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.

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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 5: “Rebecca”

AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 2, Episode 5: “Rebecca”
Directed by John Shiban
Written by Ann Cherkis

* For a review of the previous episode, “Gloves Off” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Bali Ha’i” – click here
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With Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) recovering from his recent beating, as well as Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) licking his wounds for the time being and trying to keep Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) in his life, Better Call Saul‘s Season 2 continues on full steam ahead.
This episode begins with Chuck McGill (Michael McKean) setting up dim lights, putting on a record then getting dinner ready. His wife, Rebecca (Ann Cusack), is helping, too. They’re normal, happy, talking about work and their day. Turns out this is when Rebecca meets brother Jimmy.
What an excellent, interesting flash into the past of the Brothers McGill. A time when Jimmy was unsuccessful, the lesser brother doing nothing, and when Chuck did not have his serious affliction to the electronics around him. So what exactly happened from there to the present timeline? Regardless, Chuck gives the signal to his wife, hoping to get Jimmy out of the house, but she’s more interested in hearing the younger brother’s jokes. Later in bed when Chuck tries one out it doesn’t get near the same response.
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Back to 2003. Jimmy is finding it tough to adjust to office life, from the regular everyday grind to the recycling situation. The “house style” is being introduced to Jimmy, including punctuation and so on. Something he’s not entirely interested in; too much micromanaging. At the same time, Kim is dodging Jimmy on the phone while doing the dirty work in a boardroom, her new assignment for aiding him in the commercial fiasco. He shows up soon enough suggesting she sue Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill. Jimmy’s mostly concerned with Chuck and his involvement, though she insists this is her “paying the price” for her idiotic decision to side with Jimmy. And she wants him to clean up his act, as well as to stop bullshitting.
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Kim: “You dont save me. I save me.”
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At the office, Jimmy is forced to deal with the co-worker, Erin (Jessie Ennis), he ducked the night before. Simultaneously, Kim is trying to gain more clients for HHM, either getting refused or hit on or let down easily from one call to the next. Kudos to her all the same; she’s trying, unlike Jimmy who takes frequent shortcuts.
And finally, back to Mike. He’s checking in on daughter-in-law Stacey (Kerry Condon). Grandpa Mike has put her and his granddaughter up in a hotel, having fun. He’s busy with his day job, nursing those old wounds, which he attributes to a car crash. The next chapters in the life of Mike will certainly be interesting to see.
Erin and Jimmy come up against one another when he tries to give over a Beanie Baby to get a court date. She won’t have this “bribe“, but he insists it’s simply a little gift. He’s forced to take later date than hoped, worried about Howard (Patrick Fabian) getting reports from Erin. In a bathroom, Jimmy sees an old friend who queries him on all the benefits of working at Davis & Main: “Id kill my mother for a fireplace,” he says after hearing Jimmy has one in his office.
A nice Spanish cover of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” accompanies more of Kim wheeling and dealing, trying to drum up some more business for herself in order to get back in the HHM good books. Not too long and she receives a positive phone call, one that has her nearly jumping for joy. Maybe things are looking up for ole Wexler.


Up at the HHM offices arrive Paige (Cara Pifko) and Kevin (Rex Linn), clearly from a large banking institution. Howard lays on the charm with stories of being a boy and his “first bank account“, along with a silhouetted cowboy banking book. What a greaser. None of what Kim’s done phases him, as he keeps up a smug demeanour the entire time. He essentially banishes her back down to the boardroom on review without looking at her twice. Ouch.
In the low light of Chuck’s place, Howard meets with him. They talk of Kim and her latest accomplishment. But she’s not “out of the doghouse“, as Howard makes that clear. A ton of work coming from what Kim has done, yet Hamlin is far less enthused than Chuck. Perhaps a further vendetta by Howard is causing this behaviour towards Kim?


