There are a few Octopus car washes in ABQ, and we actually had the wrong address at first. On our second attempt, the big "C A R W A S H" block letters were visible from some distance away, and we eventually pulled in across the street at CVS. Octopus has a huge parking lot and surrounding grounds (as such it was a bit hard to determine where Kuby tricked Bogdan into thinking he was contaminating the water), but I'm not a big fan of using a small business' parking spaces if I'm not really a customer (sorry, CVS). Either way, the Octopus employees were super pleasant. For example, what I thought was the main entrance was actually locked; however, one of the guys pointed us around back to the proper entrance, wishing us an "A1 Day" as we walked off. Inside, the main office area is instantly recognizable, if laid out a bit differently than on the show. Some BrBa memorabilia hangs on the walls, and they sell little items like postcards. For all the tourists that must stop by this place, it's pretty remarkable how friendly and warm they were.
We initially had Danny's confused with the nearby Nob Hill Automotive. They both have a similar design and look, as obvious a statement that is regarding gas stations. Once we figured this out, we made the short drive to Danny's. There is a lot of space at Danny's; hence Walt parks a little off the property and walks over to Ken Wins' car. A great early scene--the type that makes you sympathetic to Walt's new-found free spirit. A footnote, but Danny's also features in the "Breakage" meth-selling montage.
Another recognizable location, though not to the degree of the laundromat or 308 Negra Arroyo. What's noteworthy about the location of the Simms building in real life is its proximity to Combo's Corner. It certainly wouldn't seem prudent, in so far as drug-dealing is concerend, to deal witin walking distance of DEA HQ. The Simms building lobby also feels a bit dodgy, though in fairness there was elevator work going on. This probably factored in heavily to the dirt, grime, and general crapulence. Also, the space formerly housing Rebel Donut (known for their Blue Sky donut) does not have a new tenant. So when we visited, some of their decorations were still up though the business had clearly left. All things considered, we were able to enter the lobby and get shots of the elevator bay and the lobby looking out onto 400 Gold SW. The staircase and sunlit entryway are unmistakable. I know that Hank's elevator panic attack was filmed in an actual elevator. But I cannot tell if it was here at the Simms building or at Q Studios; the elevator work meant that the cars had padding up on the interior walls.
Delta Uniform & Linen is one of a few locations that is shot in a way that feels far more remote than it actually is in real life. It's actually right by the 25 overpass. Don't get me wrong, it's very much a factory/warehouse part of ABQ, but it's also very accessible. Walking up to the gate, it's also the type of location that requires no second-guessing (much like "308 Negra Arroyo"). Seeing the area where Walt & Jesse regularly parked (i.e., the loading area) is instantly recognizable. The large blue semi-circles that bookend the entrance are also a clear giveaway. We hit this place at sundown. There are some cool shots to be had here, but for us the light wasn't very favorable.
There's some highly memorable moments at Reynold's (Jesse falling in the toilet, for example), but it's not the type of business you'd feel comfortable intruding upon. They of course could be very friendly, but we didn't bother them. We took a few shots from across the street and were on our way, happy to have at least seen another noteworthy location.
Sadly, this location is virtually unrecognizable. The front of Saul's has completely changed. When we visited it was a nightclub called "The Vault". Something about clubs housed in strip malls has always felt wrong to me (not that I really give a shit about clubs), but it's neither here nor there. The bottom line is that if you picture a one-story strip mall that elbows, you've got it. Disappointing for something that features so prominently.
This one ranks high on my must-see list. Ray Cruz's Tuco still terrifies me on rewatch. Gus is menacing, but Gus doesn't lash out unprovoked based on an innocuous glance or comment. Gus also has what I would call a code. He's not Omar, but he is perhaps in some ways Brother Mouzone; he also figured out how to play a much more complex game, unlike Stringer Bell (drastically different backgrounds notwithstanding). Also, one could argue that Tuco was a bit cartoon and cliche, but I'd counter that this is the meth world, after all.
All this unpleasantness is dramatically contradicted by Java Joe's. We only got coffee (which was very good and strong) and croissants (fluffy and buttery :)), but the more elaborate breakfasts I saw on some plates looked pretty damn good. The place feels very ABQ--a strong DIY aesthetic, the mural on the side (clearly visible in BrBa, of course), but also friendly.
Perhaps the funniest aspect of Java Joe's location is its proximity to Badger's bench on the edges Washington Park, featured in the sting from "Better Call Saul". In BCS, when Walt bangs the hard U-turn on Gold and loops around the block behind the DEA car, he ends up a few doors down from Java Joe's when he lets Jesse out (on Park). It's then one quick left turn and a few meters to stop in front of Hank and allow Jesse to tip Badger off that he's on the wrong bench. As far as set-pieces go, this is one of the series' best, featuring one of my favorite Walt lines: "Oh, you mean DEA business? Is something going down?"
Notes to come.