Better Call Saul, Season 1 Episode 9: “Pimento”

I really didn’t want my suspicion that Chuck was the one who decided not to hire Jimmy to be correct. However, when Chuck made a late night phone call, and Kim told Jimmy to take the deal that Hamlin offered him, I knew I was right. To the show and Jimmy’s credit, Jimmy works it out on his own. Jimmy’s a smart guy, but in Chuck’s opinion he’s not worthy of being a lawyer, which makes me think that Chuck is the worst kind of asshole. He lets his law partner take the blame for all the suffering he’s caused in his own brother’s career, then lets that same brother take care of him when he suffers a mental illness that makes him think he’s allergic to electricity.

The kicker is that Jimmy does all this legwork on a case (admittedly with Chuck’s help), then Chuck convinces him to take it to Hamlin Hamlin and McGill before stealing it out from his own brother’s nose, admittedly for a fee. And he continues to let Hamlin be the bad guy so that he can pretend the relationship with his brother is fine. What I really liked about this episode is that it showed that Kim really does care about Jimmy, and Hamlin at least has some sort of conscience, even if it does involve being the bad guy that Jimmy can hate. Hamlin tells Kim why he didn’t offer Jimmy a job, and Kim tells Jimmy to take the money, because she knows he’ll be hurt when he figures out that Chuck is the one who has been stonewalling his career. Rhea Seehorn is great, and her performance is beautifully understated, which means that when she gets mad it matters.

I have no idea what role Chuck will have in Better Call Saul going forward; this could be the thing that pushes Jimmy over the edge. He was denied a career at HHM, then he followed his brother’s advice and worked as a public defender. He started being an ambulance chaser and got involved with the Kettleman disaster, and when the Kettlemans maintained their innocence despite a big bag of money they were carrying around, he turned them in. It’s hurt Jimmy so much to do the right thing, and now that his own brother has taken away his first big case, he’ll probably change his name to Saul Goodman pretty soon. Or not, I don’t really know. But I have no idea whether he’ll ever want to have anything to do with Chuck ever again. I certainly wouldn’t.

Over in Mike land, he bought his granddaughter a puppy, and did a security job for a first time drug dealer who seems to work in pharmaceuticals. In the most awesome scene of the episode, Mike disarms one of the other guys hired for the job and takes away his four guns. It’s amazing that we knew Mike didn’t need a gun, but these people don’t know Mike the way the Breaking Bad audience does. Even if there are some people out there who are watching Better Call Saul without having seen Breaking Bad, they know how great Mike is in “Five-O”. Mike is the muscle on a deal with Michael Mando, aka Nacho, who works for Tuco. The deal took place without Tuco’s knowledge, so Mike knew he didn’t need a gun, because Nacho didn’t want it to get messy. What happens to Nacho? Will Tuco find out about this? Anyway, given that Jimmy has lost any hope of working with Chuck and Mike is starting to do ‘odd jobs’ for cash, I’m sure their paths will cross again soon. Certainly before Mike has to clean up Jesse’s house in “ABQ”.

Other thoughts:

  • Are there only two law firms in Albuquerque? HHM and the one that represents Sandpiper? Because surely Jimmy could have gotten a job at another law firm instead of working with Chuck, even though it was his dream to practice law alongside his brother.
  • I’m holding onto my wild theory that Jimmy is actually Chuck’s illegitimate son. I don’t think it’s likely, but it’s possible if Chuck fathered a child when he was about 15. If this is true, then Chuck is a worse father than a brother.
  • The first season of Better Call Saul is only ten episodes long, so next week is the season finale! AMC renewed this show for a second season before it even aired, and I’m fairly sure season 2 has a full 13 episode order.
  • I’m so bad at talking about performances in my reviews (I’m trying to integrate it more), but Bob Odenkirk was fantastic in this episode. His joy, his anger and his disappointment were all perfectly conveyed.
  • I am all for episodes of television named after different types of cheese.

