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.

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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. 

Better Call Saul Review – “Nacho” S1E3

Better Call Saul continues to come into it’s own. This episode was the first that was a almost a full break away from Breaking Bad, not making as many references, but still carrying its essence. Jimmy is clearly the “hero” of this show, but again, not one you want to be rooting for, but you do anyway. Vince Gilligan knew what he was doing when he thought Bob Odenkirk could carry his own show. Without further ado, analysis, musings, and a review of “Nacho”:

Pros:

Chuck and Jimmy in Cook County Jail: We get a major glimpse into Jimmy’s past in the first scene. Jimmy is in the clink for assault, property damage, and could get a sex offender charge in addition. Jimmy was clearly on criminal path before he was on a criminal lawyer path. What is best about this scene (other than learning that Chicago has sunroofs, and people have sex on them) are the parallels to other scenes. Chuck puts his keys, cell phone and wallet in the jail drop box, much like his own current mailbox situation. Additionally, when Jimmy enters the room, he says, “Here’s Johnny!” not only another movie reference, but this is repeated in a key moment at the end of the episode.

Better Call Saul - "Nacho"

The Credits: I really look forward to the credit scene because it is different every time. This one was my favorite thus far; the law scales being used as an ashtray. It’s very befitting of the show.

Lighting and wide shots: This episode, much like the first, played with lighting like crazy. My favorite? When Jimmy calls Kim about the Kettleman’s possibly being in danger. He is half way bathed in red light the entire time, a significant technique often used in it’s parent show, Breaking Bad. It could signify that Jimmy is toeing the line between good and “evil.” Additionally, the wide shot of Jimmy panicking at the pay phone to get a hold of Nacho was a great way to say show us that this guy is a small fish in a big pond, and way in over his head.

Better Call Saul - "Nacho"

Mike Ehrmantraut vs. Everyone in the Courthouse: It’s funny because Mike’s name hasn’t even been said once. But the man at the parking gate has already shown us exactly who he is with just a few lines and looks. He really takes his job seriously, despite Jimmy’s problem with the parking stickers. But he showed a different side, and the Breaking Bad side of himself, when he chose to side with Jimmy instead of the APD (Albuquerque Police Department). And he does not like being touched, by anyone.

More one-liners: I bet that people in the biz are really jealous of Bob Odenkirk. He gets some amazing dialogue, and even better one-liners. This week: “I have been inhaling your BM, which is straight from satan’s butthole, and you can’t tell one defendant from another?” Kim also got a good line, when she and Jimmy discusses the warning call he made, she asked if it was his, “sex robot voice.” Which, it was.

“I’m here to help. Everyone. All parties. But mostly you.”: This is Jimmy’s line to Nacho when he is in detainment. The line is a great way to sum up the entire purpose of this episode. Jimmy is trying to be the hero. Yeah, he knows that his life is literally on the line, but he seems to really enjoy helping people. No matter how down and dirty they are. He starts with the Kettleman’s, but when Nacho is arrested, he tries to do the righteous thing and help the criminal out. The good thing is, Jimmy realizes that Nacho is a bad, bad man. Just not for kidnapping the Kettleman family.

Better Call Saul - "Nacho"

Cons:

The Kettleman’s disappearance was predictable: Maybe it is because I’ve watched too much Breaking Bad. Maybe it’s because I think like a person who would steal over a million dollars. But as soon as it was revealed the Kettleman’s were missing, I knew it was because they had kidnapped themselves. It was frustrating to watch 30 more minutes of everyone trying to figure out what happened, and then to not have everyone believe Jimmy once he figured it out.

Easter Eggs:

Mike’s past life: Mike brings up his time as a Philly cop. This will come up again in Breaking Bad, but in a much more horrifying way. This time, Mike offers advice about where the Kettleman’s went, by telling a story about a man who did the same thing in Philly, but was living in a house two doors down the whole time. It was cool to find out more about what Mike used to be like.

Tid-Bits:

1468729: The number that Jimmy is calling Nacho from at the pay phone doesn’t work. But honestly, if it did work before the show aired, can you imagine having that number and everyone who is a nerd like me calls it just for kicks? No, thank you.

