Four Letter Nerd

Author - Jeff Merrick

Who Will Die in Better Call Saul?

Death was an expected consequence for many characters in the dangerous world “Breaking Bad” took place in. But “Better Call Saul,” the prequel to that dangerous world, has yet to reach those same dangerous stakes (at least not by the 2nd episode of the third season for the main characters).

But when things do start to get dangerous, will there be amongst the characters who do not appear in “Breaking Bad” some who die before Jimmy becomes Saul Goodman?

What follows is a ranking of the main characters of “Better Call Saul” who I think have the best chance of dying before the end of the series, including the odds for how likely they are to pass before the end of “Saul’s” run.

Obviously, these are completely subjective, so I would love to hear your own thoughts and percentages in the comments.

Also, there’s a lot of speculation regarding future events in this article. So if you don’t want speculative spoilers, stop reading now.

1. Nacho (80% chance he dies)

Who Will Die Nacho

I’ve had Nacho at the top of my list since he first appeared in the 2nd episode of the first season. Three guys were there with Tuco as he prepared to execute the skater twins out in the desert: No Doze, Gonzo, and Nacho.

No Doze and Gonzo both appeared in “Breaking Bad.” But Nacho, who is immediately shown to be like a right hand man working for Tuco, does not.

Then, we find out later in the season about Nacho’s side projects, and he wants Tuco killed in season 2. So, considering Tuco will survive to face off with Walt and Jessie in “Breaking Bad,” that leaves little chance Nacho makes it out of “Better Call Saul” alive.

Now, there always a chance Nacho could disappear before his discrepancies come to light. But I don’t see Hector or Tuco allowing that to happen.

2. Chuck (60% chance he dies)

who will die Chuck

Jimmy’s brother is oversensitive and stressed out all the time. So some sort of health related death (and not because of his “sensitivity to electricity”) is a strong possibility. There’s also the arrogant attitude Chuck carries that could lead him to say the wrong thing at the wrong time.

Of course, Chuck could also end up in some kind of home for the mentally unstable. That would be as good an explanation for his lack of appearances in “Breaking Bad” as death would be. But between the health risks that come with the stress Chuck puts himself under and the “holier-than-thou” attitude Chuck boldly proclaims, there’s a decent chance Jimmy’s brother doesn’t make it out “Better Call Saul” alive.

3. Gene (45% chance he dies)

Who Will Die Gene

I’m cheating a bit with this one, as “Gene” technically doesn’t fall in the “Better Call Saul” timeline. But we have just seen Jimmy/Saul’s undercover identity faint at work. That means he’s likely to appear in a hospital, requiring a review of personal records and possibly bringing some people around who’ve been looking for Saul Goodman.

I think death for Gene is far less likely than prison time. And I also love the possibilities of characters from Better Call Saul/Breaking Bad appearing by Gene’s side in the hospital, revealing they are still alive. But I think there’s at least a possibility “Gene,” miserable with his current existence, could take his own life. And Saul Goodman stepped on a lot of toes. So someone could find “Gene” in the present and take him out of his misery.

But so much of the Gene story is unknown to us at this point, so all of this is very speculative. But I am assuming there will be some resolution to “Gene’s” story before “Better Call Saul’s” final episode. So we’ll see if that resolution is the end of “Jimmy/Saul/Gene.

4. Kim (40% chance she dies)

Who Will die Kim

I think we would all hate to see this tragic scene. And I believe the chances are better than not that Kim doesn’t meet her end in “Better Call Saul.”

Kim’s relationship with Jimmy is such that it seems more likely that Kim simply breaks up with the future Saul Goodman and leaves town. She has yet to interact with anyone of the shady people Jimmy works with and largely stays out of that part of Jimmy’s life (well, other than the occasional hustle and benefiting from the forging of documents that is).

But all it takes is one encounter with the drug world Jimmy’s immersing himself in for Kim to get caught in the crossfire.

So while I think there’s a chance Kim dies in “Better Call Saul,” I find it more likely for her to simply disappear from Jimmy’s life.

5. Howard (10% chance he dies)

Who Will Win Howard

I find the chances of Howard Hamlin dying in “Better Call Saul” very slim for two reasons:

1. Howard (at least up to this point) keeps himself clean from danger (I mean, just think of how awkward he looked trying to climb Chuck’s fence in “Witness.”)

2. Howard’s role in Jimmy’s life has really diminished since season 1. So Jimmy’s change to Saul is unlikely to affect Howard’s future.

Now, there’s always a chance any or all of these characters (especially Chuck, Kim, and Howard) are still in Jimmy’s life when we move to the “Breaking Bad” timeline. “Bad” is told largely from Walt and Jessie’s point of view, so maybe we just don’t see Saul eating dinner at home with Kim, discussing a long day of money laundering. And maybe Chuck is just left alone to suffer in his electricity free house while Jimmy carries on as Saul Goodman.

But do we honestly think that’s going to be the case? We all know Jimmy’s transformation will come with collateral damage. We will see if anyone loses his or her life because of it.

Better Call Saul Season 3 Episode 2: Witness Recap

Anger. That is what separates Jimmy McGill from Saul Goodman. Both love to scheme. Both love to perform. And neither can just accept the mundane chores of being a lawyer without the creative aspects (such as interior decorating choices or creating commercials).

But anger will be the tipping point that turns Jimmy into Saul. In seasons 1 and 2, despite all his scheming and questionable ethics, Jimmy mostly maintains his cool. The only angry Jimmy we know of before season 3 was the one who pooped in the car of his ex-wife’s lover.

Otherwise, Jimmy has kept his cool. He maintained his composure when negotiating with Tuco for the lives of the doofus skaters back in season 1. He even kept his cool (mostly) when he found out Chuck was the one holding him back all along.

But something has snapped in season 3. It nearly came out last week when the Air Force captain confronted Jimmy in his office. And there was no holding Jimmy back when he found out Chuck had recorded him.

Now, I’m not saying the anger hasn’t always been there. Chuck knows the deep seated anger Jimmy holds first hand. Chuck had to bail his brother out the last time Jimmy’s anger got him in trouble with the law. And Chuck used that anger against his brother in his own “Slippin Jimmy” type scheme.

So lets take a look back at a big night that saw Jimmy commit numerous crimes in front of a PI, the return of Gus, Mike’s never-ending goose chase following trackers in gas caps, and the hiring of a new receptionist at Wexler-McGill.

Francesca Liddy

The “Better Call Saul” universe brought back another “Breaking Bad” character last night when Kim and Jimmy hired Francesca Liddy as their new receptionist.

Francesca will become Jimmy’s receptionist in “Breaking Bad,” and it’s easy to see why considering the chemistry the two have right off the bat.

The interview process that gave Francesca the job also showed the clear contrast between Kim and Jimmy’s clashing styles. Kim asks standard, professionally worded interview questions, while Jimmy uses his best Arizona DMV (I mean MVD) stand-up material.

BCS S3 E2 Francesca

This photo released by AMC perfectly explains the tone of Francesca’s interview.

