Four Letter Nerd

Author - Jeff Merrick

Better Call Saul Season 4, Episode 10: Winner Recap

Throughout Better Call Saul’s four season run, Kim and the audience were the only one’s left who were always in on Jimmy’s schemes(Chuck was too, but he dead, so….).

Well, now we’ve all been duped at some point after BCS’s season four finale, “Winner.”

And don’t even try to lie and tell me you were on to Jimmy as he made that final plea with the appeal committee to get back his law license. If Kim Wexler thought Jimmy was telling the truth, you did as well.

Jimmy put on his best performance and the transformation (in name at least) from Jimmy McGill to Saul Goodman is now complete.

And judging by her face, Kim was absolutely horrified at who she helped to create.

But Jimmy’s change to Saul was not the most tragic part of the episode. Mike finally did away with the “half-measures,” pulling the trigger and killing Werner, taking a major step into a world he can now never walk away from.

And that is where we will start the recap as Mike and one other interested party pursue the doomed Werner.

“This is on me. I can fix it.”

The first step in Mike’s search for the fleeing architect was finding where he received a money transfer. At the branch, Mike is able to convince the employee behind the counter to show him security footage by saying Werner had dementia. Unfortunately, the footage only shows Werner got in a cab off screen.

When Mike breaks the bad news to Gus, he learns that (of course) Gus already knows Werner’s wife is on a plane to Denver. Gus’s men will track her from the airport to Werner’s location. And though he never says it directly, Gus’s silence (which speaks oh so clearly) implies both Werner and his wife will be killed.

Mike convinces Gus to hold off and let him track down the German architect, but they are not the only ones looking to find Werner.

“Michael, is that you?”

Lalo used the location to follow Mike from Gus’s factory to the money transfer branch.

But Mike discovered he was being followed and used a slick gum in the parking meter trick to escape.

So Lalo goes back to the money transfer branch and, using nefarious means we’ll discuss later, gets a hold off all the information he needs to find where Werner is.

Lalo wants to find out what Gus is up to in that chicken warehouse. And if he would have been on the phone a little longer, the gullible Werner would have likely spilled all the beans. But Mike showed up before any thing of consequence could have been repeated.

Lalo on his mission to discover what Gus is up to.

“There are so many stars visible in New Mexico.”

But Mike got his man and took him out to the desert at night. Of course, Werner still seems to think that, somehow, he’s going to survive all this. And Mike tried to convince Gus to let Werner finish his work. But it was all to no avail.

Mike wants to be the one to pull the trigger, and he convinces Werner to call his wife and convince her to turn around so she will learn nothing and survive.

Werner walks peacefully out into the desert, turns his back to Mike, and stares up the stars while Mike pulls the trigger and kills him.

Mike and Werner in one of their final conversations.

“I can’t believe I wrote a $23,000 check for this.”

Kim was right about the reason Jimmy was denied the reinstatement of his law license. And they went all in showing Jimmy’s “grief” for his brother.

First, Jimmy stands at Chuck’s grave on the one year anniversary of his brother’s death. And he stood there throughout the day greeting various mourners so they could see him “crying” over his brother.

Second, Jimmy writes a $23,000 check for the dedication of the “Charles L. McGill Reading Room” at the University of New Mexico (I think). And he has the three film students he works with all the time spread the rumors all over the party that Jimmy was the one who made the donation.

Jimmy at Chuck’s grave on the one year anniversary of Chuck’s death.

“Esposito, that’s the shoplifter.”

The third action Jimmy takes is serving on the scholarship committee for the HHM sponsored scholarship named in Chuck’s honor. Three lucky high school students will be chosen, but Jimmy votes for the candidate he relates to the most.

The girl’s name is Christy Esposito. She has a shoplifting conviction on her record and has worked hard to put that behind her. But despite Jimmy’s plea, the committee only sees her as “the shoplifter.”

Jimmy has some, well I don’t really know how to describe the words he used. They aren’t really encouraging, and I guess they could be inspiring depending on how Christy uses them. But Jimmy tells her the truth: they didn’t pick you, they were never going to pick  you, and you must find your own way because committees like this will never ultimately pick you.

It is through Christy that Jimmy sees himself and becomes convinced that his words will mean nothing. It is the words of his brother that must convince his appeal committee to give him his law license back.

“I’m not going to be practicing under the name McGill.”

Jimmy pulls out the letter, the one Chuck wrote him to be given to him as part of Chuck’s will, and takes it to the committee hearing.

And it is hear that Jimmy “bares his soul” about Chuck. He starts reading the letter, but stops. He claims he’ll never be as good as Chuck. But if given the chance, he’ll “do everything in (his) power to earn the name McGill.”

The performance works, except we didn’t know it was a performance and neither did Kim. She really thought Jimmy had been harboring feelings for his brother all season. But it’s not just that Jimmy truly felt nothing for his brother’s lost. Kim never thought Jimmy would stoop so low as to fake those feelings to get his law license back.

Kim is shocked to learn it was all an act. And not only was it an act, but Jimmy will not be practicing under the name “Jimmy McGill.”

The look on Kim’s face as Jimmy walks away says she knows she’s helped create a monster. And from that moment forward, Jimmy McGill is no more. From now on, Jimmy McGill  (except of course when we see him as Gene) will be Saul Goodman.

Kim listens as Jimmy describes the act he just put on for the appeals committee.

Of Note: 

-There was strong symbolism (as usual) in this episode:

There was the use of the song “Winner Takes it All” with Chuck and Jimmy singing it in karaoke. You could say Jimmy was the “winner” of the brotherly rivalry there.

Lalo sang the Spanish version of the song as he spied on Gus’s factory in a battle we know Gus is in the process of “taking it all.”

And Jimmy quotes the song when giving his speech to Christy Esposito.

-Also, Jimmy telling the committee he’ll work hard to live up to the name, then announcing he will not be practicing under the name McGill could not have been accidental. Clearly, Jimmy doesn’t think he can live up to the name “McGill” and now just won’t try to.

-It was clear Werner did not spend enough time with Gus or take seriously just how much danger he was in when he left on his own.

-So will the rest of Werner’s crew finish the lab without him? It seemed like Mike was telling Werner the crew will be sent home immediately with the work not done.

-Gus does show Gale the lab despite its unfinished state.

-The finale set up the showdown for season five with Mike and Lalo, but I do wish the show would have found a more creative to get Lalo into the back of the money transfer branch instead of Lalo pulling out his Spidey Sense to get up into the roof.

-No Nacho in the finale, which means Nacho has survived to Season 5!!!

I hope you’ve enjoyed the recaps for this season. I know we will get at least one more season, so whenever that is, I look forward to seeing you again for season five.

Better Call Saul Season 4, Episode 9: Wiedersehen Recap

Sincerity. The theme of the penultimate episode of Better Call Saul’s fourth season was the word Jimmy heard from his reinstatement committee that got him all up in a tizzy.

But why was Jimmy so upset over the reasoning? I mean, of course he is angry that he will have to wait another year before practicing law again. But can he really be upset that Jimmy, a man who’s lacked sincerity more times than not on BCS, came off as “insincere?”

Was it Jimmy’s pride that was hurt by this, a man who convinces most people he’s sincere when he’s not? Was he upset his performance failed to convince the committee? Or was it because the committee brought back shades of the man who always saw through Jimmy’s “sincere” act: Chuck?

Jimmy has shoved any remorse he might have for the loss of his brother down deep all season. But now, with Kim correctly pointing out that Jimmy’s unwillingness to bring up Chuck at the hearing was the reason he is was rejected, the soon to be Saul Goodman will finally have to come to grips with the feelings he’s been repressing all season.

And it wasn’t just Jimmy who struggled with sincerity last night. Lalo (an amazing addition to the show for one introduced so late in the run) opens every conversation with a smile and compliments for the person he is talking to. But we all know he’s seeking another angle his insincere smile can’t hide.

And then there’s Werner: the surprising thorn in the side of Mike’s need to keep Gus’s operation quiet. Werner only emerged as the main threat last week. And while the love for his wife was clearly sincere, his unwillingness to stay away for her any longer to see the job finished was not.

The season finale next week should be a roller coaster of emotion as Mike searches for Werner (and I don’t think the end result is going to be pretty), Jimmy and Kim (likely) fight to appeal his reinstatement ruling, and Lalo does something (we don’t know what it will be, but the character is incredible, so you know it will be fantastic).

And speaking of Lalo (who was introduced as Eduardo last week), let’s start with him and Nacho (a man who is finding himself farther and farther away from the center of cartel operations).

“Same ole Hector, always wanting to kill everyone.”

Hector is now out of his hospital bed (thank to Gus) and in a retirement/rehab home when Lalo and Nacho come to visit. I don’t think Nacho says a word all night, showing just how far he’s fallen in the cartel food chain in a short amount of time.