Nacho’s name: Nacho’s full name is Nacho Varga. I really hate to think his first name is really Nacho, but there is no telling yet.

The boat: The Kettleman’s boat model is the Chapparel.

The Kettleman’s Home: If you thought the area the Kettleman’s looked familiar, you wouldn’t be wrong. While the neighborhood they live in looks a lot like the one that Hank and Marie Schrader live in, it is about a 10 minute drive away. However, that hill in the background? Both neighborhoods back to South Sandia Peak, which is where the Kettleman’s camp out, too. If you are interested in more Better Call Saul locations, you can check out this map, thanks to Reddit user Trekkie45.

No one wants to leave home: Mike says this to Jimmy about The Kettleman’s disappearance. While this could just be taken at face value, the line could mean more, especially because of the first scene where we see Jimmy in Cook County Jail. Why did he come to ABQ? Time will tell.

Predictions:

The Kettleteam ain’t so nice: Ok, so we already know that. But if they were afraid about getting caught for their money, or even being robbed, I think they may have bought a gun. Hypothetically, if I had ripped off my county for 1.6 million, I’d buy a gun to protect my money. Hypothetically, of course. And anyone who sings that many camp songs so happily and calls themselves the Kettleteam… they just have to be…doing something very, very bad.

“I will never rat!”: Jimmy tells Kim he won’t rat on Nacho. I believe him. If he did, Tuco would no doubt not be in Breaking Bad. But will he rat on the Kettleman’s? I think Jimmy isn’t the type to rat on anyone. He will use the opportunity of knowing the money exists to his advantage.

 

Music from the Episode:

The song that plays while Jimmy looks for the Kettleman’s in the woods is “Find Out What’s Happening” and is sung by Bobby Bare.

Hush Comics gives “Nacho” an A- for showing us a new kind of anti-hero, even if he champions for drug dealers and killers, and for growing into it’s own little world apart from the events that happen five years later.

All images belong to AMC.

Better Call Saul Review – “Mijo” S1E2

Lucky you! You get to see Better Call Saul on consecutive days. You get to see Jimmy McGill begin his path down the dark side, and witness him save his skin from Tuco Salamanco. “Mijo” was primarily about how Saul-to-be gets out of a sticky situation with one of the most ferocious drug dealers in the Breaking Bad saga, and showcased some of Jimmy’s best verbal skills – like negotiating with a stone cold killer to follow Hummarabi’s code, while getting him to pass on the Columbian neckties.

Pros:

Better Call Saul S1E2 Mijo 3

Drugs are bad, mmkay?: We got to know Tuco Salamanca from his days as a tweaked out drug dealer who fun-dipped a little too hard into his own product. While that Tuco was a horrifying blast to watch, this calm and collected Tuco is far better to watch. He’s already a bit paranoid, and you can just see a Tony Montana-style drug binge in his future, but right now, he’s much funnier, much smarter, and I actually found myself rooting for him.

No problem, just spilled some Saul-sa: You can’t get blood out with spit, Tuco! I found it so adorable that poor little Abuelita had no idea that her son was a murdering drug dealer. The scene with the club soda was one of the funniest of the series so far; we’ve all had to hide something from a grandparent who keeps trying to be helpful. He even shoos her away to watch the rest of her telenovela. Awww! Although, with a man like Hector Salamanca in the family, I’m not entirely sure how Abuelita stays innocent. I wonder if Tio will make an appearance.

Recurring themes: Where Better Call Saul is already excelling is the continuation of themes. From Tuco’s personality to Jimmy’s blow-ups at Mike Ehrmantraut to the Public Defender montage (it’s showtime, folks!), Vince Gilligan and company know how to make something feel brand new, yet still have the feeling of familiarity. And, of course, don’t forget the desert abductions and Gilligan’s adoration for the word “bitch” – although, biznatch is a good twist on an old favorite.

Cons:

Better Call Saul S1E2 Mijo 4

Meh… uneven pacing: I was largely pleased with this episode, but the pacing between the story-driven last half of the episode and the frightening first half led to a slight loss of momentum. Luckily, the end kicked the story right back into high gear.

