Better Call Saul Review – “Marco” S1E10

Better Call Saul wrapped up its amazing first season with “Marco,” an episode packed with details, comedy, and Easter Eggs from its parent show.

Pros:

The Bingo calling scene: We finally get an explanation of a Chicago Sunroof! And so does the retirement home in Albuquerque. Which just added to the pure comedy gold of this scene. It was far and way my favorite scene of the episode. Jimmy’s “lawyer” reasoning of why Chet, the guy with the BMW, was in the wrong for Jimmy defecating in his car was pure genius; it was a real show of how Jimmy can talk his way out of anything and part of why he is so likable. I also loved how all the “B” balls being called was what brought Jimmy to his breaking point to even tell the story in the first place. Not to mention, this scene had some of the best dialogue including:

  • “None of us is leaving this God forsaken wasteland.”
  • “I mean look out that window. It’s like a soulless, radioactive Georgia O’Keefe hell scape out there crawling with coral snakes and scorpions. You ever see the movie The Hills Have Eyes? It’s a documentary.”
  • “Guy wanted some soft serve; I gave him some soft serve.”
  • “But that is what a Chicago Sunroof is and now you know!”
  • “One little Chicago Sunroof and suddenly I’m Charles Manson?! That’s when it went off the rails. I’ve been paying for it ever since. That’s why I’m here!”
  • “Kitty cat notebooks for everybody!”

The explanation of why Jimmy came to ABQ: The entire cold open was pretty brilliant. The short scene with Jimmy fresh out of jail and going to tell Marco he is leaving was a good way to let us know that it was the jail stint for the Chicago Sunroof that sent him to Albuquerque. The exchange between Marco tells us exactly what will happen during the episode; Jimmy and Marco will pull off one last big con and Marco will spend the rest of his life on the bar stool. It mirrors the same set up of the entire series – we know how Jimmy’s life will end up because we have already been told. In this case, it is the journey that is more important.

All the showing: Knowing why Jimmy chose to not take the deal with Davis and Mane is not directly said to us. And I love that. There is a lot of story telling going on in this episode. Jimmy may be a “criminal” with Marco, pulling cons on people, but Marco gives Jimmy a feeling of self-worth. He may be a criminal, but he is a great one. In Albuquerque, he feels tries to be a lawyer, even doing the right thing, but he is always in the shadow of Chuck, who does nothing but put down Jimmy’s self worth. None of this is done with looking at the camera and telling us what is happening. It is done with carefully written dialogue and progression.

Better Call Saul - "Marco"

Howard is the good guy: I had a sneaking suspicion all along that Howard wasn’t the bad guy in the situation. If we are going with the color theory, the man only wears blue, indication that he isn’t all bad. Plus, Jimmy apologized for the whole pig-fucker thing, so that was worth the scene alone. But in addition, Howard seems to give Jimmy some validation for all the work he has done for Chuck the last year when he sees the shopping list.

How much “Marco” mirrored “Uno”: A lot of scenes came full circle here. They may be small, but we see the reappearance of the trashcan Jimmy kicked in at the beginning of the series. At the time he was upset that HHM wouldn’t release Chuck out of his contract. Now we see it after Jimmy realizes that Chuck has a lot more control over the firm than he originally thought and that Chuck is actually the asshole. We also see Jimmy pull out of the court parking lot like a bat-out-of-hell, this time though he has a friend in Mike instead of an angry parking attendant relationship.

The detail of the half-dollar con: I absolutely love how much detail went into the con of selling the Kennedy half-dollar that is facing the wrong way. Bob Odenkirk’s delivery and Mel Rodriguez’ reactions were so spot on. If you skip on down to the “tid-bits” section, you can read more of my theory on this scene.

Chuck is an ass to everyone: Howard gets Ernie, another mailroom employee to take care of Chuck. The delivery of the word “almost” was enough to show what kind of a person Chuck really is. It makes me wonder why he is so valued at HHM if he treats people this way.

Pride and Greed: Common themes in Breaking Bad, Jimmy is falling to the same thing Walt did. He may be doing it in a less murder-y way, but they are the same sins. Marco suggests that Jimmy isn’t a great lawyer because he isn’t making money. Jimmy gets the deal of lifetime, thanks to Kim and Howard, to fast track to partner at a firm in Santa Fe. Then he decides to not do it because he would still be living in Chuck’s shadow. There is no doubt that Jimmy would have made a lot of money there. But the fact that he and Mike could have made off with 800,000 dollars each is too much to bear. The thing that Mike has that Jimmy doesn’t is conviction and a moral code. Mike has never fallen to pride or greed (in the time we have known him). He has a job, and he does it. Jimmy could do the same, but we know he doesn’t.

Better Call Saul - "Marco"

Cons:

The Con Montage: It’s not that I didn’t get enjoyment out of the different cons Marco and Jimmy were pulling off; it was that it seemed really long. It was almost as if there wasn’t enough material from the rest of the episode, and there needed to be some fun filler. It was fun, but at this point, I understood the passage of time in Cicero and that Jimmy and Marco are really good at pulling cons.

Jimmy would have come to the same conclusion either way: I don’t think Jimmy needed to go back to Cicero to “find himself.” Ultimately, he chose the easy path because of how Chuck treated him, not because of how Marco inspired him. At least I think. I feel that the real breaking point of Jimmy was finding out what Chuck really thought of him, not a week of playing hooky.

Better Call Saul - "Marco"

Easter Eggs:

Belize: When Jimmy is calling bingo, he mentions that B is for Belize, and he will never get to go there. He may be sad about that now, but if you watched Breaking Bad, you know that Belize means you’ve gone away to die.

White Caddy in the desert: Marco thinks that just because Jimmy is a lawyer, he is probably driving a white Cadillac. Although he doesn’t have that sweet ride now, it is the car he ends up having when we meet him as Saul in Breaking Bad.