In other news, Chuck arrives, lantern in hand, to the office. At his desk he whittles away the time doing work. Until a low level light starts to bother him. He finds Kim putting away some files and they chat over coffees. She flat out asks Chuck: “Do I have a future at this firm?” He goes into his own disappointment with brother Jimmy, as if trying to sabotage every bit of the life he’s trying to create for himself. There’s a discussion of the McGill father, supposedly a perfect, good man, whose hard work allowed them to survive and prosper. Until money troubles made it all difficult, prompting Chuck into an accounting position; Jimmy “pilfered” thousands of dollars, according to big brother. The start of all the woes. The start of all Chuck’s aggravation with his brother.
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Chuck (re: Jimmy): “He cant help himself. Then everyones left picking up the pieces.”
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At a diner, Mike is greeted by a familiar Breaking Bad face: Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis). He wants to talk about the recent trouble with Tuco (Raymond Cruz), the old man’s nephew: “He should have shown you respect. I apologize to you, on behalf of my family.” Mike accepts this gracious offering. They talk about how long Tuco ought to stay behind bars, perhaps there’s a different way out of everything.
It’s fun to see Hector long before the stroke immobilized him, before he could only talk with a bell nailed to his wheelchair. Adds a larger dimension to him, as well as gives us things to look forward to in this series.


Can’t wait for the next episode, “Bali Ha’i”, and with all these developments it’ll absolutely be intriguing. Stay tuned, my fellow fans.

Better Call Saul – Season 2, Episode 4: “Gloves Off”

AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 2, Episode 4: “Gloves Off”
Directed by Adam Bernstein
Written by Gordon Smith

* For a review of the previous episode, “Amarillo” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Rebecca” – click here
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With Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) in hot water with Clifford Main (Ed Begley Jr) over the Davis & Main commercial, is Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) about to feel blowback, too? And what about Nacho (Michael Mando) and his request to Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) at the end of “Amarillo”?
“Gloves Off” begins on Mike, which is always a treat. He comes home with a manila envelope filled with money. He has a nice sip of Blue Ribbon from the fridge and puts some frozen carrots on his aching face. Mike sits in his living room and rests. It’s clear there have been goings on. Likely major ones. Then in the light we see his face is beat to pieces; a swollen eye, cuts, Band-Aids. From his pocket he removes a silver chain of some sort, two diamond-studded boxing gloves on it. Very, very interesting.
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Cut to Jimmy’s commercial – the black-and-white setup, the old woman in the rocking chair as she does a voice-over narration, then looks into the camera. Jimmy’s trying to show Cliff and the board what he came up with, though, nobody looks too pleased. At all. They couldn’t care less about money. They’re mostly concerned with their name being on it. It’s definitely cheesy. However, Jimmy reveals they’ve received a couple hundred phone calls. Above all else, it’s insubordination on his part. But Jimmy fights, he’s always fighting, he clearly only wants to get ahead. “We are a team at Davis & Main,” says Cliff, trying to make Jimmy understand. It’s a 2-1 vote to fire him. Except Cliff is a “fan of second chances” and that keeps him around a little while longer.
Jimmy tries to call Kim. But she’s in a meeting with Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian), and surprise, surprise – Chuck McGill (Michael McKean). They are not pleased either, with her involvement concerning Jimmy’s experimental commercial. So, yes, Kim is getting the blowback of Jimmy’s decision. It’s unclear how hard that will come at her.


