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Season 2, Episode 8: “Better Call Saul”

09 Jul

Breaking Bad, 2-8: “Better Call Saul”

Opener

We see Badger on a park bench facing a busy street. The back of the bench is plastered with an ad for a cut-rate local attorney: “Better Call Saul.”

A skinny young guy in jeans sits down on the bench, and asks if Badger’s “selling.” Suspecting he’s an undercover cop, Badger says he sees two thinly disguised police vans nearby. He gives the guy a “freebie” suggestion that they should use a garbage truck. Then the cop (for he is a cop) says, “If you ask a cop if he’s a cop, he’s obligated to tell you. It’s in the Constitution.”

“Constitution of America? Okay then – $175 for a teenth.” They exchange money and drugs, the cop pulls a gun out, the two vans screech up, and Badger’s arrested.

Scene 1: Jesse’s

Saul Goodman, the attorney in the opener, appears in a TV ad, reminding potential clients that, according to the Constitution, “you have rights.”

Jesse and Jane are in bed on the floor under a blanket. Jesse says, “I really need to get some furniture.”

Jane: “I suggest you start with a bed.”

“God, I wish we could smoke in here.”

“Well, you can’t.”

“I know.”

“Don’t think I can’t smell that weed. You better hope it airs out, or my dad will take your security deposit.”

Jesse asks Jane, now getting dressed, if she wants to smoke some weed anyway, and she tosses him her 18-month sobriety chip, saying, “I’m in recovery.”

“That’s cool. I respect that.” Jesse adds that he doesn’t “burn” that much anymore, and won’t do it in the house. Then he asks if she wants to get some dinner.

“No, I gotta hit.”

“We – uh – we cool?”

Jane leaves without answering, and Jesse turns on his back and stretches.

Scene 2: Casa Blanca, the Schraders’

Skyler tells Walt she has to work overtime, and he tells her she looks nice.

She responds with: “It’s work. Everybody’s gonna be there.” She moves toward him, trying to be sweet. “Maybe we’ll order a pizza tonight?” They kiss, and she leaves.

The phone rings, and Walt starts listening to Marie’s message, then, hearing how distraught she is, picks up. He goes to the Schraders’, and Marie says that Hank came home from El Paso unexpectedly. “A federale was killed right in front of him. Three agents were wounded – one lost his leg. It’s like you hear about in Iraq – one of those IEDs. I had to hear about it from Steve Gomez. He keeps saying, ‘I’m fine, I’m fine – leave me alone.'”

Walt knocks on the master bedroom door, and goes in. Hank sits up. “Hi, buddy – what’s up?”

“How are you doing?”

“Lousy. Montezuma’s Revenge…I guess you heard about what happened down in Juarez.”

“Terrible.”

“What do you expect? Freakin’ animals. It’s like ‘Apocalypse Now’ down there. Sent me home instead of putting the second most senior man on the trail of those bastards. ‘He goes to get an evidence bag, and ends up without a scratch on him. Must be something wrong with that picture.'”

“So, you home for good?”

“No, no…Playin’ it by ear…To be determined.”

“Think you might want to talk it through with somebody?”

“What? A shrink? No, no, no – can’t go down that road. Go down that road – kiss your career goodbye.”

“Or Marie…or me – if you like.”

“You and me don’t have what you might call an experiential overlap.”

There’s a long pause, and then Walt says, “What if I told you we do? I have spent my whole life scared. Frightened of things that could happen. Fifty years I spent like that – finding myself awake at three in the morning. But, you know, ever since my diagnosis, I sleep just fine…What I came to realize is that fear – that’s the worst of it. That’s the real enemy. So…Get up. Get out in that real world, and you kick that bastard as hard as you can in the teeth!”

Scene 3: Jesse’s

Jesse, in a yellow T, a black-white-and-red jacket, and a black beanie with a red rim, shows Walt their new cash counting machine. Walt says, “You and I are going to feed this machine…” Then he picks Jane’s earring up off the floor. “Not yours, I take it?”

They divide the money, each getting $4,450. When Walt says it should be “48,” Jesse says Badger was planning to work an all-nighter. Walt: “Wake him up. He can sleep after we get paid.”

“Why you gotta be such a hard-on?”

