Plenty has been written about the ending of the Better Call Saul episode “Nippy,” and how the final shots set the show up for an uncertain trio of final episodes. What hasn’t been talked about enough is the Better Call Saul Nippy song – specifically, the amazingly hot jam played over the top of the Cinnabon heist montage a little less than halfway through the runtime.
Even by the standards of a show known for its crazy, genre-stretching montages, the three-minute stretch in “Nippy” is an especially good time. Partly it’s the absurdity of the sequence – all Bob Odenkirk’s character Gene Takavic appears to be doing is taking out the garbage and feeding cinnamon rolls to security guards, but it’s set to this super-snazzy lounge jazz bop. And partly it’s the fact that what Gene is actually doing is the legwork for his first con since Ed the vacuum repairman picked him up at the end of Breaking Bad.
First up, then: just the facts. The song is called “Jim on the Move.” It was written by the legendary composer Lalo Schifrin, who’s scored movies and TV shows for eight decades and is still doing so today at the age of 90. Specifically, Schifrin wrote “Jim on the Move” for the original run of Mission: Impossible; the song was actually the B-Side to the popular “Theme from Mission: Impossible” single back in 1967.
So we already have the coincidence of a song called “Jim on the Move” being used for a sequence starring Gene Takavic, alias Saul Goodman, alias Jimmy McGill. And that fact really is a coincidence.
But as producer and co-creator Peter Gould recently explained on the Better Call Saul Insider Podcast, the composer’s name plays a role in the show’s extended universe. Kind of a big role, in fact.
According to Gould – who says that as a boy he listened to Lalo Schifrin records on the turntable at his grandmother’s house – it’s not a coincidence that the name “Lalo” appears elsewhere in Better Call Saul. That’s right: Gould actually named the infamous, endlessly charming Lalo Salamanca after the Argentinian composer.
However, the fortuitous pairing almost didn’t happen at all. Gould revealed that while the Better Call Saul team falls under Sony’s jurisdiction, the rights to Mission: Impossible are owned by CBS. Somehow, though, the show’s producer was “able to provoke folks to go into a warehouse” and “into old boxes to get all the rights for this piece of music.”
If that provocation hadn’t happened, “Nippy”‘s already-legendary montage would have had a very different soundtrack. And the producers would have been “heartbroken.”
“We auditioned, like, a hundred different songs,” said Gould. “And nothing was as good.”
“Nippy” director Michelle MacLaren recalled asking Gould if he had any particular in mind for the montage, adding that she’d been “thinking of something like Mission: Impossible meets Austin Powers.” MacLaren said she was gobsmacked when Gould revealed “Jim on the Move” to her: “This is perfect!” And “Nippy” writer Alison Tatlock further revealed MacLaren danced every time she heard the song.
(Photo credits: AMC, CBS)
John Sharp is Starcasm’s chief editorial correspondent-at-large. E-mail him a hot tip.