So finally, back to Mike and Nacho. We’re likely going to see more of Tuco Salamanca (Raymond Cruz), as he’s brought up in conversation by Nacho in reference to the new job for which they require Mike’s help. Special reference.
There is a plan in place. Mike gets tasked with the “headshot“, but he has lots of questions for Nacho. Mike’s a guy who likes to have everything planned, start to finish; he needs an exit plan, all the details. Yet Nacho says that’s he is there for – to iron all that out. What I love here is that Nacho sheds light on the character of Tuco, more than we’ve even seen from Breaking Bad, and we’re able to get a look behind the curtain of madness. We hear a story about Tuco killing a guy, which put a piece of the man’s skull underneath Nacho; a mark he still carries with him. So, this entire plan is a way to get Tuco up and out, as he’s getting hard into the crystal meth. But we know better, those of us Breaking Bad fans, about what happens to Tuco. What’s extremely fun to watch is how everything plays out, not knowing exactly how things end up the way they do. And regardless, Mike is in on the job for “fifty grand“, so I can’t wait to connect the events of the episode to our grim beginning.
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At the office, Jimmy shows up after hours. He finds Kim’s desk wiped out, completely bare. Downstairs in one of the board rooms, she’s face down in a ton of work. Jimmy tries apologizing. But that doesn’t do a whole lot of good. He’s safe in his job for now, yet Kim has been knocked down a few pegs, taking the blame. Their relationship is fast degenerating. Every greasy move Jimmy makes puts them further apart. He wants to fight the good fight for her. Although, that’s not what she wants either. “If you go to Howard, you and I are done,” Kim explains to him. They aren’t finished just yet, but she tells Jimmy: “I need this job.”
Nevertheless, Jimmy does go to see Chuck. He’s about to go inside without checking his electronics at the door. Instead, being the dutiful brother, Jimmy deposits them loudly into the mailbox then heads inside. He finds his brother wrapped up in a foil blanket on the couch, in what looks like great pain. Something I love about Jimmy is that he hates how his brother treats him, hates the be underestimated and looked down upon, but STILL, he always helps Chuck, he looks after his older brother without question, even in times he’s incredibly aggravated with him. It’s noble. Tragic in a way, too.
Another Breaking Bad reference – Lawson (Jim Beaver), the man who got Walter White some of his heavy artillery later in the series, brings a sniper rifle for Mike to look at. They meet in another little hotel room, all hush-hush. Mike’s not too happy with the weight and size of the first one. Then he’s shown a smaller one, that might not be “a hernia with a scope on it“; excellent line. Love how the parent series bleeds into this one without feeling forced. These characters we see again, other than the main ones, are worked in organically, and provide that little thrill for fans who remember them. Finally, he finds the A-1 model of sniper rifle, one he seems to know well – this gives us an idea that Mike possibly served in the army, remarking someone ought to have figured out its complications before sending it into the “jungle“; highly suggests Vietnam. More character development, another thing I dig so much about this series.


Jimmy’s trying to talk with Chuck about Kim. The older brother denies his part in any of the nonsense happening. Chuck lays it all on Howard – “Can he talk when you drink a glass of water?” Jimmy asks. But Jimmy goes on white knighting, trying his hardest to take the full blame of his commercial fiasco. At the same time, Kim didn’t say a word about not knowing what was going on, and that shows she tried protecting him. “Thats your problem,” Chuck tells his brother: “You think the ends justify the means.” Instead of trying to stand behind his brother at all, Chuck harps on about Jimmy being irresponsible, about his inability to take things seriously. Furthermore, Jimmy tries to make a deal with his brother. Chuck won’t admit he doesn’t want Jimmy in the law business. But the latter knows his older brother wants that: “I need to hear it from your mouth.” Essentially, Jimmy wants him to commit extortion, he simply can’t get Chuck to admit the real truth, despite anything that’s at stake.
Meanwhile, Mike doesn’t agree to the job Nacho offers. He doesn’t want to “draw Salamancas like flies” by killing Tuco and alerting the cartel. “Somethings gotta give,” Nacho says: “With or without you.” Not trying to rock the boat hard enough to sink it, Mike suggests making Tuco “go away“, but how?
Now we get another Breaking Bad reference – Krazy-8 (Max Arciniega) meets with Tuco and Nacho, dropping off a fat roll of money. Interesting to see Krazy-8 not as the gangster he was when meeting Walter and Jesse, but a green little guy worming his way into the meth business. Again, love these characters reappearing and filling out the world of Vince Gilligan and Co.


Outside the restaurant where Tuco and Nacho conduct business, Mike waits across the street by a payphone. He puts a voice on, reporting a “gang thing” happening around the area. Perfect, slick little moment on the part of Mike; he wipes off his fingerprints before heading out. Pulling into the restaurant parking lot he dings Tuco’s car a little. On purpose, or no? Tuco’s not happy – you can also notice the diamond-studded pendant hanging from his neck. Mike gets confronted by Tuco, who calls him “Mr. Magoo” and gets angry when he thinks the old guy is calling him “a liar“, which then brings Nacho into the situation. The talk heads outside, with Mike getting more belligerent by the minute; he agrees to exchange insurance and so on. Tuco won’t be having any of that. But the further this goes, we can see Mike is playing a game. What is it? How will it play?
After things start to get a little physically intimidating, and Nacho looks more nervous by the second, Tuco brandishes his gun. Once Nacho leaves at the sound of sirens nearby, a fight starts between Tuco and Mike. The older man manages to keep himself from death, but gets a nasty beatdown. When the police show up, things finish. And Mike is able to live another day, albeit with a few nasty bumps and bruises.
Afterwards, he meets Nacho in their usual dark place. “Wow,” exclaims Nacho after seeing Mike’s face: “Look at you.” At least now Tuco will be out of commission for a while. “You went a long way to not pull that trigger,” says Nacho: “Why?” But no reply from Mike, no answer at all. Just a look, a bruised and beaten smile.


