Better Call Saul – Season 3, Episode 10: “Lantern”

AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 3, Episode 10: “Lantern”
Directed by Peter Gould
Written by Gennifer Hutchison

* For a recap & review of the penultimate Season 3 episode, “Fall” – click here
Pic 1We see young Chuck reading to a little Jimmy by light of a lantern, two brothers once so close. It’s like a marker to show us how far Chuck (Michael McKean) and Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) have come, how deeply tarnished their relationship is at this point. A long, brutal journey. I’m also curious as to how long Chuck’s illness has been going on; were they camping, or was it merely how he liked to read, by lantern?
But more important, back to Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn), who’s in rough shape. Alive, though. That’s the main thing. She’s been pulling way too hard for the business and it isn’t a case of she’s working too much, it’s a case of she has to work that much. Because being in a partnership with Jimmy requires you do the extra work.
What about Chuck? He’s in a meeting with Howard (Patrick Fabian) and a bunch of other lawyers. He lays out what he sees as the only options. He doesn’t want to be the “agent of [the firm’s] destruction” and would like to settle things quickly. With only a handshake between Howard and himself. His partner’s not so keen. Feels that Chuck has let the McGill vendetta takeover his better judgement in regards to the firm. Nor does he like that the old guy went straight for a lawsuit against him after a bit of a disagreement. Howard decides on paying Chuck millions out of pocket to resolve their dispute. Followed by a sort of public shaming, masquerading as gratitude.
Pic 1AJimmy looks after Kim while she recuperates in bed, unable to move much because of her cast and injuries. She replenishes her electrolytes while he cooks breakfast. He lays out his plans about the office, subletting and such. That she may want to work from home. Kim, instead of feeling happy to be alive, feels guilty for driving off the road. Could have killed somebody. Yet again, I have to say: JIMMY’S FAULT! She’s spent her time picking up after him. Sure, she got in the car herself. Doesn’t change the fact he’s put pressure on the business, as Chuck did with his own, due to a personal, family feud. Everything else stems from that.
Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis) goes to the shop owned by Nacho’s (Michael Mando) father, to check out the whole outfit. The don wants to talk with papi, though Nacho is wary. The two men meet, they have a tenuous meeting. Hector pulls out a load of cash like it’s meant to make an impression; Mr. Varga is not impressed. His son urges him to be reasonable. Family is what keeps him from doing anything unwise. Despite his morals.
Note: Juxtaposition of the two different views of family values, from the Varga family to the McGills, is a truly poignant way to set these stories together throughout the various episodes. Makes for a cohesive flow you don’t necessarily see in the beginning, until the plots open up more.
Francesca (Tina Parker) is also taking care of things for Kim, helping out. She’s rescheduled things and made the workload easier during recovery. Kim is finally starting to slow down. She goes to Blockbuster – still open at this point a few years ago – renting a ton of movies. Is she trying to fill up her time and actually rest?
Pic 2Meanwhile, Jimmy goes to see Chuck, checking to see if he’s all right. Seems he is, as the place is lit up with lamps and music is playing on the record player. The younger brother is feeling guilty about what’s gone on between them. He has regrets about their relationship. The older brother isn’t particularly enthused with any of it. “Whats the point?” he asks. No reason to regret. He does not believe Jimmy can change: “You hurt people, over and over and over.” Then he drops the bomb that he’s never actually cared much about his younger brother, in one of the MOST COLD HEARTED LINES I’ve heard in my life. Just, whoa. Knocked my socks off.
Later on by himself, the oldest McGill shuts down all the power. Silent admission of his own inability to change, much as he chastises his brother. He thinks there’s still power flowing, even after disconnecting the breaker. He’s going full loony.
Jimmy drops over to see Irene, bringing her balloons and things for her cats. He’s excited about the settlement. It’s clear she doesn’t share that enthusiasm. The other women hate her now, the relationship has changed. His elaborate and nasty plan has ultimately backfired. The old ladies question her integrity; in reality, it his integrity. What a shit person he is, really. Much as I give him a chance, he’s not a good man. What he did to Irene and those ladies is despicable behaviour.
Pic 3Chuck is going mad trying to find the source of his discomfort, believing the electrical meter to still be turning even after he’s disconnected everything. And it does turn, only a tiny bit. It’s his mind amplifying it to magnified heights. The stress in his life, the relationship with Jimmy, everything is exacerbating the mental illness. So, he keeps searching, he won’t stop. He feels along the walls, looking for wherever the last bits of electricity are pumping. He starts ripping and beating holes in the walls, looking close as humanly possible. Leaving him and the house a wreck. Then he actually beats the meter off the pole outside to make it all stop.
In other news, Nacho meets his crew and Don Hector. They’re meeting Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) and Juan Bolsa (Javier Grajeda), bringing a message from Don Eladio. “Only one route” across the border from now on, via the Los Pollos Hermanos trucks. Hector gets mouthy with them, getting angry. His heart pumping. Leading to an attack. He hits the ground, passing out. Gus has one of the men call 9-11, sending Juan off and the others hiding guns. Nacho manages to get hold of the fake pills, switching them out for the real ones. And Mr. Fring knows exactly what’s happened.
There’s more to that despicable side of Jimmy. He’s in one of the exercise classes with the ladies again, only this time he’s filling in for the instructor. Erin (Jessie Ennis) interrupts, needing to speak with him. She calls him out on what he did, and he doesn’t realise that his headset is on, broadcasting everything to the class. YOU DONE FUCKED UP, JAMES! He comes across as the monster he is, exposing himself unknowingly to the old folks at Sand Piper. Yet it’s all part of his plan, to get Mrs. Landry to go back on the settlement.
Even though he sort of acknowledges his cruelty, he doesn’t actually accept it.
Screen Shot 2017-06-20 at 2.27.27 AMKim and Jimmy are shutting down the office for good. Gone as far as they can go, and I wonder how far they’ll go together after this moment. She’s so loyal to him. It’s a car crash this time. What will it be next time?
And over at Chuck’s, the old guy has had enough. He’s littered the place with books, torn the place apart. Now he’s kicking his lantern at the edge of the table. Kicking it to the floor where it breaks, starting a fire that lights his home ablaze.
Christ. I wonder if this is the end of Chuck McGill. If, so, a vicious and wild end, a damned awful way to commit suicide.
Screen Shot 2017-06-20 at 2.39.06 AMWhat a season! They have to go for a Season 4, if not there’s so much wasted. But you know there will be. I want to see the next phase of what happens concerning Fring and Don Hector and Nacho. Plus, we need to see what will become of Chuck! If he dies, this will truly bite at Jimmy’s heart, no matter how heartless he is; it’ll be the final nail in the coffin of his confidence, knowing then he’s someone who’s contributed in the long, terrible downfall of his brother.
Bring on Season 4!

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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.

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 3: “Sunk Costs”

AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 3, Episode 3: “Sunk Costs”
Directed by John Shiban
Written by Gennifer Hutchison

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Witness” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Sabrosito” – click here
Pic 1We start in familiar desert territory. A Los Pollos Hermanos delivery truck drives down a desolate road. As if signifying what’s in the truck, as if we didn’t know, and how long this has been going on, the sneakers on an electrical wire above drop from their perch to the ground.
Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) gets a call from Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) on the cell he’s found on top of a gas tank cap in the middle of a road. He’s told to “expect two cars momentarily.” The man himself arrives in sombre, black attire. Mike wants to know why he received the DON’T note. Gus relates that Hector Salamanca needs to stick around; at least for a while. But the problem is there have been threats, nasty business. What the owner of Los Pollos Hermanos explains is that, as long as the “hurt” Mike doles out to Hector is kept on a business level rather than a physical, fatal one, then he won’t interfere. Well, we know there’s more to Mike and Gus’ eventual relationship, so it’ll be interesting to watch it all play out. Now, Mr. Ehrmantraut makes clear he’s “not done” with Salamanca, and that he understands Fring wants to disrupt the guy’s business because they’re in drug competition.
It’s excellent to see the back story of these characters coming together.
Note: love how the camera frames Mike and Gus in positions of power; they’re on a flat, straight road, yet the shot shows them on an angle which puts Gus higher up on the plane than Mike. Very interesting, great filmmaking techniques are often used in this series (as it was on Breaking Bad) and that’s a huge reason why this is GREAT TELEVISION!
Pic 1AIn other news, Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) must deal with the fallout from rushing in on brother Chuck (Michael McKean), smashing the tape recorder in a rage. He’s having a cigarette, finding the number he has for a bail bondsman. To see the brothers fall further into despair is ugly, considering the older brother’s planning on pressing charges. All under the guise of being for his younger brother’s benefit. I’m not sure if he’s being honest, or if it’s because he never wanted to see Jimmy succeed in the beginning. For his part, Jimmy tells Chuck that he’ll die alone.
Then it’s off to jail in a montage for the unlucky lawyer, the man we’ll someday know as Saul Goodman, lawyer to Walter White and Jesse Pinkman.
What about Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn)? She’s busy, as usual. Doing the tough job of living life in the same hemisphere as the McGills. Ernesto (Brandon K. Hampton) arrives to tell her he’s been fired, and worrying about Jimmy. And now she knows that her good buddy is sitting in lockup, clad in orange. In court he pleads Not Guilty; Kim turns up as his attorney, though he’d rather represent himself. He refuses to let her have any part, then he’s bonded out at $2,500 and gets back to the office to plead his case to Kim, to let her know he’ll fix things. Somehow.
Jimmy: “I fucked up
At a doctor’s office, Mike – or, Mr. Clark – goes in to see a “mutual acquaintance” to retrieve a package. He tucks it away in his trunk with the sniper rifle he’s carrying. Hmm, ominous. More trouble is certainly headed Hector Salamanca’s way.
Pic 2Jimmy’s trying to get an old law buddy to help with his case. Looks like it won’t pan out, seeing as how they’ve worked closely in the past. This takes the wind out of his sails a bit. More scheming ahead, just wait. Meanwhile, Chuck is meeting with an attorney about what’s happening next in his brother’s case. She isn’t going to take it easy on him, wanting to make sure lawyers aren’t held to a lesser standard. I only wonder: will his condition make it difficult, or cause issues, in court? Should be fun to watch.
Back to Mike, in the desert again. A place we Breaking Bad lovers realise he knows all too well by the time Walter enters his life. The old fella is out putting drugs in a pair of red sneakers, tossing them up on a nearby wire; the worn out shoes we see finally snap off the line some time down the road, as evidenced by the ALTO sign without the bullet holes shot through it yet.
He then sets up camp on a hill with his rifle, watching through binoculars to see who’s approaching on the road. A pair of men come to look under a sort of trap door in the desert floor; is this the same one Mike later goes to in Breaking Bad when he and Jesse make collections? Either way, Mike plays a game with the men. Then he shoots one of the shoes as the truck passes, letting a thin powder flow over the truck, catching on its rear step. Whoa. That’s fucking sneaky, dude. When the truck is stopped for inspection, a drug dog picks up on the scent, and voila! Another Salamanca plot foiled, another plus for Fring’s business. I can see already how the meth kingpin will come to find Mike and his services invaluable.
Going back to the opening scene, we understand this as being an illustration of how Gus now owns the route, that it’s a sign of his, for a long while, undisputed power. Where Hector’s trucks once ran, the opener shows us that Los Pollos Hermanos takes that route, well into the future, and the bullet-riddled ALTO sign shows that there are many wars to come.
While everything else is going on, Kim and Jimmy are dealing with the “boxed in” situation he finds himself in with Chuck. So, what next? She suggests he isn’t alone, that he needs her. But I can’t help feel this is a one-way ticket to the nail in the coffin for their relationship. Maybe not next week, or the week after. Just sooner than later.


