Better Call Saul: Waterworks
August 8, 2022 5:46 PM - Season 6, Episode 12 - Subscribe

The stakes are raised when a discovery is made.
posted by Rhaomi (142 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Way to go, Marion!
posted by skewed at 7:23 PM on August 8 [13 favorites]


Leads on both BB and BCS are unimpeachable comic actors and I think it's underrated how funny both shows are. Kim finally breaking on the airport shuttle bus was brilliant on every level, but the depth of feeling it created made the situation ripe for humour. I'm not sure they intended this, but the idea that some old FL lady is going to comfort Kim - with as much as we know she's exerpiened - by patting her on the arm and just being like, "there there, dear" made me laugh out loud. So did Jeffie crashing his cab in the dumbest way as he tries to escape the police who don't notice him, but that was definitely supposed to be funny.

Having Carol Burnett just turn Jimmy in would be a little lame...but knowing something bad happened to her baby gives her the motive to do the research on 'Gene'.

Aaron Paul was also hilarious in a cleverly set up BB scene. But Rhea's ice cold, "When I knew him, he was" was such a great moment. She knows exactly what she's leaving behind, she's not happy about her future, but she has the will power and moral courage to just walk off into the rain and leave it all behind. Contrasta with Jimmy, who, while a good person at heart (he couldn't harm poor Carol Burnett), lacks the moral courage to do what Kim does.
posted by Hume at 7:32 PM on August 8 [6 favorites]


Great episode, exactly what the last couple of episodes should have been - characters we give a shit about making unpredictable choices in intensely fascinating ways. Rhea Seehorn was amazing; her talent for showing Kim's intensity even as Kim keeps it all tightly bottled up perfectly captures the horror of her suburban Florida hell and her later devastating regret. At the halfway point I got convinced Kim was going to kill herself, and am so frightened that's where the writers will have her end up. Oh, and I had the exact opposite reaction to Hume with the tender hand comforting her on the shuttle - maybe I'm a sap*, but that was so powerful and human a moment, instantly believable and making Kim's breakdown all the more wrenching.

The one weak note was the Guest Starring Aaron Paul! stuff; the obvious fan service meeting of the 2 sidekicks, which couldn't rise above the weight of its own clichés, temporarily wrenched me out of a beautifully constructed mood to bash us over the head with an over-obvious reminder of That Other Show. Yeah, we get it, Breaking Bad happens next.

Faith restored that, after wasting a couple of hours, this show actually has something interesting to say about where and how and why Kim and Jimmy end up. Marion googling up Saul was a bit pat, his mistake in excitedly mentioning Albuquerque on the phone to her notwithstanding, but loved that I thought for a second he'd actually strangle her. Could have gone either way with this guy at this point.

Beautifully done episode, worth watching again before the finale.

(*delete the maybe)
posted by mediareport at 8:23 PM on August 8 [4 favorites]


Holy shit that was great. I've been so frustrated with the last two heist episodes. This episode pays it all off and more. Loved the denouement of Marion figuring out Saul's secret. Carol Burnett is such a talent. She's literally 89 and has such clarity and dignity on screen. Interesting to see her playing serious since she is so famous for her goofy comedy. I agree with Hume's comment about the value of having comic actors playing these roles, there's something about their timing and delivery that punches hard. It's an interesting counterweight to how bleak and depressing the BCS moral end to its story is. Not just black and white, also the quiet desperation of sprinklers and cinnabons.

Another subtle comic moment: loved the detail of Marion plugging the telephone cord into her laptop.

Mostly I was glad to see so much Kim; she's the story I care about. I really liked her appearance in the future. She looked so much like Migrant Mother, the worn face, the dark hair, the thousand yard stare. I like that she delivered her affidavit, it felt like a redemption story that was real. Very curious to see what end they write for Jimmy.

