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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 09 September 2018 at 9:34pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

By the way, I bought this book as a birthday gift to myself, some months back, and now I’m finally reading it:



I do believe it’s the first (but surely not the last) book which takes a critical look at the show. And it’s written by a practicing lawyer! Yet, while the legal aspects of the show are examined, that’s not the main focus. The book also gets into a lot of interesting thematic and character stuff, too. I’m enjoying it quite a bit. The downside is that it only covers the first two seasons of the show. Perhaps an updated and expanded version will be written after the show ends.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 09 September 2018 at 9:58pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

http://digg.com/2018/better-call-saul-season-4-slow-transfor mation-breaking-bad
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 10 September 2018 at 11:11pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

“Pińata”. 


Last episode showed us both the end and the beginning of Saul Goodman. Appropriately, this one begins with the origin of Jimmy McGill’s desire to become James M. McGill, Esq. The opening flashback is pretty darn important, since we see that Jimmy basically just wanted to hitch himself to Kim’s rising star so he could be with her. 

And, of course, we have the pleasant surprise of Michael McKean’s guest appearance. 

In “present day”, we have the symbolic end of James M. McGill, Esq., when Jimmy is told that Mrs. Strauss (from “Alpine Shepherd Boy”) has died. There are a lot of callbacks to the first season in this episode, and all of them contribute to a pervasive sense of loss and foreboding. 

We get a nice, creepy little monologue from Gus. The obvious parallel between his story and his plans for Hector and the cartel is...well...obvious. What’s actually important here is that we get a smidge of Gus’ backstory, and get a real sense of just how obsessive and patient he is. I get the impression that Gilligan and company don’t plan on getting too much into Gus’ backstory, unlike with Saul and Mike. Gus works best as a mystery man. Peel too many layers back, and something will get lost. 

Man, Jonathan Banks is a national treasure, isn’t he? There’s a wonderful sense of quietly vulnerability in the scene where Mike visits Stacey. It’s something that Banks has very, very rarely shown in Mike. Just about the only other time was in “5-0”, when he recalled his son’s death. It’s become clear that Mike is trying to lose himself in his work for Gus rather than face his guilt over his son’s murder. And his special skill at reading people, while grossly inappropriate for a grief support group, is extremely valuable when it comes to vetting the men who will construct the super lab. As with Jimmy, he’s slowly sliding into a life where his special skills are both valued and profitable, rather than trying to be someone he’s not.

Great scene with Howard. His big (...and uncensored!) f-bomb explains why this episode aired with an advisory for language. Early on in the show’s run, I found myself wondering if HHM still existed during BREAKING BAD. Well, we might be getting an answer to that, now.

I do also find myself wondering what Kim was thinking when she saw Jimmy’s sketches for his “bigger and better” Wexler McGill law firm. Of course, that pipe dream has been the one thing Jimmy’s had to cling to since Chuck’s death. Kim is obviously moving in another direction, toward the sort of white-shoe law firm that Jimmy would never fit in at. The moment where she shoots his dream down by revealing the job offer from Schweikart is surely a pivotal moment in the series. The importance of that moment is underlined when Jimmy runs off and has his mini-panic attack. You can see something important break inside of him, right there. That’s the moment when he stops caring. The dream he set himself up for a decade early was a hopeless fantasy. All of that work and suffering for nothing. No respect from Chuck, no fantasy life as law partners with Kim. Just Slippin’ Jimmy getting disrespected and (literally) beaten down by punk kids he should easily be gritting. So, of course, immediately he resolves to fix that.

The entire run of the series has established that, when beaten down, Jimmy will commit himself to fighting back even harder than he did before. This even extends to his stated intent to be a lawyer, at the end of the last episode. There’s an almost childlike, “I’ll show them!” quality to the character. Jimmy’s little speech at the end of the last episode played like a wounded child vowing to get revenge on all of the people who haven’t respected him. 

Well, now we have Jimmy crossing numerous moral and ethical lines by enlisting Huell and Man Mountain (another first season callback) to scare the heck out the punk kids who rolled him, last week. It’s an amazing sequence, and feels like something out of a horror movie. With his dreams of Wexler McGill dashed for good, he’s going all-in with building his little underground business (to the point of using Chuck’s inheritance money to buy a ton of phones), and threatening the competition as if he were a gangster. 

