Better Call Saul thread

Discussion in 'TV Board' started by Sterling A, Apr 8, 2015.

  1. racer

    racer Yuma, where I work in software.
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  2. C A N E

    C A N E Let justice be done though the heavens fall
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    Fucking rock hard for next Monday
     
  3. nexus

    nexus TMB’s TSO
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    so very well deserved
     
  4. fish

    fish Impossible, Germany
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    The walk of fame is kind of joke. Anybody can nominate someone and if the board approves, a 50K payment is required. This is not a knock on Bob (who I love), but rather on the idea of the "walk of fame". DJ Khaled got his yesterday, as a point of reference.
     
  5. southlick

    southlick "Better Than You"
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  6. C A N E

    C A N E Let justice be done though the heavens fall
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    Low key so happy they ran with the managing a Cinnabon in Omaha storyline
     
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  7. Tex

    Tex Spicy Ranch Dry Rub
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    Finished my rewatch last night. It was the bffs first time through. Ready to go Monday.
     
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  8. racer

    racer Yuma, where I work in software.
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    S5E9 and 10 are queued up after lunch. I ain’t getting shit done at work this afternoon.
     
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  9. Tex

    Tex Spicy Ranch Dry Rub
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    No Good Friday off?
     
  10. Jean-Ralphio

    Jean-Ralphio A real toe-tapper
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    imagine not getting thursday friday and monday off. And you guys say land of the free? well doesnt look like it tbh.
     
  11. racer

    racer Yuma, where I work in software.
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    Finished the 3rd (I think) rewatch with the exception of S5, which was the first rewatch. My body is ready.
     
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  12. Nandor the Relentless

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    My company does Easter Monday
     
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  13. SugarShaun

    SugarShaun A man of many hobbies
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    Halfway thru season 4. It’s going to be tough to make it there for Monday night
     
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  14. laxjoe

    laxjoe Well-Known Member
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    Just finished season 5 and I cannot wait for Monday
     
  15. Jean-Ralphio

    Jean-Ralphio A real toe-tapper
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    I am on season 4 ep 1. i’ll make it no problem. new eps doesnt hit netflix until tuesday here. so i got 3 days to watch 18-19 eps
     
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  16. SugarShaun

    SugarShaun A man of many hobbies
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    Just went to set recording for Monday and see it’s scheduled from 9-11:30. Wow
     
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  17. Jean-Ralphio

    Jean-Ralphio A real toe-tapper
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    its 2 eps
     
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  18. bakonole

    bakonole Well-Known Member

    Finished re watch of the whole series this week, taking place over the previous 3-4 weeks.

    Fired up for the final season.

    Lalo Salamanca is not quite on the level of Boyd Crowder for me (he’s my all time favorite bad guy/villain) but he’s top tier. Great character and acting. His last scenes of the S5 E10 were bad ass.

    Edit: Gus Fring on the top level as well
     
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  19. southlick

    southlick "Better Than You"
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  20. Tex

    Tex Spicy Ranch Dry Rub
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    Loved that. Still checks if it’s clean.
     
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  21. cutig

    cutig My name is Rod, and I like to party
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    Honestly forgot this show was coming back, fucking thrilled last weekend when I saw the breaking bad marathon was on AMC. Really excited about this starting back up, but also a bit sad because it's going to be the end of an incredible series.
     
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  22. Jean-Ralphio

    Jean-Ralphio A real toe-tapper
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    I forgot about the scheme to save Huell. Absolutely amazing.
     
  23. Gunners

    Gunners Nicking a living
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    2 1/2 more episodes left on rewatch till tomorrow night, I will make it
     
  24. Gunners

    Gunners Nicking a living
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    Forgot Bolsa being responsible for the Saul hit on the 7 mil.

    Season will be fascinating. BCS>BB
     
  25. Quailman

    Quailman how playa is that, mayne?
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    only did a rewatch of S5 and immediately regretted not doing a full rewatch. oh well, still pumped for tomorrow night. incredible show
     
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  26. CUAngler

    CUAngler Royale with Cheese
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    I feel like I have forgotten everything
     
  27. laxjoe

    laxjoe Well-Known Member
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    Is anyone able to copy and paste?
     
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  28. racer

    racer Yuma, where I work in software.
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    DVR and catch up after you rewatch. 50 hours goes by fairly fast.
     
  29. racer

    racer Yuma, where I work in software.
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    Rhea Seehorn really only came out to Hollywood so she could watch The Sopranos.

    In the spring of 2003, Seehorn was nearly a decade into her acting career, largely in East Coast theater productions. The work was fulfilling, but low-paying. While all her friends had been raving for years about HBO’s epic mob drama, Seehorn hadn’t seen it; she couldn’t afford cable. So when her agent called her — while Seehorn was cleaning toilets for her day job as a receptionist at a Brooklyn construction site — to say she had gotten an audition for an ABC sitcom, her biggest concern was whether the studio would put her up in a hotel for the night.

    “I thought, ‘It comes with a trip to L.A., and I finally get to watch The Sopranos? Let’s do it,'” she recalls now.



    RELATED

    How to Watch 'Better Call Saul' Online: Where to Stream the 'Breaking Bad' Spin-Off


    'Better Call Saul' Confirms the Return of 'Breaking Bad' Duo for Final Season



    As it turned out, Seehorn didn’t get to see any of Tony and Carmela on that trip. The audition — for I’m With Her, a series loosely based on the relationship between the sitcom writer Chris Henchy and the actress Brooke Shields, where Seehorn would be reading for the actress character’s sister — was moved up to first thing in the morning after she arrived in town. She staggered into the studio still wearing the clothes she’d barely slept in, clueless about how to behave in this setting (she started eating a bagel before being told the food was meant for the executives), and did a five-minute riff as a character she had invented. She got the part, and moved to L.A. — and eventually got cable thanks to the bigger paycheck.





