Breaking Bad – Season 3, Episode 8: “I See You”

AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 3, Episode 8: “I See You”
Directed by Colin Bucksey
Written by Gennifer Hutchison

* For a review of the previous episode, “One Minute” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Kafkaesque” – click here
IMG_0221In the hospital, Jesse (Aaron Paul) gets ready to go home, still bruised and in terrible shape after the beating he was given at the hands of Hank (Dean Norris).
But Hank has bigger problems, nearly gunned to death by the Salamanca brothers. He’s brought into the ER while Pinkman sits outside for a smoke. Such a weird, ironic moment. No telling yet if the big guy’s going to pull through, either. He’s near death.
And much as I feel for Jesse he shows he hasn’t changed in the slightest. He wishes death on the man who beat him, without actually saying the words. Not saying Hank doesn’t deserve a beating in return. Doesn’t deserve this, though.
IMG_0222Suddenly, Gale (David Costabile) finds out that Walt (Bryan Cranston) doesn’t want to work with him anymore, having made a deal to bring his old partner into the operation overseen by Mr. Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). The master chemist compares them as “classical” and “jazz” music, incompatible in the lab ultimately. The salt rubs deepest into the wound when Gale actually meets Jesse, his use of “the bomb” and his beat up face and the “Sup?” which follows. Oh, man. But them’s the breaks when you’re working in the meth industry. All that matters is the bottom line: 200 lbs per week. Rain or shine, Gale or Jesse; does not matter.
Then Mr. White finds out about what happened to Hank, his close to fatal condition. He rushes to the hospital, to Marie (Betsy Brandt), Skyler (Anna Gunn), and Walt Jr (RJ Mitte). They’re all, justifiably, terrified. Not easy to see anyone shot. Seeing Hank like that, an outwardly powerful and tough man incapacitated, it’s shocking. Especially for someone like Jr, who reveres his uncle in that old school tough cop way.
Walt susses out a bit of information from ASAC George Merkert (Michael Shamus Wiles) concerning the cartel, before Steve Gomez (Steven Michael Quezada) lets slip that his partner didn’t have his gun when the Salamancas came for him. This sends Marie into a fucking fury, and I know it’s protocol, yadda yadda… but seriously, you’d be tripping, too.
Biggest irony is she blames Walt’s supposed bout with marijuana leading her husband to Pinkman. Skyler actually picks up for her husband, not knowing the full repercussions of her own husband’s involvement.
Marie: “The DEA is not welcome here
IMG_0223Seeing Jesse in a more professional lab is so strange. Like a kid in a candy shop. He’s also calling up Walt at the hospital about their “responsibilities.” Says he’ll cook a batch by himself. As if he can do that in the superlab, not knowing any of the equipment. At the same time Walt’s juggling his bullshit and real life.
Gus gets a call from Juan Bolsa (Javier Grajeda), angry about the DEA agent being shot. He knows the Salamancas acted out of order. He just doesn’t know, for sure, that Gus had anything to do with it. The slithering chicken man is a slippery bastard.
Walt gets a look at the remaining Salamanca – Leonel (Daniel Moncada) – barely hanging on. When the brother gets a look at him, he recognises Heisenberg. Crawling out of bed at him. To others, just a bit of insanity. To Walt it’s much more sinister. The chemistry teacher has other issues, dealing with his partner back at the lab, too. And he’s piecing together the fact the Salamancas were coming for him, not Hank. Back with Jr, there’s an excellent moment with him reading about Pablo Escobar, sitting next to someone, his father, much the same.
Worse is dealing with Gus. Instead of telling the truth, Walt lies about what’s going on in his personal life and making excuses for them not meeting the quota on time. This isn’t something he should be doing, it’ll easily come back to bite him in the ass. Sooner than later. There’s only so much juggling the man can do. He’s slipping.
IMG_0225At the hospital, Walt sees part of the bite back already happening. Gus Fring shows up to feed the DEA with Los Pollos Hermanos. Moreover, he’s personally offering a $10K reward for any information pertaining to what happened to Hank. Christ! It’s more than tense seeing them in a room together, Walt’s family there, Merkert. Gus even reveals, in front of them all – directed at Walt – that he met Hank awhile back, the collection jar for Walt’s illness. Such a superbly written scene, it’s full of suspense.
Walt rushes to speak with Gus before he leaves, knowing now the boss man knew about Hank. This brings new worries to light, that this was a possible by-product and that Gus is sending a message. He wants an assurance of his family’s safety, receiving nothing concrete until everyone rushes to see Leonel dying in his bed. Later, Hank’s confirmed to be pulling through. Except our meth extraordinaire knows he’s responsible for so much more destruction than ever before.
Gus: “I hide in plain sight, just like you.”
Juan’s figuring things out, as well. He knows Gus is behind the whole mess, federales staking him out after the death of the remaining Salamanca. And the chicken man sits comfortably, knowing he can’t be tied to anything, as Juan is killed in his home to tie the last bit off. Cold as ice.
IMG_0227This is a favourite episode of mine. There’s a lot of wild things happening in such a subdued way. Progression of characters to boot, like Jesse, Walt, and the beginning of the Gale situation which extends far beyond his firing from the lab.
“Kafkaesque” is next and it’s another fantastic chapter in Season 3, with a damn fine title.

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Better Call Saul – Season 3, Episode 9: “Fall”

AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 3, Episode 9: “Fall”
Directed by Minkie Spiro
Written by Gordon Smith

