Better Call Saul Television

Better Call Saul Recap: Episode 2×07 (”Inflatable”)

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Source: Better Call Saul AMC

Episode 2×07: In which Stacey scores her dream house, Kim makes some big decisions, and Jimmy shows everyone just how colorful he can be.

Episode 2×07: “Inflatable” (written by Gordon Smith; directed by Colin Bucksey)

“Inflatable” is an instant classic simply because it gave us the amazing “Jimmy gets himself fired” montage and we finally get to see Saul Goodman’s “optical migraine” of a wardrobe come out to play. There are a lot of things I like about Saul Goodman, but his Technicolor dream wardrobe is my absolute favorite, so while I’m not ready to let go of Jimmy McGill, I am ready to let go of his boring suits. But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Let’s talk about the cold open, which I have been waiting for for almost a year.

This episode’s teaser was shot for episode 1×09 (written and directed by Tom Schnauz) but was cut for length. They referenced it vaguely on the Insider podcast for that episode and I’ve been waiting to see young Jimmy ever since. I’m glad they decided to use it here, especially in light of Chuck’s story about Jimmy’s $14K theft back in episode 2×05, even though I don’t necessarily like what I see.

The year is 1973 and we see young Jimmy at his father’s store, sneaking a peek at a Playboy while he’s supposed to be sweeping. A man comes in with a sob story about his kid’s medicine and a broke-down car but the long and the short of it is that he wants Jimmy’s dad to give him some cash. Jimmy whispers to his father from behind a shelf and beckons his over to tell him, basically, that he’s a huge sucker and everyone in town knows it. Jimmy knows this guy is playing his dad, but Mr. McGill is a kind and trusting man, which makes him a saint in Chuck’s eyes and a sucker in Jimmy’s.

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Source: Better Call Saul AMC

Jimmy’s dad gives the guy the money and on top of it, he goes to the back to get some spark plugs to help the man with his car. This is the man Chuck described in episode 2×05—the man who doesn’t see sin—but it’s not necessarily a good thing because, as the grifter tells young Jimmy, in life there are wolves and there are sheep. Jimmy’s dad is getting fleeced, so I think we all know which one he is. When young Jimmy takes $8 from the till, he’s trying to be a wolf. This scene shows that there is actually some truth to Chuck’s story about Jimmy stealing from their father’s store, even though I wanted so desperately for it not to be true. But as expected, Chuck’s story isn’t the whole truth. If Jimmy’s dad is the go-to guy for a handout in Cicero, some of that missing $14K is his own fault.

Back in the present day, Jimmy is sketching on his legal pad, waiting for his client: none other than Mike Ehrmantraut, who has called Jimmy in to be his lawyer while he commits perjury regarding the ownership of Tuco’s gun. Jimmy is doing some decent, if ethically questionable lawyering here. My favorite line of the episode is when the district attorneys are questioning Mike about how the gun could belong to someone other than Tuco when it only had Tuco’s prints on it.

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Source: Better Call Saul AMC

That’s some classic Saul right there and I love it. Mike is not amused by Jimmy, as usual, but we can see in this scene how angry Mike is that he is giving in to the Salamancas’ demands. When the DAs ask him if he’s being threatened or paid off, Jimmy says that it’s time to go. At the elevator, Jimmy tells Mike that he had his own run-in with crazy Tuco and that he did the right thing lying about the gun—it’s what Jimmy himself would have done, which is no comfort to Mike who has no interest in being anything like Jimmy.

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Source: Better Call Saul AMC

Jimmy tells Mike that his services are free of charge but Mike doesn’t want to be indebted to Jimmy in any way; he doesn’t even want to share the elevator with him. The whole perjury thing isn’t sitting well with Mike and he hates that he’s been dragged into association with Jimmy and with the Salamancas as a result of his need for cash, but it is what it is and there’s no going back now. Mike’s need for money has forced him to work outside his usual code of honor; he’s doing the kind of work he didn’t want to do when he first moved to Albuquerque and now he’s found himself tangled up with the Salamancas—all so that Stacey and Kaylee can feel safe.

Meanwhile, Jimmy has made a decision: he is resigning from Davis and Main. He tells Omar to take a letter to that effect and Omar can’t believe that Jimmy would want to leave. It’s kind of sweet, actually. Omar looks kind of sad that Davis and Main didn’t make Jimmy happy, but more than that, Omar can’t understand why Jimmy would have worked so hard to get there just to quit, especially with all Davis and Main’s sweet perks. Turns out, Jimmy is really bad at contract law because he didn’t realize that he has to pay back his signing bonus if he leaves before he’s been there a year. Omar is familiar enough with Jimmy’s contract to point this out to him, at which point Jimmy backpedals like nobody’s business and tries to tell Omar that it was the stress talking and he actually super duper loves Davis and Main. I think if Jimmy could have erased Omar’s memory Men-In-Black-style, he would have.

