Let’s get it out of the way.
A Squat Cobbler, wait, a Hoboken Squat Cobbler, is the funniest thing to happen the the Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul universe. The comedic timing, the questioning, the curiosity, the suspense, the verbiage, and the body language all surrounding this…fetish was riotous while bordering on farcical. And that is a good thing. I still can’t think about Jimmy saying and mimicking “wiggle” without doubling over in laughter.
Now that that is out of the way, there was something even more special about this episode. “Cobbler” is all about character development. Nearly every character was given a quirk, an insight, or a change. This episode is the quintessential reason why I absolutely love the writing for this little world. This review will be slightly different than previous reviews. I will analyze different characters, then dive into some symbolism, and then wrap up with some tid-bits and predictions. Here we go!
Nacho: The amount we learned about Nacho in this episode is a little mind-blowing. As a side note, this is why I love the Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul universe; unlike many shows on TV, the writers assume their audience is smart. There is no overt dialogue narrating what is happening despite it happening in front of us. The information we are given about Nacho in “Cobbler” is fairly small; he works for his father in their family-owned upholstery shop. Nacho’s father is a nice man and doesn’t like to upsell people. That is about the extent of it, but there is a lot more there.
Nacho must be fairly young, maybe in his early to mid-20’s. He loves his family and was raised with some sense of morality. You could assume even that his family is middle-class if they have a business that is doing well. Nacho must feel that this is not enough. Family means a lot, but power, greed, and money do, too. And really, aren’t we all into that? Nacho just does it in a different way. It’s hard to dislike Nacho, too. Despite his faults, he is funny; his comment about the Hummer being a “school bus for 6 year-old pimps” solidified his likability. We already knew that Nacho was smart, but now we also know that he wears many hats: his family hat, his Tuco hat, and his personal business hat. I have a feeling we will be seeing a lot more of his hats this season.
Chuck: Much of Chuck’s development was said with the piano music he was playing, “Sicilienne.” The name of the piece comes from the French play/ballet “Le Bourgeois gentilhomme,” or “The Bourgeois Gentleman” or even better yet “The Would-Be Noble.”
Chuck certainly thinks he is noble, and in many aspects of his life, he is treated as such. More on how this comes to play when I talk about Howard later on. Chuck takes it upon himself to be better than thou every step he can in this episode. In a seemingly small moment, Chuck tells Howard he will be stopping by the office that week and that his assistant, Ernesto, will let Howard know when. Later, when Chuck does go to the office, he doesn’t have Ernesto give the go ahead; Chuck just shows up unexpectedly, proving that he thinks the rest of the world should stop for him. He is hell bent on perfection. Not only for others but within himself. He takes it very hard that he can’t get his song right. The real zinger was telling Jimmy that he came “[t]o bear witness.” As though is he so much better than the rest of the peons in Hamlin, Hamlin, McGill and certainly much better than Jimmy, whom he loves to watch fall apart. Chuck, you are a dick.
Howard: I’ve been thinking about why Howard is nice to Chuck. It then popped in my head that the firm is called Hamlin, Hamlin, McGill. So who is the other Hamlin? It must be Howard’s father, but since we haven’t seen him, or even heard of him, it could be safe to assume that Howard’s father is dead. So perhaps Howard sees Chuck as a father figure? It’s interesting to note the two worlds Howard is treading between the McGill brothers. He is very careful to keep both parties happy, like a true lawyer should.
Mike: Mike is Mike. We probably won’t get very much more about him from “Five-O.” Just for writing and review sake, I wanted to touch on his personality. Mike is about Mike. He wasn’t nice to Pryce to be nice, but to make sure he wasn’t busted for drug dealing. It just so happened that being nice worked out well in this scenario.
Pryce: It is unclear if when Nacho told Pryce that their business was concluded if it meant our business with him is also over, but there was one thing about Pryce that should be of note. He is extremely meticulous. He has details for how to care for his car, he knows exactly where in the decks his most prized baseball cards are, and he knows how many inches of glass needs to stop a collectible from fading in artificial light. It may not mean anything for the future, but it is important to know how much detail goes into the making of these characters.
Kim: Kim’s transformation in this episode is by far my favorite. Her infatuation with Jimmy since their Ken con stint keeps growing. There are many little things she does for him: switching his seat to be next to hers in meetings, playing footsie at a meeting, giving him reassurance when Chuck enters the meeting, sticking around to listen in on his conversation with Chuck, and sharing a cigarette with him (a la “Uno”). Even when they are talking about Jimmy’s home purchase, the conversation slips from “I,” referring to Jimmy, to “we,” referring to both of them having a life together. Planning lives together spells L-O-V-E.
