Photo Credit: Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television/B) 2022 Sony Pictures Television & AMC Film Holdings LLC. All rights reserved.
In Wexler Watch, we assess Kim Wexler’s condition after each of the remaining episodes of Better call Saul.
Finally it happened. In this week’s episode of Better call Saul, “Fun and Games,” Kim Wexler broke up with Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman. As a result, the latest answer to the perennial question, “How is Kim Wexler?” is awful. The death of Howard and the more aggressive intrusion of the Salamanca cartel into the life she shares with Jimmy has shaken her to the core. Though she’s at rock bottom emotionally, her decision-making skills are solid. Leaving Jimmy is the right thing to do, even if the consequences are terribly sad – both for the characters and for those of us watching.
At the beginning of the episode, Jimmy tells Kim about the trauma of Howard’s death and meeting Lalo, “One day we’re going to wake up and not think about it at all. And then we know we can forget.” But Kim knows that’s not true. She will never forget that her plan to mess with Howard resulted in his death, tainted his reputation and sort of destroyed Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill. As Kim and Jimmy learn at the memorial service for Howard at HHM headquarters, the company is changing its name and downsizing. Howard, his father George and Jimmy’s brother Chuck McGill will no longer have their names on the company they founded. Her legacy has been wiped out.
The collapse of Kim-Jimmy’s relationship is hinted at in a moment in “Fun and Games” that also serves as a call-back to the Better call Saul Pilot. When Kim and Jimmy arrive at HHM for the memorial service, they walk through the parking garage to the elevator, the same location where the two characters appeared in their first scene together on the show. “They got a new trash can,” Jimmy notes.
In the pilot, before having a cigarette with Kim in the garage, Jimmy kicks out the old can to express his frustration with Howard. “Couldn’t you just- ?” He then asks Kim between puffs, meaning he wants her to put in a good word for him with Howard. “You know I can’t do this,” she replies before walking back into the elevator lobby and picking up the trash can he knocked over.
In 2020, Rhea Seehorn said that brief scene told her a lot about Kim. “She immediately has limits at work,” Seehorn explained, “and I’ve never forgotten that.” Notably, her limitations included a refusal to let her relationship with Jimmy affect her professional conduct. Over six seasons, she slowly let it unravel and drew a new line in “Fun and Games.” She knows she can’t live with the Howard Lalo baggage and pretends everything is normal. Before leaving Jimmy, she resigns from the New Mexico Bar Association. Her reasons for giving up her career as a lawyer are not explicit, although they are mentioned in a separate storyline when Mike meets with Nacho’s father. “You gangsters and your judiciary,” says Nacho’s father after learning that his son has died. “You’re all the same.” Kim seems to have come to the same conclusion about herself: she’s both a justice seeker and a gangster. These two things cannot coexist.
“We’re bad for each other,” she tells Jimmy in her final scene of the episode, before retiring to the bedroom to finish packing. Then she says something that seems impossible to get back from: “I love you too. So what?”
All the time we thought Better call Saul was an origin story about how Jimmy McGill turned into Saul Goodman. The last sequence of this episode, in which we see Saul living in his tacky mansion without Kim Howard forgetting how he announced it suggests the transition is complete. but Better call Saul is also an origin story about who Kim Wexler will become next. Even if she keeps her name, she is no longer the same person.
Is Kim Wexler alive after this episode?
Physically, yes. Metaphorically, the Kim Wexler we once knew is dead.
Is Kim still dating Jimmy/Saul?
It’s over. And I don’t think they’re just “on a break.” These differences seem insurmountable.
Okay, but how is Kim Wexler?
As mentioned, terrible.
And how is Kim Wexler’s ponytailthe barometer of their emotional state?
Instead of the usual high position, Kim sports low bangs that reflect her mood. But it looks perfect. Unlike last week’s episode, not a hair on Kim’s head is out of place when she goes to work, suggesting she could continue playing the role of the determined, hard-working lawyer if she wanted to. But she doesn’t. She’s contemplating what to do next, which is why her ponytail still looks great during the emotional breakup scene. Her beliefs are as strict as this blond curl.