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Michael Arndt
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Posted: 11 October 2018 at 1:27pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Definitely want to see more Saul/Mike scenes next season.
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Brian Miller
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Posted: 11 October 2018 at 5:30pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

Yes, Greg. Agreed. 
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Shane Matlock
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Posted: 11 October 2018 at 7:41pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

Better Call Saul, like Breaking Bad before it, just gets better every season. I've never been more invested in its characters and plot line than I was during this season. For most TV shows the opposite is true. Vince Gilligan is an amazing writer. 
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Brian Miller
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Posted: 12 October 2018 at 4:51am | IP Logged | 4 post reply

I’m in an argument right now in which my opponent is of the belief that Kim wrote the letter. I’m of the mind that she did not. I found an interview where Odenkirk says he doesn’t think so, but I’ve not been able to find anything where Gilligan says anything about it. 
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 12 October 2018 at 8:19am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

The notion that Kim wrote the letter seems to be just a misguided fan theory. The thought never even crossed my mind until I read about it. On the INSIDER Podcast and whatnot, they’ve made it pretty clear that the letter was simply written by Chuck during a period long before his relationship with Jimmy fell apart. He was basically giving Jimmy a pat on the head in the event of his own death.

Note that Kim hides the letter in her casefile box so that Jimmy can’t see it, then later pulls it out and gives it to him when her guilt catches up with her. She also gets emotional when he reads it out loud. She’s not the type to pull a con which manipulates people by really pulling on their heartstrings. These are not the actions of someone who deliberately falsified the letter as an act of manipulation. These are the actions of someone who knows how emotionally fragile her partner is, and struggles over what to do about the letter thst’s been handed to her.

On the flipside, Gilligan and crew have occasionally made note of the notion that a con which shamelessly manipulates people on a deeply emotional level is “the lowest sort of con”, and is something which Jimmy himself had previously looked down upon. His big speech is “Winner” is indeed a major turning point, since he is now willing to pull that type of con himself, which is something he was previously opposed to.


Edited by Greg Kirkman on 12 October 2018 at 8:21am
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Shane Matlock
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Posted: 12 October 2018 at 5:35pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

I don't think Kim wrote the letter either. She's not as good as faking emotions as Jimmy is, as she can't even tell when he's faking an emotion. I was just as fooled as she was by Jimmy's courtroom speech, shedding a tear myself. Jimmy is a sociopath, albeit a very likable one that you want to love and not one without redeeming qualities, and Kim isn't, no matter how many cons she pulls with him. 
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 12 October 2018 at 9:01pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

 I was just as fooled as she was by Jimmy's courtroom speech, shedding a tear myself.
++++++++

See, I find comments like this interesting. It seems like a lot of viewers were taken in by the speech. Me, I saw through it immediately. There are some wonderful subtleties Odenkirk injects into the monologue, like the slyly sinister subtext in his delivery when he says that he would have liked to have had a chance to tell Chuck how he really felt. 


Edited by Greg Kirkman on 12 October 2018 at 9:02pm
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 12 October 2018 at 9:50pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

Huh?

How the heck does someone come up with the conclusion that Kim wrote the letter?

**Chuck hand signed the letter**   

With his signature.   

With a pen (and probably one of those fancy feather quills to boot).

End of argument.


I seriously wonder sometimes if other people are watching the same show as we are.

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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 13 October 2018 at 12:19am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

A lot of things are deliberately left open to interpretation on both BB and BCS, and that’s a great strength of both shows. As I’ve often noted, BB is like a moral Rorschach test for the audience. People have completely different viewing experiences because of the emotional and moral baggage which they bring to the table. Just look at the negative response to Skyler White. I just don’t get it at all. Some viewers see her as a nagging shrew who was always trying to spoil Walt’s fun. Me, I saw her as very much a victim of Walt’s bad choices (and later her own), and a woman who was unwittingly trapped between a rock and a hard place because of his choices.


I can’t forget my first viewing of “Crazy Handful of Nothin’” from BB’s first season. There’s that moment where Walt gets into his car after blowing out Tuco’s windows with the fulminated mercury, and has a visceral, animalistic reaction. My initial read of that moment was Walt feeling anger and frustration at being forced into such a dangerous situation. A primal release of tension and fear. Upon immediately rewatching the episode with the audio commentary track, however, I noted Gilligan and the others commenting on Walt’s sense of victory in that moment. And, for the first time, I noticed the small smile on Bryan Cranston’s face immediately after Walt’s gutteral reaction in the car.

