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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Better Call Saul Alignment Check: Episode 7, “Inflatable” BCS_207-20150923-UC_0353.JPG

BCS_207-20150923-UC_0353.JPG 
Ursula Coyote/Sony Pictures Television/AMC  

Finally, some of the Saul swagger we’ve been waiting for. Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, and the rest of the Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul writing #squad have always had a way with the montage, and “Inflatable” contains one of the best examples from either show. Inspired by the title object, a flailing inflatable tube man, Jimmy McGill starts dancing—wearing brightly colored suits, flashy ties, playing the bagpipes in the office, purchasing an expensive (and loud) juicer. It’s a hint at the walking spectacle that is, inevitably, the final form of Saul Goodman. But Jimmy actually undertakes this behavior with another purpose: getting fired from HHM without cause, in order to keep his bonus and return to solo practice with some spending money.
It’s one of Better Call Saul’s defter negotiations around its status as a prequel: rooting the outre persona Jimmy will become in his struggle to be a good, if independent, person. There’s the satisfaction of seeing Jimmy wear a pink suit, but also recognizing him as a complex character when, after the job is done, he puts it back in the closet. Jimmy’s actions are a manifestation of the same problem he faces in the episode’s cold-open flashback, presenting an encounter with a grifter that could have come straight out of one of Mad Men’s clunkier Don flashbacks. Is Jimmy going to be a wolf or a sheep, the grifter asks. Jimmy’s answer is always “both,” but the balance is unsustainable.
Or it would be, at least, without Kim Wexler. With his bonus (and desk) in hand, Jimmy pitches Kim on going into business together, becoming partners in law in addition to life. It’s a development that would read as unbelievably corny if it also wasn’t exactly the kind of thing Jimmy would do. And where Jimmy is, in some sense, predictable, Kim finally admits to herself that her boyfriend is going to continue to be himself. She asks him “What kind of lawyer are you going to be?” but the answer has always been obvious. So when she comes to him with a new proposal—practice law solo, but in the same facilities, and with the other around as emotional support—it seems too good to be true. With just a couple of episodes left in the season, it almost certainly is.
Alignment: Chaotic Neutral

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