Better Call Saul “Amarillo” Analysis (S2E03)

Yeah I was definitely thinking Gus throughout that ending. Between the “Cautious guy, aren’t you?” and the silhouette teasing, Gus pretty much was in that scene until they reveal he wasn’t. I’m glad it wasn’t him though for reasons everybody said, but I was also relieved because Nacho (or Ignacio) and the cartel has been hinted to play a very important role in this series and it’s better to build on that. I keep trying to watch without the BB goggles because I always assume it must be weird for people to watch this show first and see a show about Jimmy, his brother Chuck, his colleague Kim, and….the toll booth guy. Even in Breaking Bad, a character like Mike was introduced as a wink that stayed behind the curtain. For most of season 3, his character is shown but he’s ominous and he doesn’t even truly reveal himself until those last 2 episodes, Here though he’s been put at the forefront and other than being a familiar face for 90% of the audience who have experienced him in full grace, I keep asking why?

For one, this isn’t BB. Walt’s story of climbing into the world of criminality is different from Jimmy’s and because of that, it’s going to present itself differently. I really wish I can experience the show blind but from what I can appreciate, the wise well-meaning ‘tough but fair’ toll booth guy who helped Jimmy out of the Nacho situation with the Kettlemans in season one episode 3, is the same guy who is eventually going to pull Jimmy back into the Nacho conflict. From a storytelling standpoint, there’s something devastating about that. Other than us wanting Jimmy to do good and the notion that Jimmy is destined for this road through as Chuck would say “being who he truly is”, the last thing we need is Mike calling on Jimmy for favors. The cliffhanger of seeing Nacho shouldn’t just make us go “oh who’s Mike going to have to kill?” but after the whole squat cobbler dance, it’s also “shit, Jimmy’s going to get mixed up with this guy again”. Things are getting hot.

And man, what a payoff with Cliff. I think what made that angry phone call more anxiety-ridden was that he was presented last week (seemingly through Jimmy’s eyes) as a loose, guitar-plucking, turn-over that can be taken advantage of. Jimmy flipped his switch thinking nothing would happen, but wow. I didn’t know how to feel about his character last week. He came off like there was going to be some budding relationship between the two, like the brother Jimmy never had, and perhaps Jimmy might corrupt him or something since he’s so easy-going but man, what a turn. This will be a lot more fun. Ed Begley Jr. is going to be great.

I loved the commercial stuff, not just as sort of an origin story behind the eccentric Saul commercials that will come to be, but I just love that this lawyer show tackled those incredibly boring law firm commercials that run throughout the day. I also liked that they brought those film students back (glasses guy referred to as Kid Kubrick on the dvd commentary). What I found so funny is I think Jimmy McGill is the first character in television to ever call out the snobby “that’s going to cost you extra” camera guy character. Usually that stereotype always gets the better of the protagonist but Jimmy’s well-delivered “Does anyone like you?” was so rewarding.

Other than that, I enjoyed Chuck putting Jimmy in his place in the beginning. Chuck’s presence adds so much tension and is an added challenge to a character that on his own would be invincible with a fully functioning law firm at his disposal. I’m really glad Kim put her role in vouching for Jimmy into perspective for him too. As for Mike’s story with Stacey, there’s something up about that. We see that nothing came from Mike’s little stake-out in terms of the supposed gunshots, but perhaps that “bullet mark” was there previously when gunfire actually did go off and was only noticed now? Or is Stacey just playing Mike? It’s never really answered, but it’s got me interested.

Oh and yeah the pig toy I recognized right away and it was cool how they used it in the shot when the veterinarian calls about some “next level work”.

By the way, I was going to mention this last week, but I notice we’re getting the same title sequences as last season except now midway it cuts into black and white for a good few seconds. Are Gene’s VHS tapes aging/has a bad hookup? It’s definitely a recurring thing. I wonder if it’s alluding to eventually seeing more of Gene in the present or something.

Better Call Saul “Cobbler” Analysis (S2E02)

I watched the first episode again last night before the second and I just want to say the wood aesthetic of the new firm gives me a twin peaks vibe, but even more than that, I’m picking up on this ‘monkey with a machine gun in his new habitat’ vibe. It’s a new subtle jungle gym and even Jimmy’s fire place comes off like it was specially made for a zoo exhibit. Not that an animal would need one, but there’s something very brute and obtrusive about it, yet it fits the environment of that office.

