Four Letter Nerd

Author - Jeff Merrick

Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 2: A Knight for the Seven Kingdoms Recap

I’m not really sure how I’m supposed to feel about the arrival of the Night King’s army at the end of “The Rightful Queen,” the 2nd episode of Game of Throne’s final season.

From episode one, the show has hammered home a central theme of how there really is only one battle that matters: the battle against the Night King and the army of the dead marching not only to defeat every man, woman, and child in Westeros, but to erase the memory that man ever existed.

Yet here it is, that epic battle that means more than everything appearing next week with three more episodes to follow.

So I guess defeating the Night King really isn’t the most important battle?

Now, on the other hand, the fight for the Iron Throne is more compelling than defeating the Night King. I mean, sure, he’s bad ass and all, but he’s fairly one dimensional.

Compare that to the Iron Throne, where Cersei sits and waits with a 20,000 strong sellsword company to take on Dany and/or Jon (together or separate, I guess we’ll find out in a few weeks). And then there’s the whole Sansa being all “You don’t get the North blonde bitch” curveball thrown in during tonight’s episode.

So we’ll see if saving the Iron Throne for last turns out to be the best decision.

As for tonight’s episode, it was a series of truly beautiful moments as everyone makes peace with the fact that in a matter of hours, they all could be fighting for the Army of the Dead.

“The Things We Do For Love”

Before we get to all those tender scenes, Jamie Lannister must first deal with the many people he’s wronged throughout his life.

And to be honest, he got off really easy. Dany calls him to task first for killing her father (hence the name “Kingslayer” for those who may have forgotten).

In a rare moment of agreement, Sansa says that, indeed, Jamie Lannister cannot be trusted. And further proof of that is the fact that Cersei’s troops are not with him.

Another Tyrion blunder, a fact Dany points out as Tyrion tries to speak up for his brother. But one witness does testify to Jamie’s character, and she gets Lady Sansa’s attention.

Jamie stands before those he’s wronged.

“He Saved Me, and He Saved You.”

Brienne of Tarth speaks up for Jamie, and Sansa takes notice. It’s interesting how the events here are recalled in order, illustrating the change in character Jamie underwent over the course of the show.

And Sansa was not aware of the things Jamie did to save Brienne and to save her. Knowing how honorable Brienne is, Sansa takes her at her word. And to Dany’s surprise, she accepts Jamie into Winterfell. Jon agrees as well, but he’s clearly got “I slept with my Aunt” thoughts on his mind.

“How Do You Know There is an Afterwards?”

One person who did not call Jamie out in front of everyone was Bran. Bran quoted Jamie from that very first episode during the meeting, but only three people know what Jamie said to end the pilot episode (and amazingly, all three of them are still living). So the rest of Westeros has no idea what Jamie did.

Bran has about as good an attitude as you can have when presented with the man who crippled you. Bran knew Jamie would be killed if that bit of gossip made its way around Winterfell. By not talking, Bran ensures Jamie can fight in the battle to come.

After a brief conversation with his brother, Jamie asks to be included in the left flank, the troops Brienne is commanding. This Jamie is one not even Brienne recognizes.

What About the North?

The next set of conversations involved the “Mother of Dragons.” First, Queen Daenerys discusses her struggling hand. Tyrion made another blunder claiming his sister was sending troops. And Dany is considering replacing him.

But one potential replacement, Jorah, defends the half-man he traveled with throughout season 5.

“He makes mistakes,” says Dany. To which Jorah responded with “He owns his, and he learns from them.”

Jorah also recommends meeting with Sansa, another person Dany has not exactly warmed herself up to.

And for the first time, the two women seem to be in agreement. Daenerys convinces Sansa it was Jon who changed her actions, not the other way around. And she’s right. Without Jon’s convincing, Daenerys would be taking on the Golden Company for the Iron Throne while the Army of the Dead makes a beeline for King’s Landing after blowing over the North.

Sansa and Dany discuss Jon and the future.