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Slip” – click here
* For a recap & review of the Season 3 finale, “Lantern” – click here
Pic 1Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) is one slick fella. He buys packaged cookies, then wraps them up like he made them himself. Over to see a few people at Sandpiper Crossing, mainly the “class representative” for the case, Irene. He’s digging around for information about the case, any settlements. He winds up going through a box of an old lady’s things, looking at papers. Trying to influence her decisions. There’s an offer for settlement on the table, he pushes her to take the deal. Although she’d rather listen to the lawyers.
The guy is strapped for cash, not being in business is a kick in the ass. I’m just wondering where this line of thinking, this desperation, the scheming is going to head in the long run. Well, we know already: nowhere nice.
Pic 2 (1)Back with Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), he’s meeting with a familiar face from Breaking Bad over at Madrigal: Lydia Rodarte-Quayle (Laura Fraser). This is the deal with Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). He’s a “logistics consultant” at the company, on paper. But we absolutely understand what he’ll be doing for Fring, it isn’t consulting on anything. All a way to launder a bit of money, making things look legitimate. Mike’s smart, though. He covers all bases before moving ahead. On anything.
Note: What we get to see here is the beginning of the network which causes trouble for Mike and Lydia and Walter White in the late stages of Breaking Bad after Mr. Fring is murdered.
Trouble with the insurance over at Hamlin, Hamlin, & McGill. The stuff Jimmy started previously. Poor Chuck (Michael McKean) isn’t happy with what’s going on now, as the insurance company makes clear that coverage for him after his recent court appearance has become a problem. He threatens litigation, then the brokers leave displeased. Howard (Patrick Fabian) is trying to fix the situation, asking Chuck to “hang up [his] spurs.” And he isn’t suggesting, he’s telling his old friend this is how it must be.
And Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) is off working on more business, as usual. She’s working with Mr. Gatwood (Chris Mulkey), looking into problems with the border on the land where he’s drilling. When she goes to leave she ends up stuck in the dirt, so she finds a piece of board for traction. She gets the car out and nearly puts it into some railing, but manages to stop. She doesn’t need anybody’s help, she’s great on her own. In many ways.
Pic 2 (2)In a parking garage, Jimmy meets with Howard. He wants to talk about Sandpiper. All he gets is humiliation. Howard calls him down to the dirt for being phoney, only wanting a nice payday and not actually caring about clients as he claims. Ouch. True, though.
Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis) and Gus Fring meet, accompanied by the usual crowd such as Nacho (Michael Mando). They’re having a phone conference with another business partner. Seems that things aren’t going the way Don Hector would have preferred. Los Pollos Hermanos has the safest route, which does not please him. Then an attack starts hitting him. He reaches for his pills, swallowing some; the fake ones Nacho slipped. How long until this puts him in that wheelchair?
Mall-walking, Jimmy purposefully runs into Irene and her old lady friends. Here, we’re privy to how horrible Jimmy is, truly. He’s digging deep now and doing some of his worst moral work. He plies her with new sneakers, hoping she’ll sway on the settlement. Perfectly fitting that The Night of the Hunter plays in the background while Jimmy goes further, talking to the other old ladies from Sandpiper. He plays them against one another. Using the shoes against her now. Such a bad man. Totally morally bankrupt. He’s perfect for the criminal life.
Nacho talks with his father about Don Hector’s plans, bending him to work for the cartel. It’s a difficult conversation, one he’d hoped they wouldn’t need to have – the coming of Don Hector. All pressured further by the deal recently struck in favour of Fring. There’s nothing they can do, so Nacho advises they go along to get along. Then his father kicks him out.
Pic 3Things spiral out of control with Chuck and Howard, when the former decides on suing the firm. He won’t be kicked out, or else he’ll get paid for his share of the legacy: “Imagine me as your enemy.” Man, oh, man. I don’t see this all ending well for Chuck, though I’m not entirely sure how it’s all going to happen. He’s clearly still having trouble with the electricity issues, coaching himself through using anything with power running through it. There’s got to be a breaking point, unfortunately.
More scheming – Jimmy’s doctoring himself a bunch of numbered balls, maybe a bit of Bingo for the crowd at Sandpiper? You got it.
He’s rigging the game for his own purposes, something further to turn the ladies on one another. Irene gets a cold shoulder from every one of them. So sad! Breaks my heart. And he’s playing with these lives all for his own gain. He passes out new cards, handing one specifically to Irene, and then the grift begins. She gets BINGO pretty quick, which pisses off the other women. Tsk, tsk, James.
Jimmy: “B9. Lets hope that biopsy comes back be-nign.”
When nobody claps for Irene it embarrasses her in front of the crowd, she rushes out crying. Jimmy heads out to talk with her. She’s feeling the effects of all the cruelty, then he reels out the story he’s concocted with all his fuckery. SUCH A TERRIBLE MAN. Lord, is he ever a shitheel. Scamming old people to this extent is downright nasty.
Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 1.41.08 AMAfterwards, Jimmy shows up to see Kim – with a bottle of that fictional Zafiro Añejo tequila from Breaking Bad – raving about the settlement at Sandpiper. She’s too busy to celebrate. He’s so focused on his deviousness he keeps forgetting about real life happening all around him.
Kim ends up falling asleep briefly at the wheel, putting herself off the road. Files everywhere, her fast is beaten up and bloody. Overworked to the worst extent. She’s not gravely injured; injured nonetheless. This is symptom of her relationship with Jimmy, he’s paying attention to all the wrong things while she’s faced with taking on all responsibility. All alone on the road of life. She could’ve died – maybe another symptom of being involved with him too long is death, far enough down the line. I keep waiting for the day she realises how destructive their relationship has become.
Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 1.54.32 AMJimmy somehow escapes all these situations intact. While everyone around him suffers, whether it’s Chuck, Kim, the people at Sandpiper; nobody truly matters to him, ultimately. Much as I pull for him, this episode is one of the worst depths to which he’s sunk. Even if we consider his later trajectory in the original series run of Breaking Bad. This episode’s shown us a lot more of that reptilian side in his personality than ever before.

Better Call Saul – Season 3, Episode 8: “Slip”

AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 3, Episode 8: “Slip”
Directed by Adam Bernstein
Written by Heather Marion

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Expenses” – click here
* For a recap & review of the penultimate Season 3 episode, “Fall” – click here
Pic 1Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) is back at the old family store, looking in an old stash spot in the ceiling. He finds a tin of coins; one of which is an “Indian Head penny.” He needs cash, and bad. Things are getting tight. We also get a glimpse into Jimmy’s early days as a young thief, though one who saw the world as it was while his father seemed to have a doe-eyed idealism in him. Not saying it led the soon-to-be Saul Goodman anywhere good. Still, there’s a certain truth to how he sees things, even if he’s slowly but surely falling into criminality. As evidenced by the fact he knows how many patrol cars will come blazing through the neighbourhood.
In other news, Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) stops on a road in the desert. He has a pad of paper with him, likely with the location of where he’s headed, and a shovel, too. Even a metal detector. Soon, he comes upon a spot where readings grow strong. He digs, and digs, and digs, and digs. Until he finds a hand. But then he calls the police, claiming he was looking for arrowheads. So, is this a play to fuck up more of Hector Salamanca’s (Mark Margolis) business? Or something else?
Pic 1ABack at his place Chuck (Michael McKean) meets with a doctor (Clea Duvall) about his condition. He’s improving, getting better by the day. He wants to get back to the firm and start working without accommodations for his mental illness. He hopes to get back to regular life, to light the house again and have parties. She tries to make sure he keeps his expectations in check.
Jimmy’s still trying to sell the brothers at the guitar shop those commercials and airtime. They don’t particularly want to stick with him, but he’s a slick talker. Not good enough, they aren’t convinced. Instead, he quick-thinks a plan. Jimmy slips a drumstick onto the floor, has his crew roll their camera, then frames the place up for an insurance nightmare.
Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) meets once again with her Mesa Verde clients. Things are chugging along nicely. She’s even getting more work from them via referrals. Then, at the same restaurant, Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) and his buddies show up. He comes around acting like a pathetic ‘alpha’ male, trying to assert dominance. He’s so fake it’s painful. Rather than let it slide, Kim sticks one in his eye in front of his people, as well as hands over a cheque to settle the money Hamlin, Hamlin, & McGill have held over her head. Nice touch, lady! He has problems with the way she handled the case between Jimmy and Chuck, she’s disgusted with most everything about him. Although I have to say: that guilt is going to come back and bite her hard one of these days. I just know it.
Pic 2Where’s Nacho (Michael Mando)? He’s preparing the fake capsules of pills for Hector, hoping to keep his own father out of the drug business, from being strong-armed by gangsters for whom he works. I keep wondering, is this how the old man ends up in his wheelchair? Best part about this is the tension, waiting to see how it plays out. Perhaps Nacho won’t succeed. We know he’s long gone when Breaking Bad‘s timeline starts, so there’s definitely an end to his time in the cartel business, somewhere along the road. Right now, he’s practising all the moves, down to the minuscule things, in order for his plan to go off without a hitch.
Chuck goes out into the world again, trying his damnedest to fight off the mental affliction that’s plagued him so long. He concentrates on the natural things around him, ignoring all the electricity and the digital elements. Until he looks for the soy milk, where he has to pass through a row of coolers on either side. And it’s tough.
But he made it through, and Howard drops by, pleased to see his progress. They also have to talk about Chuck’s “malpractice insurance.” Y’know, the tricky little wheels his younger brother set in motion at the insurance company last episode. Uh oh.
Over at the restaurant, Nacho’s purposely put out the AC. He and boss Salamanca sit around counting money, sweating. He goes a step further trying to switch pills; first try is a no go, the second time he pulls them from Hector’s pocket. He then prepares to make the switch with those new, fake pills.
What a tense scene! Jesus. He actually manages to pull it off, not without the shake of a few nerves naturally.
Pic 3Out off the highway, Jimmy continues working away at community service. This also gives us a look at more of his slick talking con artist game. He offers a fellow worker – a drug dealer doing his own time in service – a way to make up hours; price tag is $700. Then Jimmy lies down on the ground, telling the boss his back is paining. He says he’ll sue the boss personally, not the city. Then he lays it on thick with a ton of legal talk to put a scare in the guy. Plus, he gets those seven bills.
Jimmy: “Out here you might be King Douchenozzle, but in court, you are little people.”
It’s becoming more apparent every single day to Jimmy he’s better off going outside the law than sticking within it. Getting closer to the end of Season 3, I’m seeing the endgame finally. Only I’m curious how it’s all going to come out in the wash; part of the fun of this series.
Over at Los Pollos Hermanos, Mike goes to meet with Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). He’s looking for a way to launder a bit of cash, so his family will be taken care of if something happens to him. Fring wants to keep their business relationship very secretive, and he adheres to a relatively honest way of operating for a drug kingpin. An agreement is struck, one that will last a long, long time.
Pic 4AMC knocks it out of the park every week with this one. I can’t get enough. Penultimate Season 3 episode “Fall” is on next time. What’s going to happen? Will Hector be sidelined? And I’m eager to find out what’ll go down re: Chuck and the malpractice insurance. Hmm.