Lalo recalls a story with Hector of a time when the Don dealt with someone who disrespected him by burning the place down. Lalo then pulls out a gift: Hector’s iconic bell from Breaking Bad. It turns out, Lalo (at least this is what he says) Lalo retrieved the bell from that burning building as a souvenir.

Hector then sends Nacho away so he can talk alone with Lalo about Gus (ouch, Nacho!!!)

Hector receivers the bell that turns him into “Ding Ding” Salamanca.

“You’d be crazy to go up against Eladio.”

The next stop for Lalo and Nacho is to see Gus at his restaurant. And it is time for a little seed planting mission.

If you recall from Breaking Bad, Eladio ordered the murder of Gus’s business partner. So Gus has every reason to despise Don Eladio (the man who always sits by the pool and orders Gus and Hector around). Lalo uses this, encouraging Gus to distrust and possibly overtake Eladio. While you would think Gus would be smarter than that, we all know he will eventually move against and kill Eladio in the fourth season of Breaking Bad. Well, I believe those seeds were planted with this very conversation.

Lalo meets with Gus, discussing the manipulations of Don Eladio.

“Let’s make this official.”

It’s time for another scam from Viktor (with a K) and Giselle. Of course, those aren’t the roles they are playing here, but I just like to call the dynamic duo that when they scam.

The scam this time is to get the change in building plans Kevin from Mesa Verde wanted last week without having to restart the approval process. Kim comes in on crutches into the City Hall of Lubbock, Texas. She says she thinks she submitted the wrong plans, and she wants to check to ensure she doesn’t have to resubmit.

The receptionist pulls out the plans on file and compares them with the ones Kim brought in. Turns out, they are identical, so no need to refile.

Kim going over the plans with the receptionist at Lubbock City Hall.

In casual conversation, Kim mentions her 8 month old child when Jimmy (who is going by the name of Iggy) approaches to ask a question. But Iggy  left the baby in the car!!! How could you Iggy??? They both run out to take care of the “child,” but Jimmy left a bottle of milk on top of the plans that were on file with the city.

Oh but what luck that Kim has the set of identical building plans she brought in to check. And since they just checked to make sure they were the same, the receptionist agrees to go ahead and stamp them. But the plans she stamps are different set, the ones with the alterations Kevin wanted to make last minute.

“It was a question of sincerity.”

And now it’s time for Jimmy to get back to practicing law. Or at least, that is what he thought would happen.

Jimmy goes before the reinstatement committee and has all the prepared answers he needs: where’s he been working, letters of exemplary performance on the job, obscure legal precedence that’s been established while he’s been suspended, and an apology showing regret for the actions that got him suspended.

Jimmy before the reinstatement committee.

“Jimmy, you are always down.”

But then, Jimmy gets thrown a curveball in the form of a question: “What does the law mean to you?”

Now, Kim correctly points out later that all of this was to try and get Jimmy to say something about Chuck. The committee knows the crime Jimmy committed was because of bad blood with his brother. And they also know Chuck has passed recently. And they might know Jimmy got into the law profession because of a mail room job at HHM set up by his brother.

But Jimmy never utters Chuck’s name. When talking about the mail room job, Jimmy simply states he “ended up” there, not that Chuck got him the opportunity. And when asked about what (or who) his legal influences are (a question that screamed, “The answer is your brother Chuck”), Jimmy says “The University of American Samoa.”

When he finds out he’s been rejected, Jimmy calls Kim. They go on top of a parking garage and have it out because Jimmy thinks Kim denies his sincerity.

And once again, Kim is in the right when she points out all the times she dropped everything to help out Jimmy, a man who is constantly in need of rescuing.

But later on, after the two have cooled down and are sitting in their apartment, Kim makes clear that she will still help Jimmy become a lawyer again.

“If you want to see your wife, then finish the job.”

We wrap up with Mike, who’s inevitable major issue with the Germans finally emerged this week. And just like I speculated last week, it wasn’t Kai, Casper, or any other member of Werner’s crew. It was Werner himself.

I have to give one last bit of respect to the German man before the beginning of his likely demise. When the explosives weren’t working, he didn’t send a crew member to check on the problem. He took the risk himself.

But unlike the rest of his crew, which was really excited about the successful explosion, Werner was down. And the reason was understandable. The project has gone on longer than expected, and Werner is really missing his wife of 26 years. He asks Mike if he can visit her while Kai leads in his place. Mike refuses, but does give Werner the chance to call her.

That call may not have been the best thing. Later, Mike notices spots on the cameras in the security room. He goes into the house to search Werner’s room and finds a letter and instructions for how to finish the project. Werner has run away, and he used a device that temporarily shut down the cameras to do it.

Mike when he sees what Werner used to escape.

Of Note:

-Kai offering Mike a beer makes me think those two are about to bury the hatchet so Kai can finish the work Werner’s started.

-Everyone watching knows that when Lalo compliments Gus’s chicken that it is all a big game of flattery before Lalo gets to what he really wants. Which makes how effective Lalo is at it even more amazing.

-I wonder what the cartel suspects of Nacho. With all the time he spends with Gus, they clearly don’t trust him. But have they any clue of the role Nacho played in Don Hector’s current state? And do they know Nacho is actively working as a mole for Gus?

-“Of course, they all know me as Saul Goodman.” And very subtlety, Jimmy mentions the reason why his name change will happen.

It is already time for the season 4 finale, folks. And it promises to be quite the ride. See you next week.

Better Call Saul Season 4, Episode 8: Coushatta Recap

After last week’s episode, I thought I had this season figured out. Jimmy and Kim were going to do one last scheme to keep Huell out of jail before parting ways permanently, eliminating the final encumbrance to Jimmy’s inevitable track to Saul Goodman.

I also figured Mike would, at some point this season, have a major issue to handle with one of the members of Werner’s crew. Kai would be obvious, but Casper (the guy who knocked over the pole last week) might be a candidate as well.

Well, it turns out I know nothing. That affection between Kim and Jimmy isn’t gone, it just needed a spark in the form of Kim and Jimmy running a scam together. Now, of course, that is not sustainable. Kim will not end up with Jimmy pulling scams in Breaking Bad, but her renewed affections for the future Saul Goodman mean their parting is unlikely to be the quiet separation I was envisioning last week.

And did anybody see Werner as the biggest threat to Gus’s lab-building operation? Turns out, no one handles their alcohol worse than Werner. Because while Kai gets kicked out of strip clubs when he’s drunk, Werner turns on the “Let me show you all the top secret meth labs I’m building” part of his brain.

We also checked in with Nacho for the first time in awhile as he received some unwelcome oversight. But we’ll start with Mike as he takes Werner and his crew for some much needed R and R.

“Nothing like this will happen again.”

A strip club is where Mike takes Werner’s crew to blow off steam. And all the guys seem to be having a good time when Mike and Werner decide they can leave and talk alone at another bar.

The two men have always had an understanding of each other, as close to a deep bond anyone that is not Mike’s granddaughter can have with Mike. But Werner put that relationship and more in jeopardy after having a few too many drinks while Mike checked in on the crew at the strip club.

Mike had a Kai issue to take care of as the troublesome crew member got kicked out of the strip club. The bouncer was going to call the police on Kai. But Mike pays the bouncer off to keep Kai’s presence in America off police records.

But even worse, when Mike gets back to the bar to pick up Werner, the German architect has drawn the plans of the lab he’s building on a napkin and is going into great detail with a couple of guys at the bar about the building process.

Turns out, Werner is a man who gets chatty when he drinks.

When Mike confronts Werner about his indiscretions, Werner promises Mike it will never happen again. But Mike does not look convinced. Later, when Gus asks for an update, Mike doubles down in trusting Werner. But once again, he doesn’t look convinced.

“It’s gonna be like I’m not even here.”

It’s good to see Nacho is healthy and active as the man now running the show at the restaurant while dealers come in and deliver the Salamanca’s their cut from the streets.

It’s a seat Tuco sat in early in the show. Then Don Hector took that spot temporarily after Tuco went to prison. But it’s Nacho looking on as a dealer comes in and doesn’t have the expected amount of money. Crazy 8 let’s him off with a warning to bring it next week. But Nacho learned his lesson last season as he calls the dealer over and rips an earring out of his ear, demanding the money be brought back with interest. Nacho also admonishes Crazy 8 for not doing it himself.

Later in the restaurant, Nacho walks in to find a visitor. The man’s name is Eduardo (he also goes by Lalo), and Nacho knows the man is here to check up on him. Considering Nacho is working undercover for Gus, this is bad news. Do the Salamancas know Nacho’s been compromised? Or do they simply think he can’t do the job? Or maybe they suspect (and correctly as it turns out) that he needs watching because he might be ready to escape.

