Ever since Better Call Saul started four seasons ago there has been this air of inevitability hanging over the show like a dark cloud. At the early stages of watching, when I had come to the conclusion that I really like Jimmy McGill, I thought that cloud was the shadow of Saul Goodman. The brilliance of Better Call Saul isn’t the Breaking Bad easter eggs it’s that we know the overall conclusion, Jimmy becomes Saul, yet we’re sitting here wishing for a different outcome. The writing and acting is on such a different level that we can believe that the future can be re-written despite the whispers of our heart telling us otherwise. There’s no way to prevent what’s to come but we love Jimmy McGill. His impending transformation is heart-wrenching, but still, the cloud seems larger than that. The shadow that it casts seems to reach out not just to Jimmy but to a number of other characters. The obvious choice is Jimmy’s brother Chuck who killed himself at the end of last season with Jimmy’s actions being the foundation of that decision. There’s Howard, head of a massive law firm, who is now slowly losing his mind because of a guilt and shame that Jimmy put directly on his shoulders. Then there’s Kim Wexler and that’s where the game changes a bit.
I’ve been writing Better Call Saul reviews for over three seasons now, and if you go back to some of my earlier pieces you’ll see that I said that Kim Wexler will be the shows largest casualty and I still believe that… to a degree. Yes, seeing the Breaking Bad timeline there is hope that Jimmy gave Francesca Kim’s card but we know we’re just lying to ourselves. That’s an audience who has fallen in love with a character, who has been superbly written and acted by the masterful Rhea Seehorn, trying to ignore the obvious. Last night’s episode, “Something Stupid”, kind of enhanced my thinking on Kim’s outcome. I still believe that she’ll be the show’s greatest casualty but more importantly, I believe she’ll be the show’s greatest tragedy.
With Better Call Saul we’re watching the transformation of Jimmy McGill to Saul Goodman, that’s something we’ve been expecting since word came out that this “spin-off” was happening. What we didn’t anticipate was that that transformation would (a) hurt so badly and (b) cost so much. Much like Walter White before him, Jimmy McGill has always had some Saul Goodman in him, and much like Walter he just needed an outlet to come to the light. Just a little nudge in the wrong direction. As painful as it is, Jimmy McGill is Saul Goodman at his core. We’ve known that since the days of Slippin’ Jimmy sprinkled in with some old lady shaming and illegal address changing, but we’ve tried to ignore that. Again, this is the hope that maybe the Breaking Bad timeline can be prevented and there can be an alternate universe where Jimmy McGill can right his ship. Sadly, that’s not how storytelling works, but more importantly, the transformation is smoke and mirrors. We know it’s coming, what we don’t know is what it’ll cost Kim.
Kim Wexler is a phenomenal character who is guilty of one thing… love. She loves Jimmy despite all of his setbacks and problems. I can’t explain it, and I wonder if Kim could either, but she has found something in Jimmy that makes her feel complete. Maybe it’s the air of danger or maybe it’s because Jimmy actually does care about her as a person, it doesn’t matter, Kim has a soft spot for Jimmy and it’s leading to her downfall.
“Something Stupid” was the first time that made it appear that Kim was fed up with Jimmy’s behavior. When she finds out that he’s been selling burner phones on the side there is a deep sense of betrayal for her. She has spent the majority of this season believing that Jimmy is turning it around. Getting suspended was a foolish thing but it happened because he was looking out for her. That’s something you can kind of get over because Jimmy’s intentions were pure. To a degree, that’s what Kim loves about him. This though, this Slippin’ Jimmy type stuff, this is the stuff Chuck worried about and Kim is starting to see that maybe, just maybe, that Jimmy does these types of things because this is who he is. The scene plays heavy, like an almost break-up, as Kim quickly dismisses Jimmy from her office as she does what seems like one last favor in defending Huell.
I think Jimmy McGill’s greatest scam when it’s all said and done, is how he’s convinced Kim to follow him so blindly. Not that this relationship is a scam, he genuinely loves her, but there is no denying that he’s jealous. Jimmy still lives in a world that he believes is shortchanging him. That’s why he keeps doing things like selling burner phones to criminals. He feels entitled to get his and damn the cost to anyone else. When Kim tells him that Huell will see jail time she can’t even rely on him to back her play in telling Huell not to run. As she’s driving away from the courthouse she knows that Jimmy is going to be Jimmy and try to protect his friend. That’s who Jimmy McGill is. Loyal. I have no idea what all the stationary and markers are for, but I do know one thing, Kim is the reason why the episode is titled “Something Stupid”.