Better Call Saul – Season 3, Episode 7: “Expenses”

AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 3, Episode 7: “Expenses”
Directed & Written
by Thomas Schnauz

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Off Brand” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Slip” – click here
Pic 1So what does Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) do while he’s not practising law for the next year? Well for starters, community service with the Parks Department. Paying his debt to society. Funny to see a lawyer handed an employee agreement to sign and urged that he doesn’t need to read it all. Jimmy and a bunch of others are given a mechanical grip, a fluorescent safety vest, and sent to pick up garbage. All the while Jimmy runs Saul Goodman Productions hawking commercials. Trying to, at least. He gets docked hours of service for being on his cellphone.
Pic 1AAfter they’re finished Jimmy rushes to do a quick wet wipe wash, strip down, then change, so he can rush off to do a Saul Goodman job at a furniture store. He’s good at directing commercials. Lower budget ones, anyways. Only there’s still trouble selling all the time, as hard as he tries. He and Kim (Rhea Seehorn) still have their office to manage. It’s just one bill after another bill after another. Although he manages. Just barely. He’s killing himself to keep up appearances spending the last cash he has on Chinese food for he and Kim.
Nacho (Michael Mando) goes back to his old buddy with the baseball cards, Pryce (Mark Proksch). He’s looking to do business. He wants empty pills, replicas of the ones his boss Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis) takes for his health condition. For $20K. That’s a heft price tag.
Back with Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), we see his stash of money under the floorboards. A considerable size. He takes out a hunk to pay for supplies, for the church playground his daughter-in-law Stacey (Kerry Condon) asked him to help build. We see him interacting with other people for the first time ever, really. In the sense that they’re doing normal people things, rather than the criminals we usually see him around. Speaking of, he finds baseball card dummy Pryce waiting for him at work. Needs him to help on the latest job he’s been offered. Mike isn’t interested until he hears Nacho’s name, and even then he still won’t agree.
Pic 2Poor Kim’s so overworked she has to set a timer in the car for 5 minutes, catch a quick bit of shut eye. At Mesa Verde, she starts feeling the pangs of guilt about what’s happened with Chuck (Michael McKean) as her client gloats. There’s eventually going to come a time when she lets that guilt bubble over, and it’ll do something more than just end up as a passive-aggressive moment with a client. She is a good person. I can’t see her living with every last thing Jimmy’s going to put her through.
Kim: “All we did was tear down a sick man
Every single day is a routine for Jimmy now. Like he’s in prison without being IN prison. He rushes from community service work to his wet wipe bath to another commercial set with his faithful crew of industry hopefuls. They head to a music shop called ‘ABQ in tune’ where twin brothers have cold feet about paying so much for a lot of bullshit mostly. He ends up offering it to them for free with a promise they’ll pay the original rate for more commercials after business picks up. Resulting in him handing out all his money yet again. Never getting ahead, and it’s affecting him. The world keeps beating him down.
One of the women from the church (Tamara Tunie) is in the same support group Stacey attends. Mike seems to further connect with her more than they did while working earlier. A genuine relationship with another soul. I love Mike as a character because he’s a good guy. Yes, he ends up in a terrible place doing bad things. Doesn’t change that underneath it all he started as a good man, going down the rabbit hole because of a need for duty; his being to provide for his family. So seeing him and this woman connect, even if it’s only brief, it is special.
And now Mike decides he’ll help the hapless Pryce, another sense of duty calling him to keep providing for the day he’s not around to anymore.
Pic 3Like old times, Jimmy goes out with Kim for drinks. He keeps on keeping up those appearances. At a nearby table they spot someone to pull a quick grift on. Jimmy gets a bit dark, his criminal self coming out further. And in that moment Kim can kind of see the darkness, more than ever. He sort of loves it. What she sees is the lengths he’ll go, that it isn’t only talk. That he will do all sorts of things in order to keep himself above water; many of them illegal. Furthermore, it’s clear to her that even if Jimmy does feel guilt somewhere he’s buried under anger, and that road leads nowhere good. For now, she’s still by his side. Though the clock is ticking.
Nacho meets with Pryce, and Mike. The old fella knows about the nitroglycerine pills, Hector’s heart medication. He advises Nacho about what he’s getting into, then he discovers the whole debacle with Nacho’s dad. No choices left. Mike gives his best advice: once the deed is done, switch the pills back so all looks legit. Smart.
At his insurance company Jimmy meets someone about his policy, wondering about a refund. No dice. He’s paid in full and there’s just no way for them to cash out unused coverage. Not to mention after he’s reinstated the price goes up 150%. Even after his suspension is over he’ll be held down by various rules. Right now his car won’t start, he has no money, he has no family left who cares about him.
He has a use for tears. This shows us more of his duplicitous nature.
Then the younger of the McGills lets slip – yes, purposely – that Chuck had a breakdown in court. Ah, insurance issues headed for the older brother. One small bit of revenge. Only what will it bring? What does this revenge beget in turn? I hope it won’t affect Chuck’s health. That could be the turning point finally for Kim if Jimmy’s responsible for anything serious. He already nearly put his brother out once last season.
Jimmy: “I just need a break. Just one break.”
Pic 4Yikes, this was a solid episode. Intense and emotional. I’m itching for “Slip” and we’re getting close to the end of Season 3. You know that we’ll get a Season 4, there’s no way we can’t get another! The storytelling is damn good it’s ridiculous.

Better Call Saul – Season 3, Episode 6: “Off-Brand”

AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 3, Episode 6: “Off-Brand”
Directed by Keith Gordon
Written by Ann Cherkis

