This week’s Better Call Saul finally gives me the childhood flashback I’ve been-a’ hollerin’ for but also cruelly dashes my hopes of a Saul/Erin/Omar Scooby Gang Season Three. Jimmy tells Clifford Main to take this desk and shove it (kind of), and Kim Wexler tells all the boys just how much they don’t own her! All these things and a whole hell of a lot more happen in…
Better Call Saul, Season 2, Episode 7: “Inflatable”
In an episode jam-packed with Big Developments (and even bigger wacky, waving, inflatable, arm-flailing tube-men), Jimmy gets himself retired from Davis & Main, forces the faithful Omar to schlep his goddamn Kokomo Rococo desk all the way across town to the nail salon, and offers Kim a partnership at the newly logo-adorned law firm of Wexler-McGill. In the end, Kim, who has recently decided to forsake HMM and her potential career track at Star Trek & Coldplay (I still don’t know the actual name of that firm), has a different proposal in mind.
(By the way, is it just me or do all these law firms have two names in their titles, but there’s always, like, three partners at the partner meetings? Except HMM, where there are three names (sort of) but only two dudes?)
This Week’s Best Bits…
Jimmy’s efforts at getting fired not only make for one of the funniest sequences in the show so far, but also serve to introduce one of the key elements of his eventual alter ego: Saul’s retina-menacing, produce department-inspired suits. The interweaving of this particularly Simpsons-y montage with shots of Jimmy’s muse, the aforementioned inflatable arm-flailing tube man, add an additional element of nearly Dadaist charm to the scene as well as to the concept of Saul Goodman in general. The jump cuts, split-screen use, and percussive soul score are also a nicely overt homage to two of the show’s regular cinematic influences: the French New Wave and the 90s/00s work of Steven Soderbergh.
How sad, though, was Omar asking if Jimmy’s happy working at D&M when the disgruntled Mr. McGill is attempting to tender his resignation? “You like it here…right?” Aww kid, he’s just not that into you.
The Heartbreak Kid
The story of Jimmy & Kim takes some major turns this week. He pitches her the idea of partnering up in a firm together, and in a rare vulnerable moment, confesses that he has to practice law his own colorful way. As always, she doesn’t object on a personal level to his penchant for used car lot theatrics and corner-cutting sleight of hand but does tell him she can’t be associated professionally with his brand of lawyering.
Turns out, though, Jimmy does sell her on the idea of being her own boss. When she realizes both figuratively and Freudian-slippishly that Curt Schweikspeare is but Howard Hamlin by another name, she smokes a Virginia Slim, looks out over the city, and gives a big independent woman shout-out to Lucy Liu (and my girl Drew) by determining that her best possible future lies in forming her own firm.
She pitches to Jimmy the decidedly unromantic notion of them sharing office space but no business card cohabitation. So I may have been wrong once to have predicted that Kim would keep Jimmy in a perpetual friend zone, but he did just totally get co-lessee zoned-ed. And if you watch the scene back frame by frame, you can pinpoint the exact moment where she breaks Jimmy’s heart. We have to wait till next week, though, to find out if he reluctantly takes her up on her offer. Though he probably totally does.
I Love It When A Good Quitting Comes Together
Even though Jimmy was technically terminated from Davis & Main for being an obnoxious, eye-offending, restroom privilege-abusing Jerk Store, he still got to indulge in one of my favorite things in this world: a good, old-fashioned, storm-out quitting. The firing and walkout were actually fairly mild, but the tossing of the Devil’s, I mean, Erin’s aluminum can into the paper-only wastebasket was a slight but satisfying revenge.
And how sad-puppy did poor Omar look when Saul admitted with a glance that he had indeed been let go from the firm? Very, very sad is the answer to that question. Sad enough for a requiem on the bagpipes.
The Return of the Rat
I love that the film students returned in this episode (is it a coincidence that the “does anybody like you?” guy looks a lot like JJ Abrams?) and that Jimmy is already planning his first sleazy TV spot. I like, overall, that Jimmy is, at heart, an artist. Part of the time he adds the word con in front of that label, but the rest of the time, he has genuinely artistic ambitions. His taste level may run more to Michael Bay than to Michelangelo, but he is an artist just the same. This could be another reason why he doesn’t function well under strict, rule-centric oppression. Of course that may also be because he is, as Cliff so eloquently put it, an asshole.
Retail Real Estate Therapy
Mike’s story takes a back seat this week, but the glimpses we do get of everybody’s favorite killer curmudgeon are heartbreaking in their own way. The lengths he’s going to in order to take care of his slain son’s family are wearing down whatever was left of his spirit, bringing him more and more to the man he’s become by the time he enters the timeline in Breaking Bad. To protect his Stacey and Kaylee, he amends his statement to the DA about the ownership of Tuco’s gun. This provides another opportunity to crisscross the Jimmy and Mike stories (which will likely happen with more frequency as the show progresses).
Another nifty crisscross of note is that the real estate agent who sells Stacey the house is the same real estate agent who will one day bust Breaking Bad’s Marie for committing wanton acts of kleptomania and bad backstory-ing at open houses all across the American Southwest.
And speaking of backstory…
Gotham: Rise of the Slippin’
In spite of all the exhilarating forward plot momentum, this episode also finds time to look back and give us not one, not two, not three–oh wait, yes, three–three origin stories! As noted earlier, we are made witness this week to the birth of Saul’s wardrobe and to Jimmy’s Saulesque self-acceptance as a Man of Color.
We also get a quick peek into Kim’s backstory as she describes a youth in a smoking crater just this side of the Nebraska border (Nebraska, you say? Maybe that future managing a Cinnabon in Omaha isn’t as arbitrarily located as it seemed) and her subsequent rise from mailroom law school student (confirming, as we’d all suspected, that she is the girl Jimmy described meeting to Chuck & Rebecca on his first day of lawyer joke-telling work at HMM) to semi-prominent fourth-year associate who spends a lot of time being grounded and sent to her room, I mean Doc Review.
Knowing Kim was a small-town girl who pulled herself from a potential life spent toiling in obscure inky-dinky-dome adds so much like to an already inherently likable character. It also makes it even harder to wait for the inevitable catastrophe that her entanglement with Jimmy will eventually splatter all over her hard-earned life.
The real money origin story in Inflatable, however, is the flashback to Jimmy as a kid in 1973 (every single magazine and comic book in that scene, by the way, is actually from August of ’73–every single damned one) and what appears to be the creation of Slippin’ Jimmy. It turns out there is a lot of truth in that story Chuck told Kim a few weeks back. Their dad was a good guy (to a fault) and Jimmy likely had been taking from the till for years. This scene illustrates exactly when and why that started.
Already a street-smart kid with a streak of rebellion, young James McGill is angered by his pop’s insistence that it’s always worth believing in people even if you know damn well they’re lying to your face. The boy’s cynicism is doubly compounded by a speech given to him by a grifter who passes through to bilk his old man (a well-known easy mark) out of some hard earned cash. “There are wolves and sheep in this world,” the confidence man tells him. “Wolves and sheep. Figure out which one you’re gonna be.” And in that exact moment, freeze-framed or not, Jimmy does just that.
Fare thee well, Omar, we hardly knew ye (and that ye had kids?! What the?!)