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Better Call Saul – Cobbler Review

"Getting over getting things in order."

After I reviewed Better Call Saul’s season premiere, I read the interview between Alan Sepinwall and co-creator Peter Gould that addressed some of my problems with the episode. I expected to find insight that would make me reconsider my thoughts (or at least temper my criticism), but their dialogue seemed to confirm my biggest worry from last week: that this version of Season 2 wasn’t part of the plan from day one. For most shows, this wouldn’t be a huge issue, but Better Call Saul hinges on very nuanced moments and characters to make Jimmy’s transformation feel both complete and right. One of my problems with Season 1 was how the finale accelerated this change, which I assumed was to help the creators understand what they were working with for another season, but after two questionable episodes, I have to wonder if Season 2 will ever stop feeling like an unnecessary addition to Jimmy’s story.

A big contributor to this sense of Season 2 being “extra” was Chuck’s storyline and trajectory. There were a lot of awesome moments in this episode centered around the senior McGill, from Howard’s “I would, yeah, assume so” (when asked if Jimmy was on the partner track) to Chuck’s excruciating pompousness when he says he’s at HHM “to bear witness” to the charade of Jimmy’s career, but I’m significantly less interested in this because of how their relationship ended last season. Even though it could have been built up more, there would have been something so right about him never speaking to his brother again after their confrontation in “Pimento”; the idea of his brother believing in him being all that was keeping him straight. And though it’s compelling to see them both have a hand in corrupting the other, I don’t know if any aspect of Season 2 will be able to stand on its own.

Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler - Better Call Saul _ Season 2, Episode 2 - Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/Sony Pictures Television/ AMC
Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler – Better Call Saul Season 2, Episode 2 – Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/Sony Pictures Television/ AMC

I had a similar reaction to Kim and Jimmy’s dynamic in this episode. Obviously, Kim keeping Jimmy in the light is something that works and makes sense for the show (I love how she prevented him from embarrassing himself in front of his brother), but I get the impression that Season 2’s intentions are a little too clear. With Season 1, Chuck’s spatial limitations allowed his role in Jimmy’s life to sometimes go overlooked. He was a man to be emulated, sure, and the one who gave Jimmy his last chance to go clean, but until Jimmy found out he went behind his back, it didn’t feel like the point of the season was to seemingly give Jimmy his brother’s respect, only to take it away. There were all the other notes – the temptation of the Kettlemans, the tension between him and Howard – that slowly accumulated until there was only one more shoe to drop. By deftly balancing Jimmy’s morals and circumstances, it was a moment the series earned. In contrast, Season 2 is putting Kim front and center as the thing Jimmy has to lose before Saul Goodman is a possibility. I know this was my problem with the last episode, but her talking like they have a future together seemed like the series was not only giving direction to Season 2, but giving away its hand.

At this point, I’m much more interested in Mike’s storyline. Because of the comedy created by Daniel Wormald’s presence, I forgot that Mike eventually becomes involved with Gus Fring and Los Pollos Hermanos, and there’s a lot more ground to cover in terms of his family’s situation and him as a character before he becomes an enforcer full-time. Going forward, though, I’m going to miss Daniel’s many contributions to the series. After last episode telegraphed him coming to Mike for help, it was great for this to happen accidentally, preceded by Mike’s cup shaking and his expression of “Oh god” as he looks at Daniel’s Hummer.

Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut - Better Call Saul _ Season 2, Episode 2 - Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/Sony Pictures Television/ AMC
Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut – Better Call Saul Season 2, Episode 2 – Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/Sony Pictures Television/ AMC

However, the best part of the episode was undoubtedly the eponymous “cobbler.” I wasn’t expecting much from the scene because everything was contingent on his on-the-spot lie being amazing, but once one of the Detectives leaned in, I was completely sold. It was awesome to see Jimmy derail their line of inquiry by engaging their curiosity, making them look like a couple of friends listening to a crazy story. A reassuring sign that the series hasn’t lost its touch.

“Cobbler” demonstrated the talent of everyone involved in crafting its story, but the episode wasn’t enough to validate Better Call Saul: Season 2. It’s still feeling the after-effects of ending Season 1 in such a defined place, which is undermining how amazing moments from this season are in isolation. We’re now past the “get things in order” episode and the “get over getting things in order” episode, so next week’s installment better sell me on Season 2 having a story that actually matters.

Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill - Better Call Saul _ Season 2, Episode 2 - Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/Sony Pictures Television/ AMC
Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill – Better Call Saul Season 2, Episode 2 – Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/Sony Pictures Television/ AMC

Chicago Sunroofs:

  • The introduction of a new player (living or dead) with Rebecca Bois’ name on Chuck’s music sheet may be just what the series needs to get out of the specter of Season 1.
  • Since the caption for my review of “Switch” was “One step forward…” I thought it was pretty funny that Gould said, “In real life, we make all kinds of half-steps and two steps back to go forward” in his interview with HitFix. Not necessarily a knock on Better Call Saul, but let’s be clear: stories are not real life. There’s something to them feeling real, the characters feeling like they could exist somewhere. But just because something happens all the time doesn’t mean it makes for a compelling story. It doesn’t mean the opposite, either, but in this case I think it might have benefited the series to give Jimmy a new playing field that characters from Season 1 (like Kim) insert themselves into.
  • To clarify my comment about assuming they were already thinking about Season 2, AMC’s announcement that it was happening came two months after the season finale. However, I thought they always had an eye on renewing the series and made a last-minute change to project Season 2’s direction.
  • The Temptation of the Kettlemans will be the next great romance novel, just you wait.
  • I really like Howard’s character. It was definitely fun to see Jimmy try to get the better of him in Season 1, but I loved how he ended up not being a dick for the sake of it. The way he told Chuck that Davis & Main “[were] really pulling their weight” before mentioning Jimmy was incredibly telling of his views (as was him saying he “didn’t stand in the way”), and it will be cool to see where he decides Chuck is going too far with his prejudice.
  • On that point, the way Howard turned his head after Chuck asked what Jimmy was doing at Davis & Main was awesome.
  • It was nice to see Kim’s foot go out first when the camera went under the table in the boardroom. It was even better that the transition was to them hanging out, when another show would have sent them straight to the bedroom/backseat. I know I’m pretty critical of Kim and Jimmy’s relationship and where it’s going, but they’re actually really cute together.
  • The cup not fitting in his new car was a nice way of saying that the pieces of Jimmy’s life aren’t compatible.
  • The slight, half second delay before Jimmy said “thanks, Cliff” seemed unintentional, even though it kind of made sense.
  • Although it works for Kim to keep Jimmy on the side of the angels, I wish they had weaved that more into Season 1.
  • There’s something very cool about the fact that Mike goes straight to where Nacho is, without the series not even bothering to explain how he found out.
  • The clever transitions were out in full force again! Nothing as visually striking as some of the moves from last episode, but still awesome to see the scene of Jimmy telling Daniel he has to make a video be followed by Jimmy taking pies out of his car.
  • “…definitely takes the cake.” / “Kim, Kim, Kim.” / “Takes the pie!” – What a great moment.
  • Pretty heartbreaking to hear Jimmy tell Kim that “[she] won’t” hear about his less-than-legal activities ever again.
Rating
6.5
Pros
  • Kim and Jimmy together
  • Interested in seeing the dynamic between Jimmy and Chuck evolve (and how other characters act as a result)
  • Some great moments, again courtesy of our boy Daniel Wormald
Cons
  • Kim's purpose in this season too obvious
  • Chuck's storyline feeling a little played out
  • The series still feeling the after-effects of the Season 1 finale

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