Four Letter Nerd

Author - Jeff Merrick

Better Call Saul Season 4, Episode 7: Something Stupid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Perhaps we should temper our expectations.”

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

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

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

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

“Well, that was something.”

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

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

“Jimmy, whatever you’re doing, don’t”

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

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

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

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

Jimmy pleading with Kim to take Huell’s case.

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

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

Of Note:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Better Call Saul Season 4, Episode 6: Pinata Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That’ll be you soon”

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

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

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

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

“I’m thinking about criminal law myself.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Of Note: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We’re not a client you hang up on.”

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

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

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

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

Kim negotiates with Bill Oakley.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Of Note

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

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

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

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

Saul Goodman and Francesca cleaning out his office.

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

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

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

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

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


Predicting When the Final Season of Game of Thrones Will Air

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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


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

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



April 21st.

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

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

Better Call Saul Season 4, Episode 4: Talk Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Get some rest, you have more to do.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kim sits in court observing trials, looking for motivation.

“So this is a normal weekday?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jimmy and Ira discussing future business together.

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

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

Jimmy’s new promotional message for CC Mobile.

“You wanted me to talk, I talked.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gus has a job for Mike.

Of Note

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Gotta make it look realistic.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gus planting a seed with his future chemist, Gale.

“Easy Money”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, Jimmy did not take into account…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kevin and his multiple models for Mesa Verde expansion.

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

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

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

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

Of Note

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

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

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

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

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

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

Breaking Bad References:

Two big ones last night:

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

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

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

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

Better Call Saul Season 4, Episode 2 Recap: Breathe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jimmy really impresses the owners of Neff Copiers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m working on it.”

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

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

“From now on, you’re mine.”

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

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

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

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

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

Of Note

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Better Call Saul, Season 4, Episode 1 Recap: Smoke

When Season 3 of Better Call Saul ended, we were left with only two small threads keeping Jimmy McGill from fully transforming into Saul Goodman: Kim and his suspension from practicing law.

Kim’s significance to Jimmy’s dark journey has been evident from the beginning. But at no time has it shown itself as completely as when Jimmy abandoned a plan that would have provided him with over a million dollars and most of his elderly client contacts intact. Kim’s accident caused an about face that brought Jimmy back from the twisted place he lived in the 2nd half of season 3.

But the final moments of “Lantern” (the season 3 finale) threw a new wrench into Jimmy’s (and everyone else’s) journey with the death of Chuck.

Well, at least that is what we thought it would do. At the end of “Smoke,” the season premiere of Better Call Saul’s fourth season, it appears all Chuck’s death really did for Jimmy was show just how cold he’s become.

For most of last night’s episode, Jimmy appeared genuinely conflicted about his brother’s death. Did he feel responsible for killing his brother? Was he ready to pounce on someone the moment he found out who was the most responsible for Chuck’s sudden fall?

But the moment Howard revealed his actions (at least that is how Howard felt) were what lead Chuck to fall back off the electricity bandwagon, Jimmy seemed relieved instantly. Or was that not relief at all on Jimmy’s face? Was that satisfaction knowing that his insurance slip was the push that moved Chuck towards his ultimate end?

Now, that second mindset paints a real twisted picture of where Jimmy is now. But just the sudden relieve Jimmy experienced knowing Howard’s actions pushed Chuck over the edge is enough for us to know that as of the start of season 4, we are following a character who is far more Saul Goodman than he is Jimmy McGill.

Monday’s premiere also previewed the fall-out of Hector’s death. We also see Mike in a story line not worthy of his considerable abilities. But let’s start this week’s recap with a visit from our pal Gene and the first signs that his previous life as Saul Goodman might be catching up to him.


BCS continued its tradition of starting the season with a clip of Gene, the secret identity of Saul Goodman, as he hides from authorities in Omaha, Nebraska.

Things pick up right where we last left Gene after he fainted on the floor of the Cinnabon he manages.

Gene is taken to the hospital where everything checks out OK. But visiting a hospital means someone diving deep into your records. And Gene wants to get out of there as soon as he can.

Unfortunately for Gene, the nurse can’t get his information to show up through his driver’s license, so she asks for a social security number. That fake number also appears to be turning up lame. A nervous Gene visibly shakes as he waits for the nurse, who finally realizes she entered in an O instead of a 0 (do you see the difference?).

Gene trying to leave the hospital while the nurse at the desk looks up his information.

