This episode will be forever known as the one about the “Hoboken Squat Cobbler,” or any number of alternative names for the unique and embarrassing sex fetish that Jimmy makes up about his impromptu client, Daniel Wormald. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Despite his brother’s best attempts, the second episode of the second season of Better Call Saul chronicles the growing pains of Jimmy easing into his cushy job at Davis & Main, the Santa Fe law practice that’s helping HHM on the big Sandpiper class action lawsuit that Jimmy built from the ground up. It’s a decision our main character had to make after high-highs and low-lows that saw him embrace his Slippin’ Jimmy persona before slowly realizing that he’s worked too hard and gained too much with the help of Kim that he couldn’t possibly throw it all away like that. The episode begins with him accepting his new responsibility, but the episode ends with the cracks in that responsibility more than beginning to show.
Regardless of some of the quick-talking, legalese-laced court meetings that Jimmy uses to comfortably charm the pants off of everybody in the room to get you on his side — and despite Jimmy’s newly cemented profession — Better Call Saul thankfully isn’t a legal drama. Instead, the drama of Episode 2 doubles down on the promise of the black-and-white first scene of the second season premiere by reminding viewers that Jimmy’s best efforts won’t get him anywhere.
But the way it shows this is subtle, and it doesn’t really even focus on Jimmy at all. The real narrative push of this episode is on Mike, the craggy-faced ex-cop who’s moved to New Mexico to do right by his granddaughter even though some shady personal dealings got him there.
Throughout the first season of Better Call Saul and up until now, Mike and Jimmy have been orbiting each other as fellow unwilling citizens of co-creators Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan’s desolate New Mexico landscape. They began on the periphery, and some illegal dealings brought them together, but they’ve remained on their own paths. Yet, like a great Pynchon novel, eventually the main characters have to come together — for better or worse. Breaking Bad fans will love the fact that Jimmy and Mike will inevitably team up, but the implication in the series is that this pairing is definitely for the worse.
Mike is a fan favorite, but those happy to see Mike’s distinctive face once again should begin to realize that it’s Mike who will most likely be the impetus that pulls Jimmy away from his new company: from the law firm with a Mercedes and custom-made cocobolo desk to a grungy strip mall somewhere under a sign labelled “Saul Goodman.”
Mike is forced to clean up after Daniel Wormald (aka Pryce) is robbed of the pharmaceutical stash — and even his precious baseball cards — that garnered him some quick cash from Nacho (not to mention an absurd looking “Playuh” Humvee in his driveway). But the cops are soon in his driveway, too, poking around and asking questions, playing dumb but pegging Wormald for a drug dealer. It could eventually lead them to Mike. So when Wormald rolls up to Mike’s parking lot before a meeting with the police, it forces Mike to think fast. He has Daniel momentarily call off the police meeting, forces Nacho to return the cards in exchange for the outrageous gas-guzzler plus $10,000, and a guarantee not to rat him out to his cartel boss, Tuco. And that’s that. But he still needs to get the police off his back. That’s where Jimmy comes in.
Mike calls in a favor to Jimmy after his little power move in Season 1 with the Kettlemans, humorously asking him, “Are you still morally flexible?” This is right after Jimmy’s newly estranged brother Chuck comes waltzing through the HHM doors to lord over his younger sibling. “Why are you here?” Jimmy asks plainly, to which Chuck responds, with a Biblical tone, “To bear witness.” In his first moment of weakness, James McGill falls back to his Chicago con man laurels and takes Mike up on his request to help him out.
And it’s there, in that police interrogation room, that the creepily confident Saul Goodman starts to appear. To throw the detectives off the scent of Daniel’s obvious crime, he concocts a ridiculous story about how his spontaneous client recorded videos for an “art patron,” hence the suspicious “hidey-hole” that brought them into this potentially illegal situation. The detectives wonder: what was on those videos? Just a grown man grinding his khaki-laden ass around in pie filling for the erotic pleasure of an internet benefactor. He’s a “squat cobbler.”
It’s one of the funniest scenes of the entire show so far, and yet it’s an inadvertent invitation for Jimmy to lose himself. And it’s partly Mike’s fault. What’s worse is that Jimmy can’t see the fault in fabricating evidence when Kim scolds him about it later that night. To paraphrase Mike in an episode from last season: Jimmy is a criminal; good one, bad one — that’s up to him.