Lost, Season 3 Episode 8: “Flashes Before Your Eyes”

I have a strange history with Lost; I watched the first half of the pilot with my family in 2005 (Channel 7 are very good at promoting new shows during the Australian Open), but they didn’t really like it very much, so I stopped watching it. I have no idea what time it was on, but I didn’t like it enough to keep watching at the time. While it was airing, I saw a few episodes, but found it impossible to keep up because I didn’t have an income. The other episodes I saw were “Tabula Rasa”, “Numbers”, “Every Man For Himself” and “Flashes Before Your Eyes”. As it turns out, “Numbers” and “Flashes” were important episodes in relation to Lost’s mythology, but I didn’t know about it at the time. I knew there were numbers, and that was about it. At that stage I didn’t know that the Island was a mystery, but I did find out that there was more than one island. So when I found out that The A.V. Club was going to be covering Lost as part of the “TV Club Classic”, I was thrilled. Finally I had a chance to catch up on this show that was apparently great but also disappointed a lot of people with its ending. It wasn’t like I hadn’t had an opportunity before, but being able to follow along with reviews is something I like to do.

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Television Review: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Season 1

Yesterday I wrote about how I watched ten episodes of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt in one sitting, and consequently got slightly depressed and felt guilty for wasting my time. I don’t feel guilty if I’m watching just one or two episodes of television in one sitting, just when it gets upward of three hours. This had nothing to do with my enjoyment of the programme, which is relatively high. A show can be bingeable without being good – thankfully Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was both. Unlike the rest of the Netflix original series, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was developed for NBC for Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, and when NBC decided to shift their brand towards drama, the screening/broadcast/streaming rights were sold to Netflix. I’m so glad that Netflix picked up a second season of this show, because it came together really well, and I absolutely love that theme song. I’m actually surprised I didn’t wake up singing it, because I went to bed singing it last night.

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The problem with the Netflix model, or, Leah goes outside!

“Kimmy Goes Outside!” is the title of the first episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. When Netflix launched in Australia on Tuesday, I watched both “Kimmy Goes Outside!” and “Kimmy Gets a Job!” Last night I watched “Kimmy Goes on a Date!”, and today I watched the ten remaining episodes. I enjoyed the show (I’ll try to have a review ready for tomorrow), but after spending the day watching ten episodes, I felt a little depressed. This isn’t something new for me. A few weeks ago, I watched ten episodes of Lost in one day (I had a day off work and got sucked in by having the television to myself) and had the same feeling. So after I finished watching the first season of Kimmy Schmidt, I decided to go for a walk, which improved my mood until I got a blister. But that’s not the point.

Netflix is well known for dropping entire seasons of its original series at once. Sure, the shows are dropped on the weekend, and there are usually only 13 episodes to a season, so you can watch all of them in one day. It makes sense, given that the success of Netflix streaming has been the people who binge watch entire seasons of television programmes over short periods of time; it serves Netflix to be able to have the next episode of their original series to be available immediately, and it’ll load while you’re watching the end credits of the previous episode; you don’t even need to click anything! However, I don’t think that’s the way I like to consume television, even though I am perfectly guilty of binge watching Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Orphan Black, Alias and even 30 Rock.

Yes, I binge watched the first two seasons of Tina Fey’s previous sitcom in four days. As soon as I finished the first season, I went out and bought the second on DVD. My mental health wasn’t great at the time (although there were other factors involved), and I watched the episodes because they were there. I enjoyed them, but I didn’t really get much out of the experience. The reason I was watching 30 Rock is the same as the reason I am now watching Lost, but I consumed the shows quite differently. Last ‘summer’ (it was winter in Australia), The A.V. Club began Classic coverage of the first season of 30 Rock and seasons one to three of Lost. The way that these shows are typically covered tend to be two episodes per week; I watched Lost according to The A.V. Club’s schedule, and I watched 30 Rock quite quickly, mainly because I was house sitting and didn’t have very much to do.