Yet all of that flips when Jimmy mistakenly admits he fabricated evidence to get a client off. Kim isn’t going to forget this, and she makes it clear that if this is something he needs to keep doing, then he needs to keep it away from her. The interactions with Kim and Jimmy won’t ever be what they were in “Switch” again. There won’t be a deep sigh or a long gaze. I believe she will always have it in the back of her head that Jimmy is a con-man, and that her job is on the line right along with him. There was a wonderful article written recently about the power of adaptability in storytelling. It is an uncommon writing technique but an important one. The reactions and interactions characters have with each other based off past events is very important. Without it, characters and stories seem one-dimensional. I’m also glad that Kim isn’t going along for the ride, like other blonde, blue-eyed women we know of in Albuquerque. I just also hope that despite all this, we get to see a lot more of Ms. Wexler.
Jimmy: Jimmy is the most elusive character of the bunch in “Cobbler.” As far as development goes, there wasn’t much. There is a point when he goes to talk to Main, and Main tells Jimmy to find something he can do to blow off steam. Jimmy is a con-man through and through. He is conning himself in this prestigious law, he will con the people of Albuquerque as Saul Goodman, and he will con himself again when he is Gene the Cinnabon manager. The best way he blows off steam is to con other people, and who better than the cops?
The thing that drove him to that point was the trepidation that Chuck caused for Jimmy. Perhaps that was the most telling characteristic of Jimmy’s motives; he will do anything to spite Chuck, and if that means lying to the cops so be it. The way he worked the two detectives over was absolutely flawless. This was something we already knew Jimmy was capable of, but perhaps not the extent that he took it.
Kim’s mug: By far the best symbolism in the episode is the mug Kim gives Jimmy. The mug originally reads “World’s Best Lawyer,” which she has emblazoned with “2nd.” This mug fits perfectly in Jimmy’s Mitsubishi Esteem, but when he gets his new Mercedes-Benz, the travel mug no longer fits in the cup holder. Jimmy tries to force it in, but eventually tosses it to the side. This most certainly is where his relationship with Kim is going.
Chuck’s blurred reflection: As he plays his piece, Chuck is shown in a reflection of a blurred and warped mirror. How spot on.
Light and dark: There were a couple of moments that played with characters being in the light and being in the shadows. Chuck is often in the shadows, while Howard is often in light. In Pryce’s car, Pryce is in the shadows while Mike is in the light.
Up in smoke: When Jimmy and Kim share a cigarette, the camera cuts the smoke dissipating in the air. Is this telling of where their relationship is going? Based off the last scene, it seems so.
Yellow and Red: These colors keep popping up. Pryce is wearing a yellow and red flannel shirt at the exchange. Also, the cup Kim gives Jimmy is yellow with a piece of red writing. These two have nothing to do with each other, but there are many meanings for yellow in the series. For Pryce, I still believe it is false bravado. Kim’s mug could be a sign of friendship.
Rebecca Bais: Chuck’s piano music belongs to this woman. Chuck even caresses his finger over her name before he starts playing. What happened to her? Who was she to him? This is bound to come up.
American Samoa sweatshirt: When Kim and Jimmy are in bed eating leftover pie, she is wearing Jimmy’s college sweater. This makes their interaction even more poignant.
A-Z Upholstery: Mr. Varga’s (Nacho’s dad) A-Z Upholstery is located in Albuquerque, but the name of the real shop is Walt’s Top Shop. Co-wink-a-dink?
Nacho and Mike: I think Mike may get a new job through Nacho. Considering Mike sort of has Nacho by the balls with the whole carrot-stick situation, Nacho may choose to keep his enemies close. This could also lead to Jimmy representing Nacho. Exactly how is yet to be determined.
Jump off a roof: Kim jokingly says she might jump off a roof. Language is really important, so I really hope that this isn’t actually her fate.
Jimmy will get fired: Davis and Main probably won’t find out about Jimmy’s pro bono work this time, but it is bound to come up in the future. His career in a cushy office will be short-lived.
Hush Comics gives “Cobbler” an A for the amount of character development packed into one episode. There were so many small details that all mean so much for how these people interact with each other. It was truly great dramatic and comedic writing.
All images belong to AMC and are credited to Ursula Coyote.