The Pinky Ring: We finally know how Jimmy/Saul gets his pinky ring he always wears; Marco’s mother gave it to Jimmy after Marco passed away. This could also be similar to Walt’s way of picking up objects and habits of those close to him who die.

Predictions:

Wahhhh: That I will be a sad gal for the next year and over analyze every detail of the first season while I wait for the second.

Tid-Bits:

The Credits: The opening credit shows Saul’s “World’s Best Lawyer” coffee mug crashing and breaking on his office floor from Breaking Bad. Is this a direct message that Jimmy is breaking from the good guy image lawyer image and he is about to be Saul? I think so.

Chet and Jimmy’s first wife: This isn’t the first time we have heard about one of Jimmy’s wives. This episode, we find out that Chet, the receiver of the Chicago Sunroof, got such a present because he was sleeping with Jimmy’s first wife. In Breaking Bad we know that Jimmy’s stepdad slept with his second wife. He doesn’t have much luck with wives. I just hope that Kim isn’t one of those wives; she doesn’t seem like the cheating type.

Marco’s cough: A habitual cough is never a good thing in the BrBa universe. It was clear from the beginning of hearing Marco’s cough that he wouldn’t be long for the show.

Kevin Costner: I love that not only was Jimmy able to fool a woman into thinking he was Kevin Costner to get her in bed, but that once she found out, he started quoting Field of Dreams.

Holy Moly, if this one is true: MIND BLOWN: I have mentioned that this episode does a lot of mirroring of “Uno.” Jimmy represents three teenagers who do a terrible, terrible thing. In court, Jimmy starts his argument with “Oh, to be 19 again!” In “Marco,” when Jimmy is calling bingo numbers, he says “O 64 as in Oh to be 64 again!” So what does 1964 have to do with anything? 1964 is the year the Kennedy half-dollar was released. Boom! Now your mind is blown, too.

Want some more mind-blowing stuff? First of all, the Kennedy dollar has always faced west. That is the scam. But Jimmy goes into detail about how presidents face east on coins to symbolize the dawn. He also mentioned that graves face east for the same reason. Toward the end of the episode, Jimmy is walking to the courthouse for his big meeting and there is a shot of just his head facing east. Is this the way to show that Jimmy is honoring the dead (Marco), and then makes his decision to do things his way from now on? I think it could be!

Better Call Saul - "Marco"

Music from the Episode:

The song that both Marco and Jimmy whistle is “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple.

 


Hush Comics gives “Marco” a B+ for being chock full of detail, some of the best lines of the series, but for outcome being the case whether the trip to Cicero happened or not.

Better Call Saul Review – “Pimento” S1E9

This week, we got a big dose of reality. Jimmy tried to prove he is a good guy, but no one would take it. Chuck is the real villain in this situation. Mike pulled off a very impressive protection job. And Jimmy dropped the first F-bomb of the series. This has been the most Breaking Bad episode so far, and it was amazing. Let’s dive into it.

Pros:

Chuck’s commitment to his allergy: At the open we see Chuck and Jimmy sitting on a bench outside. Chuck can’t help but stare at the transmitter not far from them with tears in his eyes. At this point, I think he is faking just so Jimmy will still take care of him. And lining his jacket with the space blanket material is pretty genius and hilarious. Granted it was Jimmy’s idea, Chuck actually wears it and feels better with it on. I think Chuck is a piece of work (especially after the final scene), but I commend him for the commitment to whatever it is he is trying to pull off.

Chuck is the real pigf***er: I knew it! I knew Chuck was the bad guy here! The way he treats Jimmy has always irked me. The real tip-off was at the beginning of the episode when Chuck makes a phone call on Jimmy’s phone. He was bathed in red and yellow lights (which is a huge indicator that he is doing nefarious things), but then to call Howard and tell him not to hire Jimmy?! What a pigf***er.

Jimmy stands his ground: Jimmy is pretty used to being rejected. But this time, he gives back a lot of what he has taken. Chuck convinces Jimmy to take the case to HHM because it would be too much work for the both of them. After agreeing to “Hail Satan,” Jimmy takes the multi-million dollar case that he has done all the work on to HHM and asks for an office. When Howard tells him that Jimmy won’t work for HHM and offers a puny compensation fee for the case, Jimmy gives this mind-blowingly amazing response: “Go to Hell, Howard. I’m not giving you my case. And I’m going to tell every one of those clients what lying miserable pigfucker you are. I will burn the whole thing to the ground before I give it to you.”

Kim stands up for Jimmy: We know that Kim and Jimmy have a connection, but she has never openly expressed that to anyone. It was good to see her stand up for Jimmy’s honor, even if she did end up agreeing that Jimmy needed to take the deal instead.

Better Call Saul - "Pimento"

The attention to detail: I love that we get a whole scene of electronics being turned off at HHM in honor of Chuck’s return. I also love that Jimmy’s phone dying ends up playing a huge role in the episode, and likely for the rest of the time we know Chuck.

Better Call Saul - "Pimento"

All the things that happen off screen: We never actually get to see the call that Chuck makes. We never get to see why Chuck is upset with Howard about not hiring Jimmy. We never get to see Kim’s conversation with Howard about not hiring Jimmy. The audience is getting the same perspective that Jimmy is getting about the whole thing until it all comes together at the end. Well played.

The final scene: When Jimmy confronts Chuck about making the call to Howard at 2 am, Chuck finally admits what he has thought all along. “You’re Slippin’ Jimmy. Slippin’ Jimmy with a law degree is a chimp with a machine gun.” Ouch! But thank god for transparency. And thank god that Jimmy told him exactly how much supply Chuck has and how long it will last. This scene gave me goosebumps because of the writing and the acting.