What I found is that I didn’t get as much out of watching all of 30 Rock at once as I did watching two episodes of Lost per week. I love television, but when I spend so much time watching just one thing and not doing anything else, I feel guilty. There’s probably something else I could and should be doing, and when you watch 22 episodes of television over two days, they all just become a blur. Despite the fact that television has become more serialised, it is still episodic in nature, and those episodes have beginnings and ends. Television is longform storytelling, and there’s something satisfying about long term payoffs. My thoughts on the phenomenon of the binge watch obviously aren’t fully developed, but there’s something great about having to wait a week (or three in the case of Jane the Virgin) for the next episode that doesn’t keep you as interested when the next episode is just available. There’s anticipation, and you’re actually watching the next week because you want to, rather than just deciding to not close your browser out of inertia.

What I’m saying is that I really needed to go for a walk after I spent all that time watching a great television show. I just wish I’d stuck to my guns and watched one episode a day.

Asides:

  • I really enjoyed binge-watching Alias, although I did watch almost all of the first season while couch-ridden with bull ant bites.
  • I tend to be more susceptible to binge watching comedies, probably because they’re half the running time of dramas. Although I did watch a lot of Suits around the end of November last year.
  • Amazon Instant Video also drops entire seasons at once. In Australia, Amazon’s original programming is available for streaming on Stan, so I know what’s going to happen when the next season of Mozart in the Jungle is released. I’ll try for one per day.
  • I’m now really happy that I’m getting one episode of Community per week, which is how Yahoo! Video has decided to release the show. It keeps the buzz about the show going for a bit longer, too.

Community, Season 6 Episode 3: “Basic Crisis Room Decorum”

This week’s episode of Community brings City College back into the fold, as Annie gets a late night email from a friend at a local television station warning her that City College is running an attack ad on Greendale. Thus, we have the ‘attack ad’ story of every election storyline on television, and being Community, there was a hilarious twist: Greendale might have granted a Bachelor degree to an adorable dog named Ruffles (although we have no idea whether or not that was actually Ruffles that was used in the ads. The election storyline was amusing, and I’m really enjoying Paget Brewster and Keith David, but it feels like Community is running out of story for our regulars.

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The Good Wife, Season 6 Episode 16: “Red Meat”

The Good Wife‘s writers like to toy with my emotions, that is, my shipping. I didn’t write about The Good Wife last week that I decided not to write about it, because they thought it would be a good idea to make Alicia and Johnny happen. While I’m not thrilled about it, I guess Steven Pasquale’s role on the show is done for now, and John is off to California/Florida to run a campaign/star in Netflix’s Bloodline. And now Finn is seeing someone, but I know that’s just a contrived barrier to keep him away from Alicia for as long as possible. It was so cute when he brought over Halo for her to play so she didn’t stress out about the election! Oh, also it was election day and Diane went hunting with Kurt and all his Republican friends. I just decided to get my shipper thoughts out of the way first.

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Justified, Season 6 Episode 10: “Trust”

He’s too smart. – Raylan and Boyd, about each other.

I was not predicting what happened at the end of the episode, even though it makes perfect sense from both a story and character perspective, so I have no idea where this review will go. I don’t normally post spoiler warnings for my reviews, but they’re implied by the way I write them after every episode. I’m going to leave the big stuff for after the jump, but FYI, it’s going to be fairly spoilery. So for now I’ll leave you with what I wrote before the episode started and my first few dot points of notes:

This week on Justified, there’s a big thing that happens, based on the way the internet is reacting to it! Did Boyd or Ava die?

  • We’re going back to Dewey Crowe?
  • Mikey has a code – is he going to rat on Wynn?
  • Is Wynn the one who dies?
  • This is the issue with knowing that something big happens

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Better Call Saul, Season 1 Episode 8: “RICO”

This is going to be a fairly short review (although now I think about it, I still haven’t edited my review of last week’s episode that I wrote on the train), because I just got Netflix and I want to watch some more Kimmy Schmidt. There’s also the fact that I didn’t take notes. “RICO” was a good episode of Better Call Saul, but it was very much designed to put the chess pieces in play for the last two episodes of the season (hey AMC, why are there only 10 episodes?). The great thing about Vince Gilligan and Co is that even their chess piece episodes are written well, so they’re always delightful to watch.

