Fancy new car, a new romance in full bloom, a job that respects him and that he’s good at — things are going great for our pal, Jimmy McGill. But while Kim may just be the best damn thing that’s ever happened to him, the spectre of Chuck — and specifically, Chuck’s betrayal — still hangs over him. And when triggered, Slippin’ Jimmy rears his not-so-pretty head, which works out pretty well for Mike.
Mike, see, is trying to prevent a clear disaster in the works — specifically, the fledgling criminal career of Pryce, which is about to be exposed after Pryce reported the theft of his baseball cards to the cops, and the cops quickly figured out there was more to the story. One direct conversation with Nacho is all Mike needs to get the cards returned (in exchange for Pryce handing over his beloved eyesore of a Hummer, which Nacho will sell for parts), but it’s Jimmy who’s needed to get the cops off Pryce’s scent. The story he concocts is so baffling that the cops have no choice to believe it’s true, especially after Jimmy and Pryce fabricate the necessary proof. That’s the one part of the story that Kim doesn’t find hilarious later, showing that while they might have found happiness with each other, their relationship is not a bulletproof thing.
Opening Credits Extreme Close-Up
LWYRUP is the all-too-apt vanity license plate on Saul Goodman’s Cadillac; a future we’re racing towards all too quickly, at this point.
The Least Legal Move
Clearly, what Jimmy saw as a mild bit of tomfoolery with the police is potentially a much bigger deal, as Kim nimbly pointed out. By faking the tape, Jimmy’s entire legal career could be at risk. Technically, no harm no foul, but let’s talk a bit about that final conversation between Kim and Jimmy; specifically, the phrasing of it, which is a perfect example of legalese. She doesn’t ask him not to avoid those sorts of illegal antics. She just says, “I cannot hear about this sort of thing ever again,” which is a very different request, one that Jimmy has no problem agreeing to. “You won’t,” though, is less a promise and more a declaration of intent; setting the stage for some serious heartbreak down the line.
Remembering What Hasn’t Happened Yet (The “Breaking Bad” Tie-In)
Mike’s well-aimed mention of our old pal Tuco Salamanca was not only a reminder of just how smart Mike is — when it comes to handling the criminal element of Albuquerque — but also how terrifying Tuco can be.
Also, something that we overlooked last week but is worth mentioning: “Switch” wasn’t the first appearance of “Ken the douchebag,” as Jimmy referred to him in the “Breaking Bad”-verse. Turns out, a few years from now, Walter White will be blowing up his car (admittedly, for reasons related to him being a douchebag).
Oh, That’s Right, It’s a Period Piece
Two key details stood out here: one, the idea that the illicit videos that Pryce was making for his “art patron” were on actual physical video, maybe even actual video tape. Oh, those sweet naive days before watching video on the Internet came as natural as breathing, and people had to work so much harder for their porn.
Also, Jimmy’s reference to “one last hanging chad” was a lot more topical in the time period we’re talking about (though still pretty dated, if we’re in the 2004-era ballpark). The echoes of the 2000 presidental election remain with us even today, though.
What’s Wrong With Chuck?
Chuck’s Jimmy-less life might be a very lonely one, and it doesn’t seem to establish any particularly healthy behavior in him. We’re not just referring to his self-abuse over missed notes in the private piano concert he’s playing for himself, but the way he showed up at Hamlin, Hamlin and McGill just to throw Jimmy off his game — and deliver a solid sucker punch on his way out the door — was just brutal and childish. If there’s a downfall coming for Jimmy, Chuck is all tied up in it.
Bonus points, by the way, to the sound department because Chuck’s suit sounded more rustle-y than usual, hinting at the fact that while on the surface he might seem polished and professional, just under the surface (literally) is his space blanket, holding in his crazy.
On The Journey From Jimmy to Saul
The moment in which Jimmy — having just gotten slapped across the face by three cruel words from Chuck — gets the call from Mike was a perfect tee-up for what came next: a fiction so beautiful and bizarre that it could only have been crafted by Saul Goodman. Talking with Kim afterwards, Jimmy seemed relatively back to normal — then again, maybe not.
This line might not exactly have the poetry of other bits of dialogue from this episode, but something about its blunt naivete stuck out to us. Mostly because really, that’s it. That’s exactly it. That’s the ethos of “Breaking Bad,” right there in a nutshell. That’s what breaking bad actually means. You live in one world until something happens and then you’re living in another. Pryce is discovering this the hard way, but it’s something only survivors understand.
Runner-up: “It looks like a school bus for six-year-old pimps” is such a beautiful takedown of Pryce’s Hummer. RIP, Hummer.
In Conclusion, Your Honor
“Cobbler” is, in some respects, an incredibly simple episode, which really takes its time with specific scenes. For example, the cold open, in which all that happens is Chuck playing the piano and learning that Jimmy is working at Davis and Mane, is over six minutes long. Yet somehow the pacing just works, anchored as it is by Michael McKean’s reliably great performance. We haven’t seen too much of Chuck on his own so far in the series, and it proved intriguing to see him punish himself for his mistakes almost more harshly than he might punish Jimmy. There’s a complex psychology there that we got to understand a little better this week, and it’s just one of the facets of this series that keeps us watching, even on a week like this when it feels like not much technically happened.
Watching Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn dance their way through that conversation about what turns out to be their dream house was just pure joy. For a romance that so far has featured maybe three on-screen kisses total (not that we’re counting — that’d be weird), Jimmy and Kim have come together in such a sweet, fully-realized way… So much so, that we are just terrified about what’s going to come next.