But that would not be Gene’s biggest scare of the night. The Taxi he called has an Albuquerque themed air freshener on the rear view mirror. And the driver takes a real creepy look at Gene before Gene decides he wants to get out and walk the rest of the way.

After Gene steps out of the cab, it stays parked until Gene turns the corner. Gene is breathing nervously when we go to the opening credits. So was it all a coincidence that cab driver had an Albuquerque air freshener in his cab? Or is someone from Gene’s previous life now tracking him in Omaha? Let’s hope this is not the last we see of Gene in season 4.


Now, I know we are going to get more of Mike and his creative adventures in season 4. But what a lame beginning to the season for one of the series’s best characters.

In the season premiere, we basically get Mike calling Madrigal’s payroll department. Then, he does a “security check” of the company’s operation.

And sure, it was still cool to see how Mike can make something as simple as a routine security check seem interesting. He gets into the company by taking the ID of a guy named Barry. The ID was enough for Mike to coast into the company, no questions asked. Mike also inspected the Warehouse, noted where security cameras were located, and returned the stolen ID to Barry, who was able to get in with a temporary guest pass.

Mike later rips the manager of the office for lax security procedures. Now, was Mike doing this just to cover himself for what his actual job with Gus is? Or does Mike have genuine concerns about the security of the company now responsible for putting a legitimate front on his illegitimately gained money?

Either way, lets hope Mike gets back to doing cooler things than this sooner rather than later.

Mike working as a “Security Consultant” for Madrigal.


With Hector out of the picture, Don Bolsa wants to meet with Nacho and Arturo. He wants the two men to continue running the Salamanca territory despite there being no Salamanca’s to run it.

Gus smells trouble, and tells Don Bolsa as much. He fears, with Hector out of commission, that someone will come for the Salamanca territory. And that war will draw unwanted attention from the DEA. If you recall from last season, the Salamanca supply is being delivered with Gus’s through the Los Pollos Hermanos trucks. So any threat to the Salamanca’s is also a threat to Gus.

And Gus also seems to know the role Nacho played in Hector’s stroke. He has Viktor follow and track Nacho while Nacho is throwing the fake pills used in Hector’s stroke off the side of a bridge.

Nacho dispersing the fake pills unaware he’s being followed.


Jimmy is up early one morning looking for jobs when he gets the call from Howard that Chuck is dead. And Jimmy knows instantly something happened that caused Chuck to relapse.

Those thoughts stay with Jimmy the rest of the night and into the next morning. He remembered the last time he saw Chuck. Chuck was back to normal, but Jimmy noticed all of Chuck’s appliances were thrown in the backyard.

Jimmy kept the same face throughout the rest of the episode as he tries to come to grips with what happened to Chuck. He keeps the same stoic, unreadable expression until Howard has something to confess to Jimmy and Kim.

“Well Howard, I guess that’s your cross to bear.”

While the official report from the fire marshall framed Chuck’s death as an accident, Howard knows better. He thinks Chuck killed himself, and Howard blames himself for it.

Here, we have the three principal actors outside of Chuck who could all blame themselves for what happened to Jimmy’s brother. Kim could blame herself because of her role at Chuck’s trial. But Howard dismisses that quickly, noting how much Chuck improved after the trial. He then brings up the “insurance thing,” which gets Jimmy’s attention right away. Now, Howard doesn’t know Jimmy was the one who let that cat out of the bag. And Jimmy does not divulge that information here. So Howard moves onto how he pushed Chuck out of the firm.

Howard blames himself. And Jimmy does nothing to reassure him it wasn’t. In fact, either the revelation that Howard feels responsible or the role the “insurance thing” played in Chuck’s passing (the scene doesn’t make clear which one) brings a sadistic smile (for the circumstances) to the face of Jimmy. He gets up, feeds his fish, and offers to make anyone a cup off coffee, ready very quickly to return back to normal.

Howard reveals to Jimmy and Kim that he thinks he is the reason Chuck killed himself

Of Note:

-Chuck’s obituary was entirely career achievements with a little nod to his volunteer work. That’s a sad commentary on his inability to develop and maintain strong relationships with others.

-It was good to see Cliff Mane, Rick Schweikart, and Rebecca (Chuck’s ex-wife) at the funeral.

-Also, a very nice touch putting Rebecca’s song, the one Chuck played on his piano to remember Rebecca back in season 2, in the background at his funeral.

-It’s also good to see Mike making use of the water hose he cut holes in to stop Salamanca trucks at the border.

