Better Call Saul: Chicanery
May 8, 2017 11:39 PM - Season 3, Episode 5 - Subscribe

Kim and Jimmy face off with an adversary. Jimmy looks to Chuck's past to secure his future. Jimmy loses an ally and gains another.
posted by rhizome (99 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
HUELL! I almost cheered out loud when the vet asked if the pickpocket would need to 'fit into a tight space.'

Anyway, this is what I love about Better Call Saul and the BBverse in general: most shows, I either know exactly what's going to happen next by looking at the clock and just following the formula, or they don't even make that much sense.

It's so much fun to watch something that outsmarts me. I had this intricate theory about what they could do to get outta this jam... and what happened was so much better. Well, and so much worse for Chuck.
posted by mordax at 12:18 AM on May 9, 2017 [8 favorites]


Great episode! I still don't know why Kim said "bingo!" last week, if if she wasn't recording Chuck admitting there's another copy, but it seems like that it was kinda taken for granted (that a copy existed) during the trial in today's episode - they even played it. Hmm.
posted by destructive cactus at 1:06 AM on May 9, 2017 [2 favorites]


I sort of expected Ernesto to make an appearance. Chuck really fucked him over. For all Chuck's fine moral posturing he manipulated that sweet innocent kid, knowing that his conscience would get the better of him regarding the blackmail. Remember how he struggled to tell Kim about the tape? I wonder if he's back in the mailroom or just fired altogether. He certainly will be if he's made to look complicit in what's going to be a big scandal for HHM. He cared about Chuck too, knowing the kind of apples he likes, apologizing because he couldn't get them. Did I miss something? What did he ever do to you?

I mean, what the fuck Chuck? This kid probably started at HHM, in the mailroom just like Jimmy, dreaming of doing some actual law some day. Instead he's a gopher for this creepy shut-in getting mixed up in some perverse family drama.

Who's going to get your shit for you now Chuck? Howard? Yeah, that'll last.

Play-acting is what you called it, your indignant moral outburst. I think maybe all of your morality is an act. Just a performance, like the one you even fool yourself with, your illness.

Fuck you Chuck.

Hey Ernesto, I'm hiring if you need a job.

On preview, no offense to the mentally ill, Charles is truly sick and needs help.

posted by adept256 at 1:21 AM on May 9, 2017 [15 favorites]


This was heartbreaking but good.

I have only two nitpicks based on areas of my expertise:

1. I know The Vet isn't known for his veterinary skills here, but Goldfish shouldn't be kept in a 1-gallon bowl - they need at least 10 gallons of water - and a Plecostomus needs at least 60 gallons and shouldn't be kept with goldfish because it requires warmer water.

2. Jimmy should have had Huell plant a cellphone on Chuck, not a battery. And Chuck, who knows about the Inverse Square Law, should also know that a battery only contains potential chemical energy, and doesn't produce any kind of electromagnetism until it's plugged into a device. As such it shouldn't have affected his condition at all.

Also, not really an area of my expertise, but Jimmy just admitted in front of a court of law that he hired someone to plant evidence on someone in order to affect the outcome of the hearing. Isn't he likely to be disbarred for that?

I did scream "Huell" as soon as The Vet said "You don't need to fit him into any kind of tight space, do you?" though, so this still counts as a good episode.
posted by mmoncur at 1:48 AM on May 9, 2017 [12 favorites]


Goldfish shouldn't be kept in a 1-gallon bowl

better than a bag, i guess

And Chuck, who knows about the Inverse Square Law, should also know that a battery only contains potential chemical energy, and doesn't produce any kind of electromagnetism until it's plugged into a device. As such it shouldn't have affected his condition at all.

Sure, but, Jimmy had JUST asked Chuck if a various things, including a battery, would affect him, and he said yes. Since he's proving that the condition is 'fake', a battery that Chuck said he'd be able to notice should work fine for this purpose. Also, since we're nitpicking, batteries of this sort have had active circuits within them for some time now.
posted by destructive cactus at 3:08 AM on May 9, 2017 [11 favorites]


"I still don't know why Kim said 'bingo!' last week, if if she wasn't recording Chuck admitting there's another copy, but it seems like that it was kinda taken for granted (that a copy existed) during the trial in today's episode - they even played it. Hmm."

The show was smarter than us. Here's what that was about: their whole defense relied upon getting Chuck's condition into the hearing. Normally, it wouldn't be. It was only with the tape being used as evidence against Jimmy that the tape would be heard, which opened the door to Jimmy discussing the conditions under which the tape was recorded, i.e., Chuck's illness (or, rather, that he "exaggerated" it). None of what they did would have been possible without the recording itself being introduced into evidence. Kim and Jimmy needed to know for sure that Chuck was going all-in on exposing what Jimmy did and playing the tape, rather than just let the PPD statement suffice for deciding upon the disciplinary action.

I don't know whether Jimmy was more likely to be suspended than disbarred for what he admits to in the PPD, but I think that Kim and Jimmy knew Chuck well enough to know that he probably had a copy of the tape and would want to use it to get Jimmy disbarred. But they had to know for sure, otherwise they'd need to prepare a different defense (if one was possible).

So I was wrong about Kim recording the conversation, but the general theory was correct -- their defense was to basically put Chuck's mental competency in question, which would undermine everything that Chuck was claiming. And Chuck was his own worst enemy -- he sounds paranoid accusing Jimmy of working elaborate cons while he's just admitted that he, himself, has gone to great lengths to deceive. The hearing would normally never be able to put Chuck on the defense about his illness, but Chuck himself basically ensured that it worked out that way. And, in the end, he did crack. It's interesting that Chuck was wrong in thinking that Jimmy believed that Rebecca's presence would "break him" when, actually, it's that Jimmy knew that in addition to proving him mentally ill with the battery trick, Rebecca's presence would break him. He broke, and revealed the underlying resentment, even "hate", that Jimmy contended was Chuck's motivation for doing all this.

Meanwhile, there was zero -- none -- substantiation of any bad actions on Jimmy's part, other than what he admitted to in the PPD statement, just a lot of unhinged accusation from Chuck.

I think the one thing I didn't like about this was this being scripted and filmed as the usual Captain Queeg, Caine Mutiny style on-the-stand meltdown. I can't argue that it wasn't effective and that it's not the case that, maybe, the show just absolutely had to have a pay-off, this comeuppance, after three-and-a-half seasons of Chuck's nonsense. The one thing I did like was rather than just doing the standard slow-zoom to Chuck's face as he digs his hole, they started out close, only zoomed in a little, but caused Chuck's face to subtly distort, inflate. Still, I wish they'd not followed the formula at all. But they're much smarter and wiser than me, so I trust that this was the right choice.

"I sort of expected Ernesto to make an appearance. Chuck really fucked him over."

That was a disappointment, because the way that Chuck manipulated Ernesto, to Ernesto's harm, goes a long way in demonstrating that his ethical function is out-of-whack with respect to what he thinks is justified for Jimmy, which in turn speaks to his mental health. Because, bottom line, Chuck is totally right about Jimmy and his accusations against Jimmy are all true. The hearing, in its destruction of Chuck's reputation, is completely unjust ... except with regard to how Chuck casually used Ernesto's good nature to attack Jimmy, and to Ernesto's great loss. Only in that do we truly see that, really, Chuck very much deserves to be hoist by his own petard.

It's not official -- that will have to wait awhile and require some more events -- but as far as I'm concerned, when Kim says to Jimmy that Rebecca will hate him for this, and Jimmy just walks away, showing no remorse at all, is the moment when Jimmy becomes Saul.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:09 AM on May 9, 2017 [20 favorites]


There are going to be lots of moments when Jimmy becomes Saul.
posted by mediareport at 4:50 AM on May 9, 2017 [10 favorites]


He's already had a few.
posted by mediareport at 4:50 AM on May 9, 2017 [5 favorites]


Kim and Charles aren't in BB. I think he's already lost Chuck irredeemably. The rest of that is epilogue. There will have to be a moment when he loses Kim, and it will probably be because she saw Jimmy die and met 100% Saul for the first time.
posted by adept256 at 5:12 AM on May 9, 2017


Wheeeeee!

And the world exclaimed a collective, "Tight spaces? HUELL!"

The beginning was very green: the grass, the bus bench in the opening, and that very green lizard.

When Kim is cross-examine Howard about nepotism, he betrays his calm exterior with a tiny twitch of the lip. Outstanding.

From the moment Jimmy started his cross-examine, Chuck was talking back and being sarcastic with Jimmy. It seemed ill-advised to start questioning the motives behind Jimmy's questions.

