It’s all downhill from here.
In the fourth season finale of Better Call Saul, Jimmy McGill officially asks for a DBA form (“doing business as”) and officially becomes Saul Goodman, if not only in name, but in spirit, as well. He’s not yet ordering his clients to take out hits in order to protect themselves, as he does in Breaking Bad, but we can almost envision that trajectory now. It’s soul-crushing.
Equally as heartbreaking will be the fact that Kim Wexler will see Jimmy McGill in the news five years from this point in the Saul timeline and know that she is at least partially responsible for the carnage that Saul Goodman inflicts. She orchestrated his reentrance into the bar. She didn’t pull the trigger, but she handed the man the gun. In fact, I’ve given up on the idea of Gene and Kim finding each other in the post-Breaking Bad timeline and rekindling their relationship. The woman who so strongly rejected the Hoboken Squat Cobbler could never realistically be with a man so intimately connected to Walter White, and she may never get over the guilt that her role played in it.
Granted, Kim Wexler loves playing Gisele, but only when no one gets hurt. There is part of her that loves the thrill of the grift, and that is clearly what drives her attraction to Jimmy, but there is a line. What is the line? As Kim noted in last week’s episode, quoting Justice Potter: “I’ll know it when I see it.”
However many seasons of Better Call Saul that remain will be about testing the limits of that line. I think that Jimmy might have come awfully close to it in the finale, not with the $23,000 ruse in which Jimmy fake cried to win the sympathy of the Board of Bar Overseers, but in so callously using the memory of his brother to reclaim his law license.
Jimmy duped Kim, just as he duped the audience, and as much as I love Jimmy McGill, he may have crossed the line into a villain at that moment. When he busted out of the hearing bragging about pulling one over on those “suckers” and “assholes,” my heart sank right along with Kim’s confused face. He doesn’t have an ounce of sympathy left for his brother, which is all the more heartbreaking and remarkable given their connection while singing an ABBA song “Winner Takes It All” in the opener.
It’s not that I don’t get it, either. When he called back to that song in his conversation with the scholarship applicant — “Remember, the winner takes it all” — my sympathies still lied with Jimmy. Yes! “Rub their noses in it. Make them suffer!” But the reality of that truly sank in when Jimmy said, “He could see the Matrix.” Jimmy is incapable of taking that cue from Michelle Obama. When they go low, he’s determined to go lower, and to what end, Jimmy? To eventually sink low enough that he ends up working at a Cinabbon under a fake identity.
I find myself dreading season five a little now because I’m not sure how eager I am to watch Jimmy completely turn into Saul Goodman — it’s like death by a 1,000 papercuts — but I’m still here for Kim Wexler, and for Nacho (conspicuously absent from the finale).
Meanwhile, in some ways, it feels like Mike Ehrmentraut has more or less completed his transformation, too. As expected, Mike had to kill Werner. He tried to convince Gus to go a “different way,” but he ultimately acquiesced. He killed a good man to protect a bad one. That’s the ultimate sign of breaking bad. In the end, he deserves what he gets, too. Mike and Jimmy are bad people. What’s left to find out in season 5 (and potentially beyond) is how many more people they suck into their vortex. Mike, at least, feels some remorse and he will always choose the least bloody means to an end. Jimmy, on the other hand? He’s all out of fucks. He is no longer motivated by a desire to impress Chuck, or an eagerness to work with Kim.
All Jimmy has left is spite. He is “gonna be smart.” He’s “gonna cut corners.” And he’s “gonna win.” He doesn’t want to be accepted by them anymore; he wants them to “hate” him because he’s more successful, regardless of how he gains that success. If they won’t accept him until their club, he’s going to find a way to run the club. He’s going to lie and cheat and steal his way to the top, and then he’s going to shit on everyone that ever judged or mocked or condescended to him.
Jimmy McGill has gone full-Trump.
Header Image Source: AMC