And Jimmy further pisses off his business partner when he offers Francesca the job without Kim’s approval. I’m not sure if it was just his gut or a hasty decision to get someone taking calls before his next commercial aired, but Jimmy is able to convince Kim to give Francesca an immediate tryout.

Francesca passes with flying colors, naturally carrying on conversations with the “oldsters” interested in hiring Jimmy. I look forward to many more fun conversations between Francesca and Jimmy’s prospective clients, including the calls she receives from people like Mike.

The Sequel to the Great Gas Cap Tracker Caper

Now, I’m usually a fan of Mike’s schemes and the way the show lays them out step-by-step. And last week’s “Gas Cap Tracker Caper” was a shining example of the best of Vince Gilligan’s story telling.

But one thing last week’s episode didn’t call for was a sequel. And watching Mike spend another episode playing stake out while staring at the red dot moving on that little screen had me screaming “Get on it with it already!!!” at my TV screen.

BCS S3 E2 Mike 2

What Mike spent most of his night doing: following that damn tracker.

But on a positive note, Mike’s tracker watch did help introduce Gus Fring to the “Better Call Saul” universe.

Los Pollos Hermanos

We pick up “Tracker Watch 2003” (or whatever year we’re in at this point) and find Mike still following that elusive red dot on the screen. He follows it to a meeting place where the tracker changes hands to a guy driving a green bronco, carrying a green knapsack. Mike tracks the tracker until daybreak, leading him to everybody’s favorite chicken restaurant.

Mike makes the call to Jimmy and hires him to watch the guy in the green bronco with the green knapsack. As Jimmy observes (and notices nothing of importance), we see an iconic first meeting between the future Saul Goodman and Gus Fring.

It’s pretty clear Gus notices Jimmy observing knapsack guy, but “Slippin Jimmy” covers his tracks by literally slipping his watch off when Gus asks why Jimmy’s digging through a trash can.

BCS S3 E2 Gus and Jimmy

Gus and Jimmy/Saul talk for the first time.

Gus also notice Mike and Jimmy talking across the street, which I’m sure is the reason the tracker changes hands one more time. This time, a guy in an SVU (more on him later) drives out to the middle of nowhere and lays the gas cap with the tracker in the middle of the road with a cell phone on top of it. That’s where Mike finds it, picks up the ringing cell phone and hopefully ends this cat and mouse game that went one episode too long.

Chuck’s Plan

Another scheme in “Witness” that reached its conclusion was Chuck’s entrapment of Jimmy. And I really thought this one would play out longer. But all it took was one “accidental” playing of the tape for Ernesto and 8 days of waiting with a private investigator for Chuck to incriminate Jimmy.

Ernesto arrives at Kim and Jimmy’s office and tells her of the tape with Jimmy’s confession. And Kim comes to the same conclusions Howard and Chuck had about the tape: it will never get Mesa Verde back as a client and is unlikely to be allowed in court. But Jimmy is clearing fuming, which is exactly what Chuck is counting on.

BCS S3 E2 PI

Chuck, Howard, and the Private Investigator when Jimmy arrives at Chuck’s house.

“Howard, Were You a Witness to What Happened Here?”

If Jimmy wasn’t the target, he might have been proud of the detail involved in Chuck’s scheme. Chuck wants nothing to alert Jimmy to the trap. So he has Howard park his car behind the house so Jimmy won’t know Howard’s there when he comes to visit.

Then, HHM hires a PI to stay at the house so he can witness Jimmy commit a crime by breaking into the house and taking the tape.

It’s been 8 days and Howard, considering the cost of paying a PI, wonders if they should give up the plan. But right on cue, Jimmy shows up and smashes through Chuck’s door (notice Chuck did not let him in). He break’s into Chuck’s desk and destroys the tape. And for good measure, Jimmy threatens to burn Chuck’s house down before Howard and the private investigator step out and reveal themselves.

BCS S3 E2 Jimmy the tape

Jimmy tearing up the tape Chuck recorded of him.

 

So now, Jimmy has broken into Chuck’s house, destroyed his property, and threatened him with arson.

Of Note

-Jimmy gave a first hint at what happened to Chuck’s wife, Rebecca, when he tells Chuck “It’s no wonder she left you.”

-I love the scene where Jimmy is pulling the painter’s tape off the wall at the Wexler-McGill office just like Chuck taught him to last week before ripping it off in a rage.

-Great job by Patrick Fabian showing us just how uncomfortable Howard Hamlin would be sneaking around.

-Has Mike left or been fired from his job as a parking attendant? If not, then they must have very flexible sick pay and vacation days.

-“He didn’t sound like he wanted to talk about Cracker Barrell.” The first of what I hope are many great lines from Francesca.

-Are we going to find out what’s in the green knapsack? Or does it even matter now that Gus and Mike appear set to meet?

Breaking Bad Reference

-Of course, the first BCS appearances of Gus, Los Pollos Hermanos, and Francesca were obvious. But the man driving the SUV leaving Los Pollos Hermanos was none other than Victor, Gus’s henchman who meets a very unpleasant end at the hands of Gus in the Season 4 premiere of Breaking Bad.

Victor BCS

Victor made his first appearance in “Better Call Saul” in “Witness.”

Jimmy now has a legal fight that figures to keep his hands full the rest of the season. And let’s hope Mike and Gus actually meet next week instead of creepily following each other’s trackers around town.

Also, be on the lookout Friday for a piece analyzing which Better Call Saul characters could die before the show comes to its conclusion. See you then.

 

Better Call Saul Season 3, Episode 1: Mabel

Pressure. Not in your face or intense by any means. But that was the word that kept coming into my mind as I was watching “Better Call Saul’s” Season 3 premiere Monday Night.

For Kim, it’s the pressure of serving Mesa Verde and dealing with the means with which she got them as a client. For Mike, it’s the pressure of knowing someone who’s likely very dangerous is tracking him. For Jimmy, it’s the pressure of all the people he lied to last season coming back seeking retribution.

The pressure is especially intense around Jimmy (I know, the most intense situations surrounding the main character of the show, shocking!!!), even though he’s not completely aware of all of it yet. We’re the ones who feel the pressure Chuck’s applying as he begins revealing Jimmy’s confession to the world. But the air force captain he hoodwinked last season sure made himself known to Jimmy this week.

And while it’s a slow burn (the premiere barely advanced the story ahead but maybe a few days), season 3 appears poised to press the characters to a point where they make those critical decisions that put them where we see them (or don’t see them) in the “Breaking Bad” universe.

Speaking of where things are heading, let’s start this recap with the opening scene from last night’s premiere involving “Gene,” the manager at the Cinnabon in Omaha.

“Get a Lawyer!!!

Season 3 started the same way season 1 and 2 did: in the present day with Saul/Jimmy in witness protection as “Gene.”

Gene is taking a lunch break on a bench in the mall when a young man in a trench coat holding stolen DVDs attempts to hide in a photo booth. “Gene” pretends not to notice until police walk over and ask him if he’s seen a young man in a trench coat.

BCS S3 Gene 2

“Gene” eating lunch as he watches a shoplifter hiding from authorities.