Then, Sansa brings up the subject that sours Dany the entire night: Dany’s claim to the Iron Throne. Sansa reasserts the North’s desire for independence. And she wants to know, “What about the North?” What are things going to be like once Dany takes the Throne? Will she allow the North to be independent from Westeros or does she intend to force the North into submission?

“I Want to Fight for Winterfell, Lady Sansa.”

The two women are interrupted as Theon arrives in Winterfell. The queen addresses him first, where he reveals where Yara is and why he is not with her.

Then, he addresses Sansa. She and the Starks appear to be where his true allegiance lies as he asks if he can serve defending the Starks.

Sansa gives him a warm embrace, and Dany looks dismayed for the third time this episode.

Sansa embraces Theon as he pledges his help to the cause.


“He Wants to Erase This World.”

Before Daenerys can spew at everyone’s lack of reverence for her again, Tormund and company arrive and give the bad news: the Night King will be here before sunrise tomorrow.

Preparations go into overdrive and a war council convenes to discuss strategy. And it’s a fairly simple strategy: kill the Night King. He is the one they all follow. Kill him and they all die.

Of course, we don’t know how the Night King actually dies. Would dragon fire kill him? Dragon glass? But since the numbers advantage is clearly with the army of the dead, the best shot for Jon and crew is to take out the head of the snake.

The Starks discuss strategy at the war council.

And just how do you get to the Night King? By using Bran as bait. The Night King has shown a great interest in Bran over the last two seasons. And Bran revealed the reason at the council. The Night King doesn’t want to just destroy the race of men. He wants to erase any memory of man’s existence in this world.

And that means taking the one who remembers literally everything man has ever done.

So in conclusion: Bran will serve as bait with protection from Theon to draw the Night King in so he can be killed. In the meantime, everyone else will just have to hold off the army of the dead until that happens.

“We’re All Going to Die, at Least We’ll Die Together.”

Not much else to do now but share a series of humorous, touching, sensual moments with the race of men before the battle begins.

-Grey Worm and Missandei discuss plans for the future.

-Jon, Sam, and Dolores Edd reminisce about their time as member’s of the Night’s Watch and insult each other.

-An eclectic group including Tyrion, Jamie, Davos, Brienne, Pod, and Tormund all talk and drink inside the halls of Winterfell.

-Arya and the Hound talk atop the main wall when Beric walks up with the instruction to give “No Sermons” from the Hound.

-Jon and Dany talk in the crypts of Winterfell.

“We’re going to die soon. I want to know what it’s like before that happens.”

Well, it’s official: Arya has grown up.

Gendry delivers the weapon Arya asked for earlier and gets more than he bargained for as Arya starts questioning his sexual history.

So those looks between the two last week were not some little flirtation to throw away.

Arya kisses Gendry as the two strip down and knock boots before the world comes to end.

Arya and Gendry spend the night together before the Night King arrives.

“Most Everyone Here’s Fought the Starks at One Time or Another.”

After Tyrion reviews the battle experience of everyone in the room, the subject of Brienne’s knight hood (or lack thereof) comes up.

Brienne says she’s not a knight because she’s a woman and women can’t be knights. Everyone in the room and the television audience agree that’s garbage. But what can you do? There’s no king here (another small slight to Dany?), so who could knight her?

Turns out “Sir” Jamie Lannister can. Knights can knight other knights so let’s get on with the knighting before the Night King comes in middle of the night.

In the night’s best moment, Jamie knights Brienne, declares her “Sir Brienne of Tarth” as Tormund and the rest of the room applauds.

Jamie knights Brienne in a touching ceremony.

“My Real Name is Aegon Targaryen.”

We get one last look at everyone contemplating their final moments before the Army of the Dead arrives to the song “Jenny of Oldstones,” as sung by Pod.

But before the Night King appears, Dany needs to hear one more “Your not wanted here” conversation (at least that is what I’m imagining her hearing).

In front of Llyana’s tomb, Jon reveals his true name and identity: Aegon Targaryen, 6th of his name. The realization hits Dany that his claim to the throne is greater than hers (though thinking about getting boned by her nephew might be there as well).

