Jitesh's Domain

Game Designer. Producer. Gamer.


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Better Call Saul – “Klick”, First 5 Mins

I’m a big fan of Breaking Bad and recently, I started watching Better Call Saul. Just like Vince Gilligan’s previous masterpiece, this show too is filled with familiar and strong memorable characters, tight plot with brilliant direction and chemistry. Every episode is fantastic… then there are some scenes and episodes that are truly on another level. This post of mine, is going to focus on one such episode – Season 2 E10, titled ‘Klick’.

I was literally floored during the first 5 mins of ‘Klick’ and that’s when I got super motivated to provide an analysis for the same. An important point to consider here is that I’m on season 3 of the show and haven’t caught up with the latest story development. My interpretation takes into account the exposition, moments and plot arcs for characters up to the point of ‘Klick’ only.

Analysis contains minor spoilers

As we start watching the episode ‘Klick’, we are already coming from a high tension phase from the last scene of Season 2, Episode 9 ‘Nailed’. This already sets a strong notion of limited information coupled with curiosity as we move onto the next episode.

Flashback, Hospital

One of the key element of chemistry built up to now is the relationship between our Protagonist, Jimmy McGill with his brother, Charles McGill, an Antagonist. In my opinion, the first 5 mins of ‘Klick’ gives us a much deeper understanding of these characters, their chemistry and background which further reinforces our thoughts.

Empathy toward characters

In my analysis, I want to focus on how our empathy toward Jimmy McGill and Chuck changes during these 5 mins. My initial thoughts were to delve into the ‘Tension’ of the narrative. After digging deep, it felt that it would make more sense to look at the character arc based on their actions and the empathy we feel for them.

To understand this, I’ve plotted an empathy graph considering key plot moments from the beginning. Empathy shift vs Time/Key Plot.

Change in Empathy level with regards to key plot elements over time

The scale of time is not 1:1 as I’ve made it so as to give the direction and timing of narrative exposition with regards to the plot. The individual timing is what’s most important.

Let’s delve deeper into these key plot elements to understand the chart better:

KeyPlot Description
AAudience is coming from a high tension phase – Season 2, Episode 9 ‘Nailed’. The general expectation for us is to be curious… ‘What happened to Chuck?’, ‘Is he alright?’. The initial starting point of reference for the empathy levels begin here. We are already emotionally invested in wanting to know what happens next!
BFlashback of hospital scene where the nurse indicates that the condition of the patient is dire. Within 30 secs it is made clear that the patient is perhaps breathing his/her last moments. We are expecting a continuation from Nailed, but this shift to flashback is an ingenious decision. This is the scene where we, as the audience expect the patient to be their Father.
CJimmy tries to lighten the mood by talking about food and how Chuck must’ve not eaten since long. Chuck remains a bit distant and cold due to the sadness in the room.
DChuck is surprised at Jimmy’s casual reaction to the situation and is taken aback by his whole ice-breaker conversation.
EThis is where it is made clear that the patient on the bed is their mother. Up to this point there has been no exposition regarding her apart from an episode where Jimmy informs Marco about attending her funeral few years ago.
FA pivotal moment where it is made clear how different people remember things differently. Jimmy is remembering the good old times about an old party… where Chuck chips in to recall how his memory was nothing but sordid as they had to clean up the mess caused by Jimmy back then and it also was a sad end to their Mom’s birthday celebration. This is also a moment when the chemistry keeps breaking up as they don’t align with each other positively. The feeling of support keeps breaking between them.
GAround 2 min mark, Jimmy finally decides to get food and also shows that he has nothing but care for Chuck. He even remembers his food preference by literally spelling out the way he likes it and then excuses himself out.
HA clear rising moment where the deep attachment between Chuck and his mother is showcased, unable to control himself, he breaks down and starts crying.
IAround 3 min mark, their Mother finally wakes up… Chuck sighs a sense of relief and calls out to her. Her first words are ‘Jimmy’ and then ‘Jimmy’ again even after Chuck tries to make her understand that its Chuck beside her side and not him. This is a breaking moment as we are also made aware that even their Mother cares more for Jimmy. Chuck is extremely saddened by the thought as she flatlines.
JChuck, distant again in his composure and thoughts, he immediately regains control of the situation, depressed at what just happened but calmly utters ‘this is it then’ to the nurse.
KAround 4 min mark… Jimmy arrives back at the hospital with food, casually walks in the room and is shocked to not find his Mother and confronts about this to Chuck who is sitting at the other side of the corridor.
LChuck says ‘She’s gone’ and this shocks Jimmy. He is unable to take in the information and just cannot process it as he missed the last moment when he was outside the hospital.
MAround 5 min mark… is where there is a big shift in terms of how we further feel for these two main characters. When Jimmy wants to know if she woke up before and had anything to say… Chuck avoids eye contact, composes himself strongly and blatantly lies to Jimmy as he says ‘No’.
Plot breakdown – First 5 mins

By taking these little elements one after the other, in sequence (with the prior knowledge about the characters), it is clear, just how ingeniously executed these 5 mins are, there is a striking shift of how we feel empathy toward both of them. At least, that’s true for me. It will be interesting to know your observations on the same.