Metafilter: yep yep yep yep yep.
posted by Nelson at 8:32 PM on August 8 [13 favorites]


yep yep yep yep yep

Now *that* was a laugh out loud moment. Perfect.
posted by mediareport at 8:40 PM on August 8 [4 favorites]


Making things seem both surprising and inevitable is a hell of trick.
posted by shothotbot at 9:06 PM on August 8 [14 favorites]


Did I hear Kim correctly after she presented her confession to Cheryl Hamlin? When she mentions Jimmy as the only other eye witness “assuming he’s still alive.” She’s willing to come clean but still trying to protect him by pretending she doesn’t know what happened to him?
posted by Ranucci at 9:15 PM on August 8 [11 favorites]


The yep yep yep reminds me of Saul’s Mesa Verde commercial.
posted by angrybear at 9:26 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


I think there was an important contrast in last week's episode & this weeks that would be lost. We clearly see that Jimmy is an addict who can't go cold turkey anymore. But Kim is not that. She was making it work. She probably could have forever. Until Jimmy told her everyone else was dead & she had no reason to hide anymore. So she did the thing she always does, which is the hard thing, alone.

Although the brief shot of her doing a huge crossword puzzle with no visible picture was so heartbreaking. Oh Kim there you are in there.

I also enjoyed how as a contrast to everything we've seen so far, this episode was a tribute to how the rest of us were spending the last 7 years, just like Kim, going to work.
posted by bleep at 9:28 PM on August 8 [10 favorites]


I have a lot of thoughts about this episode, but what I'm going to blurt out right now is that I think these episodes would be unbelievably bleak in color. Rather than make the show seem sadder, I think the monochrome pallet gives it all a dreamy feel that lets us detach a little emotionally. Seeing Kim in that dreary office, in gaudy color, that would have been pretty harsh.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:28 PM on August 8 [22 favorites]


Contrast with Jimmy, who, while a good person at heart (he couldn't harm poor Carol Burnett), lacks the moral courage to do what Kim does.

Jimmy is not a violent person, but I'm not so convinced of "good at heart." Credit to the actors that I ever thought he might be physically threatening -- but it wasn't surprising he stepped back. Jimmy doesn't like that kind of confrontation.

I was relieved it was such a good episode; I don't remember the final episodes of Breaking Bad all that fondly and started to wonder if this team just had trouble sticking their landings. This episode was everything I've been missing. (Plus, uh, Jesse? But I can live with them leaving a bit of fat in.)
posted by grandiloquiet at 10:03 PM on August 8 [4 favorites]


So, let me just say this: Kim is wrong. She was wrong to throw her career away and she's wrong to possibly throw what's left of her life away, over Howard, whose murder may as well have been an act of God, like a tree hitting your house. It's unfortunate that the cover story Mike came up with entailed reinforcing the charade that Howard was an addict, but I'm not sure Jimmy and Kim had very much choice but to go along with whatever Mike said. We like Mike, he's a gruff dude with a heart of gold, but he actually only has a heart of gold sometimes; if it was clean up Lalo's mess by any means necessary or deal with the moral squeamishness of Jimmy and Kim re: Howard's (posthumous) reputation, I'm not sure Jimmy and Kim would have left that apartment alive, either. I guess what I'm saying is that nothing that happened is Kim's fault except the cocaine scam, which was really more of a cocaine prank, and which by the way resulted in a lot of very elderly people getting their settlement money before they dropped dead. So basically, fuck Cheryl, who didn't even like Howard herself, and who seems to have done just fine these past few years. Kim is a martyr, over nothing. It sucks.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:04 PM on August 8 [10 favorites]


The one weak note was the Guest Starring Aaron Paul! stuff; the obvious fan service meeting of the 2 sidekicks,

I know they have to do fan service but I was really hoping the guy bumming a cigarette would be Skinny Pete. I feel like it would have been a more interesting conversation...

This episode was great, I was frustrated by the previous two but I'm not sure I would have been rooting for Marion so much in this one if they hadn't taken the time to establish the character.

Maybe it's the black and white, but Kim's life in Florida seems bleak, as bleak as Gene's.

So, let me just say this: Kim is wrong. She was wrong to throw her career away and she's wrong to possibly throw what's left of her life away, over Howard, whose murder may as well have been an act of God, like a tree hitting your house.

Gene's world is black and white because he had to leave his "real" life behind and hide who he was. I think Kim's world is black and white because she has a conscience and she's really not OK with what has happened. She has to make it right. It's certainly ironic that Kim has a conscience when she's done so little, while Jimmy has none, but that's the basic contrast between the characters.

