There are very few shows on television right now that exceed “Better Call Saul” in terms of quality. There are very few creative minds other than Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan in whom I would place total and utter faith in. Most importantly, there are very few shows, if any, that I enjoy watching as much as “Better Call Saul”.
There’s a lot about this show that makes it stand out so much. The acting is always outstanding. It contains some of the best writing on TV. And while both of these aspects blended together even more excellently than usual in Cobbler, it was the masterful direction from “Breaking Bad” alum Terry McDonough that really impressed. “Bad” always did some fantastic work in this department, and “Saul” continued that trend more often than not in its freshman season, but it was here in which it really shone.
One of the opening shots, as we look past the photo of a very young Chuck and Jimmy and observe the former playing piano. The slow pan from Kim and Jimmy above the table to the pair touching feet. The shot of both the fish and the salon girls staring out towards Jimmy’s new Mercedes. Jimmy looking down into the cupholder, suggesting that it “must be metric”. The overhead shot as Nacho and his men drive away. That is to name but a few. In fact, it’d be easier to name some of the lesser shots, because there were virtually none. This universe puts a lot of emphasis in the style, the look of the scenes, and McDonough did a simply magnificent job.
But enough about the technical stuff. Last week’s premiere saw Jimmy, who we’d been led to believe had made the jump to Saul back in the first season finale, return to his old Slippin’ Jimmy ways before straightening out and taking the job at Davis and Main. His intrigue for breaking the rules by flicking that switch suggested that he was still Slippin’ Jimmy, but that persona was just being masked by a fancy suit and office.
Ultimately, Cobbler reinforced that, despite flirting with both sides of the coin. Jimmy’s goodbye to his old $500-with-a-$300-hooker-sitting-in-it car and subsequent excitement over a new Mercedes, a perk of working at Davis and Main, provided a certain feeling of loss, like there was now something missing from his life. The old car, in all its glory - or, rather, lack of - signalled Slippin’ Jimmy; a Mercedes presented us with a new James McGill - the middle ground between his old, Chicago Sunroof self and Saul Goodman.
But as much as he tried to maintain it, the respectable James McGill was a charade, one that didn’t last long. His clear boredom when presenting his findings on Sandpiper back to Clifford Main (Ed Begley Jr) made it clear that he didn’t want to be the respectable, honest lawyer that he thinks Kim will like. He wanted to be Slippin’ Jimmy again.
Chuck’s brief return to HHM pushed Jimmy back over the line after Mike questioned whether he was still morally flexible, but not back to Slippin’ Jimmy. No, this was Saul Goodman beginning to break through. And this scene was utter perfection. We’ve seen both Jimmy and Saul come up with some wild stories in the time that we’ve known him, but this was a story about Daniel, Mike’s criminal associate, filming himself sitting in cobbler (banana cream, peach) to “titillate the senses” of Daniel’s ‘art patron’. It was a story plucked so far out of left field to the point of being on a different continent. And every single second was hilarious.
Aside from how fantastic Bob Odenkirk was throughout, this elaborate lie - and subsequent evidence fabrication - signalled the brief arrival of Saul Goodman. It’s likely that he’ll disappear back inside of Jimmy for a little while, based on Kim’s less than supportive reaction to his actions, but Cobbler signalled the real beginning of the slippery slope to becoming the world’s
2nd best criminal lawyer.
Before being made to lower himself into some pie, Daniel’s criminal side-project came to an end, with a lot of help from Mike. That’s bye-bye Nacho, so long to that mid-life crisis of a vehicle and back to normality for Mr. Wormald. It’s a shame, because watching Daniel fail miserably at being a drug dealer made for some brilliant comedy. Equally, the clear parallels between him and Walter are consistently terrific, no matter how obvious or repeated they are. Mark Proksch really knocks it out of the park, so hopefully he sticks around. Plus, Jonathan Banks was, as always, great, as he attempted to save his own skin, with Daniel’s being saved as a result. More of him can only be a good thing.
As previously mentioned, Chuck was back this week, and it’s interesting how mixed my feelings on that were. Once things move past the electromagnetic hypersensitivity and into ‘I want my brother to succeed but not as a lawyer’ territory, things start to get good. It’s impressive to me how much roles had reversed in Cobbler’s opening scene. Time was that Howard was made out to be the bad guy, the one who didn’t want Jimmy at his company and tried to crush him in season one. Now, he’s the reasonable one, pushing Jimmy’s case to Davis and Main along with a rightful word of caution. Meanwhile, Chuck, the potentially crazy, brilliant lawyer, has become the bad guy. He’s the one rooting against Jimmy, looking down on his brother with disdain.
Those first six minutes illustrated how big the divide has become. “They’re aware of his background…? His education?” Chuck asked.
“I tried to paint a complete picture,” Howard tells him. “But I didn’t stand in the way.”
Moments earlier, Chuck had questioned what Jimmy was doing working at Davis and Main. This is no longer a man to feel sorrow for. This is a man whom we are supposed to dislike - despite the fact that he is correct.
His return to HHM inevitably caused an awkward situation between him and Jimmy, but, to his credit, Jimmy came through it well, holding his composure (after a little help from Kim) during the Sandpiper meeting. The build-up in that scene was excellent, with Jimmy doing his best to carry on as the assistant walked in with the box, but his expression when Howard confirmed what he already knew was tragic, in a way. To see Jimmy react as he did to the idea of seeing his brother again, the brother for whom he was virtually always there in the early parts of season one, showed how much things had fallen apart between them.
He almost got through it, but he just had to know why Chuck was there. “To bear witness,” he responds. Nothing more need be said.
- With Howard mentioning that Kim pushed for Jimmy to be considered for Davis and Main, could Chuck look to move against her by the end of the season?
- Let’s go over those names for Daniel’s supposed action, shall we? Squat cobbler, full moon moon-pie, Boston cream splat, Simple-Simon-the-ass-man and Dutch apple ass.
- I’m beginning to wonder whether it’s a recurring thing that Better Call Saul incorporates one scene per episode that mirrors Fargo’s first season. Last week, it was Daniel speaking with the cops, this week, it was Jimmy attempting to suggest that Daniel was innocent.
- I love the very subtle and seemingly unregistered switch of pronoun that Kim uses between “You could get horses” and “we should get one of those smokers”.
- “Where’s my solid gold blimp? No, not that one. The other one.”
What did everyone think of Cobbler? Let me know in the comments below!