BETTER CAUL SAUL: S02E02

COBBLER – 8/10.

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While Jimmy McGill may be the star of Better Call Saul, every so often Saul Goodman manages to make his way to the surface. Such was the case in this week’s episode where we got to witness just a smidge of Saul’s trademark ‘moral flexibility’. Things seem to be going well for Jimmy; he’s a valued member of a major law firm with a brand new company car, his peers respect him and his relationship with Kim has moved well beyond friendship. So why would Jimmy risk all of that to fabricate evidence to exonerate Warmolt of all people? Yes, he agreed to help the world’s worst drug dealer as a favour to Mike, but he could have easily said no. Truthfully Jimmy’s motivation was the same as ever, it was all about Chuck.

Chuck was conspicuous by his absence in the season premiere but it seems as if very little has changed for him despite his estrangement from Jimmy. A Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill intern now drops off his groceries, allowing him to continue his self-imposed exile in his demagnetised home. It is only when he discovers that Jimmy is now working for Davis & Main that he is once again inspired to put on his tin foil jacket and leave the house. Of course Chuck decides to visit the firm while Jimmy is in the middle of a meeting, claiming that he is only there to ‘bear witness’. Chuck’s presence clearly flusters Jimmy, but with a bit of encouragement from Kim he is able to persevere much to the disappointment of his older brother.

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Okay I admit it, I was completely wrong about Kim’s feelings for Jimmy. The bond they share has always been a very endearing one and it seems as if it has grown into something more for both Jimmy and Kim. She switches the seating plan at a meeting so they can sit together, she plays footsie with him under the table, and she even buys him a travel mug to take to work. But most importantly she believes in him unconditionally when no one else will, which is why she takes it so badly when Jimmy proudly tells her about his escapades with Warmolt. I was worried that Jimmy would blow it with Kim, but it seems more likely that it is Saul who will push her away.

Warmolt was causing problems for just about everyone this week with his total failure to understand why drug dealers shouldn’t file police reports. Mike reluctantly agrees to track down his stolen baseball cards for him just to shut him up. Ever resourceful, he tracks Nacho down to his father’s upholstery business where the two share a tense conversation ending in an uneasy agreement; Warmolt can have the cards back in exchange for his ‘midlife crisis’ Humvee. Warmolt gets his cards, Nacho’s psychotic boss doesn’t find out about his side dealings and Mike makes a pretty penny as well, everyone wins. But there is still the problem of the police, which is where Saul Goodman and the Squat Cobbler come in.

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What is a Squat Cobbler? It is the very inventive tool used by Jimmy to convince the police that Warmolt is an erotic performer instead of a criminal. This has to be one of the funniest scenes that Vince Gilligan has ever written and Bob Odenkirk plays it to absolute perfection as he explains to the bemused cops that the burglary and Warmolt’s suspicious behaviour are linked to his sexual activities with pies. You know, a Squat Cobbler? The Boston Cream Splat? Dutch Apple Ass? This is just as ridiculous as it sounds but it is absolutely fantastic and somehow it works. We know how brilliant of a hustler Jimmy can be, but he crosses a line when he submits falsified evidence to the police and it’s a line that Kim is unwilling to cross with him.

You wanted Saul Goodman? Well you got him. But the emergence of Saul means the disappearance of Jimmy and the loss of all that he has worked for including his relationship with Kim. This was beautifully symbolised in the scene where Jimmy was unable to fit Kim’s travel mug into the cup holder on his new company car. There is no room for Kim where Jimmy is heading and in many ways his hubristic fall from grace will be just as tragic as Walter White’s was. But what is it that Jimmy truly wants? His actions seem to be so heavily influenced by others; he became a lawyer to impress Chuck, he took the job at Davis & Main to impress Kim, but it is clear that he is happiest when he is running a scam. It’s who he truly is, so why not embrace it?

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Jimmy isn’t the only McGill whose intentions are unclear, why exactly is Chuck so determined to see his younger brother fail? It feels as if this doesn’t boil down to a simple desire to be able to say “I was right.” Chuck needs Jimmy to fail, it’s important to him that he does and he seemed frustrated that Jimmy was able to regain his composure in the meeting. It will be interesting to see how the dynamic between the brothers develops if Chuck plans to involve himself in the Sandpiper case just to spite Jimmy. It will also be interesting to see how the relationship between Mike and Nacho evolves following the events of this episode. Nacho doesn’t seem like the ‘forgive and forget’ type which could lead to problems for both Mike and Jimmy further down the line.

POINTS OF INTEREST

  • Good to see a bit more of Ed Begley Jr’s Clifford Main in this episode, his character has a Steve Jobs like vibe to him which I think will prove just as jarring for Jimmy as Chuck’s stuffed shirt attitude.
  • While it made for a hilarious story, I’m not sure it was really necessary for Jimmy to submit a video of Warmolt going full ‘Simple Simon the Ass Man’ to the police. That said, I can’t be the only one hoping it turns up as a Blu-Ray extra… can I?
  • It was a nice call back to see the new upholstery in Mike’s car during Nacho and Warmolt’s exchange.
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