Eduardo, also known as Lalo, makes his first appearance.

“I think we might be past that.”

Meanwhile, Kim and Jimmy still aren’t talking, at least not in a way lovers do. They discuss the execution of the scam to keep Huell out of jail, but that is it.

And what a scam it was!!! All those office supplies turn out to be for Jimmy to write fake letters of people in Huell’s home town of Coushatta, Louisiana, begging the judge to free Huell. Jimmy writes all the letters on a bus taking him to Coushatta, pays passengers to write letters so different types of handwriting are included, and places phone numbers on a handful of the letters.

The letters are sent from Coushatta to Albuquerque, and Judge Munsinger (the man whose courtroom Kim sat in several episodes ago) is the one receiving all of them. The letters encourage the judge to free Huell with several of them by people threatening to come to Albuquerque during the trial if a resolution is not reached.

Judge Munsinger tells ADA Ericsen and Kim he doesn’t want a circus.

Assistant District Attorney Suzanne Ericsen wants to know who these people are, so she starts reading the letters. She calls the phone numbers listed on the letters, which are all Jimmy and his film crew talking in Cajun accents defending Huell. Jimmy plays the role of pastor at a church Huell attended and says the big man once pulled a bunch of elderly church members in a bible study out of a burning building.

“Let’s do it again.”

After Jimmy threatens to bring a large bus of church members to Albuquerque, the ADA finally caves. Kim gets the deal she was asking for and delivers the news to Jimmy by making out with him in the stairwell. So turns out, the passion is not entirely gone just yet.

Kim and Jimmy kissing in the stairwell after a successful scam frees Huell.

Later, Kim is losing focus in a meeting with Kevin and Paige when she is awoken from her daydreaming by another crazy scheme of Kevin’s. Kevin wants to change the building designs of one of the branches that’s already been approved and already under construction to be more like the one with the large cowboy statue (I think). That’s the one doing the best business, so he wants more branches just like it. But Kim agrees with Paige that doing the permit process all over again for an already approved branch just can’t be done.

Clearly, Kim is still bored with her work at Mesa Verde. When she gets back to the office, she pulls the top to the Tequila bottle she and Jimmy claimed after scamming Ken back in season 2. She meets Jimmy at another law office he’s scouting out for when he returns to practicing and tells him she wants to do it again.

Of Note:

-It appears each week the office buildings Jimmy views are going to get worse and worse.

-It also appears Kim was paying for Huell’s defense. She tells ADA Ericsen the legal team Kim put together for Huell’s defense is not pro bono, so someone has to be paying that bill.

-I also liked the touch of the website promoting Huell’s cause.

-I also think that if Jimmy tried the scam today, he would need a slight tweak. That story with Huell pulling people out of the fire would have popped up in any google search today. So Jimmy would have to create a fake news site with an article about Huell’s “heroics.”

-Mike updates Gus on the progress of the lab. He says the work is solid, but it is well behind schedule. That doesn’t seem to bother Gus at all. He’s ruthless and calculating, but also realistic.

Gus and Mike discussing the progress of the lab.

-So Crazy 8 is one step closer to the place he will hold in Breaking Bad just before Walt chokes him down in Walt’s garage.

-Nacho also has fake ID’s prepared so both he and his father can flee to the Manitoba province of Canada.

-Who were those girls hanging out at Nacho’s house? I didn’t Nacho to be the kind of drug dealer who had random junkies hanging out where he lives.

-Lalo (Eduardo) was referred to in Breaking Bad when a masked Walt and Jessie took Saul out in the desert with plans to shoot him. Under duress, Saul mentioned both Lalo and Nacho’s name in that conversation.

Saul Goodman mentions the name “Lalo” back in Breaking Bad.”

Only two episodes left!!! See you next week.

Better Call Saul Season 4, Episode 7: Something Stupid

One last ride. That was the feeling I had at the end of “Something Beautiful,” the 7th episode of Better Call Saul’s fourth season.

This four year journey Kim and Jimmy have been on throughout this entire series is nearing its end, but not before their departing paths converge on one common interest: defending Huell Babineaux.

Kim and Jimmy have been drifting away from each other since the start of the season. But the heartbreaking opening scene and Kim’s lack of reaction to learning of Jimmy’s burner phone business showed further how the flame between these two has burned out.

I’ve been thinking since the start of the series that the inevitable end would be some tragic event or explosive argument between the two (and that may still be coming). But if “Something Stupid” is any indication, Kim and Jimmy’s relationship will end with a whimper, not a bang.

But for now, the pair have at least one more cause to fight together before their partnership dissolves.

We’ll get to Kim and Jimmy’s tragic tale later. But let’s start with Mike as he tries to control a crew of Germans going through a really bad case of cabin fever.

“They need fresh air and a change of scenery.”

The opening scene moved the story line ahead about 8 months, which means we are at the point with Werner and his crew where they expected to be done or close to done with Gus’s lab.

But as it turns out, they are not even halfway to completion. And the job takes a major setback when one of the crewmen (whose name is Casper) knocks over a supporting poll.

Kai, the one Mike wants an eye kept on, starts a confrontation that requires Mike speaking in German (as it turns out, that was just one of the phrases he knew) to settle things down.

The tension was thick when Mike went to visit Werner and his crew in their living quarters. All the excitement over the bar, the theater, the soccer field, etc… is gone as no one is talking to each other, and Casper (the guy that hit that pole in a forklift) has a number of beer cans sitting around his chair.

It is at this point that Werner recommends to Mike that his crew needs a “change of scenery.”

Werner and Mike oversee the work on Gus’s lab.

“Perhaps we should temper our expectations.”

Meanwhile, Hector is making progress. He’s up and Dr. Bruckner is practicing the mode of communication we all know Hector so well for.

But a key moment (one that Gus noticed, but Dr. Bruckner did not) will end Hector’s remarkable progress. As a nurse enters the room, Hector knocks over a glass of water on purpose. so he can check out the nurse bending over in front of him. But when Gus sees this on the video, he knows Hector is now fully aware of who and where he is.

And what better way to torture a fully aware Hector than to leave him fully aware that he is unable to walk or speak the rest of his life. The doctor even went so far as to say that at some point Hector could be able to walk and talk again if his therapy continues. But Gus says they should “temper our expectations” and encourages her to “delegate others” to work with Hector.

Gus meeting with Dr. Bruckner as he decides to leave Hector in the state he is in right now.

“Well, that was something.”

That opening sequence!!! That might have been the best scene of season 4 as one five minute sequence moves through about 8 months of time as Kim and Jimmy take their divergent paths. They quietly brush their teeth together when the scene starts. But as Kim moves into her office and routine at Schweikart and Cokley and Jimmy’s burner phone business moves forward, they eventually brush their teeth separately. When at home, Kim sits in the bed while Jimmy sits on the couch watching TV. And when the pair go to a party at Schweikart and Cokley, Jimmy pisses off Schweikart and Kim with his elaborate (and expensive) out of state plans for a firm retreat.

Jimmy’s usual act didn’t go so well with Rick Schweikart at the firm party.

“Jimmy, whatever you’re doing, don’t”

Later, Jimmy, in his usual spot for selling phones, is approached by a cop in plain clothes. The cop, Officer Platt, is upset that drug dealers are being released from prison because they used burner phones sold to them by Jimmy to make their transactions.

Jimmy is unapologetic. When asked “nicely”by the cop to stop selling the phones to criminals, Jimmy refuses. The two get into an argument when Huell walks up. Huell is wearing headphones, so he can’t hear what they are saying or Jimmy’s warnings not to attack. So Huell, doing his job protecting Jimmy, hits Officer Platt with the bag Huell’s carrying.

This “assault on a police officer” will get Huell two and half years in prison, time the Cajun has no plans to serve.

But Jimmy pleads with him not to jump bail. Jimmy says he’s got a plan, and that plan is to get Kim on Huell’s case.

Jimmy pleading with Kim to take Huell’s case.

Kim agrees and meets with Assistant District Attorney Suzanne Ericsen, who is charging Huell with all that time. And even though Kim points out how unfair the sentencing is (even going so far as to research sentencing in similar crimes), ADA Ericsen will not back down.

On her way to meet with Huell, Kim has a revelation. She goes and picks up a ton of office supplies and calls Jimmy. Jimmy had said he was going to take care of this issue his way (whatever that means), but Kim begs him to stop. She’s got a plan, a plan we will have to wait until next week to find out the details of.

Of Note:

-I expected more of a fight when Kim found out Jimmy’s been selling burner phones to drug dealers. But 8 months seems to have blunted her “I care about Jimmy’s actions” meter significantly.

-Another sign of change between the pair was Kim’s flat of rejection of Jimmy’s scheme to get Huell off by defaming the character of the cop. On one hand, Kim is no longer interested in Jimmy’s schemes. On the other, Jimmy has never suggested something so dangerous.