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Chicanery” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Expenses” – click here
Pic 1We open with Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis) and Nacho (Michael Mando) at their place of business, the latter counting rolls upon rolls of cash as his boss drinks coffee and reads the newspaper. Business as usual. Then one payment comes light, from the man we later know in Breaking Bad as Krazy-8 (Max Arciniega). Although Nacho lets him off with it, until his boss comments: “Who works for who, huh?”
And so Krazy-8 gets one rough beating in the kitchen from Nacho.
Cut to Nacho in back of a shop, sewing steadily until he just about sews his hand right into the garment he’s making. There’s a lot more to this dude, and I hope we’ll see this before he disappears eventually.
Pic 1AIn court, Kim (Rhea Seehorn) pleads the case of Mr. James McGill (Bob Odenkirk), that he is a compassionate man helping his ill brother Chuck (Michael McKean) and many seniors. She paints a picture of betrayal by the older brother. He gets a 12-month sentence, I assume a time during which he can’t practise law. Definitely worthy of their celebration.
At the same time, Rebecca (Ann Cusack) goes to see her former husband in his fortress of electrical solitude. He won’t answer, he simply wastes away in darkness. So Rebecca goes to see Jimmy, who does not want to help him anymore: “I dont owe him squat.” She is very disappointed, believing Chuck was right about the younger brother.
Rebecca: “Hes mentally ill. Whats your excuse?”
Stacey Ehrmantraut (Kerry Condon) sits and talks with a support group, her father-in-law Mike (Jonathan Banks) at her side. She says she volunteered him to help with a playground at the church. We see more of that whole other side to Mike in these moments with his family, which were only short and sweet in Breaking Bad. It’s interesting to see how he got to such a desperate place in that original series through the moments in this wonderfully written prequel.
Howard (Patrick Fabian) goes to see Chuck, refusing to leave without a word. And a drink. Although the older McGill isn’t happy about anything. Not his mental state, not Jimmy’s one-year suspension. His partner tries painting a positive picture, but it’s not of much use. He wants Chuck to focus on the future, to keep being a good lawyer, so on. Saying he’s too smart a man to throw a life away on a delinquent brother.
So, can he bounce back? Or will he succumb to his unfortunate mental condition? Alone at his desk Chuck takes a battery in his bare hands, forcing himself to hold it tight and cringing the whole time.
Pic 2And what about Jimmy? What’s next? He has to take care of the situation with his clients for the coming year. He calls them to let everyone know he’s taking a “sabbatical from the law.” That’s it, y’know. Plenty of the older folk will miss him, so it’s mostly a lot of chatting. He’s a slick one, that we already know. A great montage sequence of him calling his clients fits right in with his character. Perfectly placed.
He also finds out his commercial’s still running on TV, in for another $4K of ad space with it off the air. So many money issues with him leaving for a whole year. Wonder how he’s going to fund the whole venture while not working. He goes out trying to hawk the ad space, offering to shoot the commercials for the $4,000. 9 commercials, 9 airings. Or one commercial at a lower rate, airing still included. But no one’s biting at the sales pitch yet.
What Jimmy decides on doing is “offbrand” to him, though finally he comes to a decision: “Well have to Karloff this thing.”
Pic 3Meanwhile, the drug trade in New Mexico continues through the trucks of Los Pollos Hermanos trafficking the cartel’s meth. Men go to work taking out packages and packages of product from the trucks’ false flooring, giving it over to Nacho. We see a familiar face with Victor, one who actually takes the place of Victor later on in Breaking Bad: Tyrus (Ray Campbell). Gus (Giancarlo Esposito) gets a call when Nacho tries taking more than expected, and the boss says to give it over. All ends well, for now.
Speaking of Gus, he’s checking out the new digs at an industrial laundry facility. Oh, you know the one. He’s got an eye out for a place where he’ll construct a lab, one to make him the kingpin of meth distribution in New Mexico. Another familiar face shows up, Ms. Quayle (Laura Fraser), helping him on the search for the perfect location.
Poor Chuck, out on the streets covered under his clothes with the space blanket. He finds a payphone and calls a Dr. Laura Cruz, his former doctor. He wants to get treatment again, obviously. I feel so horrible for him, despite any of his own faults aside from his condition. It’s heartbreaking.
When Nacho and Arturo (Vincent Fuentes) get back to Hector, the old guy’s not impressed with what happened at Fring’s place. He wants to go into his own big time distributing business, hoping Nacho will convince his father to help. But the young man doesn’t want to let that happen. At the same time they find out Tuco’s in trouble for a stabbing. This prompts the old fella to nearly have an attack. Also, note the errant pill Nacho keeps under his boot.
Pic 4Looks like the McGill plan has worked. He’s optimistic about the ad time. He “made a commercial for commercials” in a single afternoon. A hilarious little cheap commercial with star swipes and chunky-lettered graphics.
Finally, FINALLY – we have the pseudonym, Saul Goodman making an apperance. “Sall good, man.” Even though he says it’s merely a name, we know better. This becomes the first time he dips into a truly other identity, his second life. His future.
Pic 5What an impressive episode. I love how the writers weave together and make these little moments from Breaking Bad come to life more vivid, as well as still creating their own world of Jimmy McGill before he too broke bad. Can’t wait for the next episode “Expenses” because I smell more cartel treachery coming soon.

Better Call Saul – Season 3, Episode 5: “Chicanery”

AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 3, Episode 5: “Chicanery”
Directed by Daniel Sackheim
Written by Gordon Smith

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Sabrosito” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Off Brand” – click here
Pic 1In a flashback, we see Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) helping older brother Chuck (Michael McKean) settle. Things were obviously in turmoil for the guy at that point. A fine chef, though. He’s having Rebecca (Ann Cusack) for supper, Jimmy, as well. And we see that he hasn’t exactly told EVERYBODY about his issues with electricity.
After supper Rebecca and Chuck talk of Jimmy’s success as a lawyer, then what she’s been up to, jet setting and all. They seem to do well talking together. The younger of the brothers watches on with a sad yet loving looking.
Then we see Chuck start to lose it as her cell goes off, nearly passing out as she gets closer. He tosses the thing across the room. But still can’t admit to his illness. This is the reason Jimmy looks at his brother with those eyes.
Pic 1AJimmy’s at the vet with a fish, meeting that greasy animal doctor. He’s looking for a “light touch” to help him out with a discrete job. And so the story goes. Meanwhile, Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) is out kicking ass for her clients at Mesa Verde, as usual. Although she has to tell them about the allegations Chuck’s made against Jimmy. They don’t let it drive them away, which is great for Kim. But somewhere down the line she is going to get screwed over so hard. I just know that, sadly.
Readying themselves for Chuck’s testimony everybody is doing what they can to limit his exposure to electrical sources. Particularly, Howard (Patrick Fabian) is doubting his old pal/partner’s usefulness, effectively blaming him for what his brother did; in terms of PR, anyways.
So the legal battle truly begins for Jimmy and Kim. While the older brother goes hard for a disbarment, Kim hopes to do her usual good work for the youngest McGill. She argues that the case is more about a strained personal relationship and Jimmy deserves to remain a lawyer, that he is “an asset” in fact to the community. The testimonies begin with Howard, who gives his account. Then faces Kim in cross examination, as she gets him to eventually show a bias, the relationship between Chuck and Jimmy.
Then comes the tape. But Jimmy stalls the court before it can be played. Only for so long. Everybody hears what he admitted to his brother.
Pic 2Chuck: “I love my brother, but Ted Kaczynskis brother loved him, too.”
The court has to prepare for Chuck’s illness. Cellphones are confiscated. Lights are turned off, clocks taken from the walls. The whole nine yards; except for Jimmy, who says he left his in the car (yeah, right). On the way inside Chuck bumps into a man – a familiar face from Breaking Bad, Huell (Lavell Crawford). Hmm, interesting! And a little bit of an origin as to how he came to work with Jimmy, the man who becomes Saul Goodman.
So Chuck starts telling the court all about his little brother, the tape, so on. He paints himself as some grand investigator, and then feigns love for Jimmy, blah, blah. On cross examination, suddenly Rebecca appears in the back of the room. Chuck needs a break then. The two of them talk. She’s surprised about the illness, him keeping it secret.
When cross examination continues Jimmy takes the lead. He asks about the recorder, how Chuck handled it with his sensitivities to electricity; involved using space blankets and all that jazz. All getting around to Chuck using his illness to lure his brother. Then he breaks out the pictures Mike (Jonathan Banks) took at the older McGill’s home, to show how far his illness has gone.
Jimmy: “You need to see Chuck through my eyes
Pic 3This gets them into questions about when the illness first started – the divorce, et cetera. Chuck acts calm and measured, not freaking out like his brother might’ve hoped. Jimmy gets onto the electrical sensitivity, motioning for his secretary – she has Huell come into the court. He’s planted something on Chuck, revealed after Jimmy pulls a little parlour trick to snag him. Chuck spent an hour and a half with a cellphone battery against his chest in a breast pocket.
Prompting an outburst that shows exactly how badly the older brother hates the little one. Finally. An ugly moment for all to see.
Pic 4What a spectacular episode! In the top three of the series as a whole, absolutely. With no doubt. Loved this, so personal and so intense. Just impressive work.
Next week is “Off Brand” and I’m thinking we’ll see more of Gus Fring, too.