I guess what I'm saying is that nothing that happened is Kim's fault except the cocaine scam, which was really more of a cocaine prank

Actually it was more of a Cocaine Criminal Conspiracy that resulted in the perpetrators obtaining millions of dollars by defrauding a large corporation and the legal system. Even if Jimmy took the Sandpiper money and she didn't, the money aspect makes it far worse than a "prank", not to mention the reckless endangerment of Howard and participating in the cover-up of his murder.


I think we can all agree on one thing though: Miracle Whip is NOT the same thing as mayonnaise.
posted by mmoncur at 11:05 PM on August 8 [23 favorites]


So basically, fuck Cheryl, who didn't even like Howard herself, and who seems to have done just fine these past few years.

This feels like Skylar hate all over again. The main characters purposefully ruin someone's reputation for personal gain but it's the wife who's the villain for being frigid? C'mon. Kim was right to tell the truth. Kim's compassion and integrity are part of what make her so admirable, if she were the kind of person to pass the blame and turn a blind eye to the misery she caused, she'd be Gene.
posted by Emily's Fist at 11:21 PM on August 8 [39 favorites]


What large corporation were they defrauding? Sandpiper, the original fraudsters? Nah.

Something that struck me in this episode, which may be getting a little personal but here goes, is that I think one of the reasons I like Kim and identify with her so much is that she’s been trying to cognate—or shut off and deliberately *not* cognate, eg the fucking Miracle Whip/mayo conversation and her whole Florida life—her way through this situation that pushed her beyond the limits of what she’s morally okay with. And I agree: it is horror. It is horror trying to think your way through life, or, being unable to do that, doing everything in your power to dim your light because if you were working at full power you couldn’t cope with what you’ve experienced. Gene is good for something, both the information that tempers her fear of cartel-related reprisals (bc I don’t think she was ever afraid of the criminal justice system, she’d have been willing to take her licks there) and his provocation jolts her into realizing that it’s time to straighten this out. So she does the thinky, lawyerly thing, and writes a beautiful (in its competence, not its content obviously), comprehensive affidavit and delivers it to the law. Her morals compel her to visit Howard’s wife. And with that incredible bus scene, with those other two things checked off, she finally allows herself, or just has the capacity to feel so many things she’s been unable to access and truly feel. The circumstances of Howard’s death were so shocking that it robbed her of agency beyond getting the fuck out of there, which absolutely took a lot of courage, but she went too far. Although an overreaction there is completely understandable.

I don’t have any Zafiro Añejo bottle toppers or the rest of it, but I really resonate with being smart and thinking you can or have to brain through life and all the emotions building up in your body over time. I bet Florida Kim has some kind of chronic pain or psychosomatic symptoms. I want to get in my delorean and give her The Body Keeps The Score so she can come out on the other side of this a whole person again, regaining her agency and willingness to take risks—the good ones, like quitting Schweikart and Cokely—for justice, because folks do need her talents and passion.

Vince, Peter, Rhea: I know you know this, but I want a Kim spin off. You finally figured out how to write two really great women characters. Maybe it wouldn’t be interesting because it wouldn’t be enough drama but I would ride along with Kim as she comes out the other side of this, if my thinking about her trajectory is at least kind of on track. But also if it’s not.

I also want to take her to a stylist. #giveKimbackherponytail
posted by emkelley at 11:36 PM on August 8 [16 favorites]


Kim was right to tell the truth, but also fuck Cheryl for that latte dump and the last whatever of their relationship. It does feel a little weird to be righteous about this when she was in the process of leaving him when he died. But I can see how and why she would take that on.
posted by emkelley at 11:39 PM on August 8 [3 favorites]


What large corporation were they defrauding? Sandpiper, the original fraudsters? Nah.

HHM and the seniors in the class action suit. They had to hastily settle for less than expected after Howard's reputation tanked. It's what ultimately destroyed the firm.

Definitely recommend rewatching Jim and Kimmy's breakup to get insight into her mindset. Jimmy tries to say Howard's death wasn't their fault, but Kim says she knew that Lalo was alive and the logical next step would be call off the scam and breakup and go into hiding, but she didn't want that because she was having too much fun.

I think part of what motivated her to tell the truth was the news that everyone else involved was dead. So she could tell the truth without worrying that she was going to get herself or someone else murdered by the cartel.
posted by Emily's Fist at 11:52 PM on August 8 [6 favorites]


Until her name was spoken I thought the beginning was a whole "Kim's Mom" thing. I was like "damn, she does have Kim's mannerisms down!" I'll say this though, she put something into her Happy Birthday singing that I don't think she had in her Jimmy days.