I haaaaaaaaate Chuck.

Two Arrested Development thoughts this episode: Howard is Roger Danish, and it turns out that Glacier Ranch is a real thing, but had a Sudden Valley feel to it.

That close-up was brilliant. Nothing less.

Loved the surprisingly long shot reflected in the clock face.

I'm not sure where in the timeline the opening happened, but Chuck sure was eager for Jimmy's help and advice during the dinner with Rebecca. The bigger the lie....

BZZZZEXITBZZZZ and just like that, it's over.

There will have to be a moment when he loses Kim, and it will probably be because she saw Jimmy die and met 100% Saul for the first time.

I don't know. We went from "never speak of this" to Kim defending Jimmy's felonious actions before the bar. In fact, she insisted on it.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:32 AM on May 9, 2017 [6 favorites]


I also sad knowing that the BCS world is getting closer and closer to the BB works because I don't want this end. Also, I would love to see some Badger, please.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:36 AM on May 9, 2017


I don't think that Jimmy can become Saul until Chuck is irrevocably excised from his life. Chuck is his connection to family, to humanity, to doing good things for people. Chuck has always brought Jimmy back from the brink (though in the most condescending and arrogantly superior way possible), but Jimmy needs that. Without that touchstone, the road to becoming Saul Goodman is inevitable. They've both done things that make it virtually impossible for the relationship to continue, and Jimmy has finally seen Chuck for what he is. He took the first step in the hearing, and boy is it a doozy!
posted by Shohn at 6:09 AM on May 9, 2017 [2 favorites]


2. Jimmy should have had Huell plant a cellphone on Chuck, not a battery. And Chuck, who knows about the Inverse Square Law, should also know that a battery only contains potential chemical energy, and doesn't produce any kind of electromagnetism until it's plugged into a device. As such it shouldn't have affected his condition at all.

Chuck would have almost certainly noticed something as bulky as a cellphone in his pocket.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:31 AM on May 9, 2017 [6 favorites]


That last scene, with the Exit sign. I think Chuck is going to kill himself. What will he have without a law career? Nothing. He'll just be a sad, lonely man in a dark house.

I could have sworn the actor who played Huell died after Breaking Bad finished, so although I was really happy to see Huell last night I was also kind of sad that they had to get a new actor. But now that I look him up I realized I was wrong, it was someone else, and now I just feel sorta racist for confusing the two guys.

I hope we see Kuby one of these days.

On the podcast, Vince Gilligan said something about how we never saw Saul's home life on Breaking Bad, and it's possible Kim could have still been with him, but I don't see that happening. She's going to have a breaking point where she can't go down that road any further. Between Chuck and Kim, Jimmy is going to crack.

I've been re-watching the first two seasons. I actually started with season 2 and I just started season 1. Jimmy is way more of a showman in the very first (pilot?) episode. He's almost a caricature. They seemed to have toned him down a bit. I didn't really notice when I first watched it because I was so used to seeing Saul on Breaking Bad.
posted by bondcliff at 6:41 AM on May 9, 2017 [3 favorites]


I was also kind of sad that they had to get a new actor. But now that I look him up I realized I was wrong, it was someone else, and now I just feel sorta racist for confusing the two guys.

I had a moment there, myself, but it looks like actor Lavell Crawford has just lost some weight.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:07 AM on May 9, 2017 [1 favorite]


So tricking(?) Rebecca into attending was just to addle Chuck and gamble on provoking him into losing his shit?
posted by thelonius at 8:01 AM on May 9, 2017


So tricking(?) Rebecca into attending was just to addle Chuck and gamble on provoking him into losing his shit?

That was Sepinwall's take:
Chuck McGill is understandably conditioned to expect a certain degree of hustle from Jimmy at any time. The arrival of Chuck’s ex-wife Rebecca, for instance, is greeted smugly by him because he assumes Jimmy is doing a variation of the Frankie Pentangeli gambit from The Godfather Part II.

And Jimmy is running the Pentangeli to a degree, because he knows Rebecca’s presence — and her discovery of the condition that Chuck went to great lengths to hide from her, with Jimmy’s assistance — will agitate Chuck, and make him more primed to explode when evidence is presented of what the condition actually is. But she’s there primarily to trigger that condescending response from Chuck — to convince him that he’s once again two steps ahead of his brother, that Chuck’s brilliant legal mind will always be more powerful than Jimmy’s con man brain, and that if Chuck is prepared for a hustle to come, it can’t possibly work.
My guess during the episode was that Jimmy was planning to take advantage of the recess forced by Rebecca's arrival to collect whatever-it-was that Huell pickpocketed from Chuck; but of course it's revealed that Huell didn't lift anything, he planted it.

Wow, Lavell Crawford lost a lot of weight! I liked also that Huell method is consistent: the "EXCUSE me" bump-and-dip were exactly how he pickpocketed Walt in Breaking Bad.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 8:19 AM on May 9, 2017 [7 favorites]


My take on Rebecca's presence was that it was to goad Chuck. She's learning about Chuck's condition for the first time here, and Chuck is compelled to be the one to lay the story out for her benefit. I felt like he was talking to her more than the hearing when going into detail, that if she's going to get the news from anyone, it's going to be him.

This is why Jimmy says "I know" in response to the "she's going to hate you after this" line. Chuck has the clarity of Truth for his condition, which was never going to play well.

I also thought Kim showed a little lawyerly weakness here, too. They needed the Huell maneuver.
posted by rhizome at 9:21 AM on May 9, 2017 [3 favorites]


The Rebecca move also seemed deeply personal, a way to humiliate Chuck in front of probably the only person he cares about more than the law, in direct contrast to elaborate cover-up Jimmy helped him with to save face at the dinner he planned for Rebecca.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:28 AM on May 9, 2017 [6 favorites]


I know I'm probably just having a senior moment, but did that opening dinner scene seem really familiar to anyone else? Like you'd seen it before?
posted by Thorzdad at 9:35 AM on May 9, 2017


Wow, Lavell Crawford lost a lot of weight!

The actor who plays the real estate agent also lost a noticeable amount of weight between Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. If the trend continues for other characters Badger will be more like Weasel and there'll be nothing left of poor Skinny P.
posted by peeedro at 9:54 AM on May 9, 2017 [10 favorites]


Thorzdad, are you thinking of the scene in the 2nd season episode, "Rebecca?" The one where it's established that Jimmy and Rebecca have a bond. I've think we (or maybe just I) speculated at the time that there was maybe going to be a romantic problem in the future.
posted by rhizome at 10:24 AM on May 9, 2017 [2 favorites]


That was a disappointment, because the way that Chuck manipulated Ernesto, to Ernesto's harm, goes a long way in demonstrating that his ethical function is out-of-whack with respect to what he thinks is justified for Jimmy, which in turn speaks to his mental health.

I honestly think Jimmy or Kim might have left Ernesto out on purpose - he's gotta feel guilty about getting the poor kid screwed over so hard. Ernesto's already fired, but I assume he could face some serious informal blacklisting if Howard or Chuck were sufficiently pissed off with him.

Rebecca's completely safe from retribution, so including her seems 'better' from my sense of Jimmy's morality.

(Alternately, it's possible Jimmy just isn't thinking about Ernesto at all, but I think Kim would have.)
posted by mordax at 10:58 AM on May 9, 2017 [4 favorites]


Rebecca's completely safe from retribution, so including her seems 'better' from my sense of Jimmy's morality.

- She's going to hate you for this
- I know

They weren't protecting Ernesto, he's already screwed. They just created another victim. Chuck would have expected Ernesto, as some of us here did. Chuck's blindsided by Rebecca though. And they didn't give us much to go on either. All we know prior to this episode is that Mike took a phone number from an address book while he was getting the photos. Then we have the dinner with Rebecca flashback and a shrewd viewer could have connected those dots. But if anyone did than go have a cup of smug cleverpants. For the rest of us dummies it'll be a good scene to pick apart in the rewatch.
posted by adept256 at 12:30 PM on May 9, 2017 [3 favorites]


Ivan Fyodorovich: their defense was to basically put Chuck's mental competency in question, which would undermine everything that Chuck was claiming.
...
He broke, and revealed the underlying resentment, even "hate", that Jimmy contended was Chuck's motivation for doing all this.


At first, I thought it was all to trigger Chuck to make his obvious (to us, the viewers) hate for his brother as a lawyer become public, which was played so masterfully between Kim's line of questioning of Howard, Chuck confessing to play-acting a greater level of illness (which could imply that he can also play-act love for his brother, who he actually hates for being a lawyer). But then I realized Jimmy also had to play to Chuck's paranoia (which could be seen as a cause for his "illness"), to build up Chuck's rage, and also to tear down all his actions against and beliefs of Jimmy. And hearing those beliefs go back to Jimmy as a 9 year old? Heartbreaking.