Mike Ehrmantraut, the early years: They may not be that early, but we now have some indication as to how Mike got in the game in the good ole ABQ, and it could not have been more bad ass. When he showed up to the meeting spot and one of the other “protectors” starts bragging about how many guns he is packing while Mike carries none, Mike takes the gun the douchey guy is waving around, and clocks him right in the neck with it. The Hodor-sized third man runs off because he is so scared. And the job was hilarious – a drug deal between Nacho and the man who needed protection – a goofy looking white guy trying to make a buck off prescription pills. And this dude has no idea how to deal the drugs, having to ask Mike how to do it before Nacho and his pals show up. Luckily Mike did his homework, and finds out Nacho is buying drugs without his boss knowing (sure to be important in the next episode). Mike also let’s the guy who stole the drugs know the difference between a good criminal and a bad man. These scenes allow us more into Mike’s life, and it is so damn intriguing. I can’t wait for more.

Mike's Totally Normal Day at Work.
Mike’s Totally Normal Day at Work.

The Intro: The fact that there is a “Better Call Saul” matchbook in a urinal with an old cake and a wet cigarette makes me happy. I don’t know why.

Cons:

Length: This is selfish, but I wanted it to be longer. More Better Call Saul! I demand it!

Predictions:

Nacho will get caught by Tuco: I don’t know how this will come back to either Mike or Jimmy, but if Nacho is buying drugs without Tuco’s knowledge, something pretty bad will happen to Nacho.

Better Call Saul - "Pimento"


Hush Comics gives “Pimento” an A for being the most Breaking Bad – esque episode so far.

All images belong to AMC and are credited to Ursula Coyote.

Better Call Saul Review – “Rico” S1E8

This week on Better Call Saul, we got some good backstory on the Hamlin-McGill beef (haven’t gotten over the face that the asshole still took the cake…), and just when the ball got rolling on a McGill x 2 tag-team match-up, things went and got crazy. The pace of this episode was finally to our liking, and the realization at the end made me feel like we’ve just started the descent on what will be an incredible roller coaster ride to the finale.

Pros:

Unspoken politics: In the beginning scene, mail delivery boy Jimmy is well-received by everybody in the office. There are two justifications for this: lawyers and really nice people or Jimmy has the charm to win everybody over. How could somebody so loved (and hard-working) be denied a position when Kim got the position right away? Seems like there’s some expected QPQ going on at HHM… (because Hamlin is an asshole, not because I think Kim is engaging in it)

That dumpster scene: I wanted to cry, laugh and throw up in my mouth at the same time. That is great television for you. While it was cringe-worthy, it was totally Slippin’ Jimmy at work. Just enough rule-breaking to be looked at with a sideways glance, and just legal enough to get through the loopholes. Jimmy is all about the easy way out, but isn’t afraid to put in work to get what he needs, either.

The end reveal: This could be a pro or a con depending on how you look at it, and I sure as heck wouldn’t argue with anybody who felt the opposite, but I think that it’s a good thing that at least one definite truth was told: Chuck does not have electromagnetic hyper-sensitivity. We can finally get that out of the way.

better call saul s1e8 02
Shit… act natural!

 

Cons:

Switch and bait: I nearly lost my mind when Tuco and Nacho took over, and have done nothing but ponder when that relationship was going to be revisited. While it made for a great introduction, their appearances have ruined whatever organic pacing I imagined the show would have, and have given me unrealistic expectations on how things should play out – disappointing me every time the issue is never addressed.

The Legacy Effect: Would this show be half as exciting if it weren’t for the pretense that it is a prequel to Breaking Bad? No, of course not. That doesn’t mean we should expect it to be the same show, but it is of the same pedigree, so the slow burn is eventually going to lose viewers who aren’t as attached to the fandom.

Mike’s daughter in law with the guilt trip: Mike was ready to call it quits with the game, and Stacey comes right back in and makes him feel bad about not being able to provide for them. She chose her path when she lied to the cops to protect Mike, so now it seems his need to make up for Matty is putting Mike back in the fast lane.

better call saul s1e8 04
We’ve all been there, Mike.

 

Predictions:

Jimmy burns HHM to the ground: Things with Chuck will not end well. We all know what big business does when given the chance to show loyalty. Chuck is gonna get screwed somehow and Jimmy is going to be the cool guy walking away from the explosion, at the cost of his soul (and the cost of making great television).

The vet’s “friend:” I think the chicken man might be preparing to make an appearance soon here as a mutual connection. Bringing Gus onto the show would be nothing short of the best thing ever so far. The previews show Mike and some guy that looks like the white Suge Knight waiting to meet somebody in what could be the parking garage from the hospital in Season 4.

Chuck wasn’t a faker, but still wasn’t sick: It’s really hard to tell, and Adrian and I are conflicted here, but is Chuck really as obviously faking as he seems to be at the end there? Was he just so wrapped up in the case that he forgot to put on his struggle face when he was outside? Logic tells me that had he been trying to sneak out, he would have been sneakier getting out the door. However, when he gets outside, he puts on the lamest “oh my God, I’m outside” face. This should be interesting.

better call saul s1e8 05
Partners of Dickhead, Jerkoff and Wienerbreath at your service.

 

Easter Eggs & Tid-Bits:

U of AS (S?): Finally, a shoutout to the alma mater of Albuquerque’s favorite lawyer is name-dropped here. Best news is that they are totally legit; they even have a Facebook page. Just kidding, but there is an American Samoa Community College (in the Samoan islands). Those interested in gaining a degree in Pre-Law and joining alumnus Jimmy McGill, click here.

Chuck was kind of a Richard: When Jimmy was just a little mailboy, Chuck has him under his thumb – the charitable older brother that’s given Jimmy everything. The tables turn when Jimmy shows the initiative to pass the bar and Chuck isn’t having it. He’s passive about the prospect of Jimmy working as a lawyer because he isn’t under his thumb anymore.