    Seehorn has been working steadily ever since, in other sitcoms like Whitney, lighthearted dramas like The Starter Wife and Franklin & Bash, and now in her breakout role as Jimmy McGill’s conscience/girlfriend Kim Wexler on Better Call Saul — among the very best of the complex cable dramas that The Sopranos made possible. Throughout, her career has been equal parts art and practicality, not just in the dirty jobs she had to take, like the one at the construction site, to make it happen, but in how she builds her characters out of rigorous study and questioning, finding intense power in extreme subtlety.

    Seehorn’s work ethic is the reason Kim Wexler has evolved from a person for whom the show’s creators had no concrete plan, beyond giving Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) a confidante, into the heart of the series, and the reason they drastically changed their original intentions about when and how Jimmy would become Saul Goodman. Kim has gone from afterthought to one of the most beloved characters on either Better Call Saul or Breaking Bad.





    “She just brings so much depth, and there’s so much thought and so much intelligence to every moment that she plays,” says Saul co-creator Peter Gould. “She’s able to play all the ideas between the words and make them ring and sing. She’s just fascinating to watch. You want to know what’s going on between those ears.”

    [​IMG]
    Seehorn in college

    Courtesy of Rhea Seehorn

    Born Deborah Rhea Seehorn, she began using her middle name — pronounced “Ray,” after the man who introduced her parents to one another — because “the Deborahs and Debbies that I knew or saw on TV always seemed to be really attractive cheerleaders, and it was not my lane at all in school,” Seehorn says. “I just remember feeling a disassociation with the name, from a very early age.”(*) Her mother was an executive assistant, mostly for the Navy, while her father was a counterintelligence agent for the Naval Investigative Service. His work led the family to move around a lot during Seehorn’s childhood, including stints in Japan, Arizona, and Virginia.

    (*) Her sister is the only person to still call her Debbie “to bug the crap out of me, but that’s what sisters do.” Many fans mispronounce her name “RHEE-uh,” like Cheers star Rhea Perlman; Seehorn is too polite and happy to meet them to offer a correction.

    “I never saw pictures, but you would hear stories,” she says of her father. “He was in Russia before the Iron Curtain came down, and apparently [posed as] a woman at one point.”

    There’s more than a bit of acting to that kind of work, though Seehorn and her dad never got to bond over the shared experience. He died when she was 18, at a time when she assumed she was going to be a painter. In college at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, she was required to take an elective outside of her visual arts program, and tried an acting class.

    “Thank god it wasn’t a feel-good, let’s just lie on the floor, feel how we feel about ourselves class,” she recalls. “It was all craft. It was practical aesthetics, handbook for actors — here’s how you break down a script, this is what an objective is, this is an obstacle. I was in such heaven that I never looked back after that.”

    At the time, she was 45 pounds heavier than she is now, with a jet-black crew cut. She couldn’t imagine a world in which she would ever get to act on television, but thought the stage would be a good place for her. Her acting teacher, Lynnie Raybuck, encouraged her to check out the theater scene in nearby Washington, D.C., and soon Seehorn was offering to tackle any odd job that might get her noticed as someone who was both passionate and a hard worker.





    “I volunteered to usher at Woolly Mammoth [Theatre Company] for a year,” she says. “I volunteered for stage-running crew, box office, anything to make that bridge between academic and professional, so that I could learn professional things, be around professional people, show that I was willing to put in the hours. Also, when I got out for auditions, I’m not knocking on a door of someone who’s never seen me before. They’ve seen me making the disgusting fried eggs for a play that lasted all summer.”

    [​IMG]
    A twentysomething Seehorn in a headshot from her D.C. theater days.

    Courtesy of Rhea Seehorn

    Eventually, she was getting significant theater roles (and rave reviews). She took odd jobs to pay the bills, like clerking at a record store or doing home repair using whatever knowledge she could glean by reading the how-to books at Home Depot. (“I learned how to re-caulk a bathtub after I had already told the guy that I could do it,” she says, admitting her work “was OK; it wasn’t great.”) A good source of income in those days was to appear in industrial films that corporations used to train their employees; in one, Seehorn played a woman calling into an AT&T hotline because the concept of voicemail confused her — “Like, I can’t understand how to hang up the phone; it’s insane.” (She’s heard from friends in the area that another — in which she teaches bartenders and waitresses how to deal with drunk customers — is still being used all these years later.)

    She auditioned for what few film and TV productions were happening in the region: Her first TV role was in an episode of the Baltimore-based Homicide: Life on the Street. But even though her physical appearance had changed from her college days, that world still seemed at odds with how she saw herself.

    “By then I was a 25-year-old blonde, so I would get sent in for the ingenue,” she says, “but I would go at it as a character actor. I can’t just play the guy’s girlfriend. If the most interesting thing about me is my boyfriend, I’m not going to get the part, because I would add all this subtext of like, ‘No, no, no. There has to be something going on with her. Was she abused? Why is she just standing there?’ I didn’t get parts for a while because of that.”

    Seehorn had grown up idolizing Bea Arthur for playing brassy, no-bullshit women in sitcoms like Maude and Golden Girls. Starting with I’m With Her — where her character, Cheri Baldzikowski, was skeptical bordering on contemptuous of her sister’s new civilian boyfriend — she found herself playing younger versions of Bea Arthur parts in one sitcom after another. “I got typecast as something that I was very proud of,” she says, “which was this very wry, sarcastic, knowing [woman].” Most of the shows were canceled quickly — NBC’s Whitney, at two seasons, was her longest pre-Saul gig — and some never aired at all(*), but the jobs kept coming, and Seehorn kept enjoying them.





