Better Call Saul: Sunk Costs
April 25, 2017 5:18 PM - Season 3, Episode 3 - Subscribe

Gus is not completely unsympathetic to Mike's sense of justice. The out-of-town prosecutor is not completely unsympathetic to Chuck's sense of justice. Jimmy is pushed into a corner.
posted by kandinski (63 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Drat, I posted too soon. Of course, it should be "Kim is not completely unsympathetic to Jimmy's sense of justice."

Staircase curse!
posted by kandinski at 5:22 PM on April 25, 2017


Is there a such thing as "slapstick crime?" Because I think the tennis-shoes-and-cocaine sniper thing qualifies. I think Chuck is going to regret his scheme and KimmyJim are going to come up with something amazing, where Jimmy's "you're going to die alone" rebuke acts as some delicious foreshadowing. At this point, I want to say "Saul" will be borne of Jimmy not wanting to be found by Chuck. A boy can dream.

Did anybody else feel that the receptionist answering the phone as "Jimmy McGill Law" (or whatever it was) sounded kind of incongruous? That Kim is busting her hump and Jimmy always seems to have something else going on, but the name doesn't reflect that.
posted by rhizome at 5:55 PM on April 25, 2017 [1 favorite]


rhizome: Is there a such thing as "slapstick crime?"

Mike's setups are the complete opposite of Wile E Coyote's. Like reverse ACME, all right.

Did anybody else feel that the receptionist answering the phone as "Jimmy McGill Law" (or whatever it was) sounded kind of incongruous?

I think they have two separate practices with two separate phone lines, so Francesca answers each line with a different lawyer's name. Jimmy does advertising for many small deals, so his line rings all the time. Kim is on a sole client where she has her main contact on her cell anyway, so her line would ring much less often.
posted by kandinski at 6:36 PM on April 25, 2017 [12 favorites]


Jimmy and Kim operate as independent businesses, but pooling resources under one roof, including the receptionist. Presumably they have separate phone lines and Francesca was answering Jimmy's line. Or, on preview, what kandinski said.

These episodes are always too short. As someone noted in one of the previous threads, I could watch a whole show of methodical Mike.
posted by HumuloneRanger at 6:39 PM on April 25, 2017 [4 favorites]


"Law Offices of Jimmy McGill, how may I help you?"

I just assumed Jimmy and Kim have separate phone lines and it just happens that Kim gets few to no phone calls since she basically has only one client.

As far as Chuck goes, I'd be a lot more sympathetic towards him if he hadn't basically made it his mission to ensure that Jimmy can't practice law from day one, before he'd even had a chance to do anything unethical. I should feel bad about the copy shop scam Jimmy pulled on him, but I can't, given how he has been manipulating Jimmy for years. They're both chucklefucks of the highest order, but at least Jimmy tends to do it in service of others rather than himself and his own screwed up sense of right and wrong.

Chuck is easily as much a con man as Jimmy has ever been. The difference is that Chuck goes for the long con. Even worse, he cares not one whit about collateral damage. His plan hinged on Ernesto telling Jimmy, Chuck manipulated him into doing it just like he manipulated Jimmy into flying off the handle, and then he fires the poor guy for doing exactly what Chuck wanted! Christ, what an asshole.
posted by wierdo at 6:41 PM on April 25, 2017 [9 favorites]


Chuck is easily as much a con man as Jimmy has ever been. The difference is that Chuck goes for the long con. Even worse, he cares not one whit about collateral damage. His plan hinged on Ernesto telling Jimmy, Chuck manipulated him into doing it just like he manipulated Jimmy into flying off the handle, and then he fires the poor guy for doing exactly what Chuck wanted! Christ, what an asshole.

And part of this is that he knows, by hook or by crook, Kim's going to be drawn in one way or the other...and she might be his ultimate target?

As people have been noting here in the previous seasons, it's going to end badly for Kim...we just don't know how yet.

Oh, Chuck.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:46 PM on April 25, 2017 [2 favorites]


After last episode, this was going to seem like a come-down. But we get a face-to-face with Gus and Mike, and Jimmy tells Chuck that he's not going to be there for him anymore. I love this show. That thing with the sneakers, wow.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:50 PM on April 25, 2017 [2 favorites]


I could watch a whole show of methodical Mike.

I could watch a whole show of Kim getting ready in the morning.
posted by thelonius at 6:55 PM on April 25, 2017 [13 favorites]


Thanks kandinsky, that makes sense.

I get the feeling that the thing between Jimmy and Chuck is that Jimmy is his own worst enemy, and Chuck feels the same, like it's known that Jimmy is the sensitive fuckup, and Chuck exists to use that against him for reasons we don't know yet. I may be projecting.
posted by rhizome at 6:58 PM on April 25, 2017


It did seem clear Chuck would go for the law license from the get-go.

Fun fact: the same offense in Kentucky (here, a burglary in the second degree) would carry 5-10 years. That being said, I continue to find the portrayal of criminal law in this show to be remarkably accurate to my experience, state law differences notwithstanding.
posted by likeatoaster at 7:20 PM on April 25, 2017 [3 favorites]


The sheer vindictiveness Chuck has towards Jimmy is the stuff of mythology. An archetypal sibling rivalry and resentment. That Jimmy is very competent at their shared work is the fulcrum for Chuck's irrationality.

I've been in trouble with the law before in Iowa a couple of decades ago and the routine casual demeaning check-into-prison process rang true-ish. But

Likely different states/jurisdictions have different policies, but my misdemeanor-taken-to-jail (not prison, just jail at the PD) involved "turn 'roun, spread your buttocks, ben over and cough. all righ, now lift up yer testicles." Both times. They didn't take another mugshot of me the second time, though.

But I guess he's an Anglo and the criminal justice system is familiar with him, and he vice versa.

My checked in personal effects came out of storage smelling like they were doused with a great quantity of a distillation of homeless persons' (whole) body scrapings.