You can’t paper-shred a paper shredder: Saul knows a thing or two about getting rid of evidence – or at least, he will in years to come. Getting rid of the evidence is only something guilty people do, remember that Jimmy.

Enjoy your Magic Flute, a-hole: While Jimmy is dumpster diving, he talks with Rick Schweikart, the lawyer representing the Sandpiper Crossing, about attending Mozart’s “Magic Flute” opera. Schweikart is played by Denniz Boutsikaris – who played Mozart in the Broadway play Amadeus.

They’re the Pistons, you’re the Bulls: Jimmy’s pep talk might have fell a little short on NBA fans’ ears. Michael Jordan and the Bulls lost to the Bad Boy Pistons three years in a row before finally beating them in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals.

Regular ol Charlie Hustle: Howard’s lame-ass compliment to Jimmy (ya know, the one he gives right before he shoots down his dreams?) is comparing him to baseball legend Pete Rose, who just missed out on the Hall of Fame for being A BIG, FAT CHEATER! Dick move, Hamlin… but an accurate one.

better call saul s1e8 01
This job only sucks half as bad as it smells.

 

Music from the Episode:

During Jimmy’s insanely neurotic paper un-shredding montage, we are treated to “Coffee Cold” by Abaddon.


Hush Comics gives “Rico” a B+ for clearing some of the air, and finally leading us back into familiar territory.

All images belong to AMC and are credited to Ursula Coyote.

Better Call Saul Review – “Bingo” S1E7

Pros:

Cold-Open Shot: I was trying like mad to figure out if the men in the wanted posters were of importance. They could be, but mostly we get to see Jimmy and Mike right underneath the wall of criminals, showing their guilt, too. It’s clever. I like it.

Better Call Saul - "Bingo"

Nothin’ to Lose: The double-cross that Jimmy pulled on the Kettleman’s was pretty brilliant. By allowing Betsy Kettleman to possibly be implicated to, he was able to wriggle his way out of a pretty messy situation. I think it is safe to say this loose end has been all tied up, but that doesn’t mean Jimmy is in the clear. We still have Nacho and his gang to worry about.

Doing the right thing sucks: What else can I say than that? Jimmy has to give back the 30,000 dollars to the Kettleman’s for Kim basically. Jimmy and Kim’s relationship is unrequited – he loves her so much he would give her the corner office at his new law office, but instead he has to give back the money for her to keep her gig at HHM. Jimmy isn’t perfect, but in general, he is a good man.

Better Call Saul - "Bingo"

In a box: There were a few shots that boxed characters in. When Jimmy is looking for a way out for the Kettlemans, the shot shows the ceiling boxing Jimmy in. Just outside that “box” is the cash he took from them, which is their only bargaining chip. Kim is also boxed in with the stair railings as she talks to Jimmy on the phone about getting the Kettlemans back as her clients. I love how much thought goes into this show, down to camera angles and use of surroundings to tell the story.

Jimmy and Mike: We get to see the first “job” Mike ever does for Jimmy in this episode! As payment for Jimmy’s services, Mike steals the 1.6 million from the Kettleman’s home without question. Even though this deal made them square, we know they will be entangled in each other’s lives for a long, long time.

The nuances: At the restaurant, Jimmy and Betsey both decline coffee, but Craig, who wanted some, doesn’t get any because Betsy had already shooed the waitress away. Even without dialogue, we see that Betsy controls the man to a tee. And the man in the restroom at the restaurant thinks Jimmy says “Hey you” to him, but Jimmy was really on his cell phone. This small moment was so hilarious because honestly, we have all been there.

Pop Culture references: There were quite a few pop culture references this week. I love that the lady at the retirement home tells everyone her cats are named Oscar and Felix – a nod to The Odd Couple, which Mike and Jimmy are turning into a little bit themselves. When Jimmy goes to Chuck’s, he announces that he is the friendly neighborhood Ice Man, a play on Spider-Man. And he compares the Kettleman’s antics to Maude and Ned Flanders, but in The 25th Hour.

Line of the Week: When Betsy tells Jimmy she is going to call the cops on him for stealing their stolen money, he says “Even on a good day, you and logic are * whistle *.”

Cons:

So slow: As much as I feel like each scene was meaningful, it felt like it took a long time to get through everything. Perhaps there was more meaning than what I took away, but the Bingo scene and the break-in scene were both really long for what they were.

Mike’s Wrap-Up: It doesn’t seem like his daughter-in-law is going to tell the Philly cops what really happened. Revealing the dynamic between the young cop and the veteran cop was nice touch. It made a lot of sense that the veteran and Mike would get along. The whole thing does seem a little too neat considering it is murder we are talking about here. I doubt this is the last we have heard of Philadelphia incident; it seems to important to focus on to just sweep it under the rug.

The Bingo Game: It seems really unlikely that a retirement home would have that fancy of a Bingo set up, with the high tech ball wheel, flashing sign, and flashboards. The bingo cards with Jimmy’s face and slogan on them was funny, but I doubt Jimmy would actually be calling the Bingo game. I could be picky, but it just seemed a little much. Although the kitten notebook was a hilarious touch.

Better Call Saul - "Bingo"

Predictions:

Chuck is going through the files: I know Jimmy did it on purpose, but leaving his files at Chuck’s place is asking for Chuck to go through them. I don’t know what Jimmy’s play is here, but I know Chuck will be a little too hands on.

Better Call Saul - "Bingo"

Chuck will poison himself – to death: Chuck is working on building up a tolerance to the electromagnetism outside his home. While his doctor doesn’t believe him, I don’t think he is fully faking. Going outside that often may not be the best for him.