I had been so taken in by my initial impression of Walt as a decent guy who was feeling extremely guilty and frustrated by the dark turn his life had taken over the last few episode that I had completely missed the actual point of that moment. From that day on, I began paying a lot more attention to the subtleties of the acting and writing of BB. Same with BCS. 



Anyway, some of these things are pretty clear-cut, and I think the letter is one of them. This whole recent phenomenon of clickbait fan-theories is a blight upon discussions of popular entertainment. Personal interpretations are one thing, but seeing things whch aren’t actually there and rewriting/overcomplicating a reasonably clear story point is something else.
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Bill Collins
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Posted: 13 October 2018 at 4:55am | IP Logged | 10 post reply

I agree Greg, there are a lot of subtleties that can be
taken a couple of ways. Take the fly episode of BB, it
could be taken as a brief bit of comic relief, but also
it was a sign that Walt and obsession would lead him
down a self destructive path that even if he knew it
would hurt him and his loved ones, he couldn`t/wouldn`t
deviate from.
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 13 October 2018 at 8:57am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

... and the fly episode also appears to be not-well-liked among the demographics who were cheering on Walter as an empowering avatar for the things they themselves would like to do and say in the real world. I daresay a Venn diagram showing the overlap between those who hate Skylar and dislike this episode would be pretty close to a circle. 

On the flip side "Fly" is also well-loved among those who've worked in film and television production or have an eye for the overall themes BB was trying to convey (especially as BB was unfolding week-to-week and the show was nowhere near it's ending yet).

That's why BB was one of the best shows on television -- it's no mean feat to have courted both of these audiences and kept them viewing to the end.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 13 October 2018 at 9:08am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

“Fly” is one of my favorite episodes. It’s a bottle episode, yes, but it also allows us take a breath and spend time with Walt and Jesse and get a sense of where their heads are at. Lots of great moments. It starts out with a lot of jokes, and then settles into an examination of Walt’s fear regarding the Gus situation, and guilt over his past choices—specifically, letting Jane die. 




...that being said, “Fly”, “Fifty-One”, and “Ozymandias” (the single best episode of the entire run, and one of the best hours of dramatic television ever filmed) are now all oh-so-slightly tainted for me, thanks to the involvement of a certain fellow named Rian Johnson. But that’s another story.
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Shane Matlock
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Posted: 13 October 2018 at 10:36pm | IP Logged | 13 post reply

See, I find comments like this interesting. It seems like a lot of viewers were taken in by the speech. Me, I saw through it immediately. There are some wonderful subtleties Odenkirk injects into the monologue, like the slyly sinister subtext in his delivery when he says that he would have liked to have had a chance to tell Chuck how he really felt. 

*****

Jimmy being Jimmy I got that it was peppered with lies but I thought there was some truth at its emotional core, which I'm sure is the same thing Kim thought and why you got that look of shock when he played it all off as a complete sham. And even though Jimmy tried to act like it was all an act, I still feel like there was some truth mixed in and he just won't face it. You don't take care of your brother the way he did without there being some love there, even with all the admittedly earned resentment he had for Chuck. But I do think he's a sociopath, albeit one with a heart and emotional depth.


Edited by Shane Matlock on 13 October 2018 at 10:38pm
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 14 October 2018 at 1:09am | IP Logged | 14 post reply

That’s the genius of it, though, isn’t it? Jimmy IS tapping into his real emotions, but he’s compartmentalizing them in such a way so that he can actually use them as a tool for the emotional manipulation of others. He’s acknowledging his emotions without actually letting himself feel them.
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 14 October 2018 at 6:59am | IP Logged | 15 post reply

It shows how Kim has completely misread Jimmy.

Kim thinks that Jimmy sometimes doesn't play by the rules but underneath it all he's got a heart of gold and means well.   It's the safe-at-the-core but dangerous-on-the-fringes personality type.  Kim thinks she can either temper these traits over time or learn to live with them.  Kim also occasionally indulges Jimmy in this type of behavior because she has to put on a mask and present herself as boring and safe on a professional level and she needs to 'bust out' from time to time.   It's been there right from the pilot with Kim and Jimmy sharing smokes in the dark and grimy HHM parking garage, as compared to the bright facade of the HHM offices. 

Jimmy is actually the opposite personality in a very insidious way -- he presents himself (or tries to) as safe on the fringes but his emotional core is rotten and empty.   It didn't start out like that and we get twinges of a conscience from time to time but over the course of this season and the previous one he's learned to compartmentalize his emotions.   Kim's reaction is very much "This isn't the person I thought he was".

