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Better Call Saul


SeanF
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This just made my day. I completely forgot tonight was the finale, now I have something worthwhile to watch tonight! I'm staying spoiler free and looking forward to seeing how they wrap it up.

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Well, the ending was low key - and very anticipated from this thread - but I thought it was pitch perfect.

Spoiler

I really thought when Saul brought in Marie he was gonna use the shitloads of dirt he has on Skylar.  

Really liked all the flashbacks/cameos - the Walt scene was fucking hilarious- but with all the catharsis and contrition I would have liked it if he stopped deifying Chuck and finally recognized his brother's flaws.

 

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This season lost me, I was hanging in there, hoping they'd pull things together, but I wish I'd stopped watching after season 5.

Everyone pretty much predicted how things would go, including the ending, which isn't a good sign. It was very preachy and cold.

Adding this:

A good story surprises the reader/audience, opening them up to new ways of thinking. The surprise will feel right when it happens, but a good story is not predictable.

(The audience may guess a surprise, but that's the not the same thing as predictability.)

There was a heavy-handed change in the depiction of Jimmy in the second half of the season. That's how viewers were able to predict things, they were led around by the nose.

The Howard scam was incredibly forced, Kim wouldn't have done it, Jimmy wouldn't have gone along with it, etc. The abrupt time jump covered up how out of character it all was.

Suddenly things previously established, like Jimmy's regret in the desert, his reform as Gene, and more, were tossed out. Heavy-handed scenes wiped out character development.

The tone was off, the humor that drove the series dried up completely. Jimmy was the comic relief guy of both series, and this was his show, but Jesse and Walt got better endings.

Jesse and Walt were cold-blooded murderers who made the drugs, they endangered countless lives. Jesse, out for a bigger cut of of the money, sold meth to recovering addicts in a church.

Jesse got a new life. Walt got to go out on his own terms, setting things right first. Meanwhile, Jimmy, the money launderer, who the show creators said only wanted love, rots in jail for life.

The cartel repeatedly threatened Jimmy, saying once you are in, you are in. He was shown to be deeply traumatized. He never would have chosen a life sentence over 7 years, nor would the jury.

A chance to redeem himself would have been possible after the 7 year sentence. The show ignored the flawed drug laws and prison system, and those with lighter or no sentences for worse.

It's like the showrunner resurrected the Hays code that Hollywood rightfully tossed aside in the 1960's, because such rigid enforced "morality" robbed stories of complex resolution.

They will no doubt ride on the coattails of the previous seasons, but people kept watching only to see how it ended, and if you told others how it ends, they'd never start watching.

(It would have been interesting to see the difference if Vince Gilligan had been showrunner of this show, instead of Peter Gould, who was sole showrunner since season 3.)

This comment sums things up nicely:

It was literally two smart people throwing their lives away as Jimmy as previously told Kim on the phone. And, as he said, their “wearing hairshirts” won’t bring back Howard.

And having Oakley appear as his lawyer wasn’t a surprise at all. Duh. 

The show was as expected up until the Feds interview Jimmy. Jimmy should have reiterated that he was also a victim of Lalo who forced him to do all sorts of things which most people would have complied with, upon threat of violence. Jimmy has violent scumbag clients and not just Walt have threatened him. That was really obvious and it wasn’t there.

That is actually a real defense.

Most disappointing was that Jimmy said he would always come out on top and that was what should have happened.

One still could have had them smoking against the prison wall, only Jimmy would have done his 7 years, and gotten out early for good behavior. He would never confess under oath for 86. That’s ridiculous. 

It’s a shame that the writers decided to Scooby-Doo their ending with “crime doesn’t pay” when, IRL, in the US, crime does pay, more than ever these days. 

We actually have, IRL, some rich and truly criminal monsters who have committed federal crimes and are walking around scott-free. It would have been more realistic and a biting reflection to see “injustice” win at the end of BCS instead our characters being robbed of themselves.

I’m going to try to forget I saw this. (And, to be clear, this is no reflection on the actors who are marvelous. No complaints there.)

Edited by Le Cygne
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20 minutes ago, Le Cygne said:

Everyone pretty much predicted how things would go, including the ending, which isn't a good sign.

I don't know when predictable became associated with bad, or at least not good, but I definitely think the internet has a whole lot to do with it.  A good narrative should be predictable, at least to a certain extent - especially a character study like BCS.

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I remember discussions around the last season of GoT decrying the perverse decisions to "subvert expectations".

To me, a good story's ending should feel like an inevitability. You don't necessarily see it in the course of getting there, but the clues are there, and when it comes to it you can look back and go, "Yup, okay:" I think they did that very well on BCS, and I thought the finale pretty perfect in that regard. Loved seeing Chuck again and loved, in particular, Jimmy admitting his lasting guilt at having caused his brother's suicide. 

I think torpedoing his own masterfully-bargained plea agreement really fits in as a redemptive act. 

 

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@Mark Antony

Agreed, that was over the top. 

@DMC

Re: Chuck, he did say about his brother that he was gifted but "limited", and I don't think he was referring to his psychosomatic illness. He knows Chuck want perfect... But his brother didn't deserve to be humiliated by him for the crime of not being supportive enough.

