Tagged Michael Mando

Better Call Saul – Season 1, Episode 8: “Fifi”

AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 1, Episode 8: “Fifi”
Directed by Larysa Kondracki
Written by Thomas Schnauz

* For a review of the previous episode, “Inflatable” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Nailed” – click here
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This episode starts with some Mexican food trucks heading across the border. One of them is taken aside to be searched. The whole process is incredibly detailed, thoroughly every aspect of the truck is checked, rechecked, examined under close scrutiny. Meanwhile, the driver stands waiting for clearance. Afterwards he drives on towards his destination, which is a little more unorthodox than the strict, ordered procedure he’d just watched happen. We’re also very aware this is not the first time this man’s gone through the whole mess.

 


Funny. Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) and Kim (Rhea Seehorn) eat outside a place called the Dog House. Well, he wants Kim to get her resignation taken care of that night. But she’s setting boundaries and making sure they stick to their own type of lawyering, one way or another.
She heads over to see Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian), to get things done on her own terms. Of course he’s already heard, supposedly, about where she’s headed. He has no idea about her branching out solo, though. A nice shock to his system. Naturally, he susses out that she and Jimmy will be having something to do with each other. Either way there seems to be no hard feelings. Not off the bat, anyways. For his part, Howard has dreams that fell short despite all the things he does have. There’s a little sad boy lurking somewhere in Hamlin, crushed down by money and power. First thing he does when she’s right out the door? Starts going after the big clients she wanted to take with her.

 


In other news, the man from the truck earlier drops off product to the Mexican groceteria. The one Mike (Jonathan Banks) is staking out, where he had his meeting with Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis) and the crew. Exactly what is Mike planning? We’ll sure find out soon enough. He’s watching the place like a hawk, and finally a car pulls through after hours. Sure enough it’s Hector. Who knows what Mike is about to do. Something drastic, no doubt.
Kim is busy pitching herself to the Mesa Verde folk, and doing a nice job. But it’s tough on your own. She then heads off with Jimmy to look at possible locations for their new office. Her distracted attitude catches his attention, obviously. She all but locked down the Verde deal. Things are looking really good.
At home, Chuck (Michael McKean) is, as always, sitting in the dark working. Up turns Howard, worried about Mesa Verde. Chuck’s very annoyed once figuring out Jimmy has a part to play in the whole situation. Nevertheless, Howard is focused on keeping their big client. And so Chuck readies himself. Anything in order to stop the greasy power of younger brother Jimmy. He’s even willing to forego shutting off the lights and having everyone hand in their cellphones, hoping to not appear “crazy” or anything similar. Before the meeting he struts around in his tinfoil cape. He’ll push himself through the illness all to keep the client, to screw Jimmy, and by proxy Kim, too.
Chuck lays it on real thick. He even manages to plant a seed of doubt into the whole conversation, casually turning their eyes back towards HHM. Hmm. Seems the older brother is as good as the younger brother McGill at selling the slick one. Then once they’re finished he nearly collapses. Crazy bastard.

 


On an air base, Jimmy’s got another scheme happening. We’re introduced to the titular Fifi – a large aircraft. Along with the two young men who helped film his earlier commercial at Davis & Main, McGill’s got a lot of fun going on, making things seem legit. Until they’re left alone with the big bomber. They’ve got themselves another filming going on.
Jimmy gets a call about Chuck, who’s having lots of trouble after his day at the office. It’s clear Jimmy cares about his brother. But quickly he has to get back to the bomber scheme, as some military men want pictures with the supposed war hero they’ve been wheeling around. This is one of my favourite scenes of the season on comedic value. Almost made me cry a couple times, the veteran was way too funny.
Tragedy now for Jimmy and Kim, as the verdict on Mesa Verde comes down; they’re sticking with Howard and Chuck. Now she wants to think things over, though, Jimmy would rather go forward, as a “team” and such. His optimism nearly outshines his willingness to do things outside the box.

 


Back to Mike now. He’s spying on Hector still, as they’ve arrived at a garage somewhere. It’s clear some type of deal is going down. The delivery truck shows up, too. Off to the side Mike sits in his Chrysler, laying low, watching via binoculars. What are they doing inside? And what exactly is Mike going to do with/about it?