Oh, and Kim pinning Howard on the sleezy "we didn't hire James because we didn't want to give people the impression of nepotism" at a law firm named Hamlin, Hamlin and McGill - beautiful!


Room 641-A: The beginning was very green: the grass, the bus bench in the opening, and that very green lizard.

I didn't realize how much I took the overgrown yard for granted. In prior podcasts, they mentioned how nice the family is who lives there, as they let their yard get messy and overgrown for the show.


Room 641-A: The Rebecca move also seemed deeply personal, a way to humiliate Chuck in front of probably the only person he cares about more than the law

If you look closely in the (oh-so-blue, i.e. legal/cold) flashback, Chuck has his ring on again, and it flashes in the candle light when he's setting the table or cooking, after Jimmy says he shouldn't wear the ring and he takes it off, agreeing with Jimmy.

On re-listening to the audio, we hear (and Kim does, too), that Jimmy did it all out of sense of loyalty to Kim, and because he thought Howard and Jimmy didn't deserve Mesa Verde. The confession and original action was personal for Jimmy, too.

Also interesting: very little music in this episode - very sparse audio, in fact - mostly voices and electrical hums.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:40 PM on May 9, 2017 [8 favorites]


I was totally surprised when the episode ended. It's not easy to make a relatively dry Bar hearing entertaining enough to evaporate at least 15 minutes. I was positive that there was at least that much left to run after Chuck finished his rant and sealed his and Jimmy's respective fates.

To me, Jimmy's walk of silence after Kim pointed out that Rebecca was going to hate him wasn't so much him not feeling or not caring, but more him avoiding that feeling, knowing that he didn't really have a choice if he wanted to keep his law license.

Also, the way Kim presented the issue to the Mesa Verde people was a master stroke. She acted vaguely embarrassed about the whole thing, yet told the story in a completely factual way that used the allegations themselves to paint Chuck as a completely paranoid nutcase.

Similarly, Chuck let on a bit of his paranoia as soon as Jimmy began questioning him. Chuck was very much hoisted on his own petard, and his total breakdown at the end just underlined it in a way that couldn't be ignored.
posted by wierdo at 1:43 PM on May 9, 2017 [13 favorites]


The episode is worked as a play, a tight little family drama, with the cinematography used mostly to show the subjective impact from Chuck's POV. Compared to Mike gunning down corrupt cops or the explosive Salamanca family, the whole thing might "look" small and ordinary.

But this episode contained more violence than any episode of this show since "Pimento," the last time Chuck utterly lost his composure for realsies. Indeed, there's a narrative symmetry from that Chuck rant at Jimmy to this Chuck rant about Jimmy....and a symmetry between the years of slow emotional violence Chuck has done to his brother and the rapid-fire emotional violence Jimmy enacts here.

But there's another clever bit, one that says much about the McGills' sibling conflicts, the show's sense of justice (as opposed to law), and the way the show treats its fabulous, fabulating characters: it's the lie Jimmy and Chuck craft for Rebecca int he flashback that opens the episode. The power's out accidentally, because the power company switched two numbers in an address.

At at a stroke, we know it all: why (beyond mere egotism) Chuck might guess that Jimmy had switched some address numbers. That Chuck is capable of deceiving those ostensibly closest to him in the name of his vanity. That for Jimmy, being in on the con is a bond of deep trust, and being conned puts you on the outside. That both McGill's are dreadful people, fueled by deeply selfish and self-serving impulses, before which others are just props and instruments. And that one day, maybe soon and maybe later, Kim, too, will find herself outside the con when it serves Jimmy's emotional needs, just as Rebecca did in the hearing and just as she did, with regard to Chuck, in that ill-fated dinner years before.

This is a story about storytellers, and legal testimony (in drama) is always moving from two-handers to dramatic monologue: those Perry Mason confessions and gotchas, soliloquies about truth and justice, tales of justifiable actions and complex motivations....these are the stuff of drama. Every witness, every defendant, every plaintiff, every lawyer tells a story that constructs a reality, a set of selves. They do so consciously, and for their own needs.

Howard and Kim tell the tale of their professionalism, in clipped words and politely veiled barbs, and even in their choice of costume: Hamlindigo blue, all around. The more flamboyant McGills concoct narratives of noble sympathy, inveterate wickedness, personal tragedy, and noble sufferings and sacrifices. "My brother, on the altar of the law." "The law, on the altar of family." And, untold by them, but told with them: the respect of a woman we both care for, on the altars of vanity and greed. (The McGills share, among other things, a condescending chivalry: their deepest lies are always told to or for the women in their lives.)

But as hard a big lie is to dig out, they all get dug out eventually. And a narrative, especially one that's too neat or too simple, risks falling apart when a better, more nuanced one comes along. The pure evil of Slippin' Jimmy is a selective arrangement of facts, one that leaves out Chuck's understanding of the uses of deception. And the notion that such deception is justified is rooted out by the show's unrelenting karma: Chuck's lie of pride to Rebecca undoes the entire fiction that is Charles M. McGill, Esq. and Self-Diagnostician. And over time, and in some ways already, Jimmy's lies of convenience, desperation, and mere caprice or greed will undo the fiction of Saul Goodman....and that only after that story has replaced the equally tenacious life of Jimmy McGill, rakish romantic, victim to the world, fighting back with only his wits. (Howard's made it clear he'd be happy to talk about Jimmy's time at Davis and Main, for example.)

The little darkness inside, the one the lies are meant to cover, just festers, grows, emerges: in the mirror, or in the shadow that hangs over the disbarment hearing in this episode. It's symmetry. We can't call it chirality; that's the other series with some of these characters. But the sense of dark mirroring, of things ruthlessly folding back in on themselves, and of no sin being so small that it won't come back to haunt you....all of that is there.
posted by kewb at 3:21 PM on May 9, 2017 [23 favorites]


One last post in this thread because I want to make a prediction. Chuck is going to double down on the crazy and do something so bonkers that the McGill name is mud. Not just within the legal community, but in the public sphere. Something so remarkably out there it becomes urban legend. 'Doing a McGill' will be idiomatic for a bizarre and intense psychotic break.

So here's my prediction: There will be a scene, maybe a montage, of Jimmy explaining to clients that he's not THAT McGill. In frustration Jimmy realizes he has to rebrand. This will be close to the end of the penultimate episode of this season, with the Saul Goodman reveal in the finale.

Cucumber water is on me if I'm wrong.
posted by adept256 at 3:41 PM on May 9, 2017 [17 favorites]


I don't know - I was really worried about Kim, but I'm leaning to the side of her being OK in Omaha. I can't see her getting dragged down with Jimmy, because I think his shift into Saul will be more of a casting off of the McGill name and (probably by that point) bad reputation (like adept256 says above).
posted by minsies at 6:03 PM on May 9, 2017


Oh, Chuck practicing his lines: "I love my brother."
posted by Room 641-A at 6:24 PM on May 9, 2017 [9 favorites]


'Doing a McGill' will be idiomatic for a bizarre and intense psychotic break.

Isn't nearly as catchy as a Chicago sunroof or a squat cobbler.

I'm a little worried about Kim. She's gone from being a straight shooter, to indulging in the Viktor & Giselle routine, to relying on this Rebecca and Huell stunt to defend Jimmy and her relationship with Mesa Verde. She started out as someone who could never be a Danny, but by degrees she's becoming a person who will look the other way to keep her dreams afloat.
posted by peeedro at 6:24 PM on May 9, 2017 [3 favorites]


And/or she just can't quit that charming Jimmy McGill, even if her gut is telling her she's sabotaging her romantic life with yet another emotionally unavailable man *cough*
posted by Room 641-A at 7:00 PM on May 9, 2017




Just finished watching the episode. A little out of breath, actually.

The episode is worked as a play, a tight little family drama, with the cinematography used mostly to show the subjective impact from Chuck's POV. Compared to Mike gunning down corrupt cops or the explosive Salamanca family, the whole thing might "look" small and ordinary.

But this episode contained more violence than any episode of this show since "Pimento," the last time Chuck utterly lost his composure for realsies. Indeed, there's a narrative symmetry from that Chuck rant at Jimmy to this Chuck rant about Jimmy....and a symmetry between the years of slow emotional violence Chuck has done to his brother and the rapid-fire emotional violence Jimmy enacts here.