Another great episode. Many say this show is slow. Part of why I dig the series is because it burns, slowly, and if you don’t dig it that’s fine. Don’t say the show isn’t good, because it is, it lays out the groundwork for great characters and compelling, well-written plot. Good on the writers and producers. Next week is “Sabrosito” and I know we’re seeing more of Mr. Fring, too.

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.

Better Call Saul – Season 3, Episode 1: “Mabel”

AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 3, Episode 1: “Mabel”
Directed by Vince Gilligan
Written by Vince Gilligan & Peter Gould

* For a recap & review of the Season 2 finale, “Klick” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Witness” – click here
Pic 1We start Season 3 with another black-and-white flash forward into the future of Jimmy McGill a.k.a Saul Goodman a.k.a Gene the Cinnabon manager (Bob Odenkirk). Nancy Sinatra croons “Sugartown” as we watch his daily life at the Cinnabon in the mall. Far from where we saw him in Breaking Bad, juxtaposed beautifully with the place we follow along in the current timeline of Better Call Saul; one of the fascinating parts of the writing and the progression of characters is how Gilligan & Co. pull off making his journey into a, at times, non-linear adventure. In turn, this keeps things fresh even though we already know where Jimmy/Saul ends up down the road.
What I’m most interested in is where Gene goes from this point post-Breaking Bad, or if he continues on in his purgatorial existence, a fitting end for a greasy guy such as himself. Eating lunch alone on a bench he winds up seeing a sketchy young man who looks to be hiding, in trouble. Rather than let the kid go on, he rats him out to the cops. Then in a burst he tells the kid to say nothing, and advises him to get a lawyer. That old Saul came loose, even for a second. Gene’s not as measured as he once seemed. Later while glazing some buns he passes out. Yikes.
Pic 1ATo the current timeline. Jimmy and Chuck (Michael McKean) are back where we left them, when the younger brother confessed to his brother believing no one else would hear. Not knowing Chuck was hiding a tape recorder the entire time. All the while Jimmy thinks everything’s well, or at least stable. A situation he can manage. The brothers reminisce about being younger, triggered by The Adventures of Mabel which Jimmy finds in Chuck’s bookcase. For the first time, they actually seem like brothers. Not for long, though. The older of the two reminds with an ominous tone: “You will pay.”
Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) is doing her best to keep her chin up, too. Despite the rollercoaster of a life she has sitting next to Jimmy. He’s not exactly a dream dude to be involved with in business, or in friendship, love, et cetera. Eventually I have to believe Kim won’t be able to reconcile her morality with being on his side. She already knows he’s not on the level, but just doesn’t realise how deep the well of deceit goes. But as always, the problem is that Jimmy’s such a likeable loser that it’s very tough not to root for him.
Jimmy: “For ten minutes today Chuck didnt hate me. I forgot what that felt like.”
Meanwhile, Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) hears Chuck’s tape of Jimmy and the confession. Certainly the secret recording isn’t enough to hold up in court; Chuck knows. So why have the tape at all? Does it involve Kim?
Of most interest to me is Mr. Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks). He was out in the desert, and found a note telling him to get away. A warning, but from whom exactly? Mike does the smart thing, speeding away from the scene then checking his car for any kind of devices; nothing. He heads to a scrapyard and has a closer look. And I mean a CLOSER FUCKING LOOK. Mike uses every last ounce of his training to look through the guts of his car, inspecting each inch with precision. Like he can smell it yet can’t seem to find the thing.
Finally, he discovers something hidden in the gas cap. THE GAS CAP! An ingenious, tedious place to hide a tracking device. That’s some next level deviousness. But now Mike has some idea, a starting point leading to whoever’s keeping an eye on him so close.


Jimmy receives a visit from Captain Bauer (Brendan Fehr), one of the military gentlemen whose eyes he pulled the wool over when needing to cut a commercial. Anyways, he’s not happy. Slick talkin’ Jimmy tries to sell him a load of horseshit, that doesn’t work. Either Jimmy takes the ad down or “therell be hell to pay.” He doesn’t dig that, so he threatens to take it to court and win. The captain advises him, in his own way of speaking, that eventually Jimmy’s going to get what he deserves. From the flash forwards and seeing Breaking Bad, we know this to be true.
With his newly acquired knowledge, Mike switches out his gas cap to head off after work. At an old warehouse he meets his friend the veterinarian (Joe DeRosa) to get himself some gear. Pricey, too: $1,000.
Back to Kim, over at Mesa Verde she’s doing great work. As always. Worse still she knows the treachery, the guilt eats her. How long before it eats her alive? Every time she hears about Chuck and his supposed mistake, it’s like a stab in the gut. Also, in the office – that rainbow… any imagery connections to that in Season 2? I’d like to revisit that.
Over at Chuck’s place, he has to get Ernesto to help him change batteries in the tape recorder. The thing is on when he changes them, he hears a bit of Jimmy confessing. This sends the old gentleman into a fit of anger, trying to make sure Ernesto won’t ever tell anybody about what he’s heard. “There could be terrible consequences,” Chuck convinces him with a torrent of quasi-threatening language.
Pic 3Mike, Mike, Mike; what will you think of next? He’s like the counter-intelligence king of the streets, using all that police knowledge from busting criminals, learning their ways, to fuel his own criminal enterprises. Except right now it’s like espionage, trying to discover who’s on the other end of the surveillance on him. He’s reversing the cat and mouse aspect of the dangerous game that’s being played, or at the least trying to do so. And he loves pistachios. Fucking loves them. I don’t blame him, either; they’re great.
After a long night of waiting, Mike sees a vehicle stop. Someone retrieves the GPS tracker from the gas cap then they’re off into the night fast as they came. So, Mike has a lead on where they’re headed.
Want to take a guess? Might have something to do with Los Pollos Hermanos, maybe?


Great start to the season! I don’t care if people say the show’s slow moving. It’s meant to; the storytelling and the character development and the plot moves are all spectacular. Great music and score, as well. Excited for “Witness” next week. Welcome back.

