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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 18 April 2017 at 2:19pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Steve, I was thinking the same thing about Jimmy's upcoming name change. I also thought that he might have been forced to quit practicing the law under Jimmy McGill and there is where Saul arises.
+++++++

The big questions for me are 1) How is Jimmy/Saul still able to practice law by the time of BREAKING BAD without having been disbarred? 2) What purpose does the "Saul Goodman" alias and business serve in a town where people already know the face and law practice of Jimmy McGill?
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 18 April 2017 at 2:33pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

I would like to see more Hamlin. At first I didn't really care for the character but he has grown on me. 
++++++

This is where the BREAKING BAD style of playing with viewers' sympathies comes in. Stop and think about it, and Hamlin is a perfectly good and upright guy. So is Chuck, technically. Jimmy is a conman with a good heart (and our viewpoint character), and we viewers are forced to ask whether or not Chuck is right about Jimmy with a law degree being "a chimp with a machine gun", or if it's a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. Does Chuck's attitude toward Jimmy end up turning him into Saul Goodman, or would Jimmy have eventually gone bad, anyway? 

Chuck may be arrogant and petty, but he worked hard to get where he got, and is not a criminal. Jimmy always takes the easy route, and has bent and/or broken the law on any number of occasions. 

As I've noted, BCS makes it easy to forget just who Saul Goodman was by the time of BREAKING BAD--casually suggesting murder to solve problems, getting "adjusted to completion" by Asian masseuses, and being complicit in fraud, money laundering, and any number of other major crimes. He's a totally amoral scumbag. Kim Wexler seems very much to be Jimmy's tether to law and decent humanity. It might seem like the cliche answer, but losing her would surely be the thing to cause him to stop caring, right?

And, let's not forget about Francesca. Working for Saul Goodman, she becomes sassy, embittered, and willing to extort thousands of dollars out of Walter White. Quite a change from the sweet woman we "first" met, last night. 
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Steve De Young
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Posted: 18 April 2017 at 2:45pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

but losing her would surely be the thing to cause him to stop caring, right?
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Its part of it, but I don't think Chuck's influence should be underestimated.  Even after Jimmy found out Chuck had been secretly working against him, he wasn't able to turn his back on Chuck, and he's still buying into what anyone as sharp as he is must surely know is a purely psychosomatic medical condition.  I think Chuck became sort of a surrogate father figure for Jimmy and things like taking the mail room job, going to law school in the first place, and several other moves along the way seem to have been at least partially motivated by trying to win Chuck's approval.  I think that's part of Jimmy's explosion in last night's ep.  This wasn't just Chuck trying to hold Jimmy back because he's still distrustful and Jimmy still hasn't proven himself.  This is Chuck trying to destroy Jimmy's life.  Jimmy is looking at disbarment and prison time.  Having the person in the world who you most want to impress and take you seriously turn and try to completely destroy you?  Especially when he's your only real remaining family?  That would set anybody off.  And then Chuck used Jimmy's anger at the betrayal against him to bury him deeper.

Chuck may not have broken the law, but he is not a morally good person.  He's selfish, arrogant, and has spent most of his life bitter and resentful of Jimmy because their parents liked him better even though he was a screw up.  And now he's getting his revenge.  Jimmy is presented as having made a legitimate attempt to go straight and clean up his life and have an above board legal career, and Chuck stopped him out of that resentment.  He's clinging to the fact that he's a great, accomplished man and Jimmy's a ne'er-do-well because if Jimmy went straight and found success, his ego couldn't handle it.

I think a big part of the eventual name change will be not wanting to share Chuck's name.  When New Mexico legal circles hear 'McGill', they think Chuck, and Hamilin, Hamlin, and McGill.  Not Jimmy.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 18 April 2017 at 4:03pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

That's the great irony, isn't it? Chuck, the upstanding citizen who worked hard to build a respectable career for himself, ends up going totally underhanded (but within the bounds of the law) to destroy his own brother. Whereas Jimmy tries to play it straight, and goes out of his way to take care of Chuck, but ends up becoming a criminal because of his brother's backstabbing.