This is pretty much it, right here for me. Also, just wanted to say - thanks, kewb, for your thoughtful comments on the show.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:34 PM on May 9, 2017 [5 favorites]


I have also been thinking along the "Chuck ruins the name" lines.
posted by rhizome at 8:08 PM on May 9, 2017 [1 favorite]


Until a few episodes ago, I was operating under the assumption that Jimmy would become Saul Goodman to placate Chuck, who seems to find his using the McGill name to practice law at least as alarming as Jimmy's scheming. I held out hope for my pet theory until the bar hearing got started, thinking that perhaps that would be the deal to get Chuck to help him negotiate a better outcome, essentially conning his brother.

Instead, we get this thing that isn't really a Jimmy con at all, just a skillful (if distasteful) impeachment of a witness.

That may have something to do with still doing it at least in part Kim's way. It looked to me like she knew that Jimmy had stuff cooked up but not necessarily any detail about what exactly the plan to send Chuck over the edge was.
posted by wierdo at 11:49 PM on May 9, 2017 [1 favorite]


Jimmy doesn't pursue clients who would be tuned in enough to know that Chuck has ruined the McGill name.

I think Jimmy just wants to completely sever ties with Chuck, and that includes ditching his name.

It's also possible that he and Howard will come to some sort of arrangement.
posted by painquale at 2:39 AM on May 10, 2017 [3 favorites]


I think this is Joe DeRosa's first major role as the vet and he's killing it.
posted by whuppy at 3:27 AM on May 10, 2017


Do they just let lawyers change their name and practice under the new name? Sounds like the kind of thing the buzzkills at the Bar Association might not like, to me.
posted by thelonius at 6:36 AM on May 10, 2017 [1 favorite]


That felt like A Few Good Men ending (in a good way), even including the seeming lack of understanding from Chuck regarding how he just dug his own grave.

There was a bit of a fun reversal there with Huell, as well. You feel as if Huell did something shady, but he didn't take anything! There's apparently nothing illegal about putting something in someone's pocket, and he was pretty excited to testify about it.

Huell is also a tragic character. Pretty likable guy here, but destined to spend the rest of his life sitting in a hotel room.
posted by SpacemanStix at 6:42 AM on May 10, 2017 [13 favorites]


I'm a little worried about Kim. She's gone from being a straight shooter, to indulging in the Viktor & Giselle routine, to relying on this Rebecca and Huell stunt to defend Jimmy and her relationship with Mesa Verde.

Well, that's the thing... Was she ever a straight shooter? Or do we just want to believe that she was because we like her and she knows how to keep her head down?

I mean, I fully believe that she's doing everything by the book with Mesa Verde, just like she was doing everything by the book with the Kettlemans, just like she was doing everything by the book during her entire career with HHM. But Jimmy was doing things by the book as a public defender, too. And then you have Chuck and Gus, who practically define themselves by doing everything by the book.

The ability to work like a straight shooter doesn't seem to indicate anything in this show about a character's inner state or natural character.

Kim has some kind of history in Omaha that she never talks about to anybody. Maybe the story she tells Schweikart & Coakley is the whole truth. But maybe it isn't.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:40 AM on May 10, 2017 [5 favorites]


adept256: So here's my prediction: There will be a scene, maybe a montage, of Jimmy explaining to clients that he's not THAT McGill. In frustration Jimmy realizes he has to rebrand. This will be close to the end of the penultimate episode of this season, with the Saul Goodman reveal in the finale.

Except he picks Saul Goodman as his new name, which is
1) a tribute to his old grifting days (Genius transcript of "Hero," Season 1 Ep 4), which
2) becomes "The Jew thing" that he "just [does] for the homeboys. They all want a pipe-hitting member of the tribe, so to speak..." (IMDb quotes from BB "Better Call Saul," Season 2 Ep 8).

My prediction is that the slide into Saul comes not just from a need to rebrand, but a desire to shift his legal focus, to become the criminal lawyer of local (underground) renown. It may well be paired with the McGill name becoming synonymous with something Chuck does, but Jimmy chooses a different path in law, and I assume he has a good reason for that.

Maybe, just maybe, one of his new accomplices who work on the edges (or beyond) of legality needs a lawyer, and Jimmy, being someone who has trouble saying no (perhaps doubly so when he's at gunpoint, or maybe Kim is endangered), he says "OK, I'll represent you, but I can't be Jimmy McGill."


Do they just let lawyers change their name and practice under the new name? Sounds like the kind of thing the buzzkills at the Bar Association might not like, to me.

It may actually be relatively easy, per the New Mexico Bar Association's website FAQ:
Q. How do I inform you that my name has changed?
A: Advise the Supreme Court. The name of record will not change until the Supreme Court publishes the new name information in a certificate. This can take up to two months. In the meantime, you should use your old name for official purposes. The Bar’s cross-reference record will direct inquiries to the current name of record.
So it won't be like he's in witness protection, which makes sense - he's still practicing law in New Mexico, which is a "big-little place" -- lots of space, not many people, so professional circles tend to extend pretty far.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:19 AM on May 10, 2017 [3 favorites]


Oh, of course, women attorneys who get married and change their name must be very common.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:35 AM on May 10, 2017


But Jimmy was doing things by the book as a public defender, too.

No, not really. His scheme to land the Kettleman's as clients is pretty far out of bonds. He hires confederates to pretend to be hit by their car so he can secure them as clients, it doesn't work out, but that was his plan.

We never see it, but if you assume the beanie baby trick he tries to use while working at Davis & Main was something that he did while working as a public defender, that's also problematic ethically. Jimmy's gift to grease the wheels of justice is a bribe to an employee of the court that he has business in front of. If he did that as a public defender it would be even more problematic because the court is paying him for that business.
posted by peeedro at 9:41 AM on May 10, 2017 [3 favorites]


I wondered if the playing of the tape in the courtroom was an allusion to the very first BCS episode. In S01E01, it started out with Jimmy defending a group of boys who did something pretty unsettling in a mortuary. The scene started out, if I recall, with a closeup of the awkwardness of wheeling in the TV and plugging it in. You didn't really know what was coming until they played the video tape, and the courtroom responded with obvious discomfort. Here, Jimmy is now on the other side of things as the tape recorder was awkwardly wheeled in and set up, and there's also a growing discomfort as the tape plays out the details. I'm not quite sure what the connection could be, except perhaps to allude to the role reversal and to give a sense of dread regarding how the upcoming recording was going to play out. In the first episode, it was a rather impossible hole to climb out of, due to the nature of the crime. Here, Jimmy faced a similar uphill battle — but he pulled it off. He's growing in his ability to play the system, I think, in the face of mounting dread.
posted by SpacemanStix at 1:52 PM on May 10, 2017 [6 favorites]


I wondered if the playing of the tape in the courtroom was an allusion to the very first BCS episode. In S01E01, it started out with Jimmy defending a group of boys who did something pretty unsettling in a mortuary.

Fun fact: On the Insider podcast, they mention that the unsettling morgue scene was shot in the same room (in this courthouse building) that they set up as the court room for the Bar Association hearing in this episode!
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:31 PM on May 10, 2017 [3 favorites]


One thing about the episode didn't ring true to me: It is not that rare for people who believe they are allergic to EMFs to learn they didn't "react" to something electrical they were "exposed" to, and someone as smart as Chuck would have developed ways over the years to rationalize why he didn't react to something like a battery. (Source: I have lived with someone with this condition.)
posted by gubo at 5:15 PM on May 10, 2017 [10 favorites]


The rules for the hearing aren't as stringent as court, so no trouble for the battery shenanigans.

I still think that the name change is half detent with his brother and Hamlin to lose the McGill name (and maybe to finally end it with Chuck "I can't look at myself as a McGill, because your actions ruined it, not mine") and to swap over to the more easy to remember name of Saul Goodman ('t's all good, man).

I have to go back and watch this for the sound. I've got house guests this week who don't want to be spoiled so I had to watch it on near mute with subtitles. I love when they crank it up for Chuck because I have tinnitus and I can hear freaking old tube tvs on (picture tubes, not tubes-instead-chips).
posted by tilde at 5:15 PM on May 10, 2017


I used to be able to hear CRTs as well. (The capacitors, specifically.) Kinda glad there aren't that many around any more, to be honest.

As for "Saul", I'm starting to think Jimmy adopts the name because he wants to, not because he has to. No coercion, not from HHM and the Bar, and not from the market. He just finds himself free of Chuck at last and decides that the McGill name doesn't mean anything to him any more. So why not pick a new one that better fits his style of law?
posted by tobascodagama at 5:58 PM on May 10, 2017 [4 favorites]


As for "Saul", I'm starting to think Jimmy adopts the name because he wants to, not because he has to.