Also took a couple of days with 2x long showers a day to stop smelling "county jail" on myself. I wonder how county jail cops can maintain initiate relationships. But since persistent smells end up being blocked out, nevermind. Fucking Iowa.
posted by porpoise at 7:46 PM on April 25, 2017 [1 favorite]


I've been in jail orange three times in my life and only once did I have to spread my buttcheeks. The scenes in the show were basically the high points of my average experience.

I'm curious what are the olde tyme stories along these lines? Where might Vince 'n Peter have passed through on his way to this story?
posted by rhizome at 7:59 PM on April 25, 2017


That thing with the sneakers, wow.

Mike sure was lucky he shot the correct shoe!
posted by peeedro at 8:13 PM on April 25, 2017 [6 favorites]


I love how the episode begins with the shoes dropping.
posted by culfinglin at 8:24 PM on April 25, 2017 [7 favorites]


Chuck, you give me hope for your humanity for a minute, and then you rip my heart out the next.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:16 PM on April 25, 2017


"Mike sure was lucky he shot the correct shoe!"

Good point. I guess he could tell left from right in the scope, assuming he made a point of noting it when he placed the drugs (of course he did).

With regard to the arrest and court ... some things seem right and some not quite right, and my experience is New Mexico and Texas. That sure looked like both a bond hearing and an arraignment -- an arraignment which wouldn't have been the next day (or week) -- and the bond hearing would not necessarily have required Jimmy's presence. Of course, the prosecutor friend of Jimmy's said he'd try to get some scheduling advanced for him, so maybe that explains it.

Accepting that it's plausible that Jimmy would have already been arraigned and pled not guilty, I'm also skeptical that it would be possible for the DA's office to subsequently offer PPD. (Although we should account for Chuck's influence.) They're prickly about any question of innocence with regard to offering PPD because, you know, it's basically an extra-judicial criminal punishment -- a contractual agreement between the state and the accused whereby they don't prosecute you and you agree to be (lightly) punished anyway, avoiding the possible and very serious lifelong damage of being found a convicted felon. And it saves everyone money! I mean, really, we should all just be assigned and implicitly agree to civil contractual agreements with the state at birth whereby all disputes are mediated by private contractors employed by the state and, if some punitive action is necessary, it's provided by another private contractor funded by a small payroll tax. That would all be so much simpler and efficient. Maybe soon there will be an app for this when Silicon Valley productively disrupts the criminal justice system.

"Even worse, he cares not one whit about collateral damage. His plan hinged on Ernesto telling Jimmy, Chuck manipulated him into doing it just like he manipulated Jimmy into flying off the handle, and then he fires the poor guy for doing exactly what Chuck wanted! Christ, what an asshole."

Yes, I agree that we can more clearly evaluate Chuck's ethical choices when we consider Ernesto. I've probably beaten this horse to death many times over, but there's nothing quite so dangerous to anyone and everyone around him than a man's unshakable sense of righteousness.

"Chuck, you give me hope for your humanity for a minute, and then you rip my heart out the next."

He's a fascinating character, almost Shakespearean in the complexity and ambiguity of his villainy. Both of his speeches asserting his good-intentions were disturbingly convincing. My experience was skepticism, then a growing sense that Chuck was quite earnest but rigid, then a growing horror at the realization that to some degree this is a facade. In the scene with the prosecutor, by the end it was clear that his expression of brotherly concern was a carefully prepared manipulation.

People are describing both Jimmy and Chuck as con-artists. I'm not quite sure that I see Chuck as a con-artist, but what I do see, clearly, is that their essential shared characteristic is that they achieve their goals by dubious means via a bone-deep commitment to the role, to the lie, to believing it themselves for as long as necessary. I keep wondering about their childhood. They haven't even hinted at any abuse, but this propensity for a carefully maintained lie, for living the part, for privileging the public seeming over all else -- well, that's a hallmark of a home with some deep problem, a core hurt around which everything else orbits. I recall more about their father than their mother. What was she like? What would make sense to me would be that she was perhaps chronically depressed, non-functional, maybe an alcoholic, and their father was codependent and put all his efforts into running his store and presenting to the world the image of a happy home. To which he, of course, would enlist Chuck in more responsibility than Chuck was ready for. And Jimmy would have been both shielded and coddled, to Chuck's great confused mix of protectiveness and resentment.

I've been happy to see the Sandia Mountains in more shots in these two episodes. It's the one thing that seems missing to me from the show's mise-en-scène evocation of Albuquerque. Living there, it's this big, hulking mountain always there to the east, with almost a vertical eastern face including huge granite slabs, and the city lights always creeping further up its foothills. The face of the mountain catches the pink and red of the evening sunset in a way that is episodically arresting, no matter how long you've lived there; all the more so in the winter when it is snow-covered.

It's such a pity that they don't film during the winter -- possibly my main grievance with this show and BB, with regard to its otherwise compelling sense of place, is the complete absence of the winter. It gives Albuquerque the impression of a desert environment more like Phoenix -- many of the shots on the west mesa are made to seem Sonoran desert hot (110°F/43.3°C) but are more like 92°F/33.3°C with a light breeze. But, again, the winter: the mountain covered in snow, a few inches of snow on the ground, a 12°F/-11°C overnight low in the valley, fireplace woodsmoke in the air, and perhaps luminarias/farolitos along the walk during the holidays. Alternatively, the dirty slush and winter cold of East Central Ave. Albuquerque has a distinct character in winter, as well as summer, and it's entirely missing from this show's universe.

Finally, all I can say is that Giancarlo Esposito is just inhumanly spooky in his portrayal of Gus Fring. I have a lot of trouble reconciling what I've seen of interviews with the actor, Gus the friendly customer service oriented business owner, and Gus the drug kingpin. These are not the same people. And yet they are. I know -- acting! -- but, seriously, c'mon. There's some sorcery involved in this.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:32 AM on April 26, 2017 [33 favorites]


Not to mention Esposito's other roles, like Mike Giardello from "Homicide: Life on the Street". I can't connect him with Gus Fring at all...
posted by mmoncur at 1:25 AM on April 26, 2017


In the stupid things make me laugh department, DDA Oakley's "those are the best fats!" about the trans fats from Jimmy's burger really worked for me.