But once again, before we can hash all this out, a horn blows to signal the Army of the Dead is here.

Of Note

-I don’t think Dany has come to grips yet with the fact that Westeros is not Slaver’s Bay. Yes, slaves who you’ve freed will show undying loyalty to you. But free people in the North who’ve clawed to get their land back after years of war and famine only to have you show up and proclaim yourself queen are going to be much harder to convince.

-Tyrion really needs a win. But victories might be hard to come by with him hanging out in the Crypts while everyone else is fighting. Something tells me the half-man won’t be staying down in the crypts for the whole fight next week.

-When Tormund brags, he brags about things no one should be bragging about. Back in season 4, he bragged about having sex with a bear. And tonight, he bragged about how after killing a giant, he jumped into bed with the giant’s wife who started nursing him. He claims that milk is why he is so strong today. Great job by everyone in that scene clearly showing the discomfort we were all feeling as Tormund drank down a horn of milk from something.

-Davos was reminded of Shireen when he saw a little girl with grey scale asking for food.

-Missandei and Grey Worm make plans to go back to Naath (Missandei’s home island). And Grey Worm seems to indicate he will be taking the Unsullied with them. How willing is Dany to let them go?

-The stubborn Lyanna Mormont would not heel when Jorah requested she not fight. Not surprised by that at all. I think Lyanna’s glare might be enough to bring the Night King down on its own.

Lyanna Mormont says she will fight.

-And that is not an uncommon thing for the women of Bear Island, who are known for their female warriors.

-Jorah does receive better news from Sam, who gives him Heartsbaine: the sword of House Tarly.

-The final note deals with the song Pod was singing at the end of the episode, “Jenny of Oldstones.”

That song is about a girl that a Targaryen abdicated the throne to be with. Because of that, Aerys Targaryen (Dany’s father, the “Mad King”) became king.

It was also a favorite of the Witch of High Heart, a prophetess who in the book prophesied that Azor Ahai (the savior who was promised) would come from the line of Aerys.

And as we know now, that could be Jon or Dany.

We have a battle-centric episode next week as the fight with the Night King as finally arrived. See you then.

Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 1 Recap

Awkward encounters. That is what comes to mind as I recall what we all witnessed in Game of Thrones premiere episode for its final season Sunday night. In fact, I will go on record and recommend it as the episode’s title since the show decided not to release an episode title before the episode started (The show’s official title is actually “Winterfell,” which was released after the episode).

That’s what happens when every still living character (with the exception of a handful in King’s Landing) converges on Winterfell, where skeptical northmen and northwomen scowl at the appearance of some foreign queen with a savior complex marching through their streets like she owns the place.

Some characters were once married only to leave each other when a king ended up dead. One character literally left anther for dead (and robbed him before she did). There were characters who traveled in secret as peasants when they were younger, but are now old enough to be attracted to each other (looking at you Gendry and Arya!!!). One particular character even ordered another’s family burned to death.

Yes, a giant army of the dead is marching south with a flying ice dragon leading the way. But how can the living stand up to that threat with all those elephants (and no, not the ones Cersei weirdly hoped to see) lurking in the room?

Before characters can fight together, they had to, at the very least, acknowledge everything that’s happened before moving forward. And based on the the preview for next weeks episode, things will be moving forward very quickly.

Now, normally, I break the story down by location or character. But that doesn’t make sense now that we are down to two basic locations. So I will mostly be recapping the episode in the order as it happened. Also, there will be lots of background info in the “Of Note” section this week.

“I Warned You: Northerners Don’t Much Trust Outsiders”

A procession of sights the people of the North have never seen: Unsullied, Dothraki, a Targaryen. But don’t expect the North to be impressed (Well, except when they see dragons. Everyone is impressed by the dragons).

Jon told Dany it would be difficult winning over the North, and that was evident from the glares of the Winterfell welcoming party and the discontent inside the city’s halls.