I'm feeling that way too.
posted by mordax at 6:20 PM on May 10, 2017


Thanks everyone for this fun conversation!
Gubo, I think that's a good point that Chuck would have experience with being unknowingly exposed to electricity. I think Chuck was flustered because he was so obviously exposed in front of an audience, but your point stands. I'd love to hear more about your experiences with the disease, if you don't mind sharing.
I am getting a potential hook-up vibe between Kim and Howard. And they did have matching "hamlindigo blue" on.
Speaking of Kim's wardrobe, I find her hairstyle choice interesting. How does she even make her ponytail so smooth, with that perfect ringlet? Is that common look for professional women with long hair? I think it's interesting that she's super smooth and polished, but also has her sort of unique trademark style. If she stays with Jimmy, I wonder if she'll start wearing her hair down.
posted by areaperson at 6:24 PM on May 10, 2017 [2 favorites]


In the wake of this intense episode, the thing I keep going back to is Chuck's pride being his downfall. He was too proud to take Howard's advice and not testify. Too proud to agree to Rebecca's suggestion that she leave the courtroom, which I think did fluster him much more than he let on. So proud that he thought he "caught" Jimmy after the Rebecca surprise and the cellphone, and thus was stunned by the real surprise. I defended Chuck a lot in past seasons - and I still have knee-jerk empathy for him because I relate to being the "good kid" in a dysfunctional family. But the points you all made about Ernesto really are true. He totally screwed Ernesto over and I can't overlook that.
posted by areaperson at 6:30 PM on May 10, 2017 [6 favorites]


That last scene, with the Exit sign. I think Chuck is going to kill himself. What will he have without a law career? Nothing. He'll just be a sad, lonely man in a dark house.

I'm worried about this outcome, because it makes sense and wraps up a lot of things - Chuck being driven to suicide and Jimmy and Kim being faced with the reality that they weren't just giving an asshole his comeuppance, they were bending a man with a fragile mental and emotional state until he broke, would certainly be a big enough tragedy to force Kim away from Jimmy and life in Albuquerque and push Jimmy to run away from his own name in shame. It would make a lot of sense from a storytelling standpoint. But I really hope it doesn't go down like that, both because it should be something more clever, and because I'm not ready to lose Jimmy for Saul this soon. But Gus is circling, the pieces are being set up for Jimmy to dive into that world...
posted by jason_steakums at 7:14 PM on May 10, 2017 [2 favorites]


The podcast has arrived!
posted by Room 641-A at 7:22 PM on May 10, 2017


one day, maybe soon and maybe later, Kim, too, will find herself outside the con when it serves Jimmy's emotional needs, just as Rebecca did in the hearing and just as she did, with regard to Chuck, in that ill-fated dinner years before.

Well, the con could involve Jimmy getting wrapped up in Gus' business via Mike and not wanting her to get hurt.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:00 PM on May 10, 2017


The episode is worked as a play, a tight little family drama, with the cinematography used mostly to show the subjective impact from Chuck's POV. Compared to Mike gunning down corrupt cops or the explosive Salamanca family, the whole thing might "look" small and ordinary.

I love this aspect of the show - not only do the producers have enough confidence in their audience to spend a long time setting up plot elements with beautiful detailing -but they also do this over entire episodes. Last week we were watching "The French Connection" and this week "12 Angry Men". Contrast this approach to the less assured story telling we see on almost all other TV shows:- "Here is 5 minutes of story stand A; but here is a cut to story B in case you were getting bored; and a little of C; ... now back to A".

Jimmy should have had Huell plant a cellphone on Chuck, not a battery. And Chuck, who knows about the Inverse Square Law, should also know that a battery only contains potential chemical energy, and doesn't produce any kind of electromagnetism until it's plugged into a device.

Apart from the technical details about cellphone batteries actually producing some EMF - and that of a phone being too heavy to slip unnoticed into a pocket - the real narrative benefit of this detail is that it let Jimmy entertain the court in the manner of the compulsive magician that he is: first we get "would you mind very much reaching into your pocket and telling me what you find there?" - and then we get the battery used as with Jimmy's cell phone - conveniently just produced - in order to show us, Chuck and the court that * ta-da! *this is a real battery. I was thinking very much of Bingo Caller Jimmy at that moment. I thought he might have produced his goldfish from out of a hat.
posted by rongorongo at 6:58 AM on May 11, 2017 [6 favorites]


Room 641-A: The podcast has arrived!

This week, we have Kelley Dixon and Chris McCaleb hosting, episode editor Skip Macdonald, Peter and Vince, episode writer Gordon Smith, and co-executive producer, Nina Jack, the producer producing in Albuquerque, and DP Marshall Adams is back from the prior podcast.
  • Opening with a definition of Chicanery ("dirty tricks, hijinks" which is close enough to the official definitions)
  • Discussion of titles: writers pitch something to Vince and Peter, often a discussion, pulling lines from the show. This title was picked while running through the script.
  • This season: not making that mistake twice Breaking Bad season 1: lines from classic movies, like Sweet Smell of Success (IMDB quotes); season 2 included hints at the plot that Vince and Peter said no one caught during the airing of the season
  • Better Call Saul season 1 "ending in O" was no code, just a pattern
  • Peter says there's no code in the titles of this season of BCS, but there's a theme, which they'll discuss at the end of the season
  • Next season idea: put in a code that requires use of a decoder ring, or something you have to buy. Drink your Ovaltine!
  • Vince bemoans boring titles, and Peter mentions something I can't find/ confirm: the era when major motion pictures "had to have a (working?) title that was a song title from the Motown era" (mentioned: movie with the working title of "Significant Other" became "When A Man Loves A Woman")
  • Peter and Vince are thrilled about director Daniel Sackheim and his work on this episode
  • Chris asks: how did you make a what could be a dull courtroom bottle episode (of sorts) into something that Vince considers possibly the best episode of this season
  • Gordon says they had more leeway as it was a bar hearing, which aren't in television episodes, but they felt like they had to give Jimmy and Chuck "their day in court." But it was an opportunity to air conversations that have been long simmering but never fully addressed, like "OK Chuck, are you crazy, or what?" and by making it personal, it was able to grow.
  • For the legal eagles, they compressed normal bar hearings, and tweaked the normal proceedings that are generally "yes" and "no" answers instead of the replies from Howard and Chuck, though they did watch 5-6 hours (even Vince watched a few hours) of a North Carolina disbarment hearing, and talked with Gordon's sister, who is a lawyer and provided key feedback and guidance
  • Kelley highlights the editing where the audio of the opening of the hearing played over the domestic scene of Kim and Jimmy, who then worked together to their opponents' tactics against them. (Really, their interplay was fantastic, in how much it was subtle - no hand-squeezes, no long, meaningful looks, just subtle glances and little hints of a smile - they're both so professional, and allowed to stay that way as written, directed and edited)
  • Peter talks about getting the finished script out early, then going to Bob's house, seeing Bob, Michael, Rhea and Patrick at Bob's kitchen table, working through the script because they wanted to, not because someone asked or directed them to do so. To help them in this, the crew tries to keep the script as stable as possible, once the actors have a copy.
  • The room was remodeled in a former courthouse (re-designed to the point that each light has individual controls to control the room), a building in downtown Albuquerque, close to the bank interior shots. The natural exterior winter light was intense, so they had to manage that more than I would have thought. They chose shooting inside a building to maintain a sense of reality for the cast, and for the reflections of cars driving by outside.
  • Dan (director) suggested using an older building, because there was a building boom in Albuquerque in the 1990s, which gives a lot of buildings "that HHM feeling" of being too new.
  • The team say they are indebted to The Caine Mutiny (1954), directed by Edward Dmytryk, who actually taught Peter Gould.
  • And an homage to JFK with Chuck standing in front of the window
  • Trying to place the opening flashback/teaser in a scene: 1993 with Jimmy arriving in Albuquerque, where Chuck and Rebecca are "cooling;" then in 108 when Jimmy gets his law degree, Chuck is around electricity, but without his wedding ring; the opening is also before Jimmy knew Chuck didn't want him at HHM, but after he was working out of the nail salon back room; and Gordon mentioned Chuck and Rebecca divorced in 1998
  • The teaser and the main episode were developed in concert, trying to figure out where Chuck and Rebecca were back then and in the "present" day of the episode
  • Teaser question: are they officially divorced, or just separated? Probably divorced, unless they need to be separated in a later episode -- Peter: "If we haven't said it on the show, it's not official" ;)
  • Peter leads Marshall to talk about lighting the teaser: "current" Chuck uses lanterns, which is easier than using (and/or faking) flickering candle light. In fact, they used almost exclusive candles with extra candles off-screen for bonus lighting; if you're keen on "foot-candles," Marshall said they were using 1-2 foot-candles, thanks to their fancy high ISO camera (Vince: "you went full Barry Lyndon")
  • Narrow depth of focus: Marshall said "you know you're in trouble when the focus puller asks 'which eye do you want' (in focus)"
  • AWESOME oldschool film trick: using a hand-crank 35mm, which allows you to crank backward and forward, and double-expose scenes for that trippy effect; the biggest problem was transitioning from the low light shots with the new camera that went down to 5000 ASA, to the old camera that operated at 500 ASA
  • Probably no surprise, but this was the first episode to use any analog film, so some of the older tech crew had to show the younger members how to load and use actual film cameras
  • Peter praises the directors for using different ways to display Chuck's reaction to electricity, and notes there are more new versions to come in future episodes
  • More happiness from all for the artistic flexibility from BB and BCS
  • Something I totally missed: Chuck threw the phone twice, once in Chuck-view, and again in normal-view
  • Shooting and editing to imply a particular POV: whose view are we experiencing? For example, there were 3 cameras in the courtroom, with 16 hours of footage, which Skip had to sort through and understand whose view to use/imply
  • A note for non-editors: 16 hours of footage will take longer than 16 hours to view; and will also take longer to watch and note everything compared to the time to shoot the scenes; even more so because shooting digital video means there's more that is captured, and editors can pull something from before the slate or between takes
  • And a note for directors (and camera people): it would be easier to shoot and light for one camera, because like watching something in multi-view, your brain can trick you and you think that you have some shot that you don't
  • Peter appreciates the filming of Chuck in his Perry Mason monologue, which almost feels 3D; Marshall praises the director for not over-using the slow zoom-ins; Vince speaks with disdain for the pan-across roving shot, which he says means that's "the director telling you 'I hate every aspect of this scene, there is nothing good about it, I have to jazz it up, it is bullshit'"
  • Look forward to Peter and Vince's big book of film bullshit ;)
  • Kelley appreciates the longer series that allow a show to develop its style and feeling
  • Kelley asks for fewer dolly/zoom ins, because those can be added in post, but they can't be un-added in post
  • In response, Vince said the availability of post to fix things in post doesn't abrogate (second word of the podcast) the director's or producers' responsibility to plan the shots
  • After Peter knocks shooting bog-standard shots in a serial show, like Perry Mason, Vince talks highly of the actual filming of that show
  • Kelley, on maintaining continuity when talking about time, points out that Vince had said they "reach in to the past" to pull characters, so she asks "don't you mean you reach into the future to determine the past?" Gordon: "we reach around the past to reach the future" Kelley: "to hold the future" Vince: "gently but firmly" Gordon: "-- tightly in our hands"
  • In the vet's office, Dan wanted to get pets who looked like their owners, plus Chuck and his goldfish, as seen at the top of the Vulture recap for this episode.
  • Distraction: a C-130 took off from Burbank, then Marshall pulled everyone back on topic
  • Quinn VanAntwerp, "a song and dance man" from Broadway, who was on Jersey Boys for a good while, auditioned for the Pollos Hermanos manager, but was too commanding, so he was cast in this episode
  • Also noted: the return of John Getz, remembered for Blood Simple, and Michael Chieffo, who is married to Beth Grant
  • General praise for the key characters, Rhea's little sigh after securing Mesa Verde, and Bob's few words but bigger presence, and especially his sadness at having to break Chuck in public
  • The episode is dedicated to Jane Marzelli Smith, the mother of Gordon Smith, who died very suddenly last summer, before they were breaking this episode. She was a tax attorney, and an adviser on both Breaking Bad (IRS scene) and in BCS (Sandpiper stuff). Vince said she was a good lady and a friend of the show.