“You’re not his pal – you’re his boss. This only works when they’re scared of you.”

Jesse picks up his phone, and mutters, “Jack-off. It’s going straight to voice mail.” He calls Combo, and asks if he’s seen Badger. We hear him say harshly, “Look – don’t you cover for him, bitch! I asked you a straight-up question; I expect a straight-up answer.” Walt turns and looks at Jesse with surprise. Jesse hangs up, and tells him, “Badger got busted. He’s in jail.”

Scene 4: the DEA office

Hank has a mini-panic attack in the elevator, then emerges, jokingly calling, “Honey, I’m home!”

Gomez: “You got more lives than a damn cat!” In Hank’s office, Gomez says he checked with A.P.D. about “that blue meth of yours, and sure enough – some of it was picked up last night.”

Next, we see Badger in an interrogation room with his arresting officer. Saul Goodman, the lawyer we’ve seen in the ads, comes in and shoos the cop out. “Go grab a juice box! Have a nap!”

It turns out that Badger, alias Brandon Mayhew, was arrested with a felony amount of meth. Saul tells him he charges $4,650 “up front,” and Badger asks plaintively, “You’re gonna get me off, right?”

“You’ll get the best criminal defense that money can buy.” In the hall, when he encounters Hank and Gomez with the Albuquerque cop, Saul says, “DEA, huh? For a street bust. Now what would two feds want with that little twerp?”

Scene 5: Saul’s office

Walt and Jesse are in Jesse’s car in the parking lot. Jesse says, “Sooner or later, this was going to happen. You wanted exponential growth – guys are gonna get busted.” When Walt says they should get a “real attorney,” Jesse says, “This is the guy I’d hire. He got Emilio off twice. Both times they had him dead to rights, yo. Then poof! Like Houdini. Seriously, when the going gets tough, you don’t want a criminal lawyer – you want a criminal lawyer. You know what I’m sayin’? Look – we’re in good shape, Mr. White. Badger’s too loyal to roll – plus, he’s scared shitless of me. We pay four large – the cost of business. Take it out of Badger’s payroll. And it’s only his first dealing rap, so worst case scenario he gets five months picking up litter in an orange jumpsuit.”

Walt: “So, who goes inside? I don’t need them seeing my face.”

Jesse: “Well, I don’t need them seeing my face.”

“Why not? You look like his typical clientele.”

“Dick.”

“Fine. We’ll flip for it.” Jesse picks heads as he did in season 1, and Walt loses again. We see him in Saul’s waiting room, full of screaming kids and piped-in Muzak, wearing a white ball cap and dark glasses.

Inside Saul’s office, Saul introduces himself, and collects his fee. He asks if Mayhew is “English or Irish,” and when Walt, posing as Badger’s uncle, says “Irish,” Saul says his real name is McGill. He tells Walt Badger will get time served and probation, but he has to give up some names to the DEA. “They’re after some heavy hitter goes by the name of Heisenberg.”

“Let’s review our options,” Walt says.

“Well, there are only two: take the deal, or your nephew goes to the penitentiary.”

Walt says there will be reprisals if Badger talks. “These are vicious, desperate people. One of them killed a man by crushing his head with an ATM machine.”

Saul: “People love to take credit for the fun ones. The guy that got his head shmushed used to be a client of mine. His wife killed him – there’s nothin’ to worry about.” Still, Walt offers Saul $10,000 in cash if he can arrange it so that there’s no talking to the DEA.

Back in the car, Jesse says, “The dude wouldn’t take a bribe?”

“He said he was ‘morally outraged,’ and threatened to call the police.”

“And Badger’s gonna spill?”

“Like the Exxon Valdez.”

They lie in wait for Saul till he locks up his office and comes outside. They kidnap him and take him to a deserted spot overlooking the city. Leaving the RV lights on and the motor running, and wearing the same ski masks with pompoms they wore to steal the methylamine, they hold the lawyer, on his knees, at gunpoint. Saul begs for his life in Spanish.

“Shut up!” Jesse says. “I can speak English. This afternoon an associate of ours offered you $10,000. You should have taken it.”

Saul, hands cuffed behind him: “I don’t take bribes from strangers, but I’ll take your money, sure.”

