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Kim Wexler Needs to Finally Cut Bait and Run on 'Better Call Saul'

By Dustin Rowles | TV | October 2, 2018 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | October 2, 2018 |


Despite the fact that it is his name in the title of the series, it’s interesting to think of Better Call Saul not as a show about Jimmy’s transformation into Saul Goodman, but as Kim Wexler’s show. This is Waitress, and Jimmy is the Earl of “I don’t want Earl’s Baby Pie” fame. Kim is the protagonist and Jimmy is the antagonist, and this is a show about Kim finally letting go and removing herself from a hopeless relationship. Jimmy is a nice guy. He’s a sweet guy. But he’s also a trainwreck, an anchor that has weighed Kim down for far too long.

“You think I’m some kind of lowlife. Some kind of asshole. The kind of lawyer guilty people hire, right? You look at me, and you see Slippin’ Jimmy,” Jimmy sneers at Kim, after the New Mexico bar rejects his application for reinstatement.

If only that were true, maybe Kim could extract herself from what is clearly a one-sided relationship. But that’s not the dynamic. Jimmy looks at himself and sees Slippin’ Jimmy, because Jimmy is never going to be able to see himself beyond the way in which his brother saw him, and he’s directing all of his internalized anger at Kim, the one person who sees in Jimmy something more than he is. Those expectations, however, have engendered resentment. Jimmy doesn’t want to be more than Slippin’ Jimmy. What he wants is for Kim to love and accept him as Slippin’ Jimmy. Note how happy he was pulling off that con with the zoning plans, and likewise, how disappointed he was when Kim rejected the idea of opening a firm together and becoming Gisele on a full-time basis. Jimmy wants Kim to be Gisele as much as Kim wants Jimmy not to be Saul. She wants him to be the guy who carries around a monogrammed briefcase.

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That’s the rub in this relationship, and the problem is — despite working at cross-purposes — Kim absolutely refuses to give up on her boyfriend. “Jimmy, I have been on your side since the day we met. Who comes running? Who cleans up your messes? I have a job, and I drop everything for you … over and over again, if you need me, I am there.” That is the relationship in a nutshell. Jimmy screws up, and Kim saves his ass. Jimmy has forced Kim into being his Chuck, a big sister instead of a girlfriend. He’s killed “Fun Bobby,” because someone in the relationship has to maintain some stability, because Slippin’ Jimmy and Gisele might be fun for a while, but eventually, they end up disbarred and in jail.

“There you go, kick a man while he’s down,” Jimmy yells. “Jimmy, you are always down,” Kim tells him, and no statement about the lot of Jimmy McGill has ever been more accurate. And yet, Kim still won’t give up on Jimmy. She won’t even let him move out. “Do you still want to be a lawyer,” she asks him as he is packing up his things. “Yeah,” Jimmy says. “We can start with that,” Kim tells him, reinvesting herself again in a relationship with no ROI.

Theory: In season five, Kim gets pregnant, and with a child on the way, she finally does for her child what she can’t do for herself: Leave Jimmy. It’s the final act that drives Jimmy full-on into Saul Goodman.

Meanwhile, we got the backstory on Hector Salamanca’s bell. It’s a gift from Lalo, who picked it out of some smoldering rubble after Hector burned down the hotel of a man who crossed him. Lalo has also fired the first shot in what will almost certainly be a protracted war between himself and Gus Fring, with poor Nacho stuck in the middle. He’s Gus’ mole on the inside, but I suspect it won’t be long before the Salamanca camp finds out. The good news is: Nacho (and Lalo) live at least until the Breaking Bad timeline, and because their fates won’t be determined at least until those timelines, it more or less guarantees that Saul will also take place during the Breaking Bad era..

Elsewhere, Mike’s storyline is one that might test the patience of a viewer on any other show, but Saul is so extraordinarily well written and directed (here, by the show’s creator Vince Gilligan) that it can keep us glued to our screens while watching what was literally an 8-minute sequence in which Werner had to locate a broken wire, followed by a five-minute sequence in which Werner pleas with Mike for a furlough to see his wife. Mike rejects the request, and so Werner escapes because he’s just not cut out for this.

Werner must really love his wife, too, to put his life at risk in an attempt to see her, but we all know the outcome here. Mike ties up that loose end by taking out Werner, ingratiating himself even more to Gus. Mike will be forced to cross a line — he’s killed people before, but this will be the first time he’s killed a “good guy” to protect a “bad guy.” This is where Mike breaks bad in the spiritual sense.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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