The Jimmy on Gene’s shoulder (or maybe it was just Saul/Jimmy trying to maintain his cover) tells him to show the cops where the suspect is, which he hesitantly does, quietly pointing to the photo booth. But as the cops take the culprit away, the Saul in “Gene” stands up, screaming “Get a lawyer!!!”

Gene returns to work and is clearly affected by what just happened over lunch. Just before he’s about to slap some more icing on some Cinnabons with frosting, he faints.

“The Wheel is Going to Turn. It Always Does.”

I’m disappointed in myself for not predicting this last season. Of course, lying to an Air Force captain to gain special access on an Air Force base would get Jimmy in trouble. I’m surprised it’s not being looked into as a threat to national security (at least, not yet).

The argument with the captain in Jimmy’s office was a harsh wake-up call for a guy who always seems to talk his way out of trouble or get someone to cover for him. In fact, we see Kim covering for him at the start of the episode, taking on clients there to see Jimmy, adding responsibilities to her plate that are pulling her away from her work with Mesa Verde.

BCS S3 Kim and Jimmy

Jimmy thanks Kim for covering for him after he went to take care of Chuck.

And I believe the captain’s words to Jimmy are the tone setter for him the rest of the season. And we can expect “the wheel to turn” on Jimmy many more times this season.

“Don’t Think I’ll Forget What Happened Here Today.”

And the biggest wheel likely to turn on Jimmy is the one being turned by his brother, Chuck.

Chuck makes a promise to Jimmy early in the episode, assuring Jimmy that he “will pay” for sabotaging Chuck’s case with Mesa Verde.

The first stop on Chuck’s revenge tour is playing the tape for Howard. And Howard wastes no time dismissing all of us who assumed Jimmy’s pending legal trouble would come from forging documents. Not only is the tape unlikely to be admitted to court, but there’s no chance it can bring Mesa Verde back as a client to HHM. Chuck knows all of this, meaning his only reason for making the recording was to ruin Jimmy personally.

 

BCS S3 Howard and Chuck

Chuck plays the tape for Howard and reveals his plan for Jimmy.

And how do you ruin your brother who everybody else loves and adores? You turn his friends against him. Howard is kinda sorta one of those people. But Ernesto, a really friendly guy and hard worker, is an example of someone who’d be perfect to turn against Chuck’s brother.

Chuck gets the recording of Jimmy admitting to forgery to play “accidentally” while Ernesto is changing the batteries in the tape recorder. Chuck gets Ernesto to promise to tell no one what he’s heard. We’ll see if Ernesto can keep that promise, and who, if anybody, will be exposed to that recording next.

“Sorry, I Just Got to Check One Thing. Two Minutes. Tops”

Jimmy will likely have legal trouble all season and Mike will be further immersing himself in the Albuquerque drug scene.

But there troubles may pale in comparison to the pressure Kim Wexler will be under this season.

First, there’s the Mesa Verde account. Knowing that forged documents are the reason she has the account is enough to keep her nervous about holding it. But having to do all that paper work on her own without the resources of a large firm will create even more headaches. That pressure she’s under to do right by Mesa Verde showed itself while Kim obsessed over proper end of sentence punctuation late at night at the office. We’ve saw her put together at least three different versions of Mesa Verde’s paper work in the premiere alone.

BCS S3 Kim Mesa Verde

Kim meets with her friend Paige and shows her the work Kim’s done on the Mesa Verde case so far.

 

Then, there’s sharing an office with Jimmy. We’ve already mentioned the extra work covering Jimmy added to Kim’s plate. I wonder when (and I do think it’s a when, not an if) constantly having to work with clients there to see Jimmy will be too much to handle.

The Gas Cap

Let’s end this recap with Mike, who we’ve never seen spooked like he was when that note appeared on his car.

He races to a self-service auto repair yard and proceeds to tear his old car apart looking for the tracking device he knows has been installed somewhere.

BCS S3 E1 Mike

Mike looking to find where the tracking device someone’s been using to follow him is on his car.

But just as Mike has given up, he’s inspired by the gas caps in the lounge of the repair yard. He finds the tracker inside his gas cap and takes it home, leaving the rest of the car behind.

Now I had to go back and re-watch all the steps that took place from here. Mike took the tracker home and wrote down the serial number on the device. Then, Mike meets up with Dr. Caldera, the veterinarian who serves as Mike’s connection for work, and purchases a tracking device identical to the one Mike found in his car along with the console that allows him to follow it.

Mike knows the battery to the device found on his car has to be replaced. So he installs the battery to his handheld radio and plays the device until the battery is dead.

Once it dies, Mike sits by his window and waits until someone comes by in the middle of the night and takes the cap so a new battery can be put in the tracker.

But the tracker in Mike’s gas cap is no longer the one originally put there. With a fresh battery, it’s the tracker Mike bought that he can now use to follow whoever just took it to the people who are tracking him.

Observations

-I think Jimmy and Chuck may have experienced their last tender moment together as they recalled reading the book “The Adventures of Mabel” during their childhoods.

-It was a nice touch to have Jimmy reopen the yellow paint can when Kim informs him she just wants to look at “One more thing” about the Mesa Verde paper work.

-Did anybody notice the Royals backpack “Gene” takes into work? It may just be Gene playing a character from the Midwest. But could it be Jimmy remembering his time with Kim, who is herself a Royals fan?

-Speaking of Gene, I do hope Gene fainting is not the last we see of modern day Saul this season. Surely, we’ve hit a point in the series where the modern day story can start to move a little faster.

I know the premiere moved a little slow (which has been a common  complaint among many about “Saul”). But with the way it set the table for season 3, I really think we will look back at “Mabel” as a real turning point in the series.

See you next week.

Better Call Saul Season 3 Preview

The third season of Better Call Saul premieres Monday on AMC. And once again, I’ll have recaps breaking down every episode this season.

But before the journey of Jimmy McGill becoming Saul Goodman resumes Monday, let’s take a look back at where we left all our key players at the end of season 2 and preview what we can expect this season.

Previously on….

The last image of Season 2 was Chuck stopping a tape player that had just recorded his brother Jimmy confessing to forging documents (the same forged documents that cost Chuck and HHM the Mesa Verde account).

BCS S2 Klick

The tape recorder with Jimmy’s confession at the end of season 2.

Kim Wexler, Jimmy’s sort of business partner/love interest, benefited the most from Jimmy’s crime when Mesa Verde came back to her. The money from Mesa Verde (the bank Kim brought to HHM in the first place) is very important to both Kim and Jimmy, as Kim recently left HHM to enter into her own practice, sharing office space with Jimmy.

BCS S3 Kim and Jimmy

Jimmy and Kim in their shared office in a Season 3 preview image.

Meanwhile, Mike spent season 2 in a battle with Hector “Tio” (or as I like to call him “Ding Ding,”) Salamanca. After “Tio” threatened Mike’s family, Gus’s future enforcer purchased a sniper rifle and readied himself to take the drug kingpin out.

But Nacho would not allow Mike a clean shot, keeping Tio alive and out of a wheel chair until at least season 3. When Mike returned to his car, he was greeted by a note simply saying “DON’T” on the windshield.