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Netflix has launched!

Australians have been waiting a long time for Netflix, such that some people have Netflix US accounts. As Netflix launches in Australia and New Zealand today, I suspect there will be some disappointment. Global Netflix subscribers are used to having a vast library at their fingertips, and that just isn’t available yet in Australia. This morning on my way to work (I catch the train) I downloaded the Netflix app onto my phone and added things to my queue. I have a Netflix queue now, it’s great. Still, the library isn’t what it could be.

I’m happy to see that Netflix haven’t pulled their original series from the lineup, I’m excited to see both Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Bloodline. I also added Vikings, Lost and Shameless to my queue. With the addition of Orange Is the New Black (for when the new season is released), that’s a grand total of six television shows. A lot of the things I would watch are things I already own. Also, there’s some crossover with Stan with Doctor Who, Spartacus, Freaks and Geeks and Luther, as well as a number of Australian programmes. Things that I know are available on Netflix US but aren’t currently available for streaming in Australia include:

  • Buffy and Angel
  • The X-Files
  • Shaun Ryan’s little known one-season-wonder, Terriers
  • Parks and Recreation
  • 30 Rock

This is an observation, not a complaint. I have no idea how streaming licensing works (Presto and Stan both have streaming rights to The Good Wife, so there’s crossover there as well), but I can understand it as a strategy. Why launch everything when you can parse it out? It also makes sense to give as much exposure as possible to their original series – even though Netflix don’t release their subscriber numbers, they want to brag about how many people are watching House of Cards as opposed to The Big Bang Theory. It’s a little frustrating, but I’m currently on a 30 day free trial, so it’s all good.

One thing that Netflix does have over Stan is its media player. I’ve had issues with Stan stopping to buffer in the middle of a programme, sometimes as frequently as every 30 seconds. I have issues with the wifi at my house (it doesn’t get along very well with my laptop), so I just reset the connection and hope I can get through the rest of my show. And sometimes I can, but other times I end up having to restart the computer. So I tested out the Netflix player (I watched the first episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, I loved it!), and it let me know how the buffering was going – it was always ahead of where I was watching, and I never had to pause it to keep up with the buffering or reset my connection. So if there’s something that’s on both Netflix and Stan, I’m going to watch it on Netflix, no hesitation there.

I’m sure the library will keep building, so I’m not too worried. One thing I was really happy to see was the ‘Independent’ heading for films, so I’m finally going to get to see The Spectacular Now.

Jane the Virgin, “Chapter Sixteen”

But alas, fantasies must come to an end

Until last week, Jane and Rafael’s romance was a fantasy. The honeymoon period lasts longer for some people than it does for others, and Jane and Rafael’s romance is certainly unconventional. Given the circumstances, it’s surprising that their honeymoon period lasted so long, but I guess things like a baby will do that to a couple. Despite Rafael’s impulsiveness and Jane’s more measured approach, they’re both really looking for the same thing, which is a family. Jane has only just met Rogelio, and Rafael has always assumed that his father’s story of what happened to his mother was true. They’re just two people who go about different ways of expressing what they want – Rafael makes a big romantic gesture by proposing to Jane, and Jane just wants him to be there so they can talk about things. The true test of a relationship is how they make it through the tougher times, and Jane and Rafael have had it quite easy, despite the baby thing.

Meanwhile, Xo and Rogelio have finally found a house. Rogelio, of course, has several requirements for the perfect house, including having a larger square footage than his rival. Where this storyline has its most weight, however, is in Xiomara telling her mother that she’s moving out. At first, Alba didn’t take her daughter seriously, and she has reason not to – Xo has made impulsive decisions. When it turns out that Xiomara is actually moving, they have a huge fight, and they hurt each other because they know each other so well. It’s the people who love you the most that hurt you the most. For Xiomara, she’s taking an exciting new step in a relationship that is a step she’s never made before. But for Alba, her granddaughter is having a baby and most likely moving out soon, and her daughter, who has lived with her for nearly forty years has chosen a man over her own mother. She feels lonely and abandoned, and given that she will only speak Spanish at home, it’s perfectly understandable.

