Better Call Saul: “Cobbler” Season 2 Episode 2 Review

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Back when Better Call Saul was announced, it seemed obvious. Breaking Bad became a massive phenomenon by its last few seasons that of course AMC would want to capitalize on it. Then season one came along and it was a good show posing as a great one, with all of Breaking Bad‘s artistic nuances fluttering about in a less interesting story. But here we are, with season two settling into a more confident groove than season one. If “Cobbler” is any indication, Better Call Saul is becoming a great show.

There wasn’t a whole lot going on in terms of plot that will be memorable down the line, but the near-perfect construction of this episode measures up to only the best shows on TV. With the premiere completely devoid of Chuck, we’re immediately placed in the dark, dusty home he continues to reside in, just now without his brother. The artful opening scene points to the fallout of Chuck’s betrayal last season. He seems to still care about his brother, but the show is also painting him as the road to Saul Goodman, while Kim fights desperately for Jimmy McGill. The conference room scene and its immediate fallout were the best illustrations of this. Just as Jimmy’s on an impressive role in the meeting, a surprise visit from Chuck causes him to fumble until Kim’s light touch brings him back. Then there was the awkward, knowing glare Chuck and Kim share as the former leaves. Kim looks away first by a split second because the tragedy of their battle for Jimmy’s soul is that she’s destined to lose.

After the meeting, Jimmy is summoned to represent Pryce, Mike’s bumbling “mid-life crisis” of a client who’s gotten himself in some trouble with Nacho. For Breaking Bad viewers, this scene should have felt incredibly familiar. Chuck’s mere presence pushes Jimmy closer to the Saul we met on that series. His cockamamie story about how Pryce hides his fetish videos, where he sits in pie fully clothed and cries (genius), is a classic Saul Goodman story to get a client out of the hole they dug themselves into. It’s the act of a criminal lawyer the way Saul meant it when he first met Walt and Jessie. But what makes Better Call Saul all the more worthwhile is the new sense of tragedy laced into Jimmy’s later exploits. At the beginning of “Cobbler,” he’s a man with everything. His dream job and his dream woman are driving his life to be better than it’s ever been. But by the end, he’s driven a wedge between both. It’s a fascinating set-up for what is sure to be a spectacular failure.

In all, this is an episode that plants the seeds of the season not through clunky exposition, but genuine emotion and character growth. By showing us how good things did look for Jimmy at one point, and how he immediately betrayed his own aspirations, we’re standing at the road that leads to Saul Goodman. We may know the destination, but first it looks like we’ve got one hell of a journey. Grade: A

Some Other Notes:

  • Last season, Jimmy was essentially a good man with a sleazy side. That was a fun characterization, but it didn’t go too deep. Now, he’s a man divided, and every turn he makes is fascinating.
  • All of Mike’s scenes this week were just outstanding. Having him play Pryce and even manage to squeeze Nacho for 10k was just so much fun.
  • Howard’s characterization this season is way less cartoonishly evil and it’s really working.
  • I find myself desperate to find out how far this show is going to push Jimmy down the rabbit hole this season. With the lack of a real time jump between the first two seasons, this season feels pivotal already in setting up Jimmy’s transformation. It raises the question of just how many seasons will Better Call Saul run and how long will it stick to this 2002 time period before eventually leaping to Breaking Bad in 2008? It will probably take several seasons to answer that, but if this show stays as good as its been so far this year, I’ll be here for the whole way.

By Matt Dougherty

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