BCS S3 Don't

The note left on Mike’s windshield at the end of Season 2 encouraging Mike to hold off killing Hector.

How Much Trouble is Jimmy in?

Most of AMC’s preview clips and photos hint that Jimmy has major legal issues in store for season 3. The only question is how much. And we know whatever those issues are, they won’t be enough to keep him in prison for long or get him disbarred.

And what will Chuck’s reaction be to the unfolding legal drama? Jimmy’s brother showed last season just how sore a loser he can be. Will his brother getting away with forgery or coming away with a slap on the wrist push Chuck over the edge?

BCS S3 Jimmy in Prison

How much time will Jimmy be spending in prison this season?

Gus is Back!!!!

The chicken selling/meth dealing entrepreneur who had a falling out with Walt in Breaking Bad is back for Season 3!!!!

And like most people, I’m assuming Gus is the man responsible for the “DON’T” note on Mike’s car (though I also think Nacho is a strong candidate). So let’s hope season 3 brings us the birth of the Gus-Mike partnership.

Here’s a training video for Gus’s company, Los Pollos Hermanos, recently released by AMC.

How Close are We Getting to Saul?

The first two seasons of “Saul” really slow played the conversion of Jimmy McGill to Saul Goodman. Though Jimmy pulled a questionable ethics violation here and there, he was mostly working for what could be considered the greater good. But will the legal maneuvering required of Jimmy in season 3 spring us forward to the money laundering, openly law breaking Saul Goodman? Or will Gilligan and his team continue the slow heel turn preferred in the previous two seasons?

Other Questions

-Will Nacho’s side deals be revealed to his current employers? And if so, what will the fallout be?

-Will this be the season “Tio” ends up in the wheelchair?

BCS S3 Tio Today BCS S3 Tio Wheelchair

(Hector Season 2 next to Hector from Breaking Bad)

-What other answers will we get from flashbacks this season?

-Will we find out what happened to Rebecca (Chuck’s wife)?

-When did Chuck become sensitive to electricity?

-Will we ever meet the elder Hamlin?

-And what’s in store for Gene (the new identity Saul took after Breaking Bad)? Will his story become its own separate drama to be followed?

BCS S3 Gene 2

“Gene” in Season 3.

“Better Call Saul” comes on every Monday at 10 eastern/9 central. Then, be on the lookout every Tuesday for my recap of each episode this season.

 

Best Television Shows of the 90’s

A recent 90’s trivia night took me back to the decade that shaped me (and explained all the major issues I still have today) and recall the best television shows from that time in my own personal rankings.

There was no Netflix, TV on DVD, or amazing cable dramas for us to obsess over and build entire conventions and reddit pages around. In the 90’s, the major networks still largely cornered the market for top television and we had to watch the night it was on or set the VCR if he wanted to keep up with our favorite shows.

Now, I don’t have any set criteria for this list. It’s entirely my subjective opinions, so I’m sure many will want to argue and debate the choices I made. But I did not exclusively make this list of shows I watched at the time. I tried to think which shows were popular then and have had the most cultural impact since in determining how all the shows were slotted.

So, without further ado, here’s my list of the top TV shows from the 90’s.

 

10. Boy Meets World

Boy Meets World

The legendary status of Cory Matthews and crew seems to grow by the year as 90’s kids everywhere reminisce. And Cory’s misadventures with Shawn, his pursuit of star-crossed lover Topanga, and the many lessons the ganglearned from the iconic Mr. Feeny, should have a required place on all best of 90’s TV recollections.

And what about Cory’s cool brother Eric? What, you don’t remember him? Me either. I prefer the goofy version he morphed into that breathed new life into the show in later seasons.

9. Saved By the Bell

Saved by the Bell

Another nod to our adolescent/preteen nostalgia, “Saved by the Bell” is the only Saturday morning show to make the list. And it’s crazy to look back and recall how much we adored this show when you consider the time period it was on.

Saved by the Bell was basically after school special running smack dab in the middle of the angst filled early nineties. How crazy is it that so many whose formative years were 1989-1993 would tune into “Saved by the Bell” in the morning, then pop in the “Chronic” CD and listen to “Smells Like Teen Spirit afterwards.

Zach and the gang deserve their spot on this list just for finding their foothold in that environment.

8. NYPD Blue

NYPD Blue

I never watched the influential detective drama. But it clearly had its audience. And if you like the random placement of bare bottoms on cable/network TV, be sure to thank NYPD Blue for knocking down that barrier.

7. Beverly Hills 90210

Beverly Hills 90210

90210 was another show I did not watch. But every decade needs its angst filled teen drama. And 90210 fit the bill with its tension-filled relationships and handling of 90’s social issues.

90210 was also one of Fox’s (then a new network) first big hits. And while summer seasons are common place for many hit shows across various network and cable channels now, it was a rare summer run in 1991 that propelled 90210 hit status.

6. Home Improvement

Home Improvement

Comedian Tim Allen became a star with “Home Improvement,” the top family comedy of the 90’s.

Playing Tim “The Toolman” Taylor, Allen was the best of the many goofball dads of the decade, always finding himself injured or breaking a major household appliance while trying to make a repair or give it “more power.”

5. Roseanne

Roseanne Cast (TV) 1988 1st Season Credit: ABC/Courtesy Neal Peters Collection

Before Roseanne, sitcom families were mostly affluent, living charmed lives in pristine homes. Roseanne, however, represented how far more American families lived than had been previously represented on network television.

Also, Roseanne became a pipeline for many of the stars/recurring stars that would appear on “The Big Bang Theory,” a top comedy from the modern era of television.

4. Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Fresh Prince

Mega star Will Smith was born Monday nights on NBC in the hit comedy “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”

But Smith’s presence wasn’t all the made this hit comedy last. There was “the Carlton” (cue “It’s Not Unusual” by Tom Jones), Jazz getting thrown out of the house by Uncle Phil, and that unforgettable theme song that’s been in your head since you started reading this entry.

3. ER

ER

The fast paced medical drama that introduced the world to George Clooney was the best drama of the 90’s, winning 23 Primetime Emmy Awards. But it wasn’t just the high stakes patient story lines and drama surrounding the everyday lives of the staff at County General Hospital in Chicago that kept us interested. ER was one of those shows that wasn’t afraid to kill off departing characters at a time before Game of Thrones made it cool.

2. Friends

Friends

My wife will hate this choice, but I have to go with shows that were popular and had impact. And no show in the nineties (well other than the two shows still remaining on the countdown) had both of those like “Friends.”

For popularity, just look at the ratings, where “Friends” was top 10 show for its entire 10 season run. As far as impact, “Friends” was an early example of a show that broke the conventional family sitcom model. Shows like “The Big Bang Theory” and “How I Met Your Mother” can thank “Friends” for the “friends are your family” model of sitcom that is commonplace in today’s TV landscape.

1b. The Simpsons

The Simpsons

Anybody out there have a primetime animated show they just love? “Family Guy?” “Bob’s Burgers?”  “South Park?” Well, it was “The Simpsons” who cleared the path for the primetime animated show that appeals to an older audience.