 


The devastated Chuck lies on his couch under a foil blanket, lantern burning in the darkness. His younger brother checks on him to make sure he’s all right. Even if he doesn’t want to necessarily. And naughty, naughty; Jimmy goes through some of Chuck’s files. Particularly those marked Mesa Verde. Then again, if the older brother is ready to play underhanded ball, then I suppose we can’t blame him either.
Then the genius of James McGill comes out. He goes to a copy place and gets to work, cutting out numbers, gluing them elsewhere, scanning documents, copying. Oh, he’s got some nastiness up his sleeve. All those years as an amateur conman are proving themselves worthy in his lawyer days. Back at Chuck’s the documents are slipped into their rightful place once more.

 


Again, we’re with Mike. He helps his granddaughter doing some chores around the house. It’s so cute how he acts with her, very clear that this grandpa is a loving one. No matter if he’s involved in nefarious doings under the cover of night. But getting those glimpses of him with his family, this caring side, it fleshes out his character instead of him being totally one-dimensional.
What’s most interesting, though, is how the project his daughter helped him with is not a sprinkler for the “rhododendrons” in his backyard, but a hose he’s filling with nails, fitting them into the holes he and his granddaughter drilled. Looks like he’s planning to blow a few tires. An ambush, maybe.
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We need to wait for “Nailed” – appropriately titled – in order to figure out what Mike has in store for Hector and the crew. Stay tuned with me, fellow fans.

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Better Call Saul – Season 2, Episode 5: “Rebecca”

AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 2, Episode 5: “Rebecca”
Directed by John Shiban
Written by Ann Cherkis

* For a review of the previous episode, “Gloves Off” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Bali Ha’i” – click here
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With Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) recovering from his recent beating, as well as Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) licking his wounds for the time being and trying to keep Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) in his life, Better Call Saul‘s Season 2 continues on full steam ahead.
This episode begins with Chuck McGill (Michael McKean) setting up dim lights, putting on a record then getting dinner ready. His wife, Rebecca (Ann Cusack), is helping, too. They’re normal, happy, talking about work and their day. Turns out this is when Rebecca meets brother Jimmy.
What an excellent, interesting flash into the past of the Brothers McGill. A time when Jimmy was unsuccessful, the lesser brother doing nothing, and when Chuck did not have his serious affliction to the electronics around him. So what exactly happened from there to the present timeline? Regardless, Chuck gives the signal to his wife, hoping to get Jimmy out of the house, but she’s more interested in hearing the younger brother’s jokes. Later in bed when Chuck tries one out it doesn’t get near the same response.
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Back to 2003. Jimmy is finding it tough to adjust to office life, from the regular everyday grind to the recycling situation. The “house style” is being introduced to Jimmy, including punctuation and so on. Something he’s not entirely interested in; too much micromanaging. At the same time, Kim is dodging Jimmy on the phone while doing the dirty work in a boardroom, her new assignment for aiding him in the commercial fiasco. He shows up soon enough suggesting she sue Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill. Jimmy’s mostly concerned with Chuck and his involvement, though she insists this is her “paying the price” for her idiotic decision to side with Jimmy. And she wants him to clean up his act, as well as to stop bullshitting.
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Kim: “You dont save me. I save me.”
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At the office, Jimmy is forced to deal with the co-worker, Erin (Jessie Ennis), he ducked the night before. Simultaneously, Kim is trying to gain more clients for HHM, either getting refused or hit on or let down easily from one call to the next. Kudos to her all the same; she’s trying, unlike Jimmy who takes frequent shortcuts.
And finally, back to Mike. He’s checking in on daughter-in-law Stacey (Kerry Condon). Grandpa Mike has put her and his granddaughter up in a hotel, having fun. He’s busy with his day job, nursing those old wounds, which he attributes to a car crash. The next chapters in the life of Mike will certainly be interesting to see.
Erin and Jimmy come up against one another when he tries to give over a Beanie Baby to get a court date. She won’t have this “bribe“, but he insists it’s simply a little gift. He’s forced to take later date than hoped, worried about Howard (Patrick Fabian) getting reports from Erin. In a bathroom, Jimmy sees an old friend who queries him on all the benefits of working at Davis & Main: “Id kill my mother for a fireplace,” he says after hearing Jimmy has one in his office.
A nice Spanish cover of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” accompanies more of Kim wheeling and dealing, trying to drum up some more business for herself in order to get back in the HHM good books. Not too long and she receives a positive phone call, one that has her nearly jumping for joy. Maybe things are looking up for ole Wexler.