It's clear that Jimmy's genuine love for Chuck blinded him as to how Chuck would react to being made to look like a fool in court. For Chuck, that was just the last straw after years of bitterness and resentment. Now, it's all-out war for both of them.
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 19 April 2017 at 4:49pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

'Gene' has some interesting parallels with Walter White of the BB pilot.  The producers are definitely evoking a visual similarity (check out the moustache, glasses, and his posture) but there's also a thematic symmetry with Walter's pre-BB life: a meek faceless nobody stuck in a drudge day job, painfully aware they are not living up to their full potential but powerless to change it unless they do something drastic.  Until one day there's a tipping point... a medical emergency**.  Even more poignant when you realize that in a broad sense it was Walter who was responsible for where Jimmy's life ended up.

One other interesting visual clue as to when the 'Gene' scenes take place is the state of his thinning hair, which I don't think even Saul's combovers would cover.  So maybe they are current-present or at least date to the start of BCS in 2015.

** In the case of 'Gene' I think it's going to be that he can't be admitted to a hospital because his assumed identity has no health insurance or that his real identity will come out in the course of a medical investigation.
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 19 April 2017 at 5:04pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

One character I hope they introduce/flesh out in BCS is Saul's 'cleaner' -- his contact who facilitates your disappearance and new identity if you require it.   Could be an interesting character in their own right and may also help to explain where characters like Kim ended up.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 19 April 2017 at 9:36pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

It doesn't seem unreasonable to bring back Robert Forster as Ed, "the Disappearer", at some point. 

On the flipside, BREAKING BAD gave the impression that Saul didn't necessarily know about or interact with Gus, so I wonder how that's all gonna play out. I should probably give BB a rewatch, but I seem to recall that Mike was basically working for Gus on the sly, without Saul's knowledge. And, of course, Gus' drug operation was a closely guarded secret, so Saul presumably didn't know about it until Walt told him.


Edited by Greg Kirkman on 19 April 2017 at 9:40pm
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 19 April 2017 at 9:40pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

Gene' has some interesting parallels with Walter White of the BB pilot.  The producers are definitely evoking a visual similarity (check out the moustache, glasses, and his posture) but there's also a thematic symmetry with Walter's pre-BB life: a meek faceless nobody stuck in a drudge day job, painfully aware they are not living up to their full potential but powerless to change it unless they do something drastic.  Until one day there's a tipping point... a medical emergency**.  Even more poignant when you realize that in a broad sense it was Walter who was responsible for where Jimmy's life ended up.
+++++++++

Gene passing out in the season opener certainly raises some questions, doesn't it? Seems that Gilligan and Gould might not even know where that's going, if anywhere.

If could easily be read as him simply fainting from the stress and shock of ratting out the shoplifter (and his own close encounter with the law in doing so), or it could be the beginning of some actual plot thread with Gene and his health. Guess we'll see!
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 24 April 2017 at 10:43pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

"Sunk Costs".

Wow, this was even better than last week's. We're starting to move toward BREAKING BAD-levels of tension, here. Lots of careful buildup is starting to play out. And, that opening flash-forward--which is only gradually explained later on, as we see Mike enact his Rube Goldbergian plan--is pure BB.

Mike and Gus' first meeting was a treat, and you get the sense of mutual respect and mutual goals that these guys have. By the time of BB, Mike was Gus' right-hand man, and this BCS plotline provides a very logical reason for the beginning of that relationship: Mike wants revenge on Hector, and what's bad (but not lethal) for Hector is good for Gus.

The whole war between the McGill boys is heating up, big time. Some real standout sequences in this episode, from Jimmy's booking to Kim's wake-up montage. 

We're in it now, folks. As I suspected, early on, the first two seasons were very much a careful arrangement of chess pieces. Now, we're getting into the game proper. Will this season end up becoming The Trial of Jimmy McGill? I dunno, but I am anxiously waiting to see how this all plays out. BCS is quickly nearing that same "one of the best TV shows ever" territory occupied by BREAKING BAD. But, while BCS successfully stands on its own, I'm coming more and more to the conclusion that both shows are just distinctive parts of one epic story. 