And congratulations to “The Simpsons” for being the only show on this list still on the air. 4LN’s own Bill Clark is still a huge fan of Springfield’s most famous family. In fact, the show may very well still be on the air as a way just to keep Bill off the streets on Sunday nights.

1a. Seinfeld

seinfeld

Cultural impact can be measured in many ways. And one of the best ways to measure it in a TV show is through quotes. “No soup for you,” “I was in the pool,” “Not that there’s anything wrong with that,” “Yada, yada, yada,” “Double dipping,” “There real, and their spectacular,” and “Regifter” are all popular phrases and quotes that Seinfeld either originated or revived in American language.

I also consider Seinfeld to be one of the first shows (though “All in the Family” could be considered strongly for this as well) that revolved itself around really unlikable people. We currently live in the age of the antihero. But “Seinfeld” takes that a step further, asking us to follow people who aren’t heroes at all. They’re just inconsiderate jerks who obsessed over the small things in life. But yet, we laughed anyway (and felt a little guilty at times knowing we’d complained about many of those same things).

How is your list different from mine for the 90’s best shows? Who did I leave off that should be? Who did I include that has no business there? Let me know in the comments.

Game of Thrones Teaser Trailer is Out!

On Thursday, HBO (finally) released a teaser for the 7th season of the hit drama, Game of Thrones. Now, unfortunately, there are no clips or scenes from the upcoming season. But it’s at least enough to remind us that, yes, in an off-season filled with little casting news or official previews, our favorite drama will be returning soon.

Here’s the clip:

 

No new information here. We have Cersei on the Iron Throne, Daenarys sitting on a high seat on Dragonstone (I think. Readers, let me know if it’s actually someplace else), and Jon ruling in the North.

But the White Walker eye preceded by Cersei’s breath is all I need from this clip to get me excited for season 7.

The new season premieres July 16th. And let’s hope this isn’t the only footage we get before premiere night.

Better Call Saul Sets Premiere Date as Previews Hint Return of Breaking Bad Character

The start date for season 3 of “Better Call Saul” has been set and several teaser videos (including a whole scene from the new season) have been released over the past couple of weeks giving subtle (and not so subtle) hints about what we can expect when the show returns in the spring.

I’ll save the best two for last, but let’s discuss all four of the clips that have come out recently for season 3:

Teaser 1: Booked

The last scene of season 2 was Jimmy’s brother Chuck recording him secretly as the younger McGill admitted to evidence tampering. So could this scene be after said tape is presented to authorities? Or was this scene just shot for teaser purposes to tell us that Jimmy will be spending season 3 in a prolonged legal fight?

Teaser 2: The Mugshot

This one serves the same purpose as teaser 1, but I did like the touch there at the end separating “criminal” and “lawyer” with a period.

(If you want to avoid the any type of spoiler for season 3, stop reading here)

 

 

 

 

Teaser 3:

 

 

Gus Fring is back!!! Unless some executive at AMC said “Hey guys, let’s create a commercial promoting the new season of “Better Call Saul” with Gus in it just to piss people off when they realize he’s not actually in the new season.” So in other words, Gus is back for season 3!!!!

Teaser 4: Jimmy and Kim

Here, we have our first full scene, not just some 15 second teaser clip. And based on what we heard, Kim has taken on a number of Jimmy’s clients. I can’t see this being based on anything other than an ongoing investigation into the evidence tampering at the end of last season. Also, it sounds like Chuck had another incident with his “condition” and Jimmy had to save the day for him again (“For ten minutes today, Chuck didn’t hate me. I forgot what that felt like.”)

But the best part about that last clip: the end when APRIL 10TH was listed as the premiere date for season 3!!! So now we know what day we have to look forward to for the return of Jimmy McGill, Mike, Kim, Chuck, and Gus as we continue to follow the journey from Jimmy McGill to Saul Goodman.

 

So these clips affirmed one thing we should already know (that Jimmy figures to be fighting the law throughout the third season) and confirmed what we’ve all hoped for (the return of Gus!!!).

Keep an eye out for more content here at 4LN as “Better Call Saul’s” third season approaches.

 

The Four Shows (Plus One) that Made us Talk in 2016

2016 was a rough year. And I don’t think there’s any need to recall all we’ve endured the last 12 months.

But rough years like the one we’ve just experienced show the purpose entertainment can serve as a necessary distraction, getting us to talk about something else so we can take a short break from reality.

And I believe the four shows presented here did the best job of any getting us together to talk, theorize, and debate just how great these shows were and just what exactly was going on during the hour we just watched.

Keep in mind, these are not what I necessarily consider the four best shows of 2016 (though I do expect Emmy nominations for three of these). These are the shows that, in my opinion, generated the most buzz across social media and in our circles of friends.

So here are the four shows (plus one, which I will explain at the bottom) we talked about the most in 2016.

Stranger Things

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At the start of the year, I previewed a number highly anticipated shows appearing on Netflix in 2016. “Stranger Things” and its 8 episode first season did not appear on that list.

But no show that Netflix put out this year got people talking like the 80’s science fiction series about a town dealing with the bizarre disappearance of a 10 year old boy.

Most refreshing to me about “Stranger Things” was its willingness to jump right into many of the show’s central mysteries while also finding a niche with audiences needing a break from the modern drama that celebrates complexity.

Or maybe it was just the brilliant use of 80’s nostalgia that got us talking about “Stranger Things” all summer. Regardless of the reason, “Stranger Things” is, in my opinion, Netflix’s biggest surprise hit to date.

This Is Us

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The major broadcast networks finally found a foothold in the modern field of hit dramas dominated by cable and streaming services with “This Is Us,” NBC’s retrospective hit profiling the “then and now” of a unique American family.

But hiding behind what looks like another sappy network family drama is an amazingly written story with its own of set of Westworld worthy twists (just without all the 24-7 internet chatter predicting them all before they happen).

It’s also refreshing to see a family drama present problems from multiple perspectives that aren’t easily solved or dismissed. That is why I think “This Is Us” stands out despite being a family drama in an age where the majority of dramas we take in come on after the kids are in bed.

Westworld

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No show on this list had more hype to live up to than Westworld, HBO’s newest hit drama that debuted in October. The show about an adult theme park where the robots (or “hosts”) that humans interact with in the park are starting to develop thoughts and feelings of their own kept us guessing and theorizing until the end.

And with its superb cast and technical brilliance, “Westworld” surpassed all expectations, becoming the network’s most watched debut season ever.

With “Game of Thrones” nearing the end of its run, HBO needed a new signature drama to take its place. And Westworld appears to have provided just that.

Game of Thrones (Season 6)

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After a subpar season 5, GoT returned with a vengeance in season 6. No, the narrative was not perfect. But what has captivated fans and grown the audience of Game of Thrones over the years has been the “punch in the gut” moments that bring fans together so we can process what the hell we just witnessed.

And season 6 brought two of the most jaw dropping moments in the history of the show with “Hold the Door” at midseason (take a moment and shed a few tears if you need to right here) and “King’s Landing Goes Green” in the finale.

