Four Letter Nerd

Author - Jeff Merrick

Better Call Saul Season 3, Episode 10: Lantern Recap

Every time I watch an episode of “Better Call Saul,” I try to think of an overarching theme that connects all the events occurring. And for most of the night, “Lantern’s” central theme was just how strong the bond is between Jimmy and Kim.

After “Fall”, I really thought cracks would start to appear. But Kim’s wreck seemed to only strengthen the bond between the two. It also showed that, for all the steps Jimmy has taken towards the dark side this season, there’s still some humanity left in the future Saul Goodman.

Even Hector’s collapse didn’t steer my focus from how close Jimmy and Kim remained at the end of Season 3’s finale.

Then, Chuck knocked over that lantern.

Arrogant Chuck, who pushed everyone out of his life with a false confidence that finally gave way to pure madness.

For all the hatred Chuck held for Jimmy, it seemed his relationship with his brother and his status at HHM kept him anchored. The madness was always there, but Chuck’s contacts in the outside world kept it contained.

But once those ties were severed (and both largely thanks to Chuck himself), the box holding in Chuck’s madness burst open, culminating with Chuck burning himself alive.

We didn’t get official confirmation that Chuck is dead, but I do not see how he survived. And now, Jimmy, Kim, and Howard must wrestle with the part they played in unleashing the madman.

I’ll go over Jimmy, Kim and Chuck’s stories later. But let’s start with another huge occurrence in the season 3 finale: the birth of Hector “Ding Ding” Salamanca.

“I Don’t Trust Him”

Hector’s placebo pills have yet to kick in, so Nacho must allow the meeting with his dad to proceed. And Nacho’s father does not hide his disdain for Hector.

Hector “Shallow” Salamanca thinks he can just throw money at anyone and they will be on board. Principled people are not something Hector understands. So when Nacho’s father refuses to accept the bribe (though Nacho eventually talks him into accepting), Hector’s response is “I don’t trust him” (translation: He needs to be killed so I can take over his business).

This “partnership” seems destined to end with the death of Nacho’s father. But it doesn’t appear like that will be happening now.

Hector and Nacho’s father discuss “business” as Nacho mediates.

Hector’s Going to the Wheelchair!!!

This is the only time in my life I expect to ever put exclamation points behind the word wheelchair. But before we get to the big event, we need to review of couple of subtle observations from this iconic scene.

The first is Nacho’s reason for being there. Hector’s fake pills aren’t working (at least not yet). And Nacho has no way of knowing when they will work, meaning Hector could take out Nacho’s dad before succumbing to his condition.

So Nacho decided to speed the process up and take Hector out himself. He’s tailing Hector and is ready to barge in with a gun and take the Don out when another car pulls up.

The second observation comes from Nacho’s reaction to that second car. Two of Hector’s henchmen get out of the car and believe Nacho has received a text message about a meeting taking place here. Nacho nods his head yes, but clearly was not aware this meeting was happening. Why was Nacho kept out of the loop about a meeting between Hector and Gus?

Gus and Don Bolsa pull up in a third car. Bolsa puts the kibosh on Hector’s upholstery truck plans. There will only be one route used to transport drugs across the border: Gus’s chicken trucks.

Hector’s response is exactly what you’d expect. Hector has felt disrespected all season and it all comes to head right here.

When his heart starts acting crazy again, Hector reaches for and takes some pills, but they have no affect this time. Salamanca falls, hitting his head hard on the pavement.

As Gus is performing chest compressions and 911 is called, Nacho takes the opportunity to scoop up Hector’s pill bottle. Later, when the paramedic asks if Hector was on any medications, Nacho hands her his pill bottle which, we can assume, is filled with the proper pills again.

Hector is taken away in an ambulance, his life forever altered.

Hector is hauled into the ambulance after his collapse.

“I Am Gonna Fix Things.”

Kim’s ER visit had none of the negative affects I figured it would. Instead, it produced only positives for both Kim and Jimmy.

Kim realizes she’s doing too much. So she drops Gatwood Oil as a client, pushes all her meetings this week to next week, makes a run to Blockbuster (the original “Netflix and chill”), and takes some much deserved time to rest.

Kim resting at home while Jimmy considers what he should do next.

The rest of Jimmy’s episode is spent trying to rectify everything he’s done wrong in season 3. He makes arrangements with Kim to move out of their nice office, tries to make things right with Chuck (more on that later), and works to reunite Irene with her friends.

“How Do You Trust Someone Who Bends Anyway the Wind is Blowing?”

When Jimmy goes to visit an unhappy Irene, he’s surprised to learn her friends are still upset with her. Jimmy’s con last week was so effective that Irene’s friends, despite Jimmy’s best efforts, still don’t believe she’s anything but a selfish, greedy bitch.

So Jimmy comes up with a scheme that will have permanent consequences. First, he takes over the instructor spot in chair yoga. Then, he calls in Erin from Davis and Mane (remember her, Jimmy’s babysitter from last season) to “confront” him for what he did last week.

Jimmy leads chair yoga as a part of his scheme to reunite Irene and her friends.

Jimmy leaves the microphone on so everyone in the yoga room can hear Jimmy confess to manipulating Irene and her friends so he could get his greedy hands on the settlement money.

Everyone is walking out disgusted when Jimmy reenters. Irene leaves reunited with her friends, but all of them now hate Jimmy for his betrayal.

So while Jimmy’s scheme worked to reunite Irene with her friends, it also dealt a permanent blow to Jimmy’s chances of working with the elderly when he resumes practicing law.

Chuck’s Last Day

Did anyone else think a long legal battle with the future of HHM at stake was in the cards? Well, Howard squashed that possibility in the first 20 minutes of the finale. Howard gives Chuck a check for $3 million (the first of 3 payments all from Howard’s personal funds) and gathers all the employees at HHM to bid Chuck farewell.

“The Truth is You’ve Never Really Mattered All That Much to Me.”

After his firing from HHM, Chuck must next deal with a conversation from his brother, the first the two have had since the hearing midseason. And never has that smug attitude Chuck carries around been more evident than his likely last conversation with his brother.

I go back and forth on Chuck’s role in Jimmy becoming Saul. Is Chuck the reason Jimmy becomes Saul Goodman, or was Chuck able to see the direction Jimmy was heading in and wise to warn people of his brother’s inevitable conversion?

Well, I will be firmly in the former column on this question all offseason. Chuck’s clear message to Jimmy is don’t bother apologizing. You are what you are, so just embrace it.

Chuck in what is likely the last conversation he’ll be having with Jimmy.

Chuck appeared to be a fully functioning asshole when Jimmy left. All the lights are on and Chuck appears as confident as ever. But that all turns out to be a façade. And with everyone who cares for him out of his life, that disguise comes crashing down.


That night, Chuck gives up. He shuts down all the breakers. He cancels his scheduled appointment with Dr. Cruz. He removes every light bulb from every lamp and chandelier in the house.

But Chuck notices that something is still running electricity. So he removes all the outlets. He punches holes in every wall, desperately reaching for wiring that could be that one remaining source. Still unable to find the source, Chuck takes a baseball bat and hammers away at the Kwh box outside his home.

This is the madness Chuck’s been harboring all these years. While he’s always appeared crazy, there was still a sense of control. But as the finale entered its final scene, Chuck’s house had been torn apart by a lunatic.

Chuck sits there shivering in his space blanket with a lantern sitting on the coffee table across from him. Chuck kicks the table gradually, slowly pushing the lantern to falling into vast amounts of paperwork surrounding the table.

The lantern falls, hits the ground, and sets the living room Chuck is sitting in on fire.

Of Note

-Did Rebecca leave Chuck after a similar conversation to the one he had with Jimmy? And after Chuck’s pompous ass apologized for nothing, did he turn off the lights to cope with the guilt?

-I knew how Howard was desperate to be rid of Chuck. But I did not know he was “spend and borrow $3 million to make it happen” desperate.

-It also appears the Sandpiper case will be reopened now that Irene knows what Jimmy was doing, meaning no money for Jimmy just yet.

-I wonder what impact Kim keeping Jimmy’s rolodex will have in the future.

-Kim mentioned getting only 6 hours of sleep for the week that she got into the wreck.

-So we’ll all have to take a break from Francesca until she and Jimmy/Saul cross paths again.

-I wonder how much more, if any, of the teen Chuck/young Jimmy relationship we’ll get to see in future seasons.

-Did we seriously just have a season finale without Mike? I understand why they didn’t (wasn’t a lot of room for much else), but something just doesn’t seem right about that.

-And what was the purpose of Mike finding that body in the desert two episodes ago?

So now, the big question moving forward is how will Jimmy, Kim, and Howard all handle their respective roles in Chuck’s assumed death.

Thank you so much for checking out my recaps this season. And I look forward to seeing you all back here again when I recap the fourth season of “Better Call Saul.”






Better Call Saul Season 3, Episode 9: Fall Recap

For all “Better Call Saul’s” seemingly random one word episode names, no episode title better represented the events in the hour it’s named for as “Fall,” the penultimate episode of “Better Call Saul’s” 3rd season.

And no man is more responsible than Jimmy McGill for the fall of so many last night. Or should we start calling him Saul Goodman now? Because Jimmy’s actions in “Fall” are as despicable as any act (with the exception of poisoning Brock) Saul commits in “Breaking Bad.”