After all, Gilligan and company have been making these shows almost nonstop for a full decade, now. It's not as if a few years went by after BB ended, and then they decided to milk a prequel out of it. For all intents and purposes, it's been one long series, with a cast and focus shakeup after the first six seasons. It's quite a body of work, and an amazing achievement in what is possible with serialized storytelling. 

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Steve De Young
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Posted: 25 April 2017 at 7:55am | IP Logged | 10 post reply

I can see how things are unfolding now with Jimmy, how his ties to the straight and narrow are being severed through betrayal and disappointment.  I have a feeling we're in for a long con on Chuck more than a trial, which will just help cement the idea for Jimmy that you can't get things done above board.

What I'm becoming more and more interested in is what's going to end up happening to Mike.  He's still going way way out of his way to avoid violence.  By the time of BB, he's basically a hitman, at least when he's first introduced.  More depth comes later.  What's going to change him from a dirty cop with a strong sense of justice into a straight out criminal working for a drug cartel?
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 25 April 2017 at 8:28am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

Yeah, that's a huge question, for me. As with Saul Goodman, BCS sort of makes you forget how cold and ruthless Mike was, by the time of BREAKING BAD. 

It's not as if the "mobsters killed his familiy, so this guy has nothing left to care about" cliche is at work, here. We know that his daughter-in-law and granddaughter are still alive and well during BB. 

Of course, a theme of both BCS and BB is that evil stains people, and that stain becomes impossible to remove. Perhaps Mike getting involved with Gus and the inherent evil and violence of the cartel world gradually wears down his sense of morality, rather than some specific event triggering a change in attitude.


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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 25 April 2017 at 12:30pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

The cold open was totally BREAKING BAD.

In BB, did Mike ever kill anyone who was not "in the game", as he put it
last night? I'm not convinced that the Mike we see here in BCS is that
dramatically different from the Mike in BB. Colder and more comfortable
with killing, sure, but I don't know if he's compromised his code of
ethics /that/ much. He's already executed the cops who killed his son,
and I thought it was implied that he murdered the guy in his "half
measures" story.

Mike's story parallels Jimmy's in that they are both given an opportunity
to walk away from their problems—Gus assures Mike that his family is
no longer a target and taking Hector out is no longer necessary—but
they both choose to stay in. At this point, it's about vengeance, and that
totally fits in with Gus' long game revenge plot on the Juárez cartel. Mike avoids violence with the cartel drug runners, but I think that was
more because it was the smarter play. His last method resulted in a
civilian getting killed, and killing them would result in escalation.

We know that Mike is not completely gone in BB. He's upset with Todd
over killing the kid. He's taken aback by Gus' murder of Victor that he
instinctively pulls his gun, which tells me that Gus didn't normally have
Mike killing people capriciously. I can easily see Mike rationalizing that
it's better to have someone like Gus, who is careful and methodical, in
charge of the drug trade, over the cartels, and in the process, he is
providing for his family and getting revenge on the people who
threatened them.

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Steve De Young
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Posted: 25 April 2017 at 2:36pm | IP Logged | 13 post reply

I can easily see Mike rationalizing that
it's better to have someone like Gus, who is careful and methodical, in
charge of the drug trade, over the cartels
---------------------------------------------------
I can see that happening depending on how this plays out.  Mike could just come to the conclusion that Gus is the lesser evil, and his control prevents the kind of violence that turf wars or chaos in the drug trade might result in.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 25 April 2017 at 8:53pm | IP Logged | 14 post reply

The cold open was totally BREAKING BAD.
+++++++++

If you stop and think about it, this is literally true, since the scene must take place during BREAKING BAD, when the triumphant Gus' drug-running Los Pollos Hermanos truck has replaced Hector's.
++++++++++

He's already executed the cops who killed his son, 
and I thought it was implied that he murdered the guy in his "half 
measures" story.
+++++++++

I never got that impression. The story just seemed to be one of many experiences which wore down his faith in humanity, long before he himself became a killer.