posted by filthy light thief at 10:33 AM on May 11, 2017 [11 favorites]


(Damn, that was long, but good).

Question on the house in the teaser: how many times has Chuck broken down?

Chuck is having folks undo the damage and repairing it from its decrepit state, right? This implies he had a bad break in the past, where he ripped out everything they're putting back in (lights, appliances), and that the yard was a mess -- kind of like it is in the "present" day.

Maybe after Rebecca leaves (this time/ again), he takes it all out again? Maybe even goes so far as to rip out the wires? So many details and so much back-story that is unanswered, and may remain unanswered.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:35 AM on May 11, 2017 [2 favorites]


That sounds like an interesting podcast. I have to check it out.

One thing, I am pretty sure the phone and the battery are about the same weight. This is the early 00s, flip phones have gotten light and batteries are getting lighter.

I'm sure I've got mine around here somewhere and can throw them on the food scale.

He had to split the phone and the battery to lay the traps appropriately -- "not working" with no battery, and then "you've had the battery in your pocket for an hour and a half".

I assumed he had the guy slip a phone in and was going to make it ring during testimony.
posted by tilde at 12:05 PM on May 11, 2017 [4 favorites]


"Chuck is having folks undo the damage and repairing it from its decrepit state, right?"

No, I think that was conversion to all-gas in the kitchen. Was there other work being done? If so, I think I sort of assumed it was removal of electric stuff, although I don't know if that makes much sense. But we see that he's gone to elaborate lengths, not just being disconnected at the meter.

"... a building in downtown Albuquerque, close to the bank interior shots."

The (or one of them) guy who tracks locations used says that the building interiors for Mesa Verde is in One Executive Center at Wyoming (well, Lester) and Menaul. I couldn't find much in the way of Google Image search for photos of the interior, but there's one Roger Cox listing for a office leasing that shows something that looks a lot like it. Not what I would have expected, though. The Mesa Verde lobby looks like a newer office building you'd find in Journal Center or downtown or something.

Nice to see that others appreciated the restraint on the tension-zoom. I know it's part of our shared cinematographic language, but it's just so overused.

So the film was only for the use of ChuckVision™? That seems like a lot of work just for an effect that could done in post. Or did they use film for other reasons, too? Not that I'm complaining.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:22 PM on May 11, 2017 [1 favorite]


A flip phone battery would be about half of the whole weight of the phone. But it's not the weight of the flip phone that would be noticeable, it's the thickness. Those early 2000s flip phones are pretty bulky in a breast pocket. They make a visible bulge that would be particularly noticeable in a well-tailored suit like the ones Chuck wears. Even if Chuck didn't catch Huell planting it on him, he'd notice something in his pocket as soon as he unbuttoned his suit to sit down.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:23 PM on May 11, 2017 [1 favorite]


Fantastic job, as usual flt!

Speaking of Mesa Verde, on the last podcast they talked about how the giant horse in the lobby was made by the art dept, and is made entirely from cardboard. Even up close it looked real.

season 2 included hints at the plot that Vince and Peter said no one caught during the airing of the season

I heard up until this point. Am I misremembering that someone figured out the pattern midway?

Also noted: the return of John Getz, remembered for Blood Simple,

Blood Simple is one of my favorite movies but I don't think I've seen him in anything since then because I didn't recognize him.
posted by Room 641-A at 12:47 PM on May 11, 2017 [1 favorite]


Probably no surprise, but this was the first episode to use any analog film, so some of the older tech crew had to show the younger members how to load and use actual film cameras

I'm actually very surprised that someone could reach this professional level, on a show with the stature of BCS, and not know about a technology that is still currently in use all around the world. Like a Ferrari mechanic who had never tinkered with an old VW.
posted by Room 641-A at 12:54 PM on May 11, 2017


No, I think that was conversion to all-gas in the kitchen. Was there other work being done? If so, I think I sort of assumed it was removal of electric stuff, although I don't know if that makes much sense. But we see that he's gone to elaborate lengths, not just being disconnected at the meter.

One of the workmen asks about hooking things up as part of the installation, and Chuck and Jimmy tell him that won't be necessary. So at least part of it was definitely Chuck having electrical fixtures replaced after they were removed.

Remember, the whole deception is about hiding his EMF allergy from Rebecca; anything they're doing int hat scene is about setting up the "oops, power's out" scenario.
posted by kewb at 2:13 PM on May 11, 2017 [1 favorite]


Ivan Fyodorovich: So the film was only for the use of ChuckVision™? That seems like a lot of work just for an effect that could done in post. Or did they use film for other reasons, too?