Breaking Bad – Season 2, Episode 12: “Phoenix”

AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 2, Episode 12: “Phoenix”
Directed by Colin Bucksey
Written by John Shiban

* For a review of the previous episode, “Mandala” – click here
* For a review of the finale, “ABQ” – click here
IMG_3767
With Skyler (Anna Gunn) in labour, Walt (Bryan Cranston) found himself saddled with making a big deal with the new prospective distributor, the low key Mr. Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). Only problem was Jesse (Aaron Paul) and Jane (Krysten Ritter) shot up heroin, so Walt was left holding the bag for getting everything together.
Now, he’s missed the birth of his daughter. Too busy dropping of 38 pounds of meth at a drop spot. But then off he rushes to be with his wife and newborn daughter. Luckily, Skyler is fine, so is the baby. So she isn’t worried. Of course Walt is a little surprised, and unhappy, that Ted Beneke (Christopher Cousins) got to be there while he did not. The only thing is that while Skyler isn’t mad at Walt, there’s just the fact Walt is pissed at Jesse for having facilitated his missing the birth via the irresponsibility of shooting up heroin.
However, can we really blame Jesse?
While it’s a bonehead thing, to get on heroin, I don’t think it’s a fair thing for Walt to hold that against him. Not as if he knew there was a big deal going down. Walt went out and did all that himself, never once consulting Jesse afterwards. No way he could’ve imagined they’d need to make a massive drop like that for Fring. Still, there’s no stopping Walt. Even if he’s got a massive satchel of cash, a healthy baby girl and a wife that for once is not raging with him (for good reason), he can never pass up an opportunity to lecture Jesse.
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And then there’s Jane whose own problems are big enough. She and her father Donald (John de Lancie) attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings together. While she’s high on heroin, he calls up to go to one. She lies and then prepares to leave. Before freaking Jesse out about a break-in. This sends him into a spin, not knowing Walt collected their meth. So now he believes they’ve lost every last bit of their product.
When Jane and her father hit their meeting, he can clearly tell there’s something off about her. She looks sickly, fumbling her 18 Month chip nervously. It’s so obvious, and Donald isn’t stupid either. I have to mention – John de Lancie is a fantastic actor and I’m thrilled he was given this part, I fondly know him from his brief yet thoroughly memorable part as Q in Star Trek: The Next Generation, so to see him here is a lot of fun in a beefier, highly emotional role that only gets more important in the coming episodes.
At home, Walt gets a call from Jesse about the missing meth. He only hangs up on his partner. Later, a remarkable moment during dinner – Hank brings over some Los Pollos Hermanos, and Walt is struck by the whole dirty irony of it all. But further we see the emptying manhood Walt perceives in himself, as Skyler wants to jet back to work so they have money when he gets his surgery, even Walt Jr (RJ Mitte) is thinking of getting a job to pitch in. The look on Walt Sr’s face says it all.
So later, he takes the only person in his life that won’t say a word about his business in to see all the money he’s made: little baby Holly. This is such a perfect writing moment. I absolutely adore this, even if it’s sort of twisted. Yet Walt beams when he tells Holly: “Thats right. Daddy did that. Daddy did that for you.”

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Jesse goes to Walt in his classroom, confronting him after figuring out he took the meth. Either way, Walt is pissed, but I can’t help there’s also disappointment in there. He sometimes treats his partner like he’s still a student in his class, often like a son whom he’s way too hard on. Now it gets worse: Walt refuses to give Jesse his money, assuming he’ll shoot it up his arm with his new found predilections. Except Jesse says he’s not into heroin, he didn’t like it. But Mr. White is not so keen. He wants a drug test. Well, this is beginning to drive a huge wedge between the two partners. One that’s going to have far reaching repercussions.
Now that emptying manhood over which Walt is obsessing starts to empty quicker. In his wonderful goodness, Walt Jr set up what essentially now would be a GoFundMe page: SaveWalterWhite.com, all in order to help solicit donations to help with Walt’s cancer treatments. That’s a beautiful thing for his son to do. The pride of the father is bursting through. At the same time, I kind of understand. Though I despise Walt on a certain level for his behaviour, he’s putting himself on the line cooking and selling meth while not getting any credit. As if credit is deserved. But it’s just the fact he’s risking his life, his freedom, and getting no reward whatsoever. So he goes to Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), the man who always has the plan. And he doesn’t disappoint – they’ll have Walt’s money shovelled into Junior’s website via “zombies” that are essentially fake donors giving real cash from all over the world.
And as it turns out, Jesse ain’t done with the skag. He and Jane are shooting up once more. She figures out how much money her new boyfriend is worth, then it’s clear she’s very interested in this new situation. Meanwhile, at the next NA meeting, Donald finds his little girl nowhere to be found. He discovers that Jesse is a bad influence in her life, he goes on inside to find needles on the bedside table and so on. Jane’s father wants her back in rehab, so she spins a great big story about her and Jesse discussing rehab every single night, yadda yadda yadda. The loving dad in Donald breaks down and agrees to let her go for rehab in the morning. Perhaps a bad move to skimp on the tough love here. In reality, Jane is only concerned with the $480K Jesse is owed. Again, Jesse is being manipulated. Just by someone new this time.


Then comes the blackmail. Jane calls Walt, with Jesse nervous in the background, and starts demanding the cash. Or else. “Do right by Jesse tonight – or I will burn you to the ground,” Jane tells him. We can see Jesse isn’t happy about this, or at least he isn’t comfortable. They’re still partners. Despite being angry at one another, Jesse doesn’t want to cause all this trouble. But Jane is planting herself firmly in his life, however she sees fit. To get whatever she can.
When Walt needs to go on a diaper run he takes the cash with him for Jesse. He takes the cash over there. Then things turn dark, as Jane basically wants to start spending that cash immediately. They talk of travel, of going places and doing all types of things. But first, before getting clean, they’ve got to get themselves nice and fucking high.
At a nearby bar, Walt ends up sitting next to none other than Donald Margolis. They have a chat about children, so on. Vaguely, Walt talks about Jesse, as Donald relates his own troubles with his daughter’s troubles. Love this because we’re seeing another side of things, as we’re already privy to the other. Just another example of wonderful writing.


One of the most devastating moments in Breaking Bad comes after Walt goes back to Jesse’s place. Inside, he finds him and Jane in bed together, strung out on heroin. Then Jane begins to overdose. And standing there over them Walt simply watches on while she chokes on her own vomit. This is one of the second (or third) moments in the series where I truly felt Walt has lost his humanity. Despite not wanting to get on the cops’ radar or have Jesse end up in custody, Walt has let a human being die terribly and did nothing in the way of helping. Stone cold heart. He feels the guilt and horror of his decision, but it’s contained. In a vacuum. Walt will go on, and it isn’t until the very last season he ever reveals any of this to anybody.
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The next episode, “ABQ”, is the Season 2 finale.
It has much to give us.

Breaking Bad – Season 2, Episode 11: “Mandala”

AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 2, Episode 11: “Mandala”
Directed by Adam Bernstein
Written by George Mastras

* For a review of the previous episode, “Over” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Phoenix” – click here
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Combo (Rodney Rush) is out on the streets getting mad dogged by a couple dudes in a car nearby. They look sketchy as hell, not looking to buy any meth. Doesn’t look good. When they stay on him he decides to call up Skinny Pete (Charles Baker). A little kid rides his bike around Combo constantly.
Then he hears the guys in the car honk followed by a click behind him. The boy shoots him down in the street. Hardcore. That is vicious.
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Walter (Bryan Cranston) and Skyler White (Anna Gunn) are at the doctor hearing what a surgeon has to say. Appears surgery is now on the table for Walt due to the reduction in size in his tumour. The married couple are reluctant to go ahead at first, at least Skyler is in her position. The surgeon sells a good game about going for it to prevent any further spreading. Cost is always on the table: from $170-200K. Yowzahs, that is one big price tag. Not to mention death is possible. Walt doesn’t feel like talking, he opts to go for the surgery without consulting Skyler immediately. A couple weeks and the whole thing is a go. Of course working around Skyler’s pregnancy.
Jesse (Aaron Paul) has news for Walter about Combo. Although, Mr. White isn’t exactly a peach about that. Nearly soulless. At the same time, Skinny Pete and Jesse are talking everything over, the former not happy about them encroaching on other territories without the muscle to back it. The meth enterprise of Pinkman-White is falling apart, bit by bit. ‘Cause Pete is out, too. Not to mention Jesse’s street cred is gone after Spooge’s woman confessed to the murder.
Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) is doing his thing to help his newest clients. Walt brings the distribution issue in the fallout from Combo’s violent death to their lawyer. And the shady Saul’s got just the sort of guy that might be good for them to meet. Naturally, they don’t want to deal with anybody like Tuco, or even a Krazy-8. This time around Saul has somebody rock solid in mind. Very “low profile“, secretive type.
In the meantime, Jesse is crumbling to pieces. He needs Jane (Krysten Ritter) to leave him alone for a while. So he can smoke away the pain of Combo getting brutally gunned down. He feels all the guilt, heavily. She prefers to stay, maybe she can help.
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Here’s our first introduction to Los Pollas Hermanos. Manager Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) runs things, as the day goes by hectic. People are eating, drinking their sodas. Walt waits, looking around for the guy they’re supposed to be meeting. As usual, Jesse arrives late. High as fuck. Eventually he leaves, unimpressed with the entire deal. But Walt waits. And waits. And continues to wait. Nobody ever comes.
This makes him late for an ultrasound with Skyler (Anna Gunn). Good one, Walt. Anyway, Skyler has to rush off back to the office because there’s a birthday party for Ted Beneke (Christopher Cousins). Creepiest is when they throw the little shindig with a cake, he request that Skyler sing him a Marilyn Monroe-esque Happy Birthday. It’s just awkwardly sexual and especially because of the fact she’s currently pregnant.
When Jesse gets home he finds the place in disarray how he left it, as well as a sleeping Jane in bed. His bad influence perpetuates itself and now has threatened her sobriety. He’s only becoming more of what he hates, dragging other people into his web. First Combo, now Jane. It only gets worse from here.
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So it seems as if Saul’s connection doesn’t want to do business with Walt. Finito. Done. There is only the “one shot” according to Goodman. However, Walt is not satisfied with this result. He goes back to Los Pollos Hermanos intent on figuring out some way forward. Soon, he figures out that it’s manager Gustavo Fring behind the secretive business dealing. The two men sit down for a chat together. Things slowly come out after Walt pushes a bit. Fring is keen on being careful. Though he makes clear: “I dont think were alike at all, Mr. White. You are not a cautious man at all. Your partner was late, and he was high.” So already, Gus has Jesse figured out. He also has Walt figured out, as well. Because let’s face it – Walt does suffer from poor judgement, no matter how book smart he happens to be. But Walt manages to plead Jesse’s case, saying he can essentially control him. Gus happens to disagree. A deal may go ahead all the same.
In other business, Skyler is bringing some accounting problems to Ted about the account she’d previously mentioned in an earlier episode. She’s turning up under reported revenue, also a bit of fudging numbers and such. Tsk, tsk, Ted. Not good, buddy. Also this foreshadows a bit of trouble down the road with Skyler working with Beneke.