Llyana Mormont (who appears to have grown about 3 feet from the time we first saw here) expresses her displeasure with Jon for bending the knee to Daenarys. And Tyrion tried to comfort everyone with the promise of Lannister troops (because everyone in the North loves the name Lannister).

Also of note is the appearance of Ned Umber, the boy Jon Snow sends home to rally his banners in the Umber seat of Last Hearth. He might as well have been wearing a red shirt (am I right Star Trek fans?)

Sansa, Jon, and Dany oversee a tense meeting in Winterfell

“You Want a Whore, Buy One. You Want a Queen, Earn Her.”

In the season 7 finale, Cersei told Jamie she had sent Euron to ferry the 20,000 strong Golden Company, a famous sellsword company from the free cities on the other side of the Narrow Sea (more on them in the notes).

The Golden Company arrives to fight for Cersei.

They fight for Cersei now, and Euron wants what he defines as a proper thank you for his troubles. And though she is reluctant at first, Euron convinces her.

But while Euron is fornicating with the queen, Theon is boarding Euron’s ship and rescuing Yara.

Yara smacks him with a headbutt as a greeting for all the horrible crap he’s put her through (and I think we can all agree that was well deserved). Then she helps her brother up and thanks him for coming to her aide.

As the three Greyjoy ships led by Theon set off, Yara recommends taking back the Iron Islands, a very smart suggestion for two reasons:

  1. The Iron Islands are vulnerable with Euron not guarding them.
  2. They could be a safe haven should the army of the living near the wall need a place to retreat (those undead can’t handle water after all).

But Theon wants to fight with the Starks, and Yara gives him permission to go while she reclaims the Iron Islands.

Theon and Yara discuss future plans and they flee Euron.

“You’ve Completely Ruined Horses For Me.”

Now for the “We need a reminder that Jon loves Dany before everything goes to poo” portion of the episode.

And that portion uncoincidentally is introduced by Davos proposing to Tyrion that Jon and Dany get married. Davos makes a great point here of the need for the Mother of Dragons having to earn the respect of people in the North. She walks around like she’s entitled to the lands here, but she hasn’t been here while the North has endured constant hardship over the previous seven seasons.

As their advisers discuss how to manage their relationship, Jon and Dany wonder off to check on the dragons who aren’t eating enough (well that sounds like a not so minor problem).

But instead of ensuring the starved monsters who will eat “whatever they want” when they are hungry have proper sustenance, the mother of dragons decides to take Drogon for a spin. And Rhaegal takes a liking to Jon, so Jon hopes on and rides a dragon for the first time.

The two share a kiss by a beautiful waterfall as Dany’s children look on, making the whole thing awkward. I mean, I know many marry people with children and must deal with the transition of entering into the lives of their step children. But imagine if, when those children throw a fit, they could consume you with fire?

Jon and Dany all googly eyed while the dragons look on.

“Did You Bend the Knee Because You Love Her, or Did you Bend the Knee to Save the North?”

What comes next is a series of reunions that just had to take place before everyone can move on to fighting zombies and sellsword companies.

Gendry is leading to charge of turning all that dragon glass into weapons. He makes a warhammer for the Hound, who of course has some issues with Gendry’s methods. In swoops Arya with some clever dialogue for the man she robbed and left for dead at the end of Season 4.

Then, Gendry reminds us that Arya is no longer the little girl pretending to be a boy that he traveled with all the way back in seasons 2 and 3. “You look (insert long drawn out pause as Gendry comes to grips with what he thinks of Arya now) good,” Gendry tells Arya as she gives him a design for a new weapon. A few flirtatious glances and comments follow and now everyone wonders if we should start preparing for the Arendry. Or should their couple name be Gendrya?

Gendry and Arya reunite for the first time since Season 3

Jon and Sansa are not exactly a reunion from seasons long ago (they last talked in season 7), but they do have an important conversation as the tension Dany has brought between the two continues.

Sansa believes Jon’s decision to give up his crown hurts their chances of holding the North, while Jon says all the titles don’t matter with the threat that is approaching.

