At its core, Better Call Saul is a prequel series, even though it has become much more than what’s expected of that genre. Still, one of its main purposes is to get to the end of whoever and whatever Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad is. That would bring us full circle to the colorfully attired, loquacious, ethically-pliable, always entertaining attorney to the stars of Albuquerque’s meth trade. But what if the end of this show isn’t just the beginning of Breaking Bad’s Saul Goodman or (as also promised by the black-and-white flashforwards) the arrival of Cinnabon-slinger Gene Takovic?
Last week’s midseason premiere quickly but satisfyingly closed Lalo Salamanca’s story and forecasted what was likely to be serious trouble in Jimmy and Kim’s relationship. “Fun And Games” pays off on that front, speedily running through the state of McGills’ marriage. Kim breaks Jimmy’s heart when she tells him that they have a good time but don’t bring out the best in each other. And she’s right: They bring out each other’s worst instincts, traits, and behaviors, all of which have consequences. Look no further than them using the Sandpiper case to further their careers. Jimmy giddily went along with Kim’s ideas to humiliate Howard instead of using the settlement to help others, even as the operation became more and more destructive to Howard. It was all fun and games until somebody lost a life. Yes, the McGills are really good at running scams. They display frighteningly real sincerity even in a situation like trying to convince a widow who has been (wrongly) made to believe that her husband died by suicide and was a drug addict, all in the name of covering their role in the man’s death.
If that scene between Jimmy, Kim, and Howard’s widow Cheryl wasn’t the impetus for life-changing decisions by Kim, then she probably would have been by Saul Goodman’s side in Breaking Bad, continuing to pursue her passion for advocacy law, perhaps, but also continuing a pattern of bad behavior. That the resolution of Jimmy and Kim’s relationship in “Fun And Games” was inevitable doesn’t mean it didn’t come more swiftly than we might have predicted, though. Jimmy was especially shocked by the breakup and Kim’s harsh but truthful assessment of their integrity as a duo. Ever the organized type, her things were already packed in suitcases and boxes as she told him why she was leaving.
So Kim left her career and Jimmy behind, despite professing her love for him, but is this really the last we’ll see of her in Better Call Saul? Four episodes remain in the series’ run, and that’s a lot of time to be without Kim Wexler. (We still need more of Rhea Seehorn’s Emmy-nominated work.) BCS has to also deal with Walter White, Jesse Pinkman, and guest actor Carol Burnett’s arrivals. Plus, there will be some update on the predicament we last saw ol’ Gene in with that menacing cab driver Jeff in Omaha.
That leaves a fair amount of runway to follow all of those storylines, but Kim’s bomb drop on Jimmy—again, like everything in this second half so far—moved too quickly. After his breakup with Kim, we get some very brief time with Jimmy gliding into full-on Saul Goodman mode, complete with the pastel suits, the gaudy manse, a combover ’do that can only be described as Trumpian, and the LWYRUP license plate. There’s no trace of Kim, save that Saul is now spending the night with another woman sometime after she left him. He quickly bids his new lover adieu the next morning with a parting gift of a cereal bar from a giant bowl he keeps on his dining room table.
Of the remaining characters currently in the Saul universe, “Fun And Games” leaves all of them in some state of resolution. Mike cleans up the Howard situation as best he could from a legal standpoint. With the Lalo threat gone and Gus having appeased Don Eladio that Hector’s claims of Gus’ backstabbing were nothing to worry about, Mike and Gus shut down the underground tunnel in Gus’ lair, and he orders Mike to restart the meth lab construction. And yes, Kim quits the bar, her marriage, and leaves for...we don’t know where just yet. Saul showrunner Peter Gould has repeatedly said that the series will end with no ambiguity for Kim—so we haven’t seen the last of her, right?
As for Jimmy/Saul/Gene, maybe when all is said and done, Better Call Saul won’t just have ushered in the beginning of Saul Goodman’s Breaking Bad era or the beginning of Gene Takovic’s post-Bad life. During the Tribeca Festival’s Q&A with the Saul cast, Gould, and writer Gordon Smith, they were asked to describe the last half of the season. Bob Odenkirk answered simply: “A second life.” Maybe the last four episodes aren’t just about how Better Call Saul’s Goodman merges into Breaking Bad’s, but also about how Gene Takovic merges into whatever his life is going to be once he deals with Jeff.
Maybe the end of Saul is going to provide us an abbreviated version of the Gene spin-off so many of us have hoped for and, with the movie El Camino following Jesse’s post-Bad finale life, bring the whole Gilligan Albuquerque universe to an unambiguous conclusion. Wouldn’t that be something?
- Is the Statue of Liberty blow-up that tops the office the exact one from the Kettlemans’ building? Do they pop back into the story somehow?
- The Saul Goodman & Associates sign Jimmy and Francesca watched being installed was so beautiful, like the rest of Jimmy’s original office. We can guess why the office design changes so dramatically in later years, but I still wouldn’t mind seeing if some specific event sparked the downgraded redesign.
- Speaking of Francesca, consider her another casualty of what Kim and Jimmy wrought. More Jimmy than Kim, but she was a much happier, positive character when we met her as the receptionist at the Wexler McGill office. Her demeanor in the post-Kim era of the Saul Goodman offices matches Mike’s demeanor working with Gus after the deaths of Nacho and Howard: resigned and more than a little angry.
- Compelled to provide Nacho’s dad with some closure about his son, Mike gets a donkey kick to the gut when Mr. Varga lumps him in with the rest of Nacho’s cohorts. “My boy is gone,” Mr. Varga says, recalling, of course, season one’s “Five-O” line from Mike, when he tells Stacey, “I broke my boy!” about his own beloved son.
- We have possibly seen the only instance in all of the Saul/Breaking Bad timelines when Gus Fring looked relaxed and legitimately enjoyed himself. It lasted for the duration of his brief conversation at the wine bar with David the waiter. Once David stepped away, and Gus finished his sip of the special wine poured for him, he pushed the glass away. His face immediately changed as he reverted to the buttoned-up, fastidious “house-cat” Lalo described: the guy who would later straighten his tie after his face was blown off.