I think the affadavit is probably more properly termed a confession. I imagine that given her lifetime of expertise she was plodding along in FLA with her cursory barbecues and schlubby knob of a...friend. Then as often happens (and I've had friends like this), Jimmy selfishly popping back into her life uncorks the drama bottle.
posted by rhizome at 1:32 AM on August 9 [4 favorites]


I do agree that Kim's confession doesn't do anything here but assuage her own guilt and maybe unbottle some of the trauma (obviously), but we know she's already in a prison of her own design. She's opted into the most boring life she can possibly imagine -- yet even as they drill in the absolute banality of it all (I do not even know what I would do if a romantic partner had that Duke's conversation with me in such an earnest way), Kim is shown as hyper-competent and genuinely committed to doing the best job she can.

She's still Kim, but Jimmy can never really be Jimmy again for her.
posted by uncleozzy at 3:51 AM on August 9 [6 favorites]


All I can say is bravo to Carol Burnette. This episode's performance was just brilliant.
posted by 2N2222 at 5:08 AM on August 9 [8 favorites]


I found it interesting that both of the leads are still conflicted -- Kim told the truth about herself, but wasn't willing to admit that she knows that Saul is still alive, while Saul was willing to drug a cancer patient who might've died, but not to hurt an elderly woman. They've always been such a complicated pairing. Jimmy was the more "ethically flexible" of the two, at least on the surface, but it was Kim who provided the drive and the ruthlessness to follow through when he would have backed off. I'll have to rewatch the show someday in the light of what we've come to know about the two of them.

(Also, I'm not here for hating on Cheryl. We don't know her story. She wanted to get out of her relationship with Howard, for reasons unknown to us, and we have no business judging her for that. And if she chooses, in hindsight, to see only the good in the guy after he was murdered, she's far from the first one to do that.)
posted by Zonker at 5:25 AM on August 9 [19 favorites]


If Howard’s death was an act of God like a tree hitting his house then Kim and Jimmy were planting a bunch of large, old trees in the sandy soil near Howard’s house, partially as a joke partially to make them some money. Jimmy claims coincidence because the wind finally blew one of the trees over but Kim is more honest.
posted by shothotbot at 5:34 AM on August 9 [9 favorites]


I feel like my favourite show is back after a couple of weeks off.
Minor frustration: I do wish they’d splashed out in some de-aging cgi for Jesse (for his voice too).
Minor concern: I think they’re playing up the Jimmy being in denial about who he has become angle, which worries me they’re aiming for a redemption story line, which would not feel right to me. Capture, and serious jail time feels to me the only landing zone that would satisfy. That said, the show is continually making smarter choices than I could ever dream of so we’ll see!
I might have to break my “no tv on holiday” rule next week.
posted by chill at 5:37 AM on August 9 [2 favorites]


So, let me just say this: Kim is wrong. She was wrong to throw her career away and she's wrong to possibly throw what's left of her life away, over Howard, whose murder may as well have been an act of God, like a tree hitting your house. It's unfortunate that the cover story Mike came up with entailed reinforcing the charade that Howard was an addict, but I'm not sure Jimmy and Kim had very much choice but to go along with whatever Mike said. We like Mike, he's a gruff dude with a heart of gold, but he actually only has a heart of gold sometimes; if it was clean up Lalo's mess by any means necessary or deal with the moral squeamishness of Jimmy and Kim re: Howard's (posthumous) reputation, I'm not sure Jimmy and Kim would have left that apartment alive, either. I guess what I'm saying is that nothing that happened is Kim's fault except the cocaine scam, which was really more of a cocaine prank, and which by the way resulted in a lot of very elderly people getting their settlement money before they dropped dead. So basically, fuck Cheryl, who didn't even like Howard herself, and who seems to have done just fine these past few years. Kim is a martyr, over nothing. It sucks.

Um... I don't really understand this perspective at all.

If Howard hadn't been murdered, the scam they pulled was cruel, and was not motivated by virtue, but by petiness. The fact that one of the outcomes was good for the litigants is nice, but the ends do not justify the means.