This way another excellent chapter in the series. I love that Mike Ehrmantraut gets as much of a backstory and dissection as Jimmy/Saul. Can’t wait for “Rebecca” next week. Stay tuned with me, friends and fellow fans.

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

AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 2, Episode 3: “Amarillo”
Directed by Scott Winant
Written by Jonathan Glatzer; Story by Gordon Smith

* For a review of the previous episode, “Cobbler” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Gloves Off” – click here
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The third episode of AMC’s Better Call Saul Season 3 kicks off as Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) stands against a wall painted like the Texas state flag. He’s dressed like a true blue-and-red cowboy, with a bag at his feet. A bus stops then Jimmy heads inside looking for an Alma Mae, who he couldn’t get to see at Sand Piper. He talks with Alma a little about the money he’s going to get back for her. Jimmy does his best talking, as usual, to try and get everyone on the same page. The showman in Jimmy comes out and impresses all the seniors on the bus. Another move in the sly poker hand of lawyer James McGill. In fact, he’s so impressive all the people on the bus are right in the palm of his hand.
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At the table of Davis & Main, Chuck (Michael McKean) sits across from Jimmy now, as well as Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn), then there’s bossmen Clifford Main (Ed Begley Jr) and Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian). Of course Jimmy gets to boast about signing all those Sand Piper clients on the bus (though I’m sure how he did so was a secretive venture). Cliff is happy. Although, Chuck does his best to punch his brother in the gut, bringing up the possibility of his “solicitation” and making things awkward for everybody. Yet Jimmy’s slippery, as we know. He retorts with the claim of Sand Piper as a “closeknit community“, which seems to assuage the board’s curiousity. Chuck lets it go. For now; he’s just hellbent on torpedoing his brother.
Jimmy’s still after Kim, playing footsie beneath the table. Only she seems reluctant to engage. Then Jimmy pipes up saying he’ll hold back on big meetings with the seniors, possibly hoping to impress Kim. Because she’s still not happy about the events of “Cobbler” where Jimmy falsified evidence, or more so fabricated it. She is further unhappy with Jimmy likely soliciting all those clients. “You said in there youd find another way,” Kim starts: “Did you mean it?” He tells her yes, but she isn’t exactly convinced. Their relationship is fragmented. She put herself out there with everyone to get Jimmy in that position, now his conman ways that won’t wash off are threatening her reputation. Not immediately. But if Hamlin and Main, as well as Chuck, figure out what he’s up to all the time, there’s no telling what might happen.