On his way back to Albuquerque, Jimmy is stopped at a light and he sees one of those inflatable dancing tube men (which apparently are called Air Dancers). This one is wearing a loud suit and tie and Jimmy stares at it through the window. He needs a new plan, and in this moment, the light bulb goes off in Jimmy’s head.

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Source: Better Call Saul AMC

Cue the best montage ever of Jimmy and his rainbow of shirts and collection of the world’s loudest ties. It’s full Saul, and it’s amazing, and it’s intercut with scenes of Jimmy doing his damndest to get fired.

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Source: Better Call Saul AMC

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Source: Better Call Saul AMC

Jimmy is juicing in the office, making a ton of noise and a huge mess (which tends to happen any time red beets are involved). He’s taking dumps in the office toilet and not flushing them so as to “conserve water.” He’s taking a page out of Cliff’s book and unwinding in his office by playing some music, but Jimmy has decided that his instrument of choice is bagpipes. That’s when Cliff snaps and Jimmy gets his wish. He’s fired—not for cause, just for being a total jackass, so he gets to keep his bonus. Cliff is so done with him he’s not even going to fight him on it. He just wants Jimmy gone, and he tells him off on his way out the door.

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Source: Better Call Saul AMC

I was happy to see Cliff stand up for himself in this scene. He’s a nice guy and a good boss, but he’s been pushed above and beyond his limits by all Jimmy’s shenanigans. Erin is incredibly smug to Jimmy on his way out, which makes me smile because she is finally free of him and can go back to business as usual. Jimmy decides to stick it to Erin on the way out the door, snatching the soda can from her hands and throwing it in the (non-recyclables) trashcan. I feel like Erin will never forget and never forgive when it comes to Jimmy McGill—like the image of the soda in the trash will forever be burned into her memory—but hey, at least he’s gone and she doesn’t have to deal with his crap anymore.

Kim is in her office drafting her notice letter when Jimmy comes in and tells her he wants to talk to her in the conference room. He’s got an offer for her—a better offer than Schweikart and Cokely can give her. He presents her with a Wexler-McGill Partners at Law business card with her name on it, and we see the WM logo that he was sketching earlier in the episode. And can I just say that I love that he puts Wexler before McGill? Because I love that.

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Source: Better Call Saul AMC

Jimmy tells Kim that he quit Davis and Main and that it’s time for them to be their own bosses and start a practice together. He points out that going from HHM to Schweikart is a lateral move and that they are better off building their own business from the ground up. Kim is not convinced. The memory of exactly how much work it took to bring Mesa Verde to HHM is still very fresh for her and the thought of starting a practice from scratch is a huge undertaking and a huge risk. The Schweikart job is a lateral move, sure, but it’s a safe move. She’ll be partner in 2 years at an established firm. It’s everything she thought she wanted for the past ten years of her life.

But the idea of being her own boss is appealing to her so she doesn’t completely reject the idea. Hamlin has been so horrible to her that it’s easy to understand why she might not want to trade him in for a different boss who could potentially treat her the same way. But this is Jimmy McGill we’re talking about, and she knows Jimmy better than anyone, so she asks him straight up what kind of lawyer he is going to be: by-the-book or colorful?

Jimmy tries to say he’ll play it straight but he can’t even get through it because they both know it’s a lie. He is tired of trying to be what other people want him to be and he wants to finally be himself. He is finally totally honest with her and tells her that, yeah, he’ll be colorful, which is a problem for her because that is not her style when it comes to practicing law. Kim is totally down to scam expensive tequila off a douchebag in a bar but when it comes to her career, she isn’t morally flexible. She’s a by-the-book lawyer and she just can’t get on board with the idea of partnering with Jimmy, who she knows will break the rules if he’s doing things his way.

One of the most interesting things about this scene to me is that Kim still can’t define their relationship out loud. She can’t say that they are together, even though they very much are. She’s not fully committing to Jimmy in that way, and she won’t commit to a professional partnership either. She asks him why he needs her for this when he could just be a solo practitioner again and he says that he doesn’t need her, he wants her, to which Kim responds:

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GIF Source: TGON

That’s the closest she gets to saying out loud that they are in a relationship. Even though she loves Jimmy, there is something that is keeping her from committing to him in any real way. Part of her knows that their true selves are not entirely compatible, but she’s still trying to make it work.

