Tag Archives: better call saul

What I Watched – April 11

11 Apr


Lots of things happening this week! The April TV-pocalypse is underway!

Episode of the Week

Better Call Saul – “Marco”
It’s getting a little silly at this point how frequently Better Call Saul has landed in this weekly post – but what can I say? It was once again my favorite thing on TV this week.

“I know what stopped me. And you know what, it’s never stopping me again.”

And with that, Jimmy McGill drove off into the sunset, leaving season one exponentially closer to being Saul Goodman than when it started. After everything he’s been through over the past ten episodes, Jimmy finally realized that maybe all the work he’s putting into being a good guy just isn’t worth it, and being some version of “Slippin’ Jimmy” may just be the answer. Do I expect season 2 to open with him at his Saul Goodman-iest? Absolutely not. I think he’s still got a ways to go before he reaches that level of comfort with being a criminal. But his epiphany outside the law firm was an enormous step toward the Saul Goodman we’re familiar with from Breaking Bad.

But I’ve gotten ahead of myself. The ending made me grin like an idiot (I may or may not have actually said “oh man, that is EXCELLENT” out loud to my empty apartment as the episode faded out), but the build up of the finale was also terrific.

It was shocking to me how quickly the show was able to pivot my attitude towards Chuck (and, to an extent, Howard Hamlin). For the bulk of the season, he was the sad, lonely, potentially crazy brother. After last week’s gut punch of a fight with Jimmy, turns out Chuck has always been a jerk letting Howard do his dirty work. In light of that, Jimmy’s encounters with Hamlin in this episode take on an entirely different feel – and I’d be curious to see how earlier episodes play with the knowledge I have now. Similarly, watching Chuck deal with Ernesto the assistant was cringeworthy – I could hardly believe I’d ever felt bad for the man.

Jimmy’s entire life has been spent trying to impress his jerk of a brother, so the events of last week’s episode left him reeling. He tried to go back to his elder law work, helping with bingo games and the like, but snapped pretty quickly and headed back to Chicago – where he returned to his old “Slippin’ Jimmy” ways. The show put together a wonderful montage letting us see bits and pieces of the various cons Jimmy and his old friend Marco ran at their favorite bar (and the money they were pulling in). It was great to finally have a concrete look at this part of Jimmy’s life, and see just how good he was at these sorts of scams. (As an aside, I didn’t catch this when I watched, but there’s a terrific Breaking Bad easter egg buried in Jimmy’s Kevin Costner bit).

Of course, as seems to be the case for most things in Jimmy’s life, something had to go wrong. Marco convinced him to run the back alley Rolex con we saw as a cold open early in the season one more time – and then collapsed and died of a heart attack mid-scam. This is, among other things, the origin of the big ring Jimmy/Saul always wears on his pinky – but also clearly a big factor in the decision Jimmy makes later on not to take the big law firm job.

It would have been easy for Jimmy to step into that big-time law firm partnership gig. It would have been a huge “screw you” to Chuck after the awful things he said in the last episode. It would have been a chance to make money doing something other than flirting with old ladies. It was, conceivably, everything Jimmy has been hoping for since he got his law degree. But something stops him. The fun of being “Slippin’ Jimmy” again, the anger at Chuck, the realization he could have had everything this job offers him without the drama and the work it would take if he was just willing to cheat a little bit.

So he drove away.

I can’t wait to see what this show does next season – what Jimmy is up to when we see him again, whether he and Mike end up working together now that they’re both a bit dirty, and what surprises Vince Gilligan has in store. The first season was so much better than I could have hoped for, and I am excited to sit back and continue to enjoy the ride.


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What I Watched – March 28

28 Mar


It’s been a while! If you follow me on Twitter, you know I’ve been having some health issues that have kept me from updating and vlog-making. I still haven’t gotten any answers, but I have started feeling better, so I should be back to something vaguely resembling a regular schedule (as regular as it ever is, since I am the worst) going forward!


Episode of the Week

Better Call Saul – “RICO”
Another week, another amazing episode of Better Call Saul. Vince Gilligan and friends are just killing it right now, you guys.

One of the things the show is doing really well that I think is a terrific storytelling device is the little pre-credits flashbacks every week. They are telling so much story in so little time, and this week’s was no different. Before he was a lawyer, Jimmy worked in the mailroom at Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill – and he went to school at night, without anybody (besides Kim) knowing about it to get his law degree. Once he passed the bar, he went to Chuck to ask if he could join the practice. Chuck deferred to Howard, who turned Jimmy down in a terrifically filmed, dialogue free sequence where the only sound was a copy machine. This small bit of information added so many layers to our ongoing story – it certainly explained even further why Jimmy hates Howard so much, and gives us a sense of how hard Jimmy has worked to get, up to this point, basically nowhere in the law field.

