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Recap / Breaking Bad S 2 E 8 Better Call Saul

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No, this isn't the show. Yes, this is where the seed was planted. Anyway...

Badger conducts business on a bus bench when he is approached by a lankey, nerdy-looking man looking to buy meth. Badger suspects this prospective customer may be an undercover cop and makes fun of him, but when he seems to have turned him off, asks for him to come back, amenable to any suggestion that he is not a cop. The young man tells Badger that, according to the law, an undercover police officer must confirm he is such if asked directly. After denying that he is a cop, he buys meth from Badger.

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Unfortunately for Badger, his initial suspicions were spot-on; his customer was, in fact, an undercover cop, who immediately arrests Badger.

As Walt and Jesse count their money, Walt notices that they are somewhat short. Jesse explains that Badger had not yet pitched in and hadn't been answering his phone. When he calls Skinny Pete to find out what's going on, he discovers that Badger was busted.

In order to get Badger off the hook, the two decide to hire a lawyer. To Walt's chagrin, Jesse suggests hiring Saul Goodman, a disreputable ambulance-chasing morally-unscrupulous attorney at law: Jesse explains that in their line of work, instead of hiring a criminal lawyer, they should have a criminal lawyer.

Walt enters Saul's office in a hat and sunglasses to conceal his identity, posing as Badger's uncle. Saul explains that Badger may be in the clear; all he has to do is answer the DEA's questions and he would likely be released. Walt, however, doesn't want Badger talking to the DEA, knowing that it would lead to his own arrest. He begs Saul to do everything he can to keep Badger from talking to the DEA, but Saul explains that it's the only way he can avoid jail time. Desperate, Walt offers Saul a bribe of ten thousand dollars. Surprisingly, Saul turns down the offer.

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That evening, Walt and Jesse, wearing ski masks, kidnap Saul and drive him out to the desert, where a shallow grave was dug. Holding Saul at gunpoint, Jesse makes his ultimatum; Saul must do everything in his power to have Badger cleared of his charges and released, but he is not to talk to the DEA under any circumstances. Saul suggests killing Badger to silence him, but Jesse adamantly refuses to kill his friend.

Walt then begins to suffer from a coughing fit, which Saul recognizes from his earlier visit, causing him to deduce his identity as Badger's "uncle". After having Walt and Jesse slip dollar bills into his pocket to ostensibly protect them under attorney-client privilege, Saul explains that someone has to go to jail. It's just a matter of who...

Based on Badger's description of Heisenberg, Saul finds the perfect man to take the fall: James Kilkelly, also known as "Jimmy In-n-Out". Kilkelly has made a career out of going to prison for the right price, having preferred life on the inside to freedom. All he needs is $80,000, in addition to a pound of Walt's meth.

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Hank and the DEA set up a sting operation to catch Heisenberg, with Badger agreeing to get meth from Heisenberg in exchange for his freedom pending Heisenberg's arrest. Saul has Kilkelly sit on a park bench awaiting Badger, with Walt and Jesse watching. Unfortunately, Badger sits on a wrong bench next to another older balding gentleman, putting Saul's plan in jeopardy. Walt has Jesse make his way to Badger while he runs interference, driving in front of Hank's van and distracting him long enough for Jesse to correct Badger.

Their desperate plan works; Badger sits next to Kilkelly and gets meth from him, and with the DEA none the wiser, they arrest Kilkelly. Hank, however, has his doubts that Kilkelly could possibly be Heisenberg...

Afterwards, while Walt is grading tests and cleaning up his classroom, Saul pays a surprise visit; he chastises Walt on being so easy to find, stating that if he could find him, the DEA could too. Walt initially suspects that Saul had come to blackmail him, but Saul clarifies that he wants to help Walt. Walt has a product that is very valuable, but he lacks connections and criminal know-how, something Saul could provide in exchange for a nominal fee. As he leaves, he advises Walt that if he wants the aid he is offering, "Better Call Saul!"