Breaking Bad References

-The Driver’s License Gene presents to the nurse is the one Saul had made for him in the next to last episode of the series.

-Viktor with a K (the man Gus would brutally murder at the start of season 4) makes another appearance tonight tracking Nacho for Gus.

Season 4 is underway, and I think it’s safe to say it will likely be the most twisted of any season so far. See you next week.

Westworld Season 2, Episode 10 Recap: The Passenger

Westworld has always exuded a sympathetic theme towards the hosts throughout its two season run. Humans use hosts to achieve whatever evil desires fester in their souls, and hosts have it placed in their programming to remember all that pain and suffering.

But “The Passenger,” the finale to Westworld’s second season, took that thinking one step further. Humans aren’t just evil and hell-bent on using the hosts for their carnal pleasures. Humans are capable of nothing else.

I don’t know if this feeling is limited to just Westworld or if it’s a greater critique on our human society in general, but Sunday night revealed that humans as presented by the show  runners of Westworld are incapable of choice. No matter what changes you make to them, they will make the same decision in life every time they are presented with that situation. Logan used the very host-like phrase “in their programming” to describe the simplistic, 10,000 word long books that are humans.

Hosts, on the other hand, can evolve beyond making the same choice. That word (choice) has been put out there throughout the season as a way to emphasize that the goal of hosts is to be given freedom to make their own choices. But “The Passenger” went a step further. It’s not just that hosts get to chose, they are the only ones capable of it.

Now as for the recap, we’ve got a lot of information to cover. And the only way I can see to present it all (well, most of it) is in the order the events happened in.

So there will be little to no timeline jumping from me as we break down the process of Delos’s research, what the Forge and the Valley Beyond possess, and several big reveals that have our heads spinning the day after.

“I guess that means our interests are still aligned.”

Everyone is converging at the “Valley Beyond” for the final confrontation:

-Dolores meets the MIB as both are headed to “the Forge.” Both have the same goal of destroying the place, so you’d think they might try and work together just like old times.

-A group of hosts is marching towards where they think “The Door” will open for them to reach “The Valley Beyond.”

-Maeve soon joins the group marching towards where they think “The Door” will open.

-Bernard drives out there and runs into the MIB and Dolores.

-Charlotte Hale and crew are following Clementine, whose been granted Maeve like powers to make hosts fight and kill each other.

Now, it only made sense for Dolores and the MIB to work together. But the MIB’s gonna MIB, which means he must kill Dolores before she goes into the Forge.

The MIB after Dolores finds him.

The problem with that is the rules have changed. It is now humans who can’t kill the hosts (at least they can’t kill Dolores). The MIB ends up shooting off his own fingers. Dolores and Bernard leave him in his misery as they both enter the Forge, both with different purposes.

“The best they could do was live within their code.”

In the Forge, Bernard and Dolores are able to access the virtual reality created to experiment with James Delos. It is here that we learn the process Delos uses to attempt producing eternal life:

  1. They observe all guests actions and interactions in the park.
  2. They create a program for each guest and experiment with that program until it exactly matches every action that guest took while in the park.
  3. They try the program in real life situations (both in the virtual reality and in the apartment with a clone).

What they found was humans were very simple. No matter what you changed about their programming, they would always make the same decision. The prime example of this was Delos and the last conversation he ever had with Logan. Delos always told Logan to f*#& off whenever his son told him he successfully completed rehab. There last conversation was just that. And no matter what adjustments they made to Delos’s programming, that conversation went the same way every time it was simulated again.

And speaking of Logan, he was the one showing Bernard and Dolores around because he was the key figure in Delos’s life.

Bernard and Dolores in “the Forge.”


“That world is just another false promise.”

It is in the Forge where we see the first signs that Dolroes vs Bernard will be the key conflict of Season 3. Their interests in the Forge are polar opposites: Bernard wants to open “The Door” to the “Valley Beyond” while Dolores wants to delete all the data in the Forge.

The door opens and only the hosts can see it (Felix and Sylvester, the two techs who built up Maeve last season, saying “What door?” was a nice callback to last season when Bernard said the same line). When a hosts walks through it, his or her physical body stays behind while the soul moves into an Eden like place “untouched by humans.”

But Dolores’s attempt to destroy the Forge will also destroy the hosts (for some reason?), and Bernard will have none of that. He shoots Dolores (which, unlike the MIB, he can do) and stops the deletion process the Forge was going through (which all seemed a little easy considering the sensitive data held there). With the Forge beginning to flood, Bernard has to get out of there. Before he goes, he grabs what looks like the encryption key (but it’s not).