Cut to Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks). He’s playing with his granddaughter. Meanwhile, his own daughter-in-law Stacey (Kerry Condon) is cooking in the kitchen. He also has money to drop off. Stacey’s got worries, though. Gunshots have been blasting a little too nearby for her liking. Mike offers to stay over, to keep them safe, but Stacey is obviously as independent as possible, a proud, strong woman in her own right. We know that Mike isn’t going to let the gunshot business sit. What’s he going to do from here?
At the office, Jimmy is trying to figure out how to do things without soliciting clients. He brings problems with the mailers to Cliff. Jimmy believes very specific television advertising is the answer, to mash in a Davis & Main between Murder, She Wrote and other similar programs the seniors watch.
Here, we finally see the first television advert involving Jimmy; one of many, as us Breaking Bad fans remember. Originally they get a terribly generic, uninspired advertisement just giving the basic facts, a phone number, et cetera.
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Jimmy: “What ever happened to showmanship?”
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On his own, Jimmy gets two young film students to help him record an advertisement segment. He’s got his own ideas on how to boost their clients. Hilarious banter to start between Jimmy and the young dudes. We’re now seeing the Saul creep out of Jimmy, more and more. “Im ready for my closeup, Mr. McGill,” says an old woman coming down the stairs on an electric lift. One of the best lines I’ve heard on anything in ages. Especially with Jimmy holding his fingers up like a frame, watching her descend.
Back to Mike. He’s taken it upon himself to do a stakeout at his daughter-in-law’s place – radio via earpiece, sandwich and all. Sitting quietly outside, Mike sees a car pull up slowly. He readies his piece, checking that it’s loaded. But it’s just a car dropping newspapers off. When the morning comes and nothing is wrong, Mike heads in to work, obviously tired, back likely hurting from sitting in the car all night. Then he gets a call on his cell from Stacey – he rushes back to her place. She shows him a bullet mark by the garage door, saying she heard shots in the night. But Mike was there all night, he knows it didn’t happen then. Still, he tells her: “I believe you.”
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Hanging out together once more, Jimmy and Kim are always hovering around becoming a serious couple. For now, Jimmy shows off the ad he put together. Shot in black-and-white, circling around to find an old woman rocking in a chair by herself, along with a tragic voiceover narration. The old lady cries, due to “Visine“, and then Jimmy comes in with the phone number, the information, all that over top. Kim is actually impressed with the directorial efforts by Jimmy, saying it’ll definitely get to the Sand Piper seniors. However, little comments from Kim make it clear to Jimmy he’s still the underdog, still being considered as someone who can’t get things done right or in the ‘honest’ way. The look on his face says it all. Over in the office, Jimmy hops on the phone to try and get hold of a television channel in Colorado. Is he about to sell the advertisement?


Jimmy: “Dont be jealous of my big bowl of balls. Its unbecoming.”
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Mike’s looking for a job. The vet he knows has a couple jobs, bodyguard positions mostly. Except everything Mike hears, he doesn’t exactly enjoy. The shady vet explains the need for “next level work” and that’s all there is to it. Quickly, though, Mike accepts a cheap job. Not that he wants to, but such are the times. It’s obvious, seeing him in Breaking Bad and seeing him now, Mike will do anything to help his family; anything.
Switch over to Jimmy. He seems a little nervous and sketchy. Obviously he’s waiting for the phone calls to come in from seniors. There’s a whole team of people setup to start receiving calls. All the while, Jimmy waits as the ad runs on television. This is a big moment for him – if the ad fails to draw in a significant number, perhaps Jimmy loses his pull with Cliff, and everyone else, and then Chuck wins. So Jimmy sits next to the phone, waiting impatiently.
When the calls do start coming, it finally lifts Jimmy’s spirits, and he sees the progress right in front of him; the ad worked perfectly.


While Stacey and her daughter sleep, Mike takes the couch. Though he doesn’t sleep, really. His phone rings about some “next level pay” – a serious, hush-hush job. Mike was specifically asked for to take care of the job.
Cut to Jimmy lounging with Kim. He gets a call, too. It’s Cliff, and he is not happy with the commercial. The boss lets loose over Jimmy for not passing the commercial through his approval. Cliff calls him “a god damn arsonist” while Jimmy tries to spin things for him, then gets hung up on. He has a date with the board to show them all the commercial. He then spins things for Kim, as well. Always spinning, that Jimmy.
Mike is heading out to latest job, shrouded in mystery. In a deserted location, he pulls up in his car, leaving the lights on. Nacho (Michael Mando) is waiting. He has a problem – “A who or a what?” asks Mike. Nacho needs a guy to “go away” and we end on a look from Mike that spells exasperation, as if he knows what’s coming.


Next episode is “Gloves Off” – who knows where the McGill story will head next.

Better Call Saul – Season 2, Episode 2: “Cobbler”

AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 2, Episode 2: “Cobbler”
Directed by Terry McDonough
Written by Gennifer Hutchison

