Previously on Better Call Saul, ‘Switch’
Starring: Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Rhea Seehorn, Michael McKean, Patrick Fabian, Michael Mando, Mark Proksch, Ed Begley Jr., Eileen Fogarty | Writer: Gennifer Hutchison | Director: Terry McDonough
Jimmy is doing better than expected at the new law firm (much to his chagrin). Charles doesn’t take kindly to little brother stealing his thunder and risks going outside to confront James. Meanwhile, Mike attempts to settle things between Daniel and Nacho before the cops catch wind of their felonious dealings. Ehrmantraut calls in Jimmy to tie the whole shebang into a pretty bow, giving the police a whopper of a story to cease their interest in the crew’s activities.
IT’S ALL IN THE EYES
From the opening shot of a forlorn Charles McGill hoping to ease his frustrations on a piano to the final long take of James and Kim mending once more from another spat, the entirety of “Cobbler” was an engrossing hour of television. All in part to Terry McDonough’s patient storytelling that results in some deceptively intense scenes. A veteran director of Saul and Breaking Bad, it was McDonough’s vision that brought the lawyer to life in his first appearance on the multiple Emmy-winning series.
A lot of what made “Cobbler” impactful were its more quiet moments. The tracking shot during Jimmy’s diversion in Davis & Main. The impeccable use of framing to evince isolation. The prolonged gazes by the actors, which had more of an effect in their terse conversations than the words themselves. Watch “Cobbler” again and pay attention to the expressions conveyed in every player’s eyes and one can better appreciate their thorough commitment in their respective scenes. Jonathan Banks was putting on a clinic during the episode, expressing his utter disdain for Daniel Warmolt then his sardonic don’t-bullshit-a-bullshitter face with a blustering Ignacio (Michael Mando).
In short, the skill and capacity of every lead to evoke emotion from the subtlest of acts makes Better Call Saul’s cast one of the better ensembles on television today.
The aforementioned playing of Faure’s ‘Sicilienne’ by Chuck was more important to the episode’s pace and themes than viewers realized. From the moment Charles began playing, the first images emblazoned on screen was a long shot of McGill playing inside his dusty home under a faint beam of sunlight with portraits of Jimmy and Chuck as children, smiling together for possibly the last time in their lives. Those four seconds pretty much drives home the underlying themes of the the series this season: family and mistrust.
Now that Jimmy has a steady job with amazing perks and the ear of every partner, Charles is compelled to swoop in and let everyone know the big dog is still around. However he seems more aware that his relevancy is coming to an end – after James propped up his status at the office for so long. Tensions among the Brothers McGill was palpable this week, but Jimmy’s true test was pulling both Daniel and Mike’s fat out of the fire with the most ridiculous improversation of his entire conniving life.
“YOU CAN REALLY TELL A STORY”
It’s a given there would be ample amounts of humor scattered across the dreary New Mexican landscape in Saul, mainly from the garrulous counselor himself. A few characters like Daniel Wormald, Cal and Lars Lindholm and the godawful Kettlemans have elicited many laughs, due to their misfortune as bumbling scammers. Jimmy, as many know, is in a class all by himself. Under the sharp and quick-witted command of writer Gennifer Hutchison, McGill effortlessly whips up a doozy of a yarn in “Cobbler”.
Like McDonough, Hutchison isn’t a stranger to Saul, having more than enough exposure to the titular character as script coordinator and executive story editor of Breaking Bad for practically its entire run. This world is hers as much as it is Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould’s so it isn’t any surprise that Jimmy is written in top form. When it comes to creating a spin-off from an universally lauded television show based on one of its popular yet shadiest characters, you don’t call in Tyronn Lue or God forbid a Derek Fisher to run the team, you get a Popovich. Hutchison’s writing provides the right balance of consistency and innovation that delves further into the motivations of our beloved characters than anticipated, for better and worse.
[FYI, I meant that comparison in the best possible way, Ms. Hutchison. I am certain your smile is far more pleasant than Pops’.]
Thanks to Danny Dumbass’ stunning level of incompetence, Mike is worried for very good reasons that his meeting with the APD about stolen baseball cards *groan* will eventually lead to Wormald’s alleged criminal transactions. Enter Jimmy, the guru of guff, to distract the po-po with a tall tale no viewer was ready to hear, let alone imagine.
Phrases like the Hoboken Squat Cobbler… Full Moon Pie… Boston Cream Splat… Simple Simon the Ass Man… Dutch Apple Ass… they can never be unheard. If you weren’t laughing your ass off during that scene then you may not have any form of a sense of humor. It’s not all fun and games because Kim (Rhea Seehorn) is understandably concerned about Jimmy’s proclivity to criminal behavior. As much fun as it is to witness these comedic exchanges they come at a potentially serious price. And from the look of things, James couldn’t help himself in the end.
Jimmy continues to excel at his new digs but of course, he’ll likely hit some kind of snag next week in “Amarillo”, airing Monday at 10/9c on AMC!
Better Call Saul S2E2
Superb. Absolutely superb. This is how you write a television show. There was notable progression in every storyline, the narrative was clean as a whistle and the performances were impeccable. Gold star for everyone!
I believe the old saying is “Pain plus time equals comedy”. Both Odenkirk and McKean have shown up any critics who have ever questioned their ability to draw up a dramatic rendering from such eccentric characters. Odenkirk most importantly has risen his game considerably since the first season, breathing new life into the Man Who Would Be Saul by revealing his doubts and fears of success and uncertainty with love. It’s fantastic stuff.