That made it all the more satisfying to see Jimmy hit on an actual case this week. We’ve seen him succeeding with elder law the past few weeks – wandering from nursing home to nursing home to help people with wills and the like. This week, he realized one of his clients was getting way overcharged, did some digging (literally, in a dumpster, which was one of the more entertaining sequences of the episode), and landed on a pretty big fraud case.

To make things even better, Jimmy brought Chuck in on things and we got to see the two brothers working together on the case. For most of the show so far, Chuck has been relegated to the outskirts, hiding at home while Jimmy pops in and out to bring him supplies and what not. We’ve been told he used to be a terrific lawyer, but have never really seen him in action. Once he realized what Jimmy had stumbled into this week, it was like the old Chuck finally woke up. He was digging through paperwork, spitting out case names to investigate, and bantering with Jimmy – it was really fun to watch.

And then, to end the episode, Chuck wandered outside without even thinking about it to get supplies from Jimmy’s car. No space blanket, no shakes and pain – just walked right out the front door, grabbed the keys out of the mailbox, and started shuffling through Jimmy’s trunk. It wasn’t until Jimmy walked outside to see what was going on that Chuck realized, looked shocked, and dropped everything. It will be fascinating to see what his response is next week. Did working the case with Jimmy snap him out of whatever mental issue he’d been having long enough to shake the worst of his electromagnetism fears? Or will that brief lapse cause everything to get worse all over again?

While all of this was going on, there was also a fairly significant, if brief, development in the life of Mike Ehrmantraut. After babysitting for Kaylee and finding out about his daughter-in-law’s money issues, we see him visit the vet from a few weeks back (the one that patched the gun shot wound in his shoulder) – and offer his services. This is an enormous step towards the Mike we know from Breaking Bad.

Only two more episodes to go this season – can’t wait to see where the show is headed before the finale!


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What I Watched – March 14

14 Mar


Fun week of TV this week!

Episode of the Week

Better Call Saul – “Five-O”
Let’s all just take a moment to appreciate the amazingness that is Jonathan Banks in the role of Mike Erhmantraut. This episode was a tour de force for him and should immediately put him into contention for an Emmy in the fall. It was also arguably the best hour of Better Call Saul yet.

A little more than halfway through its first season, we still hadn’t spent much time with Mike. He’d interacted with Jimmy a bit to argue about parking stickers, but until the end of last week, that had been mostly it. Now, we’ve finally seen what brought him to Albuquerque in the first place – and, in the process, probably his first steps toward being the guy we all know from Breaking Bad. And it was heartbreaking.

As it turns out, Mike had a son named Matt who was also a cop in Philadelphia who was killed (so everyone thought) on the job. Mike, however, knew better – his son’s partners had killed him to cover up for the fact that they were dirty. Mike hung around cop bars in Philly, drinking and listening and making everyone think he was just a sad old drunk (I think there was an element of truth to that, to be honest) until he could get the two guys alone – where he shot them both.

The episode did a beautiful job of presenting this story to us – rather than one long flashback, we picked up details from Mike’s encounters with his daughter-in-law Stacey, his exchanges (and tension around) the cops from Philly investigating the deaths of the two cops, his interactions with Jimmy, and a few brief (and out of chronological order) flashbacks. The show left it up to us to piece everything together – Mike’s bullet wound from the beginning, whether or not he was truly an alcoholic or playing it up for the sake of catching the bastards that killed his son, etc.

But the real highlight of the episode was the last sequence, when he sits down and tells Stacey everything that happened. She thought Matt might be a dirty cop as well, because of some extra cash she found lying around and a late-night phone call to Mike the night before he was shot and killed. As Mike would explain, Matt called him to ask whether he should turn his partners in. Mike – who had been a dirty cop himself – told him to protect himself and not turn them in. It broke his son’s heart to find out that his father had been a dirty cop and would suggest taking the money and not doing the right thing – and it got him killed anyway. The pain in Mike’s eyes as he explained all of this was apparent – more unbelievable work by Jonathan Banks. After he finished telling Stacey everything, she quietly asked what happened to Matt’s partner’s if it wasn’t some sort of related crime to Matt’s shooting. 

His answer? “You know what happened. The question is, can you live with it?” Heavy, powerful stuff. You can easily see how Mike, in his grief, guilt, and anger, could turn into the man who works with Gus Fring.