Jimmy’s wrath helped take down a prestigious law firm (at least that is where things appear to be headed with Chuck and Howard), a sweet old lady’s final years, and a bad ass lawyer’s career.

Well, maybe that last paragraph was a little dramatic. Irene could still salvage her friendships with the ladies at Sandpiper. And Kim may still have a long career practicing law ahead of her (at least I sure hope she does). But the point is we are finally starting to see the carnage we’ve long expected to follow Jimmy McGill as he follows the dark path to becoming Saul Goodman.

We’ll get to everything laid waste by Jimmy in just a bit. But let’s start with one fall this episode that the future Saul Goodman had nothing to do with.

“The Salamanca’s?”

Last week, Nacho set into motion a plan to kill Hector “Ding Ding” Salamanca by replacing the man’s heart pills with fakes. And during a meeting with Gus (more on that later), Hector has another episode where he must take pills. The Placebo Effect appears to be at work here as the fake pills seem to work just like the real ones. We’ll see how long that lasts.

But Nacho’s mission this week may have been tougher than last week’s as Nacho informed his father that Hector was coming to talk to him.

The late-night dinner table conversation revealed much about the seemingly good relationship between father and son. We learn that Nacho’s father is aware that his son has been a drug dealer (though he doesn’t appear to realize how long Nacho’s been back in the game). We also learn that Nacho’s father knows who Hector Salamanca is.

Nacho meets with his father to discuss Hector’s upcoming proposal.

Nacho tells his dad to do whatever Hector asks because the situation will be taken care of. Then, Nacho’s father sternly asks his son to get out of the house.

“This Is Not What Fine Looks Like”

Meanwhile, over at the law firm of Hamlin, Hamlin, McGill, Howard and Chuck met with representatives from Santa Rosa, the liability insurance company Jimmy met with two weeks ago and spilled the beans to about Chuck’s condition.

Santa Rosa not only wants to raise Chuck’s premiums, they want to raise premiums on every attorney at HHM. Howard wants a deal, while Chuck wants to sue.

Howard and Chuck meeting with representatives from Santa Rosa.

The threat of a lawsuit sends the Santa Rosa representatives away. But Howard is not through with Chuck. He wants the elder McGill to retire, and it’s not a suggestion. Chuck insists he’s fine, picking up a lamp like the crazed pyscho he is and showing Howard just how “normal” he is now. But Howard insists. Of course, Howard still wants to keep the McGill name on the firm and the money owed Chuck should his name be removed.

“You Think I’m Trouble as Your Partner? Imagine Me as Your Enemy.”

Chuck’s response is to sue Howard and HHM. This discussion was first had in the very first episode of “Better Call Saul” when Jimmy tore up a check Howard sent to Chuck. Jimmy wanted HHM to release Chuck and pay him a third of what the firm was worth. At the time, Chuck was reluctant to do that because it would sink the firm and cost many their jobs.

Now, Chuck has no such issues seeing those people suffer. He’s either going to receive the share Jimmy pushed for back in season 1, or he’s going to sue for it. Chuck also reveals the $8 million (so it’s just 8 million now?) he’s owed is a bill the firm cannot afford to pay.


Now onto Jimmy’s story, which takes us back to the Sandpiper case that launched Jimmy a stretch as a very successful lawyer.

With all the financial concerns he and Kim are having at Wexler, McGill, Jimmy decides it’s time to push for a settlement in the case so he can go ahead and receive the percentage he’s entitled to.

Jimmy meets with Irene Landry, the old lady whose bills revealed to the younger McGill the corruption at Sandpiper. She reveals (and a little too freely with the legal council she received) that Davis and Mane are advising her not to accept Sandpiper’s current offer. Irene then shows Jimmy (once again Irene, a little too free with sharing the legal council you received) the amount of that offer.

Jimmy does the math in his head and figures out that, if this offer is accepted, he will receive $1,160,000.

“You’ll Get Your Damn Money, You’re Just Going to Have to Wait For It.”

Jimmy’s first attempt to push for a settlement is with Howard. And, well Howard is in no mood to entertain Jimmy in the parking garage of HHM on this day. He dismisses Jimmy’s push for a settlement as nothing more than a selfish action by Jimmy to get his money now. Of course, he’s correct. But did Howard really think he was going to make “Slippin Jimmy” wait for his “damn money?”

“Listen to Your Heart.”

Nothing shows the complete 180 happening to Jimmy McGill like the scam he runs on Irene.

The whole purpose of the Sandpiper case was to target a company that was blatantly taking advantage of the elderly. Yet, here is Jimmy taking advantage of Irene and her trust in him all so he can profit now.

The first part of the scam involves Jimmy joining the ladies of Sandpiper for mall walking. He strikes up a conversation with Irene and gives her a new pair of shoes (the same kind he’s wearing at the moment).

Step 1: Give Irene a brand new pair of walking shoes.

Then, Jimmy starts talking to Irene’s friends at Sandpiper. He sows the seeds of jealousy and resentment, questioning why Irene hasn’t accepted the settlement from Sandpiper. Though Irene is the main party, her decision to accept would benefit all of them. But she must not need the money since she just bought a new pair of shoes (brilliant but so despicable).

Step 2: Convince Irene’s friends that those shoes are a sign she’s holding out on them by not going ahead and settling the Sandpiper case.

All of Irene’s friend turn against her, setting up the last part of Jimmy’s scheme. He creates a set of rigged bingo balls, making them magnetic from the inside. When Irene enters the room to join the game, her friends continue to shun her. So she finds an empty seat in the back. Jimmy preps a new game right after Irene sits down, handing her the card that will win.

Vince Gilligan and crew are brilliant at contrasting moments. It seemed insignificant at first, but a winner was announced and applauded just as Irene sat down. But when Irene is announced as the winner, nobody claps or cheers.

Irene runs out of the room and into the hallway crying. Jimmy goes to comfort her and tells her the reason the ladies are so mad is because she hasn’t agreed to the settlement yet. Then, Jimmy tells her, “Listen to your heart” when Irene asks what she should do.

We don’t see her actually agree to settle. But Jimmy’s celebratory mood when he enters the office of Wexler McGill indicates she did. But Kim is in no mood to celebrate. She has a pressure packed presentation for a new client she rushes off to take care of.

Jimmy runs into the office to celebrate, but Kim is too busy to partake.

“Kevin Sent me a Miracle Worker.”

Season 3 has convinced me that Kim Wexler is the best and hardest working attorney on the show. It’s clear she’s done great work with Mesa Verde. But her solution for her recently added 2nd client is even better.

The man’s name is Rob Gatwood, owner of Gatwood Oil, and he has a pressing tax issue. He’s been pulling oil from both sides of the Texas/New Mexico border, and now both states want to collect taxes from him.

Kim’s solution: push for a payout with one of the states (I’m not sure which one) for diminishing resources instead of paying yearly tax revenue. It is a brilliant solution. The only problem is Kim has two weeks to get it drafted so it can be presented to whatever board needs to hear the presentation.

Kim meets with Rob Gatwood to discuss his tax issue.

“Our Troubles are Over. Come On!!!!

Kim gets the presentation together with no sleep and runs out of the office just as Jimmy declares their troubles are over (more on the irony of this statement later).

Kim is practicing what she’s going to say in her car as she’s surrounded by boxes full of files. Suddenly, her car crashes. Kim fell asleep at the wheel. Her lack of sleep this season finally caught up to her. Kim steps out of the wrecked car holding what appears to be a broken arm and stares at all the paper work spread out on the ground as the episode ends.

Of Note

-So Jimmy declares “Our Troubles are Over” the moment before what is likely the beginning of the end for his relationship with Kim?

-More symbolism from the masters of the art last night as Kim nearly runs her car into an oil rig, a little foreshadowing to her wreck at the end of the show.

-Mike was officially hired by Gus in “Fall.” His contract is for 20 weeks. He also met Lydia, and neither seems to be happy to be working with the other.

Lydia discussing Madrigal, the German company Gus’s chicken/drug empire is under, with Mike.

-The consolidated transportation Gus and Hector “agreed” to several weeks ago has been so successful that Don Eladio wants the arrangement to be permanent.

Gus and Hector listen to an announcement from Don Bolsa regarding the continuing cooperation of their respective drug trades.

-I hated Jimmy for scamming Irene, but the forethought to buy numerous pairs of shoes of all different sizes to insure he would have Irene’s shoe size was brilliant.

-Was anybody out there hoping Erin (Jimmy’s babysitter last season) would appear after Irene referenced her to Jimmy? Really? No One?

-Another nice touch by Jimmy presenting the store bought kitten cookies to Irene as if they were homemade.

-Back in season 1, Jimmy though Chuck’s share of HHM was worth $26 million. But tonight, Chuck revealed it would be worth only $8 million. Has the value of HHM diminished that much since season 1? Or has Howard been keeping the company’s true worth a secret all along?

-More fake confidence from Howard this week. After tearing up a $14,000 check last week, he throws bills at Jimmy like he’s loaded (though we know HHM has some financial problems). And then, he gets a letter from Chuck and assumes the elder McGill has decided to retire. Has Howard yet to learn that nobody ever listens to him or does what he asks on this show?


