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Better Call Saul – Inflatable Review

"An unfortunate return to form."

When I mentioned last week that placing the focus back on Jimmy would bring back every problem I had with his story, I didn’t expect the result to be as awful as “Inflatable.” The episode finally brought an end to Jimmy’s time at Davis & Main, but by continuing to mischaracterize Jimmy, it served as a strong reminder that Season 2 was never part of the plan.

The beginning of “Inflatable” is very telling of this issue. The episode starts off with a young Jimmy working at his father’s corner store, later advising his pop to not give money to a man who was probably conning him. After Jimmy’s father gives him money and goes to find spark plugs to start the man’s car, the man reveals to Jimmy that he had his own money all along. Before he leaves, he gives Jimmy this advice: “There are wolves and sheep in this world…Figure out which one you’re gonna be.” Thinking on the man’s words, Jimmy takes money from his father’s cash register. When the scene first began, I immediately thought we were getting the complete version of what Chuck had relayed to Kim in “Rebecca.” I thought it would be interesting if Jimmy was conned into taking his father’s money in dribs and drabs, as Chuck having such a valid reason to distrust Jimmy undermined what I found compelling about Season 1. However, Chuck’s story about Jimmy wasn’t complicated very much by this scene. All we learned was that Jimmy decided that he didn’t want to be a sheep by taking like the rest of the “wolves,” which isn’t that different from our understanding of the character from the rest of Season 2. As a result, just like when Chuck told Kim about Jimmy’s past, this scene felt like it would have been better served in Season 1 (if it had to be put in at all).

- Better Call Saul _ Season 2, Episode 7 - Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/ Sony Pictures Television/ AMC
Better Call Saul Season 2, Episode 7 – Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/ Sony Pictures Television/ AMC

The spotlight on Jimmy’s problem fed into my issue with what could have been a very cool scene: Jimmy taking the advice of a wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube man. As I’ve said before, I don’t believe that the Jimmy who can’t play by the rules was really present in Season 1, and the way this season has prolonged firing Jimmy from Davis & Main has been unbearable. The way the series used Bill in “Rebecca” and Omar in this episode to emphasize how sweet of a deal Jimmy got with the Davis & Main job didn’t make him change, or even consider changing, his perception on his current situation. Instead, it was used as yet another way of showing that his brain just doesn’t work on the paint-by-numbers wavelength. Not only that, but by having him try to quit at the beginning of the episode, the symbolism of him destroying the car’s cup holder so he could fit Kim’s cup into it wasn’t supported. All of this led to the sequence of him performing multiple childish offences being incredibly tiresome. After six episodes of him not enjoying his position at Davis & Main, I don’t know why anyone thought an almost four minute sequence of him trying to get himself fired with increasingly stupid acts would be interesting. The worst part of this whole sequence is how the show acknowledges what it’s doing, as if that automatically makes Season 2’s questionable choices seem interesting. “You never gave this a chance. Why?” Cliff asks, to which Jimmy responds, “I tried to make it work…really, I did. I’m just a square peg.” Jimmy is just so troubled, you guys.

I’ve probably said all I need to say about Jimmy’s mischaracterization in Better Call Saul: Season 2, but it was so surprising to hear Jimmy’s reason for why he wants to start his own business. “Every time I try to do things someone else’s way, it blows up in my face. That’s what happened at Davis & Main,” he says, which is perhaps one of the most incorrect things he has said all season. The “blow[ing] up” he’s referring to happened because he almost brought the commercial over to Cliff’s office, then decided against it, just ‘cause. I’m sure others find the fact that he can’t recognize the error of his ways compelling, but the show is underselling his character by making him seem so stupid, especially because I don’t understand where this characterization came from. The fact that Jimmy wasn’t upfront with Kim about what kind of lawyer he wants to be also makes it seem like he doesn’t really care about her, as it would mean trouble for her if she partnered with him and he continued playing fast and loose with the law.

- Better Call Saul _ Season 2, Episode 7 - Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/ Sony Pictures Television/ AMC
Better Call Saul Season 2, Episode 7 – Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/ Sony Pictures Television/ AMC

On the other side of things, Mike’s storyline is back to plodding along. After picking things up last week, keeping the focus on Jimmy in “Inflatable” meant Mike was relegated to being the cute grandfather/father-in-law who loves his granddaughter/daughter-in-law, which is becoming a little overdone. He loves his family and will buy them anything and everything, we get it. Speaking of which, I was surprised that Mike was willing to splurge on the apartment Stacey picked out. Tuco’s prosecutors already suspect that Mike was threatened or paid off, and while an apartment isn’t as obvious as Daniel Wormald’s gaudy Hummer, it’s still a purchase they’re unlikely to overlook.

One aspect of the episode that I did enjoy was the fact that Omar is still a part of Jimmy’s life. When Jimmy tried to quit Davis & Main toward the beginning of “Inflatable,” I thought Omar earnestly asking him, “You like it here, right?” could indicate there was a reason Omar wanted Jimmy around (beyond having someone he liked in the office). As I’m interested in seeing Omar get wrapped up in Jimmy’s problems, I thought it would be cool if Jimmy was Omar’s best hope for advancing his career after making some professional mistake he had made. Obviously, this is not the case, but I’m glad him helping Jimmy move back into his old office means he could make more substantial appearances in the future.

Better Call Saul followed last week’s entertaining episode with a representation of everything that’s wrong with Season 2. I suppose it’s a good thing that Jimmy is finally out of Davis & Main, but the drawn out process it took to achieve this, especially during this episode, wasn’t worth the screen time. One can only hope Season 3 serves as a hard reset for the series, as it’s frustrating to see a show I enjoyed so much during Season 1 suffer because of poor planning.

- Better Call Saul _ Season 2, Episode 7 - Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/ Sony Pictures Television/ AMC
Better Call Saul Season 2, Episode 7 – Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/ Sony Pictures Television/ AMC

Chicago Sunroofs

  • By Jimmy not being “upfront,” I mean he didn’t offer Kim this information without her prompting him.
  • The broom moving around between young Jimmy’s legs while he was reading Playboy was awesome.
  • I have a big soft spot for anyone who appeared on The Guardian, so having Raphael Sbarge play Mr. McGill was a nice treat.
  • More than Jimmy not flushing the toilet at work, I almost lost it when he tried to convince a cleaner that moving a vacuum cleaner backward made the process more efficient. Just stop, Better Call Saul.
  • Meta-textually, I read Jimmy saying “I’ve been trying to be the person someone else wants me to be for…I don’t know how long. I mean, first it was Chuck, then it was you [Kim]” as a reference on the focus of Season 1 and Season 2, respectively. I’ve never been a fan of the way they positioned Kim as the thing Jimmy needed to lose before becoming Saul Goodman, so it was nice for Better Call Saul to signal that it was going to depart from this.
  • Omar has kids!
  • Even though Kim did it in the best way possible, it’s got to hurt that she doesn’t want to partner with him, but she’s willing to have a separate practice under the same roof as him.
Rating
3.5
Pros
  • Omar is still a part of Jimmy's life
  • Jimmy finally getting fired
Cons
  • The repetitive message of the opening scene
  • Overemphasis on Jimmy's issue
  • Mike starting to be a broken record of familial love
  • Jimmy's mischaracterization

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