inadequacy, the consequences of his mistreatment of others is repeatedly played up. His mother calls for Jimmy. Ernesto likes Jimmy and can't believe Chuck is right about him. Kim spurns Chuck's implied offer of guidance and mentorship and goes with Jimmy. Even his spiteful attacks on Jimmy through Kim and Mesa Verde are the indirect motivator for the pain he goes through here. He's paralytically afraid that he'll be declared insane, unwilling to accept that he could make a technical error, but oblivious to all the interpersonal mistakes he makes. His loss of Mesa Verde is less about the typo than about the denial.

But the show also doesn't let us forget that it's Jimmy who gaslit a mentally ill man, his own brother, and that Jimmy did not consider the way Chuck's pride in his mental faculties is always threatened. Yes, Chuck knows that deep down his illness is psychosomatic; but that terrifies him, and it hurts him. And his brother's betrayal hurts him as well, as does what he perceives as his mother's betrayal.

But to build on tobascodagama's point, what amazes me about this show is the way it shows you everything while withholding the sorts of things that are ambiguous in real life. How deep is Chuck's denial? Why did their mother ask for Jimmy? Was Chuck trying to withhold something from Jimmy after their mother's death, or protect his brother from feeling guilt at not being there when their mother called for him? (Both?)

Mike's plot, meanwhile withholds something else: the climactic violence (and the Gus Fring walk-on) that some fans of BrBa wanted and perhaps want. (The same sorts of viewers bother David Chase, wishing his morality tale about a psychopath was instead a set of scenes of Tony Soprano whacking people.) It's a compelling scene about obscured vision and, as pointed out above, absent sound. And it speaks to the way Mike, for all his perspicacity, fails to see and hear what is most important, and especially the way his meticulous behaviors are vulnerable to the unforeseen. Mike's not clairvoyant, and the world is not the simple moral and behavioral calculus he assumes it is.

In that regard, he's rather like Jimmy and Chuck. Neither can acknowledge their limitations, even while both can see much that others can't or won't. Chuck's electromagnetic sensitivity, then, plays on the pride of a man who thinks he can logic out everything; now he's sure he can feel the invisible itself, to the point of pain and stress. And Jimmy, the tale-teller, the people reader, is too proud and too patronizing to imagine a weary Chuck will be able to convince anyone of the truth. But his reading of his brother's desires is more accurate than he knows, as is his sense that Chuck is pathological. He's just wrong about which pathology is operating at the moment.

It's an episode, then, about three characters whose powers of perception lead them in exactly the wrong direction. Jimmy, who plays with perceptions and creates alternative realities with words, who creates recorded images and plays with answering machine messages, is caught on tape telling the truth and dropping the facade. Chuck turns his self-delusion into a deception tailored for Jimmy, and his altered house is as much deceptive set dressing as Jimmy's carefully, deceptively framed commercial. More visual cues that actually distract from and obscure the truth. Like the tracking shot last episode that revealed nothing while seeming to show everything, here the CAT Scans and EKGs can;t reveal what's really broken inside Chuck, the sequestered foil-wrapped house is actually a recording studio designed to expose, and the sniper scope and the desert silence magnify all the wrong sounds.

And poor Kim, staring at the rainbow on the wall, the promise of self-determination and a shot at the big time...and then Jimmy does exactly what Chuck did earlier this season, and treats her her as an aide, a receptionist. Stick with the McGills, and you could be fetching coffee your whole life. And she doesn't even work for him. And then, like Chuck, he goes off merrily to do something to fuel his own sense of self and self-righteousness that will once again take Mesa Verde away and tank her professionally. Both Chuck and Jimmy have now loudly insisted that they're doing it all for Kim in order to explain doing something self-serving that will undermine her. And neither shows any gratitude. Kim schleps to the hospital and beams at Jimmy's ad and does "un-hospitally" things, and all he does is wander off again. But that's what rainbows are: a trick of the light. Don't believe a McGill who says there's a pot of gold waiting at the end of it.