I am also up for a show about Kim getting ready in the morning.
posted by minsies at 5:39 AM on April 26, 2017 [10 favorites]


Esposito was also Buggin' Out in Do The Right Thing. Acting!
posted by transient at 8:51 AM on April 26, 2017 [4 favorites]


I think Kim may have dodged a bullet when Jimmy refused her help. I don't know about New Mexico bar rules specifically, but in most US jurisdictions, before you take on any new work that's substantially related to an existing matter you have to secure the informed consent of the existing client, and there's honestly no way in hell that Mesa Verde would ever agree to let Kim defend Jimmy against allegations that he destroyed evidence that he'd altered Mesa Verde's own documents. Advising Jimmy behind the scenes is probably enough already, but difficult to prove since it's not like they signed an engagement letter or anything. If Chuck sees her name on a court document or her in person when he comes to testify, I guarantee he is coming for her license, too.
posted by Copronymus at 9:47 AM on April 26, 2017 [8 favorites]


honestly no way in hell that Mesa Verde would ever agree to let Kim defend Jimmy against allegations that he destroyed evidence that he'd altered Mesa Verde's own documents

Is that among the charges against Jimmy? I thought all the charges were connected to the much-easier-to-prove breaking and entering, destruction of property, etc. I could have missed something, though.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:49 AM on April 26, 2017 [3 favorites]


I guess he could tell left from right in the scope, assuming he made a point of noting it when he placed the drugs (of course he did).

I guess I'm okay with that. But I rewatched the scene and there's a couple of continuity errors in there. In one scene the alto sign has a bunch of bullet holes, later the holes are gone. The ammo holder on Mike's rifle stock is shown empty, in the next shot it is full. The big man has a shotgun in one hand and has pulled a pistol out of his waistband to drop in the cache when Mike starts shooting, when he gets back up the pistol is in his waistband again, then we see him through Mike's scope and there's no pistol, then it's back in his waistband again and he's shown reaching for it, then it's sitting in the box when they open it to drop his shotgun and the driver's pistol.

Assuming the shoes on a wire scenes were in Mexico from the road signs, that rifle would have a hard time crossing the border legally, so we're adding gun smuggler to Mike's extensive resume. And what was a Los Pollos Hermanos truck doing in Mexico in the opening shot? I thought that Pollos Hermanos operated in the US and Gus wasn't in the business of smuggling drugs across the border, just distributing them in the southeastern US.

This episode felt rushed or they were saving their budget for later episodes or they had some production problems that they were covering up. The Kim gets dressed like a boss montage was the only real zest in a otherwise bland episode. The big meeting between Gus and Mike had no tension or spark to it, it didn't have the weight of two dangerous people feeling each other out for the first time. The whole episode felt like a dreary slog to move the pieces in position for later action.

Also, I'm a fan of Mike taking care of Mike business for Mike reasons, but this Hector Salamanca revenge plot hasn't made any sense to me. First he won't shoot Tuco because that will just bring more cartel attention to Ignacio and presumably himself (when he was still a nobody to the Salamancas). Then after he's put Tuco in jail, extorts Hector for $50k, and is threatened by the primos, he's willing to shoot Hector and presumably go to war with the whole cartel? And I'm not really buying that Mike is motivated by Hector overstepping some moral code by shooting a civilian because his response to the Todd/Drew Sharp situation was just some angry words at Todd (but I guess it's fair to argue that working for Gus alters Mike's moral code down the road).
posted by peeedro at 11:38 AM on April 26, 2017 [2 favorites]


Is that among the charges against Jimmy? I thought all the charges were connected to the much-easier-to-prove breaking and entering, destruction of property, etc.

Right, but the second anyone asks why he broke in or what he destroyed then you're pretty much done, and I think there's probably an argument that the rules require Kim to disclose all that to Mesa Verde up front since the standard is informed consent, which "requires that each affected client be aware of the relevant circumstances and of the material and reasonably foreseeable ways that the conflict could have adverse effects on the interests of that client." There might be some wiggle room there (my job actually deals with this stuff, but more centered on identifying the potential ethical conflicts for attorneys to resolve, so I'm not qualified to speak to how this plays out once it gets to this point), but Chuck would be sprinting to the bar association no matter what, and even a ruling that technically the crimes aren't substantially related to Mesa Verde is not going to mean good things for Kim's future as outside counsel to Mesa Verde.
posted by Copronymus at 11:41 AM on April 26, 2017 [2 favorites]


Then after he's put Tuco in jail, extorts Hector for $50k, and is threatened by the primos, he's willing to shoot Hector and presumably go to war with the whole cartel?

"We had a disagreement. He threatened my family. I'm not gonna let that go."

And Mike has previously failed to protect his son, so this is kind of a sore spot for him.

(Interesting that Gus observes that "threatening my family" is a bright line for Mike here, but will later go on to cross that line with Walt in Breaking Bad.)

that rifle would have a hard time crossing the border legally, so we're adding gun smuggler to Mike's extensive resume

I wondered about that too, given that we've been shown twice that Hector's men took great care to stash their weapons before crossing the border. The handwave, I guess, is that Mike bought the rifle in Mexico before buying the drugs, and dumped it after taking the shot; but we're not shown that.

Another Breaking Bad callback: the clinica doctor also treated Gus and Mike after the events in Salud.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:06 PM on April 26, 2017 [7 favorites]


In one scene the alto sign has a bunch of bullet holes, later the holes are gone.

