Tagged Michael McKean

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.