Jesse is consistently falling apart. Combo’s funeral went by without him there, even Badger (Matt Jones) came in from out of state. Jesse and Jane have become one of those junkie couples that just get high together and burn out. Worse, Jane’s gotten back to old habits: heroin. They’ve really become junkies with this move. She shoots him up and it’s as if heaven comes down to touch Jesse. He spins out in bed after a good hit, then falls in a deep stupor. “Ill meet you there,” Jane tells him.
Well things start to get tense this time around. Worst time for Jesse to be in a heroin induced trance. Walt hears his cellphone vibrating in the ceiling of his classroom, obviously making his students wonder what’s going on. Afterwards, he checks it only to realize the deal is set with Gus. A guy named Victor (Jeremiah Bitsui) tells him he has to get the required 38 pounds of meth, in one hour, to the appropriate location. If he doesn’t make it apparently that’s it. Never again.
And at the very same time, Skyler goes into labour at the office. Man, the utterly awful fate of Breaking Bad showers down on Walt at the craziest times. Now with Jesse on heroin and the Gus deal going down, Walt is faced with missing the birth of his daughter. That is one whopper of a fucking disappointment. All because of meth.
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Let’s see what happens in the penultimate Season 2 episode “Phoenix” up next with a recap and review soon.

Breaking Bad – Season 2, Episode 10: “Over”

AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 2, Episode 10: “Over”
Directed by Phil Abraham
Written by Moira Walley-Beckett

* For a review of the previous episode, “4 Days Out” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Mandala” – click here
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Again, the foreboding pink teddy bear missing an eye floats in the pool. This time around, again in black-and-white aside from Mr. Ted, we start to understand more of what’s going on. Some kind of catastrophic event has occurred. Someone in a Hazmat suit. The baggies labelled, collected near the pool. Out on the street there are cracked windshields – in fact, it is the White family vehicle. Right in front of their house, something terrible has gone down.
And out front? Two bodies. Shit.
The anticipation is killing me, even if I’ve seen this series a couple times over.
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Walter White (Bryan Cranston) is gradually having to come to terms with the fact he will likely live, instead of succumbing to lung cancer. Everybody around him is overjoyed, yet it’s not so easy to turn around from the brink of death that way. Nevertheless, Skyler (Anna Gunn) and Junior (RJ Mitte) feel like having a party on the weekend. In celebration of Walt’s new found lease on life. “Youve got a lot to celebrate, dont you think?” Skyler quips. She puts her husband on bed rest then leaves him be for the day. He won’t have to have his soul crushed teaching high school today!
Instead he goes to meet Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) at a little restaurant out of the way. They chat about life and how things are looking up for Mr. White. For his part, Walter says he’s out of the business. So it seems.
Over at Casa chez White, everybody is partying. Lots of margaritas, finger foods, Walt sort of sulking to himself and giving an awkward speech for everyone. Still, everybody has a great time. But what starts to come out is Walt consistently feeling as if he’s not the man, that he isn’t taking care of his own business, on his own terms. When he truly is getting things done, just illegally. Skyler mentions Gretchen and Elliott Schwartz being the benefactors of his treatment, and this just bites at poor Walt. Though I shouldn’t say poor Walt. Because later on, as he and Hank (Dean Norris) sit talking, drinking, he ends up going a little too far and getting Junior drunk off his ass on tequila. This winds up with the kid puking into the family pool. Not a nice scene at a party. Also, it brings out a primitive caveman battle of wits between Hank and Walt after the former is talking all about the cartel shit with Tortuga, talking tough as he does. It’s the fact Hank tries to take over fatherly duties that irks Walt and prompts him to act like a downright savage beast. Nobody’s impressed to say the least.


Jesse tries to make huevos rancheros for Jane (Krysten Ritter) in the morning like a sweetheart. It isn’t the greatest, but he really tried. They plan on spending the whole day together. Y’know, because he has a day of from being a meth cook and distributor.
Meanwhile, Walt has one hell of a headache and hangover. As well as the fact he made a complete asshole of himself in front of everyone at his house, and pissed off his wife hugely. Saddest is that Junior feels as if he had to keep up with his father. That makes Walt feel low, like it should. He did a shitty thing. Personally, I’m an alcoholic – recovering, sober now almost 6 years as of this writing – and I’ve never once let being drunk excuse my shit behaviour. So Walt deserves to feel terribly after treating his son as some sort of macho bargaining chip in a war with his brother-in-law. Petty.
So what he does to go about changing the situation, as well as to help himself feel like a man, is try to fix the hot water tank in his house. Plus the infesting rot he’s so concerned with apparently. At the store a poignant moment happens: Walt is paying in cash, obviously, and finds one of his bills with a bloody fingerprint on it. Classy, Walt. All class.


Jane and Jesse get much closer now, as she looks through his drawings. He used to do some serious doodling. Superheroes and such, like KangaMan, Rewindo, and other awesome creations. Too bad he never kept drawing. Could’ve had a career in comics, instead of being a meth dealer, and drug addict. Out of nowhere, Jane hears a knock at her door. It is in fact her father, owner of the property, Donald Margolis (John de Lancie). Jesse is taken aback when she acts professionally with him instead of like a boyfriend in front of her dad. He feels incredibly slighted actually. Later, she comes back and he isn’t thrilled that she acts like it was nothing. She totally disregards his feelings, so Jesse leaves.
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Jesse: “Im talking about us
Jane: “Us?”
Jesse: “Yeah. You and me.”
Jane: “Whos you and me?”
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Walt is driving everybody a little nuts with his renovations. Mostly Skyler, whose unimpressed demeanour with his drunken performance doesn’t seem to be washing off too quick. Anyways, Walt has rot to deal with – “fruiting bodies” and rampaging fungus. He’s really just projecting onto the house. Trying to find something to make him feel useful again after getting out of the meth business. Now that he’s not cooking, all that time is filled with dead air. Space he can’t handle.
The first inkling of trouble with Ted Beneke (Christopher Cousins) comes when Skyler starts asking about a particular account. However, he brushes it off. Then she starts crying, bringing her personal life right into the office for Ted to see. This is definitely not good. For anybody. Bringing Ted in closer won’t help his massive, obvious crush on her. Doesn’t help that she later starts to egg it on purposefully by knocking things over for him to pick up and so on.
Rejected, Jesse crawls back into the pipe. He sits in his living room and smokes meth trying to forget about the pain he’s experiencing. I feel terribly for Jesse, out of all the characters in the show. He was never a great dude, but the life he’s led into now through business with Walt is excruciating. But Jane apologizes at least, via drawing. So that’s something in his dismal existence.


My favourite sequence in any episode of this series comes at the end here. Walt goes out late to a hardware shop. There he notices someone picking up… familiar supplies. He tries giving the young tweaker advice, but the dude runs off. Then Walt, new found bad ass, takes it into his hands to warn a man outside waiting for the tweaker: “Stay out of my territory.” It is one of the single most powerful moments of the entire series. He says fuck the renovations. Now, he’s back in Heisenberg business. When he says those words to the man, an obviously bigger and scarier guy, we finally see the dangerous confidence inside Walt clear as day. Never before is it more plain and palpable. Gives me goosebumps each time I see it. Just amazing, chilling, heavy at once. Add to that a great song called “DLZ” by TV on the Radio, a fantastic group of musicians; it has the perfect feel for this specific moment and those lines.
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This episode builds up so much. The next one is titled “Mandala” and gets things energized even more heading towards the end of Season 2.

