When Jimmy McGill looked at the business card he’d created last night during the “Inflatable” episode of BETTER CALL SAUL, didn’t it make you think that the name change to Saul Goodman was closer than we thought? After a season of squirming to fit in at a respected law firm, Jimmy called a spade a spade; actually he called himself a square peg, and the quest to make it into the round hole was over.
Inspired by a the sight of an inflatable marketing tool dressed in colorful clothes with a stupid grin on its face, dancing happily above a retail business, Jimmy took the kind of painstaking care to create a way out of Davis & Main as if he were working hard on a big case. In fact, he’s supposed to be working like that on the Sandpiper litigation but that seems to have ceased.
In the video clip posted below, Jimmy learns from his trusted assistant Omar that if he quits the firm, he won’t get to keep his signing bonus, which other than his cocobolo wood desk is all he wants to take with him when he blows out of there to return to a legal practice among the water heater and supplies in the back room of the nail parlor in Albuquerque. How can he get fired without losing it? By being so annoying and bothersome that Clifford Main can’t wait to say goodbye.
Suits, shirts, ties and shoes were purchased in bright colors, and worn with pride, and the same stupid grin as the inflatable man, to meetings where the rest of the attorneys were in their typical conservative garb. Toilets weren’t flushed in the restroom to save water, despite the nasty build-up of more than urine. Instead of a guitar to play in his office, Jimmy purchased and practice on bagpipes and on, and on. When Cliff waved the white flag and admitted that McGill had pushed him to the limit, he asked what he’d ever done to deserve that kind of treatment. It was then that Jimmy admitted he was a square peg, and that Cliff was nothing but a great guy.
McGill’s dream was to go into business with his beloved Kim Wexler, and be his true self. He got a mock-up of a business card with the initials of their surnames juxtaposed in an artful way. Wexler & McGill was proposed to Kim as a way to get them out from under the oppressive regimes at their law firms, and it included the pay-off of her student loan debt from the signing bonus. Nonetheless, it was a tough sell to Kim who was flattered and excited to think of the opportunity to join Schweikart and Cokely, until Jimmy’s words of warning rang in her ear at the end of the interview. She mistakenly called Rich Schweikart, “Howard” as she thanked him for his generous words and the promise of a quick decision by the partners.
Jimmy told Kim that Schweikart and Howard Hamlin were one and the same, as were all managing partners of those kind of firms. Kick in The Who, “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss,” lyrics. Kim’s interview demonstrated again what a great season of scenes Rhea Seahorn is having. Her vulnerability borders on an expectation that horrible things will always occur, leaving her breathless when her worth as a professional is reinforced.
We learned about her childhood in a tiny town where her ambition was to have “more” as she told the partners at Schweikart and Cokely, because her fate was to marry a nice blue collar guy and work at the local grocery store as a clerk. When she walked to her car, it didn’t take her more than a half-cigarette moment to realize that while Jimmy’s pitch about Wexler & McGill was unrealistic because Jimmy wants to be his true self, “colorful” as Kim called it (and she’d yet to know about the suits), being with him without being responsible for him was the half-way measure she could accept.
Kim’s not a risk-taking kind of lady when it comes to more than having fun. She doesn’t want complications and enjoys living without worrying about dire consequences. She’s a one-man woman and loves Jimmy. She assured him that she wants to be with him and that he has her hook, line and sinker in a personal context, but that to be with him professionally it would have to be the equivalent of roommates. They’ll share expenses of an office, equipment, assistants, but as separate legal practices. It was the best she could do, and while she was delighted to realize she wanted to be free, and that Jimmy believed in her ability to do it, McGill was crushed.
She pitched the concept to him as he sat in front of the cocobolo desk shoved in that storage-equipment room at the nail parlor, which had appalled Omar when he helped Jimmy move in. The young assistant only dreamed of having the Mercedes, the apartment and all the perks of that kind of life. When asked to stay for a drink to celebrate, Omar informed his former boss that he had to go home to his kids. Yes, a real family life of a nine-to-five kind of guy who longed for what Jimmy was tossing out the window.
You had to wonder if Kim’s concept would truly come to pass, because Jimmy had another taste of his true talent as a lawyer when he accompanied Mike to the district attorney’s office to recant the story about the gun being Tuco’s. It was a classic Saul Goodman moment, including him instructing his client to get up and walk out of the office when he refused to identify the owner of the gun, if it wasn’t Tuco’s.
Mike’s still not set on how to deal with getting the $50,000 yet not do the time in jail. He better do it soon, because daughter-in-law Stacey found a house in a safe neighborhood that’s way beyond Mike’s means as a parking lot attendant. He won’t hear of her and his granddaughter having anything but what they want. We left Mike staking out the restaurant where the Salamanca family does business.
We got a great scene of the early Jimmy McGill days as a bad kid who stole from his father’s store, and it was precisely what we’ve come to know about Jimmy. He’s not bad to the bone, but can’t help himself. As a youngster he knew a grifter when he saw one, and that was who was standing in front of his father begging for $5 to get him home after a string of catastrophes befell him and his automobile.
Jimmy told his dad to refuse to help, seeing through the ruse of the scam artist. When his dad refused to believe him, and left Jimmy alone with the guy and the register, Jimmy’s exasperation got the best of him. He pocketed $8 the man handed him for two cartons of cigarettes as the con man fled before Mr. McGill returned to hand him free spark plugs to see if they’d fix his car.
Chuck was nowhere to be found in the episode, and we learned nothing more about the poor nursing home victims of the Sandpiper scam. Think Kim’s ready to go back to days and weeks on the phone to bag new clients again, rather than take the easy way at the Schweikart firm? After all, it’s only two years until she’s a partner.
AMC airs BETTER CALL SAUL Monday nights at 10 p.m. ET/PT Image credit: AMC, used with permission