Let’s take a look at the information, we, as audience possess (apart from Saul’s background that we are already aware of from Breaking Bad) about these two characters. Also, I’m going a bit further by giving a brief on their traits and personalities… strictly from my point of view. Plus, a little Dungeons & Dragons alignment system ūüėČ

Protagonist

James McGill (Jimmy)

Persona – Saul Goodman
Alignment & Traits

Chaotic Neutral -to- Chaotic Good

  • Street smart
  • Extremely Clever
  • Good of the people, Self-interest, whimsical nature > Intelligence
  • Lies a lot, usually for the overall good

Antagonist

Charles McGill (Chuck)

MICHAEL MCKEAN 1999 MARK TWAIN AWARDS AT KENNEDY CENTER WASHINGTON DC
Alignment & Traits

Lawful Evil

  • Book smart
  • Insanely Intelligent
  • Intelligence, Rank, Law, Power > Good of the people
  • Lies to show power, status and avoid embarrassment

In terms of our investment in these characters, we definitely feel closer to Jimmy and have more empathy toward him as the opposite becomes true for Chuck. This doesn’t mean that the shifts stop happening post this scene. In fact, the next 5 mins is one of the most intense – this is where the time moves to present where we are made aware that Chuck is admitted and is taken in for treatment. Perhaps, I’ll write about this in the future.

If like me, you’re a fan of the show (and of course, Breaking Bad) I hope this brief look into key moments from the episode helps shed some light into the genius of ‘Better Call Saul’ as a TV show.


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Roleplaying in Wasteland 2

Playing a role.

I finally gave in and bought one of the games that was lying at No.1 spot for a long time on my Steam wishlist – Wasteland 2 Director’s Cut. I am a huge fan of the classic Fallout 1 and 2, love post-apocalyptic scenarios and isometric role-playing games. Most of the followers of the genre already know that Wasteland 1 is what inspired classic Fallout.

I always had in my mind a very particular set of characters, which I believed would be really interesting in a game like this. I love Firefly. I felt like coyboys, sci-fi and wasteland would be a perfect fit for me to roleplay (as a party). I went ahead with that decision and I am seriously so in love with this game.

Firefly party creation and composition:

  • There are so many amazing characters in the series, I had to shortlist the best taking into account character skills (TV series), ones that would really matter
  • Their chemistry – if made as an away team in a party
  • I know the game to be combat heavy (like Fallout Tactics, unlike Fallout 1 and 2), so made an appropriate selection – since 4 is the maximum number of party members allowed at game start
  • Unfortunately, biography for characters I made in Wasteland 2 party is blank at the moment (I thought those could also be edited after starting the game, but I’ll need to modify saves to do it – will update this later)
  • I’ve tried to make my party as close to their characters on the show as possible (attributes, characteristics, personalities and skills)
  • Quirks were truly interesting – and it took me a long time to choose!

Firefly_Wasteland2

State of Firefly characters – Party creation process

I’ll now share how the characters grew in around 30 hours of gameplay. Most of the characters in my party are Level 13 as of this post. I tried to roleplay and add only those skills which made sense to me (staying in line with their show counterparts and also helpful in the game/ but not always)

Malcolm Reynolds

Without any thought, this guy had to be there. There was no question about it. A leader. Smart Ass. Charmer. Can make horrible/ bad choices ;]

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Character Screen – Coordination, Charisma

Quirk: Opportunist [description from Wasteland 2] –> It takes a certain ethical flexibility to take advantage of others, and it’s a flexibility you possess. Your predatory nature means that you kick your enemies just a bit harder when they’re down. However, you’re also equally timid and fearful of harm coming to you, and as a result, you do less damage to those that are healthy.

I believed that quirk to fit Mal perfectly in this game ;]

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Skills – Leadership, Smart Ass, Handguns

Skills: At this moment in the game, Mal is kind of above average in handgun combat. He also has Pulse Rifle as secondary weapon. Leadership helps during combat and Smart Ass provides interesting dialogue options in conversations (wherever possible). He is also perceptive and overall failure in safe-cracking.

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Perks – Know-it-All!

Perks: bonuses for your characters as they level up.

Mal is pretty much having bonuses in Conversations and a little combat advantage. Overall, I use Mal for primary communication with others in game.

 

Zoe Washburn

I really needed a character that can be strong in combat, hardcore and a true, good friend of Mal. It had to be Zoe. Bad-ass, strong and aware.

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Character Screen – Coordination, Awareness, Strength

Quirk: Now, I went through the entire list present in game, couldn’t really feel like a particular quirk to fit Zoe. So, in this case, there is no quirk! No plus, no minus.