In an act that can only be described as an attempt to protect Jimmy, Kim comes up with a plan on how to save Huell. We don’t know what that plan is but based on her relationship with Jimmy we know that it’s something dicey. We’ve seen Kim con before, and I think she’s done it to dance on the “wild side”, but this is something different. This isn’t a con. Kim doesn’t trust Jimmy to make a rational decision and thinks that his impulsiveness will cost him everything. She doesn’t want to see that happen because, yes, she loves him. So in order to protect Jimmy, she’s willing to do something that will cost her everything. There is very little doubt that this stunt is going to backfire on Kim and, as the case always is, Jimmy will walk away undamaged. What does he have to lose at this point? He’s a month away from practicing law again. Kim, on the other hand, is a partner at a big firm and has been killing it with Mesa Verde. This little stunt of helping someone she hardly knows jump bail comes with a cost that is too steep, and she’s blinded by her love for a man who at his core is just selfish.
This shadow that looms over the show like a monster in the closet waiting for the lights to turn out isn’t for Jimmy McGill. This monster, Saul Goodman, is here for Kim Wexler. Kim, a character who is diligent, smart, prepared, and honestly wants to do the right thing with her life is about to be the sacrifice that Saul Goodman needs to come to the light. When this plan eventually blows up in Kim’s face it will be the defining moment of Jimmy McGill because I believe he’ll turn his back on her. His jealousy will blame her for his suspension. I can hear him saying “I did it for you and what did I get”. I can hear him saying he never asked her to help with Huell, that he had it all under control. I can see him saying she’s just like Chuck never having any faith in him and his ability to do right. Jimmy McGill will shift the blame, as he always does, on to the one person who has always had his back and the tragedy will be complete.
I used to believe that the loss of Chuck was going to be what pushed Jimmy into the red, but I was wrong. Jimmy may not be able to help himself from shifting the blame or being who he is and I believe that he will resent himself for what he does to Kim. So much so that he’ll “kill off” Jimmy McGill to become Saul Goodman because he won’t be able to stand the person he was. Saul Goodman has no guilt or conscience. Better to leave that behind so you don’t have to dwell on the destruction you leave in your wake.
Some other quick thoughts before I leave you-
- Mike is totally going to have to kill this Kai guy, right? It’s going to test his character and resolve but I’ve got a feeling that Kai is going to be too much of a liability for this operation. Mike has struggled with his emotions this season and I think he was hoping that this job would help clear his head a bit. Not so much.
- Gus continues to show us how much of a monster he is and Giancarlo Esposito’s performance is just as delicious as Gus’s home cooked meals. I love seeing him have the ability to get Hector over this hump in his road to recovery and decided no. He is delighted with the idea of Hector being a prisoner in his own body. It’s awful and captivating at the same time.
- I just want to sing the praises of Rhea Seehorn again. What she has done with the Kim Wexler character has been tremendous and if she doesn’t see an Emmy nomination for her work next year I’m going to riot.
- Sticking with the acting, Bob Odenkirk was born to play this part and excels in each episode. Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman doesn’t exist without him and he deserves so much praise.
- How cool was it to see the skeleton of the superlab this week? I love how this show is handling the passage of time.
- That opening was gorgeous and really set the tone of the quiet divide that is happening between Kim and Jimmy. Especially for Jimmy as he feels more and more isolated with Kim’s success. To the point where he goes to sleep and it’s like she’s not even there for him anymore. Tragic stuff that was shot and presented beautifully.
There you have it Geeklings, another fantastic episode of Better Call Saul and we only have three left before the season ends. What did you guys think? Is Kim doomed? What plan has she come up with? Will Jimmy go to bat for her? Is Gus the monster you thought he was? Sound off in the comments. If you’d like to talk more Saul with yours truly you can find me on the Twitter @iamgeek32. I’ll be back next week with an all-new set of columns, just remember… it’s all good man.
Images from AMC
Kevin Carey is an
unapologetic geek who strongly
believes his mind works much like an episode of
Community. Has a strong love for pop culture that focuses on
TV, comics, movies,
and books. Kevin also enjoys writing fiction and has self published a short
Amazon. While awaiting his Hogwarts acceptance letter, Kevin lives on
Long Island with his cat and extensive
Pop Vinyl collection. You can find him here on Fan Fest, at his blog I Am Geek, or the I Am Geek Podcast spreading geekiness to all.