Breaking Bad – Season 2, Episode 9: “4 Days Out”

AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 2, Episode 9: “4 Days Out”
Directed by Michelle MacLaren
Written by Sam Catlin

* For a review of the previous episode, “Better Call Saul” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Over” – click here
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Walter (Bryan Cranston) is at the doctor with his family in town. Everybody’s there, from Skyler (Anna Gunn) and Junior (RJ Mitte) to both Hank (Dean Norris) and Marie (Betsy Brandt). They’re all waiting for his next results from a PET-CT. I have to mention, I love Marie – she is incredibly annoying and ignorant at times, but she is loving, and only wants the best at all times for her family.
In the bathroom, Walt isn’t feeling so hot. Although it’s almost a good excuse to get away from the hovering presence of his loved ones. Cancer patients probably feel smothered at times by a constant need of others to be around them, worrying, fretting over the next result, the next test, the next this or that. Bad enough being put in those machines, it’s claustrophobic enough.
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Over with Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), Walt is trying to get things settled in case he dies. Or well, for when he dies. What comes of all this is a bit of financial advice from Saul, and help with money laundering. Then Walt decides it’s time to start cooking. A lot.
Skyler is back in supportive wife mode. She’s now dealing with a new lie, though one she’s obviously oblivious of currently – Walt says he wants to go see his mother. A clear ploy to get himself time for a cook in the Winnebago with Jesse (Aaron Paul).
Speaking of Jesse, his day plans with Jane (Krysten Ritter) are about to be ruined. They plan on going to see the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. However, the time for meth cooking is now, and Jesse’s assistance is required by MasterMr. White.
So Walt lies to his wife who drops him at the airport, then Pinkman picks him up in the ‘bago. They head out into the desert for a weekend full of meth. Love the tumultuous relationship between Jesse and Walt. It’s amazing how shitty he treats Jesse, over and over. The way he talks to him is awful most of the time, like lecturing a child. Either way, they get down to cooking. Only when the work is over and they decide to start back towards civilization – with 2.35 pounds of meth packaged and ready to go (netting them about $670K each) – the battery in the Winnebago has had it. Kaput. Now that is a kick in the nuts. Especially seeing as how Jesse put the keys in the ignition to keep them from getting lost, draining the damn thing.
Things get worse before they get better. They try getting Skinny Pete (Charles Baker) out to pick them up. Lot of good that does them. Some different ideas come, but nothing else happens for them. In between everything else Jesse figures out that Walt is getting sicker, closer to those final days, and lied about their batch of product going bad/needing to cook as much as possible.
Everything is looking bleak. Until another YEAH, SCIENCE! moment from Mr. White saves the day.


When they’re finally back, Walt casually asks Jesse to make sure his family gets money. Of course Jesse agrees. They part ways for now. We can see Jesse truly cares about Mr. White, even though Walter treats him like a child, or worse a dog.
But now Walt is back at the doctor’s office with the whole gang. Even better, the results of his scan are positive. Remission is possible now; his tumour shrank by 80%. A stark contrast from where he was just previously, believing he was on the verge of death. Everybody else is happy. Except for Walt. He’s happy, just not ecstatic. He almost wanted for things to go on as they were. Now he’s faced with living, moving on, and how could that work with what he’s brought into his life?
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This was a tight, contained episode that moved a lot forward in terms of the overall plot. Looking forward to watching the next one again, titled “Over”, that is also a solid chapter. Like so many of the others.

Breaking Bad – Season 2, Episode 8: “Better Call Saul”

AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 2, Episode 8: “Better Call Saul”
Directed by Terry McDonough
Written by Peter Gould

* For a review of the previous episode, “Negro y Azul” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “4 Days Out” – click here
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Oh, Badger (Matt Jones)! What are we gonna do with you?
Sitting on a bench unsuspectingly – one that has an add stating BETTER CALL SAUL no less – Badger is met randomly by a skinny guy looking for drugs. But smarty pants Badger judges him to be a cop, so he won’t immediately sell him anything. No way. Then as the guy pathetically wears him down Badger slips up, selling some of the good blue stuff.
And then swarm the police. Good job, dummy.
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On a television a commercial from Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) plays while nobody watches. In bed, Jesse (Aaron Paul) and Jane (Krysten Ritter) lay together. What we can already see is how he’s becoming a bad influence on her possibly. She leaves abruptly, though he can tell something’s off. Turns out she’s in Narcotics Anonymous. You can already tell he is very interested in her, attracted and maybe even falling a bit. Or a lot.
At the White household things are still in a bit of disarray. Not as outwardly aggressive, yet still passive-aggressive slightly. Skyler (Anna Gunn) is off to work, and Walter (Bryan Cranston) worries about her being back around Ted Beneke (Christopher Cousins). Still, she kisses him and heads out like a normal couple.
Then Walt gets a call from Marie (Betsy Brandt). Seems things with Hank (Dean Norris) since the incident in Juarez have gotten worse. He sits around mostly, by himself, depressed and withdrawn. Naturally, though. I mean, he saw a bunch of guys get blown to bits. Tragic to see a guy like Hank, a tough dude with principals, get so shaken by his work. He tries putting on a good act for Walt, but it’s easy to see through. Perhaps Hank isn’t reacting how he hoped he would when coming up against the big terrifying stuff. Doesn’t help they think it was a little shitty he was the one to make it out of things, getting an evidence bag while the explosion went off. What’s interesting to me here is how Walt is on the opposite side of the law from Hank, yet he sits there caring for his brother-in-law, urging him to push forward. Such a darkly funny thing, and at the same time sort of awful, that Walt is there as a shoulder to lean on while heading out later to do some drug business.


Walt: “Fear is the worst of it. Thats the real enemy.”
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Jesse hasn’t heard from Badger yet, so their cash is light. Well little does he know. When he reaches Combo (Rodney Rush), he finds out what’s actually been going on. And that does nothing at all to ease the tension between him and Mr. White. So with Badger in jail and Walt worried sick, they’ve got to figure out what’s next.
Cut to Hank. He’s close to one of those panic attacks again heading into the DEA office for the first time since getting back. Yet he puts on the tough front and walks through the fire. Steve Gomez (Steven Michael Quezada) catches him up, as well as checks in on his old buddy.
In an interrogation room, Badger’s sweated by the young cop (DJ Qualls). Then Saul arrives – his lawyer! Goodman starts running his game, of course, and the tale has begun to weave. He tells Badger exactly how things are about to go; after he’s paid, certainly. He even has cheques made out to “Ice Station Zebra Associates“, which is awesome if you know that movie. Best of all, Saul goes right at the DEA even taunting Hank and his boys right to their faces.
Now we’ve got Jesse and Walt about to meet with Saul for the first time. Walt’s not at all impressed with the look of Saul’s stripmall practice. Although, the younger of the two makes a good case for having a “criminal [who’s a] lawyer” and not a Criminal Lawyer. When Walt heads in he makes the transaction. However, he’s appalled to find out the DEA is involved. Furthermore, Walt now knows the DEA is after Heisenberg. And that Saul plans on having Brandon take a deal involving talking to them about what he knows. Ironic to watch Walt on both sides of a situation once again, as Saul has no idea he’s the Heisenberg the law is after.
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Saul: “My real names McGill. The Jew thing I just do for the homeboys, they all want a pipe hittinmember of the tribe, so to speak.”


What happens next is a step up in the criminal game for Mr. White and his clueless partner. Jesse and Walt kidnap Saul and take him into the desert. They wear masks, of course. Only the cough Saul heard earlier in his office gives Walter away. Then the slippery lawyer greases out a little deal for himself, even making Jesse and Walt his clients in the process.
So Saul cooks up a deal with the DEA for Badger to give up Heisenberg. Really, it’s an old bald dude who gets paid to go to jail. He’s a lifetime ward of the system, so that’s sewed up. They set up a meet between this fake Heisenberg and Badger, on the very same bench where he was pinched at the episode’s start. Yet things get messy, and Walt ends up interjecting himself right in the middle of Hank and the boys staking things out from across the way. This is a tense and also comical moment, written well, played perfectly by both Bryan Cranston and Dean Norris; they have awesome chemistry and work great together. Through everything, the old con Jimmy gets arrested and things work out in the end for everybody. Er- not the DEA, just for Jesse, Walt, Badger, and Saul.
Hank ain’t sold, though. Not on this prison lifer being a mastermind meth cook.


Then Saul tracks Walt down in his classroom after hours. Wow. The Heisenberg persona wears thin, hey? Spells trouble for Mr. White who so relentlessly tries to conceal his true identity. But there’s nothing below board, Saul is merely looking out for his new client. First he confuses Walt with a reference to The Godfather, eventually offering up his silent partner services in their meth industry. Not blackmail. Definitely not ethical.


We’ll see how this new relationship becomes more prominent in the upcoming episodes. Next is “4 Days Out”, so stick with me for another recap and review.