Over on the lighter side of Jane the Virgin is Rogelio, who has learned from social media that he isn’t believable on his new telenovela because he doesn’t act enough like a cop, including not knowing how to hold a gun properly. When he speaks to Jane and Michael, he decides that it would be a good idea to shadow Michael for the day. The only problem with this storyline is that there isn’t enough of it. Jaime Camil has always been fantastic as Rogelio, and Brett Dier is a great comedic actor. And Rogelio helps catch the bad guy! Never underestimate the power of adoring fans and selfies when catching a potential murderer. When Jane and Xiomara listened to the men talk about how they caught the guy, they tell them to get a room. What’s most interesting is that the four of them were a family in that moment, standing together. Michael is able to do stupid impressions and talk about Jane with Rogelio, and he’s also making an effort to be friends with Jane even if it hurts him. But then Michael runs into another old flame, who also has an interest in romance novels.

The main problem I have with Andie from the writers’ workshop being Michael’s other ex-girlfriend is that how could Michael have laughed at Jane’s love of romance novels in last week’s flashback while not knowing that his previous girlfriend was also into romance novels? This show is so tightly constructed that the flaws are small, but this seems like a bit of an oversight. I did enjoy the writers’ workshop storyline, as Jane’s preoccupation with her relationship problems overflow into the fact that she didn’t read the back of the flyer. Also, that’s really stupid. Who puts anything on the back of a flyer? I liked that her new favourite romance novelist helped her realise what the problem was – Jane was so busy trying to get Rafael to not be mad at her that she couldn’t let herself be mad at him. Two of Jane’s idols over two episodes is a bit much, so I hope the writers ease up on this particular catalyst before it becomes too much of a trope.

In my favourite storyline of the episode, Petra and Rafael begin their relationship as business partners. The antagonism that existed in their marriage when it went bad may prove to be fruitful in this particular incarnation of their relationship. They could be the Will and Diane of hotel management (yes, I’ve moved from Scandal to The Good Wife). They work well together, and the audience can see why their marriage worked when it did – they are two people who truly cared about each other at one time, and Petra even says “Rafael, come on. I know you.” There’s a reason their marriage lasted as long as it did. Even though Rafael proposed to Petra after five months, it made sense to both of them. But what worked for Petra isn’t necessarily going to work for Jane. Alas, fantasies end.

Other thoughts

  • There are two main things I didn’t address in the main review, the first of which is that epic salsa scene. Gina Rodriguez and Justin Baldoni are great on the dance floor, and like the Rogelio and Michael storyline, I wish it was longer. At least we got Rogelio dipping Michael.
  • The other one is Rafael and Petra looking after a dog, which is a great insight as to what they would be like if they raised a child together #Motherbarker
  • Petra is following Rogelio on Twitter, which once again is kicking Rafael when he’s down. I wish he wasn’t so wounded (I believe I’ve said this about Michael more than once, so they’re more similar than I thought).
  • Rogelio is mad at Rafael for not asking his permission to propose to Jane, which is classic Rogelio and also perfect.
  • Petra to Rafael: “Bro?”
  • After I published last week’s review where I mentioned Mo Ryan’s interview with Jennie Snyder Urman, she also published an interview with Gina Rodriguez last week, which is great. At the end of the interview Mo says, “I was going to ask you what you’ll be doing over the break, but it sounds like you’ll be running for President”, and Gina replies “I would like to run for President, but that’s another conversation”. It’s just one part of a fantastic interview, and Gina Rodriguez has some really interesting things to say about diversity in Hollywood that’s different to what I’ve been hearing recently.
  • It seems that The CW is taking a break from Jane for a couple of weeks, so I’ll have to find something else to review on Mondays, but I’m getting Netflix tomorrow, so I’m sure I’ll find something.