* For a review of the previous episode, Season 2 premiere “Switch” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Amarillo” – click here
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After the excellent start to Season 2, Better Call Saul continues on, as we open on Chuck McGill (Michael McKean) playing the piano to his metronome. He plays beautifully, too. He stops once then goes again until messing up, getting angrier with himself this time. Soon, Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) arrives bearing newspapers, groceries and the like; an unexpected visitor. Chuck mentions he wants to go into the office for “an hour or two” soon, which surprises Hamlin. Then Howard also mentions Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) is working for Davis & Main, the firm of Clifford Main (Ed Begley Jr). Neither of them particularly respect Jimmy all that much from what I can tell. Is Howard using this as a way to push Chuck? Or do they merely share a caution re: Jimmy? Hard to know for sure. However, Chuck’s eyes tell the entire story afterwards when he sits back down to play his piano some more. He becomes lost, transfixed by the metronome. Interesting to see where Chuck goes from this point on.
Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) is busy getting things ready in a board room, making sure Jimmy is sitting next to her when the meeting happens. The sit close together while Clifford goes over some documents. Underneath the table, Kim plays a little footsie. Cut to the both of them having a cigarette in the parking garage, chatting. There’s an obvious feeling between them, whether or not Kim wants to push forward. But we can see, no matter how she plays it cool when they’re together, Kim is into Jimmy, big time. She even gives him a hilarious little coffee cup with “Worlds 2nd Best Lawyer” printed on it. They share a kiss before he leaves, though, she looks over her shoulder. Such a conflicted woman.
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Over at the salon, Jimmy shows off his new decked out car, which takes him away from the old office and into his new life. He looks through all the bells and whistles before trying to fit his new coffee mug in the holder. Except it’s too big: “Must be metric,” he says to himself. So ironic that such an expensive, beautiful piece of machinery can’t even fit his cheap little cup. This show cracks me up because, just like Breaking Bad, there come these hilarious little moments that would never be that funny anywhere else, yet here they are making me crack up.
Meanwhile, Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) sees the ghastly yellow Hummer belonging to Daniel Wormald (Mark Proksch) pull up. He’s not pleased at all. Daniel is there to talk with the police, which does nothing further to please Mike. They have a chat in the Hummer. Mike advises him it isn’t the greatest idea for a criminal to willing talk with cops, but Daniel brings up an interesting point: because he falls outside the law sometimes when selling his pharmaceuticals, does that put him outside the help of the police? I don’t know; sort of interesting. Mike tries his best to talk Daniel out of talking with the police, though Wormald is pissy and only wants his baseball cards back. Turns out, some of the cards stolen belonged to his father, so y’know – sentimental value and all. Mike reluctantly tells his dumb friend: “Ill find your cards.”
Head down, pen to paper, Jimmy is working hard for the new firm. After hearing a bit of beautiful guitar music through the office he finds his way into Clifford’s office, the man obviously has a talent on the six-string. Jimmy chats briefly with his new boss and brings up some interesting points he might have stumbled across already looking through the papers on their case. A good start for the scrappy dog McGill.
Mike is busy tracking down the baseball cards. He goes into an auto shop and pretends to be looking for seats to be upholstered. This is the workplace of Nacho Varga (Michael Mando). They end up outside, alone and able to talk. Nacho’s definitely not happy to see the old guy, not that it bothers Mike; he lays things out for Nacho, how it needs to work. But the younger of the two gets his back up, thinking Mike is threatening him, his family. Mike makes clear there’s a profit to be made if they do things his way.
Chuck’s almost ready to leave his house, to head into work. His foil-lined jacket on, chin up. Did Howard’s plan work? What’s the long-term game?
Cue Daniel handing his ghastly yellow and flame-painted Hummer’s keys over to Nacho. In return, the baseball cards go in Mike’s trunk, back to Wormald. Of course the nerd in Daniel has to go through the cards, tracking down particular items to make sure they’re in tact. “Looks like everyones here,” says Daniel with a big, goofy smile.
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Nacho (to Daniel): “Now, our business is concluded.”
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In the midst of Jimmy telling everyone what’s happening on his end of the case, Chuck shows up at the board room. Preceding this Howard asks everyone to turn off electronics, give over their cell phones, et cetera. A worried, downtrodden look appears on Jimmy’s face as he watches this begin to happen. Howard comes off as smug, letting Jimmy continue, as if expecting a big fuck up. Only with Kim giving him strength via a thigh squeeze under the table he has the confidence to speak with pride. After the meeting finishes, Jimmy and Chuck have an awkward conversation. “Why are you here?” asks Jimmy; “To bear witness,” Chuck replies cryptically.
Then Mike calls Jimmy, asking if he’s still “morally flexible” because Daniel is going to need representation. The younger McGill heads to the station to try and help the situation. For his part, Daniel bumbles and rambles through the interview. The detectives obviously know he’s guilty, or at the least that he knows something more than is being said out loud. But save-the-day-Jimmy swoops in with a hilarious “art patron” story, claiming Daniel made some “personal videos” which were later stolen by that patron; “lovers quarrel” as Jimmy puts it. A genius way to get Daniel out from under the police: “Squat cobbler,” says Jimmy – “Full moon pie. Boston Cream Splat. Simple Simon the Assman.” I almost cried listening to Odenkirk describe the supposed videos. Spot on comedic writing, which serves the purpose of making us laugh, as well as being weird enough to help get Daniel free from any suspicion. Even better? Daniel’s actually going to have to make a video.
Directly following this scene, Jimmy heads to see Kim – with a stack of pies they dig into together. Apparently the pies are leftovers, “untouched by human buttocks.” Kim’s not impressed, though. Jimmy has now faked evidence to get a client off. She doesn’t understand why he’s risked so much for “a friend.”
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Kim: “I cannot hear about this sort of thing, ever again, okay? I mean it, Jimmy.”
Jimmy: “You wont
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This episode started a lot of things moving for the second season, in particular more of the relationship between Jimmy and Kim, as well as that of Jimmy and his brother Chuck, plus there’s the deviousness of Howard, and also the Mike situation re: Daniel. Many, many threads. Looking forward to where things progress after “Cobbler”, in the next episode titled “Amarillo” which will no doubt make things even more exciting.