    (*) One of her failed pilots was Eva Adams, an adaptation of a popular international format where a womanizer is magically transformed into a woman. Because her character was supposed to really be Will Arnett, Seehorn was allowed to shadow the Arrested Development star for a few days to learn his mannerisms. “But every time Will knew I was watching him,” she says, “he’d sit super strange and walk really weird, totally to fuck with me.”

    When you enter the business in a sitcom, though, the business sees you as a sitcom actor. Chances to audition for dramatic roles proved few and far between. One of the few casting directors willing to think outside the box with her was Sharon Bialy, who was intrigued by Seehorn’s theater resume, because, she says, “so many of the shows I do require an actor who can handle language well.” Bialy and her coworkers Sherry Thomas and Russell Scott frequently brought in Seehorn to read for more serious parts. Shortly before Better Call Saul went into pre-production, Seehorn lost out on two different jobs she badly wanted where Bialy was doing the casting. Bialy reached out with a message of encouragement.

    “I just remember saying — and I’ve never said this to an actor before — ‘It didn’t work out, but there’s something coming up that I know will be the right job for you,'” Bialy says. “And I never say that, because you can never predict what will happen. But I had already read the pilot for Better Call Saul, and I just had an instinct that she would be great for the role. I said, ‘Just be patient. Hang in there.'”

    There wasn’t much to Kim in that pilot, where she appears in only two scenes, with a handful of lines; Gould and Vince Gilligan hadn’t given the character much thought. As Gould puts it, “We knew there should be a woman in Jimmy’s life, somebody who was certainly as much a friend as anything else. That was about as much as we knew, that these two people had a history, and that it was a complicated history.” For the audition, to preserve secrecy on a high-profile project, they invented a couple of fake scenes: one about a cop who discovers her younger sister has left college (for which the cop is still giving her money) and become a crack-addicted prostitute; the other about a woman who has found success after leaving her small hometown, then runs into an old friend whom she may or may not have dated in the past. Seehorn impressed enough that Bialy told her then and there about the real character; after a confused, profane response (according to Bialy, she said, “Wait, she’s not a cop? She doesn’t have a sister? What the fuck?”), they kept going. “One of the important components is how quickly the actor can take the adjustment and shape it into something else,” says Bialy. “That’s what Rhea was able to do in the next take. It didn’t take her five takes; she got it immediately.”





    Though many of the Saul writers had worked together on Breaking Bad, they struggled mightily to figure out what the spin-off should be in terms of story and tone, and how to use the characters who had never appeared on the parent show. Breaking Bad alum Gennifer Hutchison recalls a lot of early debate in the writers room over how Kim felt about Jimmy’s con-man side. In her script for the show’s fourth episode, “Hero,” Hutchison wrote a moment where Kim privately smiles in response to a Jimmy scheme that had outraged her boss, Howard Hamlin. (“Publicity stunt or not,” the stage directions read, “she liked it.”) With so little material early on, Seehorn had to invent a backstory and motivations in her head to make the character make sense to her, and over the years, many of those early ideas proved consistent with what the show gradually revealed about Kim. (This speaks to Seehorn’s instincts, but also to the writers watching what she was doing and following her lead.) Even before she got the “Hero” script, she had decided that it was more interesting if Kim was attracted to Jimmy in part because of his occasional criminal impulses rather than in spite of them. Director Colin Bucksey had her try a series of smiles — some big, some barely perceptible. “On a scale of one to 10, 10 being the biggest smile,” Seehorn says, “I think he picked one of my fours.”

    [​IMG]
    Kim’s series-altering smile.

    AMC

    Though Gilligan and Gould weren’t sure at the script stage if the smile would stay, Seehorn’s performance unlocked the character — and, in many ways, the show — for them.

    “The way she played it just felt so right that it gave us a strong feeling for where we were going with her,” says Gould.

    The creators had assumed that Jimmy would become Saul fairly quickly, and ended that first season with Jimmy in the car after blowing off a job interview that Kim had arranged for him, a wicked grin on his face that Breaking Bad fans would recognize. It was only after the season was in the can that it occurred to Gould what a bad spot Jimmy was putting Kim in by ignoring this great opportunity she had arranged. (“We started saying, ‘Wait, did he just leave her high and dry?'” he explains.) The Season Two premiere revealed that Jimmy actually had gone to the meeting for her sake, and he would eventually take the job to impress her.





    “That started changing the course of the story,” says Gould. “The emotional connection between these two characters had a gravitational pull that started twisting the whole story around. Right now, a lot of what happened on the show revolves around this very complicated — and I think very adult, in its own way — relationship between those two.”

    That need for Jimmy, and for the show, to pay Kim the respect she’d earned by that point radically altered Saul in multiple ways. It slowed Jimmy’s transformation into the scoundrel Saul Goodman to a measured pace that more closely parallels the tragic moral descent of Saul’s most infamous client, Walter White. And it forced the creative team to essentially split the series in two, with Jimmy and Kim on one side and all the drug dealers on the other.

    These changes remind Gilligan, only on a grander scale, of when he abandoned his initial plan on Breaking Bad to kill off Jesse Pinkman early in Season One. “Thank God, we got as lucky with Rhea as we did with Aaron Paul,” he says. “But this is different, because Jesse, God bless him, he and Walt were not really equals in their character dynamic. But these two characters are definitely equals, and most of the time, Kim is Jimmy’s better — certainly his better angel.”