 


Up at the HHM offices arrive Paige (Cara Pifko) and Kevin (Rex Linn), clearly from a large banking institution. Howard lays on the charm with stories of being a boy and his “first bank account“, along with a silhouetted cowboy banking book. What a greaser. None of what Kim’s done phases him, as he keeps up a smug demeanour the entire time. He essentially banishes her back down to the boardroom on review without looking at her twice. Ouch.
In the low light of Chuck’s place, Howard meets with him. They talk of Kim and her latest accomplishment. But she’s not “out of the doghouse“, as Howard makes that clear. A ton of work coming from what Kim has done, yet Hamlin is far less enthused than Chuck. Perhaps a further vendetta by Howard is causing this behaviour towards Kim?

 


In other news, Chuck arrives, lantern in hand, to the office. At his desk he whittles away the time doing work. Until a low level light starts to bother him. He finds Kim putting away some files and they chat over coffees. She flat out asks Chuck: “Do I have a future at this firm?” He goes into his own disappointment with brother Jimmy, as if trying to sabotage every bit of the life he’s trying to create for himself. There’s a discussion of the McGill father, supposedly a perfect, good man, whose hard work allowed them to survive and prosper. Until money troubles made it all difficult, prompting Chuck into an accounting position; Jimmy “pilfered” thousands of dollars, according to big brother. The start of all the woes. The start of all Chuck’s aggravation with his brother.
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Chuck (re: Jimmy): “He cant help himself. Then everyones left picking up the pieces.”
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At a diner, Mike is greeted by a familiar Breaking Bad face: Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis). He wants to talk about the recent trouble with Tuco (Raymond Cruz), the old man’s nephew: “He should have shown you respect. I apologize to you, on behalf of my family.” Mike accepts this gracious offering. They talk about how long Tuco ought to stay behind bars, perhaps there’s a different way out of everything.
It’s fun to see Hector long before the stroke immobilized him, before he could only talk with a bell nailed to his wheelchair. Adds a larger dimension to him, as well as gives us things to look forward to in this series.

 


Can’t wait for the next episode, “Bali Ha’i”, and with all these developments it’ll absolutely be intriguing. Stay tuned, my fellow fans.

Better Call Saul – Season 2, Episode 3: “Amarillo”

AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 2, Episode 3: “Amarillo”
Directed by Scott Winant
Written by Jonathan Glatzer; Story by Gordon Smith

* For a review of the previous episode, “Cobbler” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Gloves Off” – click here
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The third episode of AMC’s Better Call Saul Season 3 kicks off as Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) stands against a wall painted like the Texas state flag. He’s dressed like a true blue-and-red cowboy, with a bag at his feet. A bus stops then Jimmy heads inside looking for an Alma Mae, who he couldn’t get to see at Sand Piper. He talks with Alma a little about the money he’s going to get back for her. Jimmy does his best talking, as usual, to try and get everyone on the same page. The showman in Jimmy comes out and impresses all the seniors on the bus. Another move in the sly poker hand of lawyer James McGill. In fact, he’s so impressive all the people on the bus are right in the palm of his hand.
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At the table of Davis & Main, Chuck (Michael McKean) sits across from Jimmy now, as well as Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn), then there’s bossmen Clifford Main (Ed Begley Jr) and Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian). Of course Jimmy gets to boast about signing all those Sand Piper clients on the bus (though I’m sure how he did so was a secretive venture). Cliff is happy. Although, Chuck does his best to punch his brother in the gut, bringing up the possibility of his “solicitation” and making things awkward for everybody. Yet Jimmy’s slippery, as we know. He retorts with the claim of Sand Piper as a “closeknit community“, which seems to assuage the board’s curiousity. Chuck lets it go. For now; he’s just hellbent on torpedoing his brother.
Jimmy’s still after Kim, playing footsie beneath the table. Only she seems reluctant to engage. Then Jimmy pipes up saying he’ll hold back on big meetings with the seniors, possibly hoping to impress Kim. Because she’s still not happy about the events of “Cobbler” where Jimmy falsified evidence, or more so fabricated it. She is further unhappy with Jimmy likely soliciting all those clients. “You said in there youd find another way,” Kim starts: “Did you mean it?” He tells her yes, but she isn’t exactly convinced. Their relationship is fragmented. She put herself out there with everyone to get Jimmy in that position, now his conman ways that won’t wash off are threatening her reputation. Not immediately. But if Hamlin and Main, as well as Chuck, figure out what he’s up to all the time, there’s no telling what might happen.