Tid-Bits:

The New Color Theory: My god, I wish I had thought of it first. This color theory came out this week via BuzzFeed, and it is genius. Due to this revelation, I took careful note of the colors this week. The Kettleman’s were always wearing red colors. If you notice, Betsy is wearing BRIGHT red at the meeting with Kim, while Craig is wearing a muted pink. Based off her domineering personality, it seems pretty clear that she is the true culprit and Craig was just doing what his wife told him to do.

Better Call Saul - "Bingo"

Cocobolo: I was pretty curious about Jimmy’s Cocobolo desk. Apparently, it is a wood from the Dalbergia Retusa tree only in Central America. Thanks Wikipedia!

Committed: Chuck tells Jimmy he is “committed” to getting better. Interesting choice of words considering the last time we saw Chuck, he was almost committed.

Music from the Episode:

When Mike was doing his big break-in, the song that was playing was “Tune Down” by Chris Joss.


Hush Comics gives “Bingo” a B- for wrapping up the Kettleman’s story, keeping the essence of the dramedy, but being a lot slower than past episodes.

All images belong to AMC and are credited to Ursula Coyote.

Better Call Saul Review – “Five-O” S1E6

You know that feeling you get after watching a gut wrenching, emotional, downright brilliant episode of television? They way you have goose bumps on your arms, your heart is slightly racing, and when it is over, the snap back to reality is a little unnerving? If you don’t, then you haven’t seen Better Call Saul’s “Five-O”. I highly suggest you go watch it now before this review spoils you.

Pros:

Mike!: We haven’t even heard his last name until this episode, but we finally get a Mike-centric episode. If you haven’t seen Breaking Bad, “Five-O” may not hold that much gravity for you, but Mike was arguably the best character in Saul‘s parent show, so it was great to get a real backstory to the man of few words.

All the camera angles: From the get-go we are set up for a beautifully shot episode. From the train entering Albuquerque (those majestic mountains of the West), to the transitions from past to present, to the climax scene that felt very noir, to the final scene where Mike makes his confession against a row of blinds which resembled a set of bars behind him. I could gush about this alone, but hey, that would be boring.

Better Call Saul - "Five-O"

Pacing: The first half of the episode had a clear theme: denial. Mike never verbally admitted that he killed the two cops in Philadelphia. As Jimmy put it, he is pretty taciturn. It is so obvious though that he is asked twice by two different people how long he plans on staying in Albuquerque. All we know is that Mike’s son, Matty, is dead, and later his partner and sergeant came up dead, too. We also know that Stacey thinks Mike called Matty a few nights before his death, which he also denies. The second half is almost entirely the confession of what happened and why. It is rare when a show can pull off two opposite themes in one-hour and create the feeling this episode did.

The Story Unfolds: This goes along with pacing, but they way we are told the story is pretty damn clever. Jimmy is barely in this episode, but his scenes put him in the same position as the audience. He is only hired to spill the coffee, and therefore in the dark. He is let in on Mike’s past at the same time we are, and is able to put two and two together.

In the second half we get a very long scene taking us back to the night Mike killed his son’s partner and sergeant, Hoffman and Fensky respectively. His plan plays out and we see him kill the men (which I’ll expand on later), and then we see him tell Stacey the truth about the phone call and that he was the dirty cop. Unveiling this revelation through storytelling is brilliant for this character because of the acting power behind it and because of the first time we saw Mike tell a story in about his past in BrBa “Half Measures”, which was also directed by Adam Bernstein.

Better Call Saul - "Five-O"

The Vet: Mike’s entrance into the seedy underground of Albuquerque took less than a day. He gets a cabbie to take him to a vet who will take the bullet out of his left shoulder. The Vet not only takes out the bullet for a hefty price, but then he offers to sell Vicodin illegally. It’s possible we will never see him or the cabbie again, but I would keep my eyes peeled for them in the future, especially since the vet offered to get Mike work in the good ole ABQ.

Subtlety: Because the first half of the episode was all about denial, there were only subtle references to Mike’s past, particularly his addiction problem. He denies the Vicodin saying he is an aspirin man. His daughter-in-law Stacey asks about it and so do the detectives from Philadelphia. It isn’t until the second half we hear and see what Mike’s problem with alcohol really was like, especially after the death of his son.

Acting: Holy crap, Jonathan Banks can act. The man can act with an eyebrow and a slight turn of his eye. But this was a whole new ball game. The way his voice changed when he was talking about Matty was enough to induce tears. This emotional side brought the gravity of this event home for Mike and the audience. It is pretty rare when I, a 20-something woman who is not a parent can feel what an elderly man who lost his son feels. Honestly, it’s never happened. Until now.

Better Call Saul - "Five-O"

The Admission: The admission that Mike was the dirty one, that his son was clean, and that Mike “broke his boy” is a hard revelation to take. Honestly, we knew Mike was dirty. He takes full measures. And this is the proof in the pudding. But for the first time in Better Call Saul, we get to see how bad-ass this dirty ex-cop is. He figures out what happened to his son, who he loved more than life, kills the two cops who did it, gets shot in the process, takes it like a boss, and moves. That whole scene was beautiful, even down to the sound direction. The music becoming muffled at the bar, then very loud, the loud echoing gunshots in the alley way, and the dead silence after the murders. When Mike tells Stacey that he was the one who convinced Matty to take dirty money from a gang and then Matty died two days later, it is hard not to feel the raw emotion of what Mike must feel and the silence adds this greatly. The pan out at the end of the episode of Mike and Stacey after Mike says, “You know what happened. The question is, can you live with it?” was absolute perfection. There were a lot of elements going into this moment, but the fact that Mike never actually admits to her that he killed them fully defines his way of doing things.