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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 25 April 2017 at 9:12pm | IP Logged | 15 post reply

Mike could just come to the conclusion that Gus is the lesser evil, and his control prevents the kind of violence that turf wars or chaos in the drug trade might result in.
+++++++++

BREAKING BAD sort of hinted at it, but now it's more obvious, I think. Gus is not an animal. He is very cautious, runs his business in a clean and organized way, and does not like unnecessary violence. He's the sort of criminal that Mike can deal with. A (relatively) civilized, highly-intelligent man. 

This all adds an extra layer to Gus slitting Victor's throat in "Box Cutter", now. The afforementioned moment where the shocked Mike actually draws his gun on Gus (which might be my favorite little detail in that episode) now perhaps indicates that Mike has never before seen that sort of violence from Gus. Of course, Mike himself foreshadows bad luck for Victor when he asks if witnesses saw him at Gale's apartment, but he surely never expected Gus to cut Victor down in cold blood in order to tie up a loose end and prove his point to Walt and Jesse. 

Mike's attitude toward Gus is also reflected in his later dealings with Walt. Mike laments the loss of Gus and his "clockwork" business, and tells Walt that he "just had to blow it all up" out of ego and arrogance. Walt is the anti-Gus: hotheaded, sloppy, and a risk-taker. It's really no wonder he and Mike butted heads, to the point of Walt unintentionally killing Mike after their argument.

By the way, the doctor who supplied Mike with the drugs in "Sunk Costs" is the same doctor from "Crawl Space", who treated Gus and Mike (...the latter only after Gus had been stabilized, since "this man pays my salary") after the shootout at Don Eladio's place. A nice, subtle cameo, there. 
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 26 April 2017 at 3:51am | IP Logged | 16 post reply

The cold open was totally BREAKING BAD.
+++++++++

If you stop and think about it, this is literally true, since the scene must take place during BREAKING BAD, when the triumphant Gus' drug-running Los Pollos Hermanos truck has replaced Hector's.
++++++++++

I also enjoyed the "other shoe dropping" metaphor. :-)
BCS has been a slow burn but damn it's been a very satisfying one without overindulging on it's conncections to BB.

Tonight's episode represents the series turning point.

I've been binge rewatching BCS (just finished S1) and uncovered some new subtleties:

*Jimmy's breakdown and subsequent mic drop in the bingo hall (lol @ his "Chicago Sunroof" story, which is probably a sanitized version) is nicely counterpointed by Gene's current Cinnabon sitution.   Jimmy's a natural yarn-spinner yet he's prevented from being himself.  Worse than prison, worse than being poor.  A true hell for someone as slick-tongued as Jimmy.

*Lots of interesting visual colourplay.  Slippin' Jimmy is almost always bathed in banana yellows, or there's usually some yellow in the shot (eg. parking lot line)..  Saul overtones in reds and oranges (like his shirts) but you only see brief flashes of them.  It puts the colour-absent Gene scenes in a bigger context.   Kim is always surrounded by blue tones, but the shades start to subtly drift away from "Hamlinidigo Blue" to a different, softer blue as she becames more disenchanted with HHM.   What you see in the current Wexler and McGill wall logo is the perfect culmination of these colour themes.

*The parking garage scene in PIMENTO is one of my favorite television scenes ever.   If you were to show this to someone unfamiliar with BB or BCS they would instantly understand who Mike is and just why he has almost a supernatural ability to predict human behavior.   All of his training and instincts as a cop turned to the wrong side of the law is a formidible combination.  No one takes Mike seriously on first impression.  He's not some huge hulking mass who would be an obvious bodyguard.  He's not some wiseass who spends more time talking about his guns (and comparing dick size) than using them.  Mike doesn't even know what kind of job it is, except that it's work and when it's done you go home. 



