I'm referring to the two times when Marco hums the song to himself whilst on a scam-mission, just before he's approached by Jimmy and their unsuspecting victim. The second time, he doesn't complete the bar and instead is interrupted by his cough, but if you listen closely you can hear he finishes the bar with "cough-beats" not in tune obviously but in the correct rhythm.

I believe smoke and coughing are associated with death, and if you've seen the series (or read the opening line of this post) you'll know that Marco dies shortly after the coughing. However I've noticed with Vince Gilligan's work, there are so many hidden meanings behind certain details that would otherwise seem irrelevant to someone who isn't fully engaged in the series.

I believe there may be some deeper foreshadowing here. Maybe "Smoke on the Water" is code for death on the horizon and possibly the song will come back in a later episode accompanied by a major turn of events?

Edit: Just watched the episode in the end and I was intrigued to see how Saul mimics Marco's actions, just after he tells Mike, "It's not stopping me anymore" meaning "The matter of fairness, justice and 'doing the right thing'" will no longer stop him. It seems like this way-point in the plot is where Jimmy McGill, a lawyer you can trust becomes Saul Goodman, a "criminal" lawyer.

Second Edit: After watching the series further, I found another couple references to the song. First when Saul is talking to his UNM film crew, he references 'Another Brick in the Wall' by Pink Floyd, the microphone man exclaims: "Deep Purple!" and then Saul says "This generation is doomed"

And again, after he banks a few commercials with the guitar shop, he's laying on the ground in between shifts of community service, playing the guitar and after a discussion with Kim about operating for the following 6 weeks, Saul plays the classic riff...

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    I agree with your inference about Vince Gilligan's work. There is a lot of fore-shadowing and hidden meaning that go beyond the obvious and mundane. Great question BTW!
    – Sayan
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 13:55

2 Answers 2


Possibly, yes.

I can't find any direct source to support this from the Executive Producers, but there is a color theory that often relates to what the characters are wearing. Shades of red ("red shirt") and darker tend to symbolize serious/malicious criminal intent, while blues and lighter tend to symbolize being on "the right side" of the law. Purple then might signify the "mixing" of both, which is where Better Call Saul's characters tend to reside.

Here are some links to some observations about this:



A TV Critic for The Atlantic also had the following to say,

Which explains why Jimmy turns around when offered a chance to get back in on the Sandpiper case. His parking-lot epiphany in the closing moments of the finale felt abrupt to me, until I thought back on the arc of the episode and the series. The visit to Chicago reminds Jimmy of what he's good at. If Chuck, who Jimmy thought was the best person in his life, is just going to cheat him, why shouldn’t Jimmy cheat too? With his new legal skills, he should be able to score Kettleman-level cash—as his con-artist pal Marco says, if you’re just getting by as a lawyer, you’re doing it wrong.

So it’s a mix of retribution and self-interest that powers him as he drives away, grunting out “Smoke on the Water.” But more than that, it's a deliberate choice. Michael McKean, who plays Chuck, nicely explained the new Jimmy philosophy as “the American escape hatch” to Salon: “If everything else goes off in your face, if your family can’t stand the sight of you, if you can’t hold a job, if you can’t stay away from drugs and booze, well, at least you can make a lot of money and have all this f-you money stacked up.”

This transformation is a little bit more complicated, and a little bit truer to life's messiness, than Walter White's linear descent to evil ever was. Accordingly, it hasn’t been accompanied by nearly as many lethal confrontations as first-season Bad served up. As entertainment, Better Call Saul has been more scattershot, and it wasn’t always clear that the show knew what it was. But when it was great—I think back to the desert standoff in episode two, the Mike episode, and the swindler’s montage last night—it reminded that Gilligan and Gould are experts at filming crime scenes that feel like no others on TV. Surely there are more of those scenes to come once Saul Goodman shows up. Jimmy knows where he’s driving now, and the show does too.

Note: episode 4.01 is titled, Smoke and deals with the events that transpired at the end of season three, which is now starting to have the show tonelly shift more into the Breaking Bad universe - So the choice of using Deep Purple's, Smoke on the Water might be indicative to the idea or expression: 'everything goes up in smoke' or 'Where's there's smoke, there's fire', which relates to the literal plot of the season 3 finale and leads Jimmy to transition into Saul and then, Gene.

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    DEEP PURPLE, Jonas you idiot lol how did I not think of that? It's funny because I was just thinking about the colour theory in a way... specifically when Mrs. Kettlemen tells Saul 'You're the type of lawyer guilty people hire'. Soon after he goes shopping for a blue AF suit (which he feels like a pony wearing) however when the tailor leaves the room, Saul goes and finds that signature orange shirt, looks at it and smiles... I thought the orange was a reference to prisoner uniform but your theory makes total sense now!
    – user42922
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 8:22
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I heard Jimmy playing Smoke on the water on the guitar in S05E06

There was an interesting thing there. Go back a couple of minutes to the scene where Mesa Verde is discussing a deal with Saul. After Saul has played his commercial for Kevin from Mesa Verde, they are discussing that it is made without mentioning Mesa Verde. It's just inferred, which is a way to get around the law. Transcription:

- The problem we're facing is that none of the so-called victims said "Mesa Verde did this."

- Everybody said "My bank"

- They never used the words "Mesa Verde"

- But it's our images, our logo...

- Paige, it's all heavily inferred, but it's done in a way to keep us in the courts. We'll be there forever.

Now listen when Saul is playing the song. The original is:

|G       Bb      C           G  |  Bb      Db C                |
|G       Bb      C           Bb |  G                           | 

But what Saul is actually playing is the exact same rhytm, but all Bb is changed to A, so it looks like this:

|G       A       C           G  |  A       Db C                |
|G       A       C           A  |  G                           | 

Why? Well, it clearly looks like a back reference to the Mesa Verde case. It's not the same song, but everybody can clearly hear what song it's supposed to be.

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    Downvoter, is there an motivation? Should I maybe create a new question instead?
    – klutt
    Commented Dec 27, 2022 at 10:01

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