But no conversation could end up turning events as much as Dany meeting Sam for the first time.

“You Gave up Your Crown to Protect Your People. Would She Do the Same?”

Initially, Daenarys wants to meet the man who saved Jorah’s live and thank him for it. And the usual pleasantries are given with Sam jokingly asking for a pardon once Dany takes the throne for documents he stole from the Citadel and the sword he stole from his father.

And Dany learns who Sam’s father is: Randall Tarly, the man she burned alive for his unwillingness to bend the knee to her.

She tells Sam she had his father killed. It’s a tough blow, but Sam never cared for his father and justifies it pretty quickly. Then, he finds out Dany ordered his brother killed as well.

Daenarys tells Sam about the execution of his father and brother

Sam needs some time to grief. But there’s no time to grief when a cripple who sees everything that happens is waiting in the courtyard of Winterfell.

Bran tells Sam it’s time to tell Jon who he really is. And Sam, though reluctant at first, seems impassioned when he pleas with Jon down in the Crypts of Winterfell to claim the throne for himself.

Sam informs Jon who he really is: Aegon Targaryen, 6th of his name, his mother was Llyana Stark, and his father was Rhaegar Targaryen.

Jon’s first reaction is disbelief that Ned Stark, the man he thought was his father, lied to him. But then Sam leaves Jon thinking if he wouldn’t be a better ruler than the woman who burns all men alive who don’t follow her.

“His Army’s Between Us and Winterfell.”

Tormund, Beric, and the men who were guarding East Watch when the ice dragon opened a hole in the Wall have moved a little farther south and arrived in Last Hearth (the place Jon sent that poor Umber boy). And as expected, no one is left living at Last Hearth.

Well, at least not anyone who normally lives there. Tormund and crew run into the remaining members of the Night’s Watch led by Dolores Edd. And the only report they have is the death of the Umber boy who was left as a message spiked up on the Wall.

But unlike before the Night King crossed the Wall, the Umber boy can wake up after he dies. And he does, blue eyes lighting up the room and piercing screams straight out of a horror movie as we all feared Tormund would be a goner.

If only there was a guy who could light a sword with fire to remedy this situation. And that’s what Beric does as he strikes the boy with his blazing sword.

Everyone in the room knows they must race to Winterfell before the Night King arrives to prepare the living for battle.

“I’m Waiting for Someone.”

But not until we have one last awkward encounter: Jamie Lannister has arrived in Winterfell, a place where everyone there has something to call him to account for. And the first person to greet him is Bran in the wheelchair Jamie put him in all the way back in Season 1.

Of Note

-A really impressive redone intro opened the episode. Notable other than the likely only appearance of “Last Hearth” was the time spent inside the remaining two locations of the show.

-The producers in the “Behind the Episode” feature after the show made note of the parallels between the season 1 premiere and tonight. It was in season 1 that little girl Arya was doing everything she could to see the royal procession approaching Winterfell. Tonight, Arya stepped aside to let another child do the same thing.

-Speaking of Arya, a very touching reunion with Jon. While the two characters have been in, now, a combined two scenes together, the show has made clear the special relationship the two shared as outcasts in the Stark family before the events in the show.

-Another reunion featured Tyrion and Sansa. The formally married couple first must address how awkward it was for Tyrion to be left without his wife while facing charges of Joffrey’s death. Then, Sansa smirks wondering how the usually clever Tyrion could genuinely believe Cersei is sending troops.

-A new character this season is Captain Harry Strickland. He makes a brief appearance tonight giving account to the number of troops and horses he’s brought as captain of the Golden Company.

Harry Strickland before Cersei as Captain of the Golden Company.

-The Golden Company is a sellsword company from across the Narrow Sea. They are considered the most successful of crews, having never broken a contract. They were found by Aegor Rivers, a bastard with Targaryen blood who went by the name “Bittersteel.”