Jimmy is a freakin liar!: Aside from the pacing, the cons in this show are few and far between. One thing I am noticing is that things that actually happened here are not exactly how he describes them in Breaking Bad. Nothing Saul has said in Breaking Bad can be taken at face value. He might be a hard-working guy and care deeply for his brother, Chuck, but Jimmy McGill is also a natural born hustler.

Easter Eggs:

Better Call Saul S1E2 Mijo 1

Nachos grande: When Tuco calls the “clean-up” crew, he mentions Nacho by name. This guy could be a throwback reference to a line in S2E8 of Breaking Bad, where Walt and Jesse kidnap Saul and take him to the desert. When they take off the mask, Saul proclaims, “It wasn’t me, it was Ignacio!” This could be a reference to this Nacho.

Tuco has made a poor career choice: Whether it’s caring for the elderly or cooking food for those who try to play them, Tuco has a knack far beyond drug-dealing and murdering. Anytime Tuco whips up something in the kitchen, it means violence for anyone nearby that tries to punk his family. I can’t help but feel bad that his life ended up the way it did.

Stop. Helping.: You may recognize No-Doze from the junkyard in Breaking Bad. You know, the one Tuco ends up murdering with his bare hands in front of “The Heisenberg” and Jesse. I always thought that was just Tuco being crazy, but I expect there to be more hilarious exchanges like this leading up to what we say in BrBa.

Special Agent Jeffrey Steele: Saul’s genius code name is the same as that of popular country singer Jeffrey Steele. What a cowinkidink! I couldn’t find a particular reason that his inclusion could be shared as an Easter Egg, but he did release an album in 2004 called Hell on Wheels, another popular AMC show.

Operation Kingbreaker: Because it’s Vince Gilligan, nothing is coincidence. The 2010 movie, Kingbreaker, centers around a Hank, a Miriam (Marie??), a Walter and the Mexican Drug Cartel. It’s just too close to call.

“I’m a lawyer, not a criminal”: When Jimmy gets volun-told to help Nacho rob the Kettleman’s stash, his retort is one that will be twisted around when Jesse Pinkman pitches Walt that they employ Saul Goodman’s services.

Familiar Territory: The desert scene in this episode was filmed in the same location as the Breaking Bad episode “Say My Name,” where Walt and Declan come to an… understanding.

Tid-Bits:

Drug Talk: When Jimmy is pretending to be an FBI agent, he actually spouts out a whole bunch of stuff that makes sense. Title 21: Schedule II – Schedule V, Part B is suuuuper vague, but if you’d like to read all the legal mumbo-jumbo behind it, here’s the link. I’ll leave it to somebody much smarter than me to make a connection there.

Petty with a prior: While Jimmy seeks to negotiate with the prosecutor, her keeps repeating this phrase, which means that if a person has been priorly convicted of theft, his next charge can be upped to a felony.

Jimmy still had some humanity: Jimmy goes out of his way to save the stupid twins, even though they were the only reason that they all ended up in the Danger Zone. I don’t know that Saul of Breaking Bad would do that – or pay for their medical bill. “I just talked you down from a death sentence to six-months probation; I’m the best lawyer ever.” And Chuck? His electromagnetic hypersensitivity illness, which is a real thing, makes me think that he must be dead by the time BrBa happens – or at least Jimmy will be dead to Chuck.

Space Blankets: Space blankets are real things. They exist. First designed by NASA in 1964, you can buy them for like $15 now. And they look fashionable as fuck.

Calling Nacho: The number that Nacho leaves Jimmy at the end of the episode? Yeah, it’s real. 505-242-6087

Music from the Episode:Boulevard of Broken Dreams” by Esquivel (1959) plays during Jimmy’s rendezvous with a sexy lady at the bar.

 

“It’s showtime, folks” is an recurring quote from All That Jazz (1979) – along with this musical number – that makes an appearance during Jimmy’s bathroom pep talk montage. “It’s from a movie!”

Hush Comics gives “Mijo” an A for the way that it continues to slowly unfold the story of Jimmy McGill. Walter White wasn’t the only one who suffered a fall from grace. “Mijo” shows that Jimmy had a dance with the devil over the subject of scamming, but his mingling with the criminal world is going to prove that he is but a fly in the spider’s web. Even as he tries to protest his identity as a criminal, he’s still at the mercy of Tuco and Nacho’s will.