Season 6 also set a record for character deaths as the show rapidly moved itself towards the end game. That “end game” part is bittersweet for sure, but it was good to see a show that often slept walk through its fifth season return to its proper form in season 6.

Plus One: Making a Murderer

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Remember how in late 2015/early 2016 we were all experts in criminal law and proper investigative practices? Whatever you thought of it, “Making a Murderer” made us all talk about the American justice system and just how fair (or unfair) it is to some of the citizens subjected to it.

Technically, the ten episode venture into the murder trials of Steve Avery and Brendan Dassey came out in 2015. But it was all we wanted to talk about the first month of the year as we debated the evidence that put the two men on trial.

Honorable Mention and Final Thoughts

Considering I thought it was the best drama of 2016, I have to at least mention the second season of “Better Call Saul.” I hope I can include the tale of Walter White’s lawyer in Breaking Bad next season as its audience grows.

Also, I strongly recommend Speechless, a humorous look at a family with a child dealing with cerebral palsy. I know that description sounds horrible, but the show really is hilarious and somehow avoids being offensive.

What other shows had you and your friends talking this year? Let me know in the comments section.

 

 

Westworld Season 1, Episode 10: The Bicameral Mind

For a show like Westworld, with all its intrigue and mystery, its greatest enemy is its viewers. The fans who take in the show every Sunday night, then go online the next week and share all their theories about just what the hell is going on.

Because of the obsession we take as TV viewers when following the shows we love, we end up either predicting or reading what turn out to be correct predictions of the major reveals of the season we are watching.

And I don’t think it’s necessarily because fan bases are smarter than they used to be. It’s just, thanks to the world wide web, we talk way too much about favorite shows and are exposed to a significantly more opinions that we used to be. With all this time spent talking about it and all the different voices speaking to us about it, we’re bound to hit on something that turns out to be true.

I was one who took in many of these theories and, as a result, expected a number of the major reveals (Bernard=Arnold, William=The Man in Black, Dolores=Wyatt) to happen before they did. But Westworld still found a way to sneak its greatest reveal in with little to no discussion from its message boards (at least none that I came across).

It was Dr. Robert Ford the whole time that wanted chaos. It was Ford, finally taking the view of his partner, that wanted to give his creation the chance to escape. And now that at least one of these hosts has found her way out of “the maze,” we’ll see just what Ford’s final vision looks like when the chaotic end of Season 1 resolves itself (or gets even more messy) in Season 2.

As for this final recap of Season 1, too much happened for me to break it down by character like I usually do. Instead, I’m going to recap the entire episode as it happened, starting with Dolores, the girl all the boys want to find.

“There’s Something About Dolores”

I had no idea Westworld was really a reboot of the 90’s classic starring Ben Stiller and Cameron Diaz.

But as we start “The Bicameral Mind,” everyone’s pursuing the park’s oldest host. The Man is Black is with her, and he wants Dolores to take him to the center of that damn maze. William is on his way with an army of Lawrence and his men (and a tied up Logan, who thankfully, is an afterthought most of the finale). And don’t forget about Teddy. He jumps off that train, steals a horse, and rides out to find and rescue his forever programmed love.

Dolores, however, is pursuing another man: Arnold, her creator. Arnold’s voice leads her to a grave with her name on it. Buried in that grave is a kid’s tin can with “the maze” inside of it. It’s here that Dolores recalls talking with Arnold about that maze the MIB has been pursuing all season.

The Meaning of the Maze

So the maze is not a physical location in the park. It’s the minds of the hosts and the journey they take to achieve independence from their programming.

That creation of Arnold’s and what he discovered about it convinced Arnold the park could not open. But when Dr. Ford refused to comply, Arnold gave Dolores the task of killing all the hosts so the system could be reset.

All of this, of course, pisses off the MIB. He wants the physical location of the maze and the directions to find Wyatt. He doesn’t realize this is the maze (because “The maze is not for you”) and Wyatt is the woman he’s talking to right now.

The Man in Black begins beating Dolores. He’s frustrated Dolores and the other hosts can’t fight back. The park is a big lie and though he’s seen most all of it (because he is the majority owner of the place, as we learned in this conversation), he wants access to the one place that’s not a lie, where the hosts can fight back.

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Dolores leading the MIB to the center of the maze.

“The Vote was Unanimous”

Meanwhile, Charlotte Hale thinks she’s gone check and mate on Dr. Ford. The board of Delos arrives at the park and votes to remove Dr. Ford from his post. Ford will announce his “retirement” after unveiling his new story line tonight. I’m sure that will go down without a hitch.

At the same time, Maeve is wrecking havoc throughout headquarters. She awakes Hector and Armistice to assist her freedom march. But before she can go, Maeve wants to find out whose been using Arnold’s login to make changes to her and the other hosts in the park without anybody’s knowledge.

“I Know a Guy Named William”

Now here’s the theory the internet figured out many weeks ago. Dolores has been going back and forth between now and her past for most of the show. The confusion, shared by Dolores and we the viewers, was used by the show to muddle her various visions and story lines together as one, making her think William was coming to save her while the Man in Black beats her.

The Man in Black begins to the tell the tale and many of us know what’s about to happen. He speaks of the William storyline we’ve been following all season as if it’s the past. He tells how William could never find Dolores, but he did make it to the outskirts of the park. It was on the outskirts that William sent Logan away naked, tied up to a horse. As if that weren’t enough embarrassment, William also informed Logan of his plans to inherit the company from Logan’s father. Oh, and just for good measure, William took the man’s black hat. Now, nobody in the history of television deserved this all around embarrassment more than Logan, but that’s a real punk job done by William on his brother in law.

William finally sees Dolores back in Sweetwater, but it’s another man who drops the can William picked up all those episodes ago as Dolores fails to remember him.

Dolores realizes that the Man in Black is, in fact, the William who loved and adored her so much. Now, I’m not sure what cued it, but something awoke inside Dolores as she takes the upper hand, pounding the MIB to the ground and holding a gun to his head. The unfeeling man begs her to shoot. But before she can, the MIB takes a knife and stabs her.

Just then, a horse rides up with Teddy, who fires bullets that weaken and take down the MIB. He scoops up Dolores and rides away with her just as the MIB begins to come to.

“He’s a Host?”

Back at headquarters, Maeve knows that the man she must talk to is Bernard (or Arnold as she now knows he is). Felix, shocked that Bernard is dead, but even more shocked that he’s a host, goes to work on him. When Bernard wakes up, Maeve asks to have all the memories of her daughter removed. But Bernard says he can’t. “And oh by the way, Madam,” says Bernard, “everything you’ve been doing to try and escape was programmed into you by someone else.” Maeve didn’t accept that last bit of information very well, so she marches on, deadly assassins and nerdy Felix close behind.

Teddy and Dolores’s “final words”

Teddy takes Dolores to that place he promised her at the start of the season and the hosts say their “final words.” But an audience has gathered on the beach and applauds the scene as Dolroes “dies” in Teddy’s arms.