Breaking Bad – Season 3, Episode 6: “Sunset”

AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 3, Episode 6: “Sunset”
Directed & Written
by John Shiban

* For a review of the previous episode, “Más” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “One Minute” – click here
IMG_0039Near the border a police officer checks on a family’s property. Inside is a shrine, the statue with a skull face and holding a scythe. At its base is a drawn picture of Heisenberg’s face. Outside are suits hanging on the line. Very suspicious, indeed. And when the officer heads out back he finds the fly ridden corpse to complete the scene. Inside is one of the Salamanca brothers. The other sinks an axe into the officer from behind.
No one is safe. Least of which is Walter White (Bryan Cranston).
IMG_0041He’s busy working over the divorce with Skyler (Anna Gunn), deciding on what to do with Walt Jr (RJ Mitte), explaining it to him and justifying everything so that they don’t have to tell him dad cooks meth. At the same time our anti-hero’s hubris is off the charts, bleeding from his professional life right into the personal.
Those Salamancas! They show up at Los Pollos Hermanos to see Gus. They sit in terrifying silence in the midst of the restaurant.
Over at the Pinkman residence, Jesse (Aaron Paul) shows off his Jolly Rancher-sized crystals to Badger (Matt Jones) and Skinny Pete (Charles Baker), who get high on the product while he watches on. Surrounded by addicts he’s only being given their junkie opinion. He doesn’t realise it isn’t as perfect as Walt’s, which isn’t REALLY that big of a deal. But in his own way a hubris develops. Now, even after the death of Combo, he wants to put his friends back out on the street, in the line of fire.
The whole time Hank (Dean Norris) watches from down the street, his eyes on the house after tracking down Combo’s mom and the RV. Uh oh. And Walt is going about his business as usual, getting into more of it with Gus and the super lab. He has no idea how close his own brother-in-law is to figuring out his drug dealing identity. They’re so near in that criminal v. cop parallel, in so many ways, it’s an exercise in brutal tension at times.


One of the other perks of the lab is having an assistant, a proper one with chemistry experience and training. Walt now has Gale Boetticher (David Costabile) at his side; an enthusiastic soul who’s prepared to learn from his journeyman chemist. Even brought a resume. Has an MA and specialised in “xray crystallography” and he makes a sweet cup of coffee with his elaborately refined method. They get to cooking, like a match made in heaven. They have fun, they play chess between processes. Very different in comparison to Walt and Jesse, in every way imaginable from the lab itself to how they work together. Gale genuinely cares about the chemistry.
So, in a sense, we’re seeing Walt’s genuine love for the chemistry behind the drug dealing, for the first REAL time. Also, it’s nice to see someone like Gale admittedly talking about how he got into that shady business. Basically he’s “definitely a Libertarian,” with an intent on giving people a clean product. They talk a bit more, of chemistry and Walt Whitman; this wonderful poet will come back into play later in the series, take note!
Hank sits waiting for Jesse to do something stupid, to lead him to the RV and break the case wide open. He’s been sitting in his car for what seems like days, fast food wrappers and containers and cups piled in the passenger side. Things work out for Walt, though. He gets a call from Hank wanting to know if he knows anything about Jesse’s RV, setting off alarm bells and whistles like FUCKING CRAZY. The game is on. Walt’s got to do something about their “rolling lab” before his brother-in-law actually finds the damn thing. He calls Jesse and they’ve got to start figuring out their problems.
IMG_0044Saul suggests getting rid of the RV altogether. The boys have no plan. It’s back to Badger and his cousin who owns the junkyard. They’ve got work to do. When Walt doesn’t include Jesse in the mix Badger calls him up. Ah, so many things happening.
The shittiest? Jesse’s leading Hank right to the RV.
Saul: “The Starship Enterprise had a selfdestruct button, Im just sayin‘!”
Preparing to get rid of the vehicle Walt has a walk down memory lane. So weird. Then Jesse shows up, pissed. With Hank on his tail. This is it: either he finds them, together, in that RV, or they manage to get themselves out of hot water.
When the chips are down, Walt gets Saul in the mix to pull them out of the boil. He has a call made saying Marie is in the hospital after a horrible car crash. Hank rushes off immediately, leaving the boys free to get out of there. After his wife calls he figures out the whole thing was a ruse it’s too late because the RV is destroyed.
At sunset Gus meets the Salamancas in the desert. He says Walter will not be killed. He says that if they must kill someone for what happened to Tuco, then they can have Agent Schrader. Whoa.
IMG_0046The green light is lit.
Next is “One Minute” and there are many things about to change. Very quickly.

Breaking Bad – Season 3, Episode 5: “Más”

AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 3, Episode 5: “Más”
Directed by Johan Renck
Written by Moira Walley-Beckett

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Green Light” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Sunset” – click here
IMG_0030We start on a flashback to Walt (Bryan Cranston) when he gave Jesse (Aaron Paul) the money to buy an RV for them to cook. So, Jesse does the smart thing: he takes Combo (Rodney Rush) and Skinny Pete (Charles Baker) out to the strip club, for lap dances and “Don Perignom,” as he calls the champagne.
After the night’s over Jesse feels a bit shitty. Well Combo has the fix. His mom owns an RV. He takes the rest of Mr. Pinkman’s cash, after the funds were drained the night prior down to $1,400, and lets him take the RV off their hands. Without permission, naturally.
Ah, even the trusty meth lab has its backstory!
IMG_0031Skyler (Anna Gunn) still enjoys her getaways with Ted Beneke (Christopher Cousins) at his place. He has money, he doesn’t cook meth. What we see though isn’t all rosy. I don’t think that Skyler is as bad as most make her out. However, she’s still cheating on Walt. And her husband’s a bag of shit in his own way, he isn’t such a righteous guy. Remember that Mr. White could’ve swallowed his pride over Gretchen, he didn’t have to make meth. He chose this, and unfortunately cheating on him was the only way to truly get back at Walt right now.
Then there’s the situation with Jesse and Walt, the halved money for the recent deal. Saul (Bob Odenkirk) tries keeping the peace, stuck in the middle, as Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) plays a game pitting the two former partners against one another.
If the boys aren’t careful, they’ve got other problems, as well. Hank (Dean Norris) and Steve Gomez (Steven Michael Quezada) are scoping out RVs, narrowing down a list of vehicles. They mostly run in to people who aren’t, at all, cooking meth. Making things less and less credible all the time for poor Hank. Worst part is that we the audience know better, so it’s really agonising (in the right ways). At home, Marie (Betsy Brandt) can’t get anything out of her husband, either. Makes theirs a strained relationship, as he’s bottled up tighter than a pressed Mason jar.


Walt finally gets talking with Gus about his “ploy” to get him back cooking. But the thing which is clear is the fact Walt can’t let go of the business. He can’t help ragging on Jesse, for not cooking the product as good as himself. What Gus does is use the man’s hubris against him. Smart as he is, Walt is so full of it that he can’t resist falling into the trap. Because what’s waiting for him is the opportunity of a lifetime.
He’s taken to an industrial laundromat Gus owns. There, behind a piece of machinery, they go downstairs to a lab that’s been setup, top of the line and state of the art equipment. Like Christmas for the chemistry nerd. Walt gets an instant science-erection. Not just the lab. There’s no way to trace the chemicals, as they’re ordered in for the laundry service, employees are trustworthy and trained, chemicals are filtered out with the laundromat steam.
Walt still refuses. What will make him break?
At home things aren’t as bad, though not good. Love the imagery in one shot at the dinner table: Walt on one end of the table and Skyler at the other, a wall between them literally dividing them as is the wall of their own choices, their mistakes, so on. One great thing about Breaking Bad is the use of visuals, in many forms. This being one fine example. Something so simple becomes powerfully resonant in terms of themes.
IMG_0035At the office Steve’s being celebrated as he prepares to take the place of Hank in El Paso. Poor Agent Schrader. He looks crazy to others, and in some ways weak. I can’t blame him not wanting to go back after seeing what he saw, a head on a tortoise exploding and maiming, killing people? That’s fucked up. All the same law enforcement is what he chose, DEA at that. Furthermore, Hank’s inability to deal with his problems and talk, to anybody let alone a doctor of any kind makes it the hardest. Although he’s validated when getting himself closer to that RV. Baby steps.
In other news, Walt is granting Skyler the divorce for which she asked. But does she still want it?
Back to Jesse and Saul, who’ve got a meeting on the books with Mr. White. They have to talk about the halved cash and what’s to be done. No love between the two former partners, that’s a definite. Rather than comply with any of what Jesse wants, Walt has decided otherwise. He gives back the half of the money and he’s going back in business with Gus. $3 million dollars for three months of work with only 5% going to Saul.
Walt (to Jesse): “Im in, youre out.”
When Hank goes to see a Mrs. Ortega about her RV, we see it’s the same place where Combo took the one he gave to Jesse. From his dear ole mama. Closer and closer we see our man Hank getting nearer to Jesse. In turn, he gets closer to Heisenberg, his own brother-in-law.
IMG_0037Another damn good episode. Lots of tension building between Jesse and Walt, which isn’t anything new. The steam is getting ready to release, and things will implode eventually. One way or another.
Next episode is “Sunset” and we’re also getting closer to another implosion, or explosion, in Hank Schrader.

