Published on February 26th, 2016 | by Michael0
Better Call Saul – Cobbler
Ah, Better Call Saul, I thought you were better than that. Just when you thought Vince Gilligan’s mind was an inexhaustible well of original ideas and creative solutions, he falls back on something as tired and hokey as the Squat Cobbler routine. The Full Moon Moon Pie gambit. The Boston Cream Splat rouse.
I kid, of course. The alternative theory that Jimmy offers the police (who believe, not without reason, that Daniel might be a drug dealer) captures both the character and his creators (Gennifer Hutchinson wrote ‘Cobbler’) at their freewheeling best. In spinning his yarn of pastry based titillation, Jimmy puts the final seal on a plan set in motion by Mike, a man equally cunning in his own way. Mike is able consider all the parts of an equation – Daniel, valuable baseball cards, Nacho, Tuco, Jimmy, the Police and that ridiculous hummer, and somehow fashion a settlement that is amenable to everyone. Perturbed by the police’s interest in the burglary case, Mike takes it upon himself to track down Daniel’s cards. Nacho, it turns out, is willing to give them back, in exchange for the hummer. And for the pleasure of telling Daniel that it’s going straight to the chop shop. ‘It looks like a school bus for six year old pimps’ he tells Daniel, swiftly trumping any description last weeks’ viewers will have managed to come up with.
I said for last week’s recap that we’ve seen four version of James McGill so far (though ironically enough Saul has yet to make an appearance in the show that bears his name). The strange thing in ‘Cobbler’ is that two of them seem to be in rude health this week. On the Davis & Main Sandpiper case side of things we have James McGill, Attorney at Law. He’s not resting on his laurels after bringing the whole case to his brother’s attention, no siree. He twice demonstrates his continued value to the case this week. First off, he spots that a supposedly ‘optional’ scheme at the Santa Fe nursing home doesn’t have single opt out, leading Jimmy to believe it was compulsory, and therefore Sandpiper lied in their initial declarations. Secondly, with Sandpiper burying the case in red tape, he stresses that the clients themselves are the best source of information. Yes, they may be old and forgetful and store their statements and legal documents with recipes and coupons, but you can bet there’s a whole lot of paperwork if the lawyers can just be bothered to find it.
Jimmy is actually interrupted when making this point at a meeting, because he dreadful brother chooses that moment to make his dramatic re-entrance (heralded by Greg asking everyone to turn in their phones and a dimming of the lights, making Chuck appear like a really disappointing version of The Undertaker). Visibly distressed, Jimmy initially struggles to continue making his point after Chuck takes his seat, but with Kim’s support he soon finds his thread, even chucking in his customary jokes. It seems he impressed all in attendance. All but Chuck.
There’s a neat musical parallel that illustrates the damaged relationship between Jimmy and Chuck. The cold open this week is Chuck playing piano alone in his house, accompanied only by a metronome. Later on, Jimmy follows the sound of acoustic blues guitar and walks through the open door of his new boss, Clifford Main (Ed Begley Jr, who you can only imagine will be given a fair bit to do this season). Clifford is relaxed, welcoming and cool. Chuck is stuck up, frustrated, pretentious and ultimately alone. Clifford, by strumming his guitar as a way to decompress, seems like the cool older brother Jimmy wishes Chuck could be.
While Chuck’s vitriolic hatred of Jimmy has been well established in recent episodes, Jimmy’s self- esteem takes a hit from a more unexpected quarter in ‘Cobbler’: Kim. No, not from the ‘World’s Second Best Lawyer’ mug she gives him as a gift (‘got to keep you real’ she explains). No, it’s when Jimmy recounts his Squat Cobbler story that she has to hit him with some hard truths. She’s is as entertained as the rest of us when Jimmy recounts the story he told the Police, but is somewhat less than impressed with the punchline – he had Daniel actually make one of those videos to show the police. Clearly, Kim sees a line between outright lying to the Police (which is OK) and falsifying evidence (which is not). She’s angry that Jimmy did it, angry that he told her. Most of all, she’s very angry that he’d risk his job at Davis & Main doing a seedy pro bono job for a friend. She asks him why he does it (and he retorts that she was fine with it last week when they drank all that tequila) but for all he good intentions and undoubted intelligence she doesn’t see what we see, which is that these schemes of Jimmy’s are their own end. Sure Jimmy got Daniel into the clear and cemented his friendship with Mike. And yes, he got an obnoxious bellend to pick up his bar tab last week. But basically, Jimmy loves the game of selling people on a lie. It’s how he gets his kicks and he’s damn good at it.
It’s a good job too, because as the opening credits show us, Jimmy’s future lies not within the prestigious offices of Davis & Main, but rather in that rundown strip mall with the ridiculous giant inflatables. It’s painful to see Jimmy participating and excelling in the world of Corporate law, because we know either Chuck or his own nature will get the better of him and it’ll be bench posters, late night adverts and eventually Cinnabon shifts from then on in. For now though, as he makes breakthroughs as both a legitimate lawyer and a shyster, he can have his pie and eat it.