Ford greets the crowd and says he’s ready to present his new narrative, called “Journey into Night.” But first, he has some things he needs to say to Dolores.

Maeve Complete Her Escape

Eventually, the security breach is discovered (Armistice basically beating the hell out of some poor surgeon and Hector waking up before a male surgeon could do unspeakable things to him) and a fire fight ensues to ensure Maeve finds her way out. Armistice’s arm gets caught in the door, so she tells the others to go on while she continues firing on the swat team. After reaching the elevator, Maeve keeps Hector from entering, saying she must go it alone now. But before she gets off that elevator, Felix hands her a note with information regarding the location of Maeve’s daughter in the park. She takes the note, but insists it will not effect her resolve. Looking all modern human like, Maeve enters a shuttle leaving the park that is departing in 15 minutes.

“Do you understand who you will need to become if you ever want to leave this place?”

Dr. Ford has a sit down with Dolores and gives the background to the final days of Arnold’s life. First, Dolores was created as a representative of Arnold’s son with similar talents and personality. But then, Arnold realized he gave someone the ability to suffer (thanks to the maze) who would never be able to escape it. So he merged Dolores with Wyatt, a villain character Ford and Arnold were working on, and programmed her to not only kill all the hosts (with Teddy’s help, of course) but to kill Arnold.

Now, I’m may have to watch the finale again (and the whole season for that matter) to really have a full understanding why Arnold saw no other way but death here. But I have to admit that, at first viewing, it seemed like a lot of steps were skipped to get to this point. But at least the moment was extremely well done by the actors and the music playing in the background (his son’s favorite song) as bodies of dead hosts surround Dolores and Arnold before she takes the fatal shot set a powerfully surreal scene. And throwing in those last words “These violent delights have violent ends” from Arnold provided one last bit of chill.

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Teddy looking on not understanding what’s happening as Dolores prepares to shoot Arnold.

Dolores shot herself and Teddy as well. It was at this moment that the park nearly went under with Ford’s partner gone. But William/The Man In Black, thanks to his inspiring journey with Dolores, threw in the money to keep the park going.

We also learn that the gun that Dolores found at the start of the season was put their by Bernard under orders from Ford. So everything, all the robot rebellion and Maeve’s desire to escape, have been a part of Dr. Ford’s, not Arnold’s plan, all along.

So what is the end game of this plan for Dr. Ford? Well, telling Bernard this will be the last time they speak provides a major clue for that.

Journey Into Night

It’s time for the new (and final) narrative of Dr. Robert Ford. Ford’s words were mostly his usual cool sounding philosophical stuff that Anthony Hopkins is so good at delivering. But it’s what the other characters are experiencing that make this final scene work.

Dolores is still in the “old field lab” and appears to be talking to Bernard. But Bernard’s voice and appearance eventually turn into another Dolores. The end of the maze has been achieved for Dolores. She’s discovered that it’s her own thoughts she’s been listening to and she sees her gun sitting on a table in another room.

Maeve, for all her talk of rebelling and getting out of this world, hasn’t achieved Dolores status yet. Just before that train leaves, she walks off, determined to find her daughter (a thought that’s programmed into her, not an independent thought like Dolores’s was). But the power goes out at the terminal before she can get back into the park.

Sizemore, the man who was tasked with getting information onto a host and out of the park, discovers that all those retired hosts are no longer in that warehouse they’ve been stored in.

The Man in Black went off on his own to have a smoke when he sees Wyatt’s crew walking up, approaching the dinner.

Dolores joins the party in her blue dress holding her gun and walks up behind Teddy, informing him that this park is no longer about the humans, but it’s about us (the hosts) as she gets closer to the stage.

Ford tells everyone this will be his last story as Charlotte Hale looks on, satisfied, thinking her job is done. But then, just as Ford informs the guests in the park of his new story about a people who will decide what they are to become, Dolores shoots him in the back of the head.

After shooting Ford, Dolores starts firing at the crowd as everyone frantically runs away and the various hosts around (other than Teddy), start smiling.

The Man in Black feels a bullet hit his arm and he smiles, sensing his desire for a park where the hosts can fight back and everything’s not a lie, is about to become true.

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Teddy’s chosen expression of the night whenever Dolores fired her gun.

Of Note:

-I like the nice, subtle connection where the maze turns out to be a toy Arnold’s son liked to play with.

-We also connected the photo Dolores’s father found in the first episode to William/The Man in Black. That photo was William’s fiancée. The photo flew away as William rode off to the outer edges of the park, symbolizing the feelings he had for her. I assume Ford had that placed into the ground as well.

-Did anybody else share the MIB’s disappointment when Ford informed that “this” was the center of the maze? I loved the symbolism the maze represented, but part of me really wanted some other physical world for characters to delve into in season 2.

-Armistice’s appreciation of assault weapons was well played and amazingly in character. I do wonder if that post credits scene where Armistice breaks off her arm to get free has any narrative purpose. Or was it just a fun way to end Armistice’s season.

-Where exactly do the Mongolians fit into Westworld next season?

-So the season ends with no resolution on where Elise Hughes or Stubbs ended up. Surely, with the way Westworld tied so many of its other details up in the finale, the show couldn’t just write these two characters out of the story without a resolution.

I have thoroughly enjoyed recapping this first season of Westworld. I look forward to picking up the recaps whenever season 2 begins. Also, be on the lookout for my other recaps when the new seasons of “Better Call Saul” and “Game of Thrones” begin in 2017.

Westworld Season 1, Episode 9: The Well Tempered Clavier

My suspicion since early on in Season 1 was that, if Westworld had a true villain, Dr. Robert Ford was that villain. These host we’re supposed to sympathize with because of all the trauma the’ve endured were created and controlled by Ford. So if they were going to rebel, who else could they rebel against?

But it wasn’t only the structure of the story that cast that light on Ford. There were also these not so subtle threats to people who’ve tried to get in his way (aka, Arnold, Teresa, and Bernard). And Ford has shown a complete control over the hosts that seems like it could squash a robot rebellion easily.

And maybe I should’ve written this two episodes ago when Ford ordered Teresa’s face pounded in by Bernard Lowe. But Charlotte Hale, the executive who put Teresa in that position, could be labeled a villain just as easily.

But as of now, Charlotte Hale has not directly killed anyone to meet her goal of removing Ford from the park. Even the Man in Black has yet to sacrifice a real human life. But Dr. Ford has been responsible for at least 2 (Arnold, Teresa, and possibly 3 depending on Elsie’s fate) human deaths so his park could operate without delay or hindrance.

Now is there anyone with the power to take down the ultimate super villain of Westworld? We’ll have to wait until at least next week to find out.

As for this week, let’s kick off the recap with how William and Dolores found their way out of Logan’s capture.

William

I really want to talk about Logan as little as possible. I mean, I guess he’s a necessary evil to compliment William in his journey of discovery. But even so, I don’t have to like his character because of it.

Logan insists the hosts are fake and feel nothing. But William thinks (correctly) that Dolores is different. To prove him wrong, Logan tears open Dolores’s skin so William can see the wiring.