I wish I could find a framegrab of the opening shot with the metronome because (not that I’m saying this was the intention, this is just the crazy feeling I got) but the wooden decorative ridges on the piano stand (at this point I thought we were back in Davis & Main) looked like….a monkey’s tail haha and then the metronome next to it reminded me of Walt’s machine gun. Again, not commenting on symbolism or intention, it’s obviously vague but just the feeling/thought that sparked from that shot as soon as I saw it. It would in turn relate to what Chuck’s feeling throughout that whole scene. The reveal that we’re with him and he’s playing “Sicilienne” on the piano was good. This is a piece that is actually intended to be played by two people, one being on piano and the other on cello, so it was pretty fitting that Chuck would want to play that on his own.

This episode was really strong and I love what we’re getting so far. Just like in breaking bad you get these episode titles where you don’t know what the context could possibly be and by the end of the episode you’ll never forget it. It sneaks up on you too whether it’s in last week’s “switch” or a more specific title like “cobbler”. I knew this was going to be one of those episodes but even with 10 minutes left, I couldn’t tell you how it was going to work it’s way in. I love how the action is in Saul’s mouth during that scene. I actually stood up in involuntarily as if I was watching a shootout, but all it is, was just Saul killing it.

Mike and Nacho’s standoff was really good. I love how Mike plays Nacho the same way Nacho would play Price, but at the same time Nacho holds his own so it just makes it all the more fun to watch. Michael Mando is great here and I even loved his calm vocal delivery of “he thinks you should go somewhere else” (paraphrasing) while being physically blunt and intimidating behind the boss’s back in the same line. I love that this show can offer breaking bad-esque confrontations like this and then give us very well-played boardroom drama at HHM between Chuck and Jimmy. That anxiety and battle of encouragement between Chuck and Kim. Just really heavy stuff.

Better Call Saul “Switch” Analysis (S2E01)

*I will be editing these earlier write-ups in order to provide a more in-depth analysis of the episode.  The format and structure from the latter half of these review submissions is the more concise quality that I will be aiming for when I give the final edit.  In the meantime, this is just a rough draft that’s only here as a placeholder.*

I really love that they incorporated Ken into the story rather than just give a wink too because now if you watched saul as a prequel series, Walt blowing his car up in breaking bad will just have that added humor that Ken is getting screwed with again rather than just being “oh i guess that brief cut to the random annoying guy was an easter egg who will eventually gets what’s coming to him here in BB. I’m also glad that they wrote him as intelligent and more human when Jimmy and Kim approach him. Other than that, such a fun and unexpected character to see again and it brought us such a sweet moment between Jimmy and Kim. That look before they kiss was so well acted. You can’t write that.

Great premiere. Mere minutes before the episode started, the thought crossed my mind whether the cold open would be a flash-forward again and then all of a sudden there we were and it was a strong way to kick things off. The slow push in towards the wall of graffiti and the “sg was here” was delightfully ‘lilly of the valley-esque’. I loved the switch ending and how it contrasted with the cold open. Jimmy has no problem drinking cucumber water from the spout and disobeying warning signs. He’s finding no obvious consequences to it which will probably not bode well for him in this series, let alone for where we know breaking bad gets him. I mean how bad will things get to the point of never seeing Chuck or Kim ever again?

Price is a guy who doesn’t realize the foolish choices he was making and the warning sign he ignores, given by Mike, was a lot more blatant and clear. Then to call the police upon himself, he pretty much figuratively breezed straight through cold open’s emergency exit without realizing the risk.

Like I said earlier in this thread, after watching season 1 again on dvd (and also again to show my sister), I’ve come to really look forward to the entire cast of characters rather than depending on the familiar ones. So a nice Kim/Jimmy-centric episode with them just having fun together was very charming and enjoyable.

This episode was dedicated to Todd Sopher who passed away back in October. He was a teamster on both shows and played the big guy who high fives during the “yeah bitch! magnets!” scene. He also was on BCS in “Bingo” as the guy who bumps Saul in the small bathroom when he’s calling Kim about the Kettleman’s. RIP