Which teetering relationship is blowing up first next week?

-Kim and Jimmy?

-Howard and Chuck?

-Nacho and the Salamancas?

-Or do they all make it still together to season 4?

I can’t believe the season finale is next week. We’ll see you then.









How the People of Nashville Became Nerds For Hockey

I became a fan of the Nashville Predators on April 11th, 2004. It wasn’t the first game I had ever been to, and I watched games on TV from time to time. But I didn’t truly become a nerd for the hockey team I love today until this day: the day I attended the Predators’ first ever home playoff game.

From that day forward, Nashville’s hockey team became one of four teams I would follow year round with a nerd-like obsession. I would no longer just be attending a game here and there when my buddies and I needed a guy’s night. I was going to learn the game, know the players, and criticize them when they weren’t playing up to my expectations (because becoming a fan or nerd about something makes you an expert regardless of your hands-on experience with the obsession).

A picture from the Predators inaugural playoff series against the once mighty Detroit Red Wings, when I became a true fan of the team.

Fast forward to today and it’s clear I’m not the only one whose experienced this transformation. For the last two months, Nashville has been the mecca of hockey. Media types and hockey personalities all over North America are raving, imploring hockey nerds everywhere to make the pilgrimage to Nashville.

Now some (including some clueless weather man from Pittsburgh) think this is all just because the local team is making a run at a championship. And some of the fever pitch can be attributed to this (because I’m sure Pittsburgh Steeler fans being everywhere has NOTHING to do with all the Super Bowls they’ve won). But the Smashville atmosphere so many are just now discovering has been building over the last decade. And it all started at the franchise’s lowest point ten years ago.

New Ownership, New Direction

The current state of Nashville as a gold-colored hockey paradise makes it east to forget how close this team was to leaving town.

On May 24th, 2007, then Predators owner Craig Leipold announced he was selling the team. The frontrunner to buy the Predators was Jim Basielle, a Canadian billionaire who didn’t keep his intentions of moving the team to Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, secret.

The stark reality of a lost franchise and a downtown arena with no tenant spurred both rallies from the public to save the team and, most importantly, a group of local businessmen to pool their resources together and make a bid at ownership.

Leipold sold the team to the local ownership group in August, accepting a bid that was about $30 million less than what Basielle offered. But the new owners knew they could not keep this team moving the same direction it had been. And this necessity forced the Predators to get innovative, a path that created one of the most unique experiences in professional sports.

The Birth of “Smashville”

Selling a nontraditional sport in a nontraditional market means thinking nontraditionally. So instead of focusing on the hockey (which has been wisely left to General Manager David Poile), the new ownership group focused on the atmosphere inside Bridgestone Arena, getting people in the seats to experience that atmosphere, and increasing the team’s role as a part of the greater Nashville community.

Country music stars began making frequent appearances on the band stage (which has been in the arena since the team’s inaugural season). The quality of the in-game entertainment (video production, Gnash’s (the mascot) antics, etc.) improved dramatically. Ticket and concession deals (including many involving free tickets) got people into the building and grew the team’s relationship with the community. Player involvement with the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund also played a major role in making the city embrace the Preds.

Titans players rev up the crowd before a playoff game this season. Two essential parts of the gameday atmosphere in Smashville (beer and catfish) are featured here.

But while all these actions taken by the new ownership group played their part in building what the hockey world knows today as “Smashville,” the most important part of the Pred’s gameday experience was already in town.

So 17,000 College Football Fans Walk Into a Hockey Arena…

Our sporting roots in this part of the country are in college football. College football ruled the sporting world in the southeastern United States long before professional teams decided to settle here.

And fans cheering on their favorite college team on a Saturday in the fall don’t treat it like a 3 hour business trip. It is an all day party. People tailgate at least 3 hours (sometimes longer) before the game starts. Fans greet the team on their way into the stadium to show their support. And everyone makes sure to be in their seats to cheer on their team during warm-ups and soak in pregame festivities.

Fans line up to greet the Predators as they take the ice for warm-ups before a game at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

So once Nashville embraced hockey, we weren’t just going to sit on our hands and spend 3 hours debating the proper application of the offsides rule. We’re going to get to downtown Nashville early (like around noon central time, 7 hours before face-off of game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals). Fans greet the team both when they skate onto the ice for pregame warmups and when they skate back into the locker room. And also, just like college football, “Smashville” has the cheers (and I don’t just mean the obligatory “Let’s go insert mascot here” done at every hockey arena), especially if you’re an opposing goalie who just let a puck in the net.

Crowds gather outside Bridgestone Arena for a Stanley Cup Playoff Game.

So much of what makes “Smashville” such a great atmosphere was already ingrained in the fans before a hockey team made it to town. All it took was for the owners of the team getting people into the arena and giving them the chance to embrace the sport of hockey to create the unique experience Predator games are today.

So There Used to be Attendance Problems Here?

So as people began to rave about the experience of a Preds game at Bridgestone Arena, the team endeared itself to the community they were in, and the organization embraced the music and party atmosphere of Nashville, the attendance figures began to climb. And for those of you who say the city is only backing a winner, arena capacity has been at 97% or better the last five seasons (only of one of which featured a run at a Stanley Cup). That includes selling out every game this season (in a year when the team didn’t look like a cup contender until the playoffs).

The Smashville Crowd celebrating a goal this postseason at Bridgestone Arena.

So now, Nashville has become a city of nerds for hockey. But if you’re looking at this from the outside, don’t think it just happened overnight. It has been a long process that I’ve had the privilege of witnessing first hand. I sat in many games 10 years ago with 3,000 to 4,000 empty seats around me. But the people of Nashville were given the opportunity to experience Predators hockey. And each year, more of those previously empty seats were filled by new fans embracing the game. The new fans have mixed in with the old guard, bringing a unique spin on game day that makes Nashville a hockey town, and it will be one for long, long time.




Better Call Saul Season 3, Episode 8: Slip Recap

Three. Before Monday’s “Slip,” that was the number of episodes left in “Better Call Saul’s” 3rd season. Three was also the number of times I stood up and cheered, one time for each of the three key events that occurred Monday night that pushed our characters closer to their “Breaking Bad” selves.

Now, I didn’t literally jump off my couch and start hollering. The subtle nature of these events didn’t call for that. But each of these moments provided viewers with a genuine satisfaction of seeing key puzzle pieces falling into place and vindicated the pace Gilligan has been using to tell the “BCS” story.

The first event was Jimmy representing a “criminal” client for the first time. No, it wasn’t technically a legal representation. And yes, technically Jimmy did provide legal services to Price last season. But Price does not represent the habitual offender we see Saul working with frequently in “Breaking Bad.”

The next moment, and most tense of the three, was Nacho replacing Hector’s pills. We all know Hector’s bound for that wheelchair. But I was still on the edge of my seat, nervous for Nacho as he worked to save his father from Hector’s clutches.

The third moment was “the handshake” that ended the episode. Of the three, this one seemed the most sudden and rushed. But it was still iconic to see Mike and Gus, two legendary “Breaking Bad” characters, officially form their alliance.

I will analyze each of these landmark moments in more detail in the recap. But let’s start with Kim, another character who had a big night picking up a new client and dropping the mic on her former employer.

“If You Were Hiding That From Your Clients, Howard, Well That’s on You.”

Kim’s episode began with a celebratory drink with Paige and Kevin from Mesa Verde. I keep waiting for the moment when Kim’s relationship with the bank will go sour. But it sure didn’t happen Monday night.

In fact, things are gong so well that Kevin recommends a new client for Kim, Gatwood Oil. Kim is hesitant to take on another client, but she agrees to look at their case and refer them to another law firm.

In the middle of the celebration, Howard walks up and reminds Kim and the folks at Mesa Verde how low on the totem pole she was at HHM.

With Hamlin’s condescending tone fresh on her mind, Kim gets up from the Mesa Verde meeting and hands Howard a check to cover the loan HHM gave her for law school.

But Howard will have none of that. He’s already angry with Kim for exposing Chuck’s “condition” on a public record. Howard is having to work overtime to keep HHM’s current clients on board, and his pride won’t allow him to accept that check. Howard rips it up, but not before Kim correctly points out that Howard should have been informing HHM’s clients about Chuck’s condition all along. At that point, I imagined one of the parking valet’s walking up to Kim and handing her a mic so she could drop it, then spread her arms out scream, “What now Hamlin???”

“My Back Hurts Like Hell and People Suck.”

Meanwhile, Jimmy’s commercial business roles on with another shoot inside “ABQ In-Tune,” the music store that Jimmy shot a free ad for last week. And while Jimmy McGill’s ethics are highly questionable (to put it nicely) most of the time, it may not be as bad as the twins who own the store.

Last week, Jimmy agreed to make a commercial for free for these guys. If it was successful, they would take the deal they reneged on last week.

Well, the commercial was a success, and foot traffic is significantly better this week compared to last week. But once again, the brothers go back on the deal. They think they can just film the commercial themselves and pay for the ad time directly with the network.

Feeling desperate, Jimmy puts a drumstick on the floor when no one is looking. Then, with the camera rolling, Jimmy “trips” and falls (and he did not hold back on the fall).