And it all feels so sad.


Edited by Greg Kirkman on 11 September 2018 at 8:52pm
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Steve De Young
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Posted: 11 September 2018 at 12:06pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

I didn't read the opening scene so much as Jimmy wanting to hitch himself to Kim.  I read it more as, as you mention later, him seeing how Chuck spoke to Kim with respect as opposed to how Chuck spoke to him.  I think the things that put Slippin' Jimmy on hold were his desperate desire to get Chuck's respect, which of course he now knows was a complete failure, and then, as that collapsed, he latched onto his love for Kim to try to help him do better.  And now that, particular in this episode, came crashing down.

Jimmy has made at least some effort to tone down his schemes and his chicanery for the sake of Kim, to try to play it straight.  He's willing to make sacrifices for the sake of their relationship and try to be a different (better) person.  After last night's episode, it would sure seem to Jimmy like Kim isn't interested in sacrificing her own career or desires for him in any way.

So at the point we're at now, what motivation does Jimmy have to restrain himself?
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 11 September 2018 at 8:45pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

I didn't read the opening scene so much as Jimmy wanting to hitch himself to Kim.  I read it more as, as you mention later, him seeing how Chuck spoke to Kim with respect as opposed to how Chuck spoke to him.  I think the things that put Slippin' Jimmy on hold were his desperate desire to get Chuck's respect, which of course he now knows was a complete failure, and then, as that collapsed, he latched onto his love for Kim to try to help him do better.  And now that, particular in this episode, came crashing down.
++++++

Yeah, I need a second viewing to better process that opening. Could very well be read as Jimmy wanting to be respected by Chuck the way that Kim was. But, his desire to be partners with Kim (both personally and professionally) is surely in there, too!

I think it was pretty clear from the start that Jimmy’s relationships with both Chuck and Kim would be the pivot points for his descent. Chuck’s death and all of the conflict and baggage lurking behind it sent Jimmy into a tailspin. At this point, Kim has been the only thing keeping him from plugging into the abyss of crime and amorality, and she unknowingly just tossed him an anchor.

Huge turning point at the end of this episode, that’s for sure. For the first time, Jimmy has willfully threatened people with violence, something we’ve never seen him do, pre-Saul. And, remember, Saul was more than happy to casually suggest murdering people during BREAKING BAD. There’s a distinct possibility that Jimmy/Proto-Saul May actually be involved with (or even commit) murder(s) before the show is over. How dark can things get? 

I must again say that I find myself strangely apprehensive about the show, going forward. In a good way, of course. Top-notch, character-driven storytelling. It’s just that I didn’t expect to be so invested, emotionally. Now that things are going the way they are, I have this unshakeable feeling of sadness and foreboding, and a great sense of nostalgia for the earlier seasons, which were a lot of fun. 

Those days really are over. As noted, there’s a big, dark cloud hanging over this season. We all expected it, of course, but I’m really seeing Gilligan and company’s point of view, in terms of their desire to disregard the established lore and somehow NOT have Jimmy become Saul. Actually watching this inevitable drama play out is legitimately heartbreaking. And we’re only just getting into the thick of it, now. 
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Trevor Krysak
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Posted: 11 September 2018 at 9:37pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

I'd say Steve nailed it. Jimmy tries to model himself on people he views as powerful, important or who are able to stand outside the norm. He meets a con man when he's a kid and that helps awaken aspects of that within him. When that fails Chuck is there to save him. He sees the world of HHM and in turn meets Kim. He cares for Kim and sees that she really respects Chuck. So he goes into law. And from there it's a series of suits and personas to get what he truly craves. Respect. But it's either undone by his past or by the methods he takes to get there.

Jimmy is and always will be in search of himself. He's a smart and perceptive person but hasn't really figured himself out. He's become so used to defining himself by what role he plays but it's all outward facing. We get the occasional glimpse into what he might be thinking but I believe it's all about getting validation from other people.

He's obviously highly skilled at a lot of different jobs and tasks. But there's no real love for what he does. It's all a means to an end. I just picture him having to be this poor, anonymous schlub just working his day to day job in a mall and it must be like purgatory for him. He has no moves there. No ways to break out. Any attention is bad attention. And ultimately he did it to himself.
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Thomas Woods
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Posted: 11 September 2018 at 10:55pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

Am I correct in seeing that Kim saw on a notepad his
enthusiasm for their future together and then she goes
out and does something to nix that and inform him right
away about her decision?