Legerdemain is not about obscuring the trick, it's about creating a distracting spectacle over there!! Over there!! And then no one's even looking at the real trick.
posted by kewb at 6:26 PM on April 19, 2016 [23 favorites]


I saw the extensive foil lining of his house as symbolic of being even further inside his brain, gray matter if you will.

It also plays on the visual strategy of warped reflections. And of course, Jimmy is the guy who shows you rainbows; Chuck is the big dark cloud with the thin silver lining. Both are refractions of light, not direct sunlight.
posted by kewb at 6:29 PM on April 19, 2016 [6 favorites]


I'm a little worried that I'm going to freak out the next time I need a CT scan. Never bothered me before, but GAHHH the ELECTRICITY!!!!
posted by Corvid at 7:15 PM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm claustrophobic so Chuck's view of the CAT scan made perfect sense to me!
posted by mmoncur at 7:36 PM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


Perhaps all of this winds up with his disbarment or similar, after which he finds an actual Saul Goodman who just happened to die at the right time to have their identity stolen.

Not if he then plasters his face all over the ABQ and its airwaves. (Which, of course, then brings up the question of what the people who he's conned locally--albeit out of some expensive tequila and a check that was probably stopped a day or two after it was written--will think when they see "Viktor" on the tube posing in front of an American flag, although they may never catch it if they don't watch Murder She Wrote. But anyway.) No, there's something else that happens there. I did like the fact that he comes up with another catchphrase first: "Gimme Jimmy!"

Also, my take on how Chuck views his illness is that it probably won't kill him, but definitely affects his thinking. He probably will have a Faraday cage of sorts (probably just some lightweight mesh that's grounded) underneath the wallpaper of his house, and do similar things for future excursions with gadgets of various sorts. And I also think that Jimmy will indeed both play up the "I was just humoring my brother" angle and the "wow, Chuck is so obsessed with this cuckoo theory of his--this other cuckoo theory of his--that he taped his own brother in secret, how fucked up is that?" aspect.

As far as Mike goes, I really do think that Gus Fring is involved, but through a cutout, Victor or someone else. Lydia Rodarte-Quayle would be a good choice to employ Mike, both to check him out to see if he's suitable and also to arrange for his disposal if he wasn't.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:49 PM on April 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


The last two episodes were a little hokey with their melodramatic and soap operatic plot movements -- a head injury and a recorded confession as cliffhangers are one step away from amnesia, and Chuck is teetering on becoming one-note.

Yep. I didn't say anything last episode, but felt disappointment when the show went with a head injury to Chuck as a Shocking New Development. It really felt out of line with the thoughtful, deliberate, subtle way they'd been telling their stories, like a cop-out to make sure the audience got a big glop of Drama near the end.

And the extended focus on Chuck in the hospital and in recovery, territory we've been over and over already, at the expense of any continuing examination of Kim, made for a kinda dull finale. And then another Shocking New Development - the secret note! - and then another Shocking New Cliffhanger Development - the secret tape! - well, it all felt a bit much. I wanted to know what these writers had done with the other writers whose work I'd been loving so much these past 2 seasons.

I'm guessing the show will recover, and look forward to where they go next, but it's hard for me to think of the last hour and 5 minutes of Season 2 as anything other than a letdown. Even, if I'm feeling uncharitable, a bit of a betrayal of trust in the audience to stick with them for a subtle, understated long haul.
posted by mediareport at 7:50 PM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm not convinced about Gus being the note-leaver. Mike follows Tio and Nacho with the scope as they re-enter the shack, then swings back over to the guy digging/filling in the hole for a few seconds before going back to the shack. If Nacho knows where Mike is, which he seems to because he stands in exactly the right place to be directly between Tio and Mike, then he might have seen the chance to leave the shack and swing off to stage right to plant the note. Mike has a rocky outcrop to his left, his range of vision that way is partially blocked so Nacho could have easily slipped out and away.