Now, I don’t know if the twins didn’t have liability insurance (considering how they try to cut cost with Jimmy, this seems likely) or didn’t want to be on the hook for rising premiums once the medical expenses for Jimmy’s fall was paid for. Either way, Jimmy gets them to agree to pay $6500 for 7 commercials.

Jimmy presents the money, and it’s enough to cover six weeks of payment for the office, to Kim while he’s lying on his back playing a guitar he now owns from the “settlement” with the twins. Once again, Kim offers to cover Jimmy’s half so he can get his community service completed. But Jimmy refuses.

Seeing Jimmy on the floor convinces Kim that the soon to be Saul Goodman is having to go through extreme measures to get his end of the bills paid. Feeling she must pull more weight on her end, Kim picks up the phone and calls Gatwood Oil, informing them that she will be taking over as their legal representative.

“Out Here, You Might be the King Douche Nozzle. But in Court, You Are Little People.”

Now, Jimmy’s hurting back is definitely a problem for his next four hour community service stint. But an opening presents itself when Jimmy sees King Douche Nozzle (don’t know what else to call this guy) preventing a guy, Freddy, from leaving community service to go see his sick daughter at the hospital. Jimmy also noticed thousands of dollars in the guy’s socks, so Jimmy offers to get Freddy (a likely drug dealer considering the amount of cash in his sock) out of community service with credit for his full hours if he will pay Jimmy $700.

Freddy and Jimmy discuss a deal.

Jimmy lays down on his back to get Nozzle’s attention. Of course, the king notices and gives Jimmy his opening. Jimmy uses the lawsuit angle (not to sue the state of New Mexico, but to sue Douche Nozzle personally) to get the supervisor to both let Jimmy lay down and let Freddy go to the hospital with a full four hours worked.

Now, I don’t think Jimmy would have been able to deliver in court on everything he told Douche Nozzle he could do. But the key to any slipping Jimmy scheme is to get the target to believe.

Jimmy counts his $700 and looks up at the sky, smiling, feeling way too comfortable in this new element he now finds himself in.

Causing a Stroke, Part 1

Little was said in Nacho’s scenes this week, but some of Michael Mando’s best work on the show so far was in “Slip.”

First, we see Nacho filling the empty pill casings with what looks like crushed up Tylenol. Then, Nacho practices how he’s going to slip those pills in Hector’s coat.

But in order to be able to slip the pills in, the jacket must not be on Hector. So Nacho sneaks up to the roof one night and breaks the air conditioner. Feeling the heat, Hector slips off his jacket and gives Nacho the opportunity he needs.

In a tense, tense, scene, Nacho walks over to Hector under the guise of “this $50 bill looks fake” and “accidentally” drops all the money. While picking up the fallen bills, Nacho snatches Hector’s pill bottles from the coat pocket.

Nacho snatching Hector’s pills from the coat while Hector looks over the $50 bill.

Now, I’m not sure how Hector doesn’t hear the pills being dropped into a bottle. But Nacho takes the real pills out and replaces them with the fakes. Finally, with sweat pouring down my forehead out of fear he will be found out, Nacho makes a perfect toss, putting Hector’s pill bottle back into his coat pocket with the fake pills.

Hector before he tosses the pill bottle back into Hector’s coat.

“I Was Out With My Metal Detector Looking for Arrowheads.”

Though Mike did not appear very often on screen in “Slip,” both moments appear to be significant.

We can’t be sure just how Mike locating the dead body (I’m assuming it’s that good samaritan Hector killed off screen last season) with his metal detector will come into play. But I imagine there will be repercussions for a certain someone who may be having some major medical issues soon.

Mike with the metal detector he used to find the body in the desert.

But even more important was “the handshake.” Now, as I said earlier, this was the only of the three big moments in “Slip” I have any criticism for. The timing, placement, and execution for Jimmy’s conversation with King Nozzle and Nacho’s plot to replace Hector’s pills were both just about perfect. But when did Mike suddenly realize he needed a safe place for $200,000? Maybe it was the conversation with Nacho last week that increased the urgency of this matter. Or maybe I would have felt better about this if Mike had spent a little time two weeks ago contemplating Gus’s previous offer.

I am really nitpicking here. The relationship between Mike and Gus had been established earlier and it was still a great moment. I would just have liked to see these two interact more before their official partnership officially began.

But as it turns out, what ultimately leads Mike to partner with Gus was the previously mentioned need to protect $200,000 in case something does happen to Mike in his battle with Hector. He wants that money to go Stacey and Kaylee, not be swiped by the Salamancas. Gus agrees to hide it in return for Mike working in secret (as Gus wisely points out, they cannot be seen together openly because the Salamanca’s might catch wind of it) for Gus. The two men shake hands, ending the show with the beginning of an epic partnership.

Mike and Gus shake hands at the end of “Slip.”

Of Note

-An interesting flashback started Monday’s episode with Jimmy and Marco breaking into the old store Jimmy’s dad used to run. We are reminded that Jimmy’s dad ended up losing the store because everyone took advantage of how nice he was.

-I also suspect all those coins Jimmy found in that scene will play a part at some point in the “BCS” timeline.

Jimmy hunting down the coins he hid in the ceiling that contains rare and valuable coins as Marco looks on.

-Chuck seems extremely motivated to get back into practicing law. He meets with Dr. Cruz at his home and buys his own groceries for the first time in a long time. But Howard also brought the news regarding Chuck’s rising liability insurance, which figures to play a major part in the final two episodes of the season.

-Paige’s facial expressions seemed to foreshadow to the audience that Kim’s second client will prove detrimental to her current good standing with Kevin and Mesa Verde.

-Howard has been a real enigma on this show. Unlike Chuck, who’s been the clear bad guy since the end of season 1, Howard has gone back and forth between an asshole boss and a fair-minded man to work for. With Kim, he seems to be leaning back into the asshole part of his personality.

-I thought it was nice shot when the camera caught Francesca looking over a magazine instead of doing the legal work Kim had asked her to do.

Just two more episodes left and I expect a couple of situations to really blow up next week. We’ll see you then.










Better Call Saul Season 3, Episode 7: Expenses Recap

Mundane. Watching “Better Call Saul’s” third season can feel like a slow-paced, plodding parade of mundane happenings that, in any other context, would not be worth mention in a season of dramatic television.

But mundane happenings are the way in which Vince Gilligan and his crew have chosen, in contrast to Walter White, to transform Jimmy McGill into Saul Goodman.

With Walt, it was a series of events in which the stakes increased with each happening. But with Jimmy, it’s a series a small things poking away at the humanity of Jimmy McGill. It’s commercial airtime, once slotted so perfectly for Jimmy’s clients, no one wants to purchase. It’s the inability to talk on the phone and maintain an operating business while completing community service. It’s money wasted on malpractice insurance that will be worthless over the calendar year Jimmy is suspended from practicing law. These things on their own could be overcome. But the stress of all these things all at once give us some of the most notable signs of frustration we’ve seen from Jimmy McGill so far. And that stress may have led Jimmy to do the most “Saul-esque” thing he’s done so far.

Those mundane things seem to be getting to Kim as well. A simple questioning of rules applied to Mesa Verde documents brought anger and arrogance we’ve yet to see from Kim in her meeting with Paige. It’s a small, subtle, possibly mundane moment that screams the pressure of everything is finally start to get to her as well.

The process is deliberate and often maddening to some of us who really want to see this series hit warp speed toward the inevitable destinies of Jimmy, Mike, Gus, and all those who don’t appear in “Breaking Bad.” But we also saw in “Expenses” with two particular situations that those things that seem mundane when first presented to us in “BCS” have far more significant payoffs down the road.

We’ll get to Jimmy and that horrible act later. But let’s start this recap with a series of not so joyful reunions.

The Return of the Hoboken Squat Cobbler

I really thought we’d seen the last of dorky drug dealer,Price. I figured his only purpose was to show just how low down Mike’s criminal career in Albuquerque started. But while I was all focused on Mike’s character development, Gilligan and crew were hiding in plain sight a more significant element about Price: his access to prescription drugs.

Nacho needs the pills that Hector takes for his heart. Well, actually, he only needs the casings sealed without all the medical stuff inside that actually helps the heart. Nacho is trying to protect his father from Hector, so he means to kill him by replacing Hector’s pills with phonies.

Price examining a pill Nacho found of Hector’s last week.

Price is not sure if he wants to accept Nacho’s offer of $20,000  (or for that matter, if he even has the option of turning it down). But his previous experience selling drugs at least taught Price the importance of security before making a deal.

“I Never Claimed to be Good At This, Any of It.”

Price goes to meet Mike at his parking attendant job (yes, I had forgotten that Mike had that job as well) and asks if Mike will do security for him again. Mike refuses at first and encourages Price to stay out of the job as well. But Price tells Mike it involves Nacho, and Mike knows Hector is likely connected as well.

Mike still wants to stay out. But a conversation with a widower named Anita (who I’ll say plenty about later), changes his mind. Mike heads out with Price to meet Nacho in the usual place, and he has a number of questions for Nacho.

Mike and Price waiting to meet Nacho at the usual spot.

“I Just Want to be Sure you Know What You’re Getting Into”

Unlike previous meetings between Nacho and Price, Mike does all the talking (all it took was some stolen baseball cards to get Price to wise up). He asks how Nacho intends to do the job and if he’s prepared for all the potential fallout should he succeed. And most importantly, he tells Nacho to switch the pills back after the job is done. My television instincts tell me Nacho may not follow that last bit of advice as well as he should.