Dolores does not appreciate that very much, slicing a blade across Logan’s face and running away. Later, Logan pleads with William to get over Dolores. Now I don’t think any of us were fooled by William’s proclamation that Logan was right. Of course, Douchebag McGee bought it, and that’s all that really matters.

Logan wakes up the next day bloody and on the ground. He pans around to see all the host soldiers laying on the ground. Turns out, William massacred them (how original, another scene of massacred hosts). Now, William’s in charge and Logan will be helping him find Dolores.

The Man in Black

Nothing has changed for the MIB since last week, other than Teddy joining him in being tied up around the fire.

Teddy’s been having a flashback most of the season where he helped Wyatt (the crazy villain Ford is centering his new story around) massacre a group of soldiers. But as it turns out, it wasn’t soldiers Teddy killed. And it doesn’t look like (at least from what was saw) that Wyatt had anything to do with it. It was all Teddy (who appears to be the town sheriff) blowing away civilians. Men, women, and children alike are all being massacred (that’s right, another scenes of massacred bodies).

The woman who stabbed and captured Teddy last week is also in the flashback. We don’t see if Teddy kills her in that scene, but she remembers and tells Teddy that one day, he may be ready to serve by Wyatt’s side “in the next life” before stabbing and killing Teddy.

After screaming “Oh my God, you killed Teddy,” the MIB starts rambling again about this maze. And just like every other episode, the MIB doesn’t appear to get any closer to it. The woman tells the MIB that the maze is not for him. And next thing we know, he wakes up with a wound on his head, alone in the daytime, with a rope tied around his neck. The other end of the rope is tied to his horse. Now, I didn’t think hosts could actually kill guests. But they sure as hell can tie you up and see if you can escape death yourself I guess.

The MIB cuts the rope in time before Charlotte Hale greets the MIB and gives us some more information about who he is. Now, of course, the information is vague (it wouldn’t be Westworld if the reveals were actually clear cut). But it sounds like the MIB is on this board we keep hearing about. She wants his approval to remove Ford from power. The MIB cares nothing at this point for Ford’s narratives. He’s all about Arnold’s game and the board can do whatever they want with Dr. Ford.

Bernard Lowe and Dolores Abernathy

The reset by Dr. Ford on Bernard last week lasted all of five minutes in this week’s episode. Maeve has been brought in after last week’s suspicious activity. Lowe begins the normal questioning routine, sees all the changes to her system, and asks whose responsible. But before he can contact Dr. Ford, Maeve does her little mind control act, instructing Lowe to release her back into Westworld with no questions asked.

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Maeve’s conversation with Bernard proves to be fatal to his system.

Lowe’s conversation with Maeve sends him into a tailspin. He goes to Dr. Ford and wants access to all the memories his programming won’t allow him to see. And to make sure Dr. Ford complies, Lowe takes control of Clementine and has her hold a gun at Ford.

The first memories are nothing new. He’s at his son’s bedside, he’s talking to his wife over video chat, he’s in bed with Teresa, and he’s choking Elsie (once again, we don’t see if he actually killed her).

Eventually, the memories start to run parallel with Dolores, who’s returned to the scene of the church and is remembering more of the things that happened there.

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Dolores remembers quite a bit of her past while walking through the church.

Dr. Ford explains to Bernard that three years were spent refining the hosts before any guests were allowed to access them. Arnold wanted the hosts to have a conscious, and that conscious would come from an inner dialogue Arnold programmed into them. The problem was the voice in their heads was driving the hosts crazy. While Ford is explaining this, Dolores enters the church and recalls the hosts all sitting in the sanctuary struggling with those voices.

Dolores enters confessional, which she discovers is an elevator that takes her down to a series of labs and offices, likely from the early days of the park. Gunslinger Dolores sees massacred bodies of hosts (yet a third example of this in one episode), but also recalls a less bloody hallway where hosts are interacting and being worked on by humans. A young Ford walks by and enters an office to start arguing with Arnold. Dolores walks past that and heads downstairs to see a room we are all very familiar with.

Despite all the warnings from Ford, Bernard wants to go all the way back to his first memory. And that first memory is him sitting up from an operating table. It’s this image that causes Bernard to discover that Ford created him in the image of his old partner, Arnold.

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Dr. Robert Ford while he’s revealing memories to Bernard.

Now it’s really hard to describe how this realization came to Bernard. But Dolores makes sure the rest of us haven’t missed it when she sits down in her flashback and says “Arnold” when the man we know as Bernard Lowe sits down to talk with her. These two had numerous conversations early in the season, and it appears that those conversations were Arnold speaking with Dolores from the past.

But in this conversation, Arnold (Bernard as we’ve known him) tells Dolores he can’t help her. The reason he can’t: because Dolores killed him.

Dolores heads back up to the church and finds it empty. That is, until the Man in Black walks in.

As for Bernard, he plans on going all Maeve on Dr. Ford by ordering Clementine to shoot the man. But Ford put something in her programming that overrides everything Bernard has done. As it turns out, Ford could have stopped this the whole time. But he was interested to see just where all this would go. Instead, he orders Lowe to wait until Ford leaves the room to shoot himself. Lowe does just that, but not before Ford informs him and us that the new story he’s been working on is ready.

Of Note

-So if Ford can override the ability for hosts to control other hosts, does this make Maeve’s attempt at rebellion hopeless?

-We saw the picture Ford showed of him and Arnold earlier in the season. But this picture had three men in it: Dr. Ford, the guy we thought was Arnold, and Bernard Lowe (who we now know is Arnold). Who is the guy in the middle? Could it be the Man in Black?

-The Man in Black appears to be the prime candidate has the third man in the photo considering it was him who defended Ford many years ago in a previous attempt at removing him from his position. But the man in the picture also looks a lot like Ford’s father from the family he created in the park.

-The most recent human to be captured is Stubbs, who responded to Elsie’s signal reappearing in Westworld. He was captured by the Ghost Nation, another group of hosts that now ignore all verbal commands.

-It looks like Maeve has the first soldier in her army. Hector will be joining Maeve after she pointed out that the safe that drives his whole story is completely empty.

I’m going to say farewell right here, but I do have some theories I wanted to do discuss. All of it is pure speculation. But if you don’t even want speculation to ruin the season finale next week for you, then stop reading now and I’ll see you next week. Otherwise, read on underneath the image.

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-The much discussed timeline theory (the idea that everything we are seeing is happening in multiple time periods), received some definitive proof tonight with the reveal that Bernard was built based on Arnold. We can most certainly assume that at least the scenes with Dolores talking to Bernard (who we now know was likely Arnold) were taking place about 35 years earlier.

-One part of the timeline theory (and what I consider to be the most significant part), was that William is a younger version of the Man in Black. But how can gunslinger Dolores see the Man in Black after leaving William, whose supposed to be a younger Man in Black? It’s not impossible, but it did just get way more convoluted.

-Now this theory is my own (though I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s thought of it): With Bernard dead of “suicide” (which I’m sure will have something to do with his dead lover Teresa), a host version of the likely dead Elsie Hughes will be promoted to Lowe’s position.