Better Call Saul – Season 3, Episode 4: “Sabrosito”

AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 3, Episode 4: “Sabrosito”
Directed by Thomas Schnauz
Written by Jonathan Glatzer

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Sunk Costs” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Chicanery” – click here
Pic 1We get a glimpse of Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis) visiting the big boss man of the cartel, Don Eladio; you know the guy. We’ve been here before, those of us who so loved Breaking Bad. Hector’s there with a man named Ximenez (Manuel Uriza), who chose not to run away with money and did the right thing for his boss(es). They also bring news of an ice cream shop, The Winking Greek, named for him. Bolsa turns up, too. He has a Los Pollos Hermanos shirt, and the Don enjoys it. Although Hector says they ought to be called the “Butt Brothers” which suggests more about Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). Long have we believed him to be gay, which is fine! But these old school gangsters obviously feel different, at least some of them. He certainly makes big, big money for Don Eladio, who’s happy to humiliate Hector in front of everyone while comparing his meagre pile of money to that of the Los Pollos Hermanos delivery.
I love that this series is providing us a better look at many characters, not only Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk). Because this world is populated with a lot of different people, many of whom were already worthy of more interest on Breaking Bad.
Pic 1AAfter a look into Hector’s past, we see the present. Where Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) sits in his car watching the groceteria from which Salamanca and his crew work.  He also gets an update on his granddaughter and her mom, that they’re settled in at their new place doing well. This is where we also see the start of Mike’s other life bumping up against the one he loves so much, his family; or what’s left. He chooses the right thing, for now. But the interesting thing about this compelling prequel is knowing where the characters are headed, watching that fate spell out in front of us/them.
Finally, we see Nacho Varga (Michael Mando) again. He and Hector roll into Los Pollos Hermanos to see the old man’s old pal. Only Gus isn’t around, so things get kind of tense. The whole place is on edge, especially with sketchy Arturo (Vincent Fuentes) and Nacho mean mugging on the perimeter of the store. Hector walks in behind the counter, nobody stopping him. Displaying a scary level of authority in front of everyone.
Meanwhile, upstanding citizen Gustavo Fring, local business owner, is over at the fire department delivering chicken and a kind word. Before he has to take an urgent call, alerted to the situation in his restaurant. When he returns his staff is waiting, under watch. Gus lets his employees go, full pay for the day and back to work tomorrow. Then he heads back to his office to chat with Don Hector. The old man says Gus will be his “mule” to bring product north, as well as uses a pen to clean his shoes on the desk like a rotten bastard. A nasty power play. We know how it all comes out in the end, but the trick is there’s a long, hard road to go before getting there. As always, Mr. Fring has a way of doing things. And I can’t wait to see how Hector ends up how he is in Breaking Bad, barely a shell of a man.
Pic 2Victor tries to drop off a package of money to Mike at his toll booth. Only the old fella won’t take it, refusing all that cash. Then off Victor goes again. Right now, Mike’s still resisting the temptation of a wholly criminal life, if only for the sake of his family.
In the meantime, Gus also has to explain the previous day to his staff; they’re all, naturally, very concerned. He apologises, offering them counselling, extra pay. One of the employees asks who the men were, so their boss says he once paid them money for protection, back when he first opened a restaurant. We see, more than ever, the act that this man puts on in his daily life. It was only just touched upon during the original series. Better Call Saul allows us a look at the deception in a much deeper sense, as well as the additional back story we receive makes for some of the best character development on television.
Gus: “This is America. Here, the righteous have no reason to fear.”
Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) is calling around to find out about any appointments Chuck (Michael McKean) has made for repairs. She discovers the place, after many calls, then cancels it. At the same time, Jimmy’s doing work on his case to make everything in court go smooth as possible.
Then over at Chuck’s, instead of a repair guy Mike shows up with his toolbox; ahhh, tricky, tricky! He drives the older McGill away with the use of power tools, so much so Chuck has to go upstairs. One of my favourite scenes this season. Our sly handyman runs the drill then takes snaps of the house from all angles. He brings the pictures and other tidbits to Jimmy for leverage. This won’t be the last time they meet, though. Just a seeya later for now.
Jimmy: “You, my friend, are the Ansel Adams of covert photography.”


That night, Gus goes to see Mike about Hector’s driver(s), the money he wouldn’t take. He makes an offer, to work for him. That’s a choice Mike isn’t willing to make blindly: “Thatd depend on the work,” he tells him. What follows is Gus making clear the reason he wants Hector alive, for now, is that a “bullet to the head would be far too humane.” What I can’t wait to see more of is how Mike slips further into deciding to work for the man.
On to a meeting with Chuck, Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian), and Kim and Jimmy, in the dark of course. Everyone is so concerned about the oldest McGill, his electrical sensitivity. Poor guy. The agreement for Jimmy’s confession is community service, et cetera, then Howard and Chuck nitpick the language on paper to their liking. Then the prosecutor wants an apology, one of a sincere nature. So the younger brother lays bare his regret. He also owes restitution; a little over $300, down to cents for the cassette tape. Yes, Chuck is cheap. In every way.
Kim knows there must be a duplicate of the tape; Chuck reveals it was the duplicate his brother smashed. He also tries to intimidate, but she is not one to back down. Not to mention the fact she and Jimmy are always hunting.
When Kim meets him downstairs, all she says is: “Bingo
Pic 4Yeah, baby! Love Kim. Need more of her, all the time. This was a solid episode, and next week is “Chicanery” which I know will be an exciting one again. Dig the flashback to Don Eladio and Hector, as well as more Hector in general. He is a wild old dude. Can’t wait to see what’ll happen next in all the different plots running through this series.

Better Call Saul – Season 3, Episode 2: “Witness”

AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 3, Episode 2: “Witness”
Directed by Vince Gilligan
Written by Thomas Schnauz

* For a recap & review of the Season 3 premiere, “Mabel” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Sunk Costs” – click here
Pic 1Chuck (Michael McKean) is locking up for the night, having a cup of tea before bed. Diligently making sure the doors are locked, peeking through the windows. He has someone watching out at night, sitting in the dark at all hours. He’s waiting for something to happen. Anything.
Pic 1AA couple guys are waiting with a tracker. From a distance Mike (Jonathan Banks) watches them with his own tracker. He’s getting closer to figuring out who has a beat on him, his comings and goings. Could this all be a test? Is someone recruiting him to test out his skills? Or just somebody keeping tabs on a crafty guy like himself? Hmm. Whatever it is, Mike’s determined to get to the bottom of the mystery.
And then he follows a guy, in the night, into morning… all the way to, you guessed it: LOS POLLOS HERMANOS! God damn.
Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) is meeting with a woman named Francesca Liddy (Tina Parker) applying for a job in the office. She meets with Kim (Rhea Seehorn), too. They check out her resume, her experience, so on. They need somebody organised, to keep the place afloat. Kim isn’t sold, but Jimmy wants to hire her. Something like this is going to play directly into the plot, at some point in Season 3. When, exactly? Francesca will play a big role, in some way, shape, or form. Maybe she’ll wind up seeing Jimmy do something shitty, or she’ll flip on him for some reason, or who knows.
Mike calls Jimmy at the office: he wants him to go into Los Pollos Hermanos, to keep an eye on things, the guy with the bag whom Mike previously followed. Ah, the beginning of how Mike and Jimmy come into contact with Mr. Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). Jimmy has breakfast starting out his spy duties. Soon the man with the bag arrives and our hapless lawyer tries to keep him in his sight.
FINALLY, our first look at Gus in a couple years! He sweeps up around where Jimmy sits, and the man with the bag, too (does he sweep something up from the guy? Is that their sneaky system?). Mike gets no information that helps from Jimmy, walking away empty handed. For the time being.