    That it was a silent, barely perceptible reaction that proved the Rosetta Stone for Kim, and for Better Call Saul, feels appropriate. Seehorn’s work throughout the series isn’t flashy. Kim is a control freak who keeps her emotions as tightly coiled as her signature power ponytail. Yet it’s clear throughout the show how she feels about Jimmy, about her co-workers, and about whatever mess she has found herself in(*). Seehorn trained herself to be a character actor at an age when no one envisioned her as such; those long-honed instincts to be understated and real are paying off fantastically in this role.

    (*) Well, mostly clear. Because this is a show whose title character is a con man, and because Breaking Bad famously kept a few big plot twists secret from the audience, some Saul viewers are conditioned to mistrust some things Kim says and does, like a speech she gave earlier this season about her unhappy childhood, or the letter she gave Jimmy that was allegedly written by his late brother, Chuck. In both of those situations, Seehorn played Kim’s intentions as sincere (and the latest episode confirmed the childhood story as true), though she’s grown used to fans questioning them.





    The only downside to such incredible but nuanced work is that Seehorn has yet to be recognized for it by her peers. Where Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Giancarlo Esposito, and Michael McKean have all received Emmy nominations for the show, Seehorn is 0-for-4 to date.

    “I think she’s been robbed,” laments Sharon Bialy. “I think one of the reasons is her work is so seamless and honest and beautiful. It’s not showy. She just serves the writing. That kind of talent often goes unnoticed, because it’s so seamless. And I hope for the final seasons, people wake up.”

    In the meantime, the rigorous training continues. Seehorn has never shared a scene with Banks, Esposito, or several of her other co-stars, yet she goes to the set to watch all of their scenes, even if she’s not working that day. For the moment, the cartel stories have nothing to do with what’s happening to Kim, yet she finds them very informative to what she has to play.

    “It’s a very specific tone of show,” she explains. “For me, it sits just outside of realism and naturalism. There’s something kind of poetic about the way people shift in their speech or the way events unfold. I like that music in my ear as much as possible between my work. It’s not about me staying in character and walking around making people call me Kim; but completely removing myself from set and then going right into a scene the next morning is not as easy for me as it is for some actors. So, it’s selfish. And then I’m also just getting a free acting lesson. Jonathan and Giancarlo, when I watch their scenes, they teach me how to use the camera in a way that I didn’t come into this series understanding as much as I’m aspiring to now. Sometimes, when Kim has intimate moments, I used to turn away from the camera, because I do treat the camera as another person that’s there, and the audience is often my confidant in the scenes, because Kim can be very silent and withholding. And I’ll watch Jonathan and ask him questions. Or I’ll ask Giancarlo, ‘How do you invite the camera into the most private of moments without looking showy or without looking deliberate?'”

    [​IMG]
    Seehorn with Odenkirk as Kim and Jimmy.

    Michele K. Short / Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television

    One of the more unsavory, and completely unintended, aspects of Breaking Bad was how a segment of that show’s audience turned viciously against Walt’s wife Skyler. On paper, she was the sympathetic figure in the story, but to some viewers, she was the nag who was trying to keep Walt from embracing his inner badass. Better Call Saul has even more explicitly positioned Kim as the woman who is keeping Jimmy from becoming Saul Goodman, yet it’s hard to find fans of the show who feel anything but adoration and protective feelings for her(*). Like a lot of things about the series, the change in response goes back to Kim’s secret smile, and to the feelings behind it. Kim enjoys Slippin’ Jimmy the grifter almost as much as the audience does, after all.





    (*) Hard, but not impossible. Some viewers are only in it for the Breaking Bad-adjacent material, and Seehorn has occasionally heard secondhand from people who say that they can’t wait until Kim dies.

    “She’s actually not telling him, ‘You should be what I want you to be,'” Seehorn argues of Kim. “She’s telling him, ‘That’s not what you said you wanted to be. I’m trying to help you be what you said you wanted to be.’ And then, secondly, as often as she’s warning him or slowing down his trajectory, she’s also the audience’s point of view about what’s charming and funny and loving and sweet about him.”

    Kim is crucial to the series in another way. The fates of most of the cartel characters are already locked in, and if we don’t know exactly how Jimmy’s post-Breaking Bad exile as Omaha shopping mall Cinnabon manager Gene will end, most of his story has also already been written. That leaves Kim’s future as the great mystery of Better Call Saul. Does she die? Does Jimmy ruin her career? In the most recent episode(spoiler), Kim proposed marriage as a last-ditch effort to save their flagging relationship; is there a chance that when Saul Goodman went home from helping Walt and Jesse launder their money, Kim was there waiting for him? Or, for that matter, could Nebraska native Kim wander into Gene’s Cinnabon to give these star-crossed lovers an improbable happily-ever-after?

    “What’s going to happen to Kim?” Gould wonders. “That’s maybe the biggest question we’ve got now. Kim and Nacho, but Kim is the one I’m worried about. I think there’s still a lot of hope for Kim Wexler.”

    Seehorn binged all of Breaking Bad shortly after that show ended, and mostly doesn’t play fan-girl on the set. (Though when a scene in the fourth season took place in Saul Goodman’s famous office, she couldn’t resist posing for some photos of herself at his desk.) Early on, she spent a lot of time asking the same questions about Kim that we all have. The answers didn’t exist at that point — “We see about three inches down the road at any particular moment,” Gould admits — and she ultimately realized that finding out would be counterproductive, since her performance would be influenced by things that Kim didn’t yet know.