The guy digging the hole had sunlight glinting off his buttons; Mike may have given himself away in part by sunlight on his big shiny head. He should have been wearing a hat.
posted by tracicle at 1:59 AM on April 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


I rewatched that part and there's a lot of places to hide behind Mike. I was thinking that whoever might be surveilling the Salamanca crew had no intent of shooting, so they could use a telescope from further away and see Mike pad pad pad to his spot. "Hey who's that?"

THEN the horn blares.

It seems like a gap with just enough time to run down from somewhere just a little higher than Mike was, after either the driver got shot or the crew went back inside.
posted by rhizome at 2:42 AM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Also, speaking of Chuck, I wonder if anyone has ever suggested that he move to the National Radio Quiet Zone. I imagine that a lot of his fellow "electrosensitives" would like a high-powered lawyer in their ranks.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:02 AM on April 20, 2016 [5 favorites]


I definitely agree with kewb that you can look at Chuck's decision not to share his mother's last moments as a kindness to Jimmy. At first, I also felt affected by the way that Chuck described Jimmy's intentions, saying he would put him away--how sad, that he would be that scared for himself. When he did it the second time, it suddenly seemed plain that it was some sort of trick. Chuck never suggests seriously that Jimmy may have the upper hand, never looks vulnerable in front of him--he won't even cry for his dying mother until Jimmy leaves to get sandwiches. I think that when Chuck said that Jimmy was trying to have him committed, he knows that isn't the case; he's trying to weigh Jimmy down with guilt to make it easier to spring his trap later. And it works.

Several episodes ago I asked how wrong Mike can be while still being Mike. It looks like we're finding out now, as he keeps being surprised. At first, it seemed like an unnecessary retread of the same issue from Half Measures and I didn't like it. But in real life, people do tend to make the same mistakes again and again. And I do like Mike more if he is more human, more flawed.

(Chuck's space blanket room reminded me of the bizarre and terrific Lunatics: A Love Story.)
posted by heatvision at 5:05 AM on April 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


The guy digging the hole had sunlight glinting off his buttons; Mike may have given himself away in part by sunlight on his big shiny head. He should have been wearing a hat.

Ah, but we see the glint of the buttons from Mike's perspective, meaning the sun is either behind Mike or off to the side. Mike definitely would have thought of this and placed himself to avoid reflecting any light toward his target. He's a trained military sniper, so he'd definitely plan for something like that.

Nacho simply didn't have enough time to run up the from the shack to Mike's car (which was behind Mike's shooting position, i.e. over a kilometer from the shack) and place the branch, so it had to be a third party. The DEA wouldn't be playing coy little note-leaving games with a would-be assassin, so it has to be someone else in the drug game. Gus has multiple reasons to order his guys to surveil Hector's crew. The branch and note being left by one of them really makes the most sense.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:19 AM on April 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


Good interview with the showrunners at Variety (it spoils whether or not Fring was involved with the note).
posted by mediareport at 5:21 AM on April 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


I like this part at the end about Kim:

Why is there no sign of her on “Breaking Bad,” or is there? Maybe there is some sign of her on “Breaking Bad” and we just haven’t figured it out yet.
posted by mediareport at 5:22 AM on April 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


(Chuck's space blanket room reminded me of the bizarre and terrific Lunatics: A Love Story.)

Ted Raimi is in a movie with Deborah Foreman, my 80s movie crush? And Bruce Campbell? Why is this thing apparently available only on used VHS tapes? AARGH
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:20 AM on April 20, 2016


I would like it a lot if - assuming the note-leaving is masterminded by Gus - that Gus continues to have a presence on the show only through notes he leaves for Mike.
posted by minsies at 10:11 AM on April 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


From what that Variety interview implies about Giancarlo Esposito's availability, I think you might get your wish.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:45 AM on April 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


Interesting fact from the podcast. Rather than matte in the crosshairs from the rifle scope, they shot the scene through one to give the actual POV.