Mike keeps on Los Pollos Hermanos, determined that he’ll find out what’s been going on. It’s a tiring job, one he no doubt was prepared for all those years as a cop. Soon, a black SUV pulls into the restaurant rather suddenly, backing into the rear out of sight. Then it’s gone again in a rush. Who’s driving? Victor (Jeremiah Bitsui), our old pal from Breaking Bad. Another lead to follow.
At the McGill/Wexler offices, Ernesto (Brandon K. Hampton) can’t go in, so he phones Kim. She goes out to meet him and he’s so obviously stressed, with the information he knows from hearing Chuck’s clandestine tape. He wants to tell Jimmy about it, but doesn’t want to get in trouble because of helping his friend. So, he opts for Kim, whose view of Jimmy has once again shifted.
Gimme a dollar,” she tells him – the same he did with Walter White and Jesse Pinkman when they had him in the desert, hood over his head. They’ve now got attorney-client privilege. He spills the beans, involving his emotions over Chuck, wanting to cut him some slack mentally. Only the tape exists now. Note: when Kim’s talking to him, and he’s peeling tape off the newly painted wall, at first (before he gets frustrated) he uses the technique his big brother Chuck taught him last episode; he can never escape him, even when Chuck is screwing him over, eternally.


Still following that tracker, Mike is out in the middle of nowhere. He’s lead to a gas cap in the road, a cellphone waiting on top. And surely when it rings, on the other end are instructions for where to go.
In other news, Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) is sneaking around in the neighbourhood near Chuck’s place trying to remain unseen. They have a little secret meet. Howard’s getting impatient with all the nonsense, all the money spent on private investigators, et cetera. All in the name of trying to snag Jimmy for his crime. He wants to get on with “alternate strategies” and finish with Chuck’s paranoia.
No sooner do they finish their conversation does the younger brother show up, pissed off and ready to beat down the door. Which he does. He flies into a rage and calls out Chuck over his betrayal. He breaks open the desk to find the tape, then cracks it into pieces. Could likely mean only more trouble for Jimmy, as there are witnesses to his frustrated outburst.


Man, oh, man! What’s next for the Brothers McGill? Nothing good.
Coming up is “Sunk Costs” and I’m so intrigued to see more of Gus + Mike, as well as what Jimmy must deal with in the fallout of his actions here in this episode.

Breaking Bad – Season 2, Episode 13: “ABQ”

AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 2, Episode 13: “ABQ”
Directed by Adam Bernstein
Written by Vince Gilligan

* For a review of the previous episode, “Phoenix” – click here
* For a review of the Season 3 premier, “No Más” – click here
IMG_3793
Again, the black-and-white, the eyeball, the pink teddy bear in the pool missing one eye. The ominous openings will give us their meaning here in the Season 2 finale. The familiar images work towards colour, now we see helicopters in the air, police everywhere. Smoke and fire in the distance.
What’s gone on around the White residence?
IMG_3794
Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) wakes to find Jane (Krysten Ritter) dead in bed next to him. Frantically he pumps her chest to try and revive her. But no such luck. Heartbreaking to watch this scene. Now, he’s got to figure out what to do next. You know who he calls: Walter White (Bryan Cranston). As one young girl dies, he cradles his newborn daughter. Jesse frantically tells Walt what’s gone on, as if the latter didn’t already know. So they set about cleaning things up. Walt says he knows who to call.
At Jesse’s place, Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) arrives on request of Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk). He’s a fixer. Inside, he starts getting things organized. All the drugs and the paraphernalia get tossed in a bag. Mike is clearly an ex-cop, he knows all the rights things to do. Or a career criminal. We’ll figure that out as things go on. Either way, he irons Pinkman’s house out. He also tells Jesse only to say a couple brief things. He sets the story straight.
Living a supposedly normal life, Walt, Skyler (Anna Gunn) and Junior (RJ Mitte) – I mean, Flynn – sit and eat breakfast together. Like a happy family. However, the obvious strain of letting someone’s daughter die is wearing on him. The SaveWalterWhite.com funds are rolling in now. It doesn’t do much to assuage Walter’s feelings of emptying manhood, unable to be given credit for his money, the funds he raised illegally to support his own cancer treatment. Instead the cash and his fate are seemingly attributed to the kindness of strangers. Does not sit well with Walt, amongst all the other things that don’t sit right in his gut.
IMG_3796


Worst of all, Donald Margolis (John de Lancie) shows up to find Jane dead. This is so unbelievably devastating. He doesn’t even have to go inside. He knows what’s happened. And this is an event that will have further reaching consequences than anybody could ever imagine.
At the DEA office, Hank Schrader (Dean Norris) puts out a collection jar for his brother-in-law. Meanwhile, he’s on the case of Combo being murdered. This leads into the Heisenberg meth, though – “blue sky,” Steve Gomez (Steven Michael Quezada) calls it. Of course Hank doesn’t buy Jimmy being pinched as being Heisenberg. He thinks the man himself is actually upping his distribution. The blue stuff’s been moving outside of New Mexico, everywhere around it specifically. So now Hank thinks there’s a bigger operation happening behind the scenes. And boy is he right, just nobody else knows it yet.
Mike has tracked down Jesse after Walt’s been looking for him. He finds the poor young dude in a drug house in a rough neighbourhood. So Walt has Mike bring him down there, he wants to go inside and find his partner. He is responsible for it all, not helping Jane as she choked on her vomit. Now this is part of his delusional redemption, in his eyes anyway. Going in Walt finds all kinds of characters skulking in the shadowy, run down corners of the building. He tracks Jesse down and eventually manages to pull him out of that hideous place. After Jesse weeps in his arms a moment. It’s more tragic for the fact of Walt having stood by and watched Jane die, especially since Jesse weeps: “I killed her.”
In this scene, Aaron Paul broke my heart to pieces. I genuinely cried a bit. Some detractors have said he isn’t as good as people say. To me, that’s bullshit. In this and his latest series, The Path, Paul proves his chops for dramatic roles. He’s got raw, emotional talent.
Sadder still is when father Donald has to pick out the clothes for his dead daughter, which is impressively juxtaposed with a follow-up cut to Walter, changing his newborn daughter’s diaper. This is a wonderful moment of editing and writing together, which shows off Vince Gilligan and his abilities. Subtle, brief moment that means so much.


I love that Hank still has the little statuette on his desk that he was given while on the Juarez task force. It was something he almost mocked when first seeing it there. But most importantly at the DEA arrive a few businessmen who raise funds for community programs, et cetera. One of whom is Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). Ironic, funny moment when Hank mentions the scourge of meth, which Fring says is “terrible” while shaking his head. Most intense is when Gus notices the donation jar for Walter White. Now he knows the relation between Hank and Walt, as well as Walt’s cancerous affliction. This could mean a number of awful things. Let’s watch this unfold dramatically, shall we?
At the same time, Walt is dropping Jesse off at a very beautiful, New Age-looking spa where the younger of the two will receive rehab treatments. Poor Jesse, even physically he looks depressed and drained of any proper emotion. “I deserve this,” he repeats to Walt; the same thing Walt said in the desert. Yet really, Walt did deserve that, or more. Jesse deserves none of this. He deserves someone better than Walt.
Back at his place Walt finds the camera crew from a local news station there to do a story on his philanthropic son raising money for his treatment. Joy and splendour! Mr. White is non too pleased, though he placates his wife and son by going along. You can just see his pride and ego being battered by the second, merely from the look on his face. Worst of all his son is praising him as being an amazing person, a “good man” and everything. Deep down, Walt knows the difference. All too well.