If you mean the cold open, that's set years after the episode.
posted by thelonius at 12:28 PM on April 26, 2017 [11 favorites]


Ahhh, thanks, that explains it.
posted by peeedro at 12:30 PM on April 26, 2017


As to Mike hanging on to that threat: If memory serves, in the last season Mike spotted one of Hector's goons on a rooftop eyeballing his DiL and granddaughter. A vague threat against family maybe could be put aside, but sending the goon to peep is signalling "I can always find you, you will never be safe" pretty strongly and I could see why Mr. "no half measures" wants to see that threat ended terminally and permanently.

My take, anyway.
posted by absalom at 2:31 PM on April 26, 2017 [4 favorites]


Chuck is a real piece of shit.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:52 PM on April 26, 2017 [2 favorites]


I really liked the Kim montage, because despite there not being TOO much focus on her otherwise in this episode, I think there was a focus on her philosophy of kindness, justice, loyalty, and hard work, versus both Jimmy's and Chuck's flawed philosophies.
posted by destructive cactus at 4:34 PM on April 26, 2017 [6 favorites]


It was a little bit of an Enjoli commercial, but I'll take it.
posted by rhizome at 7:13 PM on April 26, 2017


As a juvenile I was required to spread my cheeks and lift my scrotum for inspection immediately before being doused in powdered insecticide and sent into the shower to wash it off.

Also, where I had that experience, a not guilty plea comes before the plea bargaining (which includes ACD/PPD/etc) happens, at least for people who aren't indigent repeat "customers". That state is a bit unusual, though, in that minor traffic citations are treated the same as a misdemeanor in terms of process. The police have precisely the same latitude to arrest or not as with any other misdemeanor charge. (There are a few misdemeanors, mainly domestic violence, that require an arrest, but it's otherwise up to officer discretion)
posted by wierdo at 7:26 PM on April 26, 2017


If memory serves, in the last season Mike spotted one of Hector's goons on a rooftop eyeballing his DiL and granddaughter.

Two goons. It was The Cousins.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:27 PM on April 26, 2017 [3 favorites]


I loved Mike's whole scheme with the shoes. Shooting into the air for a while so Hector's men would think there are hunters in the area, and so they'd ignore the final important shot. It was a well-executed mystery that made perfect sense at the end.

Getting the gun into Mexico would be difficult, but Mike definitely has connections. If nothing else he could borrow one from someone and return it.

I don't see Chuck's strategy very well. When Jimmy was talking to Chuck last season he flat-out offered to quit the law so that Chuck would stop hurting Kim. So if that's what Chuck wanted he could have had it a long time ago.

But I guess that would be Jimmy making a noble gesture to help a friend, and Chuck doesn't want Jimmy to be a hero, he wants Jimmy to Get What's Coming.

Oh, and I especially liked the music making a callback to the excellent music in Season 2's "Fifi" one-shot cold open when the Regalo Helado truck pulled into the inspection station again.
posted by mmoncur at 11:30 PM on April 26, 2017 [7 favorites]


I don't see Chuck's strategy very well. When Jimmy was talking to Chuck last season he flat-out offered to quit the law so that Chuck would stop hurting Kim. So if that's what Chuck wanted he could have had it a long time ago.

But I guess that would be Jimmy making a noble gesture to help a friend, and Chuck doesn't want Jimmy to be a hero, he wants Jimmy to Get What's Coming.


I think that's a big component of it, yeah. Chuck doesn't want Jimmy to stop doing bad stuff, Chuck wants to *beat* Jimmy. Plus, if Jimmy just shuttered his practice and got a different job, he could come back some other time - if Chuck gets him drummed out, it's permanent.

(The flip side of Chuck's giant brain, head for detail and determination is that he's as petty as he is brilliant. I find this entirely believable.)
posted by mordax at 11:56 PM on April 26, 2017 [3 favorites]


"The flip side of Chuck's giant brain, head for detail and determination is that he's as petty as he is brilliant. I find this entirely believable."

So much truth.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:20 AM on April 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


Even if nothing truly awful happens to Kim, the fact that Jimmy eventually loses someone so fiercely loyal counts as tragic.
posted by whuppy at 4:04 AM on April 27, 2017 [6 favorites]


The Kim gets dressed like a boss montage was the only real zest in a otherwise bland episode

Yeah, honestly, this episode didn't really work for me. The slow, deliberate scenes that I love about this show were largely missing, and everything else seemed sort of cobbled together. The Kim-getting-ready montage was really great, though.

Chuck really is a garbage person, though, and I will relish his hubris/pettiness-induced downfall, when it eventually happens.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:52 AM on April 27, 2017


Jimmy sitting there explaining to Chuck what's going to happen to him. No gloating, no spite. Nothing but despair at his (still!) beloved brother's inevitable fate. Oof.
posted by whuppy at 8:59 AM on April 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


Part of the reason I found that super stupid trans fats "joke" so funny was because I wasn't really into the rest of the episode. It felt like filler in a way that this show never really has before, and I am usually very happy with the show's very deliberate pacing. All the time Jimmy spent in the jail intake process just felt like it was there to get that Jimmy in jail orange image from the pre-season promos. If it had been done without dialogue, though, like Kim's getting ready scene, I might've been more up for it, but two of those in a single episode would've been pushing it.
posted by minsies at 9:48 AM on April 27, 2017


Speaking of Chuck being garbage, his pious speech to Jimmy about the importance of accepting your punishment and using difficult experiences to grow as a person or whatever was unbelievably infuriating. When is the last time Chuck suffered any consequences for his actions? He's spent the last few years being waited on hand and foot and treated like a demigod despite quitting his job and alienating almost everyone in his life in the throes of what sure seems like a manifestation of some sort of narcissistic personality disorder.
posted by Copronymus at 10:22 AM on April 27, 2017 [13 favorites]


I don't see Chuck's strategy very well. When Jimmy was talking to Chuck last season he flat-out offered to quit the law so that Chuck would stop hurting Kim. So if that's what Chuck wanted he could have had it a long time ago.