Easter Eggs:

The Swing: There weren’t Easter Eggs as much as there were things that made me reminisce about moments from Breaking Bad. Mike aka Pop Pop pushing his granddaughter Kaylee on the swing reminded me of a key moment when he pushes her in BrBa. The episode this happens in is significant, too because it is in “Say My Name,” in which SPOILER, Mike is killed. It was a nice parallel to have this scene to bookend the beginning of Mike’s story and the end.

Bug: Not much of an Easter Egg, but when Mike tells the bartender that he is moving to Albuquerque, the bartender replies that there are tarantulas there. Bugs were a common theme in BrBa and should always be noted.

Sugar in the Coffee: In BrBa, Lydia was known to put Stevia in her chamomile tea, which wound up being the death of her. We get many shots of her putting her sweetener in her cup. We get a nice shot of Jimmy putting sugar in his coffee in this episode, where the coffee ends up meaning a lot – and will mean a lot in the future, too. The coffee certainly doesn’t mean the end of Jimmy, but it could mean trouble.

Predictions:

Mike isn’t in the clear: We know from the previews for next week’s episode that the cops know Mike swiped the notebook. He could be in more trouble than just murder charges, although those are pretty bad, too. My question is, what finagling will Jimmy have to do to get Mike out of murder? And will it even be Jimmy who does the finagling?

Tid-Bits:

The Train: The train that Mike comes in on to Albuquerque is 106. Also, it makes sense to take a train because it is transportation you can pay for with cash, and thus no paper trail. Of course, the Philly cops end up finding him anyway.

Matlock: One of the best lines of the episode is when Jimmy approaches the Philly cops and they comments on his Matlock outfit. His response is: “No, I look like a young Paul Newman dressed as Matlock.” He also does not appreciate the comparison to Barney Fife, the idiot sidekick on Andy Griffith’s other show, ya know, The Andy Griffith Show.

Better Call Saul - "Five-O"

Juan Valdez: Jimmy says he won’t do the Juan Valdez bump and dump on the cop. Juan Valdez is the fictional character used to advertise the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Columbia starting in 1958.

The Notebook: Mike was able to swipe the notebook from one of the detectives with the coffee spill. Throughout the book, there are maps of the different crime scenes, time tables of the night and the months following both murders, and a not about a cop named Paul Grant who was too drunk to remember anything.

Music from the Episode:

This week’s episode featured “Hold On Loosely” by 38 Special.

 


 

Hush Comics gives “Five-O” an A+ because really could not have been any better. Everything mattered in this episode, the acting was spot-on, and I cried. Yup.

All images belong to AMC and are credited to Ursula Coyote.

Better Call Saul Review – “Alpine Shepherd Boy” S1E5

This week’s Better Call Saul gets a little deeper into the psyche of Jimmy McGill. With all the ruckus of the first couple episodes, Jimmy has escaped with his soul mostly intact… but we know that can’t last long. Our review of “Alpine Shepherd Boy”:

Pros:

The Sex Toy-let: Tommy the Toilet Buddy, at your service. Oh, that chain in the top? It’s not just for water levels. It also comes in black… leather. “Fill me up, Chandler.” Dear God, this was probably the funniest thing I’ve seen on television in a long time. Wealthier Pacific Rim(job?) nations should count themselves lucky. Now they don’t have to wait for somebody to invent this for them.

The crushing reality of Chuck’s condition: After Chuck’s doctor flipped the switch on his bed, and a few other clues that looked a bit suspicious, it’s becoming more and more apparent that he may be faking his condition. It’s painfully obvious to everybody around except for Jimmy. At the same time, there’s always a possibility that his condition is real and this “demonstration” was a red herring. Will Jimmy eventually have Chuck committed? Then, at the same time, there’s the notion that maybe Jimmy is using Chuck to get money from HMM. Is it about getting back at HMM, gaining restitution for Chuck, or about making a humungous payday to garner himself pain and wealth? Better Call Saul asks more questions than it answers.

Better Call Saul - Alpine Shepherd Boy 4

Waiting for Chuck’s leash to break: It’s clear at this point that Chuck is the only thing holding JImmy back from becoming a sociopathic liar lawyer. He hides all his wrong-doings from Chuck and is willing to regress back into himself to make him brother feel better. It’s a cycle that’s bound to break sometime if his brother refuses to get better.

Jimmy finds his niche: Elder law. Not like in Thor or Lord of the Rings or some shit. No, protecting the elderly from scum like… well, like Jimmy. His admirable brother Chuck applauds the idea, and his love interest Kim gave him the idea, so he’s got to at least give it a try. All the better, if he can make real cash out of this, why not? I’m curious to see: 1) who he meets in these endeavors, and 2) if he can keep his sticky hands out of these old people’s pockets.

A budding romance with Kim: Kim has quickly become one of my favorite supporting characters. She’s not side-kicky enough that you expect her to always be at Jimmy’s defense, yet she’s not all about that HMM life that she doesn’t understand Jimmy’s quirky strategies and warped ethics. It would be kinda nice to see her and Jimmy work together eventually, but she seems to prefer the safe shores of HMM to the adventurous and uncertain Jimmy McGill.

Better Call Saul - Alpine Shepherd Boy 3

Finally, a look at Mike: John Wilkes Booth finally gets some spotlight time! A tiny bit of Mike Ehrmantraut’s past is revealed, and it looks like next week’s episode will primarily feature him. This is the kind of full-circle prequel-ness that we wanted out of the show: to find out why Mike ran from Philadelphia and what the hell has him running a toll booth.

 

Cons:

ABQ Police do not mess around: Won’t let us in the house? Tweaker. You have charcoal inside the house? Tweaker. You unplugged your electrical outlet? Well, you better watch out, fucker, because we are breaking down your door and tasing you, bro. I really didn’t like the police officers in this episode, but when have they ever been our friends in this Breaking Bad world? I know that Jimmy is obviously going to be involved with law enforcement more than Walt, but I could do with a minimum of that.