2016-01-14_00006

Skills – Shotguns, Field Medic, Assault Rifles

Skills: So, I really wanted Zoe to be a shotgun expert, bad-ass and strong. Her Field medic expertise (coming from Army) really helps out the other members. She also has average Rifle skills, really really useful when friends are in the way ;]

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Perks – Hardened!

Perks: Without blinking, as soon as I got an opportunity to give her the first Perk, I chose Hardened. +1base armor. Perfect for this character.

At this moment in game, she is one of the best combat lady in my party and really messes up raiders and other critters in-game! Just amazing :]

 

Jayne Cobb

Now, Jayne is a very interesting character. In the series and also in this game. I wanted a brawler, hard-ass and ranged expert at the same time. Jayne is all that and perfect Watchman!

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Character Screen – Awareness, Strength

Quirk: Thick-Skinned [description from Wasteland 2] –> All the boys ‘n girls in the playground used to pick on you. They called you stinky, fatty, ugly, and beat you up until you were bruised and sore. But the more you took it, the more you learned to shrug it off. Sticks and stones won’t break your bones. Years of physical abuse have left you thick-skinned and you can shrug off attacks more easily, but you’re heavier and more sluggish, and as a result, you move slower.

Isn’t it perfect for this guy? Such an easy choice for me – works especially well in the game too!

2016-01-14_00010

Skills – Sniper Rifles, Hard Ass, Brawling

Skills: I did mentioned I wanted Jayne to be ranged expert but also a Hard Ass. Like how he really is. Brawling works wonderfully, when someone makes a mistake to jump on him ;]

2016-01-14_00011

Perks – Watchman

Perks: Now, being a strong-willed sniper, Watchman it was! Also, we have here intimidating and Hoarder – all Jayne bonuses ;]

Right now, after around 30 hours, Jayne is one of the best combat specialist in my party. Ranged destruction FTW! I have even seen him breaking down a Robot Crawler by brawling him!

 

River Tam

Okay, so I’ll be frank, the aforementioned 3 selections (Mal, Zoe and Jayne) were easy choices for me. I mean, I had to have them in my party in Wasteland 2. For the final one, I took some time to decide on the best one.

I wanted the last member in my party to be one of these:

Wasteland2_LastMember

Going with either of those, can give rise to their respective benefits, personalities and skills. After thinking a lot, I almost went with Kaylee. I mean, wouldn’t she be perfect for Mechanical repair, toaster repair and also charismatic? Then it hit me, River is someone who must be tremendously more interesting to have here, because she is so different. And, that is why, even in the game (after finally choosing her) she is so different – useful and oftentimes useless – but oh so interesting!

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Character Screen – Intelligence, Strength and Luck!

Quirk: Manic Depressive [description from Wasteland 2] –> Mania and melancholy are two sides of the same coin, and you have known it all your life. You are subject to intense mood changes, and those around you say you’re almost like a different person each time they see you.

Perfect! Ain’t it? Also, so damn risky. This directly means, her attributes keep shifting every few mins (~15mins) – depending on whether she is feeling Mania or Melancholy! Trust me, because of this the gameplay and how we play around it has become tremendously more enjoyable for me.

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Skills – SMG, Mech Repair, Computer Science and Animal Whisperer!

Skills: Obviously, since I didn’t choose Kaylee, I still needed someone skilled enough to repair stuff, break into locks and use her intelligence to hack into computers and blast into enemies using Submachine guns!

Also, I loved using her Animal Whisperer skills to tame more than 20 animals including gila monsters, goats and worms! :]

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Perks – Weathered

Perks: For bonuses, I’ve selected her to have Weathered (resistance to crits) and Camel – which is really useful in this wasteland. Save, conserve and efficiently use precious water.

During gameplay, if possible I always try to use her whisperer abilities to tame animals (unless its impossible – level difference is high). It is really interesting to make choices based on her mood-state in the game. Many times, I had to wait for her to regain her abilities so that I could lock-pick an important safe!

Well, so that’s about it! I’m currently engrossed in Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut and find the role-playing pretty enjoyable. Especially, with a team like this… what can go wrong?

If you are reading this and love Firefly, RPGs or have been playing Wasteland 2, do post your thoughts.

 

 


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A new Short Review – Planescape: Torment

Symbol of Torment - by foolecho - deviantart

Symbol of Torment – by foolecho – deviantart

My short review of Planescape: Torment is posted! Finally! Yeah –> Enlighten me!

Feel free to comment, shoot feedback and talk in rules of three.

Let me share some super-exciting details about some of the voice-actors cast in this game:

  • The Nameless OneMichael T. Weiss –> check out The¬†Pretender¬†(Jarod)
  • NordomDan Castellaneta –> check out The Simpsons¬†(Homer Simpson ++)
  • Dak’konMitch Pileggi –> check out The X-Files¬†(Skinner)

Apart from the aforementioned, I’ll name some of the others as (just for fun):

  • Q
  • Naomi Hunter
  • Morning Train
  • Raphael
  • Legacy of Kain

Cheers.