Chuck knew that would qualify as extortion. Chuck doesn't break the law. He is an asshole, but he does it within the law.
posted by aabbbiee at 11:54 AM on April 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


I guess Chuck can just stand around outside in the full sunshine as long as he's armored in his own righteousness.
posted by ssmith at 12:11 PM on April 27, 2017 [12 favorites]


I'm not really into the Mike/Gus storyline, even though obviously it's well written and well acted and all that. For the first two seasons I loved how the show felt so different from Breaking Bad but still lived in the same world, but Mike's stuff is veering into more obvious Breaking Bad Prequel territory and distracting from the Jimmy McGill stuff. I'm a little disappointed.
posted by something something at 12:25 PM on April 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


something something: Mike's stuff is veering into more obvious Breaking Bad Prequel territory and distracting from the Jimmy McGill stuff.

I hate to point this out, but this show is supposed to veer into BB territory, because that's where it all ends up, albeit at the beginning of that particular decline. Yes, it can keep some of the different tones, but Jimmy becomes Saul, Francesca the Chipper becomes Francesca the Bitter (unless it's an act, which I still think it might be, for some reason that makes sense to Saul), and Mike goes from problem-solver to hit man and "cleaner."

But Kim and Chuck (and HHM) can still exist, but as parts of Jimmy that Saul keeps from Walt (because as Rhea said, who in their right mind would tell Walt that he has a girlfriend?). In fact, it would be interesting to see BCS continue into the timeline of BB. Hear me out - Breaking Bad is focused on the world as it relates to Walter becoming Heisenberg, but what if we get to see more of the world around Jimmy playing Saul, with interludes of Walt's world?


ssmith: I guess Chuck can just stand around outside in the full sunshine as long as he's armored in his own righteousness.

I now think that Chuck got sick when Jimmy became a lawyer. If Jimmy does anything else but law, Chuck will feel better, because he's not making a mockery of the law, which makes Chuck physically ill. When did he get better? When he thought he had Jimmy in a corner, with the one way out to end his law career.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:26 PM on April 27, 2017 [9 favorites]


Ivan Fyodorovich: It's such a pity that they don't film during the winter

Heck, they could film in Spring and still get some snowy mountain shots! Spring officially began over a month ago but the National Weather Service says much of New Mexico can expect another strong dose of winter weather this weekend. We've experienced all four seasons in a week of Spring, like this week, when it was up to the 90s in central NM on Monday, then the temperature drops enough that there's a good few inches of snow in northern NM (a bit of snow after lunch yesterday -- there was more in the morning, but I had to attend a meeting, so I couldn't take any pics until most had melted away).

I was actually confused about when they shot the scene in front of Chuck's house - the tree made it look like late spring, or maybe fall, but that was the only element in the episode that gave that impression.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:42 PM on April 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


Even if nothing truly awful happens to Kim, the fact that Jimmy eventually loses someone so fiercely loyal counts as tragic.

We know sufficiently little about Jimmy's current (post-BB) life that we don't know that he really lost Kim, per filthy light thief above. BB itself covers exactly two years, not counting various flashbacks (from Walter's 50th birthday to his 52nd), and Kim could have been elsewhere during that time for a reason. One of the things that struck me about something that Jimmy/Saul said when he was getting ready to get his own ride from the vacuum cleaner repair guy was that he would be managing a Cinnabon in Omaha, which, as we've seen at the beginning of each season, is exactly what he's doing. Interesting that he knew ahead of time exactly where he'd going and what he'd be doing, especially as, presumably, he's rich from his cut of Walter's operation, and could go anywhere and do anything. (He seems to live alone, going by the opening of the first episode, but that's a really brief glimpse.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:44 AM on April 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