Walt Jr (re: his father): “And he always does the right thing
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As Walt prepares now to go under the knife for surgery, something happens he didn’t expect. The drugs he’s given loosen him up. Too much. After Skyler asks about his cellphone, he druggily replies: “Which one?” And in that moment, she realizes his lies never end. What a potent moment of writing again, Mr. Gilligan. Love how these little plot pieces come apart and come together and fit into puzzle pieces. Testament to the quality of this series.
When Walt comes out, he’s doing well. Except for his relationship with his wife. That may be fractured completely. She and the baby are going to Hank and Marie’s for the weekend, after which she expects Walt to move. They’re separating. To Walt and his oblivious surprise. She tells him about the loopy, drugged confession, and now things are about to get very messy. Turns out Skyler also talked with Gretchen, and she found out there’s been no money coming from them at all. Uh oh, Walter. Things are falling apart QUITE fast. Skyler also figured out Walt never went to see his mother. So where did he go? Man. It all unravelled in one hard tug.
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Donald Margolis isn’t doing so well. He’s back at work, but life is not the same that his daughter is gone. He prefers to get back into the routine again. However, that might be a little too early. His job as an air traffic controller is stressful. Finally the black-and-white flashes at the beginning of several episodes this season begin making sense. The grief and horror of losing his daughter has melted into the exterior world, affecting all kinds of horror on two planes that crash into one another mid-air.
Sitting alone at home in his backyard, Walter wears a shirt the same colour as the pink teddy bear from those flash forwards. In the sky, the planes crash and explode, debris falling to the ground all around Walt’s neighbourhood. This is the symbolic destruction of Walt and his actions. They have far reaching consequences, which spread out and infect everything and everyone around him. This is the metaphorical chaos he exerts over the lives of others.
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An amazing, terrifying finale that has a ton of development. I loved Season 2, perhaps one of my favourites in a series that’s marked by high quality. Continue on with me soon as I dive deep into Season 3 for another watch.

Not Everyone’s Cut Out for POKER NIGHT

Poker Night. 2014. Dir. Greg Francis. Screenplay by Dough Buchanan & Francis.
Starring Beau Mirchoff, Ron Perlman, Titus Welliver, Halston Sage, Ron Eldard, Corey Large, Giancarlo Esposito, and Michael Eklund. XLrator Media.
Not Rated. 104 minutes.
Action/Crime/Thriller

★★★★

Poker Night-thumb-630xauto-51561I’d anticipated this movie just because of the trailer. Now, sometimes this can come back to bite me in the ass. I’ve been known to be duped by an interesting trailer, or even a bit of great artwork from posters, covers, et cetera. However, Poker Night really surprised. It’s got a phenomenal ensemble cast while also containing a pretty good central performance by young Beau Mirchoff, who I’ve never really seen in anything particularly great. Not to mention, the story of the film is really fun, and the way director Greg Francis chooses to show it play out, how the plot unfolds sneakily at times in front of our eyes, really helps this become more than just a VOD film. This really deserves respect. It’s a pretty good crime-thriller with awesome bits of action, a drop or two of pitch black comedy, and a nasty villain.
PokerNightFeatPoker Night takes the form of a titular card game – a group of veteran detectives get together to play poker, as they have for a decade, and use this as an opportunity to not just bond with rookie detectives, but to also instill them with lessons in the form of them all telling a story from their career’s past. The young rookie, Jeter (Mirchoff), is not just the new guy – he was involved with Amy, the young daughter of one of the veteran detectives (played by the always excellent Titus Welliver) who has recently gone missing. Despite this, they get together for their card game, and the older guys on the force try to help Jeter become one of the elite. After the card game, though, Jeter ends up taking a call. This turns out to be a trap sprung by the man who has taken Amy. Soon enough, Jeter wakes into a world where he needs to use all the advice given to him and the stories told by the veteran detectives at poker night to make it through this situation. From here, the twists and turns come flying.
PokerNight-2134_rev-thumb-630xauto-51576I think this could have easily been a by-the-numbers thriller. Instead, this has a bit of everything. I realized this would be a pretty damn good movie once the villain was introduced. He has this great introduction when he explains himself to Jeter – the director throws in this really great dark comedic bit where the villain talks about his former life, and all the while in a flashback he’s dressed in suit and tie, still with his creepy mask on. I thought it was so funny, and also really disturbing; when he lays out his ‘2 rules’, I actually dropped my jaw a little because it was so forthright and brutally honest. Very dark subject matter at this point. Really dig it. There are times when films go for the dark, creepy vibe and instead it comes off more in a cheesy, typical way rather than being fresh. The fact Francis steers the villain into real vile territory works well because, coupled with his later violence particularly towards Jeter, he seems like an actual maniac. Even with an obviously fabricated mask, it’s still scary. He does seem funny at times, but intentionally. He doesn’t come away as a cartoonish type villain, like some of those included in franchises such as James Bond. There are a few moments with the villain that were admittedly a bit of a stretch imagination-wise. Overall, though, I really enjoyed this character.

POKERNIGHTEXCCLIPFEATThe most interesting part about Poker Night is how the stories become the framework of the entire film. For instance, while Jeter listens to each detective tell his own story/lesson, he himself actually goes through the memory; in this sense, he’s literally putting himself in their shoes cinematically. It’s a really effective technique. Not only do we watch Jeter experience these stories firsthand, as I mentioned before he has to put these experiences to use in order to escape the villain and hopefully save Amy. It could have turned out real cheesy had the director sort of carbon copied the stories into exact situations from which Jeter had to escape. On the other hand, he sticks with the moral behind each lesson from the detectives – example: never give up even when things are stacked against you, or when you’re on your own do whatever you can to get yourself out of a bad situation, and other such bits of advice. This prevents the movie from feeling too hokey. While Jeter uses all the advice, the situations he encounters where the advice needs to be used aren’t too on-the-nose. Not for me, at least. All of this really makes Poker Night unique.

Some may say the flashbacks within flashbacks, techniques like this, cause disorientation or confusion. My opinion is that if you can’t follow this movie, I don’t know what sort of plot you’re looking for to stay entertaining. This is not hard to follow. It’s a unique film, but it’s not confusing in any sense. Pay attention from the get-go and you will have no problems whatsoever following the plot. The flashback sequences and the bits involving Jeter walking through the detectives stories are refreshing. They keep things exciting and a lot of fun at times, especially depending on which detective is telling the story (Eldard & Welliver’s in particular are both cool but also pretty funny).
PokerNight-1563-thumb-630x423-51571I found the cast great. While not all of them had their rightful chance to do a whole lot, they were all pretty wonderful together. The chemistry between them all during the card game scenes is just fantastic. If any of you have ever sat around a card table, you know much of the banter, policemen or not, goes on just like this between a bunch of men. The way they ribbed one another and joked, it was all so natural that I couldn’t help but get attached to the characters. Mirchoff and Perlman had some pretty good chemist as well during other scenes. I just love Ron Perlman, anyways, so to see him play a tough, no nonsense type of cop is really great; he gives bits of his dramatic chops up, and also plenty of his comedic talent. Altogether, the cast really makes things work.  If there were a bunch of people who had no chemistry this whole thing would’ve come off very flat. Instead, it’s raw, fun, and exciting in equal doses. Plenty of great laughs.

Overall, this is a really good movie. Absolutely worthy of a 4 out of 5 star rating. There was a lot of darkness in this thriller. While we get some great comedy and drama mixed into the pot, the dark angles of the film really help this standout. At times, there’s a Tarantino-esque influence happening, and I can also feel a bit of Joe Carnahan’s influence in there at times, honestly. One of the best things about Poker Night is the villain. I really loved his flashbacks in particular, as they never once gave up his identity by keeping his weird mask on during those scenes, even when it’s downright awkward and hilarious. I sort of knew who would be the villain just because of the cast, and the guy who plays him is really great at darker roles, but regardless I thought it wasn’t so much about his identity anyways – it’s not like there’s a twist involving him (or maybe there is? Muhuhaha). The villain really made this something special. Lots of good dark comedy, but mainly a great deal of sadistic violence and mayhem. You should absolutely check this movie out! Great and dark crime thriller. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. It isn’t a perfect film, but in a sea of really average films, especially crime thrillers if we’re being honest, Poker Night stands above it with some exciting characters, good dialogue, and a wholly interesting premise.