Better Call Saul – Season 2, Episode 10: “Klick”

AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 2, Episode 10: “Klick”
Directed by Vince Gilligan
Written by Gilligan & Heather Marion

* For a recap & review of the penultimate Season 2 episode, “Nailed” – click here
* For a recap & review of the Season 3 premiere, “Mabel” – click here
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After Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) stood by as his older brother Chuck (Michael McKean) smashed his head off a counter in the previous episode, the Season 2 finale begins with the two brothers – a psych out has us feeling it’s Jimmy at his brother’s hospital bed. But it’s the Brothers McGill at the bedside of their mother. One thing I love is how the flashbacks are always in this blue-grey tone, so immediately I should’ve known this was a view back to their lives. Before all the mess, or well, before the biggest mess. The dying mother wakes a moment and calls for Jimmy, right before dying. Calling out for him, the mother wastes away, and he gone out for a sandwich. The disappointment is evident by the look on Chuck’s face. He hates his younger brother, for always taking the easy way out, for always giving up, so on. I feel bad for Chuck, at the same time I recognize Jimmy’s situation, as someone who isn’t deliberately malicious, until absolutely pushed to that point. He simply doesn’t think. When he gets back to the hospital, Jimmy finds Chuck, who refrains from telling his brother about their mother’s last words, calling out for him.
With this opening sequence, the writing and direction of Gilligan is already doing wonderful things.
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Back to the end of “Nailed” – Jimmy races inside the copy shop to try and take charge of the situation. He gets Chuck’s head elevated slightly, though, the look in his brother’s is very spacey. In the hospital, he’s unable to protect himself from all the electronics beaming into him. You can almost feel the claustrophobia, as Gilligan uses a great rig shot to show him in this really up-close and personal perspective, which sort of cements us in a first-person point of view. A truly painful sequence to watch Chuck suffer underneath the lights and around all the electronic equipment. I’ve always felt he’s mostly crazy. Here, the acting, the writing, the direction makes this almost unbearable. Seriously. Not much affects me deeply, but Michael McKean had me wanting to cry, as Chuck pleads with them not to do a CAT scan. When the whole moment is over, I sighed a breath of relief.
But Jimmy doesn’t get such a chance to sigh. A doctor (Clea DuVall) explains to Jimmy there needs to be examinations done, however, Chuck is still refusing, obviously. The younger brother doesn’t want to commit the older one. Like anyone wouldn’t want to, either. Things for James McGill are about to get far more complicated than ever before. Because it’s been clear a long while, Chuck is not fit to be living without someone to help take care of him.
Worst of all, Chuck is sure of Jimmy’s treachery. To anyone else it sounds bonkers. To us, we know the truth. At the same time, man servant Ernesto says he called Jimmy, that’s why he showed up at the copy shop. Well, that pokes a hole in Chuck’s ideas. And he’s aware of what comes next. We’ll see how well that pans out, on all ends. As for Ernesto, he says he helped out because he likes Jimmy, and it seems as if Chuck has been out to get him. Yikes. Works for Jimmy.


In other areas of town, on the outskirts, Nacho (Michael Mando) and Arturo (Vincent Fuentes) are transporting the man who’d been driving the Mexican food trucks, the one Mike snatched up. And surprise, surprise – in the distance Mike watches them. Fairly close, too. I guess Nacho’s driving, so that gives him an advantage, as well as the fact he’s driving some old beater. With the finale upon us, Mike is definitely going to do something big, and dangerous.
At the hospital, Chuck just wants someone to believe him. Instead he’s put in for a CAT scan. It’s like a horror movie for him, stuck inside the electronic tube. Again, you almost feel the electricity the way he does. Out in the waiting room Kim (Rhea Seehorn) keeps Jimmy company, like the great woman she is, and he worries. Even if he’s partly responsible for Chuck’s situation. On television, Jimmy’s newest commercial turns up – “Gimme Jimmy – ‘cause moxie is in such short supply these days,” says an elderly lady, smiling, knitting. Hilarious little infomercial.
Except after coming out of the CAT scan Chuck isn’t moving, he isn’t speaking. Not even blinking. A “self induced” state of catatonia, where he’ll remain for who knows how long.


With his arms dealing friend Lawson (Jim Beaver), Mike is testing out a sniper rifle. He gets himself a nice new rig. And for what? There’s some sort of plan on the offensive. Even Lawson wipes his prints off the gun before the final sale. We’ll see exactly what Mike is preparing soon.
Meanwhile, Chuck finally wakes up. He gets to go home, no mental asylum or anywhere similar. For the time being, the older brother’s fine. Although, I’m not sure how long that will last. After Jimmy leaves he’s out in the garage, searching for something. Must be important, right?


But back to Mike. He’s out around the desert, hiking by some rocks to a place where he can set up his rifle. In the distance is a small shack where the van Nacho drove is parked, as well as another car beside it. Arturo digs a hole nearby (side note: is that the shack Tuco later brings Walt & Jessie?). When they bring the truck driver outside, Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis) appears, as well. The two cartel brothers, his nephews, are also present. But trying to get Hector in his sights, Mike finds Nacho in the way. On purpose? Hard to tell exactly. Anyways, the truck driver is toast; dead and buried. There’s an amazingly drawn out suspense and tension to this sequence. For the longest time there’s no telling exactly what will happen. Gilligan’s direction keeps you guessing from one minute to the next. Once Mike’s car alarm starts blaring back behind him, it all gets gut wrenching. On his window Mike finds a note: it reads DON’T.
Scariest thing for Mike is he thinks he’s a shadow, invisible to everyone else, working behind the scenes. Now, someone proves they are more of a shadow, more invisible, and behind the scenes even to him. Trouble’s on the horizon, or perhaps… opportunity.


Catering to some elderly clientele, Jimmy, as always, continues to impress. At the new office, he continues to receive more new clients. Then Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) is ringing, saying he needs to speak with Jimmy – about Chuck. What’s this now? As it happens, things are picking up at Chuck’s place. He’s turned the entire place into a foil casket, aluminum foil lining the walls. The whole house is a cage of aluminum. In addition, Chuck has retired – a.k.a quit – from HHM. All confidence has been shaken, Chuck feels he can’t be a lawyer anymore. He doesn’t think Jimmy’s to blame now, he blames himself. “What if I told you you didnt make a mistake?” Jimmy asks. He admits to what happened, to forgery, to all the nefarious doctoring and doings. He says he did it all for Kim.
Where do they go from here? Chuck reminds his younger brother he’s just admitted to felonious behaviour. There could be serious ramifications if Chuck were to take this thing to a legal level. And then, he stops his tape recorder after Jimmy leaves. WOW. WOW. No way, Chuck! You sly devil. Did not see that angle coming.


The end of the episode sets up an incredibly exciting Season 3 possibility. I love Better Call Saul. It is just as well written, if not sometimes better, than its sister series. Either way, Gilligan closed out Season 2 with a perfect finale and now I wonder exactly what sort of madness is in store for us moving into the next season. Can’t wait to see more and how it continues fitting into the puzzle pieces of its own creation.

Better Call Saul – Season 2, Episode 9: “Nailed”

AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 2, Episode 9: “Nailed”
Directed & Written by Peter Gould

* For a review of the previous episode, “Fifi” – click here
* For a review of the Season 2 finale, “Klick” – click here
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The penultimate Season 2 episode of Better Call Saul begins with a truck headed in the direction of El Paso. The man inside rocks to a bit of music; is he the same one from “Fifi”, who at the beginning stopped off for the gun in the box?
Ahead, a man is preparing something nasty. It’s Mike (Jonathan Banks). He’s put the truck out of commission with his nail-spiked garden hose. Now, he has the upper hand. What I love most about Mike is that he’s actually a smart criminal. Sure, not everyone can have their bases covered all the time. But Mike has an impressively criminal mind, one which works both ways and usually helps him cover his tracks, or think of every angle possible in a situation. Goes to show that some people develop cop-like skills that are put to use elsewhere other than law enforcement. Mike Ehrmantraut is one of those types of people.


Chuck McGill (Michael McKean) is still trying to put his least crazy foot forward, though, Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) still seems wary. Obviously. Chuck is crazy as a shithouse rat. But effective with law, all the same. He’s heading out for more business with Howard, trying not to go absolutely mental due to all the electricity everywhere. Meanwhile, Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) is up to no good, spying, waiting for them to leave Chuck’s place.
The older brother is suffering, but manages to get himself in for the hearing involving Mesa Verde. However, after a short time things get held up by the board. Neither Chuck nor Howard look happy, as the head of the board brings up some problems with paperwork. Ah, the young McGill and his tricky ways! He’s managed to muck things up, at least for the time being. Because the hearing gets rattled, as does Chuck whose mental illness starts to get worse with every negative stroke against them. Back at home, he’s inconsolable. He’s degrading. All because Jimmy pulled a fast one, and big brother might just know it.
So what’s next for Mike and his plan? He watches Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis) go nuts in the groceteria, Nacho (Michael Mando) watching on. It looks like Hector stumbles, not well. Mike is very interested in that. Is this headed where I’m thinking? Is it possible that Mike is the reason Hector ends up having a stroke? Or is a more direct, violent resolution coming? For the time being, he drinks at a bar and even buys a round for the house. Hubris, Mike. Be careful.


In other news, Jimmy and Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) are digging into their new office space, clearing out all the dentist office chairs, so on. Getting the place ready for it to become their shared space, each to run their own firms across the hall from one another. It’s a wonderful life, right? Even better since Mesa Verde is crawling back to Kim after Jimmy and his recent stunt. The house of lies he’s always building will eventually come crashing down. We know that because that’s how he ends up on the trajectory to becoming Saul Goodman, to meeting Jesse Pinkman, later Walter White. The suspense going forward is all about how he balances the entire act, as the lies get bigger he’ll be taking more chances, telling larger lies, putting more and more on the line. For now, it’s a bit of document forging to help Kim, and himself, out in their new venture. Who knows how god damn wide the lies can and will get.
We now know Chuck is onto Jimmy’s little games. He’s even changed the locks, too. Chuck lays it all out for Kim, he wants and needs her to hear it. Of course, Jimmy doesn’t want her to hear a thing. He plays it off, trying to make it seem like a crazy idea. But Kim knows him a little too well. Can she look past that to believe Jimmy? Doubt it. This is about to taint every last little bit of Jimmy’s life; penultimate Season 2 closer and all. The whole act by Jimmy was meant as a “twisted romantic gesture” Chuck claims, an attempt at chivalric action. Kim will not immediately believe Chuck, though. Luckily for the younger McGill. In fact, she sort of tears Chuck down for his treatment of Jimmy. Sadly, it’s all on false pretense because we know the exact truth. Afterwards, in the car, it seems pretty obvious she suspects and likely knows the truth.