Notes from the Better Call Saul Insider podcast for this episode:
  • Opens with a discussion of wide shots, as director John Shiban is this episode's special guest, and he last directed BCS for 205 "Rebecca," which featured a really wide shot that was framed to look even wider, which Chris McCaleb has used as justification to keep wide shots in when editing other show episodes, contrary to focusing on faces and close-ups
  • Which transitions to a discussion of people from BB being hired for "the Breaking Bad look," and either getting support for creative shots and visual story telling, or getting shot down because it's too weird
  • One thing that makes BCS special is that Gilligan and Gould support the directors to make their own look and feel for each episode, likened to The X-Files where G & G and Shiban all worked, and The Twilight Zone, which may have benefited from being an anthology show that wasn't bound to a certain "show look"
  • Everyone laughs at the simplicity that could have been, if Mike only walked in to the doc and asked for a shoe full of meth
  • Speaking of the shoe trick, it came from Mike wanting to be "almost invisible," after the last time Mike got involved -- an option was for someone selling food to truckers waiting to get through the border, and Vince mimicked Mike and his gruff voice asking "anyone like a churro?"
  • The shoes played into the urban legends of the ubiquitous shoes on power lines
  • Fun facts: the power lines were physically and digitally added in, and the T-junction was super close to the studio (in Albuquerque?)
  • Odd tangent on Huell Howser
  • Visual Effects in a Supporting Role - Emmys for things that people don't notice
  • Confirmation: teaser/open is from the BB era
  • And those shoes (oh, those shoes!) were specially made by Jennifer Bryant, the costume designer, but the shoes were made in a small batch in China (where, due to a flood in the area, the workers had to come in via row boat, for a while)
  • As for the shoe "tricks" (the shot through the shoe and then dusting, and the breaking laces) were special effects. The laces break was actually an electro-magnet turned off ("magnets, bitch!"), while the gunshot was done with squibs, but there were wires that had to be edited out in post production
  • Effects like that are developed in a multi-stop process: first comes up in breaking the episodes when the story is being expanded, but then the effects and shots are considered for plausibility, and then if the effect/ shot is worth the trouble in terms of making an impact in the show. For example, some long trailer-filmed car shots are really hard, but don't register with viewers, because we've seen so many scenes of people driving cars
  • The fake meth was a long test of alternate substances, but no real meth ...
  • ... but the border scene included heroin. Rather, the essence of heroin, which they have on hand to use when a drug sniffing dog doesn't find anything for a while, because dogs can get discouraged if they haven't found anything for a while (that was their 3rd dog - they tried a cadaver dog, but it didn't work)
  • Giancarlo Esposito got back into Criminal Gus by the second take (Kelly asked: I wonder how long it would take him to get back into Buggin' Out in Do The Right Thing)
  • The jail is an old jail that is now a girl scout retreat, complete with kids' art on the walls (which was hidden with Post-it-type wall coverings, that were painted over)
  • Some of the cops were actual cops, which made things easier for authenticity
  • A nod to the Little Richard track, "Hurry Sundown"
  • Peter Diseth, "an Albuquerque gem," made DDA Oakley more nuanced. Written as a sad-sack, he brought more character to the character. And he repeats the same actions shot after shot, matching his staging, which makes it so much easier to edit. "The comic relief in a show starting Bob Odenkirk" is an impressive statement; Peter was able to make lines that Gennifer Hutchison, the 3rd writer with G & G, said she considered to be throw-away lines into gems, or at least make more sense. Everyone talks very highly about him. (Reppin' ABQ!)
  • A discussion on blocking and other technical planning that happens behind the scenes
  • Kimberly Hebert Gregory (Kyra Hay) is lauded for her role in Vice Principals, which is why they looked to her for this role
  • Question without an answer at this point: was Chuck playing a part when talking to Kyra?
  • Kim and Jimmy and her role in his current predicament: Chris notes that Kim said "you don't save me, I save me" last season, and he tries to do that in this episode, but he can't -- and she wants to help him, because they love each-other.
  • Jimmy's monologue in Kim's office was also shot with Kim, but Kelly saw no point in cutting. Not to discount Kim and her bullion cube of a delivery.
  • Actual court reporter who is also an extra -- she asked Jimmy to clarify or speak more clearly from the first take, which adding accuracy
  • Molly Hagan, Judge Lindsay Arch, is also from Some Kind of Wonderful (1987), Election (1999), iZombie (currently airing series), early pick for the judge.
  • Shoes on the wire misdirect - "the art of dramatic writing is creating (for) the audience the need to watch," Chris Carter per John Shiban -- we need a mystery, and here we get a series of mysteries; but balancing mystery with confusion - don't make the mysteries too convoluted as to lose the audience
  • Something I totally missed: Mike was supposed to be in the clinica for/with Montezuma's revenge
  • JB Blanc, the Mexican doctor, is actually British and doesn't know Spanish, but he and others were helped by the show's translator, who ensured they used the right words and phrases, and coached people on pronunciation
  • Good doctors are the gateway to the underworld
  • Clinica is a vets office (Google maps street view, likely location) is pretty close (Gmap) to Los Pollos Hermanos location (Gmap)
  • PPD had to be naturally explained - Vince joked about lines like "Bob, how long have we been brothers?" Use an argument or debate to explain, and in the smallest amount of information possible to convey the details to avoid being an exposition dump or awkwardly explain something for the audience
  • Follow Gennifer Hutchison (@GennHutchison) for writing tips
  • An actual DA from Belen, a friend of someone on the show, walked the writers through the options, and almost as a side note gave them the option of PPD
  • The difficulty of shooting a long dialog without fake moonlight. Got lucky with the glass blocks option, but it was odd to cut the "inverse" scenes, as people look to light spots, so cutting silhouettes required some careful thought
  • Vince said that Kim and Jimmy holding hands made him think of Mulder and Scully (odd tangent: Vince talked through his thoughts, noting he asked himself if Scully and Mulder ever held hands, then he remembered that John Shiban's son, Jerry, was Scully's baby, William
  • The exterior is a location, but the interior is now a set made to recreate the interior, as it's now home to a real estate agency. The ceiling was recreated because the original company who made the shiny copper panels doesn't exist anymore; Kelly and Chris talked about the trouble with reflections in post-production
  • John Shiban is now the show runner for Shuteye, a Hulu series that was recently renewed for a second season
  • John broke the writer / director barrier on Breaking Bad, and then everyone took a trip down BB memory lane

posted by filthy light thief at 7:34 AM on April 28, 2017 [8 favorites]


Bouncing back to comments on snow in New Mexico: it's currently 8:44 AM MST on April 28, and it's snowing in Santa Fe. Not a lot, and it might not stick, but there's definitely snow flurrying down now.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:44 AM on April 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


The last scene, with Jimmy and Kim standing and chatting in front of the office's glass brick exterior section, was as gorgeous as anything I've ever seen on television. It was breathtaking. I don't understand people who say they are getting nothing from the show. Maybe you have to have a larger screen (of the type that is not exactly a luxury item today, and commonplace, if not fully dominant yet) to really appreciate that sort of thing, though? It's shot as if it's aimed toward the big screen, really.
posted by raysmj at 1:18 PM on April 28, 2017 [5 favorites]


"The last scene, with Jimmy and Kim standing and chatting in front of the office's glass brick exterior section, was as gorgeous as anything I've ever seen on television."

Yes. And you make a good point, that I'd not considered. It's a shame if anyone is watching this on a mobile device or other small screen. I was late in getting a big flat screen, it's only been a couple of years, but I try to watch everything and especially the most beautifully-shot shows at 1080p on my 60". I also color-calibrated it. Anyway, I am continually just dumbfounded by some of the amazing shots on a (relatively) few of these shows. This show deserves the biggest, brightest screen you can watch it on.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:56 PM on April 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


It's shot as if it's aimed toward the big screen, really.

So much of this show is is aimed at the bigger screens that they actually commented on it last season in Better Call Saul Insider, talking about how miffed they were at the idea of people watching this and Breaking Bad on their phones.

