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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?).

“Bingo”

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.

 

Who Will Die in Better Call Saul?

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

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

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

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

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

1. Nacho (80% chance he dies)

Who Will Die Nacho

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

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

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

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

2. Chuck (60% chance he dies)

who will die Chuck

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

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

3. Gene (45% chance he dies)

Who Will Die Gene

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

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

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

4. Kim (40% chance she dies)

Who Will die Kim

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

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

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

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

5. Howard (10% chance he dies)

Who Will Win Howard

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

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

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

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

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

Better Call Saul Season 3, Episode 1: Mabel

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

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

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

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

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

“Get a Lawyer!!!

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

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

BCS S3 Gene 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

BCS S3 Kim and Jimmy

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

BCS S3 Howard and Chuck

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BCS S3 Kim Mesa Verde

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

 

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

The Gas Cap

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

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

BCS S3 E1 Mike

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

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

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

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

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

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

Observations

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

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

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

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

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

See you next week.

Better Call Saul Season 3 Preview

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

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

Previously on….

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

BCS S2 Klick

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

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

BCS S3 Kim and Jimmy

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

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

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

BCS S3 Don't

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

How Much Trouble is Jimmy in?

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

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

BCS S3 Jimmy in Prison

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

Gus is Back!!!!

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

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

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

How Close are We Getting to Saul?

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

Other Questions

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

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

BCS S3 Tio Today BCS S3 Tio Wheelchair

(Hector Season 2 next to Hector from Breaking Bad)

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

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

-When did Chuck become sensitive to electricity?

-Will we ever meet the elder Hamlin?

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

BCS S3 Gene 2

“Gene” in Season 3.

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

 

Best Television Shows of the 90’s

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

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

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

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

 

10. Boy Meets World

Boy Meets World

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

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

9. Saved By the Bell

Saved by the Bell

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

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

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

8. NYPD Blue

NYPD Blue

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

7. Beverly Hills 90210

Beverly Hills 90210

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

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

6. Home Improvement

Home Improvement

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

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

5. Roseanne

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

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

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

4. Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Fresh Prince

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

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

3. ER

ER

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

2. Friends

Friends

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

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

1b. The Simpsons

The Simpsons

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

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

1a. Seinfeld

seinfeld

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

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

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