Reviews

Better Call Saul: Season 2, Episode 7 - "Inflatable"

Sean Fennell

Jimmy transforms himself from sheep to wolf in the most hilarious way possible in "Inflatable".


Better Call Saul

Airtime: Mondays, 10pm
Cast: Bob Odenkirk, Jonathon Banks, Rhea Seehorn
Subtitle: Season 2, Episode 7 - "Inflatable"
Network: AMC
Air Date: 2016-03-28
Amazon

Perhaps it has something to do with all the hoopla surrounding Batman v. Superman but this week’s opening scene of Better Call Saul, which shows young Jimmy's (Bob Odenkirk) first interaction with the grifter life, had me thinking about our favorite masked vigilante. Better Call Saul, above all else, is an origin story, but tonight we got our closest look at Saul's origin moment. Just as the Wayne parents' murderer begins Batman's career, so does this con man, with his talk of sheep and wolves, irrevocably alter the path of this young boy from Cicero, Illinois. Jimmy's determined to become the wolf, a character trait continues to shape his life long after that day in the convenience store and, as we know, long into the future.

For now, though, James M. McGill Esq. is still toiling away at Davis & Main, seeming quite sheep-like in his obedience. This doesn't last long, especially after he learns that if he quits, which we learn he intends to do, he’ll not be able to hold on to his lofty signing bonus. Here's where Jimmy enacts a plan that can only be deemed, "The Costanza".

"The Costanza" is a strategy enacted by, who else, George Costanza (Jason Alexander) in the episode "The Millennium" from the eighth season Seinfeld in which George does his best to get fired from The Yankees in an attempt to score a new job with the Mets. Where George turned to defacing a World Series trophy and streaking through Yankee stadium, Jimmy does his best to undercut any kind of credibility he had with Davis & Main with a series of increasing absurd and beautifully comedic acts of self-deprecation.

First, he swaps his usual professional attire for a series of gaudy suits -- the kind that come to characterize Saul Goodman -- before moving on the more overt attempts at self-sabotage, which include a juicer accident, a racially insensitive vacuum demonstration, a severe lack of flushing, and finally some novice bag-piping before he finally gets his wish.

This scene is remarkable for a number of reasons. It is not only the perfect opportunity for Odenkirk to tap his vast reservoir of comedic talent, but is also a chance for the editing room at Better Call Saul to go all out. The fast-paced cutting, with picture-in-picture reminiscent of this season’s Fargo, matches perfectly with the abundantly funky score courtesy of R&B Motown legend Dennis Coffey, making for one of the most enjoyable sequences of the show's run.

Clifford Main (Ed Begley, Jr.) doesn't, for a second, feign to not know what’s been going on but concedes to Jimmy that he’s gotten to the point where his desire to have Jimmy gone far outweighs any need to get back the signing bonus. In a moment of honesty, Jimmy admits that he did, in fact, try to make it work, but always felt like a "square peg" and realized that it was best to move on.

Move on to what? Well, we know what he eventually does, but before he becomes Saul Goodman, he proposes to Kim (Rhea Seehorn) something entirely different. Wexler, having received a job offer last episode, is eagerly awaiting the official offer sheet while she edits he letter of resignation to HHM. That is, until Jimmy shows up with a different plan, one that has her leaving HHM but, instead of moving on to work for Rick Schweikart (Dennis Boutsikaris), joining forces with him to create the firm of Wexler McGill.

Your heart aches for Jimmy when, after giving his big speech and handing her the business card he had mocked up, Kim's forced to ask how he plans on playing it. That is: will he be Slippin' Jimmy or James M. McGill. Jimmy begins to go into his good Boy Scout speech before cutting himself short and admitting that if he does this new venture, he must be him and not the man others want him to be. It's refreshing to see Jimmy be not only honest with himself but with Kim about how silly and stifling it is for him to pretend to be straitlaced. It’s also not surprising that Kim can’t really commit to such a life, especially when Schweikart is offering her so much opportunity. "You've got me, just not as a law partner," Kim says in a statement that's both endearing and heart-wrenching.

Meanwhile, Mike's still cleaning up all the loose ends from the Salamanca ordeal -- loose ends we know he will not be done with for some time. With Jimmy’s help, he takes the gun charge, much to the chagrin of the prosecution, and uses the money from the deal to buy his daughter-in-law a new house in a safe neighborhood. The thing is, is any neighborhood safe now that the Salamancas clearly know about Mike's one weakness, his family? Mike seems to know that the answer is no, and the look on his face as he hugs his elated daughter shows that he questions whether the new house is worth it if it came at the cost of his own peace of mind and possibly their safety.

"Inflatable" ends with a bit of twist, as Kim, who has a successful meeting with Schweikart and is expecting an offer sheet in the coming days, comes to Jimmy with a counter-proposal to his previous offer. She too believes that maybe the best way to become a successful lawyer will be for her to strike out on her own, but she knows that their partnership would never work because their very different views on professional morality. She also doesn’t want to go at it alone, so she suggests that instead of Wexler McGill they become Wexler and McGill, two separate law offices that share the same building and, in turn, much of their lives.

Jimmy's shocked and delighted by her plan, but also a little unsure of how to feel. Like a married couple who sleep in separate beds, this arrangement seems almost half-baked. It’s almost as if Kim's scared to commit fully to Jimmy but can’t deny that being his professional partner sounds desirable. The episode ends before Jimmy makes his decision but, despite his misgivings, it seems unlikely he'll say anything but an emphatic yes; I mean, this is Rhea Seehorn we're talking about. How this will play out is another story. One thing's certain, though, and that’s that Jimmy has decided to fully commit to the grifter's advice and give up his life as a corporate sheep to become a full-time wolf. That alone makes "Inflatable" one of the most satisfying episodes of the season.

9
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