-Jimmy only has one month before he can resume practicing law. And the current date of the show, based on the final passed drug test we see from Jimmy, is January 2004.

-“Need a Call? Buy From Saul.” We get oh so closer to “Saul Goodman, Attorney at Law.”

-I understand why Mike has such issues with Kai considering the attitude he shows Mike each time they interact. But how about Casper, the guy that knocked down the pole? He clearly has a drinking problem, and that issue is likely the reason he set the team’s progress back with the forklift accident.

-I wonder if Hector knows it’s Gus providing the care for him. And will Dr. Bruckner fight Gus on his decision with Hector’s care? I mean, she has to know Gus is cutting off Hector’s care prematurely.

Just three episodes left, and things are really picking up for the conclusion of season 4. See you next week.

 

Better Call Saul Season 4, Episode 6: Pinata Recap

Opposing paths. Opposite directions. The wheels are turning on the inevitable as Kim and Jimmy’s career and life paths pivoted away from each other in “Pinata,” the 6th episode of Better Call Saul’s fourth season last night.

Kim has found her passion for law again in working pro bono as a public defender. But as a solo practitioner, Mesa Verde demands all of Kim’s time and energy. So now she’s a partner at Sweikart and Cokley, where a whole department can handle all those documents while she’s out fighting for the rights of the accused.

And with Kim at a new firm, ending the likelihood of there ever being a “Wexler-McGill” again, nothing is holding Jimmy back now. Right after receiving the news that Kim will be venturing away from their previous partnership together, Jimmy turns ruthless, tearing into Howard for his self pity and shaking down the three kids that robbed him last week.

It’s funny just how close the two passions developing in Kim and Jimmy are to each other. Both involve working with what many would consider the lower rungs of society. But for Kim, it’s out of philanthropy. While for Jimmy, it is only about the profits.

At some point, these two will come to a reckoning, and it will not be pretty. Both characters are clearly holding in emotions whenever they interact. But I suspect that when Jimmy’s less than savory activities are out in the open, the gloves will come out and this union will go down in flames.

We will get to Kim and Jimmy’s story towards the end. But let’s start with Mike and Gus as they prepare living arrangements for Werner and his crew.

“We can’t just keep them alive, we have to keep them from climbing the walls”

Gus has prepared two temporary houses in the warehouse, but Mike notices several things are missing.

Mike, in all his wisdom, recognizes the situation they have to manage: these guys will be working all day trapped inside a building with no view of the outside for 6 to 10 months. So you have to provide more than just a bed.

He recommends exercise equipment, entertainment systems, a bar, and recreational fields. Gus says to make a list, and whatever is needed will be provided.

When the crew arrives, all the things Mike requested are there, and the Germans are impressed. Mike meets with them to give them the rundown of what’s expected. But one worker, Kai, seems intent on doing his own thing. He’s one worth watching, and Mike tells his security guys in the trailer monitoring the crew to keep an eye on him.

Mike meets with the crew who will be building Gus’s lab.

“That’ll be you soon”

Our first scene of the night was a flashback of mailroom Jimmy and mailroom Kim, both presented as noticeably younger than anytime we’ve seen them together. Jimmy is mostly focused on an Oscar pool he’s running in the office. But Kim, who is a third year law student at this point, is focused on the cases she’s delivering mail for.

Then Chuck walks in, and everyone is giving him applause for a victory he just won in a case. Chuck found some obscure case law that allowed a family of a deceased man to cash out shares he had in a company that had been closed down. Kim is in awe of this bit of legal trickery done by Jimmy’s older brother and asks him several questions about the case.

Jimmy, who is clearly crushing on Kim, is upset he cannot participate in the conversation. So a frustrated Jimmy decides to enter into the law library, beginning his quest to become a lawyer.

Kim and Jimmy from back in their days in the mail room.

“I’m thinking about criminal law myself.”

Flash forward to today and Kim’s interest in obscure case law is waning. She’s preparing more documents for Mesa Verde, but a stack of public defender files are sitting there tugging at her more.

So the next day, she does something to take care of it. Back in season 2, Kim received an offer from Rick Schweikart to work at his firm. Now, she’s hoping that offer might still be available.

She wants to start a banking division within Schweikart and Cokley. That way, she will have associates and paralegals that can handle all the Mesa Verde documents, freeing up time for her to continue her pro bono work.

Now, to break the news to Jimmy. Kim saw Jimmy’s noodling notepad where he was brainstorming logos for “Wexler-McGill” and working on name cards for the pair. So she knows he’s not going to take kindly to this. But after a little freak out away from the table and into the restaurant kitchen, Jimmy says she should go for it.

And it this moment that Jimmy is all in with his new criminal life.

Kim looking at Jimmy’s notepad knowing the dreams on there will never come to fruition.

“You get one warning, and that was it.”

The first step is walking into HHM and picking up his $5000 check from Chuck’s will. While picking that up, Jimmy notices Howard is still stressed out. HHM has hit some hard times financially. They had to pay out Chuck’s estate and their reputation is in shambles. So Howard has had to let a lot of people go.

But instead of feeling sorry for him, Jimmy goes all Kim Wexler on Howard and cusses him out. “You’re a shitty lawyer, but you’re a great salesman,” Jimmy tells Howard as he walks out and puts his $5000 to immediate use.

Then, Jimmy purchases a large amount of those “Pay as you Go” phones. Right before an argument with his “landlord” at the nail salon, Jimmy makes a call to get some room that is filled with Pinatas (hmmm).

Now, the last part of Jimmy’s plan to is to take care of the three guys who took all his money last week. First, he offers them a cut every night he goes out and sells. Of course, they refuse and demand all of Jimmy’s money again.

But this time, Jimmy has a plan. He leads them down into a dark alley where they think he’s trapped. Instead, Jimmy has Huell Babineax and another associate waiting for the three punks.

They are tied upside down in a room filled with pinatas, and they can hear as Huell starts knocking candy out of the pinatas with a baseball bat.

Jimmy instructs the punks to leave him alone from now on, for this is their only warning.

Jimmy addressing one of the three young punks who robbed him last week.

Of Note: 

-I was never sure why Chuck thought it would be safe for Jimmy to work in the HHM mailroom if he never wanted Jimmy to become a lawyer. Tonight’s episode revealed why: because before that conversations between Chuck and Kim, Jimmy showed no interest in the or ability to grasp it.

-It was sad to see Jimmy receive a phone call informing him a former client (one of his first elder law clients) had died. She was the lady who wanted to make sure the Hummel figurines went to the right people. She was also the star of the Davis and Mane commercial that got Jimmy and Kim in trouble.

-I wonder if the Rolodex of Jimmy’s elder law clients will end up at HHM. He did give Howard an elder law referral.

-Mike went over and apologized to Stacey for speaking out at group to confront Henry. It also sounds like he’s not talked to Anita since that happened or been able to spend time with Kayley.

-A really great scene with Gus tonight confronting an unconscious Hector. It did nothing to advance their story. But once again, Gus confirmed that he would rather let Hector live so he can suffer than die of the infection that might take his live.

-The buzz over the warehouse scenes was disorienting, but added a nice effect to those conversations.

-The date of the episode opening flashback is sometime in March of 1993. The movie mentioned, Howard’s End, was nominated for Best Picture for the Oscar show airing March 29th, 1993. Also, Al Pacino (who was mentioned from someone else’s entry) won Best Actor that year for his performance in “Scent of a Woman.”

Next week, we’ll see Jimmy’s “side business” move forward in full force. And does Hector wake up? Find out next week.

 

Better Call Saul Season 4, Episode 5: Quite a Ride Recap

As we hit the halfway point of Better Call Saul’s 4th season, Jimmy and Kim are having unspoken issues. Both are living individual lives that barely intersect at home as Kim appears headed for an ill-fated ending with Mesa Verde and Jimmy continues to flirt with criminal entities.

Neither discusses what they are doing with the other. So what will happen when all these secret activities boil over and reveal themselves? We know the result for Jimmy, but what will the backlash be for Kim?

On the other side of the coin is Mike and Gus. Mike’s “job” ends in success as the duo finds the man who will ultimately build Gus’s meth lab. Gus is moving closer to his status as top of the food chain in Albuquerque’s drug world as Kim and Jimmy move closer to an ill-fated conclusion.

And let’s not forget the opening scene, where we see Saul Goodman making escape plans from his office before he went into hiding.

We’ve got plenty to discuss, so let’s kick things off with Mike and Gus and their search for the perfect meth lab architect.

“Dangerous, difficult, very expensive, but quite possible.”

As it turns out, Gus’s job for Mike is to find an architect: the man who will build Gus’s meth lab in the bottom floor of the laundry warehouse Gus now owns.