“Can I Read This First?”

Last week was all euphoria and idealism for Albuquerque’s favorite crooked lawyer. I mean, sure, Jimmy had been suspended for a year from practicing law. But he was not disbarred and he had a great new business idea.

Well, reality set in this week for “Slipping Jimmy.” First, Jimmy is only credited 30 minutes of the 4 hours of community service he worked because of time he spent on his cell phone.

Jimmy pleading his case to receive the full hours of community service worked.

Second, Jimmy’s business is not turning out to be as promising as once thought. Those spots Jimmy bought with an elderly audience in mind (another one of those mundane details coming into play this week) are not as attractive to other businesses. Jimmy is only able to shoot one commercial for money. No one will take him up on his offer for multiple ads at a discounted price. And the last ad he shoots (for a music store called ABQ In Tune) ends up being for free when the twin brothers that own the store get cold feet. In order to meet his end of the rent for the office space, Jimmy is having to pull from his personal bank account.

Jimmy and his film crew shooting a commercial at “Duke City Recliners.”

And lastly, Jimmy is trying to get a return on money he paid for malpractice insurance he no longer needs this year because he won’t be practicing law. But the insurance company will not refund Jimmy’s money. And not only will the future Saul Goodman not be receiving a refund for insurance he doesn’t need, he will also be seeing a 150% increase in his premiums when his suspension ends.

Now, I am very curious to hear what everyone else thinks about what happens next. I don’t think there’s any question Jimmy was faking those tears. And, of course, all those bad things he revealed about Chuck didn’t just “slip out” of Jimmy’s mouth. But was Jimmy’s sole purpose of going to the insurance office to get more revenge on Chuck? He clearly had that sabotage of Chuck in the back of his mind. But could it have been the only reason Jimmy went there? There’s a good chance Jimmy new the insurance company was not going to refund him no matter what. And if that’s the case, what happens at the end of this episode is a real dark turn for Jimmy.

Jimmy is now purposefully trying to hurt his brother out of spite. What happened in court was as much to protect Jimmy as it was to hurt Chuck. But for the moment, Chuck is out of Jimmy’s way. So going in there and telling the insurance lady all of that dirt on Chuck was all out of spite.

Jimmy tells her everything (Chuck’s testimony in Jimmy’s trial, his mistake at the Mesa Verde hearing). And as he’s walking out, the frown on his face turns to a sadistic grin.

Of Note:

-Stress may be getting to Kim as well. On top of her concerns about paying the rent, the paper work for Mesa Verde continues to wear her down. After a five minute power nap, Kim snaps at Paige, her friend at Mesa Verde after the latter questioned numbers on some of the forms they reviewed. Paige forgave her for it (so she says), but Kim confesses to Paige a third issue that’s cropped up unexpectedly: guilt for what her and Jimmy did to Chuck.

Kim lashes out at Paige in a meeting at Mesa Verde.

-I also liked the contrast in this episode comparing Kim and Jimmy’s response to what they did to Chuck. Kim is clearly feeling guilt about what happened. Jimmy, on the other hand, feels nothing.

-Price’s previous attempts at criminal activity really left a mark. I think I counted four locks on his door plus a “high tech” security system. None of that was enough to keep Nacho out of Price’s home, however.

-Does Mike have a love interest on the show? “Expenses” introduced us to Anita, a widower in Mike and Stacey’s support group who Mike seems to have taken a liking to.

-I’m curious if the death of Anita’s husband (he disappeared after his car was found on a hiking trail) will come up again. Could he have been involved with the cartels?

-Did anybody else notice the look Stacey gave when Mike was talking to Anita? I may be reading into that a little too much. But she did not appear happy to see Mike conversing with Anita after group.

-Was anybody else hoping to see our good friends Viktor and Giselle at the bar? They could have really livened up what was a fairly depressing episode.

-Comedians “The Sklar Brothers” played the part of the owners of “ABQ In Tune.”

Breaking Bad Reference

-No characters tonight. But Jimmy flooding his engine was a nice callback to when Walt and Jessie flooded the engine of the RV, stranding them out in the desert in “Breaking Bad.”

I’m starting to get the feeling that we are not going to like Jimmy very much when this season ends. We’ll see if that turns out to be true in the weeks ahead. See you guys next week.




Better Call Saul Season 3 Episode 6: Off Brand

I believe “Off Brand,” the 6th episode of “Better Call Saul’s” 3rd season, was the true crossroads episode for the entire series. I know it’s bold to proclaim that considering we don’t know how long the series will go and what other directions it intends to take. But think about all the pivotal decisions major characters made last night.

Nacho, whose been wanting to rid himself of his current employers since at least last season, revealed himself last night to be the man most likely responsible for Hector’s stroke. Of course, that is not a certainty. But otherwise, the show just wasted our time with a meaningless shot (and we know Gilligan wastes no scenes or shots) of a boot covering a pill on the ground.

Chuck made the decision to seek help last night. Now that it looks as if Jimmy and Chuck’s rivalry is done (or at the very least will be taking a détente), the older McGill must find a new purpose or come to grips with his debilitating condition. Otherwise, I don’t see things ending well for Chuck.

And of course, there’s the decision by Jimmy to take on the infamous name of Saul Goodman for the first time last night. But it wasn’t Jimmy’s reaction that really emphasized the importance of that moment. The younger McGill doesn’t seem to understand the impact of what he just did. After all, it is “just a name.”

Instead, it was Kim who really seemed to grasp the impact of the name change. Rhea Seehorn did a wonderful job contrasting Jimmy’s aloofness with subtle concern over this character Jimmy’s playing on screen. Kim’s words, tone, and facial expressions convey clearly the concern she has with this new direction Jimmy is taking. And she clearly doesn’t like that guy on the screen, which signals a rough road ahead for these two star-crossed lovers.

We’ll save the first appearance of Saul Goodman for last. But let’s start this week’s recap with Nacho, who after spending most of this season on the sidelines, finally stepped into the spotlight, making a key decision that will have an irreversible affect on one of the story’s central characters.

“Who Works for Who?”

Our first scene of the night takes place in the Mexican restaurant where Mike got Tuco put in jail last season. But with Tuco unavailable, Nacho must play both the roles of enforcer and voice of reason.

And just like that scene in season 2, it’s Crazy 8 (the future first kill of Walter White) who’s come in to turn in money he’s earned on the street. According to Crazy 8, his new partner bailed on him. And that’s why he missed his quota.

Nacho shows mercy, telling him to make up for it next week. Hector, who’s been sitting behind Nacho the whole time, let’s Nacho know very quickly that he does not approve. “Who works for who?” is all he needs to say to get Nacho out of his chair. Nacho grabs Crazy 8, drags him into the kitchen, and gives him a firm beating.

Hector admonishes Nacho after he allows Crazy 8 to walk out without punishment.

Later, Nacho meets with Gus’s crew to claim supply off of a Los Pollos Hermanos truck. The arrangement Gus and Hector made last week is causing tension as Nacho claims one more bar of cocaine than the amount agreed.

Victor points a gun at Nacho after Nacho takes an extra bar of cocaine.

We find out later that Hector did that just to f#@* with Gus. And now, he wants Nacho to get his dad’s business involved to help move supply. We’ve seen how genuine a person Nacho’s father is. And Nacho wants no part of involving his dad in the shady drug business.

Hector meets with Nacho to discuss the use of upholstery trucks from his (Nacho’s) dad’s business to move product.

But before a firm commitment can be made one way or another, one of Hector’s men comes in and informs him that Tuco knived a guy in prison. Hector’s temper comes out again. And just like we’ve previously seen, Hector needs pills to calm himself down and stop convulsing (sorry if I used the wrong medical term). But Hector’s shakes force him to drop the pills on the ground. He’s able to pick most of them back up. But Nacho, who was not happy with having a gun put to his face or the proposal to use his dad’s upholstery trucks to smuggle drugs, sees the one pill Hector did not pickup and covers it with his boot.

“Jimmy’s Not Worth It.”

If Chuck takes Howard’s advice, then Chuck’s importance to the show just diminished greatly.

The trial is over and Jimmy avoided disbarment. But the younger McGill cannot practice law for a year, and Howard considers that a victory. Now, he wants Chuck to move on from his brother.

So if Chuck ultimately leaves Jimmy alone, then the elder McGill really doesn’t need to be around anymore. His entire role up to this point has been playing the heel to Jimmy. So if Chuck does “move on,” his show life may not last much longer after that.

But for now, we have Chuck purposely exposing himself to batteries, sneaking into town wearing his best space blanket, and using a pay phone to call a doctor and set up an appointment. #hypersensitivitytoelectricity #thestruggleisreal

Chuck makes a phone call to a doctor to set up an appointment as he tries to cope with his “condition.”

“Chuck Was Right About You All Along.”

Jimmy and Kim are celebrating their “victory” when Rebecca comes in and interrupts the celebration.

Rebecca went to Chuck’s house and knocked on the door, calling for her ex-husband to open it, but Chuck wouldn’t answer. So she implores Jimmy to help get Chuck to open up. But Rebecca doesn’t understand just how bad the relationship between the two brothers has deteriorated. Jimmy refuses, then Kim’s prediction from last week (“She’ll hate you forever for this”) is fulfilled as Rebecca storms out, telling Jimmy that Chuck was right about him all along.