But, you know, Howard was murdered. And sure, the cover up was not exactly something that was their idea, but they went along with it... they could have entered witness protection or even filed an anonymous letter. But in fact Kim lied to Cheryl's face to cover up this lie, and it was that which broke her, which led her to realise that she couldn't be part of this life anymore.

Howards speech was right. Together, Jimmy and Kim were poison. They were fun to watch, sure, but the idea that scams don't hurt people is just evidently untrue.

I don't know if Kim "had" to confess, but I think her confessing was an act of virtue.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 5:41 AM on August 9 [12 favorites]


I don't hate Cheryl, but -- as a fictional character -- I don't have anything especially invested in her, either; she seems to have weathered the loss of her husband just fine, and I don't know that she's gaining a peace of mind by learning the truth. I'm not sure anything much at all has been gained, by anyone, for Kim telling the truth. What Jimmy and Kim did to Howard was wrong, but they didn't kill Howard, and -- I'm sorry -- Kim blaming herself for his death because she knew Lalo was alive is some seriously tortured logic. If there were any benefit, to anyone, more tangible here than the rehabilitation of Howard's reputation -- what good can that possibly do him now? -- I could see it. But to me this seems like Kim destroying herself to satisfy an abstract principle, which, sure, is kind of the character, and maybe she's a better person than I am, I dunno, but I'm just not in that corner.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:42 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


Marion in The Music Man discovered that Harold Hill was a fraud through diligent research, too, but didn't go through with it in the end. I'm glad Jimmy ran rather than following through on the threat.

I think Cheryl feels unbearably guilty - until Kim confirmed her story, Cheryl must have assumed that her coldness to Howard that would have been part of what tipped him over the edge. She's too controlled to admit that, possibly to herself, but it's seemed clear to me in her demeanour since Howard's disappearance.
posted by Grangousier at 5:48 AM on August 9 [13 favorites]


Wow, what an episode.

I am team Kim here for telling the truth. She is clever enough to know that, without any of the other protagonists around, the chances of her being prosecuted over Howard's death are very low. She'd hidden for a while in a job so utterly boring and living a life that couldn't possibly ever make her happy around people she has nothing in common with (that "yep, yep, yep" when her bf was having sex - ugh!), but which gave her a layer of, not exactly comfort, but breathing space, safety. Then, on hearing only Jimmy was still alive and knowing that he would never tell on her, Kim knew she had to do the right thing - for her conscience, not necessarily for Cheryl, although it was also the right thing to let Cheryl know what had happened to Howard. Cheryl knew very well that Kim had nothing she could sue her for, Kim didn't need to tell her that.

Kim's breakdown on the bus was 100% honest and relatable. Finally acknowledging her ruined life, she'd held it in for so long and couldn't any longer. I loved the old lady's patting hand. I could 100% see myself doing that.

As for Gene/Jimmy/Saul - it was one poor decision after another, showing just how far all this was unravelling. Stealing physical items rather than information, staying too long in the house, contemplating caving the guy's skull in with the urn containing his dog's ashes ... I also thought he was going to strangle Marion with the phone cord, but, after a lifetime of bamboozling old ladies, this was one tough old bird he was never going to get the better of.

The scenes in Saul's office were telling. He was in pieces before Kim was shown in, yet he was all swagger and arrogance in front of her, reinforcing to her that she'd made the right decision. The little scene with Jesse was fun, but was filler, it didn't do anything to drive the plot forward.

Also, Netflix UK, WTF? This episode wasn't available until around 9.30am before it would load, and only then after I played the last half of last week's episode. Do not do this to me next week!
posted by essexjan at 5:50 AM on August 9 [6 favorites]


Did anyone else notice that, where the intro tape is deteriorating, a ghost image from that week's episode appears for a second? Last week it was the crossroads where Gene made the phone call. This week it was a silhouette of Kim at the airport.
posted by essexjan at 6:00 AM on August 9 [9 favorites]


Oh, and they took her all the way to Alaska, but she didn't run into Jesse (yet)?
posted by Grangousier at 6:18 AM on August 9


Yes, I wondered why she was in Alaska when she was travelling from Florida to Albuquerque. Any explanations, anyone?
posted by essexjan at 6:41 AM on August 9


It just looked like the Alaska Airlines terminal at whatever airport that was. Not that she flew to Alaska.
posted by umber vowel at 6:42 AM on August 9 [12 favorites]


Yeah, that was just the Alaska Airlines sign at the Albuquerque airport.
posted by primethyme at 6:44 AM on August 9 [2 favorites]


They may have thrown it there as a reference to Jesse’s final destination in El Camino, maybe indicating that Kim is exiting the story?
posted by umber vowel at 6:44 AM on August 9 [3 favorites]


After giving this some further thought, I am leaning towards Saul's story arc ending with him not coming out of this alive. I think I will be disappointed with any redemption for this character.
posted by essexjan at 6:47 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


I think I will be disappointed with any redemption for this character.

