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Better Call Saul

Click here for our past discussion about the show.

From now on, because only a few of us are watching, starting with S02E04, I will be blogging my impressions in comments. SPOILER WARNING!

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A.V. Club Episode Reviews
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9 Comments leave one →
  1. March 10, 2016 8:26 pm

    S02E04 “Gloves Off”

    SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!!

    Showing the end from the beginning, not my favorite film making device, but done well nevertheless.

    Conversation between Mike and the Gun salesman that Walter bought from, nice fan service/continuity.

    And I quit the law. For. Good. No more Jimmy McGill Esquire. Poof! Like he never even existed!
    Foreshadowing the transition from Jimmy McGill Esquire to Saul Goodman. Nothing Chuck said was untrue, or even cruel considering the circumstances.

    But hands-down, the best scene, perhaps even of the season thus far, was Mike and Tuco at the restaurant, right down to the camera work when the cars bump.

    Raymond Cruz is an exceptional actor, and he was brilliant in this scene. As we saw in Season 1, he loves his mother dearly and anyone who calls her a “Biznotch” can expect to have their lives ended, or at least their legs cracked around until they lie backwards.

    Here he was dealing with an old man who just bumped his car pretending it didn’t matter. When Mike first walks into the restaurant, Tuco is almost heartbroken that he is going to have to confront an old man for bumping his car. In fact, he waits to allow Mike to confess first. Tuco’s internal conflict, explicit in the dialogue (swearing but still addressing politely), couldn’t possibly have been done better. Had Mike been a young banger, Tuco would almost certainly have done major harm. As it was, even after a polite conversation in which “Mr. Magoo” did everything he could to be irritating, Tuco still addresses him as “sir”. It is that Spanish-speaking, Catholic-raised Mexican, taught no doubt through slaps on the head, to respect his elders. And it is expertly portrayed.

    One of my favorite scenes in a very long time.

    Absolutely brilliant TV.

  2. March 17, 2016 1:56 am

    S02E04 “Rebecca”

    This episode was “quiet” but chalk full of important background. Chuck’s story of Jimmy and his father served to further round the edges of already complex characters. Part of me does wonder if it is all true (though Chuck, whatever else he may be, doesn’t seem given to stretching the truth). Kim’s thread was amazing and heart-breaking and amazing again. She is like the anti-slacker. If ever you get tired of watching people being their own worst enemy, she is the cure: perseverance, grit, inner strength, self-sacrifice, driven. I enjoyed every minute of the whole show, but the last scene in the restaurant with Mike and Tio was (obviously) the highlight.

    And Rebecca, in case I forget, is/was Chuck’s wife. Apparently, her name was on the sheet music that Chuck played at the beginning of S2E2. Which reminds me, I have to find the name of that song!

    So get this. The song, “Sicilienne“, that Chuck plays at the beginning of S2E2 was first used in the play “Pelléas and Mélisande“, in which the wife of one brother fell in love with the other.

    Vince Gilligan and his writers put some time into their stories. Multiple viewings will be rewarded.

    From S2E2

  3. May 16, 2016 6:26 am

    Skipping a couple of episodes for write up. I really enjoyed Jimmy getting himself fired. His clothing, but best of all, his idea to “save water”. ROFLMAO. One of the best practical jokes you can pull on a person is to leave your dookie unflushed, but you really crank it up a notch if you also dispose of the toilet paper via another toilet, so that when people look in the bowl, all they see id Dookie! Some people miss it, but others think, “Hey, this guy didn’t even wipe!!!”

    Tonight I started S2E9, “Nailed” and the opening sequence was brilliant. One of my favorite characters of all time is Omar from The Wire. And Mike went all Omar in those minutes. SO GOOD! Ok, now I gotta get back to it.

  4. May 16, 2016 6:52 pm

    S2E10 Season Finale “Klick”

    Some of the best writing in any medium. Always in a direction I don’t expect. Back in E7/8, we see Jimmy as a kid lookin’ at the Playboys in his dad’s store, and recognizing the grifters for who they are. Trying to help his dad, but losing all respect when his dad doesn’t listen. Then Chuck keeping secret their mom’s last words.