Rebecca pleads with Jimmy to help Chuck as Kim looks on.

But after the celebration comes the reality that Jimmy  must now tell all his clients that he cannot be their lawyer for a year. And how will him and Kim keep up payments for their office without Jimmy making any income?

“Just a name…”

The change in name we’ve all been waiting for started with the realization that Jimmy had an ad yet to air on TV. What good would it have done to call his hundreds of clients and suspend service only to have a commercial air, bringing in more calls that must be rejected? After calling the network and cancelling the ad, Jimmy realizes that he still has nine ad spots previously purchased. He can’t sell the time to someone else and he won’t be refunded the $4000 he’s paid for the ad time. So Jimmy thinks of a solution: sell his skills making commercials and air the ads in the space he’s bought.

While this is a good long-term solution, Jimmy has a short-term problem with a space he needs filled in two and a half hours. Since he can’t convince anyone to pay for  such a quick turnaround, Jimmy takes the advice of his make-up girl (who seems worth way more than the two camera guys) and shoots a quick ad for his new temporary business.

But how can “Gimme Jimmy” just air a new ad with a new profession? Jimmy McGill has already been branded a lawyer. If only there was some random name Jimmy could possibly pull from the title of the show to give his new business the branding it needs.

Jimmy puts on a wig, mustache, and a goofy jacket. He speeds up the tempo delivering his lines and “Saul Goodman Productions” is born. But as I mentioned earlier, only Kim seems to understand the ramifications of what just happened.

The first appearance of “Saul Goodman” speaking for “Saul Goodman Productions.”

Of Note:

-Did anybody else want to send the contact information for “Saul Goodman Productions” to the local businesses in your area that make the worst commercials?

-So in a year, will Jimmy’s clients go back to him? Will they even be alive in a year?

-It also had to bum Jimmy out a bit when the last guy he called was an actual former B29 pilot. He could’ve made that first commercial without all the security risk of sneaking fudge onto the military base.

-I think we all felt more pain than Nacho did as we watched that sewing machine cut into his hand.

-Nice touch with Jimmy celebrating his “victory” in court while drinking from a “Davis and Mane” mug.

-Mike’s only scene this week revealed that his daughter-in-law, Stacey, volunteered him to build a playground for the church where she’s attending grief counseling sessions. I expect that to be the playground we see Mike taking Kaylee to frequently during “Breaking Bad.”

Breaking Bad References

-So Gus has been a part of 4 episodes so far and he’s already purchasing the warehouse that Walt will mass produce meth in?

-Nice cameo for Lydia, the international drug contact for Gus and, in the future, Walt. It might be the only scene we’ve seen of her without her trademark tea.

Lydia makes her first appearance tonight, showing Gus a factory that is for sale.

-Along with Crazy 8, Victor made his 2nd appearance in “Better Call Saul,” pointing a gun at Nacho after he took a little more cocaine than he should have.

It’s hard to believe that only four episodes remain in “Better Call Saul’s” 3rd season. See you next week.



Better Call Saul Season 3, Episode 5: Chicanery

I haven’t had a chance to create a list of “Better Call Saul’s” top episodes. But my initial reaction is that “Chicanery,” the fifth episode in “Better Call Saul’s” third season was the best of the series so far.

The long awaited battle between the brother’s McGill that the show has been building towards since the end of season one reached its climax in the only location that could do it justice: the courtroom.

And with Jimmy landing the decisive blow at the end of last night’s episode, does this mean the official end of the great litigator, Chuck McGill? Up to this point, only Jimmy knew Chuck’s true mental state. No one else in the show has witnessed the elder McGill melt down and spew out the hate for Jimmy like he did last night. Now, Chuck’s former colleagues, his ex-wife, and a public record have all bared witness to his insanity. What will become of Chuck now that Jimmy has taken everything away from him?

We’ve got a lot of moments to analyze in this recap. So let’s start that discussion with the flashback that set the tone for last night’s entire episode.

“The Bigger The Lie, The Harder It Is To Get Out From Under It”

Tonight’s flashback returned to a time when Jimmy was Chuck’s best ally as the latter dealt with his “sensitivity to electricity.” Chuck has really let things go around his property. So Jimmy brings in a full crew to cut the grass, handle landscaping, and make repairs in the house so it looks like it did before. The reason for all this is that Rebecca, Chuck’s now ex-wife, is coming over for dinner. And Chuck does not want her to know about his condition.

BCS S3 E5 Chuck and Rebecca

Rebecca and Chuck have dinner over candlelight.

The two talk and appear to be having a wonderful time reminiscing when Rebecca gets a phone call. Because Chuck was hiding his condition, he didn’t ask Rebecca to put her phone in the mailbox. A great game of Cat and Mouse ensues as Chuck desperately tries to get away from the phone. But Rebecca seems to find herself walking towards Chuck while carrying on the phone conversation, completely unaware of how it is driving Chuck insane.

Chuck finally comes through with a very adult solution to the problem: knock the phone out of Rebecca’s hand. And even more childlike, Chuck blames Rebecca for the incident, saying it was rude of her to take a phone call in the middle of their conversation. Rebecca calls a cab as Jimmy pleads with Chuck to tell her the truth. But Chuck’s pride won’t let him reveal to Rebecca his “condition.” And Rebecca stays in the dark about it until the trial.

“Let Justice Be Done, Though the Heavens Fall”

We return to the “present” with Chuck making arrangements for how the courtroom can best accommodate his “condition.” Howard is there, heavy in thought as visions of his law firm going up in flames dance through his head.

Howard doesn’t want Chuck to testify. And he worries that tape being played for public record will be damaging to HHM. But Chuck insists Jimmy must be disbarred. And in order for that to happen, the tape must be played and he (Chuck) must testify.

The Hearing Begins

The prosecution’s opening remarks indicate they are using a “just the facts” approach, only wanting to focus on Jimmy’s crime. Kim, on the other hand, wants Chuck’s hatred for Jimmy to be the central point of the trial.

Howard testifies first and Kim presses him regarding the role Chuck played in keeping Jimmy from being hired at HHM. She tries to get Chuck’s mental state introduced into the trial, but the prosecution successfully stops her first attempt.

Next, the tape is played, and the camera work is some of the best of the series so far. Kim had not heard the tape before, She knew Jimmy forged those documents, but hearing him admit it on the recording was noticeably tough for her to handle. And Francesca, Jimmy and Kim’s new assistant, gulps  as she listens. She has to be thinking, “Just who have I aligned myself with?”

BCS S3 E5 Tape Player

The recorder the tape of Jimmy’s confession was played on.

“We’ll Grant You the Same Leeway on Cross-Examination”

Finally, it is Chuck taking the stand. In his testimony, Chuck admits to putting on a performance to get his brother’s confession. His reasons are just so admirable aren’t they? The law is “just too important” to allow his brother, who he loves so very much, to continue practicing it after what Jimmy did. He discusses his physical condition and recites the speech he rehearsed at home before appearing at the trial.

Now, two very important events happen while Chuck is testifying. The first is granting Jimmy McGill “leeway” (the same that prosecution is being given) during his cross-examination of Chuck (Slipping Jimmy getting leeway in a courtroom? Great idea there New Mexico Bar Association!!!)

The other event is the appearance of Rebecca, an arrangement Jimmy made just before the trial.

BCS S3 E5 Rebecca

Rebecca arrives to support Chuck during his trial and offers to help him with his “condition.”

“She’s Going To Hate You When This Is Over”

Just before cross-examination, Rebecca tells Chuck that she wishes he would have told her about his condition. It’s a tender moment, the last we may ever see involving Chuck.

Jimmy takes over the cross-examination and grills Chuck on his mental health and hatred for Jimmy. As most of us predicted after last season, Jimmy moves to have the confession dismissed, saying he just wanted to comfort his brother, who only did this because he hates Jimmy.

The case turns when Chuck’s “illness” comes up again. And thanks to the “leeway” granted earlier, Jimmy can turn the situation around, making Chuck appear to be the one on trial.

BCS S3 E5 Chuck and Jimmy

Jimmy cross-examining Chuck at the former’s bar hearing.

Jimmy claims Chuck’s “illness” is a mental, not a physical condition. And Chuck’s mental state was the reason Jimmy said what he said on tape. To prove Chuck’s “sensitivity” is mental, Jimmy pulls out a phone. Chuck senses the trap and checks the back of the phone. There’s no battery in it, and the smug look stays on Chuck’s face. It won’t stay there much longer.

Huell Babineaux, Saul Goodman’s body guard in “Breaking Bad,” enters the courtroom. Huell bumped into Chuck earlier and planted a cell phone battery in Chuck’s coat. He’s also on the list of witnesses, meaning that what he says in court enters the official record (I think).

Jimmy asks Chuck to check his pocket, where the elder McGill is horrified to see a phone battery. Huell stands up and informs the court (in a humorous moment) that the battery has been in Chuck’s pocket for “1 hour and 43 minutes.” If Chuck’s “condition” was physical, he would have noticed that battery already.