We see where Mike’s $50K bribe from the Salamancas is going: a lovely home for Stacey and Kaylee, in a safe neighborhood with great schools. Stacey loves it, and Mike loves that she loves it, but he knows it’s gonna cost him. She knows it, too, and I think she does feel bad for taking so much money from Mike, but she does it anyway because he is offering and because it’s what she feels she has to do to feel safe. Stacey even calls him “Pop,” which I don’t think we’ve ever heard before. She usually just calls him “Mike” and I think at this point, Mike knows he’s being manipulated to some extent.

Fun fact: the real estate agent in this scene is the same agent who caught Marie stealing the spoon from the open house in episode 4×03 of Breaking Bad.

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Source: AMC

Jimmy is back in the Esteem (and honestly, I’m so happy that car is back) and Omar is doing him a solid by driving a U-Haul from Santa Fe to Jimmy’s nail salon abode so that he can have his damn cocobolo desk (which he bought from Davis and Main for $7K). Jimmy offers to pay him for his troubles, invites him for a drink or, at the very least, some cucumber water, but Omar is kind of done with Jimmy. Also, he has kids to get home to (which, like, ok…. Omar looks about fifteen, but ok).  Omar takes off back to Santa Fe and leaves Jimmy to set up his office, complete with stolen mug and pens from Davis and Main and his old answering machine. He records a message for his old/new practice and almost uses the version with the fake British accent but he chooses to be authentic instead. He records a message using his own voice and uses the name “Jimmy McGill” instead of “James M. McGill, Esq.” It’s a fresh start, and this time he wants to be himself.

Kim’s interview at Schweikart and Cokely goes incredibly well and we get some more backstory on Kim (which I am always starving for). Kim is a Midwestern girl, from a tiny town near the Kansas-Nebraska border. [And at the mere mention of the word Nebraska, the fandom goes crazy imagining a reunion between Kim and sad old Cinnabon Gene.] Kim left her tiny town because her prospects there were bleak—married to the owner of the gas station and working as a cashier at the Hinky Dinky (which is a real, actual name of a real, actual store). Kim Wexler had big dreams and she knew she had to get out of her tiny town to achieve them.

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GIF Source: AMC

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GIF Source: AMC

 

 

 

 

 

Kim totally nailed the interview and everyone knows it. It was pretty much just a formality anyway and Schweikart tells her that she’ll hear from them by the next day. She says goodbye to the other two partners, but when she shakes Schweikart’s hand she calls him “Howard” by mistake—a cringe-worthy moment for sure, but also a very telling slip of the tongue given the conversation she had with Jimmy about Schweikart being a lateral move.

Up on the rooftop parking lot, Kim smokes a cigarette and takes out the Wexler-McGill business card. She looks at it thoughtfully and even though she does not speak, we can tell she is coming to a decision. [Can I just say that Rhea Seehorn is amazing at acting without words and I adore her in this and every scene always?] Kim rips the business card in two, carefully separating the W and the M, and we don’t know what exactly it is that she’s decided, but it’s definitely something big.

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Source: AMC

Kim goes to visit Jimmy at the nail salon and we see that he’s been meeting with the two UNM film students—likely planning another commercial for his new practice. I can’t wait to see what over-the-top nonsense he comes up with this time. After they leave, Kim goes back into Jimmy’s office. This is the first time we’ve seen her in that space, and honestly she is too good for it and seems totally out of place. But Kim’s made up her mind about something and she has a plan to get them both out of there: she’s not going to take the S&C job; instead, she wants to work as a solo practitioner and share office space with Jimmy. “Solo practitioners, together,” she calls it, and Jimmy doesn’t know how to respond. She tells him to say yes, and the episode ends without any resolution.

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I think Kim’s “separate but together” plan is well intentioned but had huge potential for disaster. It’s also another example of her inability to fully commit to Jimmy. This is, as Mike would put it, a “half measure”: they would be working together, but not really. She’s not willing to fully partner with Jimmy, either professionally or personally, because she can’t fully trust him. She knows him and she loves him, but she’s already been lied to and been exposed to his shady and illegal methods of legal representation. She’s sort of stuck because she wants him to be happy, which for Jimmy means being his authentic self, but at the same time she knows that she can’t make it work with the real Jimmy McGill. This is especially true when it comes to her professional life. Personally, she has an easier time ignoring the questionable things that Jimmy does and she forgives him a lot of his trespasses, but when it comes to the law, she can’t sweep Jimmy’s misdeeds under the rug because doing so could ruin her career. It remains to be seen if the two of them will try to make Wexler and McGill work, but I think if they do, Kim is in for a very rude awakening. The days of Jimmy McGill, champion of the elderly, are over and will soon be replaced by the colorful criminal lawyer we all know and love. Saul Goodman isn’t here yet, but if Jimmy’s new wardrobe is any indication, he’s definitely on his way.

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