    This episode was gripping, and hysterical. First, Mike’s thread, I don’t know who or how he was warned. More on that in a bit. When Chuck was wheeled into the emergency room, and the doctors first violate him with the pupil test, then the operating table lights and ear checks, all the while describing the tests they will perform, from EKG to CAT scan. I was laughing so hard I had to turn it off. I couldn’t risk waking the household. Literally, I had to turn it off and finish it this morning.

    And then we end the episode with the brothers in Chuck’s house again. And just like last year, it ends on an ominous note.

    As a whole, I don’t think there is a series that demonstrates the consequences of our immoral actions, from lies to vigilantism, better than this one (and its source, BB). Mike makes Salamanka pay, and does so without hurting the driver, but then the good Samaritan who comes to rescue the driver, and the driver himself both get killed. There are ramifications for our actions, and they move out from us like a circular wave. Jimmy forges the documents, which puts his brother in the hospital and worse. Then, Chuck uses Jimmy’s compassion against him to trap him. We shall see the fallout of that next season.

    So incredible. What a great series and completely misunderstood if people think it glorifies the grifter, or the criminal. It is more the opposite of that than any other show/movie I know.

    And, oh, did I laugh.

  5. April 14, 2017 5:51 am

    S3E1 “Mabel” Absolutely brilliant teaser, taking us back to the future at Cinnebon. You could just feel his bitter frustration that he couldn’t help the kid he ratted on.

    More typical, enjoyable regular stuff with Jimmy et al, and more compelling drama with Mike.

    Having said that, I have finally put my finger on it. Gilligan is all about Voyeurism. Think about it. There must be 30 minutes in this episode where we are watching Mike (and the others, too) do THE most mundane things, without any understanding about what he knows, or why he is doing it. Vince Gilligan is an absolute genius and is counting 100% on the tendency for people to just enjoy watching people. Talk about slow burn, I’m telling you, if I didn’t trust him, I would think he was pulling an Emperor’s Clothing on us. I would be very curious to hear what David Simon thinks of his work. I loved every minute of it, but I doubt very much that it will have any rerun appeal.

    Having said that, I think I need to watch the episode again. I have questions….

  6. May 12, 2017 9:05 am

    S03E05 “Chicanery”

    Gilligan is a genius. This whole season I have been enjoying the Mike/Gus story more than the Jimmy McGill story, but this week’s episode more than closed the gap on that disparity. Chuck goes all Jack Nicholson/Colonel Nathan Jessup in front of everyone, and the camera pulls back and up to the hum and glow of the Exit sign.

    I love it that this is the third series that I have watched, when it was being made, as episodes were being released. I love it that, like The Wire and Breaking Bad, I recognized the geniuses “while they were still alive”, not just after when everyone suddenly realizes how great the work really is.

    I was too young, literally too young, to get into the theaters to watch so many of the great movies of the seventies and eighties. I would have loved to have seen Jaws, The Thing, Blade Runner in the theater, but I couldn’t. I am not missing these shows, though, and much as I enjoyed Deadwood, The Sopranos, more recently Billions, you name it, they just are not nearly or consistently as well done episode after episode after episode. Layers upon layers of subtle, quiet brilliance, all tying in together, to create a massive, breath-taking mural, a single story.

  7. May 17, 2017 3:07 am

    S03E06 “Off Brand”

    And in this, we finally meet Saul “That guy has a lot of energy!” Goodman, the alter ego destined to provide Jimmy with so much fun that he is willingly adopts the name/personality after his year of suspension from the law ends. All along I have assumed that his name change was forced on him by his brother, as a negotiation concession – he can keep practicing as long as he drops the McGill name. Instead, it may be more like a serendipitous discovery, he finally knows who he was meant to be.

    We also see Gus set in motion the purchase of the famous laundry facility that gets gets fitted with a secret lab, the one from which the reddest blood and the bluest meth flows like a river at the hands of a sick chemistry teacher.

    And, we see the heart medication that will almost certainly be tainted, reinserted into the pill bottle, and provide Hector Salamanca with the stroke we know he eventually has.

    How is it possible that a viewer can find so much to enjoy, even knowing the end from the beginning. Incredibly talented storytelling.

  8. June 20, 2017 6:11 am

    S03E10 Lantern.

    Wow!

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