The trap is set and Chuck falls right in it. He starts rambling about how horrible Jimmy is and how desperate Chuck is to see his brother disbarred. But at the end of his rant, Chuck looks up and sees everyone staring silently at him, shocked as Chuck admits in court the hatred he feels for his brother.

The show ends with another brilliant piece of continuity. Every light in the courtroom was turned off except the exit lights (they have to stay on by law). But Chuck doesn’t seem to notice them at all until the end of the episode, when Chuck can suddenly “feel” the electricity flowing through the sign.

Of Note

-We now know that Chuck’s “condition” didn’t cause his divorce. His “illness” was as a result of Rebecca leaving him.

-Chuck’s arrogance proved to be his downfall in the trial. He testified against Howard’s wise counsel thinking there was no way Jimmy would best him on the witness stand. Also, Chuck clearly did not review Kim and Jimmy’s list of witnesses. Otherwise, seeing the name “Huell Babineaux,” a man who had no previous interactions with Chuck at all, should have raised a red flag.

-Howard has a tough decision ahead regarding Chuck. Can the firm continue to have Chuck as an active partner despite the potential risks he poses to cases? Or can they afford to let him go and lose the third of the company’s money Chuck would be owed on his way out the door?

-Nice work by Kim calling Howard out on the ridiculousness of his “nepotism” argument for not hiring Jimmy.

-Kim also successfully pushed Mesa Verde through with approval to develop new branches in the Albuquerque area. It was also good to see the team at Mesa Verde stick by Kim after she broke the news of what could be coming. We’ll see if they stay so gung ho about her after the fallout of Jimmy’s trial is complete.

BCS S3 E5 Mesa Verde 2

Kim breaks the news to Kevin and Paige about Chuck and Jimmy’s trial.

-So of the three big clues for the case that last week set up, only one of them revealed itself this week. The photos Mike took last week were sent to Rebecca, revealing Chuck’s condition to her. They also appeared to be used in Jimmy’s cross-examination. Now, what Kim meant by Bingo and what was on that note are still mysteries, at least to me. Please let me know if you noticed something I didn’t regarding the latter two items.

-So Francesca learns early on just how questionable Jimmy’s ethics are, yet she still sticks by Jimmy/Saul.

Breaking Bad Returns

-An exciting return last night by the recently slimmed down Lavar Crawford playing the role of Huell Babineaux. It’s also good to see Jimmy and Mike’s contacts starting to become the same as Mike referred Jimmy to Dr. Caldera, the vet with all the underground crime hookups.

BCS S3 E5 Huell

Huell Babineaux worked his first mission for Jimmy/Saul last night.

What will become of Chuck now that his life appears on a downward spiral? And will Jimmy officially become Saul Goodman next episode? We’re halfway done with season 3. See you guys again next week.



About Those Game of Thrones Spin Offs…

HBO announced this week that they currently have four “Game of Thrones” spin offs in development for when their golden goose concludes its successful run sometime next year.

Now, “in development” doesn’t mean all four of the shows will happen. HBO may only end up sending one or two to the airwaves. And we don’t know if these projects in development will be full run series, miniseries, or movies.

But let’s pretend that all four projects get the green light to go in production. What will these spin offs be about? What time periods in the history of Westeros will they cover? Here are my four front runners.

1. Robert’s Rebellion

GoT Prequel 1

“BOLD PREDICTION, EINSTEIN,” says all of those who follow “GoT” news on a regular basis. No prequel or spin off has been rumored longer than that the war that put Robert Baratheon on the throne 15 years before the start of Game of Thrones.

No show idea would include more characters from Game of Thrones. And no prequel idea has been referenced more than this one in GoT, making the question more of “When will this show up on the air?” as opposed to “if it will.”

2. The Dance of the Dragons

GoT Prequel 2

Set 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones, this family battle for the throne between dueling Targaryen heirs is loaded with enough political intrigue, battlefield drama, and interesting characters to set itself up for at least a run as a miniseries.

The battle is also set at a time when dragons were commonplace in Westeros and used on both sides of the battle. The dragon vs dragon warfare may prove to be the tipping point that pushes this story into production.

3. Aegon’s Conquest

GoT Prequel 3

Aegon, known as “Aegon the Conqueror,” was the first Targaryen king. And I would love to see the tale of how the first Targaryen king and his two (literal) sister wives flew on dragons and conquered all of Westeros. It would also be great for “GoT” fans to see the ancestors of all the families we see in the hit series and how those families came to be where they are and how they are when “GoT” begins.

4. Nymeria, The Warrior Queen

GoT Prequel 4


This one is my long shot. But Nymeria’s story (not Arya’s wolf, but the princess who led her people to Dorne to escape the Valaryians and conquered Dorne with her husband Mars Martell) would be perfect for this age of women being cast in stronger roles in movies and television.

It would also give HBO the chance to try again at their depiction of the land of Dorne, a storyline “Game of Thrones” totally butchered and wisely gave up on in season six.

I left out several great stories that could very well be included among the four (The Dunk and Egg Chronicles, The Arrival of the Andals, The Age of Heroes, and The Blackfrye Rebellions just to name a few). I also didn’t include any future story lines that might take place after the “GoT” timeline because I personally don’t think those would be as good as any of the other stories I’ve mentioned.

What other stories would you like to see included in the four potential scripted series in development for HBO?


Better Call Saul Season 3, Episode 4: Sabrosito

Rivals. That was the focus of “Sabrosito,” the 4th episode of Better Call Saul’s 3rd season Monday night. And it was an extremely satisfying episode for all the “Breaking Bad” diehards as Mike and Jimmy’s journey took a backseat to Gus and Hector’s rivalry, a feud rooted in both business and personal issues.

Gus and Hector aren’t just bitter rivals; they are complete polar opposites. Gus maintains a clean cut image of a great boss to work for who is active in his community and does not consider remedial activities (such as sweeping the restaurant or busing tables) beneath him. Hector, on the other hand, sits back, allowing those beneath him to do the dirty work. And when Hector walks into Los Pollos Hermanos to meet with Gus, he might as well have been carrying a sign saying “I sell drugs for a living.”

(Major “Breaking Bad” spoilers coming, so don’t continue reading if you haven’t watched it yet)


We all knew there was bad blood between these two men. Hector did kill Gus’s business partner and was willing to blow himself up just so he could take Gus out after the meth dealer took out the rest of the cartel. But it was a true delight to see Gilligan and crew begin filling in the blanks between “Hector shot your partner” and “Hector’s going to blow you up.”

So let’s start this recap with all the wonderful details of the rivalry between New Mexico’s finest drug kingpins.

“Everyone Must Keep Bringing it Like This.”

The opening scene is a look back in the past at the residence of Don Eladio, the man running the cartel Gus and Hector work for.

Hector informs the Don of the ice cream company he’s just started to serve as a cover for Hector’s drug business. He also brings money wrapped up in rubber bands and a “Sabrosito” statue.

BCS S3 E4 The Don and Hector

Hector presents Don Eladio with a gift.

But one-upping Hector at every turn is Don Bolsa, who (representing Gus) brings Don Eladio significantly larger stacks of cash and a Los Pollos Hermanos t-shirt. After seeing the money Gus is bringing in, Don Eladio raises the bar, saying he wants “money like this” from now on.

The only person that last line was meant for was Hector. And to further remind Hector of his second-tier status to the Don’s favored son (for now), Eladio puts on the Los Pollos Hermanos shirt and uses Hector’s gift to mock the man.

A Drug Dealer Walks Into a Chicken Restaurant…

Back in the “Better Call Saul” timeline, Hector is in a desperate situation. We just saw the pressure Don Eladio has him under to produce. And now that the DEA is investigating his business, Hector needs another means of transporting his product.

So Hector wants to use Gus’s trucks for moving product. And just how does Hector mean to persuade Gus to go along with this? By going after Gus’s pristine image. Hector doesn’t care if people know what he does for a living. He’ll walk into the middle of a restaurant and light up a cigar despite the pleadings of the assistant manager to stop. He surrounds the place with enforcers, causing many customers to leave. He walks behind the counter (where only employees are supposed to be!!!!), pours himself a drink, and waits in the manager’s office. Hector did everything but vocally proclaim “Hey folks, I’m a drug kingpin” in this because he didn’t care that people knew.

But Gus does. So Hector is using the threat of interruptions to Gus’s legitimate business to get him in line.

BCS S3 E4 Gus and Lyle

Gus sends his employees away while he meets with Hector as Nacho looks on.

“A Bullet to the Head Would be Far Too Humane.”

Gus takes Hector’s offer/threat in stride. He dismisses his employees, cleans his restaurant, and eases his employees fears about what happened the previous day.

Then, Gus heads up to the parking lot where Mike works. Earlier, Mike refused to accept money for the job he did to help Gus (another vain attempt to get out of the criminal world).

Gus inquires about the money and gives Mike a standing offer to work for him full-time. And why did Gus not allow Mike to go through with shooting Hector at the end of last season? Because the man deserves far worse (such as ending up in a wheelchair and only being able to communicate with a bell?).


Now, I was surprised by the turn taken in Chuck and Jimmy’s rivalry. I never thought Jimmy would take the deal last week that put’s his law license in danger. But here were Kim and Jimmy preparing a confession (one in which Jimmy admits to a felony) and already prepping for a hearing before the New Mexico Bar Association.