Chuck (to Jimmy): “You and Mozart, huh?”
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The makeshift commercial Jimmy’s been shooting is ready to clue up. They wait for a schoolyard to clear out, to use the American flag. Amazing, and hilarious. “You wanna be a filmmaker, grow a pair,” Jimmy explains to his cohorts. He ends up crafting another bullshit story for some teachers who come out wondering why he’s there, including “Escape” by Rupert Holmes. This part had me in stitches, simply because of how smooth Bob Odenkirk plays it and the whole sketchy part of Saul that continually peeks its head out from underneath Jimmy McGill.
Again, we’re back to Mike. He reveals being from Philly, this being his first winter in the ABQ. He seems happy. Almost too happy. Nacho gives him a call and changes all that. He reveals they were jacked “a couple hundred thousand“, as well as the fact he believes Mike did it. Due to a reluctance for murder. He’s mostly worried about any blowback that might involve him, in case Mike’s involvement is figured out. There’s a rift growing between Nacho and Mike, as the former isn’t impressed with the latter’s quest for revenge against Hector. But Mike says now he’s done. Only the scene Mike left was cleaned up, and a “Good Samaritan” took a bullet to the face. This will not sit well with the honourable criminal.


And speaking of rifts, there is one splitting between Kim and Jimmy already. She seems to accept his bad behaviour, but warns him, in a roundabout way, that caution is absolutely necessary. At the copy place, Chuck’s already got the situation being worked on. Uh oh. Inside, Jimmy bribes out some compliance from the copy shop attendant. A Band-Aid solution, though, the quick fix works this time. Soon enough the electricity sends Chuck into a downright crazy episode, ending with him cracking his head on a counter.
Jimmy watches on helplessly, hoping someone will call 9-11. But nobody does.


What a whopper of a finish to this episode. I’m dying to see the last episode, “Klick”, and to see what happens with Chuck. If Jimmy has caused the death of his brother, or made him into a vegetable, this is some dark shit. And I dig it.

Better Call Saul – Season 1, Episode 8: “Fifi”

AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 1, Episode 8: “Fifi”
Directed by Larysa Kondracki
Written by Thomas Schnauz

* For a review of the previous episode, “Inflatable” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Nailed” – click here
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This episode starts with some Mexican food trucks heading across the border. One of them is taken aside to be searched. The whole process is incredibly detailed, thoroughly every aspect of the truck is checked, rechecked, examined under close scrutiny. Meanwhile, the driver stands waiting for clearance. Afterwards he drives on towards his destination, which is a little more unorthodox than the strict, ordered procedure he’d just watched happen. We’re also very aware this is not the first time this man’s gone through the whole mess.


Funny. Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) and Kim (Rhea Seehorn) eat outside a place called the Dog House. Well, he wants Kim to get her resignation taken care of that night. But she’s setting boundaries and making sure they stick to their own type of lawyering, one way or another.
She heads over to see Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian), to get things done on her own terms. Of course he’s already heard, supposedly, about where she’s headed. He has no idea about her branching out solo, though. A nice shock to his system. Naturally, he susses out that she and Jimmy will be having something to do with each other. Either way there seems to be no hard feelings. Not off the bat, anyways. For his part, Howard has dreams that fell short despite all the things he does have. There’s a little sad boy lurking somewhere in Hamlin, crushed down by money and power. First thing he does when she’s right out the door? Starts going after the big clients she wanted to take with her.


In other news, the man from the truck earlier drops off product to the Mexican groceteria. The one Mike (Jonathan Banks) is staking out, where he had his meeting with Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis) and the crew. Exactly what is Mike planning? We’ll sure find out soon enough. He’s watching the place like a hawk, and finally a car pulls through after hours. Sure enough it’s Hector. Who knows what Mike is about to do. Something drastic, no doubt.
Kim is busy pitching herself to the Mesa Verde folk, and doing a nice job. But it’s tough on your own. She then heads off with Jimmy to look at possible locations for their new office. Her distracted attitude catches his attention, obviously. She all but locked down the Verde deal. Things are looking really good.
At home, Chuck (Michael McKean) is, as always, sitting in the dark working. Up turns Howard, worried about Mesa Verde. Chuck’s very annoyed once figuring out Jimmy has a part to play in the whole situation. Nevertheless, Howard is focused on keeping their big client. And so Chuck readies himself. Anything in order to stop the greasy power of younger brother Jimmy. He’s even willing to forego shutting off the lights and having everyone hand in their cellphones, hoping to not appear “crazy” or anything similar. Before the meeting he struts around in his tinfoil cape. He’ll push himself through the illness all to keep the client, to screw Jimmy, and by proxy Kim, too.
Chuck lays it on real thick. He even manages to plant a seed of doubt into the whole conversation, casually turning their eyes back towards HHM. Hmm. Seems the older brother is as good as the younger brother McGill at selling the slick one. Then once they’re finished he nearly collapses. Crazy bastard.


On an air base, Jimmy’s got another scheme happening. We’re introduced to the titular Fifi – a large aircraft. Along with the two young men who helped film his earlier commercial at Davis & Main, McGill’s got a lot of fun going on, making things seem legit. Until they’re left alone with the big bomber. They’ve got themselves another filming going on.
Jimmy gets a call about Chuck, who’s having lots of trouble after his day at the office. It’s clear Jimmy cares about his brother. But quickly he has to get back to the bomber scheme, as some military men want pictures with the supposed war hero they’ve been wheeling around. This is one of my favourite scenes of the season on comedic value. Almost made me cry a couple times, the veteran was way too funny.
Tragedy now for Jimmy and Kim, as the verdict on Mesa Verde comes down; they’re sticking with Howard and Chuck. Now she wants to think things over, though, Jimmy would rather go forward, as a “team” and such. His optimism nearly outshines his willingness to do things outside the box.


Back to Mike now. He’s spying on Hector still, as they’ve arrived at a garage somewhere. It’s clear some type of deal is going down. The delivery truck shows up, too. Off to the side Mike sits in his Chrysler, laying low, watching via binoculars. What are they doing inside? And what exactly is Mike going to do with/about it?


The devastated Chuck lies on his couch under a foil blanket, lantern burning in the darkness. His younger brother checks on him to make sure he’s all right. Even if he doesn’t want to necessarily. And naughty, naughty; Jimmy goes through some of Chuck’s files. Particularly those marked Mesa Verde. Then again, if the older brother is ready to play underhanded ball, then I suppose we can’t blame him either.
Then the genius of James McGill comes out. He goes to a copy place and gets to work, cutting out numbers, gluing them elsewhere, scanning documents, copying. Oh, he’s got some nastiness up his sleeve. All those years as an amateur conman are proving themselves worthy in his lawyer days. Back at Chuck’s the documents are slipped into their rightful place once more.


Again, we’re with Mike. He helps his granddaughter doing some chores around the house. It’s so cute how he acts with her, very clear that this grandpa is a loving one. No matter if he’s involved in nefarious doings under the cover of night. But getting those glimpses of him with his family, this caring side, it fleshes out his character instead of him being totally one-dimensional.
What’s most interesting, though, is how the project his daughter helped him with is not a sprinkler for the “rhododendrons” in his backyard, but a hose he’s filling with nails, fitting them into the holes he and his granddaughter drilled. Looks like he’s planning to blow a few tires. An ambush, maybe.
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We need to wait for “Nailed” – appropriately titled – in order to figure out what Mike has in store for Hector and the crew. Stay tuned with me, fellow fans.

Better Call Saul – Season 2, Episode 7: “Inflatable”

AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 2, Episode 7: “Inflatable”
Directed by Colin Bucksey
Written by Gordon Smith

* For a review of the previous episode, “Bali Ha’i” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Fifi” – click here
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This episode begins with The Stampeders’ “Sweet City Woman” playing softly in the background. A young kid grabs himself a copy of Playboy off the shelf – young James McGill, in fact. Meanwhile, his father listens to a man at the counter with his father. This exchange pits little Jimmy against the man; one bullshitter knows another. The father, all the while is clueless. Before the man leaves he says to Jimmy: “There are wolves and sheep in this world, kid. Wolves and sheep. Figure out which one youre gonna be.” Afterwards, this prompts lil’ Jim to take a bit of cash from the till for himself.


Back to present series times. Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) has Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) helping him once more. He’s trying to get the whole Tuco Salamanca (Raymond Cruz) situation cleared up, or else deal with the wrath of the cartel and Uncle Hector (Mark Margolis). Naturally, Jimmy works a bit of magic, and then slips Mike out of the room without saying too much.
On the phone later, Jimmy talks with Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn). She’s still whipping up a nice deal with Rick Schweikart (Dennis Boutsikaris). Hopefully it goes well. She has been the slave girl at HHM far too long. At the same time, Jimmy’s getting ready to resign from Davis and Main. Omar (Omar Maskati) brings up a few good points, though, about the company car, et cetera, and possible payments he’d have to make. So Jimmy switches his tune proper quick.
What’s going on in the mind of James McGill? An oddly happy look in his eyes is tough to read. Well, at home, the first look of Saul Goodman comes out. After seeing one of those big inflatable men in the wind his style comes out. Lots of wild looking colours, bright ties. His whole demeanour changes, he becomes more of who he once was, back when that man in the store told him – choose, or else the world will choose for you. Even a ridiculously funny scene where Jimmy’s busted for not flushing his shits, concerned about the local “watershed” and so on. This whole sequence absolutely slayed me. It introduces us to who Jimmy will become. Plus, he’s obviously looking to be fired, or pawned off somewhere. Finally it’s the bagpipes he plays in his office that puts Clifford Main (Ed Begley Jr) over the edge. Now Jimmy’s got himself out, bonus in tact.