The fact that there's a push-back from Network execs against the beautiful, wide shots makes me think of the loudness war, where pop music has lost its dynamic range in the name of being louder to sound better on crappy speakers. Aiming to satisfy the low-end audience is in some ways a nice idea as it may present a nominally better experience for people who can't afford a better setup, but in the process, everyone loses. Just as if the audio is ALWAYS AT MAX VOLUME and rarely has the chance to be quiet, shows and movies that are always FRAMED ON FACES lose the chance for visual storytelling to make such close-ups or tightly framed moments to have as much impact.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:06 PM on April 28, 2017 [5 favorites]


Oh, and I especially liked the music making a callback to the excellent music in Season 2's "Fifi" one-shot cold open when the Regalo Helado truck pulled into the inspection station again.

yes! I loved that bit of music

and yea, this series is amaaaaaazing on a big screen. we use a projector, and I totally lucked into finding a screen that just perfectly fits the width of my living room, so it's like 10 feet across, and there are just so many breathtaking shots in this show. The scene of Jimmy and Kim leaning against the glass brick is totally a callback to the first episode, where he and Kim lean against the parking garage wall.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 4:21 PM on April 28, 2017 [5 favorites]


Shadows of who they once were? I feel like the silhouetting is significant there. Incredible shot, I could barely pay attention to the story occurring on top of it.
posted by rhizome at 4:33 PM on April 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


"The scene of Jimmy and Kim leaning against the glass brick is totally a callback to the first episode, where he and Kim lean against the parking garage wall."

So much so that I was distracted by waiting for him to put one of his feet up on the wall ... until he did it.
posted by komara at 5:34 PM on April 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


Yes, I agree that we can more clearly evaluate Chuck's ethical choices when we consider Ernesto. I've probably beaten this horse to death many times over, but there's nothing quite so dangerous to anyone and everyone around him than a man's unshakable sense of righteousness.

Though it's worth noting that Chuck is essentially relying on everyone involved to do things that violate his professional and legal codes of ethics. If Ernesto never tells Jimmy, and Jimmy doesn't stupidly break in, Chuck's plan fails. Chuck is a monstrous figure precisely because he grasps human character intellectually, but not emotionally; he has cognitive empathy, but not much in the way of emotional or compassionate empathy. this is of course the trait of a narcissist, and the show has made clear that Jimmy and Chuck are rather narcissistic in complementary fashion.

This episode highlights that with the aural parallel of Chuck's vocie breaking -- and the CC makes sure to emphasize this -- to get the ADAW from Belen on board with the PPD plan. But notice what Jimmy does at the end of the episode, reenacting his smoking ritual with Kim from all the way back in episode 1 of season 1, the smoke also cracking his voice just a touch as he tells her he'll have to face Chuck and his cronies at the bar....*voice breaks*...alone. And note too how quickly he thanks her and slinks away after his impassioned plea to her to please, please, please not defend him, not get involved.

This isn't even conscious for him anymore; it's habit. And just as Chuck will never really let himself understand how much his actions are about gaining social *power* over his brother -- "i will be there to help you walk that path." -- Jimmy never lets himself understand how much his actions are always about eliciting the specific *emotions* he needs from others. Both of them do this consciously where and when they think of the sucker as deserving, but they also do it habitually to the people around them, especially the people ostensibly closest to them.

And soem of the lies are directed at themselves. Chuck genuinely doesn't want Jimmy in jail, or he'd go full steam ahead and reap that law license...but if the PPD doesn't work out he's hardly going to withdraw the charges, because that's "Jimmy's choice" to do things the hard way. It's what tells him her cares about his brother (as a prop for his own righteousness). And Jimmy genuinely wants to keep Kim out of the case against him....but if he knows he can't win alone, he's hardly going to say no to her (because either way it "proves their bond, whether he's nobly going it alone so their partnership can work out or she's sacrificing herself to save his law license...so their partnership, which was his dream more than hers, can go on).

But the truth of Chuck and Jimmy emerges in their incidental actions, their conduct towards the incidental people around them. Ernesto is summarily fired after being used as a patsy. And Francesca's caring gesture earns her some lukewarm praise from Jimmy and a "request" (from the only reason she has the job) to drive him to his own car despite his paying for a cab to get there in the first place. Some props are for the emotional set pieces the McGill boys thrive on; others are just for a bit of stage business and discarded or reused casually as the "scene" demands.

Sound plays a clever role in the show's usual misdirections, the preferred strategy of all its characters at this point, from Mike's false gunshots which conceal the one shot that really matters to Chuck's bank shot aimed at Jimmy's law license to Jimmy's play for Kim's help at the end.

Interestingly, the thematic of the episode is the big outsider that passes by or suddenly shows up and whose mere passage or presence is too much to bear, straining and breaking old connections or radically altering them. The delicious visual pun in the opening shots announcing that yes, *both* shoes are gonna drop with the Mike-meets-Gus plot works well, but the nature of that plot is the later bit with shooting the shoes to dust the bumper with a light patina of cocaine, framing Hector's men for a crime they're already committing. (And this also turns last season's long tracking shot of the border inspection process into one big setup for this payoff.)

But this is also the pattern that we saw play out in Breaking Bad when Gus and Hector and Mike met another big outside object: Gus's slow, meticulous vendetta against Hector ends not because of their connection, but because of Walter White's resounding, reverberating passage. (Gliding over all? Ha!) And Gus himself will be a similarly ripple-producing passage through all these characters' lives.

And when Jimmy indirectly approaches Kim to defend him, the scene is signaled by the faint flicker of his cigarette through that glass, darkly -- the trace, the leftover of their emotional connection he's playing on: ripples of sickly light, fragmentary and spidery, playing across that crystallized surface. But as we saw with those old shoes, old connections thin and wear over time and abuse; the reverberations of some great, unexpected passage -- a semitruck rolling by -- can break them entirely. The echoing gunshots, the flickering light of the cigarette, the subtle breaking of voices.... all ripples of that world-shaking outside element: out-of-town ADAs that Jimmy can't play familiar games with, the state bar, the truck, Gus Fring, and (from the Salamancas' perspective) Mike and his instrument of indirect destruction (the rifle). When something vast and moving passes by, even the ripples can capsize you.