But Kim and Jimmy have something up their sleeves to help gain the upper hand in their battle with Chuck. First, Kim calls every repairman in Albuquerque until she finds the one Chuck hired to fix his door. She cancels the appointment and sends Mike, pretending to be the repairman, in that spot.

BCS S3 E4 Mike

Jimmy sends Mike to play the part of the repairman to get pictures of Chuck’s house.

Mike brings a power drill and hilariously keeps Chuck away every time he pushes down on the handle. With Chuck upstairs, Mike takes pictures of the house with a disposable camera. He also retrieves a note from the desk.

Then, at the PPD hearing, Jimmy submits his confession and apologizes to Chuck. After Jimmy storms out, Kim confronts Howard and Chuck about the tape. She correctly guessed that another recording (the original recording, as it turns out) of the tape exists, and Chuck expects it to be played in the hearing.

BCS S3 E4 PPD Hearing

Jimmy apologizing at his PPD hearing.

But something Chuck said gave Kim exactly what she needed, as her last word of the night was “Bingo!”

Of Note

-Ximenez (the truck driver Mike robbed last season) made an appearance tonight. Hector introduced him to Don Eladio shortly after Hector hired him.

-Apparently, Mike’s pursuit of revenge against Hector has taken him away from spending time with his granddaughter. That’s ironic considering it was his love and concern for her that got him back into criminal activity to begin with.

-We finally have a Nacho citing. But we’ll have to wait until at least next week for him to utter his first line.

BCS S3 E4 Gus and Nacho

Nacho appeared in Season 3 for the first time tonight.

-So Gus dismisses his employees for the day with pay, pays them 24 hours for their troubles, and offers to pay for counseling if needed? Is Los Pollos Hermanos hiring right now?

-In a show filled with clever “storytellers,” Gus is as good or better than any of them.

-What exactly is Gus planning to ensure Hector doesn’t come back?

-The prosecutor for Jimmy’s case, Kyra Hay, sure was sympathetic to Chuck’s condition. Was she just playing the part of his attorney, or does Chuck have Miss “tough but fair” fooled?

-And is her work with the show done already? Or will she continue to work the case at the bar hearing?

-Did I mention Chuck running from the sound of a power drill was just hysterical?

Breaking Bad Returns (Once again, Breaking Bad Spoilers Follow)

-Don Eladio was the drug boss Gus took out at the end of season 4. Eladio previously had Hector kill Gus’s business partner right in front of him. I’m not sure how the two men ended up back in business together since we know Eladio at one time wanted Gus to stick with chicken.

-Juan Bolsa also appeared in tonight’s episode. He was a go-between for Gus and the cartel in “Breaking Bad” just like he was tonight. But much like Gus’s relationship with Eladio, Gus and Bolsa will not end on good terms. He also helped Hector hold down Gus so he would be forced to watch his business partner die.

BCS S3 E4 The Don's Place

From left to right: Don Eladio, Don Bolsa, Unnamed man in the middle, Ximenez, and Hector.

So how exactly do the photos, the note from the desk, and what Chuck said about the tape tie into Jimmy’s bar hearing? Based on the previews for next week, I don’t think we’ll have to wait long to find out. See you then.



Better Call Saul Season 3, Episode 3 Recap: Sunk Costs

“Sunk Costs,” the 3rd episode of “Better Call Saul’s” 3rd season drew clear battle lines for the two key confrontations that should keep our main characters busy for awhile. Neither one of the central battles should come as a surprise to anyone who’s watched “Breaking Bad,” saw any promotional materials for this season, or just happens to be a living, breathing human being with a pulse who’s been paying attention since Season 1.

The first battle pits the inevitable alliance between Gus and Mike against Hector Salamanca. We did not know before last night if the two men would be immediate allies or if “Tracker Wars 2003” would start the two men off as enemies. But “Sunk Costs” shows how quickly the two men became allies as Gus hires Mike to play saboteur to Hector’s operation.

The second battle, of course, is between Jimmy and Chuck. But by no means was Monday night’s episode the first shots fired in the battle of the brother’s McGill. Chuck did his own bit sabotage on Jimmy that, for a long time, was a covert operation keeping Jimmy from being hired as a lawyer. And Jimmy answered with his bit of sabotage, forging documents that left Chuck embarrassed at a legal hearing.

But I believe we are now set for the ultimate, end all battle between the two brothers. I just don’t see how what little is left of the already dying relationship Chuck and Jimmy share will survive the drama about to unfold.

“You Care to Elaborate?”

Mike’s story picks up where it left off last week as we hear the rest of the conversation on that phone laying in the middle of the road. Of course, it’s Gus on the other end and he wants to talk. Shortly after Mike hangs up, the first meeting between these two epic characters unfolds.

Mike discovers that he and Gus share a common enemy in Hector (Ding Ding) Salamanca. And though Gus does not want Hector dying (because of Gus’s relationship with the Mexican drug cartel), he doesn’t mind (and strongly encourages) if Mike continue to plague Hector’s crew (who are rival competitors of Gus) with legal and financial problems.

BCS S3 E3 The Note

“You Care to Elaborate?” Mike asks Gus the purpose of the note that was left on Mike’s car at the end of last season.

The first scene of the show (in classic Vince Gilligan style) establishes the use of a pair of shoes tied together and hanging over electrical wires as a marker for illegal activity (you’d think the DEA would get wise to this at some point). Mike picks up some cocaine from a doctor (more on him later) and fills a show with it. Then, after finally getting the shoes to hang over a wire (with all the cool things we’ve seen Mike do, it was funny to see him struggle with this), Mike finds a hiding place with his sniper rifle. .

Two men in one of Hector’s ice cream trucks stop underneath the shoes and drop the guns off in a hiding place before crossing the border. But as they get ready to leave, Mike shoots one of the shoes, dropping cocaine on the back of end of the truck. The two men are arrested at the border after the cocaine is found. I expect (and the previews for next week confirm) new legal troubles coming Hector’s way. And I don’t think his response to them will be peaceful.

“I Believe You Can Change”

Did anybody else want to smack Chuck in the face while he gave Jimmy that little “you can change” lecture? I believe he was trying to change, big brother, while your pompous ass kept preventing him from getting a job as a lawyer. And Jimmy makes clear he’s not interested in Chuck’s rehabilitation efforts (more on this later).

And how about Jimmy’s time in prison? You know, the thing AMC focused almost all their promos on (other than the stuff about Gus returning), lasted all of ten minutes. Jimmy got a makeable bond and was out immediately following his preliminary hearing.

BCS S3 E3 Jimmy in court

Jimmy appears in court to hear the charges against him.

Jimmy is facing charges of breaking and entering (a felony), misdemeanor assault, and misdemeanor damage to property. All three charges together could equal two to three years in prison. So naturally, Jimmy wants to plea and try to get the felony reduced. He thinks he’ll have a great shot at it if Bill Oakley, a deputy district attorney that Jimmy negotiated with throughout season 1, gets the case. But not only will Oakley not be handling the case, no one in the D.A’s office in Albuquerque will be due to their previous relationships with Jimmy. Instead, someone from the outside is being brought in to handle Jimmy’s legal issue.

“Tough But Fair”

Kyra Hay is the name of the attorney being brought in to prosecute Jimmy. And I don’t think Jimmy’s charm will have much impact on her. She makes clear in her first meeting with Chuck that she will “hold the line” on the felony charge. But Chuck has another solution. He doesn’t want his brother in prison. He just wants Jimmy’s law license.

BCS S3 E3 Out of town lawyer

Meet Kyra Hay, the attorney that will be prosecuting Jimmy’s case.

And that is the dilemma Jimmy voices to Kim in the episode’s final scene. He could take the “pre prosecution diversion” and avoid jail time. But that means Jimmy must confess to a felony, which will be submitted to the New Mexico Bar Association for review.

I think we all know Jimmy wasn’t taking that deal. And not only will Jimmy be fighting the charges, but Kim will be joining him after she insists he should let her help him.

BCS S3 E3 Kim and Jimmy

Kim and Jimmy discussing his pending court case.

Of Note

-I loved Jimmy’s self awareness in that final scene when he asks Kim why she would help a guy like him.

-The Mesa Verde case has Kim spending many (if not all) nights at the office. Good thing there’s a health club with showers just across the street where she can get ready for work every morning.

-So Chuck’s had two people buy everything for him and meet every little selfish demand he has. He prevented one (Jimmy) of those from getting a better job and he fired the other (Ernesto). When Jimmy said “You’ll die alone” to Chuck, I think those words may prove prophetic.

-And Chuck sure didn’t seem to have any issues with “electricity” when he was lecturing Jimmy at the start of the episode.

-Three episodes in and we have yet to see Nacho?

Breaking Bad Reprisals

-Dr. Barry Goodman, the man Mike picked up the cocaine from, is a doctor who works for Gus. He operated on both Gus and Mike in Season 4 following the attack on the drug cartel in Juarez, Mexico.

BCS S3 E3 Mike and the Doctor

Mike makes a pickup from Dr. Barry Goodman, a doctor on Gus’s payroll.

Let’s hope we get some “Jimmy in court” footage next week as the show moves towards, what I think, will be Jimmy and Chuck’s final confrontation.