Also, Michael McKean was actually holding a camera in the ER scene.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:31 PM on April 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


I would like it a lot if - assuming the note-leaving is masterminded by Gus - that Gus continues to have a presence on the show only through notes he leaves for Mike.

But only through treasure hunt clues.
Another note must be told
Look where your milk
and whiskey stay cold.

You might think it cleans
as it spins around,
but it's really about money,
where your note is found.

You favorite waitress
has a clue.
Go on a date!
and she'll give it to you.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:38 AM on April 21, 2016 [13 favorites]


I was surprised to learn this was the last episode. But respectful too, I appreciate how Better Call Saul doesn't follow the usual episodic TV tropes.

My own little observation; Jimmy totally screwed Kim in his confession to Chuck. He specifically implicates her, "I did it all for her! She deserved Mesa Verde!". He never says she asked him to do it, or even knows Jimmy was involved. But if in Season 3 they decide Chuck starts to threaten Kim with the tape, I think they have room to do it.

Which would make me so angry for Kim. That coffee scene. Ouch.
posted by Nelson at 2:05 PM on April 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


Oh, yeah, Jimmy fucked up big time by bringing her into it for no actual reason.

Seems like Jimmy's friends get screwed over by his antics as often as not. Which actually makes me wonder about Marco. What kind of guy was he before Jimmy? He and his ring have come to symbolise Jimmy's con artist side, but was he enabling Jimmy or was Jimmy enabling him? One gets the sense that he could have had an honest life without Jimmy. Whether it could have been a happy one is an open question. We really only see Jimmy's perspective on that.
posted by tobascodagama at 4:25 PM on April 22, 2016


I think Jimmy absolutely knows Chuck is messing with him. Jimmy says — on tape — "It all went down exactly like you said. I mean exactly […] it is insane how you got every detail exactly right. […] I am saying it to make you feel better; I sure as shit wouldn't be telling you otherwise." And then, at the end, "Besides, it's your word against mine." The unfortunate part is that Jimmy loses it in the middle, and implicates Kim. It'll be very interesting to see how this gets tape gets used.

All that said, I am still amazed how loyal and kind Jimmy can be toward his brother (ignoring the frustrated outbursts about him not being a "normal person"). He goes to bat for him in thankless ways, and usually while nobody is looking. It's when Jimmy stops touching the ground button before entering the house, stops turning off his phone, stops accepting Chuck's boundaries (door lock, wall coverings) that I will really start to worry. Until then, he continues to operate withing the design that Chuck has built; Jimmy respects that. Which is why (I think) he works within the frame of tape recorder setup. It's a long con in Jimmy's mind, one that does least harm.

I also half wonder if the camera angles are different for Chuck post-hospital because his illness has been exposed, without a doubt, to him and everybody else. However, Chuck experiences the illness, and isn't capable of letting go or facing it from a rational agent perspective. It's almost as if the camera is showing us this plainly, ordinarily. For what it is, unembellished. We're watching a sick man from stage right now, not front of house.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:42 AM on April 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


I've been enjoying trying to notice some of the possibly more obscure connections between BB and BCS. I'm rewatching the final season of BB, and Jesse and Walt are doing a cook in one of the houses that has been tented for pest control. They are taking a break at the end watching The Three Stooges, and the scene that they are watching is about... a chimp with a machine gun.
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:54 PM on April 23, 2016 [8 favorites]


Ha, this is probably pretty obvious, but I just realized that there was also some foreshadowing here for the end of the BB series (especially since the same episode includes watching Scarface and the machine gun stand-off scene).
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:08 PM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh, Chuck, we all know by now that a garage door opener with a machine gun is way more dangerous than an armed chimp. But it's been hard not to notice that Jimmy's key fob (for the 1998 Suzuki Esteem) looks just like the danger-red one Walt used in the final episode of Breaking Bad.