    While reminding me several times throughout our conversation that she can’t technically say whether Kim will still be a regular character for the sixth and final season, Seehorn says of the eventual end of her time on the series, “I’m sad. I can’t think that I’m not sad about it. It’s the best part I’ve ever played, and I will miss that experience, and I will miss all the people on it. But I’ve made my peace as far as however I’m going out — it’s going to be the smartest way she could have possibly gone out. I trust them with her.”

    “It’s funny how the character grew on us, and the actress, God knows, grew on us,” Gilligan says. “We just love her to pieces. She’s adorable, she’s funny as hell, she’s a good person, and she’s smart as a whip. And she helps center the show for me. That’s saying a lot, because every main actor on this show could carry their own TV show, but Rhea, she’s something else. She’s really special.”

    The praise is nice, but in many ways, Seehorn still feels like that jet-lagged young woman from 17 years ago, stumbling into an audition with sheet marks on her face and no idea where she was or what she was supposed to do.

    “When you’re 20-some years into your career, [it’s a lot] to have a role that is challenging and every season becomes more challenging,” she says. “This season, I had scenes where I was like, ‘This might be the day when everybody finds out that I can’t act. The jig might be up today.’ Just because it’s an incredible gift to have writing like Peter and Vince’s, and then have people that are that smart and care that much about the storytelling go, ‘You’re the person that can pull this scene off. It’s you.'” Even after all this time, she says, “You’re like, ‘Are you sure?'”
     
  30. racer

    racer Yuma, where I work in software.
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    One thing I’ve found is that there is a little leakage and mixing of the two series in my head. Like I couldn’t remember if the pool murders were in BB or BCS for sure. Once I looked it up I now remember Jesse being there, but didn’t at first.
     
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  31. ksu_funny33

    ksu_funny33 Well-Known Member
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    Watched the last episode of season 5 last night for a quick refresher and I had the same issue. Feels like it’s been a decade since season 5 aired so I had forgotten a lot
     
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  32. racer

    racer Yuma, where I work in software.
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    Same. I was like damn, we’ve got the pool scene and Lalo’s house in the last 30 minutes? This is more action packed than I remember!
    I remembered wrong.
     
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  33. Henry Blake

    Henry Blake No Springsteen is leaving this house!
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    ^ I was the same way with Todd, Uncle Jack, and the white supremacist crew in BB. I watched the BB marathon the last few weekends. I felt like they were in more episodes than they actually were. The first and second halves of BB S5 were almost a year apart, so I guess that's why.
     
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  34. laxjoe

    laxjoe Well-Known Member
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  35. C A N E

    C A N E Let justice be done though the heavens fall
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    Me leaving the office
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  36. bakonole

    bakonole Well-Known Member

    The Man Behind the Mustache
    As ‘Better Call Saul’ heads into its sixth and final season, the dread-inducing promise of a vengeful Lalo Salamanca is also a delight-inducing promise of more Tony Dalton

    By Miles Surrey Apr 13, 2022, 8:26am
    • The Ringer
    LaloLalo Salamanca was heard before he was seen. Toward the end of the fourth season of Better Call Saul, his voice emanates from the kitchen of El Michoacano. Los Imperials “Al Compás De Mi Caballo” is blasting as Nacho Varga walks in, befuddled by this stranger who has seemingly taken over the Mexican restaurant that serves as the Salamanca family’s base of operations in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Following the voice with apprehension, ready to draw his gun, what Nacho finds is a boisterous, mustachioed man gleefully whipping up a plate of tacos. “You are going to love this,” the man says, flipping between English and Spanish. “I made this just for you. Never in your life have you tasted something so delicious, it’s true. … You’re gonna die.”

    No thank you, Nacho insists, barely entertaining the man who seems so entertained himself.

    “Very well. You’re not hungry. That’s your problem,” he responds. “This is a special recipe. A family secret.”

    With the help of that hint, Nacho finally realizes who he’s talking to: He’s in the presence of another member of the Salamanca clan. Lalo, as he introduces himself, has come to town to make sure the business keeps running smoothly after his uncle, Hector, was hospitalized and left in a wheelchair-bound state. (What Lalo doesn’t know is that Nacho is the reason Hector nearly died to begin with.) “But listen, don’t even worry,” Lalo tells Nacho. “It’s gonna be like I’m not even here.”

    That Lalo makes this assurance after playing music at maximum volume and commandeering an entire kitchen perfectly underlines the character’s sinister blend of playfulness and intimidation. But more importantly, it marks the addition of a new villain to the Breaking Bad universe—a final big bad to see Better Call Saul into its endgame. Lalo coming into the fold so late into Better Call Saul’s run might have tempered expectations for the character, but ever since he made those tacos—garnished with epazote, of course—he’s done far more than simply hold his own. With the same charismatic assertiveness he demonstrated at El Michoacano, Lalo has pulled the rest of Better Call Saul into his orbit—swaggering through the series like he’s the true star of the show. Most episodes, you can’t help but believe him.

    Tony Dalton, the actor who plays Lalo, has experienced a similar sort of coming-out party. A Mexican American actor who had mostly carved out a television career in Mexico, Dalton had a small footprint in the United States before Better Call Saul, only appearing in a handful of episodes of the Netflix series Sense8. But Dalton has quickly proved his worth, making Lalo feel like the kind of larger-than-life figure he sees himself as. Now he’s one of the breakout stars of one of the best TV shows in the past decade—as well as a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And as Better Call Saul heads into its sixth and final season, the dread-inducing promise of a vengeful Lalo is also a delight-inducing promise of more Tony Dalton.

    “I look for good scripts, good characters, good collaborations with people, and you never know who’s out there,” Dalton says over a Zoom call in March. “It would’ve never even crossed my mind that I was going to work with Vince Gilligan and with Peter Gould. And then all of a sudden here I am, and it’s one of the greatest things that’s ever happened to me professionally.”