Cut to Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks). He’s playing with his granddaughter. Meanwhile, his own daughter-in-law Stacey (Kerry Condon) is cooking in the kitchen. He also has money to drop off. Stacey’s got worries, though. Gunshots have been blasting a little too nearby for her liking. Mike offers to stay over, to keep them safe, but Stacey is obviously as independent as possible, a proud, strong woman in her own right. We know that Mike isn’t going to let the gunshot business sit. What’s he going to do from here?
At the office, Jimmy is trying to figure out how to do things without soliciting clients. He brings problems with the mailers to Cliff. Jimmy believes very specific television advertising is the answer, to mash in a Davis & Main between Murder, She Wrote and other similar programs the seniors watch.
Here, we finally see the first television advert involving Jimmy; one of many, as us Breaking Bad fans remember. Originally they get a terribly generic, uninspired advertisement just giving the basic facts, a phone number, et cetera.
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Jimmy: “What ever happened to showmanship?”
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On his own, Jimmy gets two young film students to help him record an advertisement segment. He’s got his own ideas on how to boost their clients. Hilarious banter to start between Jimmy and the young dudes. We’re now seeing the Saul creep out of Jimmy, more and more. “Im ready for my closeup, Mr. McGill,” says an old woman coming down the stairs on an electric lift. One of the best lines I’ve heard on anything in ages. Especially with Jimmy holding his fingers up like a frame, watching her descend.
Back to Mike. He’s taken it upon himself to do a stakeout at his daughter-in-law’s place – radio via earpiece, sandwich and all. Sitting quietly outside, Mike sees a car pull up slowly. He readies his piece, checking that it’s loaded. But it’s just a car dropping newspapers off. When the morning comes and nothing is wrong, Mike heads in to work, obviously tired, back likely hurting from sitting in the car all night. Then he gets a call on his cell from Stacey – he rushes back to her place. She shows him a bullet mark by the garage door, saying she heard shots in the night. But Mike was there all night, he knows it didn’t happen then. Still, he tells her: “I believe you.”
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Hanging out together once more, Jimmy and Kim are always hovering around becoming a serious couple. For now, Jimmy shows off the ad he put together. Shot in black-and-white, circling around to find an old woman rocking in a chair by herself, along with a tragic voiceover narration. The old lady cries, due to “Visine“, and then Jimmy comes in with the phone number, the information, all that over top. Kim is actually impressed with the directorial efforts by Jimmy, saying it’ll definitely get to the Sand Piper seniors. However, little comments from Kim make it clear to Jimmy he’s still the underdog, still being considered as someone who can’t get things done right or in the ‘honest’ way. The look on his face says it all. Over in the office, Jimmy hops on the phone to try and get hold of a television channel in Colorado. Is he about to sell the advertisement?