Maybe Jimmy over-sold it; his words in the previous episode, "the greatest 60 seconds in the history of television" but I was a little let down by the "Gimme Jimmy!" commercial. I guess it was okay, but was that really Jimmy's plan, running an elder law, meat grinder practice to pay the bills for years until the Sandpiper payout came in? Is he just throwing shit at the wall to see what sticks, waiting until something more appealing comes along?

I guess Jimmy is still learning that his affinity for dirtbags and dead-enders is his best asset and it is fun to see him discover that.

And the Jimmy being Jimmy scene at the school a few episodes back, for what? The shot in the commercial was Jimmy with a US flag behind him. You don't need to trespass at an elementary school to get that shot. It only needs Jimmy, some sunshine, a flag, and a camera. That whole put-on was just for fun, and yes it was a fun scene, just to say that Jimmy can't film an ad without committing multiple crimes plus a Rupert Holmes song and dance. It made it all feel pretty hollow.

Another random thought: Ignacio/Nacho is great, both the character and the actor who plays him. Seeing him in Mike's crosshairs made me nervous, I really didn't want to see him shot dead, if only by accident. And he was wearing a red shirt, so there's a few layers to that symbolism.

I think Nacho is the new Pinkman. On the surface Jesse was there to enable Walt as companion and sidekick; but more importantly he was there to demonstrate the repercussions of Walt's choices through his emotional and physical suffering. From the hole in his home's upstairs bathroom floor, to dyed blue from Clovis' porta potty, to guilt over Drew Sharp, to a slave labor drug lab for white supremacists, Jesse's plight demonstrated the fallout of Walt's calculating evil. I'm afraid Nacho is going to have to endure some serious shit to demonstrate the repercussions of the hornets nest that Mike is stirring up playing games with cartel money.
posted by peeedro at 9:32 PM on April 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


tobascodagama: What kind of guy was he before Jimmy? He and his ring have come to symbolise Jimmy's con artist side, but was he enabling Jimmy or was Jimmy enabling him? One gets the sense that he could have had an honest life without Jimmy. Whether it could have been a happy one is an open question. We really only see Jimmy's perspective on that.

Not completely. In "Marco" (transcript) Jimmy goes back to see Marco in Cicero, where we find out how he did without Jimmy. He works at Lake Michigan Standpipe, a company run by his sister's husband. It's an honest job, but it doesn't make Marco happy. When he's dying in the street, he first says "I screwed up" by having a heart attack in the middle of their Rolex scam, but then says "This was the greatest week of my life."