The first candidate is brash and confident. Mike arranges for him to pick up a phone from a car at the Denver Airport. Mike calls and directs him where to drive the car. The man then puts a sack over his head and they drive to Albuquerque (though the guy in the bag has no idea that’s where he is).

The guy clearly knows about the job and runs a few tests over it with his computer and another tool. I’m sorry I don’t know what thing that beeps is, but what the tool is for doesn’t matter. His inspection is quick and explanation of his work is too idealistic and easy. Mike gets a call from Gus, and next thing you know, this guy is back at his car with a plane ticket ready to fly back from wherever he came from.

The next candidate appears far less confident. He struggles with the ride there. Then when he gets there, he sees a tough, expensive project. This man is named Werner Ziegler, and he pulls no punches explaining just how difficult this job will be.

But he assures Gus that it is possible, and the two men shakes hands. Gus has his man to build his state of the art Meth Lab.

Mike meets with Werner Zigler, the man who will build Gus’s meth lab.

“We’re not a client you hang up on.”

Last week, a judge in court challenged Kim, saying that if she kept hanging around his court, he would find her something to do.

Well, Kim took him up on that challenge, taking the case of two defendants at the expense of her main client.

Kim’s first client is David, a defendant who threw a rock into a jewelry store and tried to rob it. But the cops didn’t read him his Miranda rights, so their evidence could be thrown out if the case goes to trial (at least that is what Kim tells Bill Oakley (a familiar face), Assistant District Attorney.

She holds firm on a deal for 4 months probation and time served right up until the case for the young man begins. She gets her deal, but she neglected checking paperwork her paralegal has been doing for her.

Kim negotiates with Bill Oakley.

Later, Kim has a client who misses her time in court because she’s afraid of going to jail. Kim takes a cab to the girl’s house and talks her into appearing in court. But while counseling the girl, Kim gets a call.

Paige from Mesa Verde is upset because there is a mistake in the paper work. Kim promises to take care of it, but she has something to deal with before she can and hangs up.

When Kim does make it to Mesa Verde, she finds the mistake has already been corrected. And Paige isn’t even upset about the mistake. She says Kim cannot hang-up on Mesa Verde in the future. Kim promises to never do that again, and I don’t think anyone watching last night believes her.

“It sounds like you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Meanwhile, Jimmy continues his long, boring days “selling” cell phones at CCMobile. And Jimmy with idle hands is almost always a bad idea.

Last week, he painted on the windows a message that basically said, “Hey criminals, want to keep your activities private?” Well, he caught his first fish with that bait this week. A guy walks in who isn’t declaring all his income with the IRS.

Jimmy gives the sales pitch and convinces the guy to purchase every “Pay as you go” phone he has on stock.

Later, when Jimmy gets home, the “idle hands” comes into play again. Kim as legal documents to review, so she can’t watch a movie with Jimmy. So as “Slippin Jimmy” sits there bored he gets to thinking of a scheme.

He leaves for what he says is “work,” purchases the rest of his stock of “Pay as you go” phones, and heads out to the streets to sell them.

Jimmy selling “Pay as you go” phones on the street

The first group he presents to refuses. But everyone else is all in, including a biker gang everyone else is afraid of.

But that first trio took notice of the amount of money Jimmy made selling phones. And they beat him up and take the money, leaving Jimmy in the middle of the street broke.

This experience seems to turn Jimmy back to being on the up and up. He removes the painted message from the cell phone store, takes the number to that psychiatrist Kim recommended, and heads to court for his monthly check in with his probation officer.

But then, Jimmy runs into Howard, and things are not going well for the head of HHM. He’s not sleeping, but he won’t tell Jimmy all the issues he’s having right now. Jimmy wants to recommend a psychiatrist for Howard, but Howard says he’s already seeing one twice a week. Seeing Howard in the state he is in is enough for Jimmy to give up on seeing a shrink, and he tears up the number and throws it in the toilet.

Later, Jimmy does his monthly check up and promises a return to law that is going to be “bigger, better, and everyone’s going to know about it.” And he plans on practicing with Kim. But the conflicted look on Jimmy’s face makes us wonder if he believes that.

Of Note

-Before the start of the season, Vince Gilligan promised scenes that took place during the Breaking Bad timeline. Well, we got our first scene Monday night (and hopefully not the last) as we see Saul Goodman tearing through his office as Francesca shreds documents.

Jimmy had money hidden all over that office (in the ceiling, behind the Constitution, etc).

And I am amazed how much Francesca was willing to do for Jimmy right up to his very last moment as Saul Goodman. Of course, her work wasn’t for free, and she clearly shows no affection for him. But was money the only reason she stuck by him right up until this last moment?

And will this scene serve a greater purpose later on in Better Call Saul?

Saul Goodman and Francesca cleaning out his office.

-It is interesting to see Kim take the place Jimmy held at the start of the series and be so much better at it than he was.

-So a kid faces 18 months in jail, Kim gets it down to four months probation, and that ingrate is upset he has to see a probation office?

-Also, was David (the kid Kim defended) one of three that robbed Jimmy?

-I wonder how much of Jimmy’s “late night at the Dog House” story Kim really believes.

That’s the halfway point of Season 4, ladies and gentlemen. And I don’t expect the 2nd half to be anything but tense as some big decisions are likely to be made before it’s over. See you next week.

 

Predicting When the Final Season of Game of Thrones Will Air

All the scenes have been shot. In fact, Game of Thrones news site “Watchers on the Wall” said filming officially wrapped two months ago. Of course, there is still editing to be done and promotional interviews and articles to be written. But since everything has been filmed, surely HBO could give us a firm premiere date for the farewell season of their signature series.

But instead, all we’ve gotten is vague hints from different people with the network of a release date “sometime in 2019” with nothing concrete to hang our hopes on.

Well, HBO released a really big clue earlier this week when they put out their official season preview video for the 2018/19 television year.

Now, I know that is a fair amount of material to sift through. But the good news is we really only have to focus on three programs other than GOT in that clip: The Deuce, True Detective, and Big Little Lies.

All of these and Game of Thrones are the shows that will appear in the 9 pm eastern/8 central time slot on Sunday nights where HBO likes to place its top dramas.

And starting September 9th, “The Deuce” ( a show I’ve never heard of starring Kirsten Dunst and James Franco) will air its second season. That second season is nine episodes, meaning it will end on November 4th.

That brings us to the holiday season, and I don’t think HBO will debut anything during the 8 remaining Sundays of 2018. But even if they did, it will not be the three remaining shows mentioned above because all three have been promised for 2019.

Now, at the end of “Sharp Objects” (a fantastic miniseries that ended this past Sunday in the 9/8 slot), HBO previewed the third season of True Detective and promised a January premiere date. So that means that True Detective must begin sometime between January 6th-January 27th.

The third season of True Detective, staring Mahershala Ali, will debut some time in January.

The previous two seasons of True Detective featured 8 episodes, so let’s assume they follow the same format. So after 8 episodes, it will be March, which seems to work perfectly for the premiere of Big Little Lies.

So somewhere between March 3rd-March 24th, Big Little Lies will premiere its 2nd season. It is expected to run 7 episodes (just like the first season), which will put its conclusion somewhere between April 14th-May 5th.

 

 

The 2nd season of Big Little Lies, starring Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, and Reese Witherspoon, could debut in March of 2019. 

And unless there is something HBO is holding back, that puts Game of Thrones premiere date somewhere between April 21st and May 12th.

 

But I’m not going to just finish this writing with some vague time frame. I don’t see any reason HBO would not start True Detective January 6th. The holidays will be over and most networks will have started their winter/spring seasons at this point.

And a January 6th start date for True Detective means Game of Thrones’s final season will premiere on…..

 

 

April 21st.

Now, if HBO takes any Sundays off (like during the Super Bowl), that would obviously change the timeline. And there’s also the GOT spin-off series expected sometime after GOT goes off the air. I would think HBO would want to have at least one of those series ready to preview during Game of Thrones’s final season. So if there is a delay in production for any of those shows, that could influence HBO to delay season 8.

Hopefully, we’ll get confirmation regarding this date sooner rather than later. But until then, stay patient while HBO milks their golden calf for all it’s worth.

Better Call Saul Season 4, Episode 4: Talk Recap

Inspiration. Motivation. The reason you get up and go to work everyday. In a pivotal season of Better Call Saul where major bridges between Jimmy’s journey to becoming Saul Goodman, Gus’s rise to the top of the food chain in the cartel, and Mike’s emergence as Gus’s right hand man will likely be crossed, Monday night’s “Talk” pulled things back a bit as we looked deep into four characters and the reasons why they chose the line of work they chose.