Mis-quoting Don Hertzfeldt on purpose: "The trouble with [digital film] is that nothing is left up to chance"-- I could see that part of the fun with the 35mm film hand-crank camera is that they could really get weird with the speed and end up with some weird things with the double-exposure that wouldn't be nearly so random if they ran filters and post-processing.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:18 PM on May 11, 2017 [2 favorites]


Ivan Fyodorovich: I think that was conversion to all-gas in the kitchen. Was there other work being done? If so, I think I sort of assumed it was removal of electric stuff, although I don't know if that makes much sense.

On re-viewing the episode, they were doing a lot of work, outside and in, and Jimmy comes in proudly and says "Found a phone! It looks like it's from 1967, but I think it'll work." On further review of this trancript, there's this exchange:
So, we got a phone.
- Yeah.
The yard's half-mowed.
Uh, the sockets and stuff are looking a-ok.
I'm gonna check again just to make sure.
We're almost there.
The formatting isn't perfect, so I can't tell who said what, but from that and watching the scene, it felt like they were quickly re-staging the house for Rebecca, to pretend that Chuck was fine.

I remember that Jimmy was cooking with a portable/ camping gas range (it was a beat-up looking green metal contraption on top of the counter), but I can't recall if there was the same prohibition on people using power tools around him, so I may re-check for my own knowledge.


And I just realized there were two scenes of Chuck "play-acting" in the past, both with Jimmy playing his partner, and both of them coming back to hit Chuck: the initial story for Rebecca ("those bozos at PNM mixed up my payment"), and then the tape.

Jimmy's role in the first performance was more similar to his role with Kim in this hearing, being mostly quiet, while his second was something of a close mirror to Chuck's Perry Mason moment in court - real emotion, prompted by the circumstances set up by the other brother. Mirrors and reflections and copies ... so much fun to unravel it all.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:33 PM on May 11, 2017 [6 favorites]


Ironic(?) that Chuck used the "They mixed up the numbers in the address" excuse for why his power was out.
posted by tracicle at 10:54 PM on May 11, 2017 [5 favorites]


My thought was that Jimmy was paying attention and saved that up for use later on. Maybe not consciously, but...it suits a grifty instinct to me.
posted by rhizome at 11:10 PM on May 11, 2017 [3 favorites]


Maybe it's one of Jimmy's go-tos, like the fake Rolex scam or the flopsy routine that got him his nickname.
posted by kewb at 4:08 AM on May 12, 2017


That makes a lot of sense, kewb. It would be a piece of why Chuck was so convinced that Jimmy switched the numbers on the Mesa Verde documents-- it's one of Jimmy's well-known, practiced cons. Maybe Chuck has seen him do some version of that a thousand times, and he recognized it immediately.
posted by Shohn at 6:11 AM on May 12, 2017 [2 favorites]


A few random things to add on a re-watch:

Opening with a definition of Chicanery ("dirty tricks, hijinks" which is close enough to the official definitions)
A chicane is also an s-shaped piece of race car track - which causes cars to move one way and then another. Exactly like the move Huell makes as he plants the battery on Chuck.

It is interesting to see the fate of the photos taken by Mike - they are submitted as evidence to the court (and perhaps the prosecution believed there would be no grounds for Jimmy to show them) - but their real purpose is to send an alert to Rebecca.

Finally, we learn that Chuck's mental illness shows signs of being triggered by his divorce with Rebecca. That means that the elaborately planned reconciliation that Jimmy is trying to engineer between the two of them at the start of the show was intended as a last ditch attempt to help his brother. It also shows that Jimmy is fully aware of how much stress and anger the re-introduction of his ex-wife to the court room will inflict on Chuck.
posted by rongorongo at 7:51 AM on May 12, 2017 [3 favorites]


rongorongo: Finally, we learn that Chuck's mental illness shows signs of being triggered by his divorce with Rebecca.

I'm not sure if it's causation or correlation, and I'm not sure if we'll ever know in full. Before this, it seemed that Jimmy's legal hijinx were the cause of Chuck's "spells," because his "episodes" ebbed and flowed depending on (what he knew) Jimmy was doing. Maybe the relationship was falling apart, while Jimmy was succeeding (in his own, possibly less-than-fully-legal way) as a lawyer, which made Chuck question the "rightness" of everything.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:47 AM on May 12, 2017 [5 favorites]


Yeah, it definitely seems like a combination of the two things that triggered Chuck's illness.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:51 AM on May 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


I have to think we'll at least get a flashback from before the dinner scene in "Rebecca," perhaps with Chuck as the life of the party. It's a nice house, it had to be used for something!
posted by rhizome at 9:14 AM on May 12, 2017


That big meanie Michael McKean is probably going to win an Emmy for this episode.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:38 AM on May 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


Marshall said they were using 1-2 foot-candles, thanks to their fancy high ISO camera (Vince: "you went full Barry Lyndon")

I love this detail so much. I actually saw the f0.7 lens in the flesh (or glass rather) used in Barry Lyndon at a Kubrick exhibit that came to town a couple of years ago. Interesting to imagine what he would have done with the high ISO camera the BCS crew has at their disposal.

Also, filthy light thief's podcast summaries are a downright public service!
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:48 AM on May 12, 2017 [7 favorites]


I'm getting caught up and just watched this episode A few questions are really lingering for me:
  • What's Chuck's long con? I learn toward believing that his whole schtick is an act. Why?
  • What was the purpose of subbing in Mike for the handyman? Was it just to get photos and Rebecca's contact info, or something more?
And I want to appreciate the subtle excellence that is Kim's character, and the acting that goes in to it. She's clearly caught between being a striver and a settler. She loves Jimmy, but wants a different life. She's modeled herself after Hamlin. She hides her past. What is her story? and I hope to god that the resolution of her relationship with Jimmy gets its fair shake and isn't just, oh, I don't know, an argument after which she leaves.
posted by entropone at 10:10 AM on May 12, 2017 [2 favorites]


"What's Chuck's long con? I learn toward believing that his whole schtick is an act. Why?"

I believe this is the kind of show that doesn't intentionally use the camera to lie. I don't see how this could be a schtick, just because of the camera work they use to show how Chuck is feeling (not how he's acting) during one of his episodes, but more importantly I don't think Chuck could intentionally pass out on purpose in the copy shop.
posted by komara at 10:25 AM on May 12, 2017 [3 favorites]


Okay, I've got a Motorola V170 flip phone (FCC approval Nov 2004).

The phone itself with battery is 3.2 ounces. The battery alone is .8 ounces. The phone is about four times thicker and of course wider all around than the battery.

Assuming a very nice suit that's got well structured interior pockets (in addition to the layer of undershirt, good linen shirt, vest, and well lined well made jacket), it's super plausible the battery would have been able to be slipped in and kept there unnoticed while the phone would not.

From what I can see, this is set in 2002, which is a little before my phone came out.
posted by tilde at 11:30 AM on May 12, 2017 [2 favorites]


Okay, there will be a lot of competition at Emmy time, but he should win. Here's his scene on the stand, and when Jimmy asks Chuck where the nearest source is now, you can see Chuck take a moment, consider his options, and then decide to call Jimmy's bluff. It's great.
posted by Room 641-A at 12:19 PM on May 12, 2017 [3 favorites]


Holy crap, John Getz! I was wondering who that Harry Reid-looking guy was.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:32 PM on May 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


What's Chuck's long con? I learn toward believing that his whole schtick is an act. Why?

I think Chuck's experience of his illness is real, but that the illness itself is psychosomatic. (I was on the fence about the second part until the battery.) I think it manifests as a mechanism to force people to limit their behavior, to exert a kind of absolute control over the people who enter his social and physical space. Anyone who refuses or challenges him is refusing to accommodate his illness instead of refusing to submit to his control. It dawned on me (rather slowly) that it's not just expository for the camera to pause at the mailbox while visiting characters chuck all their stuff in: It has the air of a well-worn minor ritual, like crossing yourself with holy water when you enter a church. You must surrender your accoutrements to appear before The Presence.

This demand of yielding something up, even temporarily, squares with what I understand of Chuck's worldview. He sees himself as the conscientious sibling who sacrificed his own enjoyment on the altar of family responsibility. He framed his testimony at the bar hearing as a willingness to sacrifice his brother on the altar of legal responsibility. And his sacrifices include an element of transactional control: when he sacrifices, the beneficiary owes him something. The most obvious example was him bailing Jimmy out of Cicero and securing him the mailroom job, but Jimmy bucked his control. So it makes sense that he would expect people to give something up -- such a little thing, for such a little while! -- to deal with him. You can't make people surrender their autonomy (which is, I think, subconsciously what he wants, for the world to reshape itself according to what he thinks is right), but you can ask them to give up their connections to the world of not-Chuck.