Edited by Thomas Woods on 11 September 2018 at 10:56pm
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 11 September 2018 at 11:39pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

Am I correct in seeing that Kim saw on a notepad his 
enthusiasm for their future together and then she goes 
out and does something to nix that and inform him right 
away about her decision?
++++++

The latest INSIDER Podcast gets into this, to a degree. Episode writer Gennifer Hutchison states that Kim is basically trying to be strong for the both of them while also staying financially afloat. She accepts Jimmy at face value when he says that therapy wouldn’t be a good fit for him, and also feels free enough to do what she feels is best for her.

At the same time, though, you get the sense that she sees Jimmy’s almost childlike dream for their future together, and knows that’s not what she wants. Actively pursuing a job from Schweikart seems like less of an attempt to push Jimmy away than it is about trying to find her own bliss.

Of course, Kim’s respect for Jimmy seemingly knowing what’s best for him (and her own indulgence in chasing what’s best for her) looks to be the thing that will completely untether Jimmy from being a (reasonably) law-abiding citizen. As has been noted, Jimmy keeps trying to mold himself around people he admires. He wants respect and validation. The ending of “Quite a Ride” made very clear that, for perhaps the first time ever, he’s going to make the world see and respect him for him. Even if he didn’t quite know it himself, at that point, since he was still pinning his hopes on Wexler-McGill. 

Without that dream to cling to, without that veneer created by Jimmy molding himself around other people, you end up with the guy we’ve seen lurking under the surface all this time: Slippin’ Jimmy working as a “colorful” lawyer (in more ways than one). In other words, a chimp with a machine gun. And we all certainly know where that road will lead.


Edited by Greg Kirkman on 12 September 2018 at 8:22am
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 11 September 2018 at 11:45pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

By the way, it’s surely no accident that Kim says “I like it. I’m good at it.” when telling Jimmy about her public defender work. Gotta be a deliberate callback to Walter White’s famous confession in the BREAKING BAD series finale. 

Of course, the context is the polar opposite, since Kim is doing a good thing with the legitimate goal of helping people in need. She and Jimmy have been drifting apart for awhile. She’s trying to find and become her best self, and he’s sliding back into old patterns as a coping mechanism for his grief. 
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Brian Miller
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Posted: 12 September 2018 at 8:18am | IP Logged | 10 post reply

With Kim’s admission that the enjoys the PD work, I’m now thinking that it actually IS her number Saul gives to Francesca in the previous episode. 
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 12 September 2018 at 8:25am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

That would be the best-case scenario: Kim and Jimmy split up, and then she goes on to really make something of herself. The sort of successful, legitimate lawyer Saul would want to send Francesca to for help, later on.
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 13 September 2018 at 5:30am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

The scene at the restaurant had so many layers to it. Not only did Kim put the kibosh on the idea of Wexler-McGill, but there were unintentional but symbolic rejections of Jimmy in other ways. 

First, Kim is going to work for the firm that represents Sandpiper Crossing just as Jimmy is mourning the death of one of his Sandpiper clients and the star of his commercial. 

Secondly, after working to become the kind of lawyer that he thinks Chuck and Kim would respect, Jimmy finds out that Kim has fallen in love with the indigent defense work that he was doing at the start of the show.
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 13 September 2018 at 5:45am | IP Logged | 13 post reply

With Kim’s admission that the enjoys the PD work, I’m now thinking that it actually IS her number Saul gives to Francesca in the previous episode. 

-----

Plus if Kim is still a partner at a big firm in the BREAKING BAD time period, it makes a little more sense that he told Francesca "Tell 'em Jimmy sent you." If Kim had remained a sole practitioner, it'd be weird for Jimmy to give Francesca a referral to someone she already knew.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 13 September 2018 at 9:54am | IP Logged | 14 post reply

First, Kim is going to work for the firm that represents Sandpiper Crossing just as Jimmy is mourning the death of one of his Sandpiper clients and the star of his commercial. 

Secondly, after working to become the kind of lawyer that he thinks Chuck and Kim would respect, Jimmy finds out that Kim has fallen in love with the indigent defense work that he was doing at the start of the show.
+++++++

Those are are both nice, subtle payoffs to seeds planted in the first two seasons. 