-Cersei was able to secure their services thanks to a loan from the Iron Bank. The Lannisters had significant debts owed to the Iron Bank, but the taking of the Tyrells home of Highgarden (and all the gold that was there) allowed Cersei to pay the debt in full. The Iron Bank was so impressed that they pledged her their full support.

-A quick breakdown of Stark bannerman:

  1. The Karstarks, led by Alys Karstark, arrived in Winterfell with troops.
  2. The Glovers, who did not help Jon in his battle with Ramsey at the end of Season six, are also refusing to help now.
  3. The Umbers are either dead or a part of the undead army.

-Qyburn presented an offer to Bronn: Cersei has lots of gold for him if he will kill Jamie and Tyrion. So Bronn must choose between gold (his primary motivator for all the show so far) or the bond he’s built with Tyrion and Jamie. And the weapon he will use: a crossbow, the weapon Tyrion used to kill Tywin back in Season 4.

-“What exactly do dragons eat?” Dany’s respone: “Whatever they want.” Maybe not the best thing to say to people whose trust you’re trying to earn.

-“I was told the Golden Company had elephants.” What exactly is Cersei’s obsession with elephants?”

-I propose a spin off series when GOT ends: Bran and Sam getting into hilarious hijinks when Bran learns awkward secrets about residents of Westeros, then convinces Sam to go and tell them.

A fantastic start to what should be a fast paced, emotional final season. And could the battle with the Night King really be two episodes away? See you next week.

Game of Thrones Season 8 Trailer Analysis

The Season 8 trailer for Game of Throne is out!!!! First, here’s a look at the trailer:

Now here are are a couple of observations:

(Of Note:  Speculative spoilers are coming. So if you don’t want any speculation ruining potential plotlines for you, stop reading now.)

  1. Who is Arya running from?

When the trailer starts, Arya is in a series of tunnels running from someone. Her face shows that she’s been fighting already. Who was she fighting and what has her running and looking fearful for first time since season 5?

The other shots of Arya have her in her black coat confident as she prepares for battle and as she is fighting (more on that clip later). What’s changed? And are those tunnels in Winterfell? Or in the Red Keep

  1. Two Distinct Battles

There are two distinct fronts for battle portrayed in the trailer:

  1. Soldiers, including the Unsullied, Jorah, Brienne, and Gendry, preparing to fight in the cold somewhere in the North.
  2. A battle on top of a Wall (Winterfell, Castle Black?) with Jamie, Arya, and skilled swordfighter that looks like Brienne (she’s in both scenes?) and a significant amount of smoke (dragonfire?).

Are these two different battles taking place at different times? Are they two fronts in the same fight? Are the two battle fronts taking place against different enemies?

 

  1. What is Cersei smirking about?

This works back to my number 2 observation: could Cersei be smirking because she has an army heading up to the North to take advantage of weakened side no matter who wins at the Wall?

Or does some other development have her smirking alone in front of the Iron Throne? And is that a tear I see on her right cheek? What event would make Cersei cry?

 

  1. Who is missing and why?

I saw no Dothraki. No Greyjoys (other than Euron’s ships) appear. There was no Gilly. And Tyrion, The Hound, Bran, and Sam make brief appearances. Is there anything we need to read into that?

 

  1. Dragons over Winterfell

This likely happens in the premiere. And it never gets old seeing people in Westeros in awe as they see dragons for the first time. We know Sansa sees them, and I assume when Arya looks at the sky and smiles, that is what she sees as well.

So unlike previous trailers, there really are no major events to unpack. We all know a major battle is happening in the North, we all know Cersei is waiting to pounce on whoever wins, and we didn’t need a trailer to tell us lots of our favorite characters will die.

But I did find Arya’s clips the most intriguing. How did she get from confident assassin to frantically running through the halls under a castle somewhere? And about those skills as an assassin? Will they be any benefit in the battle with the Whitewalkers. From the trailer, it looks like she will be doing just fine in open combat, but taking on that “No One” persona has to come into play at some point.

We’ll know the answer to that soon enough. Season 8 is almost here!!!!

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.