Better Call Saul is a show that deals heavily in metaphor. And as far as metaphors go, you can’t get much more direct than Jimmy McGill getting a fancy new Mercedes and being met with a loud clang as he discovers his coffee mug won’t fit in his new cupholder. The old Jimmy and the new Jimmy are not compatible. Slippin’ Jimmy will eventually become Saul Goodman. Attempts to stop in the middle to turn that person into a respectable corporate lawyer will be met with resistance. Must be a metric thing.
But the nice thing about last night’s episode is that we didn’t need to spend too much time decoding vague messages because it all ended with Jimmy going full-on Saul and introducing us to the term and fictional sexual fetish “Hoboken Squat Cobbler,” which he used as part of a concocted alibi for a baseball-loving doofus pharmaceutical pusher. Nice and straightforward. We’ll circle back to it.
After a season premiere spent resetting and recalibrating a bit (sending Saul to Davis & Main after a brief detour tequila grifting), the second season’s second episode got us back more into the business of the show: Mike and Jimmy doing Mike and Jimmy stuff. Mike’s client, the aforementioned baseball-loving doofus, was on the verge of getting them both in deep trouble over his attachment to his stolen baseball cards. Mike needed to prevent this — specifically, the involvement of the police in the process — so Mike found a way to retrieve them from Nacho that left everyone relatively happy-ish. I mean, kind of. Happy-ish and a little terrified. Like I said, Mike stuff.
Which brings us to the Jimmy stuff. His involvement in Mike’s situation came directly on the heels of Chuck showing up during a meeting about the Sandpiper case, which Chuck did purely to screw with Jimmy’s head. To “bear witness,” in his own words. And his surprise drop-in appeared to have the desired effect, because right after it happened, after an episode Jimmy spent showing off his new Mercedes and popping in on a guitar-strumming Ed Begley, Jr. with legitimate legal theories about the case, Jimmy took Mike’s call and ended up in a police interrogation room explaining the finer points of sexual gratification derived from a grown man in a baby costume squatting in a pie and wiggling around while crying. Slippin’ Jimmy slipped right on that slippery slope and kept sliding until he made that poor doofus actually film some squat cobbling to convince the police the story was real. Like I said, Jimmy stuff.
One interesting note about that last part: The falsifying of evidence got him a dressing down from Kim, but I think it’s important to look at the actual words they used at the end. Kim never said “You can’t do this,” and said she “doesn’t want to hear about” it. And Jimmy didn’t say “I’ll stop,” he said “You won’t.” So, what we’re setting up, it seems, is a situation where Kim stays with him as long as he keeps the most flexible aspects of his morals out of her sight. This is excellent news for us, the drama-seeking viewer, but it can’t be healthy.
Better Call Saul, one of the better prestige dramas on television right now, from the legendary creative team behind Breaking Bad, is creating quite the catalog of scatological and otherwise butt-based comedy bits. There was the sex-toilet bit from the first season, which I will go to bat for as one of the funniest scenes of 2015. Then there was Jimmy’s whole Chicago Sunroof bingo hall meltdown in the nursing home, which served a legitimate purpose plot-wise, but also featured no small amount of shots of very old people reacting to a lawyer in a Matlock suit telling them he once defecated through an open sunroof with a small child in the backseat. And now, we can add the Hoboken Squat Cobbler to that prestigious list.
Alan Sepinwall at HitFix has a little background on the scene. To the surprise of literally no one, Bob Odenkirk played an important role in its creation:
Saul isn’t a show that allows for much improvisation, but on the first day of shooting the second season premiere, Odenkirk pulled Gould and Vince Gilligan aside and, as Gould recalls, praised the episode two script, and then, “He pitched the idea: ‘Sex acts all have a name. Shouldn’t there be a name for this thing?’ “
The key here is Odenkirk. Watch the scene again and watch the way he slowly teases out the story, like he doesn’t want to have to tell it. It’s a “private matter.” A “lover’s quarrel.” The other person is an “art patron.” And then watch the joy he gets out of becoming very, very specific about what is on these supposed tapes. Watch his face as he lists the other names it’s known by: Full Moon Moon Pie, Simple Simon the Ass Man, Dutch Apple Ass. Then watch him light up on “IT’S WHEN A MAN SITS IN PIE!” The man, this character, and this show are all treasures.
Odds and ends:
– I really dug the scene with Mike, Nacho, and Nacho’s father — Nacho having a father who is a hard-working, incredibly honest local businessowner was an interesting twist, and Mike dropping Tuco’s name was a very interesting twist. I need more Tuco in my life. Every show could use a speed-addicted lunatic who shouts “Tight tight tight” to show approval. Lookin’ at you, The Bachelor.
– Things people said about Mike’s client’s flame-covered yellow Hummer: It was a “blinking neon sign of a vehicle that says drug dealer” and it “looks like a schoolbus for 6-year-old pimps.” Both accurate!
– Rhea Seehorn is absolutely killing it as Kim this season. Playing the “love interest who wants the main character to dial back on all the cool stuff he does that is the main reason people watch the show” role is tough, and occasionally thankless, but she has been knocking it out of the park so far.
– Getting your new Mercedes delivered to the strip mall where you used to work so the nail-salon owner who was mean to you has to watch you drive off in it? Power move. Kind of a dick move, too. A power dick move, if you will. Which sounds like an entirely different kind of video someone might make for their art patron.