Better Call Saul – Season 2, Episode 1: “Switch”

AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 2, Episode 1: “Switch”
Directed by Thomas Schnauz
Written by Peter Gould & Thomas Schnauz

* For a review of the Season 1 finale, “Marco” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Cobbler” – click here
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The lead-up to Season 2 is promising an even further shift in the nature of Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) – the man many of us first knew as Saul Goodman. But we’re still on our way to the days of Saul.
Season opener “Switch” begins as another flash into the future of Jimmy, the obvious change in identity which follows his business with Walter White and Jesse Pinkman throughout AMC’s Breaking Bad. I love that we see these future flashes because it parallels the flashback through Jimmy’s life that is Better Call Saul overall. In a sense, what happens in the future almost negates anything Jimmy did previously, the whole change to another person in his new life as Saul that he cultivates in this series basically becomes moot due to Walt and Jesse’s operation. There is some sort of tragic and also funny mix to the whole thing. Especially when Jimmy gets locked out where the dumpsters are at his workplace, and we can see his obvious reluctance to open the Emergency Exit; he sees on the door a note stating the police will be called if the door opens and the alarm goes off. Jimmy won’t do it because his new life working for Cinnabon is of an inconspicuous, low-key nature. Eventually he gets out when a janitor comes back, but to see him sitting there, unable to or unwilling to push that door open, it’s an excellent and powerful statement about him. Even better, a long, drawn out close-up comes up against the wall and we see what he left: “SG was here” scrawled on the paint.
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Back to where we currently know Jimmy McGill in 2002, he’s over at the office of Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) to see Clifford Main (Ed Begley Jr), as well as his associates Brian and Erin. Then before any business Jimmy calls Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) aside to ask about their relationship, and how his new case might affect any of that. “One thing has absolutely nothing to do with the other,” she tries to reassure him. Still, though, Jimmy refuses the job and walks out.
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Heading through the gate, he stops to talk with Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) about the money; the stuff he decided not to take. Mike lays down some rules of criminal code. “Well I know whats stopping me,” Jimmy tells him: “And you know what? Its never stoppinme again.” He drives off humming Deep Purple to himself, showing up at the spa from where he does all his business. I love this whole location, such an awesome look to the whole thing. Best scene so far comes quick when Jimmy wants some cucumber water but the spa owner replies, as always, it’s “for customers only“. So Jimmy lets the tap loose and drinks straight from it, letting lots spill to the floor. Is this a new James McGill? I believe so. He even rips the makeshift sign off his office door.