Edited by Ran
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It was good, but not great, IMO

I honestly think that pretty much sums up all of Better Call Saul for me. I thought it was pretty good, but never quite on Breaking Bad's level of greatness. I sort of hate how the final few episodes jump to the future and basically write Mike and Gus out of the story. I loved how they rapped up Howard and Lalo's story, but wasn't a huge fan of anything else.

Edited by sifth
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2 hours ago, Ran said:

I think torpedoing his own masterfully-bargained plea agreement really fits in as a redemptive act. 

 

I agree. What I did not understand however:

 

Spoiler

How did his testimony actually clear Kim? Are we to assume he somehow took on full responsibility for Hamlin? I feel like I missed something. In the court he only said something like 'Howard Hamlin, I can't even speak about it'

 

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2 hours ago, Ran said:

Re: Chuck, he did say about his brother that he was gifted but "limited", and I don't think he was referring to his psychosomatic illness. He knows Chuck want perfect... But his brother didn't deserve to be humiliated by him for the crime of not being supportive enough.

Oh yeah I had no problem with him including all that in his testimony and I particularly liked the exchange with Oakley where he's like "that last part wasn't even a crime," and Jimmy responds "yes it was."  I just thought, given how important that relationship was to the series, there should have been more attention/resolution - perhaps with a more illustrative flashback.

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21 minutes ago, Scott_N said:

 

  Hide contents

How did his testimony actually clear Kim? Are we to assume he somehow took on full responsibility for Hamlin? I feel like I missed something. In the court he only said something like 'Howard Hamlin, I can't even speak about it'

 

Spoiler

It doesn't really clear her, except add more reasons for why a DA won't prosecute her (which sounded almost certain wasn't happening anyways). Cheryl can and probably still will pursue her civil suit. When he said he made those claims about Kim because he just wanted her to show up, I think that was real: because he wanted her to see Jimmy McGill owning up for what he did, especially for what he did to Chuck (I don't think Kim knew, for example, about how he made Chuck lose his malpractice insurance; IIRC, didn't he let her believe Howard was behind it?)

@DMC

That line from Jimmy was fantastic. I felt proud of him in that moment.

While a longer flashback would have been welcomed, I think that short scene really captured all the dynamics.

And H.G. Wells's Time Machine to tie it all together.

Really quite beautiful. Though, thinking about it more, the "Better Call Saul" gag with the prisoners does feel too silly.

Edited by Ran
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I'd go with good not great.  I agree that endings should feel somewhat 'inevitable' and ther is nothing wrong with people guessing the end.  But, for a show that did surprising AND inevitable so well for so long, this was a little underwhelming.

As I suspected, Jimmy and Kim got more redemption than I think they deserve.  I'd say the flashbacks were the best part of the episode for me.

 

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@Ran

Spoiler

OK, so it seems I did not actually miss something critical.

I skimmed a few online reviews and I interpreted some of those comments to suggest Jimmy/Saul's final act was one of self-sacrifice in order to clear Kim. I just couldn't figure out how it could be so given the civil suite.

 

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32 minutes ago, Scott_N said:

How did his testimony actually clear Kim? Are we to assume he somehow took on full responsibility for Hamlin? I feel like I missed something. In the court he only said something like 'Howard Hamlin, I can't even speak about it'

That whole aspect didn't really make any sense.  Why exactly does apparently implicating Kim ensure she'll attend your sentencing hearing?  Seems like the writers were like "how do we get Kim to come back?"  That solution was offered, then when someone asks "how do we explain that" and the response was "let's just not."

18 minutes ago, Ran said:

Though, thinking about it more, the "Better Call Saul" gag with the prisoners does feel too silly.

Yeah that was a little much.

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The ending felt too out of character for me, Jimmy having regrets is one thing, him choosing to die in prison rather than taking the sweet deal simply as an unburdening was a leap. Had he managed to secure some protection for Kim, I could buy it, the idea that he wanted to do penance for his crimes is too neat and a bit of petty moralizing on the show’s part. Reuniting with Kim in some small way is supposed to be his ultimate end, I guess, but she has a bleak future ahead when the widow Hamlin eats her alive, so pointless self-sacrifice is pushing the  redemption angle too hard.

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I think he judged, rightly, that if Kim learned he intended to speak about her at the trial, that it was his way of actually trying to send a message to her. Because what she would have expected was his simply avoiding talking about her.

That said, she was probably coming to the trial regardless of what he said about her.

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3 hours ago, Ran said:

@Mark Antony

Agreed, that was over the top. 

@DMC

Re: Chuck, he did say about his brother that he was gifted but "limited", and I don't think he was referring to his psychosomatic illness. He knows Chuck want perfect... But his brother didn't deserve to be humiliated by him for the crime of not being supportive enough.

Chuck was an appalling man.  I've said it before, but he's the personification of the Just Pharisee in Jesus' parable.  He was a man devoid of pity or kindness, or even common decency, so convinced was he of his own righteousness.  I felt very little sympathy for Chuck at the end.

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, Ran said:

Who is the Just Pharisee again?

 

This is the parable:-

Luke 18:9-14
New International Version
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

Part of the context is that tax collectors in First Century Palestine were viewed as the scum of the earth.

"9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

 

Edited by SeanF
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