They’re like ships in the night. Season one Jimmy and season four Kim might have been able to work. Now, though, Kim is slowly finding herself in a way Jimmy couldn’t by doing PD work, whereas Jimmy is backsliding into crime as a coping mechanism. 

It also appears that the Sandpiper plotline may yet pay off (literally, in Jimmy’s case, since he’s still due his share of the eventual settlement). There are a lot of foundational elements from the early seasons which are slowly and subtly coming into play, now.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Jimmy’s share of the eventual Sandpiper settlement gets rolled into his new practice, to be based in a strip mall which can be easily accessed by the sort of clients he wants to attract. And maybe it’ll allow him to buy a Cadillac.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 13 September 2018 at 12:16pm | IP Logged | 15 post reply

https://www.indiewire.com/2018/09/better-call-saul-season-4- bob-odenkirk-jonathan-banks-character-development-1202002966 /
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Shane Matlock
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Posted: 14 September 2018 at 10:02pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

I got some real joy in seeing those young punks who beat him up and mugged him in the previous episode get their comeuppance. 
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Bill Collins
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Posted: 16 September 2018 at 9:17am | IP Logged | 17 post reply

Those German guys, can`t possibly complete the job and
live can they?
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Brian Miller
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Posted: 16 September 2018 at 10:35am | IP Logged | 18 post reply

Well, we know at least one of them won’t make it out alive. 
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Bill Collins
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Posted: 16 September 2018 at 11:17am | IP Logged | 19 post reply

True!
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Steve De Young
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Posted: 16 September 2018 at 2:36pm | IP Logged | 20 post reply

I have a sneaking suspicion that a certain German worker is going to end up being Mike's first professional hit.
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Brian Miller
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Posted: 16 September 2018 at 4:55pm | IP Logged | 21 post reply

Thats what I was talking about. 
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 16 September 2018 at 8:02pm | IP Logged | 22 post reply

Y’never know, though. The setup almost seems too obvious. Maybe they’ll surprise us.

Edited by Greg Kirkman on 16 September 2018 at 8:03pm
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Bill Collins
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Posted: 16 September 2018 at 9:53pm | IP Logged | 23 post reply

Well, they did confound my expectations this ep...i was
expecting Hector`s finger to move as Gus left his room.
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Michael Arndt
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Posted: 17 September 2018 at 4:31pm | IP Logged | 24 post reply

I thought the same thing, Bill.

Edited by Michael Arndt on 17 September 2018 at 4:31pm
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 17 September 2018 at 11:44pm | IP Logged | 25 post reply

“Something Stupid”.


Fantastic and momentous episode. 

The opening montage is pure genius, and that’s saying something, because this show is the king of TV montages. So much important information is crammed into this short sequence. First, there’s the all-important time-gap, which allows several major plotlines (Jimmy’s suspension, the construction of the superlab, Hector’s recovery) to advance. More importantly, we’re shown in a very blunt and painful way just how and why Jimmy and Kim are drifting apart. Brilliant storytelling, here.

Wonderful setup and payoff with Hector deliberately knocking over the cup so he can check out the nurse, and Gus picking up on it. And what a lovely twist it is to see Gus make certain that Hector is still in there before putting the brakes on his treatment, so as to further torture him.

Very cool to see the beginnings of the superlab. I have the sneaking feeling that Kai is a red herring, and that Mike’s growing friendship with Werner will actually be the cause of his final turn to the dark side.

Major developments on the Saul front, here. Aside from the obvious distance between Jimmy and Kim, we also have Jimmy passive-aggressively taking out his resentment and jealousy on Schweikart at the party. Huell has essentially become his surrogate Kim. Jimmy’s hair is falling out. He’s wearing garishly-colored tracksuits while selling phones to criminals. And he’s now using the Saul Goodman name in connection with his little criminal side business, complete with business cards. 

There’s a lot more of Saul in Odenkirk’s performance, now, but it’s wonderfully subtle. His plan to discredit the cop and get Huell off is very Saul-ish, and Kim’s stunned reaction to it is one of the best moments in the episode. Another great moment is when the opposing counsel lays out for Kim exactly what Jimmy has been up to, and the reality of the situation clearly hits her hard.

...but, she suddenly appears to slip in Giselle St. Clair mode, at the end of the episode. Which is definitely unexpected!
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