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    ItIt feels appropriate that Dalton’s big moment came on a series about a bunch of characters—and their illicit product—traversing back and forth across the Mexican-American border. The son of a Mexican father and an American mother, Dalton was born in Laredo, Texas, a city whose economy relies on international trade with neighboring Mexico, and which has the largest inland port on the border. After being raised in Mexico City while attending a private boarding school in Massachusetts, he studied at the Lee Strasberg Theater & Film Institute in New York, where he learned exactly what it’d take to make it as an actor. “It sets you straight as to how this career works and the things that you have to do,” he says. “You’ve got to memorize, you’ve got to create character. Otherwise, it’s just not going to work out in the long run.”

    Dalton’s career started to take shape when he found a regular home on Mexican television, starring in the telenovela Rebelde, the Mexican adaptation of the Argentine series Los simuladores, and the HBO Latinoamérica drama Sr. Ávila. In Sr. Ávila, which won an International Emmy for Best Non-English Language U.S. Prime-Time Program in 2017, Dalton played life insurance salesman Roberto Ávila, who lived a double life as a hitman for the criminal underworld—a ruthless killer archetype that is familiar but nevertheless thrilling to watch. In his most prominent role to date, Dalton imbued Ávila with an eerie stoicism and a Dexter Morgan–like ability to separate the brutality inherent to killing for hire from his placid domestic life. But while Ávila came across like a rigid instrument of death, it was Dalton’s innate charisma in his self-taped audition that caught the eye of Better Call Saul cocreator Gould. “He’s got an ease to him and a charm,” Gould says. “Frankly, as soon as we saw him, we said, ‘This is our Lalo.’”

    Of course, the mustache was a big part of that as well. Dalton had grown out a bushy ‘stache after playing the clean-shaven Ávila for five years. “One of the things that appealed to me about the mustache is that there’s a little Old Hollywood swashbuckler to him,” Gould explains. “He’s our Errol Flynn character—and he moves like Errol Flynn, God knows.” When a bare-lipped Dalton was officially cast, the Better Call Saul team asked him to grow the mustache back, and while that request may seem silly, it’s as difficult to imagine Lalo without his facial hair as it is Saul Goodman without his colorful, tacky dress shirts. That’s because Lalo is not your typical cartel member: he’s flamboyant, affable, and goes about life in a manner that feels antithetical to his line of work.

    “These guys are very close to death all the time,” Dalton says. “They could get whacked at any moment. So I figured his outlook towards life is a little more calm, enjoying life because it might go at any second.” In a different context, Lalo seems like the kind of guy you’d want to grab a beer with—something you would never say about Gus Fring or other members of the Salamanca family. But Lalo’s laid-back attitude shouldn’t be viewed as a weakness: he’s as cunning and cold-blooded as any villain in the Breaking Bad universe. In fact, it’s his disarming nature, and his ability to blend into his surroundings better than other cartel members, that makes him so dangerous. “It’s easier to spot the big, bad narco when he’s got a big accent and he looks like he’s going to kill somebody,” Dalton says. “But if you see a guy who’s a little more Americanized, a little more comfortable with the culture and with everything, you feel like he’s a little more fearless. You feel like he can get away with stuff that other guys couldn’t do. That’s something that adds tension to the story.”

    Indeed, Lalo’s three-episode arc in Season 4 demonstrated how quickly he could change the rules of the game. In his pursuit to undermine Fring’s operation in the season finale, “Winner,” Lalo tails Mike Ehrmantraut to an unassuming TravelWire money transfer office before losing him in a parking lot. In the hopes of figuring out where Mike is headed, Lalo interrogates the TravelWire employee, who refuses to hand over any confidential information through the office’s plexiglass. Naturally, Lalo’s solution is to burst through the ceiling like he’s in a Mission: Impossible movie, kill the poor guy, and get what he came for. He later burns down the TravelWire for good measure.

    The Breaking Bad universe is no stranger to random acts of violence, but as another cartel member tells Lalo, that isn’t how they conduct business north of the border. Of course, from his mustache to his infectious grin to his affinity for muscle cars, nothing about Lalo is low-profile. But that’s exactly why he, and Dalton’s lively performance, has been such a refreshing change of pace. “I mean, he’s a sociopath, but the guy, he’s charming,” Dalton says. “He’s nice. He’s a good cook. He smiles. You like to be around him.”

    That is, until you get in his way.



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    SinceSince Lalo has such an affinity for cooking: If his brief appearance in Better Call Saul’s fourth season was an appetizer, then Season 5 was the main course. With Dalton promoted to series regular, Lalo continued his shadow war with Fring, who was always one step ahead of his cartel adversary thanks to Nacho acting as a double agent. For all that Lalo did to jeopardize Fring, including revealing the location of dead drops to the DEA, his empire remained intact. Meanwhile, with Mike’s help, Fring handed Lalo to the Albuquerque police on a silver platter for the TravelWire employee’s killing.

    But all roads on Better Call Saul lead back to Jimmy McGill, and our protagonist—now practicing law as Saul Goodman—becomes enmeshed in the battle of wits between Lalo and Fring. Lalo entrusts Jimmy with springing him on bail, which, if he were successful, would make New Mexico’s slimiest lawyer a “friend of the cartel.” On a series full of devastating choices that inch Jimmy closer toward the loathsome huckster he is on Breaking Bad, working with Lalo is the point of no return. In one of the best scenes of Season 5, Lalo observes a grieving family at his bail hearing and, confused, asks Jimmy who they are. As Jimmy explains that they’re related to the person he killed at the TravelWire, Lalo offers only a terse grunt; Dalton plays the moment with a casual cruelty that’s downright chilling. Horrified at the man he’s representing, Jimmy has a quiet moral panic. But underneath the courtroom’s moldy ceiling that symbolizes the rot within Jimmy and the justice system, his descent continues: Lalo is successfully granted bail at $7 million, and Jimmy has heeded his advice to just make money.