Jimmy: “Dont be jealous of my big bowl of balls. Its unbecoming.”
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Mike’s looking for a job. The vet he knows has a couple jobs, bodyguard positions mostly. Except everything Mike hears, he doesn’t exactly enjoy. The shady vet explains the need for “next level work” and that’s all there is to it. Quickly, though, Mike accepts a cheap job. Not that he wants to, but such are the times. It’s obvious, seeing him in Breaking Bad and seeing him now, Mike will do anything to help his family; anything.
Switch over to Jimmy. He seems a little nervous and sketchy. Obviously he’s waiting for the phone calls to come in from seniors. There’s a whole team of people setup to start receiving calls. All the while, Jimmy waits as the ad runs on television. This is a big moment for him – if the ad fails to draw in a significant number, perhaps Jimmy loses his pull with Cliff, and everyone else, and then Chuck wins. So Jimmy sits next to the phone, waiting impatiently.
When the calls do start coming, it finally lifts Jimmy’s spirits, and he sees the progress right in front of him; the ad worked perfectly.


While Stacey and her daughter sleep, Mike takes the couch. Though he doesn’t sleep, really. His phone rings about some “next level pay” – a serious, hush-hush job. Mike was specifically asked for to take care of the job.
Cut to Jimmy lounging with Kim. He gets a call, too. It’s Cliff, and he is not happy with the commercial. The boss lets loose over Jimmy for not passing the commercial through his approval. Cliff calls him “a god damn arsonist” while Jimmy tries to spin things for him, then gets hung up on. He has a date with the board to show them all the commercial. He then spins things for Kim, as well. Always spinning, that Jimmy.
Mike is heading out to latest job, shrouded in mystery. In a deserted location, he pulls up in his car, leaving the lights on. Nacho (Michael Mando) is waiting. He has a problem – “A who or a what?” asks Mike. Nacho needs a guy to “go away” and we end on a look from Mike that spells exasperation, as if he knows what’s coming.


Next episode is “Gloves Off” – who knows where the McGill story will head next.

Better Call Saul – Season 2, Episode 2: “Cobbler”

AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 2, Episode 2: “Cobbler”
Directed by Terry McDonough
Written by Gennifer Hutchison

