Welcome back to our weekly breakdown of the minutia of Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould’s Better Call Saul. While Brian Grubb provides his always excellent coverage of the series (here’s his write-up of the most recent episode), here we will look at some of the details viewers may have missed, callbacks to Breaking Bad, references to other shows or movies, and theories on the direction the series is heading. We scour Reddit threads, Twitter, listen each week to the phenomenal Better Call Saul Insider Podcast, and attempt to curate the best intel about each episode.
In this week’s episode, Jimmy finds therapy in a roomful of piñatas, and Kim lands a new gig.
1. In the teaser, Hamlin says to a celebrating Chuck: “There’s Mr. Bushmills waiting in your office.” On the Insider podcast, they noted that there was a lot of discussion on what whiskey to refer to in that scene and that they finally concluded that Bushmills is what you drink going up; whatever Hamlin is drinking now is what you drink going down. So, consider that a Better Call Saul plug for Bushmills, the whiskey for winners!
2. The teaser is also the first scene we have ever seen of Kim in Saul when she’s not technically a lawyer. Also, in that teaser, law student Kim Wexler cites the case Isaacson v. Vakarian Holdings. Vakarian is a Mass Effect reference, which gamer Gennifer Hutchison — who wrote the episode — proudly sneaked in. She’s also a HUGE fan of Emma Thompson, hence the Thompson reference in the Oscar pool.
3. Along with Michelle MacClaren and Rian Johnson, this week’s episode was directed by one of the most high-profile directors ever on the series, Andrew Stanton, the director of John Carter, Wall-E, Finding Nemo and Finding Dory. It was only the second time he’s directed television — the other time was Stranger Things — so that likely tells you how much respect he has for Saul, because he likely was not doing it for the paycheck.
Stanton’s skills were probably most useful during the pinata scene. What was most interesting about that scene is that, according to safety regulations, the actors are only allowed to hang upside down for about 90 seconds, while stunt performers can hang upside down for around three minutes. As a result, filming that pinata sequence was something of a pain because they would have to stop every 45-seconds to a minute, pull the actors down, let them re-orient themselves, reload, and then hang them back upside down again.
4. The writer of the episode, Gennifer Hutchison, had a great take on what happened between Jimmy and Kim this episode. Basically, when Jimmy told Kim that he wasn’t going to seek therapy, as she had wanted, it let Kim off the hook. She felt that, if Jimmy wasn’t going to be beholden to her wishes, she didn’t have to be beholden to his wishes to start up a law firm together after Jimmy’s suspension ends. In effect, Jimmy’s refusal to seek therapy gave Kim the freedom she needed to work a deal with Schweikart and Cokely to start a banking division with them.
It’s worth noting here, too, that last season, the writers spent much of the season quietly laying the foundation for Kim’s car accident. All of these scenes between Kim and Jimmy, painfully, seem to be laying the foundation for a potential split.
5. I do this every week, but it’s always worth providing yet another example of how incredibly detail-oriented this series is. To wit: In the warehouse dorm, during a walking/talking scene between Mike and the German engineer, the other seven engineers were all in the background, which required that they deliver indecipherable background dialogue, which is called “pocket dialogue.” But that pocket dialogue, which sounds like background noise to the viewer, is actually scripted. In fact, because the characters are German, it’s scripted and then translated into conversational German, which means that the writers (and a translator) spend a lot of time simply ensuring that — in the off-chance that background conversations are deciphered by the viewer — that they make sense … in German.
Another quick example: When the production team moved into the warehouse dorm, all the lights were buzzing, so they had to replace all the lights in the warehouse before they could film, and then they had to add buzzing light sounds into the scene in post-production.
6. Yes, Jimmy’s henchman in that piñata scene are recurring characters. Everyone remembers Huell, but the other guy was Man Mountain, first seen in season one, episode nine, “Pimento.”
7. Remember those red shoes that Mike flung over electrical wires last season?
One of the teenagers who robbed Jimmy was wearing the exact same style of shoe.
They were designed by the show’s costume designer, Jennifer Bryan (via AMC).
8. A Reddit user came up with this theory as a joke, but you know what? You never know. We all know that Lydia is going to get pregnant very soon in the Better Call Saul timeline, and we may have met the father.