Agreed--I don't see how Jimmy/Saul/Gene gets any redemption. Every life he's touched he's made appreciably worse--Chuck, Marco, Kim, Howard, Walter White, Jesse, Fring, Mike... like the show seems to be saying that Breaking Bad was pretty much Saul's fault, which is... interesting. If he gets any redemption, it's going to feel hollow and wrong.

I do hope that Kim gets out of that Florida hellscape, though. I fundamentally do not understand how she did it for 6 years--did she disassociate?
posted by rhymedirective at 7:14 AM on August 9 [2 favorites]


The Alaska Airline thing was definitely a WTF moment, but then it's clear that she's just arriving at ABQ. However, displaying the Alaska sign so prominently was surely a deliberate choice, and this episode does go out of its way to draw parallels between Kim and Jesse.
posted by skewed at 9:06 AM on August 9 [3 favorites]


It's pretty telling that Kim moved into her new identity (in everything but name) and has stuck with it for six years, whereas Saul has been "Gene" for less than a year and already blown it up. Saul seems to be in an escalating, losing battle with himself over wanting to be caught where every time he pushes his luck and gets away with it he finds a way to keep pushing.
  • When Jeff finds him, his first instinct is a vacuum-repair reset. Safest response which he then rejects.
  • However, his plan to setup "mutually assured destruction" with Jeff is very methodical (although over-engineered in my mind)
  • Plan works, case closed.
  • Talk to Kim, start running an identity theft operation.
  • Operation is shown as (relatively) safe and routine, well-researched, etc.
  • First glitch in the operation: I'll just personally break into this house wrecking the entire premise of the operation, rather than just write this one off as a loss
  • Ok, got the documents and passwords and here is my ride.
  • Let me just steal some watches first.
  • Ok, we just have to bail Jeff out and we're good
  • Oops Marion is onto me, better disable the phone
  • Oh, she also has a medic-alert device. I'll just let her use that to alert police about my real identity and my alias, plus my current location
  • RUN!
I don't think any version of Saul would have strangled Marion, but there is wide range between "strangle" and "do nothing". If he disabled the device probably a medical team would have responded as a fail-safe (or Marion could have gone to a neighbor for help) but that still would have given him a bigger head start.
posted by mikepop at 9:22 AM on August 9 [7 favorites]


So, let me just say this: Kim is wrong. She was wrong to throw her career away and she's wrong to possibly throw what's left of her life away, over Howard, whose murder may as well have been an act of God, like a tree hitting your house. It's unfortunate that the cover story Mike came up with entailed reinforcing the charade that Howard was an addict, but I'm not sure Jimmy and Kim had very much choice but to go along with whatever Mike said. We like Mike, he's a gruff dude with a heart of gold, but he actually only has a heart of gold sometimes; if it was clean up Lalo's mess by any means necessary or deal with the moral squeamishness of Jimmy and Kim re: Howard's (posthumous) reputation, I'm not sure Jimmy and Kim would have left that apartment alive, either. I guess what I'm saying is that nothing that happened is Kim's fault except the cocaine scam, which was really more of a cocaine prank, and which by the way resulted in a lot of very elderly people getting their settlement money before they dropped dead. So basically, fuck Cheryl, who didn't even like Howard herself, and who seems to have done just fine these past few years. Kim is a martyr, over nothing. It sucks.

This is a flat out abysmal take. Kim is a villain in Howard’s story. She twisted the knife by lying to Cheryl’s face, in front of other people, about seeing Howard snorting cocaine in his office, at his memorial service, and she did that to save herself, just like she didn’t tell Jimmy that Lalo was still alive because she was “having too much fun.”

And I’m sorry — “fuck Cheryl”? Seriously? Where does that come from? Believe it or not, you can still have affection and even love for someone you’re divorcing, or even someone you’ve divorced. Doesn’t necessarily make sense to an outside observer, but trust me, it’s true.