I was reading through the definitions of a sociopath versus a psychopath to see if Jimmy actually qualifies as either and I came across this at HealthyPlace.com: 

While sociopathy can only be diagnosed at the age of 18 or above, the following must be present before the age of 15 for the diagnosis:

  • Repeated violations of the law
  • Pervasive lying and deception
  • Physical aggressiveness
  • Reckless disregard for safety of self or others
  • Consistent irresponsibility in work and family environments
  • Lack of remorse
That pretty much describes Jimmy, except for the physical aggression and he did have some regard and loyalty towards Chuck in the first two seasons.

Psychopathy can be thought of as a more severe form of sociopathy with more symptoms. Therefore, all psychopaths are sociopaths but sociopaths are not necessarily psychopaths.

According to the Society for the Study of Psychopathy, psychopath traits include:

  • Lack of guilt/remorse
  • Lack of empathy
  • Lack of deep emotional attachments
  • Narcissism
  • Superficial charm
  • Dishonesty
  • Manipulativeness
  • Reckless risk-taking

Which does describe Season 3 and Season 4 Jimmy very well.  So is Jimmy a mild psychopath?

The psychopath entry also has this amusing nugget:

Moreover, approximately 93% of psychopaths are in the criminal justice system.

Of course this doesn't preclude psychopaths at the lawyer end of the system!



Edited by Rob Ocelot on 14 October 2018 at 10:42pm
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 14 October 2018 at 8:06am | IP Logged | 16 post reply

Excellent observations, Rob. I think that one of the reasons why the finale pays off so well is that, in addition to the slow and subtle changes to the dynamics of his interpersonal relationships, we also see how Jimmy’s ability to con has changed.

The show has repeatedly established what kinds of cons Jimmy was previously willing to engage in, and why. He generally was out to either take advantage of people who deserved it (the greedy, the guilty, etc.), or for misguided, albeit “good” reasons. As noted, he generally felt that cons involving blatant emotional manipulation were beneath him. His cons were more about slight of hand/misdirection and exploiting the greed and pettiness of others. It was never purely about his own personal greed, opportunism, or malice.

His big reinstatement speech represents a fundamental shift in his outlook and methodology as a con artist. He’s now willing to con innocent people, and will use all of the tools at his disposal, including emotional manipulation.


Of course, there’s also a case to be made that Walter White was always a closet sociopath/psychopath, even prior to the cancer diagnosis. Both BB and BCS have provided in-depth studies of the nature of the hows and whys of criminality. I think that Mike’s speech to Pryce in the first season of BCS about how there are good criminals and bad criminals is almost a thesis statement about the moral spectrum of both shows’ characters. There are good people who do bad things, and bad people who do good things. It’s not all clear-cut or black-and-white. 

“Gene”—to his own surprise—fingers the DVD thief at the mall during the third season opener, and then immediately goes into Saul Goodman mode by advising him to lawyer up. There are still elements of both Jimmy and Saul in there, which is partly why his life in Omaha is so utterly miserable.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 14 October 2018 at 8:22am | IP Logged | 17 post reply

https://www.vox.com/i-think-youre-interesting/2018/10/13/179 70052/better-call-saul-finale-interview-recap-winner-ending
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 14 October 2018 at 10:35am | IP Logged | 18 post reply

Interesting they are thinking of fleshing out Gene's story, possibly with full episodes or a whole season.

However I think they are going to play it so we end up with exactly the same number of episodes as BB -- so 12 more episodes to go which might mean a split season.

I also think there's going to be some symmetry between the situations for Jimmy/Saul/Gene respectively.  Flashbacks to Season 1 and 2 or pre-BCS with Chuck and flash-forwards to Gene might get equal time as Saul.

Did they ever show Gene's last name in the show?   I probalby missed it but he did show his ID/hospital card at least once.

...and of course Vince and Peter leave breadcrumbs in the character names -- they always have!

"Gene Takovic" 

Eugene -- "born well", but it also translates to "good baby" (a play on "Goodman")

Takovic --  is the Serbo-Croat diminutive form of "Tako" which roughly means "so" in the sense of "so, this is how it ends" or "so it goes".  The diminutive slavic forms are generally paternal posessive... like "child of"  "son of" (similar to the Gaelic O' prefix and the Scandanavian -son suffix).

We come up with:
Goodman's Own Ending.

:-)
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 14 October 2018 at 10:53am | IP Logged | 19 post reply

Did they ever show Gene's last name in the show?   I probalby missed it but he did show his ID/hospital card at least once.
+++++++

Yes, it was established in dialogue by the hospital clerk in the season four premiere.
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