The podcast for this one was almost twice as long as the episode. To save you the time (or pull you into listening for yourself), here's my summary:
  • Recorded on Brian Cranston's 80th birthday. His birthday also fell on the 2nd day of shooting for BB
  • The little "cabin" was around 1,000 feet away from Mike's position, supposed to be 1 km, or a klick (and it just happens to also be the sound of the tape recorder), not a Big Lebowski reference to The Jesus' line about pulling the trigger until it goes "click."
  • The run-down cabin was built from scratch, but it's just 2 sides with a bit of roof, supported by a big steel shipping container to withstand the high winds ("this is the land designed to kill you")
  • Finding the location for that scene was the tech scout from hell, took all department heads out to make the implementation day go smoothly but it was pouring buckets and a portion of the road was washed out due to a flash flood, almost 2 hours from home base and 2 miles to walk, lead by the very pregnant Anna Ramey, 1st AD, who kept everyone going ahead despite the conditions
  • The original plan was to be set in "The Sugar Shack" (that is anything but) where we first see Tio in Season 2 of BB. It was a real home, lived in by some older folks, but they have moved out. It's in really bad shape now, too much work to be fixed up, and didn't work with the sniping Mike set-up (plus too many flies, and really, really hot)
  • Getting into showbiz is all about who you know and who promotes you - and that all shapes these shows. Gretchen Schwartz in BB season 1 episode 2 was a chance-recasting, which changed a sizable part of the over-all BB story line
  • Speaking of BB, there's no chance of S01 podcast, btw - Vince Gilligan has no memory of the first season ... well not much memory
  • There was a fun distraction into worst mascots - Lambkins Fort Collins HS mascot, and the unofficial NYU Violets mascot
  • Return of Mike Bearmantraut
  • As noted by mandolin conspiracy upthread, they didn't fake the view through the scope, as is usually done, but shot through an actual Mark 4 scope as used by Mike, even though an earlier cut included artificial matting and after effects, which Vince couldn't differentiate from the real thing
  • Also noted by mandolin conspiracy: they tried to shoot something new, used Sony's small A7R II camera (Sony is the show's "benefactor" for the show, AMC only has US/NA distribution, it's on Netflix elsewhere). The camera was small enough that it could stay mounted on the backboard and actors could lift Chuck with the camera still attached. Vince gushes over the ease of getting such good gear relatively cheaply, where young film folks used to go to film school just to get access to proper gear. Still, their Red Dragon provides more flexibility with the final footage.
  • The camera wasn't shot upside down, but flipped after the fact by an editor or other technical person, which Vince liked when he saw it
  • The hospital scene, shot in the Gibson medical facility that is mostly closed down, featured lots of actors, but only included for their hands and voices (no loop group for the medical chatter)
  • The final product of Chuck's view of the CAT Scan experience was developed by the editor, Skip Macdonald, who got the final product through trial and error with effects and multiple layers
  • No crew or camera reflections in the silver room - the film crew lead had same reaction to requesting scenes be shot in a hospital without lights, which was not much reaction at all
  • There was no car in Chuck's garage (possibly the source of the white caddy) due to lack of space
  • Chuck's collection of items supports his belief that he'll beat this, and can bring it all back in
  • The Podcast folks questioned Chuck is being Mac guy, but noted maybe that was Rebecca's computer
  • Chuck was the Light Guy in that scene, as there was a bit of natural light, and his lantern
  • The entry into the garage was just an over-exposure shot with natural sunlight, set for dark interior shots
  • There was a detour into "Stealing the magic and power from cinematographers," thanks to new tech with video taps evolving from line-out black and white video taps, to radio frequency taps in SD, now to wireless, full-color HD monitors that can be viewed off-set. But this allows other people to watch lots of extras to make sure no one looks at the camera or "creates a new sub-plot" by something they do without anyone noticing.
  • Next season: "It's probably going to have Bob Odenkirk in it" - VG. Without a 3rd season, they could have the podcast back as if they had a show to review (at the time of recording this, they hadn't been picked up for the next season, but it was confirmed mid-March that there would be a 3rd season of 10 episodes)

posted by filthy light thief at 8:23 AM on April 25, 2016 [7 favorites]


Thanks, this is super interesting.

Chuck's collection of items supports his belief that he'll beat this, and can bring it all back in

I wonder if this indicates self awareness on Chuck's part that it's psychosomatic. If he thinks it's a real condition, I'm not sure how he would think that he could beat it, especially being so adverse to any medical treatment.

It's probably going to have Bob Odenkirk in it

Ha, and maybe Mike, too?
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:34 AM on April 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


When he's dying in the street, he first says "I screwed up" by having a heart attack in the middle of their Rolex scam, but then says "This was the greatest week of my life."

An addict who tried to go clean but then relapsed and went on a bender might say the same thing. I guess that's my point. Obviously, Marco thinks he's happier as Jimmy's con artist sidekick. But in the end, Marco died in an alley and Jimmy gets stuck managing a Cinnabon.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:01 AM on April 25, 2016


tobascodagama, good point. His con-job looked a bit like Kim's - a fun thing for a day, but not a way of life. On the other hand, Slippin' Jimmy was who Jimmy was, with one good slip being enough to "keep him in old Milwaukee and Maui Wowie right through labor day."


painquale: I do have some criticisms. The last two episodes were a little hokey with their melodramatic and soap operatic plot movements -- a head injury and a recorded confession as cliffhangers are one step away from amnesia, and Chuck is teetering on becoming one-note. And I don't like the color-coding that seems to enamor the writing staff so much -- I think it's simplistic. But the end result is artfully done and they wield those blunt tools as subtly as possible.