Edited by Rob Ocelot on 26 April 2017 at 5:26am
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 26 April 2017 at 8:49am | IP Logged | 17 post reply


*Lots of interesting visual colourplay.  Slippin' Jimmy is almost always bathed in banana yellows, or there's usually some yellow in the shot (eg. parking lot line)..  Saul overtones in reds and oranges (like his shirts) but you only see brief flashes of them.  It puts the colour-absent Gene scenes in a bigger context.   Kim is always surrounded by blue tones, but the shades start to subtly drift away from "Hamlinidigo Blue" to a different, softer blue as she becames more disenchanted with HHM.   What you see in the current Wexler and McGill wall logo is the perfect culmination of these colour themes.
+++++++++

BREAKING BAD's character color-coding has become rather famous, and BCS is just being more subtle in its use of that system. As I noted, upthread, BCS is, in many ways, a more refined and less obvious version of the storytelling style and tropes established in BB. More mature and less blatant, you might say. Less reliant on flash and dazzle, and even more trusting of the audience's intelligence and powers of observation.



Edited by Greg Kirkman on 26 April 2017 at 9:17pm
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 26 April 2017 at 8:54am | IP Logged | 18 post reply

The parking garage scene in PIMENTO is one of my favorite television scenes ever.   If you were to show this to someone unfamiliar with BB or BCS they would instantly understand who Mike is and just why he has almost a supernatural ability to predict human behavior.   All of his training and instincts as a cop turned to the wrong side of the law is a formidible combination.  No one takes Mike seriously on first impression.  He's not some huge hulking mass who would be an obvious bodyguard.  He's not some wiseass who spends more time talking about his guns (and comparing dick size) than using them.  Mike doesn't even know what kind of job it is, except that it's work and when it's done you go home. 
++++++++

It's a fantastic scene, and that superhuman ability to predict behavior is just one more reason he clicks so well with Gus, really. Gilligan and company have often made note of Gus' "sixth sense", which made him leave the parking garage (and save himself from Walt's carbomb) in "End Times", and come out onto the Los Pollos Hermanos dining floor to keep an eye on Jimmy in "Witness".
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 26 April 2017 at 9:01am | IP Logged | 19 post reply

That is a genius observation about the WM wall logo, by the way. It didn't even occur to me. Kim's blue and Slippin' Jimmy's yellow separated by the brown "stock market crash" letters.
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Brian Miller
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Posted: 30 April 2017 at 2:46pm | IP Logged | 20 post reply

Just got caught up. I hadn't seen an episode in over a year since S2E2. God, I love this show. 

Lots of great comments guys. One thing I did notice in the season opener was the contrast between Mike who was using all kinds of electronics and batteries and stuff, and Chuck whose aversion to electronic devices led him start using wooden tongs to handle such items. 

Also, the scene when Ernie brings the fresh pack of batteries gave a backwards reflection to the one where Mike throws away the dead ones. 

One obversation:  in the second episode, when Jimmy is sitting on the curb waiting for the police to arrive, Chuck is outside talking to him as if he is no longer afraid of being outside. There's no sort distress at all in the character in that scene.  I found that odd. 
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 30 April 2017 at 3:14pm | IP Logged | 21 post reply

They've established that Chuck has trained himself to handle going outside and to HHM for short periods. Definitely a change from the first season, where going outside to get a newspaper was a nightmarish journey for him. 

Waiting patiently for the, er, other shoe to drop regarding Chuck's illness. What exactly triggered it, and whether or not he's totally nuts. It's clearly a bizarre psychosomatic "disease", but the show really hasn't tackled it head-on, just yet. 
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Brian Miller
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Posted: 30 April 2017 at 3:41pm | IP Logged | 22 post reply

I know they've said that, even in the following episode, but this time seemed different. He was totally comfortable being outside in normal clothes talking to Jimmy. 