Pacing, still: Compared to the first few episodes of insane call-backs and guest appearances, the series has dragged on a bit. We know it won’t beat Breaking Bad – except maybe in total number of lines (Saul likes to talk, a lot) – but casual fans might be turned off by Saul‘s snail speed. This show would be much easier to binge watch, but we’re not complaining.

Better Call Saul - Alpine Shepherd Boy 5

Tid-Bits and Easter Eggs:

How has Walt never heard of McGill?: I have to know, with the plethora of TV ads Saul ran, the billboards and the news coverage, Walt had to have been living under a rock to not know recognize who Jimmy McGill was, especially since ABQ is NOT a big city. It’s just weird to me.

Doctor is Invisible Girl: Whedonverse fans (okay, Adrian) jumped at the chance to tell me that the doctor in this episode is played by Clea DuVall, known better as “The Invisible Girl” from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Seventeen and a half years couldn’t hide her from our local Buffy expert.

Hummel figurines: Poor old Mrs. Strauss. Here she is, creating a will with Jimmy to leave behind a butt-load of Hummel figurines, getting what I thought was some superb service. However, when he tells her the bill is $140, the guilt she lays upon Jimmy is so thick you can practically cut through it. Those figurines, if antique, are usually worth at least that much each. Old people and their guilt, sheesh.

S&H Green Stamps: S&H (Sperry & Hutchinson) was founded in 1896 – ten years after Sears. The catalog worked the same way as Sears, with the exception being that you could pay with stamps instead of cash. The idea took off during the Great Depression, when the value of the US dollar was plummeting. That’s the most clever old person joke I’ve heard in a while.

Matlock suit: Jimmy’s sexy new white duds? You can thank Matlock for that. The epitome of lawyers, this show featuring Andy Griffith as the title character aired from 1986-1995. And old people ate that shit up.

Better Call Saul - Alpine Shepherd Boy 1

 

Predictions:

Mike will need Jimmy: I would have felt better about this prediction if I didn’t see the preview for next week’s episode right after it, but it seems that the Philly PD has tracked Mike down all the way to ABQ. From the sounds of it, it wasn’t exactly a clean break. With some skeletons in the closet and a Jimmy McGill business card in his pocket, the two will definitely be reuniting soon. This could also lead us to a Giancarl Esposito cameo, as Mike eventually finds new… “work.”

Better Call Saul - Alpine Shepherd Boy 2

Do you know any elderly BrBa character?: Think about it! Who do we know to live in a prominent retirement home in Albuquerque? That has connections to somebody we already have met in Better Call Saul?? Hector Salamanca! We may be jumping the gun here, but that’s what we do. We needed something to tie Jimmy back in with Tuco, and this looks like as good of an opportunity as any.


 

Music from the Episode:

During Jimmy’s fascinating bout with the rich tycoon who wants to secede, you can hear Mozart’s composition, “Soave sia il vento” (Italian for “may the wind be gentle”), from the opera Così fan tutte. This play is about influential men who use ladies’ weaknesses against them to deceive them. Sounds like Slippin’ Jimmy got the slip himself, here.

When Jimmy is strutting his stuff at the retirement home, you can here the delightful tune of “The Third Man (The Harry Lime Theme)” by Malcolm Lockyer Orchestra in the background. Harry Lime was a 1949 noir film starring Orson Welles about a man who faked his death to escape his horrible crimes. I don’t think he joined a Cinnabon, though.


 

Hush Comics gives “Alpine Shepherd Boy” a B+ for peeling back the Breaking Bad universe one layer at a time, leaving us ask more questions than the show can keep up with answering, but enough to keep us enthralled.

All images belong to AMC and are credited to Ursula Coyote and Lewis Jacobs. 

Better Call Saul Review – “Hero” S1E4

Better Call Saul slowed it down this week, but still continued to develop it’s cast of characters. The plot is clearing the way for trouble for Jimmy, and we got to see a lot of antics from the “fledgling” lawyer. Our review of “Hero”:

Pros:

5 Dollar Newspaper: The best scene by far was the final scene. Knowing that Jimmy is scheming by lying about the newspaper being gone, Chuck takes his space blanket and goes to steal his neighbor’s paper. It was excellent to do his point of view only, the magnetism around him clearly affecting him. The sun is bright, there are power cords everywhere, and Chuck is obviously in distress. He gets the paper, puts 5 dollars under a rock and runs back home. The cut to the neighbor watching him from her window in dead silence relieves the tension of what Chuck is feeling to the actuality that man wearing a space blanket just took his neighbor’s paper and paid 5 dollars for it.

Better Call Saul - "Hero"

Slippin’ Jimmy at work in Cicero: Jimmy might have been Slippin’ Jimmy on the ice as a kid in Cicero, but we got a good look at him in the 90’s working his hustle as an adult. The idea that he scammed people by “robbing” a guy who was too high/drunk to think of their money and Rolex is just down and dirty. The touch of showing us the Cicero Merchant tells us that this happened before the opening scene from last week with Jimmy in the Chicago jailhouse. When Jimmy says that all this gig is good for is beer money, we can see that he is thinking of wanting more in life. The acting was so great here. It was like the inception of acting: Bob Odenkirk acting Jimmy McGill who was acting as Saul Goodman.

Betsy Kettleman is a bitch: She had the audacity to say to Jimmy that he is the kind of lawyer that guilty people hire. Hello?! She is guilty. But the genius of this is that this is the catalyst for the rest of the episode. Even thought the Kettleman’s don’t hire Jimmy, he takes their money. It could be out of pride, it could be out of greed. Either way, Jimmy sees it as opportunity to prove he is just as good as HHM.