For Kim, dealing exclusively with banking regulations has her yearning for motivation to keep going as a lawyer. We see her attending random legal proceedings hoping for an inspiring case that will return that itch that brought her to HHM years ago.

For Jimmy, it’s the sales pitch. Sitting in an empty cell phone store unable to perform has Jimmy in a bind. But by the end of the episode, Jimmy finds inspiration from a conversation with Ira, a “new” associate he first met last week.

For Mike, the instinct of his old profession never leaves him. Even in a support group for people dealing with grief from losing loved ones, Mike’s antenna for sensing lies will not turn off.

For Nacho, it’s regret. Why did he involve himself in the games of the cartel? I expect season 4 will end in tragedy for Nacho. And as he sits in his father’s house indebted to Gus, hiding secrets from the Salamaca’s, and slowly dying from a wound that a real doctor will never treat, all Nacho can ask for is a little rest in his father’s home: a good man who must ask why his son felt the need to pursue such a dangerous path in life.

Now, I expect our path towards where we know our major characters end up to continue in earnest next week. But “Talk” takes a wonderful step back to remind us who these characters are at their cores. And those core values will be essential as these characters plot forward to their ultimate destiny (or demise) in the weeks to come.

“Get some rest, you have more to do.”

Gus’s ultimate plan for killing Arturo was to claim hold of a territory held by the Espinosas: a family who deals cocaine in what appears to be a poor part of Albuquerque.

Nacho takes the Twins to the Espinosa’s hideout (a location we briefly visited earlier in the episode). Nacho spots the car ( a car he described to the Twins in detail last week as responsible for ambushing him and Arturo), and the Twins waste no time going in.

Now, keep in mind, this is a fairly large operation with at least ten to fifteen people inside this territory. The Twins remind us how bad ass they are as they go in (just the two of them for the most part) and take out everyone. Nacho, still struggling with his injury from last week, provides back up when the Twins appear trapped. But otherwise, it is Hector’s nephews who take everyone of the Espinosa’s down and walk out with the cocaine and the money.

Nacho and one of the Twins take out the Espinosa’s for “revenge.”

Nacho tells Gus that the Twins are heading back to Mexico until things cool off. That opens the door for Gus to expand into the Espinosa territory. Nacho figures this out quickly, but Gus assures him that he still has “more to do.”

Nacho needs rest. And in the episode’s most heartbreaking scene, he finds it in his father’s house. Nacho’s dad doesn’t want him there. But when he turns on the light and sees his son struggling, he relents. He tries to call 911, but Nacho tells him he can’t (the wounds would likely be reported to police and end in a worse outcome than the slow death Nacho might be dying here). All Nacho asks for is rest: rest for both his hurting body and from this deadly game with no way out.

“It’s the real world, Ms. Wexler, and you won’t find any ‘save the broken lawyer’ cases in it.”

Kim has been spending a lot of time in court recently, a place she misses dearly.

With Mesa Verde, there are no court cases, just a constant stream of legal documents and banking regulations with an occasional regulatory board hearing (I fell asleep typing that sentence).

So Kim sits in the court of Judge Benedict Munniser (who has to be a judge or a teacher at Hogwarts). The judge notices her and calls her into his office, giving her sound advice: do your work, make money, and give some of it to charity if you need a cause because these trials aren’t going to be a like the movies.

He also warns Ms.Wexler that she will be put to work if he keeps seeing her in his court. But instead of hearing a warning, Kim hears a challenge. For when Judge Munniser is done with his lunch and returns to his bench, he sees her sitting right back down in the same seat. Don’t be surprised if Kim picks up some public defender work in the coming weeks.

Kim sits in court observing trials, looking for motivation.

“So this is a normal weekday?”

In only took four episodes, but Jimmy finally has a job. Now, the only reason he has that job is he doesn’t want Kim to think he needs therapy.

The job is “floor manager” of a cell phone store. But the CC Mobile branch Jimmy works in doesn’t get a lot of foot traffic. And by that, I mean no foot traffic at all. Jimmy spends his days bored out of his mind. But he finds motivation from a meeting with Ira, his partner in crime from last week.

“New job, new phone. You never know who’s listening.”

Jimmy closes the store briefly (and I’m sure lots of people noticed) to pick up money from Ira.

Now, I have to apologize. I thought the Hummel job was barely thought out and poorly executed. But turns out it produced more money than Jimmy thought it would. Sorry Jimmy for doubting any of your schemes.

Ira took it to the Hummel figurine convention where a bidding war broke out. Ira also showed himself to be an “honorable” thief, giving Jimmy half even though he could have just given Jimmy the $4000 McGill expected back.

I expect these two to work together again in the near future. Ira tells Jimmy if he’s got another job, call the vet because he won’t be using the same phone.

Jimmy and Ira discussing future business together.

That last line gives Jimmy an idea. He heads back to the store and breaks out the paint. I’m sure Jimmy asked permission to do this (wink,wink) as he plasters a new message across the windows of the empty store: “Is the man listening? Privacy sold here.”

Jimmy’s post elder law life has included mostly unsavory dealings with unsavory people. And I suspect this message, a message that screams “We sell burner phones!!!!” will bring more unsavory people into Jimmy’s path.

Jimmy’s new promotional message for CC Mobile.

“You wanted me to talk, I talked.”

For the first time this season, we return to the support group Mike and Stacey have been attending. And we also get a date for Mike and Anita, the true power couple of “Better Call Saul.” OK, well maybe there not Kim and Jimmy level yet, but I have to root for them even if I know they are unlikely to end up together.

Over lunch (I think) Mike and Anita make a bet. Mike thinks Henry, a guy in the support group, is lying about having a wife who passed away. He notices Henry’s stories have details that don’t line up with facts and are constantly changing.

Mike and Anita (who Mike met last season at the support group) having lunch together.

Now, up until this point, Mike has kept quiet while Henry told his fake stories. But when he tries to give advice to Stacey after she shared genuine grief, that crossed a line.

Mike speaks up, calling Henry out for his lies. Henry gets up and leaves, and we are left unsure what the full fallout will be for Mike with the support group, with Stacey, and with Anita.

Mike confronts Henry as he tells made up stories about his made up wife.

“So why don’t you stop running the game on me an tell me about the job.”

Back to Mike’s “day job,” he gets a call from Gus. Gus wants to meet, and Mike snuffs out quickly what it’s about.

Now,with most people Gus needs something from, he presents a stoic expression making the subjects of Gus’s stare think they are in trouble (and sometimes they are). Gus is able to get assurances from them before he asks for a favor or gives a job offer.

Well, Mike is not falling for it. He knows why Gus is upset: Mike didn’t tell Gus about Nacho’s plans for Hector (“I said I wouldn’t kill him. I didn’t say I’d be his bodyguard”). Mike also knows that if Gus wanted to hurt Mike, he’d have already done it. This isn’t about Nacho, this is about a job. And Gus has something he wants to “ask” Mike to do.

That intuition that works sniffing out a liar in a grief support group works just as well when standing toe to toe with Gus Fring.

Gus has a job for Mike.

Of Note

-When Kim gave Jimmy that number to go see a therapist, I wondered if she sought the therapy out for herself first.

-I also liked the use of a movie plot by the judge to make his point to Kim. We’ve established that Kim is a cinefile, so she would pick up right away that Judge Munniser was describing a plot to a movie.

-It was a sweet moment to start the episode as Mike describes to the support group a story of a young Matty watching him lay down concrete.

A young Matty looking on as his dad (Mike) lays concrete.

-Mike, Security Consultant for Madrigal, found the following issues in this week’s inspection:

  • The temperature in the loading container was 3 degrees too hot,
  • There was double stacking where the boxes clearly said “No Double Stacking,”
  • And a frayed strap, which means every strap must be pulled back and inspected.

I recommend calling in sick if you get wind of Mike coming in to inspect your warehouse.

-I feel pretty good knowing that, if Henry would have told a story about a night game at Wrigley Field before 1988, I would have picked up that he was a liar as well.

-And speaking of Henry, I think we all recognized the actor who played Henry, even if we didn’t all remember him from the same television role.

The actor is Marc Evan Jackson, and you probably recognized from roles such as “The Good Place,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Parks and Rec,” “Rizzoli and Isles,” “The League,” or any other TV show that’s been on the air the last ten years. He’s appeared in almost all of them.

On the left is Henry, played by Marc Evan Jackson, the conman in the grief support group.

Next week, we’ll see what Gus has for Mike, what Jimmy’s latest scam is, what’s eating at Howard Hamlin, and what mistake does Kim make with Mesa Verde. See you then.

Better Call Saul, Season 4, Episode 3: Something Beautiful

Episode 1 of Better Call Saul’s 4th season was about the fallout: how would everyone bounce back from the events (Hector’s stroke and Chuck’s death) that ended Season 3.