Kim's preparation montage is ended by precisely such a passing object: Ernesto's bright blue car. All the careful self-construction, all the hard work, all the making of a self one could settle into....all undone by that car looming into view, that Chuck-calculated PDD from the Belen ADA, that shouting smashing fury of Jimmy's. The casual destruction wrought by those who have already settled into their immaculate, self-contained personae, or who run their great and powerful systems, was also announced in the very first episode by Jimmy's attack on a trash receptacle, by Tuco Salamanca suddenly showing up, even by Chuck's psychosomatic distress at the invisible waves that radiate from powers and understandings (voltage and signal) beyond his own.
posted by kewb at 6:33 PM on April 28, 2017 [15 favorites]


Something I totally missed: Mike was supposed to be in the clinica for/with Montezuma's revenge

I loved that bit - they say he is there for "the Revenge" which turns out to be entirely true!
posted by mikepop at 7:47 AM on May 1, 2017 [3 favorites]


Apologies if this was mentioned upthread, or if it's even interesting, but I was just troubleshooting my LAN with this episode, and the shoes at the beginning are the same shoes that Mike shot.
posted by rhizome at 12:24 PM on May 1, 2017


Part of me still wonders if Kim is working her own long con to extricate herself from the McGill brothers' orbits once and for all - I would really like for her to get out of Better Call Saul alive and with her law license and reputation intact, but now that she's throwing in with Jimmy in this case, that seems somewhat less likely. (Unless it's part of some crazy long-term strategy on her part.)
posted by Funeral march of an old jawbone at 5:29 PM on May 1, 2017


This was an interesting episode, because it made me feel like

1) Kim is going to be okay? I don't know, she's pretty grounded. She wasn't as terrified of what's happening as I, personally would be. I got vibes from this episode that there are no plans to doom her so far. It felt a lot further from tragedy than normal.

2) I thought it seemed that Jimmy really... hates? as close as he can get to hating him, hates Chuck right now. Jimmy is a bit of an idiot when it comes to his harebrained schemes and sticking it to the man, but he'll put his life, reputation, safety, everything on the line for someone who is hurting. I also think he'll forgive anyone for anything given enough genuine affection (doesn't mean he won't screw them over at some point, but he'll forgive them). So I don't want to say a line was crossed, but I think in that moment he meant what he said, fuck you, you self-centered entitled asshole, you're going to die alone and it's your own damn fault. Which despite the fact that Jimmy would be a horrorshow in real life, is what Chuck probably deserves.

3) Aww Kim and Jimmy at the end. She really loves him. I really love them!

Anyway not to carry my own therapy too far into my interpretation of this show but I think a key thing about Jimmy is not just that he's too lazy or too impatient to do the right thing, but that the right thing feels wrong to him. Sometimes hard work means putting your loved ones second, stepping on people's backs, compartmentalizing, and to him every feeling is urgent. To be ambitious in the way Chuck is doesn't just feel hard or boring, it feels cold. Chuck is obviously the opposite and will lie to his own brother's face because he cares so much for the letter of the law. Kim is in the middle: hardworking and honest but will always put herself out on a limb for those in need, whether it's her lover or a bunch of old people in a waiting room who just got ditched by their lawyer.
posted by stoneandstar at 11:34 AM on May 2, 2017 [4 favorites]


rhizome: the shoes at the beginning are the same shoes that Mike shot

Indeed - I wasn't sure on that, but per the podcast, they're supposed to be the same shoes, years later. The difference: instead of Hector Salamanca's truck, it's a Pollo Hermano truck.

Gus has taken over Hector's territory (or at least this route). And the shoes both drop.


kewb: Though it's worth noting that Chuck is essentially relying on everyone involved to do things that violate his professional and legal codes of ethics.

In re-reading the transcript for this episode, I realized how cleanly Chuck played the DA. He has a "tough but fair" DA come up, and he sets the stage for why PPD makes sense:

Kyra Hart: Going back to the confrontation, so I have it absolutely clear, did he strike you?
Chuck: No, nothing like that. He backed me into a cabinet.
Hart: Did he have a weapon?
Chuck: Well, as I mentioned, he used a fireplace poker to break into my desk. But he never would have used it on me.
Hart: Did you feel physically threatened?
Chuck: My brother is a lot of things, but even he has limits.
...
Hart: Well as officers of the court, I feel we should be held to a higher standard. I don't intend to take it easy on your brother just because he's a lawyer.

Those "lot of things" are all about how he practices law, which is Chuck's goal - get him out of law. Hart is of like minds in this general realm - lawyers are supposed to be Better Than That, but if he's not dangerous, let's let him off light, with a PPD, and he submits his written confession to the New Mexico Bar Association, which would lead to him being disbarred.

He's not dangerous, but he's not fit to be a lawyer. And if he is dangerous, if he "gets his nose dirty" within a year, "instant jail."

Beautifully crafted trap, Chuck. Too bad it won't snap shut just like that.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:35 AM on May 2, 2017 [4 favorites]


I could watch a whole show of Kim getting ready in the morning.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: when Saul finally runs its course, I hope the next spinoff is Should've Called Kim.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:53 PM on May 9, 2017 [4 favorites]


Kim is too good for this world.
posted by Monochrome at 10:37 PM on March 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


The handwave, I guess, is that Mike bought the rifle in Mexico before buying the drugs, and dumped it after taking the shot; but we're not shown that.

I'm pretty sure that's the M40 that Lawson (Jim Beaver) showed Mike in Gloves Off (S02E04) and Mike uses to almost shoot Hector in the last episode of Season 2.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:07 PM on August 25, 2018


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