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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 24 February 2020 at 10:26pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

“50% Off”.


Another great episode. They’re wasting no time in trying together numerous plot threads from the end of last season, as well as prior seasons (and series). They’re also wasting no time in merging Jimmy’s storyline with the cartel’s.

The opening montage with the stoners going on their binge of crime and drugs is hilarious

Krazy-8 finally gets his nickname! And, judging from the teaser for next week’s episode, Saul will be working to frame someone who can take the fall for Krazy-8. Kinda makes me wonder if Emilio (from the pilot for BREAKING BAD) will be popping up, since Jesse mentioned that Saul had represented him in the past. At the very least (and this news has been floating around for some time), a certain pair of DEA agents will likely be soon showing up to investigate the drug bust.

The sequence with Gus and his goons intimidating Nacho is quite harrowing, and highlights just what a horrible situation Nacho’s been forced into. At the beginning of the series, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of Nacho, but he’s become one of my favorite characters in the entire BB/BCS universe, due in no small part to Michael Mando’s wonderful, charismatic, intense performance. Nacho is sort of a competent version of Jesse Pinkman— the criminal with a heart of gold who really doesn’t belong in that line of work.

We also get the origin of Saul’s Bluetooth earpiece, which is the result of his having to multitask to handle nearly 50 clients at one time. 

Peter Gould has mentioned how an event in “Magic Man” would have major consequences, this season. It’s already become clear that this domino effect was triggered by Saul’s 50% off promotional scheme, which leads to the stoners going wild, which leads to Krazy-8’s arrest, which leads to Nacho picking up Saul, which leads to...what? This season has had an ominous vibe right from the start. I have the sneaking feeling that some big twists and turns are coming down the pipe.

The sequence with Jimmy and Kim checking out the house is bittersweet. You can feel the storm clouds gathering over their relationship. But, hey, maybe she DOES become Mrs. Saul Goodman by the time of BREAKING BAD. You never do know.

Unsurprisingly, Mike is drowning his guilt in alcohol, and his outburst at Kaylee isn’t a surprise. Of course the trigger would be her asking questions about her father’s death, which is the very core of Mike’s guilt and anger.

Again, it’s fascinating to see proto-Saul at work. Odenkirk is doing an amazing job of blurring the lines between Jimmy McGill from BETTER CALL SAUL and Saul Goodman from BREAKING BAD. He’s not yet the clownish sleazeball from the latter show. He can still interact with people without drawing too many stares at his wardrobe and behavior. And, of course, his rigging the elevator to stop and forcing ADA Ericsson to play ball with him is right on the edge of being a “proper” (I.e. full-on criminal) Saul Goodman con-job. 

Looking forward to checking out the INSIDER podcast coverage of these episodes when they drop!
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John Harrison
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Posted: 25 February 2020 at 8:22am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

Jimmy and Kim looking at the house for sale made me think of the similar
scene w Walt and Skylar from BB.

And I will admit I didn't catch the cab driver being the guy from the mall.

That scene w Howard (after Jimmy aped his look way back when in S1) and
now Saul in his "wardrobe" standing next Howard in his classic expensive well
tailored suit and that shot of them thru the doors of justice so to speak with the
two types of lawyers really well done.







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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 26 February 2020 at 11:12am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

I recently came across someone’s observation that the clock at the truckstop diner that Gene hides out in at the beginning of “Magic Man” reads “12:16”. 

...as in the 1216/1261 address scam Jimmy pulled to discredit Chuck and get Mesa Verde to rehire Kim as their lawyer back in season 2.


Also, another interesting analysis from The Take:

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Steve De Young
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Posted: 26 February 2020 at 11:26am | IP Logged | 4 post reply

The scene with Mike and his granddaughter was super well done.  It wasn't just talking about his son.  It was that Kaylee, who has been given a series of lies you tell children, says, "He became a cop just like you right?" "But the bad guys got him, right?"  "You taught him how to be one, right?"  Which pretty much unknowingly stabbed Mike in his most sensitive spot.  Because, of course, he wasn't a cop like Mike at all.  And that's what got him killed.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 26 February 2020 at 11:42am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

Exactly, Steve. It all comes back to Mike’s guilt. Mike was a dirty cop, and he broke his son’s will and told him to play along with the other crooked cops, which only ended up getting him killed.