And last week focused on two of the key players (Gus and Jimmy) of the Breaking Bad world as both men took one step closer to where they would be when they meet Walter White.

But this week’s episode, “Something Beautiful,” focused on what I consider (for now) to be the tragic players of the Better Call Saul universe.

Now, I don’t know if “tragic” is the word we will be using to describe what happens to Kim and Nacho that removes them from the narrative. All we know is they won’t be there when Walt and Jesse turn the Albuquerque meth scene upside down. And I don’t see anyway in which the exit for either one of these characters is a happy ending.

For Nacho, I see no way he survives his current predicament: a situation in which his first act was to be shot up to near death. There is no way he plays both sides in the dangerous game he’s playing and comes out alive.

For Kim, we see her break down at the end of “Something Beautiful”in way she didn’t even do when she fell asleep at the wheel last season. The potential workload she envisioned when Kevin from Mesa Verde presented his expansion plans along with her role in Chuck’s death are weighing heavy right now. And at some point, when you throw in the inevitable conflicts with Jimmy we all know are coming, that load will, at the very least, send her on her way (if not worse).

Now, Kim and Nacho were not the only significant stories from last night. Two mega players, Jimmy and Gus, both made big moves towards their futures: one bungled his way through a poorly thought-out scheme while the other showed why he’s playing on a level all his own.

“Gotta make it look realistic.”

After Gus and his crew took out Arturo and blackmailed Nacho, the question I had was just what they were going to do with the body. And I was really looking forward to seeing what they had in mind.

And I was not disappointed. Viktor lays out a chain (similar to the one Mike used in previous seasons to halt Hector’s trucks) and runs a car over it. Then, an SUV driven by Nacho drops off glass bits and bullet casings on the drive up to the car. Tyrus (the other henchman with Viktor) gets out and joins his partner in shooting up the car, making it look like an ambush.

Viktor with Tyrus and Nacho as the lay out the scene.

But the best part (other than how Nacho comes out of it all) is the gunshot wounds to Nacho. Without those, the Twins and Don Bolsa would see through the whole thing. So Nacho takes an expected shot to the shoulder. He knew that one was coming. But the shot to the inner gut? Didn’t expect that one. “Gotta make it realistic” is what Tyrus tells him. But Nacho probably didn’t think “realistic” meant literally leaving him on the verge of death.

Nacho makes a call and gets the Twins to come out and inspect the scene. He tells them a Firebird pulled up and did this,and the Twins take him to everyone’s favorite criminal pet doctor.

“After I walk out, I never want to see you again.”

Dr. Caldera uses a blood transfusion to keep Nacho breathing, but he encourages Nacho to see an actual doctor with modern medical equipment about this. Caldera is also no fan of the Cartel and whispers to Nacho that he never wants to see him again. We’ll see how that works out.

Dr. Caldera operates on Nacho and tells him to never come by again.

Later on, Gus gets a call. He’s walking through a University campus when Don Bolsa tells him about the ambush. And the results could not have gone any better for Gus.

The attacked resembled the ones Hector endured previously, so Gus is able to play it off as the same people. And because of the “danger,” Bolsa wants no product crossing the border until further notice. He then asks Gus if he knows anyone who can cook in the US.

Now, all the Breaking Bad fans knew where this was going. And not only was Gus going to see Gale (remember him?), it was a relationship in which Gus had already been planting seeds. He gave Gale a number of samples of crystal meth (at least that is what I am assuming it is) for Gale to test. The percentages of purity (remember Walter White managed 99% purity) were ranging from 39% to 56% (with one at 67%). Gale tells Gus this stuff is terrible and offers to make it better. Gus refuses this initial offer knowing he’s motivated Gale to keep working on a superior product all on his own.

And just like that, Gus wins the game long before it’s been fully contested.

Gus planting a seed with his future chemist, Gale.

“Easy Money”

On the opposite ends of the spectrum from Gus tonight is Jimmy, whose poor planning and oversight were well below “Slippin Jimmy’s” standards.

Jimmy saw one Hummel figurine and thought the guys were stupid, and that’s all he needed to move forward with the heist.

I discussed last week how Hummel figurines range anywhere from common and cheap to vary rare and valuable. Jimmy bought one form a pawn shop that he wants to switch out with the very rare, valuable figurine in the office.

He tries to sell the plan to Mike, but Mike refuses. While I am somewhat disappointed we didn’t get to see Mike scamming somebody, it turns out he was wise to turn this offer down.

Jimmy trying to sell Mike on the scam involving the Hummel figurine.

Jimmy eventually gets Ira (a character from Breaking Bad we’ll talk about later) through Dr. Caldera and convinces him to do the job.

Now, Jimmy did not take into account…

-the number of Hummel figurines on the shelf would end up greater this time than when Jimmy was in the office.

-the marital problems one of the “idiot”owners could be having that would lead him to have to stay at the office.

Sure, both of these could be written off as just dumb luck. But you know Gus and Mike would have known about these factors before sending somebody in there to do this job.

Ira replaces the statue (we’ll see if it’s the right one) and looks to make a breakaway when he hears a toilet flush. It turns out one of the owners has been kicked out of the house for buying a really expensive vacuum cleaner (and I am assuming this isn’t the first time he’s overspent on a product).

The owner of the office pleading with his wife about a vacuum cleaner as Ira hides under the desk.

Jimmy has to show up and rescue Ira. He gets the owner to leave the office (with the door open) by setting off the owner’s car alarm and getting the car to role down the hill of the parking lot.

Ira gets out with what he thinks is the “Bavarian Boy” Hummel figurine. We’ll see next week if Ira got the right one.

“It’s a very fast, aggressive expansion.”

Kim has a new paralegal, one who is far more in line with who she originally wanted to hire last season for Jimmy and Kim’s joint office venture.

She’s meeting with Paige and Mesa Verde when Kevin comes in to greet her. After the initial handshake, he says he won’t interrupt any further just before he does anyway.

He wants to show Kim his plans for expansion. And it’s not a small expansion either. I overheard at least 3 new states where Mesa Verde wants to expand. You remember how stressful one expansion was for Kim. Now, Kevin wants to become licensed federally so they can plant branches all over the country. A clearly overwhelmed Kim seems to quit listening as Kevin goes on about all his grand plans and how confident he is Kim can handle all of it.

Kevin and his multiple models for Mesa Verde expansion.

Kim is trying to stay ahead of the game as she asks her new paralegal, Viola Goto, to begin researching federal banking regulations. As Viola leaves, Jimmy the early riser is rising late this morning after his night out helping Ira escape.

It’s at this moment that Kim goes over with Jimmy Chuck’s will and letter. The $5,000 gets the expected “that figures” response. But the letter is what Kim is dreading.

After mulling it over, Kim hands the letter over and Jimmy reads it aloud. This is clearly a letter written while Jimmy was in the mail room at HHM, and it was mostly hogwash (“always in your corner?” sure thing Chuck)

Jimmy had a very ho-hum reaction to it, but Kim cannot handle hearing Chuck’s “final” words. She leaves the room crying as the episode ends.

Of Note

-I started this recap discussing two characters we know aren’t making it to Breaking Bad. But Dr. Caldera (the vet) was another one (though minor) who will not be appearing. I wonder how clean a break he can possibly have with Nacho and the cartel, and will they have something to do with why he’s not there?

-It was good to see Kim finally delegating responsibilities. And without Jimmy forcing Francesca, a front office attendant who was all charm but no legal expertise, down her throat, she was able to bring in an assistant with actual legal knowledge.

Viola Goto looks on as Kim fears for the future workload she has coming her way.

-A nice touch giving Jimmy a fish at the start of the season so he would have a reason to go visit Dr. Caldera.

-Ira also left one of his gloves on the shelf in the copier office. You have to figure that will come back to bite Jimmy at some point in the near future.

-We now know Gus’s plot with Nacho is the reason he was able to start using suppliers in the US. Before last night’s scheme, Don Eladio would only allow suppliers from Mexico.

Breaking Bad References:

Two big ones last night:

-Gale, the cook who briefly worked with Walt before Jessie took him out in Season 3 made is first appearance in Better Call Saul.

-Ira is a thief who sold a pest control business to Walt, Jessie, and Mike in Season 5 of Breaking Bad. The trio used large bug extermination tents as they cooked. Before selling, Ira and his crew would frequently steal from the homes they were working in. Saul is the one who introduced the trio to Ira, so now we know how Ira and Saul originally met.

Ira, who was brought in by Jimmy to swap Hummel figurines, also appears in Season 5 of Breaking Bad.

Three episodes in and the stakes are already intense as our characters near the Breaking Bad timeline. See you next week.

Better Call Saul Season 4, Episode 2 Recap: Breathe

Last week, I mentioned two things keeping Jimmy from full on embracing the inner Saul Goodman.