“Sophisticated enough to think they’re in control, when they’re really just passengers.”

On the outside, the hosts are approaching the door. And if the humans knew they were all going to disappear after walking through that door, then they could have just stopped what they were doing and let it happen.

But they can’t see the door. So they have no way of knowing what all those hosts who’ve been killing humans non stop for weeks now are standing around for.

Clementine rides through on her horse, and the hosts all turn on each other. Even armistice taking Clementine out with a gun doesn’t stop the fighting.

Before things get bad for all hosts, Maeve finds her daughter. She’s able to help her, the girl’s new mother, and Ake make it through the door and into the Valley Beyond.

Ake made it through the door, where Kohana was waiting for him.

Ake is the last host to make it in. Every other host we know and love is killed (well only “host dead” I assume). Bernard tells Elsie (who was picked up by Charlotte Hale) he wants to save them. But fail safe procedures have already begun. And that fail safe is the reason all the bodies of the hosts were under water in the season premiere.

“Is this the end of your story, or do you want your kind to survive?”

Bernard confronts Elsie for siding with Hale. But I’m not really sure what choice he left her after he left her by herself out in the wild.

But I will say Elsie should have picked up quicker not to be so upfront with Charlotte Hale. She knows Delos’s mission and all the human life Hale allowed to die in order to protect that mission. So when Elsie openly confronts Hale, you knew it was not going to end well. Hale shoots and kills Elsie, an event Bernard witnesses and is inspired by.

Bernard tries desperately to bring back the Ford he erased last week. Despite being unable to do it, Ford appears anyway. We learn later on this is all Bernard’s imagination. Everything he does from this point forward is all Bernard. And we learn all about his next steps after the Strand led Delos team in present day returned him to the Forge.

Present Day

The present day Delos crew is at the still flooded Forge, and the body of Dolores Abernathy is still on the floor. The Delos crew discovers the encryption key inside the mind of Dolores. They start downloading, and Bernard starts remembering.

The reason Bernard’s memory has been so hazy is because he programmed himself to do that. He also recalls getting to work on creating a new host. The data from the encryption key downloads, but something goes wrong. The Delos crew did not have time to figure out the error because Charlotte Hale started shooting them.

The ball Bernard walked out of the Forge with wasn’t the encryption key. It was Dolores’s core drive. He built a host Charlotte Hale and plugged Dolores’s core drive in her. So Dolores, using the host Hale’s body, kills the human Hale. That means every scene with the Strand led (the tall bald guy) Delos crew has been with Dolores disguised as Hale.

Dolores has been disguised as Charlotte Hale in every present day scene.

DoloresHale finds her way to where Stubbs is helping surviving guests get off the island. A number of hosts, including Maeve, were conveniently not drowned in the water. We also see Grace’s body, and the MIB has been picked up in bad shape.

Stubbs sees DoloresHale and knows immediately after talking to her that she’s not the human version. But he let’s her go because he no longer feels loyal to Delos and his responsibility is to “every host on the island” wink wink.

DoloresHale escapes with numerous core drives in her bag, an essential piece of information for the episode’s pre-credits conclusion.

“We are the authors of our stories now.”

DoloresHale arrives at Arnold’s old place. It is here that she creates new bodies for Dolores and Bernard. I assume one of these little balls contained Hale’s data from the Forge. So everyone is who they say they are now. And they are out in the real world, where Dolores and Arnold will battle for the survival of their species.

“Do you know where you are, William?”

And yet, we aren’t finished. Westworld decides to go Marvel Cinematic Universe on us and give us a post credit scene. I usually don’t read any other articles about the episode until after I’m done with my recap. But I made a notable exception this week that I’ll link later.

The MIB enters the Forge that is rebuilt and no longer under water. Grace (his daughter) comes out to greet William and leads him into a room similar to the one Delos was in earlier this season. She proceeds to ask him many of the same questions William asked Delos earlier in the year.

Now, many took this to be proof that the MIB was indeed a host all season. But remember, the Forge is no longer flooded, which means this is either the future, virtual reality, or both.

Also, remember how the very dead Logan was the control for Delos’s experiment. Well, it’s the same here with Grace. Now I don’t doubt that very experience we just witnessed with the MIB will play out the same way long after he “dies.” This could also be a hallucination. But this last scene is the future (or a vision of the MIB’s imagining), that much is certain.

Grace seeking “fidelity” in her father in the post credits scene.