It’s clear that Mike’s burden of guilt over his son’s death really comes down to the fact that he was proud that his son was a better cop and a better man than Mike himself was. When Kaylee equates Matty with Mike, Mike can’t handle it. Because, in his mind, HE’s the “bad guy” who got Matty killed.
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 27 February 2020 at 11:10pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

It's the guilt and self-loathing that gets to Mike.

I've been rewatching seasons 1-4 and they make a big point about Mike not killing anyone since he executed Matt's murderers.  He refuses to take on 'next level' jobs from the Veternarian.   He shies away from murdering Tuco.  His relucatance to kill is the reason Nacho figures out that it was Mike who raided the Salamanca drug delivery.

There is no alternate path here for Mike.   Even when he tries to avoid it his inaction indirectly gets people killed (the 'good samaratan' and the delivery truck driver).   He was ready to snipe Hector but Nacho kept getting in the way and he wasn't going to execute two people that day.

Ironically, it's Gus who prevents him from killing Hector but later it's Gus' influence that forces Mike to kill Werner.   He steps up and 'gets it done' and this is the point of no return for Mike.  
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 27 February 2020 at 11:26pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

Good spotting with the clock, Greg.

I did catch a couple of prophetic fire-related easter eggs in my S1-4 rewatch:

Jimmy walks into Chucks house elated and says "Do I smell smoke?  Because I'm on fire today!".

Another time Jimmy calls Chuck out over his wearing foil blankets saying he was "trying to imitate a baked potato".

There is at least one closeup shot of a Coleman lantern with the "Do not use indoors or in enclosed spaces" warning visible.

edit: forgot to add:

Jimmy breaks into Chuck's desk drawer using a fireplace poker.

When Jimmy is destroying Chuck's tape he says "How did you make copies?  I'll burn this house down!"

Jimmy lights up a cigarette outside of Chuck's house while he's waiting for the police to take him away.   I believe this is only time in the series (so far) where you see him light up one of his own cigarettes -- in all other scenes where he smokes he either already has a lit cigarette in his hand or he bums one off of Kim.   Later in the same scene Jimmy says that Chuck is going to die alone.


Edited by Rob Ocelot on 28 February 2020 at 1:27am
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 03 March 2020 at 12:37am | IP Logged | 8 post reply

“The Guy For This”.

Another great episode, with lots of interesting parallels drawn between Jimmy, Kim, and Nacho, who are all trapped in situations that they’d much rather not be in. The brilliant and bizarre opening with the ants (complete with what sounds like Swiss mountain-climber music) is a nice bit of symbolism for Jimmy abandoning the “sweet life” (ice cream) by getting involved with Lalo.

And, of course, Jimmy working for Lalo and Nacho ties up that loose end from his very first appearance in BREAKING BAD, when he feared that Lalo had sent Walt and Jesse to kill him (for reasons as yet unknown), and so he tried to blame Nacho. And, in another of the countless instances of the show being mindful of the details, Lalo mentions the incident from the very earliest episodes of BCS, with Tuco wanting to kill the twin skateboarders, and Jimmy talking him out of it.

Great scene between Nacho and his father, and one which also echoes Kim’s meeting wit the equally-stubborn Mr. Acker. One of the joys of this show is how it’s willing to play almost an entire scene between a father and son in Spanish (with subtitles). Really adds to the verisimilitude, as does Lalo’s tongue constantly slipping in and out of Spanish, himself. 

We finally get a good slice of Kim’s backstory, which really crystallizes why she’s such a self-made lawyer, and why she’s determined to help the less-fortunate. Mr. Acker questioning how she sleeps at night very clearly hits home for her. And her Mesa Verde work has increasingly—for several seasons, now—become an albatross around her neck, one which has been interfering with the work she really loves: helping the downtrodden. Contrast that with Jimmy/proto-Saul, who now casually refers to his clients as “scumbags” and “@$$holes”. 