Jimmy: “Hey Clifffor what its worth, I think youre a good guy.”
Cliff: “For what its worth I think youre an asshole
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In other news, Jimmy has the idea of starting his own firm with Kim – Wexler McGill. He loves her, but also has huge faith in her skills as a lawyer. Together, they could be a force to be reckoned with, possibly. “Or we fail and we end up with nothing,” Kim quips. She still has doubts, clearly. Especially with Schweikart’s deal on the table, very enticing, very surefooted unlike this new enterprise with Jimmy. She wants his assurance that he’ll “play it straight” and not “be colourful” – he tries to pretend, then comes clean. He can only be himself. Ultimately, Kim wants Jimmy, as a lover, a friend. Not a partner in law.
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Jimmy: “Ive been tryinto be the person someone else wants me to be for I dont know how long. I mean first it was Chuck, then it was youand that’s not your fault, that was my choice. But if were gonna do this, I gotta go into it as me. So, yeah. Colourful, I guess.”


Mike’s busy trying to move daughter-in-law Stacey (Kerry Condon) into a nice place. She is very happy to be getting into a new neighbourhood, a safe place. At heart, he is a good man. An honourable one, to the fullest. Might be mixed up in some wild shit, but Mike is a decent human being. Somewhere along the line things just got complicated. Later, we find him still watching the Salamanca crew, their little diner hideout. What’s he planning?
Back at the nail salon, Jimmy is moving things in, including his cocobolo desk from Davis and Main. “Onward and upward,” he says to Omar. But without Kim and the supposed new firm, where does Jimmy go next from here? Somewhere colourful, no doubt. He starts to record a voicemail message for himself, one to lure people into believing he’s got an actual office. It’s going to something more for him to break through this way.
And Kim is meeting with Schweikart and his people. They seem fairly impressed with her, especially Rick himself, who eyes her with both admiration and maybe something else. Regardless, they’re all happy with her interview. Even after she calls Rick by the name of Howard. There’s something else going on with Kim, too. The relationship she has with Jimmy has an odd sort of stranglehold on her.
She rushes over to the salon quick. He is happy as a clam being on his own again, even if in the back o a nail shop. Then Kim reveals her decision to go “solo practice” and it catches Jimmy off guard. She proposes they find a space together, just practice law separately. A-ha. Although, it doesn’t seem to be exactly what Jimmy had hoped. It’s still good, all the same.


Nice episode that’s heading towards something big. What can we expect from Mike’s situation? And how much more of Saul Goodman is going to peek its head from under the disguise of Jimmy McGill? We’ll see in the next episode, titled “Fifi”, so stay tuned with me, fellow fans.

Better Call Saul – Season 2, Episode 6: “Bali Ha’i”

AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 2, Episode 6: “Bali Ha’i”
Directed by Michael Slovis
Written by Gennifer Hutchison

* For a review of the previous episode, “Rebecca” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Inflatable” – click here
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With the previous episode giving us more insight into the troubled relationship between the Brothers McGill – Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) and Chuck (Michael McKean) – this week’s “Bali Ha’i” promises even more developments.
We start out with an image similar to where we saw Chuck in the last episode with his former wife. Except it’s Jimmy, in bed. Alone. Unable to sleep, Jimmy flicks through the channels from infomercials to C-Span to a Sand Piper commercial like the original one before he got his hands on it. Things aren’t looking so glamorous here for ole James McGill. He spends a bunch of the night throwing little decorative wicker balls around, in different ways, different made-up games. Until he can’t take it anymore. He heads over to the old spa, to the shifty backroom where he practiced law before Clifford Main (Ed Begley Jr) scooped him up, before Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) got right in the picture. Before all this. Back there, Jimmy can lay his head down and actually get some sleep. Almost heavy handed, yet love this opening sequence. Great writing, on the nose.


Meanwhile, Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) is just as interesting a character. Her whole life has been thrown for a whirlwind since Jimmy’s commercial fiasco. On her answering machine, she gets a message from Jimmy singing the titular song “Bali Ha’i” by South Pacific. He’s clearly in love, bad. Even though he screws up, even though he can’t keep from being criminal, he is charming.
Nothing is going too smooth for Jimmy right now. Not his life, not even fitting the coffee mug Kim gave him into the cupholder of his car. Back to Kim, though. She is trying to get a read of Howard now that she’s no longer banished to the boardrooms of nowhere sorting files. Howard upsets me; he’s like a robot, a soulless man who puts on a mask. Either way, they meet with Kevin Wachtell (Rex Linn) and Paige (Cara Pifko) on the new business.
Then there’s Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks). He’s greeted at home by an associate of Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis) named Arturo (Vincent Fuentes) who requires an answer re: the deal from last episode. “Respectfully Im gonna have to say no,” advises Mike. Afterwards, he literally lays a welcome mat on his front porch. Curious.
Kim’s in court doing her thing over the Sand Piper case. At the defense table is Rick Schweikart (Dennis Boutsikaris). He takes it upon himself to talk with Kim. “You went down swinging and I admire that,” says Schweikart. He ends up inviting her out for lunch, which might possibly lead to something better career wise for Kim. Let’s hope. She acts grateful to HHM, but you know there are some bad feelings on that part. He gives her a good pitch about the life of a lawyer, and offers her a position at his firm; including helping to pay off her student debt, et cetera, all the bells, the whistles, too. And still she is reluctant. Too loyal. Perhaps says something about the way she is with Jimmy, as well. Her loyalty brings her nothing in the end, sadly.


At his place, Mike reveals the trick to his mat – underneath is a sheet of paper, helping him figure out there’s been people at the door. He checks everything carefully, rubbing the door frame, the knob, checking for any sign of people entering his home. He heads inside, gun drawn. All I keep thinking is, despite whatever’s happened since, Mike must’ve made an impressive cop once upon a time. He isn’t perfect, though, the way he does things is so methodical. And it doesn’t feel contrived as a character, like the writers are almost visible there crafting him in front of us. His character comes off as organic, especially considering how Jonathan Banks plays him.
He ends up getting the jump on two guys waiting for him. It’s Arturo and another man. “Whats the message?” asks Mike. They were only trying to “scare” him. Nonetheless, the older man wins out, then washes the blood of his hands and gun in the sink. You can tell he doesn’t want to live this life. More than that, his hands are shaking, it’s giving him pause about all of the things he’s forced to do; all out of necessity. Even further, his granddaughter and daughter-in-law are stuck at the motel. Everything is pressing down on Mike.
The worst yet? He spies two men watching him – another Breaking Bad reference, as the Cartel brothers Marco (Luis Moncada) and Leonel (Daniel Moncada) loom in the distance. Trouble; big fucking trouble. And Mike don’t like that. Not when it involves his family. What I like is that he’s still tender with his granddaughter while stressed to the maximum, he doesn’t freak out and haul her away like a madman. The writing of his character is excellent and nuanced.


Kim does consider the offer she got earlier, sticking around the restaurant bar after Schweikart leaves. Then a man tries picking her up, which she seems to dig. At least a little. All of a sudden, she calls Jimmy: “Ive got a live one on the hook.” So that hook up on the verge of happening wasn’t exactly one after all. More so it’s Kim realizing she may be more like Jimmy than she’d ever imagined. They start running a con on her target. Jimmy reels out a big story about their dot-com company maybe going public, drawing out the big fish in him. Looks like Jimmy and Kim are a couple again. Momentarily, anyways.
At a groceteria, Nacho (Michael Mando) receives Mike. There, he meets with Hector, the Cartel Brothers and Arturo along as protection. Hector wants Mike to go to the D.A, to get Tuco (Raymond Cruz) off the hook for the gun possession. No more cash, either. “How about the payment is you get to leave?” Hector asks, and warns all at once. Everything starts getting tangly, with Mike reaching for his gun, starting to make everyone nervous. Seems for now a deal is struck. $50,000 and Mike takes the rap for the gun.


Hector (to Mike): “How you managed to live so long with a mouth like that, hmm?”


Luckily, Mike does have Nacho on his side. Not that it makes things better for Nacho. But Mike offers up half of the money to him; payment for a job completely improperly.
On the other side of town, Jimmy and Kim are waking up together. They pulled a fast one on their friend at the restaurant, coming out of it with free drinks, dinner, and a nice “souvenir” cheque made out to Ice Station Zebra Associates. Amazing. Also, Kim is wobbling between wanting to leave HHM, and not knowing what’s best for her. Just like her situation as a lover to Jimmy – maybe not the best thing for her, and she keeps on keeping on like an addiction. The cup she gave him not fitting in the holder is symbolic of their lives together; they do not fit. So in the end Jimmy uses a tire iron to smash the holder apart. He makes the cup fit. A perfect parallel to the relationship with Kim. They don’t fit, but he is determined to make his life fit the required structure. No matter what the consequence or price.


This is such a great season. Very excited to see next week’s episode, “Inflatable”, so stick with me as we cruise through Season 2 together.