This was a terrific hour of television and makes me really excited for the last handful of episodes Better Call Saul has to offer this season.

Moment of the Week

Agents of SHIELD – “Who You Really Are”
This is really silly, but I’ve always gotten a huge kick out of stone-faced Melinda May’s crush on Thor, which came up in a funny moment with Lady Sif this week.

Guest Star(s) of the Week

Alia Shawkat and Kelly Ripa, Broad City
How have I never realized how much Ilana Glazer and Alia Shawkat look alike before now?! Casting Shawkat as a girl Ilana falls for mainly because she looks JUST LIKE HER was a stroke of genius. The two of them were fantastic together and had great chemistry. It was hilarious to see the entire relationship fall apart just because Adele didn’t smoke weed.

And then there was Kelly Ripa, who completely blew me away with how funny she was. Abbi’s quest to find her coat after their chance encounter at the coat check was funny enough, but watching them bond over Bed, Bath & Beyond (what else?) – and Ripa get crazier and crazier as they drank more – was wonderful. I get such a kick out of watching people play completely exaggerated, ridiculous versions of themselves, so this was right up my alley.

Binge-Watch of the Week

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Tina Fey has done it again, you guys. I’ve already watched this entire series twice, and I am COMPLETELY in love with it. From it’s catchy-as-hell theme music to the utter delight of Ellie Kemper, this show is a blast. I cannot fathom how it ever would have worked on NBC and I am forever grateful to Netflix for rescuing it and letting it exist in the world.

There’s so much to love about this show. It’s got the same weirdness to it that 30 Rock did – if anything, it’s weirder – but there’s also a much darker tone to a lot of the comedy. Kimmy has been through some shit – being kidnapped and living in a bunker for 15 years is no joke. But the show does a terrific job of balancing that darkness with really powerful messages of surviving and not letting life or being a victim destroy you, and I really love that. I don’t think it would work with anyone but Kemper in the lead – she has an amazing energy and joy to her that does a great job of making some of the darker humor not feel all that dark.

The supporting cast is also amazing. We all know what Jane Krakowski can do from her turn as the one and only Jenna Maroney on 30 Rock – and there’s a lot of Jenna in Jacqueline Vorhees – but I think Jacqueline has a lot more layers to her. She feels real human emotions, for one thing – I’m not convinced Jenna ever did. Tituss Burgess is absolutely hilarious as Kimmy’s roommate and guide to 2015 existence Titus Andromedon – his put-uponness at having to do basically anything for her (or anyone), while simultaneously sincerely caring about her, was wonderful to watch.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, I highly recommend it. Just listen to the theme song, how can you resist?!



What was your favorite thing on TV this week?


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What I Watched – February 28

28 Feb


This was a BIG WEEK, with the end of Parks and Rec, plus the season finales of Agent Carter and Sleepy Hollow. Lots to talk about!

Episode of the Week

Parks and Recreation – “One Last Ride”
Could it possibly be anything else? The series finale was total perfection.

I completely loved the show’s approach to its final hour. Nothing big and fancy, just one last ride for the Parks team, helping to fix a swing for a citizen of Pawnee. And even that was mostly a framing device for the meat and potatoes of the episode – glimpses of everyone’s futures. It was not lost on me that Leslie’s touch is what triggered all the flash-forwards. She has always been the engine for this show (and an enormous influence in these characters’ lives) – it seemed very fitting.


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Series Premiere Review – Better Call Saul

10 Feb


This weekend marked the long-awaited (at least by me!) premiere of Better Call Saul, Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould’s Breaking Bad prequel focused on Saul Goodman. I’d been excited about the show since it was first announced, and thankfully the two-night premiere did not disappoint.

I was sold on the show from the beginning of the first episode, which offered us a quick glimpse into Saul Goodman’s post-Walter White future. It was, as you might expect, pretty bleak. As he predicted, Saul (now going by Gene) wound up working as a manager at a Cinnabon in Nebraska. He goes home at night, drinks, and watches his old ‘Better call Saul!’ TV commercials. The entire sequence was done beautifully – no dialogue until Saul hit play on the VHS tape, and shot in black in white. I felt fairly confident when the credits rolled that we were in for something good.


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Vlog Season 2 #6 – Midseason Preview

2 Jan

Happy new year, everyone!

I’m kicking off 2015 on the blog with another new video. This week, I preview some of my most anticipated new and returning shows for midseason. There’s a list of a few others (plus links to promo videos if they exist) after the jump.


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