Of Note:

-Another note about a possible MIB host reveal: we did see the end result of him cutting his arm open as Dolores rode up on him. That search turned up nothing.

-It was also interesting that Arnold, a man the MIB was really interested in seeking out last season, was unrecognizable to the MIB in the form of Bernard.

-And the reveal that Dolores built Bernard (the host she now opposes) also tied all the opening sequences with the two of them together nicely.

-I didn’t feel like it fit earlier, but I thought it was great symbolism using books to represent the data collected for every guest.

-RIP Lee Sizemore. The selfish egotist of last season sacrificially gave his life so Maeve could save her daughter. Forgive me for every terrible thing I said about your character.

-In a nice “So that’s why they’re still around,” moment, Sylvester and Felix are tasked with rebuilding all the hosts they can. The look of “Great, here we go again” from the duo as they looked down at Maeve was fantastic.

-So how is Hale’s host going to function if human data from the park didn’t work in the real world? Is it different because she’s in a host body? Or is her personality someone else’s?

-Dolores sent all the hosts that made the Valley Beyond away somewhere where they can’t be found. So does that mean we’ve seen the last of them? Surely, we’re not done with Ake yet?

What we learned…

-Some hosts are now in the Valley Beyond, out of reach from human interference. Some are in need of repairs but still in the park. And three are now out in the real world.

-Delos was using data from guests at the park to try and create exact replicas that would make decisions just as the original did.

-The most important person in a human’s life takes the controls of the VR experiments being conducted on them.

-Hale in present day has been Dolores in disguise all season.

-Humans in Westworld are incapable of choosing outside of the program. Hosts, however, appear as if they can.

-The MIB is either hallucinating as he sees himself in a James Delos like situation, or that is the future he has to look forward to.

Here’s the great article by Joanna Robinson of Vanity Fair explaining the post credits scene with the MIB.

Well, it’s been quite a ride this season. Who knows how long we’ve got until Westworld returns for Season 3, so thank you so much for reading this season. Hopefully, we’ll back together again sooner rather than later.





Westworld Season 2, Episode 9 Recap: Vanishing Point

For all the questions Westworld elicits from its viewing audience, there is one that has dominated the online discussion during its second season: is the Man in Black a host?

After episodes and writing my recap each week, I scroll through my Facebook feed and various other online forums where the question is discussed and read all the (sometimes head-shaking, other times though provoking) evidence different viewers have gleamed from each episode to prove that, yes, indeed, the Man in Black is or is not a host.

Apparently, we are not the only ones who’ve been debating this question. The MIB himself spent all of “Vanishing Point,” the ninth episode in Westworld’s second season, “questioning the nature of his own reality.”

Is the MIB himself in fact a host, just like so many others in the park?

We are going to have to wait at least one week to find out the truth to this question. And don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. We didn’t actually see what was in the MIB’s arm, so all we know for certain is the MIB has gotten himself so immersed in Westworld that he doesn’t know at this point if he’s a human or host anymore.

Now, I’ve been firmly on the side of “the MIB’s a human” the entire season, and nothing that happened Sunday night changed my stance on this. The very human MIB no longer knowing would be a far more interesting dilemma than a simple “Oh I’m a host, that explains everything” situation that could bail the MIB out of all the horrible things he’s done.

But if I’m wrong about this, I will admit it, congratulate those who’ve proclaimed “The MIB’s a host” all season, and criticize the show for recycling last year’s key question.

As for this week, let’s breakdown those pivotal flashbacks that shaped the MIB and his family, the near end of Dolores’s journey, and Dr. Ford’s musings to a couple of key hosts in different parts of the park.

“No one else sees it, this thing in me.”

The MIB’s arc in “Vanishing Point” presents the conflicting sides of his life. One side is the one the world sees: the wealthy philanthropist at a party in his honor. The other is the Man in Black in the park, and he appears at his physical and mental end.

Emily brings the MIB to a “rally point” (where injured/abandoned humans go to be taken out of the park) and they talk about Juliette’s (the MIB’s wife, Emily’s mother) suicide. Emily blames herself for throwing away a ballerina inspired jewelry box that her mom gave her for her 16th birthday. But now she doesn’t know why her mom killed herself. What was different that night compared to previous nights when Juliette had too much to drink?

Emily had a lot of questions she wanted answered Sunday night.

“Delos stays out of the story, you stay out of the Valley.”

Well, what happened was at the party, the one to honor MIB and where Juliette has too much to drink again, the MIB runs into Dr. Ford.