    Lalo being a major catalyst in Jimmy’s transformation is one of many ways that the Breaking Bad universe makes every little detail count. After all, when Saul was kidnapped by Walter White and Jesse Pinkman in his first appearance in Breaking Bad, he feared that they were sent by someone named Lalo. “Siempre soy amigo del cartel!” he pleaded with them. (He also name-dropped Nacho.) Saul’s fear in that moment is a testament to Dalton’s performance and how he’s made his character as terrifying as he is charming. Dalton, however, is quick to stress that Lalo resonates because of the writing that brings the character to life. “You can have an idea of what you want to do and show up and throw ideas at them, which is great because I think that’s part of the collaboration,” he says. “But they got a much clearer idea. The way that I look at it is that you can adorn the Christmas tree with some stuff, but the Christmas tree is already there.”

    Of course, the reason that Jimmy is so scared of Lalo makes more sense in the context of how Better Call Saul’s fifth season ends. Lalo making Jimmy pick up his bail in the middle of the New Mexico desert is the setup for one of Better Call Saul’s greatest episodes to date, “Bagman,” which further bridges the gap between the legal and cartel sides of the show. Jimmy is nearly killed by a rival gang in the desert before Mike rescues him. (Fring realizes that Lalo would be more difficult to deal with in prison, having already ordered Nacho to blow up a Los Pollos Hermanos from behind bars.) In turn, Jimmy must make up a cover story for why he got stranded in the desert—Lalo can’t get a whiff of Fring secretly orchestrating his release. Nevertheless, Lalo is suspicious of Jimmy’s excuse of having car trouble when he returns to the scene in Season 5’s penultimate episode, “Bad Choice Road,” and discovers a bullet hole through the beat-up Suzuki Esteem.

    Dalton delivers some of his finest work of the series when Lalo confronts Jimmy at his apartment, switching from affable to menacing on a dime as his character makes him repeat the story over and over, searching for cracks in the facade. (Dalton also makes no effort to hide the fact that Lalo is holstering a pistol, as if the threat wasn’t already clear.) But what Lalo didn’t count on is Jimmy’s partner Kim Wexler changing the power dynamic of the scene, chastising him for making Jimmy do something out of his area of expertise because there’s nobody else he can trust with $7 million. “You need to get your house in order,” she says, throwing him off the scent. Satisfied, Lalo heads back to Mexico with Nacho, who he invites into his lavish home—trusting the one person in his organization that he shouldn’t. In the season finale, the staff at Lalo’s home is gunned down by hitmen who were hired by Fring and let into the compound by Nacho. “When you’re looking at it from Lalo’s point of view, he really is betrayed in the most painful possible way,” Gould says. “Those people seem like family to him.”

    Now, after spending most of Season 5 with a bemused detachment, Lalo enters Better Call Saul’s final season with a score to settle. “You can tell that it’s no more smiles for Lalo,” Dalton says. “It’s gotten real. It’s not fun anymore.” But even if Lalo is all business this season, that doesn’t mean that Dalton is dialing down the character’s most endearing qualities. What has made the actor such a fantastic addition to Better Call Saul is that he can spin any moment in the series, even the most tense of situations, with a nonchalance that’s both disarming and impossible to look away from. “He finds humor in lines that I don’t think were necessarily funny on the page,” Gould says of Dalton. “He actually has a line this season … It’s the simplest line in the world. But I kept on rewinding it in the editing room because I got such a chuckle out of it. He’s one of those actors who—this is most Old Hollywood about him—understands how he’s presented. I sense that he sees what the camera sees.”



    [​IMG]
    ForFor all the Old Hollywood swagger that Dalton exudes, he joined a franchise in 2021 that’s as modern as Hollywood gets: the MCU. In between filming the final two seasons of Better Call Saul, he landed a supporting role in the Disney+ series Hawkeye as Jack Duquesne, an eccentric aristocrat based on the Swordsman character from the comics. As the soon-to-be stepfather of Kate Bishop, Clint Barton’s arrow-slinging protégé, Jack is a natural subject of her disdain—even before she suspects him of killing his own uncle.

    The fact that Jack’s uncle was killed by a sword certainly makes Jack a person of interest—again, we’re talking about someone based on a character called Swordsman—and Dalton’s performance leans into the mystery. It’s hard to tell whether Jack is openly flaunting his guilt, like when he chews on the same caramel candy that was left at the scene of the crime, or whether he is genuinely oblivious to everything happening around him. “You could believe an edge of villainy might be there, but also you want to have it be a bit of a joke,” Hawkeye lead director and executive producer Rhys Thomas says. “It was a difficult thing to balance and figure out because you needed someone very specific that you could enjoy and hate at the same time.”

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    According to Dalton, what was even more challenging was that he was left in the dark about Jack’s arc on the series. Because Marvel is so notoriously secretive about its projects, the Hawkeye scripts were rolled out piecemeal. “You’re like a boat at night,” Dalton says. “You don’t know where the character’s going. You don’t know from one day to the next what the hell’s going to happen.” (To wit: At one point, Jack roasts a snobby child for pissing his pants in the Hamptons.)