I mean, we all know it’s there full grown inside the inner conscious of the suspended lawyer. Last season, Jimmy had no issues outcasting an old lady from her friends in the most fragile and vulnerable time of her life if it would get him a payout now instead of later. And we saw last week how quickly Jimmy moved on from grieving his brother’s death once he knew Howard pushed Chuck over the edge (and after Jimmy’s initial push). He’s even done work with criminals, having already been a public defender and working out a deal for one drug dealer during community service.

The man Bob Odenkirk is playing in season 4 is basically Saul Goodman other than two major threads keeping him from full immersion.

Now, I think it will be a while before the first thread, the Jimmy/Kim thread, starts to splinter. But “Breathe,” the 2nd episode of Better Call Saul’s fourth season, sent us right into the second: what Jimmy will do while he’s suspended from practicing law.

And as it turns out, that “work” is “Slippin Jimmy” going on job interviews and scouting out potential suckers he can scam. No job will lead Jimmy McGill to fully embrace the inner Saul Goodman like that will.

“Breathe” also produced a lot of anger and muscle flexing as Kim put Howard in his place, Gus made a big move, and Hector got a new, highly qualified doctor.

Let’s start the recap this week with Jimmy as he begins his “employment search” and finds himself a couple of suckers.

“It says here, you were a lawyer, not that long ago.”

Jimmy the early riser is up and at it for a day of job interviews. Kim encourages him that it’s OK if he takes a little time off. But Jimmy insists he wants to bring in money to help their situation.

The only interview we see is one for a job as a copier salesman. Now, we all know Jimmy would clean up at that job. And he impresses the owners of the company with his knowledge of modern copiers. After being told he’ll get word about the position in a week, Jimmy goes back and gives a classic “Slippin Jimmy” sales pitch. And the pitch works as the job is offered on the spot.

Jimmy really impresses the owners of Neff Copiers.

But right after getting hired, Jimmy sabotages the whole thing. He chastises the interviewers for buying his sales pitch, walks out, and sets up his next interview. But as we will discover later, Jimmy had no intentions of taking that job or any other on this day.

“There’s nothing you can do. Just stay away.”

In their previous conversation, Kim mentions a meeting with Howard that Jimmy informs her he will not be attending. That meeting is to discuss Chuck’s estate.

Rebecca is there, and she will be receiving the majority of Chuck’s estate because, well, who else would he give it to? I mean, seriously, three/fourths of the people in the world who had a close relationship with Chuck are in this scene.

Jimmy will get $5,000 (just one thousand above the typical $4,000 for a relative you don’t want to leave anything to but want to avoid a lawsuit with), a position on the scholarship committee being created in Chuck’s honor, a chance to look through what’s left of Chuck’s house for anything Jimmy would like to keep, and a final goodbye letter from Chuck.

After Rebecca leaves, Kim goes off on Howard for everything he’s done since Chuck’s death: for showing up at their house the day of Chuck’s funeral to say Jimmy’s brother set himself on fire, for the insulting offer of a position on a scholarship committee for a “scholarship Chuck would never have offered Jimmy,” for “allowing” Jimmy to look through the house his brother was burned alive in, and for giving one final “f-you” letter from Chuck to Jimmy.

Anybody else out there love it when Kim Wexler goes bad ass on somebody?

After putting Howard in his place, Kim tells the owner of HHM to stay away.

Kim dressing down Howard for his conduct towards Jimmy after Chuck’s death.

“It’s a job. I think you’re really going to like it.”

Later, after a little love making with Kim, Jimmy wakes up in the middle of the night and researches Hummel figurines online. Jimmy noticed one in the office at Neff Copiers. One of the first clients Jimmy worked with back in season one wanted to make sure her collection of Hummel figurines was properly covered in the will.

With that knowledge in mind, Jimmy goes online and finds the very figurine he saw at Neff Copiers for sale for almost $8800 dollars. After confirming the price, Jimmy calls Mike (he never says Mike’s name but all the season previews and the preview for next week seem to confirm he wants Mike’s help for the job) and asks for a meeting.

“I decide what he deserves, no one else.”

Now onto cartel business, where Hector is still in the hospital and Gus is not happy about his condition.

The cartel world in Better Call Saul is much different than the world we’re presented with in Breaking Bad. In Breaking Bad, the Salamanca territory run by Tuco is a significant step below Gus’s operation. But the Salamanca territory run by Hector in BCS is considered equal ground (not necessarily based on the money they bring in, but both Gus and Hector are considered Don’s with equal authority over their respective territories.

What I think “Breathe” illustrated was Gus’s first move into changing that dynamic from equal territories to the King Gus we see when Walt meets the man in season 3 of BB.

In the beginning of the episode, Gus sends in Dr. Barry Goodman (a doctor on his payroll who appeared in Breaking Bad) to do an inspection of Hector’s vitals.

He says Hector is stable, but his future prospects do not look good. Goodman really thinks Hector deserves this fate, but a cryptic Gus, who is obsessed with controlling the circumstances of Hector’s death, says he’ll (Gus) “decide what he deserves.”

So to increase the chances of Hector’s survival, Gus (I’m assuming it was Gus who did this) sends a grant to Johns Hopkins to bring in Dr. Maureen Bruckner. She tells the twins, Nacho, and Arturo that she wants to rewire Hector’s brain in hopes that it will help him recover.

Dr. Maureen Bruckner discussing Hector’s condition with his nephews.

She also encourages Hector’s crew to talk with him. Arturo and Nacho tell the Don things are going great with the territory. Everyone is paying their full share of money and they’ve already fought off one gang who tried to infringe upon their territory. Then, to keep his cover, Nacho has to encourage Hector to “get past this” and be “stronger than ever.”

“I’m working on it.”

Speaking of Nacho, the night’s most heartbreaking scene took place when Nacho “greets” his dad at the office one morning. Nacho’s father won’t even speak to him and is scared to look at his own son. He lays money on the table and turns his back, hoping his son will just take it and move on. But Nacho assures his father that Don Hector will not be coming for him before taking the money his father laid on the table.

As he’s walking off, Nacho’s father asks his son when he’ll be out of the cartel. Nacho’s replay is “I’m working on it.” Now we don’t know if Nacho has truly been trying to escape the drug game. But after “Breathe’s” final scene, we know now that might be impossible.

“From now on, you’re mine.”

Later, Nacho and Arturo head over to pick up their usual haul from Gus. Recall last season Hector pulled a fast one on Gus by demanding more than the agreed amount during one of these meetings. When the meeting starts, Gus’s men try and return the deal to the original price. But Nacho pulls out a gun and everything returns back to normal.

Or so we thought. Well I don’t think most of us thought that as we all new Gus had something planned for them. But at least Nacho and Arturo thought everything was back to normal.

Last week, Gus told Don Bolsa he was concerned about other groups coming in and trying to take the Salamanca territory. What Gus didn’t make clear was that he was one of those men who would be swooping in. Now, I don’t know how much, if any, of the Salamanca territory Gus will claim for his own. But we can be sure he will do everything he can in his power to weaken it.

Gus’s men attach a bag around Arturo’s face and tie up his hands and feet so he can’t remove it. While Arturo slowly dies on the ground, Gus tells Nacho that he knows Nacho’s role in Hector’s stroke. And he will tell the Salamanca’s about that role if Nacho doesn’t work for Gus.

Gus looking down and addressing Nacho as Arturo lays dying on the ground.

Of Note

-Lydia tried to reprimand Mike for his actions last week. Mike’s response made complete sense: he needed cover for the money he’s receiving from Madrigal, and he plans on doing the same thing at the 7 other Madrigal plants in the southwest.

-Gus had no issue with Mike’s conduct, even going so far as to encourage Lydia to get Mike a badge so he won’t have to steal one.

-While all things on the surface seem fine on the Jimmy/Kim front, “Breathe” did introduce a few potential future complications for the couple.

-First, there’s the obvious one of Jimmy using a job search as cover for a crime he plans to commit.

-Second, there’s Jimmy’s early morning habits that could cost Kim sleep.

-And finally, there’s the letter from Chuck Kim decided not to give Jimmy.

-I did some research, and the show did a very accurate job regarding the pricing of those Hummel figurines. If you go to a mainstream shopping site like amazon, most of the Hummel dolls are for sale at anywhere between $20 or $40 dollars. But certain rare pieces have shown up at auctions and sold for thousands of dollars. Jimmy’s online search reflected this reality. His computer screen had prices for two Hummel figurines: the first being the one he saw at Neff Copier worth thousands of dollars and the second worth only $47.

I know it’s small print, but you’ll notice the bottom figurine on the page is worth significantly less than the one on top.

Next week, the cartel war heats up, Kim has a visit with her pals at Mesa Verde, and Jimmy and Mike are back together again!!! See you then.