Thinking back to the Rolex scam with Marco, faking illness/injury was a part of the scam, just like Chuck's silver room bit. Cons often rely on drama, like the guy coming into Jimmy and Chuck's dad's shop with a story about his son's epilepsy and the dead car. And this is all built from the world of Breaking Bad, which was not a subtle drama.

As for the color-code, I think it's generally subtle enough that it requires closer watching. Where other programs are pretty heavy on their color coding of scenes (*cough* The Magicians *cough*). Also, I see the colors as giving a different spin on some scenes, putting another character in the room, if you will. Yes, it really pushes the point if you're paying attention, but it requires you to pay attention.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:50 AM on April 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


If he thinks it's a real condition, I'm not sure how he would think that he could beat it, especially being so adverse to any medical treatment.

I wonder if the story will bring about a Road to Damascus moment where Chuck has to decide between being a lawyer and being allergic to electromagnetism. They're pretty much the only two reasons for his existence.
posted by rhizome at 11:27 AM on April 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


If he thinks it's a real condition, I'm not sure how he would think that he could beat it, especially being so adverse to any medical treatment.

Just as a clarification, psychological conditions are very real conditions. I should have said "strictly physical" or something like that.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:59 AM on April 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think Chuck believes it's a physical condition that he can overcome through exposure therapy. He was working on this and was having success in season 1.
posted by bleep at 12:57 PM on April 25, 2016 [4 favorites]


I re-watched this episode last night, and the tetanus shot bit caught me -- "We gave him a tetanus shot because his immunization records were not current. I'm sure that's no surprise to you."

Adults should get tetanus boosters every 10 years (CDC). That's actually more telling than trying to date the technology in Chuck's garage (which apparently includes a Bondi blue iMac [G3], from the Better Call Saul Insider podcast).

I was trying to date the newspaper over Jimmy's face (I think the headline read "Security Fight Palestinian Meeting," but I'll have to double-check, as that's not getting any hits online, but I'm not sure if the Albuquerque Journal, which I am assuming that was, has a good online archive) to get a better time-frame for how long Chuck has had electromagnetic hypersensitivity.

I assumed this was a relatively recent diagnosis, but this PDF from Cell Phone Task Force.org states the history of such "radio wave sickness" goes back to the 1950s in cities in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, so he could have self-diagnosed in the 1990s (according to Wikipedia, BCS is set in 2002).
posted by filthy light thief at 7:22 AM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


I re-watched this episode last night,

This is the only show were I've rewatched ever episode very shortly after the original airing, and I've felt compelled to do so, because I care about the characters. Even BB, which I've watched through three times, had longer breaks in between.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:10 PM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


I was reminded in the flashback to the death of Chuck and Kimmy's mother of the recent episode of the X-Files where Scully's mother dies and calls out for her absent son, Charlie, and Dana has the role of responsible sibling ignored in favor of the not-so-responsible sibling.
posted by nequalsone at 8:20 AM on April 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


In case anyone else misses this show, here's Jimmy in Law School from Mr. Show. (Featuring Chuck!)
posted by mmoncur at 9:29 PM on May 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


Beating up another student and stealing his clothes to sneak into law school is such a Jimmy thing to do.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:32 AM on May 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


Nitpick: I don't think that blue and white appliance is an iMac (lacking the handle, grille where the Apple logo should be, and a concave bit at the bottom that doesn't match the convex iMac shape) but an appliance with a copycat design. Remember the steam iron? Heh, what a fad that was.
posted by Monochrome at 9:32 PM on July 2, 2017


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