In other news, Mike waits in a parking garage where a terribly flashy Hummer pulls up, spinners on the wheels, huge flames all over the side, and the entire thing painted in yellow. Ehrmantraut scolds Daniel (Mark Proksch) inside his car does not illustrate “restraint“, especially considering they’re headed to a job. Daniel says fuck it, he won’t pay Mike any longer to supposedly protect him on deals against Nacho Varga (Michael Mando), he’ll go alone. Mike advises otherwise, and he’s most likely right. Out on the meet, wearing shoes to match his vehicle, Daniel meets Nacho, the latter of whom declares the Hummer “interesting” and asks to take a look. Things seem friendly, as if two buddies were checking out a car in the garage. But while Daniel counts his cash, Nacho looks in the glovebox to find the man’s registration; home address and all. Trouble’s definitely on the horizon, at least for Daniel.
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Jimmy’s busy doing his own thing now. Floating in a pool with a drink, some dip, the whole nine yards. He gets a call and claims he’s “no longer a lawyer“. Arriving soon after, Kim is pissed about Jimmy passing up the big opportunity with Clifford Main. For his part Jimmy doesn’t appear too phased: “I just finally decided to be me,” he tells her. At the bar they talk a little. Jimmy hammers home the point he went into law for all the wrong reasons. He wants to use his talents elsewhere. Across the bar while they chat, Jimmy keeps hearing an asshole stock broker (likely the same man whose car Walt blew up in Breaking Bad‘s “Cancer Man“) speaking loudly into a Bluetooth headset, swearing, laughing like a dolt. So the new Jimmy heads over and asks a question about investments on stocks, pretending they have money to put somewhere, which eggs the guy on a little. Jimmy’s essentially showing Kim his powers of persuasion, his gift of gab. And those of us who’ve followed Odenkirk from Breaking Bad to now know this guy has got the goods. He could’ve been a great, straight lawyer, but his abilities certainly tailor him to a specific line of business re: law. Funny how Kim falls in line quickly while Jimmy spins his magic. They pull a fast one on Mr. Wall Street then bounce, leaving him with a massive bill. Jimmy and Kim hook up, too, but it’s clear he wants it to become something bigger, something more.
Little Breaking Bad reference – Kim orders the trio a bottle of the fictional tequila Zafiro Añejo, which people will remember from Season 4. Love how little bits and pieces of the original show come out here, adds little dashes of spice to an already fun series in its own right.
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Not surprisingly, Daniel’s house has been broken into and ransacked. He calls the police and two officers come to investigate. His baseball card collection, “a major collection“, was taken. A bunch of cash was taken, as well. Daniel doesn’t seem too intent on revealing how much cash was taken, diverting the conversation back to his cards. The cops look pretty damn suspicious, as Daniel rambles on about his collection. They ask about what Daniel does for work – he’s an I.T. guy at a pharmaceutical company, naturally, which they find a little interesting. When the two officers discover Daniels’ couch was moved they further find a stash spot along the baseboards of the wall; inside, nothing. Clearly there used to be something important in that spot, that we already know. But the police know now.
Jimmy is over at the pool, again. He floats and makes a call on his cell, then admires a beautiful women poolside who shows up to tend to a large gold chain wearing man, who also happens to be clothed in high priced clothing. Jimmy wants to use this guy as a “mark“, the next one on his new road trip to a new life. Seems being a criminal comes naturally to a man who once tried upholding the law. Mostly, he’s calling Kim, hoping she’ll come down and have fun with him. She doesn’t call back, but he decides to call Davis & Main, obviously where Clifford practices.
Cue Jimmy at his office, checking things out. A far cry from the pool where he previously lounged. He’s always doing things for other people, not for himself, just as he stated earlier to Kim about his brother being the reason he practiced law. Now it’s as if he is only doing this for Kim; to impress her, to have her in his life. There are two ends of the rope tugging – Jimmy is a criminal at heart, but these other people in his life pull him towards a stable, more professional and most importantly legal state of living. Just seeing Jimmy at the office in front of a big desk, strange art on the wall, he doesn’t belong. No matter how hard he tries to fit on, no matter if he wants to. Regardless, the clash of his two lives brews more and more.
Most interesting is the light switch on the wall. It has a sign that declares ALWAYS LEAVE ON. But the small screaming rebel inside Jimmy won’t let it be; he tears it off. Of course, nothing really happens, not that he notices. Yet it speaks louder than words, this action: Jimmy cannot, he will not, conform to the fully straight and normal life. He will always have to tear that tape off, do things his own way. Always.


Looking forward to the following episode in this new season, “Cobbler”.