This episode contains examples of:

  • Amoral Attorney: It doesn't take long to establish Saul as this. Or as Jesse puts it:
    Jesse: Seriously, when the going gets tough, you don't want a criminal lawyernote , you want a CRIMINAL lawyernote .
    • Saul even goes so far as to recommend that Jesse and Walter have Badger killed to keep him from ratting them out to the DEA.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": When going undercover as a drug addict, Getz ends up overplaying the part. Luckily for him, Badger ignores his gut instincts and sells him meth anyways.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Jane, in her last scene of the episode.
  • Black Comedy: Walt reacting to Jesse's refusal to kill Badger with some frustrated/annoyed noises and head shaking is still funny at this stage, because of its incongruity with the situation and because of what the audience assumes it knows about Walt's character.
  • Brick Joke: Badger points out a van labelled "Duke City Flowers" and suspects it of being an undercover van when talking to an undercover cop. When Badger is involved in the drug sting against Heisenberg's doppleganger later, one of the undercover vans that drives up to bust the fall guy is labelled "Duke City Flowers".
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Nacho, briefly mentioned by Saul when Walt and Jesse kidnap him, becomes much more important in Better Call Saul.
  • Con Man: Saul has Jesse and Walt pay him $80,000 as both his and Jimmy's fee for taking the fall as "Heisenberg". Except Saul later mentions that he can guarantee that the prosecution's case will develop some unexpected problems, and Word of God states that Saul got Jimmy Off on a Technicality. Maybe some of that went towards Jimmy's bail after he was arrested, but Saul claimed that the fee was being charged because Jimmy would be going to jail for them, only it turns out that Jimmy isn't actually going to jail at all! In short, Saul just swindled Walt and Jesse out of $80,000 and they never noticed.
  • The Consigliere: Saul offers to be Walt's, referencing the Trope Codifier as he does so.
    Walter: I don't understand, what exactly are you offering to do for me?
    Saul: What did Tom Hagen do for Vito Corleone?
    Walter: [Stammering and shocked by the comparison] I'm no Vito Corleone!
    Saul: No shit. Right now, you're Fredo! But with some sound advice and some introductions, who knows...
  • Continuity Nod: Emilio is mentioned, as Jesse details how he was seemingly caught red handed on charges only for Saul to get him off. Also, Saul knows that Spooge's lady killed him, not any gangster, in part because he used to represent Spooge.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: A verbal one. Saul completely mops the floor with the squishy cop that was interrogating Badger.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Saul sets himself up as an excellent one.
  • Establishing Character Moment: As if his cheesy TV commercial wasn't enough, the first time Saul appears in the flesh, he wipes the floor with a gawky cop that was interrogating Badger.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Saul turned down a $10,000 bribe to throw Badger's case, surprising Walt and Jesse.
  • Fake Nationality: [In-Universe] Saul claims that the Jewish name is just for his business, as crooks are big into the Jewish lawyer thing. He claims that he's really of Irish descent and his true name is McGill, which would be confirmed when Saul got his own prequel series.
  • Fall Guy: Saul helps set one up for Heisenberg, since Walt and Jesse refuse to off Badger.
  • For Want of a Nail: Saul Goodman wanders into the wrong interrogation room, where he stops Badger from saying too much. The show might have been very different, and much shorter, had that not happened. Similarly, had Badger just let the undercover cop leave instead of trying to get him to prove he's a cop, Badger wouldn't have been arrested.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Right after the stakeout deal, Jimmy In-'N'-Out pretty much gets straight up and puts his hands behind his head before any cops are even seen. You can hear the sirens, but it was a bit of a dead giveaway that this was staged. One thinks that Hank probably noticed that too.
  • Heroic BSoD: Hank has undergone one after witnessing the decapitated head-turtle bomb of Tortuga and the deaths or maiming of his fellow agents.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Saul is set up as one for Walt and Jesse, and this is the first, minor step of setting up his thus far unnamed PI Mike as one for him.
  • The Mob Boss is Scarier: Walt tries to invoke this when he's looking for a reason to convince Saul not to have Badger cut a deal, relaying the story about how Jesse supposedly crushed Spooge's head under the ATM. As mentioned under Continuity Nod, Saul laughs it off because he has inside, personal knowledge of the players at work and knows that Spooge's lady did it.