“The offer’s expired, yo. Give Badger the best defense ever, but no deals with the DEA. Badger will not identify anyone. If he does, you’re dead.”

Saul: “Why don’t you just kill Badger?” Walt looks at Jesse.

“We’re not killin’ Badger, yo.”

“Then you got real problems, ’cause the DEA is gonna come down on your boy like a ton of bricks.” Walt starts coughing as he did in Saul’s office, and Saul says, “Mr. Mayhew? Recognize your cough. Take that mask off. Get some air.” As Walt pulls the mask up, he adds, “Take it easy. The three of us are gonna work this out.”

“Yeah? How?” Jesse asks.

“First, you’re each gonna put a dollar in my pocket…You want attorney-client privilege, don’t you? Make it official.” Walt stuffs a dollar in Saul’s shirt pocket. “Now you, ski bum.”

“All I got’s a five.”

“I’ll take a five – come on, already! Take the ski mask off. I feel like I’m talking’ to the Weather Underground here.”

When Jesse shakes his head, Walt says, “Just do it.” He coughs. Jesse reveals his face.

Saul: “So, if a prison shanking is completely off the table – we’re sure of that?”

Walt looks at Jesse, who shouts, “No shanking!”

“Somebody’s goin’ to prison,” Saul says. “It’s just a matter of who.”

Scene 6: a DEA interrogation room

Hank asks Badger the name of his “supplier,” and Badger says, “He goes by Heisenberg.”

“How old?”

“Old. Like fifty or seventy or something.”

“Height?”

“Average, I guess.”

“Hair?”

“No hair. Balder than you.”

Scene 7: Saul’s office

Saul tells Walt and Jesse about Jimmy In-and-out, who’s willing to “go to prison for you for a price.” $80,000 for eight years – 30 for Jimmy and 50 for Saul for “facilitating.” Walt hands Saul a brown bag with the money.

Scene 8: the same park bench

Badger’s on the bench, as the DEA and the Albuquerque cop watch from their van. Walt and Jesse watch, too, from Walt’s Aztek, parked around the corner. Jimmy’s not there yet. Then a random dude, who happens to be largely bald, sits down. Badger says to him, “Okay, let’s do this,” and the guy ignores him. Jimmy’s arrived, and he’s bald, too, but he’s sitting on the wrong bench!

Walt wheels the Aztek around, drives near the benches, and hisses at Jesse to get out. Then he pulls up to Hank’s van, blocking the cops’ sight for several minutes, despite Hank’s protests. This gives Jesse time to tell Badger what’s up, and he moves to the right bench as Mexican trumpet music plays. Badger and Jimmy make the exchange (money for meth), and the cops arrest Jimmy.

Walt picks Jesse up. “I think they bought it.”

The Albuquerque cop says, on the phone to his superior: “We got a full pound of the blue stuff. And Heisenberg’s real name is James Kilkelly.” Hank looks dubious.

Scene 9: Jesse’s

A new mattress is leaning against the wall when Jesse gets home, and Jane knocks at the door. Wearing a crop-top T, a short skirt, and boots (all black), she tells him she let the delivery guy in. Jesse throws the mattress down on the floor, and the two kiss passionately.

Scene 10: Walt’s classroom

Walt’s grading test papers, as Saul waltzes in.

“Oh, my God – you really are a chemistry teacher.”

When Walt asks, “How did you find me?” Saul says it only took his P.I. [private investigator] an hour. “So, this is what?” Walt says. “Blackmail?”

“I’m not in the shakedown racket. You have client privileges, remember? Where’s the money? This kid may be the first of your guys to be picked up, but he won’t be the last, and if I can find you, how far behind can the cops be?”

“I don’t understand. What exactly are you offering to do for me?”
“What did Tom Hagen do for Vito Corleone?”

“I’m no Vito Corleone.”

“No shit. Right now, you’re ‘Fredo. But with some sound advice and proper introductions, who knows? I’ll tell you one thing – you’ve got the right product. Anything that gets the DEA’s panties in this big of a bunch, you’re onto something special. And I would like to be a small and silent partner. Food for thought, yeah?”

Saul turns for the door, then stops. “So, if you want to make more money and keep the money that you make, better call Saul!” He laughs, and leaves.

Walt, wearing a reddish-colored shirt, doubles over, coughing.

 

 

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