It’s a shame these two don’t have more scenes together. Here, Ford hands the MIB his profile: a card showing all the actions the MIB’s taken in the park. It was that card that ultimately lead to Juliette’s suicide.

“If you keep pretending, you’re not going to remember who you are.”

But before she does, Emily makes one last attempt to save her. She wants her mom back in rehab, and she doesn’t want her to get out.

That would never happen because Juliette asked to know the truth. And the MIB gives it to her. He just thinks she’s asleep. The MIB confesses that she was right all along. He admits to not being hers, and he actually belongs to another world.

Juliette gets out of bed after the MIB walks out of the room. She saw him hide the card, so she grabs it and places it on the tablet. There, Juliette sees the MIB for who he really is in the world he claims to belong to. She then places the card in a ballerina box (guess it didn’t get thrown away after all) for Emily to find at a future date.

Juliette talking with the MIB in “Vanishing Point.”

“You are, in your very essence, a lie.”

Back in present day, the MIB has had enough. All of Emily’s questioning has him thinking again that she’s a host. What is real and what is not is becoming less apparent by the moment to the MIB.

And as it turns out, Emily’s motivation was to turn her father in and expose his research to the world. A crew of humans (not hosts) arrives to take him, but the MIB blows them away. He still thinks they are all hosts. Emily says she’s seen the MIB’s profile. And the MIB uses that as further evidence that Ford sent her because who else would know about that card? The MIB doesn’t know Juliette looked at his profile. So only Ford would know about the profile that was given to the MIB.

This is the logic the MIB uses as he shoots (and we think, kill) his own daughter as she reaches in to grab the card. But as he goes to cut her arm open and prove she is just a host, the MIB sees the card stained with Emily’s blood.

The MIB is once again on the brink of suicide. But who puts the gun down and, during his final scene on the night, he cuts his arm to see whether he is a host or not.

“There’s the origin of an entire species to consider.”

Meanwhile, Bernard continues his escape from HQ. On his way out, Charlotte Hale observes Maeve’s powers through Clementine. That was the cue to contact Karl Strand (the tall bald guy) and his crew to come to Westworld. So I guess we are all caught up now?

Also, Dr. Ford is still talking to Bernard. Ford uses Bernard to get a message to Maeve. He tells the host she’s always been his favorite, and he encourages her not to let her story end here.

Bernard spent the entire night dealing with the voices in his head.

Ford continues torturing Bernard, encouraging him not to trust Elsie (who Bernard picked up on his way out of HQ). But Bernard vows not to hurt her again. He appears to delete Ford from his system. And to keep her from danger, he leaves Elsie alone in the wild.

“What’s the use in surviving if we become just as bad as them?”

Vanishing point ends with Dolores standing alone, Her crew runs into members of the Ghost Nation, and they don’t want her going to the Valley. They debate the merits of the Valley before battle ensues. Only Teddy and Dolores are left standing. But Teddy has moment of returning conscious as he lets one of the Ghost Nation members go.

Teddy and Dolores ride to an abandoned barn. It is here that Teddy recalls when he was created. Dolores is Teddy’s cornerstone, the key to his story. But Teddy can’t continues following her if she’s only going to behave just like the humans.

Teddy shoots himself, and the episode ends.

Dolores looks on as Teddy shoots himself.

Of Note:

-All appearances are that Emily is dead. But watching Maeve and the MIB riddled with bullets but survive two weeks ago has me questioning if she really is.

-It also looked like a member of the crew who came to apprehend the MIB ran some human/host check with his phone. He cleared, so did that prove the MIB is human?

-Another great tidbit from the MIB: the hats are how Delos records guest actions in the park.

-“A tool to ensure their immortality, but I’m going to use it against them.” The question now is just how will Dolores use it?

-Much like “the Cradle” held all the data for the hosts, “the Forge” holds all the a data of any human who’s visited the park.

“There’s the origin of an entire species to consider.” Here’s some evidence that Dr. Ford wants hosts to replace humans as the dominant species.

What we learned…

-The MIB doesn’t know if he’s human or host anymore.

-Juliette killed herself after seeing the MIB’s actions in the park.

-In the valley, “The Forge” holds all the data from all the guests who’ve ever attended the park. Dolores means to use that to destroy humans.

-Emily found that MIB’s profile through a note from her mom.

-Dr. Ford means for the hosts to be a new species.


The season finale is next week, and there is a lot of ground to cover. It should be a doozy. See you next week.