Nacho is nacho man: Nacho Varga is freed after the Kettleman’s are found camping. Jimmy may have said he is an innocent man to the family, but Nacho and Jimmy’s confrontation reassures us that Nacho isn’t innocent. He still has it out for Jimmy, despite Jimmy’s suggestion that the good Samaritan helped Nacho by warning the family. Also, I now know that AJAX or Formula 409 will clean blood out of my van.

Better Call Saul - "Hero"

Jimmy working his angle to himself: Jimmy calculates the money he was given by the Kettleman’s and justifies the origin while he figures out what to do with the money. It is brilliant that he does this out loud. It continues that character trait while letting us know that he is still hustler.

Kim is growing: Thus far, we have known very little about Kim. We barely even get her name. But this time, we saw some sparkle in her eye. She calls Jimmy for a date (to The Thing), calls him a free spirit in response to his billboard sign, approaches him about the Cease and Desist letter, and smiles when she knows that Jimmy scammed the town about the billboard accident. I like her.

The Billboard fight: Jimmy using the same look as Harry Hamlin is so over the top it is funny. His hair is ridiculous. But it’s even more ridiculous that Hamlin copyrighted a color, “Hamlindigo Blue.” Yeah, it is yikes.

Better Call Saul - "Hero"

Slippin’ Jimmy at work in Albuquerque: Ok the whole thing of having someone film the billboard man falling off was hilarious. Jimmy works the camera by showing the best side of his face, says things like “scrimped and saved” to garner sympathy, and says he is the little guy. Playing hero on top of it all was scintillating.

Better Call Saul - "Hero"

Dialogue: I say it every week, but there are just so many good lines. From Jimmy, “You assume that criminals are going to be smarter than they are. I don’t know. It kind of breaks my heart a little” to Mike, “You clearly have a journalistic impulse. A real go-getter, you know that?” to the UNM film student, and “Yeah, this is right up there with that” to the Kettleman’s when they say that Craig working over time is just like slavery. And from Chuck when questioning why kids would steal his paper, “If there is one thing kids love its local print journalism.”

Cons:

Long scenes: While I do appreciate the “quietness” of this show, many of the scenes felt very long. There was a payoff to each long scene (the alley scene, the billboard scene, the Kettleman camping scene) all felt like they took a really long time.

Easter Eggs:

Intro: The intro shows Saul Goodman’s drawer of burner phones, including the infamous Hello Kitty cell phone that is eventually given to Jesse Pinkman. It was a nice touch.

Orange: The orange shirt and tie that Jimmy looks at in the tailor’s store is a nod to the fact that in Breaking Bad, Saul Goodman wears unbelievably bright shirt colors with bright ties.

Predictions:

The Hated Hero: Everyone may love a hero, but our hero is in trouble. Kim tells Jimmy, “This won’t end well for you.” She is talking about keeping the billboard to be a rip-off of HHM. But Jimmy has done a lot that won’t end well for him. Nacho still has it out for him. The Kettleman’s know he knows, and that is a loose end as far as I’m concerned. Harry Hamlin will figure out anyway to take Jimmy out of his business. And Chuck knows that Jimmy is hustling. No one seems to be happy with Jimmy except for Kim. And I agree, this won’t end well for him.

Better Call Saul - "Hero"

Chuck vs. Jimmy: It is clear that Chuck and Jimmy don’t see eye on most things. Chuck probably lords over Jimmy because Jimmy is the irresponsible one. Jimmy lies to Chuck and tries to sway things into a positive light to keep the relationship from becoming more like a parent and child. I don’t see them winding up close.

Tid-Bits:

S’all Good, Man: This is the first time in the series (other than the series premiere flash forward) we hear the name Saul Goodman. Jimmy tells his victim in Cicero that his name is Saul Goodman, or S’all Good, Man.

Bible Verses: Jimmy counts his money and says, “Upon this rock I will build my church.” This is Matthew 16:18.

Jimmy’s (and Harry’s) Suit Specs: The suit is Super 100 Tazmanian Wool cloth, single breasted, arm holes high and trim through the middle. It is navy with pinstripes. The shirt is the finest sea cotton with a white club collar and French cuffs with Mother of Pearl buttons (not that plastic crap). The tie is a light blue knit.

Jimmy McGill, Tony Curtis look-a-like: I love the reference to Tony Curtis in Spartacus. Jimmy wants his hair to be curled like Curtis’, perhaps not just for looks, but because he too feels like Spartacus himself.

Jimmy McGill, Attorney at Law Billboard: The billboard number, (505) 842-5662 is disconnected. Sad days. But the billboard was located at 807 Mountain Road Northeast, Albuquerque, NM 87102, off the 224B exit and right by Albuquerque High School.

UPDATE: Thanks to reader Mike, we now know “The billboard number is NOT disconnected. You may get a busy signal when you call but keep trying and you will get Saul. I guess he has not yet got call waiting.” Thanks for the knowledge!

7 New Messages: Jimmy finally got some messages on his machine! After working his voodoo on the machine, we find out he has 7 messages. Yippee!

The Albuquerque Journal: The newspaper that Jimmy graced the cover of was published June 20th, 2002. The paper cites Robert Williams as the man who fell off the billboard stand and the author of the piece was Maynard Catmull-Gonzalez.

Music from the Episode:

When Slippin’ Jimmy aka Saul Goodman and his buddy in Cicero, IL smoke pot after their hustle, they are listening to “Listen” by Chicago.

As Jimmy calculates his new found fortune and talks about how he got it, Herbie Mann’s “Battle Hymn of the Republic” plays.

Hush Comics gives “Hero” a B+ for continuing to grow into it’s own, great use of comedy, pushing the plot forward, but feeling a little long.

All images belong to AMC and are credited to Ursula Coyote and Lewis Jacobs.