Better Call Saul: Season 2, Episode 7 – Inflatable Review

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★★★★

It goes without saying that there are spoilers in this review, so don't end up looking like one of Slippin' Jimmy's marks.

Big choices are made this episode, with both Jimmy and Kim deciding – or at least trying to decide – about their respective futures. But before that, we flash back to the 1970s and see a young Jimmy "at work" in his father's convenience store. If you recall Chuck's anecdote about the shop and what Jimmy did to it, you'll know what to expect. While his father (Raphael Sbarge) listens to a sob story from a man who claims he has a sick son, no money and a broken-down car, Jimmy tries to convince his pop that this is just another con man. And indeed, when his father foolishly agrees to give the man cash and heads into the back to find spark plugs for the car, Jimmy lets on to the guy that he's got his number. The grifter isn't worried, calmly buying cigarettes with a roll of dollar bills. Oblivious, Jimmy's dad returns and runs out of the store to try to help the guy, and young McGill takes the opportunity to steal money from the till.

After the credits, we're back in the show's early 2000s present day and Jimmy's sat doodling in a courthouse corridor when he's interrupted by Mike. They're there for Mike to meet with Assistant District Attorney Ericsen (Julie Pearl) so he can change his story about the gun in the Tuco incident, as ordered by Tio Salamanca. The ADA is not convinced Mike is simply being a "good citizen" (Jimmy's words) and when she asks if he's been threatened or paid off, Jimmy terminates the meeting. At the lift, Jimmy tries to share his own story about Tuco and the Salamanca clan, but Mike's not interested. And he rebuffs Jimmy's offer to forego charging for the meeting.

After a quick phone call to Kim so we can remember that she's getting an offer from another law firm and considering leaving HHM, Jimmy returns to Davis & Main and begins packing his own parachute. He summons Omar and starts dictating a letter of resignation until his shocked assistant points out that he won't be able to keep his big signing bonus if he leaves before a year. A quick check of the contract and Jimmy is backpedalling hard on the resignation idea. But while he looks resigned to his fate, you wonder how long that will last.

Not long, it turns out! As he's driving to Albuquerque, he spots something that catches his attention: a flappy, inflatable figure outside a car lot and oil check centre. There's a reflection in the window and reflection on Jimmy’s face as he's lost in thought. Then a big smile crosses it. He's up to something. Cue a fantastic montage as he puts his new plan into action. Not only has he bought eye-troubling new suits and ties, but he's intent on causing the sort of trouble for Davis & Main that will get him fired. So he brings a noisy juicer into the break room, which explodes in magnificently splattery fashion, clogs the toilet in the main washroom (yuck), tries to advise the nighttime cleaner (who, in a nice touch, doesn't respond to Jimmy's Spanish instructions because he's from Michigan) and, for the last straw buys a set of bagpipes from a pawn shop and starts practicing in his office.

Before too long, Clifford Main summons him and informs him that he has to leave. And that he knows exactly what Jimmy has been up to. Our hero pleads ignorance, but they both realise what this is. He'll hold on to the bonus, but offers to pay for the swanky desk he asked for if he can keep it. "For what it's worth, I think you're a good guy," Jimmy tells Cliff. "For what it's worth, I think you're an asshole," comes the tired reply. On his way out of the office, Jimmy makes a point of snatching Erin's soda can and ditching it in the wrong bin, much to her horror.

Kim, meanwhile, is still pondering her own, much more straightforward exit from HHM. But she's interrupted writing her resignation letter by Jimmy, who has a proposition. He wants her to join him in the law firm of Wexler McGill instead of taking the potential job with Schweikart. She'll be a partner straight away and Jimmy's bonus from Davis & Main would pay off her law school debts just as Rick Schweikart had promised he'd do. She's tempted, but cautious – how would they get clients? And, more importantly, what sort of lawyer would Jimmy be, given free reign? He tries to say he'll be on the straight and narrow, but he can't keep that up in the face of the woman he loves. He has to be himself, he says. But Kim's not convinced that can work, and while she pledges that she's still with him romantically, she doesn't want him as a law partner.

Mike and his daughter-in-law Stacey are viewing a new house that she loves. It's expensive, but perfect. Mike promises her that she'll get it no matter what he has to do. This can't be good.

Jimmy arrives at the nail salon where his office is located in the back, and is followed by a U-Haul truck driven by Omar. It's carrying his expensive desk, which they carefully maneuver into the cramped rear space. Omar refuses to take any money for helping Jimmy move his things, and turns down the offer of a drink as he's got to get back to his kids. In the office, Jimmy starts setting things up, including his old angle poise lamp, which looks like Luxo from Pixar's logo contracted a wasting disease and is now on its way out. Recording his outgoing answering machine message, he's tempted to use his old standby of the fake Irish secretary, but opts to do it himself. A new leaf?

The same night, Mike drives to a lot opposite from the cafe/ice cream parlour where he met Tio Salamanca. Looks like he might have more business with the man, especially with that pricey house to afford. He doesn't look happy (but then, when does he, except around his family?), but that's all we see of him, because the scene switches to the next morning and Kim meeting with Schweikart and his team. She charms them, and aside from one worrying moment when she calls Rick "Howard", things go well. They'll be in touch soon. Yet when she reaches the rooftop parking lot, Kim seems unsure. She lights up a cigarette and ponders the Wexler-McGill business card Jimmy had made up to convince her to go into business with him. She tears it in two, which makes you think she's definitely against the idea, but then holds the two pieces up separately. What's on her mind?

We don't have to wait long to find that out, as she goes to see Jimmy at his tiny office. After he sees the two video students who helped him shoot the Sandpiper claim ad out, she takes a seat. Turns out she has a proposal for him: what if they set up their own firms in the same office? Together, but separate, so he can do his thing and she doesn't have to worry about being his legal partner. Jimmy's a little stunned, but Kim asks him to say yes. But again, we'll have to wait for his answer as the episode ends before he says a word...

Though you could argue the show taking us to Jimmy's childhood undermines Chuck talking about those days a couple of episodes ago under the show-don't-tell rule, it still works to help shade in more about Jimmy, such as the fact that he could spot a con a mile away from a young age. Otherwise, Inflatable is an amusing hour that moves the story onwards, and gives us more Jimmy and Kim. It's easy to wonder whether the two lovebirds setting up offices together (but separate) will end up splitting them apart and sending Jimmy further on the path down to Saul Goodman, but that's for another episode.

The Montage Of Annoyance, which is what we're calling Jimmy's successful attempt to get fired from a job he hates, is the definite highlight, a comic treat that uses Bob Odenkirk to full potential and lets Ed Begley Jr dip into that well of repressed, befuddled authoritarian types he does so well. And it also shows that Jimmy's learning further towards Saul in his choice of dress – the man he becomes is never exactly went for subtlety in his wardrobe. With a Season Three confirmed, we'll be seeing a longer path than even the producers originally had in mind, but if it stays as entertaining as this, we're happy for them to take their time.