I dunno. Maybe in his confidence that he finally "won" against Jimmy overrode the part of the brain that lets him believe he is sick. 
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 30 April 2017 at 4:05pm | IP Logged | 23 post reply

In the second episode, Jimmy confirmed that Rebecca left Chuck, and
I'm still guessing that's what triggered Chuck's illness. I would not be
surprised if Chuck somehow partly blamed Jimmy for their breakup in
some circuitous manner—Chuck was certainly threatened by the fact
that she was amused by Jimmy's humor—and that having a "victory"
over Jimmy allowed Chuck to forget about his illness for a few minutes.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 01 May 2017 at 11:18pm | IP Logged | 24 post reply

"Sabrosito".

Oh, man, what a fantastic episode! The opening shot immediately reminded me of the shot of Don Eladio's death from BREAKING BAD's "Salud", and, lo and behold, Don Eladio himself dove into the pool to confirm that connection. Great to see Steven Bauer, again. And, hey--Juan Bolsa, too!

Wonderful stuff with Gus and Hector, here. As usual, Gus is a few steps ahead of everyone else. He looks to be playing a "keep your enemies closer" game, here. And, after two seasons of careful buildup, it's becoming more and more clear that Nacho has been maneuvered into a precarious position in the middle of this situation. He's betrayed both Tuco and Hector, after all. 

Meanwhile, things are heating up with the McGill boys. The tension in those last few scenes (and the whole episode, really) was really palpable. While the dual-storytelling was apparent in the first two seasons--Jimmy's story running parallel to Mike's story--, we're now seeing two very heated chess games occurring in the middle of those stories. Moves and countermoves from all sides.

Of course, as we know from BREAKING BAD, both men's stories are going to intertwine, and literally everyone on Mike's side of the story (aside from his daughter-in-law and granddaughter, and maybe Nacho, given Saul's reference to "Ignacio" during his very first appearance on BB) will end up dead.

Some may accuse BCS of turning into BREAKING BAD 2.0 as a sort of ratings stunt (which Gilligan and company have repeated denied), but it all feels totally organic to me, which is the highest compliment I can give. Gus and the cartel stuff were a crucial part of BREAKING BAD, and you can't tell Mike's story without bringing in the cartel connection. There's still plenty of all-new personal drama with Jimmy and Chuck, but it's becoming clear that Mike is being drawn into Gus' orbit, and Jimmy is being drawn into Mike's orbit. It really does feel like a tragedy in the making, especially since we know (mostly) how this is all gonna turn out. Gus gets his revenge against Hector, but Hector manages to kill them both. Mike dies for nothing. Jimmy ends up on the lam. But, seeing all of the pieces click into place while already knowing the ending is still immensely satisfying.


In all honesty, this might be the best prequel to anything that I've ever seen. It substantially expands and enriches the original work, while still being absolutely faithful to it. I'd originally advised friends to think of BCS as a nice dessert to BB's great meal. A lovely treat, but not necessarily one to hold to a super-high standard. I've been reevaluating that idea. More and more, BB and BCS are feeling like one epic masterwork, rather than two closely-connected shows. They work perfectly well as separate entities, but are starting to bounce off of each other in ways which make the whole greater than the sum of the parts.

Perhaps the second highest compliment I can pay is that I don't find myself missing Walt and Jesse, because I'm so engrossed in the story. Love them as we do, they don't need to be here to make this show work. It works great on its own, AND as part of the larger tapestry of BREAKING BAD. Love it.


Edited by Greg Kirkman on 01 May 2017 at 11:37pm
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Steve De Young
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Posted: 02 May 2017 at 8:09am | IP Logged | 25 post reply

Based on the photos and the intel on the tape, I think we're moving to another con by Jimmy that's going to end with Chuck being committed, and thereby losing his own law license.  And I think Jimmy is calling in Chuck's ex to help him pull it off.

If that, or something similar, is where this is headed, it will actually explain a lot about Jimmy's transformation.  Chuck and Kim are really the only two people he deeply cares about, and in his current pain and anger, it looks like he's going to end up destroying Chuck.  If and when he then loses Kim...that will go a long way toward the burnt out, amoral Saul Goodman.
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