Better Call Saul Final Episode Guide: Fun And Games
Saying Goodbye to Kim — And Jimmy
The closer that Better Call Saul came to the end of its run, the more I have feared for the life of Kim Wexler. As I said when I first began writing my reviews of the final season in April, I made it clear that it wasn’t what happened to any of the characters we already knew — despite the best efforts of Gilligan to make us forget it, we all know that many of their fates are sealed — but what would happen to all the characters that were in Jimmy’s orbit before he became Saul Goodman.
I confess that the deaths of Nacho Varga and ultimately Lalo Salmanaca did not come as much of a shock (though given what I now remember from the introduction to Saul Goodman, maybe I shouldn’t have been.) That said when Howard Hamlin met his end solely because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time — immediately after Jimmy and Kim had finished destroying his reputation — it was one of the most stunning moments I’d seen on this entire series since — well, let’s be honest Nacho killed himself a few months ago. (I’ll be getting to that in a bit)
But the closer we got to the end, the more truly terrified I began to feel about what would happen to Kim. It’s not just because Rhea Seehorn has infused Kim with such heart and dignity that even when she does horrible things, you find yourself admiring her (and I’m still pissed that she only received her first Emmy nomination last week) Part of it comes from the flashbacks we’ve seen of her, revealing that she has come from a far worse background then Jimmy did and makes the duality of her nature — wanting to use her legal skills to do go, but constantly being drawn into the orbit of her darker side — as sympathetic as we have been to Jimmy at times. The more we come to know her; we know that Jimmy McGill and Kim Wexler are true and utter soulmates. And the reason that becomes more and more horrifying is because we’ve seen Jimmy’s future — and Kim isn’t in it. Even if Breaking Bad was a less bloody series, we’d know there were few good outcomes her. When Kim and Jimmy got married way back in Season 5, it was honestly the most quietly frightening thing I’d ever seen. ’Til death do you part’ took on a whole new meaning.
Well, we now know at least part of Kim Wexler’s fate, and it wasn’t death but it was just as devastating as all the characters we’ve seen die watching both Breaking Bad and Saul over the last fifteen years. The series opening with a silent teaser of the very next day after everything from ‘Point and Shoot’ happened. Saul went back to work; Kim went on trying cases, and Mike and his crew finished cleaning up their condo. They came back and home and Jimmy, perhaps trying to convince himself as much as he was Kim said: “Maybe some day it’ll be like it never happened.”
Most of the episode that followed didn’t have anything to do with Kim or Jimmy (I’m going to get to that briefly) but after a few weeks passed, we saw the two of them attending Howard’s memorial. “Twenty minutes. We can get through twenty minutes of anything,” Jimmy said. It turned out they couldn’t/
All the attorneys we’ve seen over the years were there. We learned the inevitable fact that Hamlin, Hamlin and McGill was dissolving — inevitable fallout of Jimmy’s path to Saul Goodman. Then the two of them went to talk with Howard’s wife. We learned awhile ago that the Hamlin marriage was on the rocks — Howard confirmed it before he died — and the implication was that a lot of no doubt had to do with at least some of the fallout from the last few years, which was because of Jimmy’s actions. But Carol said the last thing either of them needed to hear: that she didn’t believe that he was on drugs.
Jimmy did everything he could to deflect what was going on. Kim, however, told a complete lie. She said when she was still working at the firm late one night; she walked into his office, saw him snorting something, and never told anybody. “Maybe if I had he’d still be alive.” This was a lie worthy of Walter White — lying to protect someone. Unlike with Walter until the very end, Kim took responsibility for her actions. In the garage of the firm — where we first met Jimmy and Kim sharing a cigarette — Jimmy said: “Let the healing begin.” Kim kissed Jimmy passionately and drove off.
In the very next scene, we saw her in court refusing to argue a motion — because she had resigned from the bar. Then we saw Kim doing what we’ve seen her doing so many times, smoking a cigarette on her own. We heard Jimmy pull up to the house, and then doing everything in his power to plead his case to talk her out of what he was doing. He tried to bring them to go back to the hotel where they’d had so many good nights, and walked in to their bedroom — where she had packed up everything.