On a related note, my SO thinks Chuck and Rebecca broke up over the tour she was on in the flashback, that his opposition to an opportunity that would have taken her out of Albuquerque precipitated their separation. In other words, Chuck's illness manifesting after the divorce/separation wasn't a reaction to the separation directly, but a reaction to Rebecca escaping his control.
posted by Fish, fish, are you doing your duty? at 12:42 PM on May 12, 2017 [25 favorites]


(I was on the fence about the second part until the battery.)

In episode 5 of season 1, Dr. Cruz shows Jimmy the illness is almost certainly psychosomatic when she activates Chuck's electronic hospital bed without Chuck's knowledge.
posted by mediareport at 4:01 AM on May 13, 2017 [3 favorites]


I really like your take on Chuck's illness and "the world of not-Chuck," Fish, fish, just wanted to remind folks of the early clue.
posted by mediareport at 4:11 AM on May 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


I dunno, y'all. While I wouldn't be surprised if it turns out that Chuck is genuine about his disease, at this point I'm more inclined to think that he's hoodwinking everybody, and that he's got a lot more in common with Slippin' Jimmy than we see at first.

This show subtly telegraphs the future - and in the start of this episode, Jimmy was asking Chuck, "Are you sure? The bigger the lie, the harder it is to get out" or something along those lines.
posted by entropone at 7:45 AM on May 13, 2017


Man, the way Chuck says "I took him into my own firm!" One might have expected him to say "my own home" but the law is the only place Chuck feels at home, because that's the only place where he has felt in control. Jimmy being part of that world threatens him so much.
posted by Shohn at 8:26 AM on May 13, 2017 [4 favorites]


Man, the way Chuck says "I took him into my own firm!" One might have expected him to say "my own home"

That just makes me wonder even more about the McGill household that the brothers grew up in.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:20 AM on May 13, 2017


Man, the way Chuck says "I took him into my own firm!" One might have expected him to say "my own home"

I did! Before he finished his sentence I thought, "Huh, I didn't know Jimmy lived with Chuck." I didn't think of the implications, though.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:18 AM on May 13, 2017


Man, mediareport, I can't believe I forgot about that. Especially since I was so happy to see Clea Duvall.
posted by Fish, fish, are you doing your duty? at 11:52 AM on May 13, 2017 [2 favorites]


Clea Duvall is always great!
posted by mediareport at 3:25 AM on May 14, 2017 [4 favorites]


In season 1, episode 9 ("Pimento"), we learn that Chuck used Jimmy's phone to call Howard, to stop Jimmy from being an associate at HHM. In this episode, Jimmy uses his cell phone to catch Chuck in a trap.

It also interesting to recall that Jimmy was asleep when Chuck used his cell phone, just as Chuck was asleep when Jimmy doctored the Mesa Verde documents.

I like the symmetry, and I like that a couple of the techniques Jimmy used are first used by Chuck, and ultimately lead to his comeuppance and probable downfall.
posted by Big Chief Little Pants at 9:03 AM on May 14, 2017 [4 favorites]


I would accept the world's most implausible deus ex machina for this show to go on for five more years.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:29 AM on May 14, 2017 [5 favorites]


Well, Chuck's comeuppance was well-executed in that neither we the audience nor Jimmy really feel all that great about it, even though they've gradually revealed what a raging prick Chuck really is. I came away from this episode with a sense of foreboding for Kim; there were a few moments that seemed designed to emphasize the degree to which she's entangled herself with Jimmy at this point:
  • The end of the scene with Kim and Mesa Verde, where Paige doesn't seem as convinced as Kevin that this McGill business isn't going to affect them; Kim reassured her but it seemed like she was trying to reassure herself too
  • The scene with Jimmy and Kim getting ready for the hearing together in the morning, which presumably means their relationship is in an "on-again" phase. Even if there's no legal or ethical issue with co-counselors in a case having an intimate relationship, it sure feels sticky... too easy for a person's judgement to be clouded.
  • I would need to re-watch it to be sure, but I think there was one point during Chuck's testimony that also seemed to blur the professional/personal relationship: Kim made an objection and said something along the lines of "That's speculation; the witness can't presume to know what was going on in Jimmy's head." Not "Mr. McGill's head" or "The defendant's head," but "Jimmy's head", which seemed like a bit of a professional slip.
  • If Howard wasn't actively/personally gunning for Kim before, he might be now. Those daggers in his eyes as he left the stand!

posted by Funeral march of an old jawbone at 10:57 AM on May 14, 2017 [4 favorites]


She was using Jimmy a a lot.

Rewatched loud and yes, the foley work was EXCELLENT.
posted by tilde at 6:34 AM on May 16, 2017


Late thoughts because I watched these episodes way late, but-- to me it seemed that Jimmy brought Rebecca in to lead Chuck a little off the path, but also just to hurt him. He just deeply wanted to destroy Chuck's happiness. He's pissed.

I got the impression that they were implying that the court proceedings were a little more casual than usual (re: "Jimmy") since they were all lawyers in the room. Have no idea if/doubt that's the way it works in real life, but it didn't have a very formal vibe.
posted by stoneandstar at 2:23 PM on May 20, 2017 [1 favorite]


Kelley highlights the editing where the audio of the opening of the hearing played over the domestic scene of Kim and Jimmy, who then worked together to their opponents' tactics against them. (Really, their interplay was fantastic, in how much it was subtle - no hand-squeezes, no long, meaningful looks, just subtle glances and little hints of a smile - they're both so professional, and allowed to stay that way as written, directed and edited)

Yassss. I love watching them work, especially together.
posted by stoneandstar at 2:30 PM on May 20, 2017 [3 favorites]


The scene with Jimmy and Kim getting ready for the hearing together in the morning, which presumably means their relationship is in an "on-again" phase. Even if there's no legal or ethical issue with co-counselors in a case having an intimate relationship, it sure feels sticky... too easy for a person's judgement to be clouded.

IANAL, but as I understand it, when a lawyer is defending someone, they're 100% on that person's team, so there's no issue or concern of bias, because that's pretty much the point of having someone defend you.

I would need to re-watch it to be sure, but I think there was one point during Chuck's testimony that also seemed to blur the professional/personal relationship: Kim made an objection and said something along the lines of "That's speculation; the witness can't presume to know what was going on in Jimmy's head." Not "Mr. McGill's head" or "The defendant's head," but "Jimmy's head", which seemed like a bit of a professional slip.

I think this format is less formal, because there was a lot of using first names. For example:
Howard: Jimmy was very agitated. He was shouting. He demanded Charles turn over - the evidence he'd been collecting
Kim: Objection. We haven't established the tape is evidence of anything. The defense has only acknowledged it as a piece of property.
Howard: Uh, allow me to rephrase. Jimmy demanded an audiocassette in Charles' possession, which Jimmy proceeded, with the help of an iron fireplace implement, to pry from Charles' desk. He then broke the cassette into pieces and went on to confront his brother.
Kim[?]: What happened after the defendant smashed this tape?
Howard: Mr. Brightbill and I -
[Someone]: That's the private investigator that Charles hired?
Howard: That's correct. He and I were concerned that Jimmy might strike his brother. So that's when we stepped in.
When Kim says Jimmy, I feel like she's trying to make this case personal, about an issue between brothers, or more so, an issue that Chuck has with Jimmy.

If Howard wasn't actively/personally gunning for Kim before, he might be now. Those daggers in his eyes as he left the stand!

My take was that he was caught in his own words, or worse, it was a plan that Chuck laid out and Howard bought into, but then Kim tore it down, and made Howard into Chuck's pawn. I don't think Howard is happy about it, but I don't think he'd make it personal, like Chuck will/has. Of course, I could be off the mark.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:23 AM on May 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


I got the impression that they were implying that the court proceedings were a little more casual than usual (re: "Jimmy") since they were all lawyers in the room.

I think there is on one hand the idea of poetic license – it is mentioned somewhere upthread that an actual disbarment hearing is mostly yes/no questions – and on the other, simple clarity, with the two principals in the hearing both having the same surname.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:27 PM on June 4, 2017 [1 favorite]


When Kim says Jimmy, I feel like she's trying to make this case personal

Also, there are two McGills in the room. It'd be a bit awkward if Howard had instead said "Mr. McGill demanded an audiocassette in Mr. McGill's possession, which Mr. McGill proceeded, with the help of an iron fireplace implement, to pry from Mr. McGill's desk. "
posted by JiBB at 3:52 AM on September 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


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