* For a review of the previous episode, Season 2 premiere “Switch” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Amarillo” – click here
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After the excellent start to Season 2, Better Call Saul continues on, as we open on Chuck McGill (Michael McKean) playing the piano to his metronome. He plays beautifully, too. He stops once then goes again until messing up, getting angrier with himself this time. Soon, Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) arrives bearing newspapers, groceries and the like; an unexpected visitor. Chuck mentions he wants to go into the office for “an hour or two” soon, which surprises Hamlin. Then Howard also mentions Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) is working for Davis & Main, the firm of Clifford Main (Ed Begley Jr). Neither of them particularly respect Jimmy all that much from what I can tell. Is Howard using this as a way to push Chuck? Or do they merely share a caution re: Jimmy? Hard to know for sure. However, Chuck’s eyes tell the entire story afterwards when he sits back down to play his piano some more. He becomes lost, transfixed by the metronome. Interesting to see where Chuck goes from this point on.
Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) is busy getting things ready in a board room, making sure Jimmy is sitting next to her when the meeting happens. The sit close together while Clifford goes over some documents. Underneath the table, Kim plays a little footsie. Cut to the both of them having a cigarette in the parking garage, chatting. There’s an obvious feeling between them, whether or not Kim wants to push forward. But we can see, no matter how she plays it cool when they’re together, Kim is into Jimmy, big time. She even gives him a hilarious little coffee cup with “Worlds 2nd Best Lawyer” printed on it. They share a kiss before he leaves, though, she looks over her shoulder. Such a conflicted woman.
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Over at the salon, Jimmy shows off his new decked out car, which takes him away from the old office and into his new life. He looks through all the bells and whistles before trying to fit his new coffee mug in the holder. Except it’s too big: “Must be metric,” he says to himself. So ironic that such an expensive, beautiful piece of machinery can’t even fit his cheap little cup. This show cracks me up because, just like Breaking Bad, there come these hilarious little moments that would never be that funny anywhere else, yet here they are making me crack up.
Meanwhile, Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) sees the ghastly yellow Hummer belonging to Daniel Wormald (Mark Proksch) pull up. He’s not pleased at all. Daniel is there to talk with the police, which does nothing further to please Mike. They have a chat in the Hummer. Mike advises him it isn’t the greatest idea for a criminal to willing talk with cops, but Daniel brings up an interesting point: because he falls outside the law sometimes when selling his pharmaceuticals, does that put him outside the help of the police? I don’t know; sort of interesting. Mike tries his best to talk Daniel out of talking with the police, though Wormald is pissy and only wants his baseball cards back. Turns out, some of the cards stolen belonged to his father, so y’know – sentimental value and all. Mike reluctantly tells his dumb friend: “Ill find your cards.”
Head down, pen to paper, Jimmy is working hard for the new firm. After hearing a bit of beautiful guitar music through the office he finds his way into Clifford’s office, the man obviously has a talent on the six-string. Jimmy chats briefly with his new boss and brings up some interesting points he might have stumbled across already looking through the papers on their case. A good start for the scrappy dog McGill.
Mike is busy tracking down the baseball cards. He goes into an auto shop and pretends to be looking for seats to be upholstered. This is the workplace of Nacho Varga (Michael Mando). They end up outside, alone and able to talk. Nacho’s definitely not happy to see the old guy, not that it bothers Mike; he lays things out for Nacho, how it needs to work. But the younger of the two gets his back up, thinking Mike is threatening him, his family. Mike makes clear there’s a profit to be made if they do things his way.
Chuck’s almost ready to leave his house, to head into work. His foil-lined jacket on, chin up. Did Howard’s plan work? What’s the long-term game?
Cue Daniel handing his ghastly yellow and flame-painted Hummer’s keys over to Nacho. In return, the baseball cards go in Mike’s trunk, back to Wormald. Of course the nerd in Daniel has to go through the cards, tracking down particular items to make sure they’re in tact. “Looks like everyones here,” says Daniel with a big, goofy smile.
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Nacho (to Daniel): “Now, our business is concluded.”
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In the midst of Jimmy telling everyone what’s happening on his end of the case, Chuck shows up at the board room. Preceding this Howard asks everyone to turn off electronics, give over their cell phones, et cetera. A worried, downtrodden look appears on Jimmy’s face as he watches this begin to happen. Howard comes off as smug, letting Jimmy continue, as if expecting a big fuck up. Only with Kim giving him strength via a thigh squeeze under the table he has the confidence to speak with pride. After the meeting finishes, Jimmy and Chuck have an awkward conversation. “Why are you here?” asks Jimmy; “To bear witness,” Chuck replies cryptically.
Then Mike calls Jimmy, asking if he’s still “morally flexible” because Daniel is going to need representation. The younger McGill heads to the station to try and help the situation. For his part, Daniel bumbles and rambles through the interview. The detectives obviously know he’s guilty, or at the least that he knows something more than is being said out loud. But save-the-day-Jimmy swoops in with a hilarious “art patron” story, claiming Daniel made some “personal videos” which were later stolen by that patron; “lovers quarrel” as Jimmy puts it. A genius way to get Daniel out from under the police: “Squat cobbler,” says Jimmy – “Full moon pie. Boston Cream Splat. Simple Simon the Assman.” I almost cried listening to Odenkirk describe the supposed videos. Spot on comedic writing, which serves the purpose of making us laugh, as well as being weird enough to help get Daniel free from any suspicion. Even better? Daniel’s actually going to have to make a video.
Directly following this scene, Jimmy heads to see Kim – with a stack of pies they dig into together. Apparently the pies are leftovers, “untouched by human buttocks.” Kim’s not impressed, though. Jimmy has now faked evidence to get a client off. She doesn’t understand why he’s risked so much for “a friend.”
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Kim: “I cannot hear about this sort of thing, ever again, okay? I mean it, Jimmy.”
Jimmy: “You wont
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This episode started a lot of things moving for the second season, in particular more of the relationship between Jimmy and Kim, as well as that of Jimmy and his brother Chuck, plus there’s the deviousness of Howard, and also the Mike situation re: Daniel. Many, many threads. Looking forward to where things progress after “Cobbler”, in the next episode titled “Amarillo” which will no doubt make things even more exciting.