No surprise, thanks to the promotional buzz for this season, but we get a welcome visit from BREAKING BAD’s Hank and Gomez. Which makes perfect sense, because Krazy-8 was said to be their informant waaaaayyyy back in episode 4 of that series. And now we finally know how that happened. Seeing proto-Saul go up against Hank also brought back fond memories, and you can start to see the proper Saul Goodman persona slipping into place, since it helps Jimmy deal with situations like the one he’s found himself in with Krazy-8.

Speaking of whom, it’s been said many times how much the cast and crew of BREAKING BAD loved working with Max Arciniega, and how much they regretted killing off Krazy-8 only three episode into BREAKING BAD. I can personally note that the exact moment I fell in love with the show was when, after Walt and Krazy-8’s heart-to-heart, Walt noticed that missing shard of broken plate, and realized that he had to kill Krazy-8. Anyway, the producers were clearly thrilled at the chance to bring Arciniega back for BETTER CALL SAUL, and now he’s getting a lot more to do, this season.

Gonna be interesting to see how this all plays out, what with Lalo basically siccing the DEA on Gus and his operation.

Not much time with Mike, this week, but what little we see is very effective. Again, we see just how driven by guilt he is when he drunkenly demands that the photo of the Sydney Opera House (a reminder of Werner) be removed from the bar. 

The final scene with Jimmy and Kim chucking the bottles together in frustration is a poignant parallel to their earlier toast on the balcony. Misery loves company, but we’re starting to see the seeds of what may well end up driving these two apart for good. They both feel trapped. We know for sure that Jimmy will remain trapped in the criminal underworld. But Kim may not remain trapped in the unfulfilling world of banking law. Hopefully.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 03 March 2020 at 12:45am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

Oh, and I listened to the first two episodes of this season’s BETTER CALL SAUL INSIDER Podcast. There are also two bonus episodes devoted to EL CAMINO.
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Vinny Valenti
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Posted: 03 March 2020 at 7:00am | IP Logged | 10 post reply

I was surprised (thought I guess I shouldn't have been) and delighted to see that Lalo seems to actually LIKE Saul!
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Steve De Young
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Posted: 03 March 2020 at 2:03pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

The $7925 was a great touch.  That's the kind of 'huge number' that someone who's been legitimately broke most of their life comes up with.
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 04 March 2020 at 6:14am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

 Greg Kirkman wrote:
The brilliant and bizarre opening with the ants (complete with what sounds like Swiss mountain-climber music) is a nice bit of symbolism for Jimmy abandoning the “sweet life” (ice cream) by getting involved with Lalo.

I think the Swiss music is also a callback to "Alpine Shepard Boy", as that was when things first got rolling for Jimmy and now things are rolling (downhill) for Saul.  I love how they let the opening speak for itself, no explanation or context.   

Lots of meaningful layers to read into it: 

*Jimmy leaving behind the sweet life and the spoils are carried away by others.   He only gets a taste of the ice cream cone but doesn't get to enjoy or finish it.  

*There's symmetry with Gene's job of making sweet, sweet Cinnabons.

*The lone discoverer ant communicating to others resulting in a swarm may also represent that various law enforcement agencies such as the DEA who now have wind of the cartel activities in ABQ.


 QUOTE:
We finally get a good slice of Kim’s backstory, which really crystallizes why she’s such a self-made lawyer, and why she’s determined to help the less-fortunate. Mr. Acker questioning how she sleeps at night very clearly hits home for her.

I had a different reading to the scene.   I think Kim was bullshitting about her background -- trying to pull a 'Jimmy' by stringing a story together on the spot.   Note Kim's reaction to Jimmy improvising a story for the IT guy in "Cobbler" and how she wished she could pull something out of her ass like that.   Mr. Acker certainly wasn't convinced at any rate.   A Jimmy scam is more than just the story though, it's his body language, eye contact, posture and his sincerity that locks it in...  


 QUOTE:
Seeing proto-Saul go up against Hank also brought back fond memories, and you can start to see the proper Saul Goodman persona slipping into place, since it helps Jimmy deal with situations like the one he’s found himself in with Krazy-8.

Jimmy in 'Saul' mode is a thing to behold.   Hillarious how Hank figured out the meaning behind "Saul Goodman" right away while everyone else in the series had to have it spelled out for them.
   


Edited by Rob Ocelot on 04 March 2020 at 6:15am
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