The next scene was one of the most wrenching and painful in fifteen years of the Breaking Bad-verse’s existence. There was no violence, no bloodshed, and no emotional daggers. Instead, there was utter and complete honesty — which broke your heart just as much. Kim finally told Jimmy something she had finally realized: “We’re great together…But we’re terrible for everyone else.” Jimmy, seeing his life flash before his eyes, tried everything in his power to convince her that none of this was her fault, that all of this was on this was on Lalo — and then Kim told the truth. She’d known Lalo was alive for a month, and the reason she hadn’t told Jimmy was not so much so she wouldn’t scare him but because she knew what he’d do: she have them end the scheme that they’d spent months working on to destroy Howard ‘and I couldn’t do that. Because I was having too much fun.”
In a way that line is as devastating as Walter White saying after he returns home after Hank’s murder and Skyler attacks him in his hall saying: “We’re a family.” In that moment, the lie that he told himself for five seasons finally dissolved. In that same sense Kim has realized a larger truth and knows that the only thing she can do right now is leave.
And when she does, she commits murder. The next scene is a flashforward of an indeterminate amount of time. We are in the mansion of Saul Goodman, who awakes next to an escort, no doubt the latest in a long series. For the rest of the episode, we see Saul in action, and it’s everything we remember him being from when we first met him in Breaking Bad, loud, obnoxious, completely just saying lines of bombast and bluster. At one point, we hear an ad for him on the radio and he calls the station, threatening to sue if they don’t make his voice louder. He walks into his office, takes out a neck brace, hands his secretary, already frustrated with him, and sits behind his desk.
When Kim left his life, Jimmy McGill died. The memorial service was as much as a memorial for Jimmy as it was for him, and now that Kim is gone, there is no one left from the old life of Jimmy McGill. He is Saul Goodman, for better and worse. I’m really not sure we need another four episodes to see what will happen the rest of the way, but considering that some critics consider that the last four episodes of Breaking Bad could each serve as an ending for it; I imagine there will be just as many who consider ‘Fun and Games’ a similar one.
And quite a lot of what happened outside the realm of Jimmy and Kim was a matter of cleanup. Gus went to the cartel to talk with Don Eladio and the remainder of the Salamanca clan about Lalo’s murder. Hector made his accusation and Gus, knowing full well it was true, didn’t even acknowledge it. Don Eladio listened, dismissed it, and said goodbye to Gus. “You know what I saw in your eyes, Gustavo. Hate. A little of it is good.” None of the people there know of course that all of them will meet their ends because of Gus; Eladio doesn’t know he will die outside the very swimming pool just a few years later. Gus returns home and demands constructions of the Superlab resume, not knowing that he’s digging his own grave.
Mike returns home and tries to resume normality, but the guilt he feels about the fate of Nacho plagues him. He finds himself going to the home of Mr. Varga, and essentially telling him the fate of his son, that his father will be protected, and that there will be justice. He is hoping for some kind of absolution. Mr. Varga doesn’t give it to him. “It never ends,” he says dismissively. “You gangsters and your ‘justice’”, he says in Spanish. “You’re all the same.” There is a brilliant shot; Mike is behind a wire fence; Varga on the other side of it. The implication is clear; even though Mr. Varga is technically inside the fence, it’s Mike who’s trapped. The shot on Jonathan Banks’ face is stoic as always, but we know enough to know that he is still trapped and will never escape.
I’m not certain what the final four episodes have to tell us about what comes next; I know that we will see Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul soon, but I’m not sure yet. The real question is simple: what happens in those black and white flashforward that we have yet to see in the final season? How will Jimmy/Saul/Gene ‘handle’ his situation? Is he going to cross the one line we have never see him do in either series? And most importantly, why did he go to Omaha? We know that’s where Kim grew up, and it’s likely where she went back to. Is that the real reason he wants to handle things himself? And what will happen after he does?