  • Must State If You're a Cop: The episode opens with Badger selling drugs on a park bench. A lanky looking dude named Getz walks up to him and asks if he's selling. Badger says he so smells bacon, pointing out two "inconspicuously" parked vans that must be surveillance vehicles. Getz denies that he's an undercover cop and actually considers not going through with the deal, especially when Badger makes him lift his shirt to reveal that he's not wearing a wire. After a bit of pondering, Getz then has an epiphany: if you ask a cop to identify himself as a cop, he is obligated to tell you. It's in the US Constitution. So Badger asks him if he's a cop. Getz holds up his hand, like he's swearing under oath, and says he's not a cop. Satisfied, Badger sells him a packet of meth. Getz takes the meth, then promptly whips out a gun and police badge, and arrests Badger on the spot (hilariously, the vans that Badger identified as police also pull up). Later, while Badger is being interrogated, he is still peeved at Getz because he still believes that urban legend and thinks Getz is screwing around with the Constitution.
  • Noodle Incident: Whatever Saul did that made him think the Cartel would want to kill him and whoever Ignacio is, it's never brought up again.
  • The Oner: The opening undercover drug bust is set up this way. There are no changes of camera angle. However, if you look closely, you can clearly see that the take used hidden cuts: the scene was entirely shot from one angle and plays out in one take, but it was necessary to be able to edit multiple takes together, so people walking in front of the camera are used to hide the cut. It clearly wasn't perfectly executed (look at the guy in the park in the background), but it's still nicely done.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Walt pretends to act as the clueless brother-in-law to Hank to deliberately block his view of Badger moving benches.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted for this episode - there are two characters with the first name "James": James Edward "Jimmy In-'N-Out" Kilkelly, and Saul, whose real name is James Morgan "Jimmy" McGill.
  • Perp Sweating: Getz tries interrogating Badger before being ushered out of the room by Saul.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Saul explains that he turned down a bribe not because he has anything against bribes, but because he doesn't take them from people he doesn't know. What if they're part of some sort of effort to bust him after all?
  • Properly Paranoid: Badger should've listened to his instinct telling him that lanky-looking loser was an undercover cop...
    • Take note that the 2 disguised vans that converge on him are the same 2 that Badger pointed out as obvious disguised cop vans.
  • Prison Rape: When Walt is posing as Badger's uncle, Saul makes inappropriate jokes that this will be Badger's fate if the boy doesn't hurry up and talk to the DEA.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Saul's reaction to two guys marching him out to the desert and sitting him in front of an open grave? After he figures out they're not after him personally and are amateurs, he does the old trick that Kim used on him when Chuck was trying to get him disbarred: he gets them to put a dollar in his pocket as a "retainer," claims that they're now under attorney-client privilege, and offers them advice on better ways to handle their problems. This isn't remotely how attorney-client privilege works, but savvy Saul guesses - correctly - that these guys wouldn't know that.
  • Schmuck Bait: Badger getting busted in the beginning. The Cold Opening is one Overly Long Gag of Badger being suspicious that the 'customer' is an undercover cop. Badger even points out the "inconspicuous" surveillance vans parked nearby. Despite all of this, the cop still manages to get Badger to let his guard down by getting him to fall for the old "cops can't deny they're cops when asked directly" urban legend.
  • Special Effects Failure: Saul's commercial is clearly just him poorly rendered in front of a greenscreen. Deliberate, mind you.
  • Too Clever by Half: Badger is smart enough to notice the telltale clues that a particular drug deal he's about to be involved in is actually an undercover bust, yet he still falls victim to the old "cops can't lie if asked if they are cops" urban legend. Later in the interrogation room he's peeved at the detective because he still believes that urban legend and thinks the cop is screwing around with the Constitution!
  • Undercover Cop Reveal: Badger gets arrested after being baited into selling an under cover cop meth by falling for the urban myth that undercover cops have to reveal themselves if asked about their secret directly.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Saul wonders why Walt and Jesse don't just kill Badger.
  • Your Mom: Saul to Hank:
    Saul: I sense you're discussing my client. Anything you care to share with me?
    Hank: Sure, your commercials? They suck ass. I've seen better acting in an epileptic whorehouse.
    Saul: Is that like the one your mom works at? Is she still offering the two for one discount?
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