    For viewers familiar with Dalton’s work on Better Call Saul, there are obvious similarities between Lalo and Jack—namely, how they coast through scenes and how tension seems to bounce off of them. It’s amusing and also a little unnerving. “Everyone else is in the story line, and his character, whatever he’s doing, he’s in some other land,” Thomas says. “It adds this wonderful little flavor to things.”

    By the Hawkeye finale, it’s revealed that Jack wasn’t a criminal mastermind as much as a red herring. “You think it’s going to be him, and then at the end, he’s just an innocent guy who likes swords,” Dalton says with a hilarious matter-of-factness that mimics his character. Ultimately, Jack is all of the exuberance and delight of Lalo Salamanca with none of the heinous acts of violence. And just like Lalo, Jack emerged from Hawkeye’s ensemble as a fan favorite—a supporting player who outshined the comparatively smaller spotlight afforded to him. That’s all thanks to Dalton, an actor who draws you in whether he’s playing a captivating killer or a wholesome sword enthusiast.

    “Some people just have a warmth about them,” Thomas says. “I think that’s part of why you gravitate to him and want to watch him.”



    WithWith all the scene-stealing charisma that Dalton brings to Better Call Saul and Hawkeye, maybe the biggest surprise is that it’s taken so long for the 47-year-old actor to break out in the United States. But despite making a career for himself in Mexico, casting directors weren’t always sure what to do with the Mexican American actor. As he told The New York Times in 2020, being pigeonholed became the “bane of my existence as an actor.”

    “I still get offered stuff all the time that is the big, bad Mexican drug dealer who’s got a gun and is going to shoot everybody,” Dalton says. “I guess it goes with the territory. You just turn it around with time.” As an example of an actor who broke out of the box that the industry initially put him in, Dalton recalls when Tom Hanks was known primarily for comedies in the ’80s before taking on more serious roles in films like Philadelphia, which won him a Best Actor Oscar in 1994. “You just have to keep working at it,” he says. “Even in Hawkeye, the character, he’s not a Mexican, which is great for me because it’s like, ‘Oh see, here’s this guy, he can do this.’”

    In the meantime, there’s still the final season of Better Call Saul, which will close the book on Jimmy McGill’s soul-crushing devolution into Saul Goodman. (And, most likely, what awaits for Nebraska-based Cinnabon manager “Gene Takovic.”) With a series that guards its secrets as closely as the MCU, it’s hard to know where Better Call Saul is headed—though Gould believes that Lalo’s vengeful journey will take viewers by surprise. “You see him in circumstances and places that you would’ve never ever pictured this guy going,” he says. “You find out how smart and tenacious this guy can be, because he turns out to be a very strategic thinker. In his own way, he’s a detective.”

    “Maybe that’s the next spinoff,” Gould adds with a chuckle, “this cartel detective.”

    Inspector Lalo probably isn’t happening, but Dalton’s magnetic performance has already earned the villain a spot in the Breaking Bad universe’s pantheon. Now that the cat—or more appropriately, the mischievous mustache—is out of the bag, the actor stands as one of the most enthralling actors on either side of the border. It’s time for the rest of the world to take notice. “I try to find people that are serious about the work and that want to just create something that’s good,” Dalton says. “I’m really thankful to these guys for inviting me and for having such a great character in my mind that made a little bit of a difference in this world of Saul.”
     
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  37. Henry Blake

    Henry Blake No Springsteen is leaving this house!
    Donor

  38. MtOread

    MtOread chopped and scrooged
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    Glad I waited until right now to realize I can’t watch AMC with Hulu Live, time to ask family members for their logins so I can watch via the AMC app on my AppleTV.
     
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  39. racer

    racer Yuma, where I work in software.
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    Sign up for Philo or YTTV free trial for tonight and figure it out from there
     
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  40. Jean-Ralphio

    Jean-Ralphio A real toe-tapper
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    I’m finishing my rewatch. maybe its been talked about, maybe its even a popular theory i have no clue. But what if Kim is running a con on Jimmy? She almost left him then flipped around and tell them they could get married, then in the last episode she’s talking about the settlement from the sandpiper case and how to cash out now. Seems like she’s planting a lot of thoughts in Jimmys head. Howard revenge porn and shit. She’d get out before Jimmy fucks her over and make a lot of money doing it. (not that he’d do it intentially, but deep down she knows he’s playing with fire with the cartel and theres no way out)

    She also has trust issues from growing up. plus she was used to move around in the blink of an eye.

    Theres at least enough there that i could see it happen. I think.
     
    #1591 Jean-Ralphio, Apr 18, 2022
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2022
  41. racer

    racer Yuma, where I work in software.
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    [​IMG]
     
  42. Jean-Ralphio

    Jean-Ralphio A real toe-tapper
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    It would hurt like a bitch. but am i wrong here?
     
  43. Jean-Ralphio

    Jean-Ralphio A real toe-tapper
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    Also her idea with the money is for her law practise. Jimmy wants to buy a house for them both. She brushes it off as “we can do both”

    I really hope im wrong.
     
  44. MtOread

    MtOread chopped and scrooged
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    This is the way, got YTTV up and running for tonight.
     
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  45. Jean-Ralphio

    Jean-Ralphio A real toe-tapper
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  46. Quailman

    Quailman how playa is that, mayne?
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    Forgot how much I loved Steven Bauer as Don Eladio. Hoping we get a good dose of him in this final season
     
  47. Emma

    Emma ope and uffdas
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    [​IMG]

    It's so good already
     
  48. Gunners

    Gunners Nicking a living
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    Saul’s house seemed just a bit overboard, even for him
     
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  49. MtOread

    MtOread chopped and scrooged
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    Forgot how good this damn show is.
     
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