This is just the “Skylar White is a shrieking harpy” stuff all over again, and it’s demoralizing to see here.
posted by holborne at 9:42 AM on August 9 [24 favorites]


Got nothing to add to what's already been said (although I may have to come back later if something occurs to me), but I just want to add:

Combo stole a baby Jesus.

Not sure why, but if you're going to bring back a BB character, that's the perfect riff for them.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:51 AM on August 9 [7 favorites]


I'm not sure why it's sexist to blow off Cheryl. In the context of this story, Cheryl is a non-entity, someone who has only been unpleasant. She may have a rich inner life to which we are not privy, but she's a one-note player in this story. In real life, I would be like, "My God, this is awful," but in a work of fiction, the show hasn't done anything to make me care about her, particularly; and I was indelicate in expressing this distinction. I don't really care about Cheryl, this character who has had fifteen lines in this entire show, any more than I felt like the Nazis were an especially compelling final threat in Breaking Bad, when they seemed like one-dimensional players, and we had spent no time with them. I have a lot invested in the character of Kim, and I don't think her life is a fair trade for a small shift in the nuances of the bitterness of Cheryl. I don't care about Cheryl. If Cheryl had been introduced four seasons ago, I might care about Cheryl.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:56 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


She twisted the knife by lying to Cheryl’s face, in front of other people, about seeing Howard snorting cocaine in his office,

Not to mention implying that his "suicide" was partially Cheryl's fault for not noticing Howard's alleged downward spiral into drug addiction. When in fact, despite the divorce, Cheryl did know Howard better than anyone else. She was the one who knew the addiction story was bullshit, until Kim gaslit her.

There's also a strong parallel to how Jimmy let Howard think that Chuck's suicide was his fault, even though Jimmy knew it was more complicated than that. We can see how even when they get away with these lies, the cumulative effect of the lies and the guilt still affects these characters years later, even though Jimmy's main coping mechanism is denial.
posted by Emily's Fist at 9:57 AM on August 9 [11 favorites]


So Kim being from Nebraska was a total head fake. And here I was, so proud of spotting that and keeping it in mind all this time.

Kim passed the test. She diminished, and went into the Wes-, er Southeast, and remained Kim.

Anyway, absolutely awestruck by this episode.
posted by whuppy at 10:16 AM on August 9 [4 favorites]


Not to mention implying that his "suicide" was partially Cheryl's fault for not noticing Howard's alleged downward spiral into drug addiction. When in fact, despite the divorce, Cheryl did know Howard better than anyone else. She was the one who knew the addiction story was bullshit, until Kim gaslit her.

And I get this, but I guess what I'm saying is, what was Kim really supposed to do? Obviously, they should not have run a scam on Howard in the first place, but I don't think it's Kim and Jimmy's fault that the situation spiraled so far out of control.* Telling the truth could, and likely would, have literally gotten Kim and Jimmy killed, too. Confronted with Cheryl at the memorial service, Kim had to sell the story about Howard as hard as she could for the sake of self-preservation. To me, this is basically moral triage: Is it worse to lie to a person about a dead person, or to get yourself and your partner killed? It's gut wrenching, but I don't think Kim made a choice that at least some of us would have made. I think it sucks that her guilt caused her to destroy her own life, but I don't think she should have destroyed her life, and I don't think telling Cheryl the truth really solved anything. I don't think she even wanted to help Cheryl. I think it was Kim committing suicide.

Anyway, I've contributed too much to this thread. See you guys next week!

*Of course, the drugs could have killed Howard. That would certainly have been Jim and Kimmy's fault. I think a complete confession would have been appropriate in those circumstances. Maybe that seems contradictory, but whatever! Look, clearly Kim did not think Lalo would stroll in that door, or she and Jimmy wouldn't have been hanging out watching a movie.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:18 AM on August 9 [3 favorites]


I think it was Kim committing suicide.

I thought this as well, a complete self-abasement. The ethic was sound but also self-destructive. Perhaps her hope or intent was to just close out that chapter of her life, but it could have further-reaching effects for her, particularly if Gene gets pinched by the fuzz in the end.
posted by rhizome at 10:31 AM on August 9 [2 favorites]


I think Kim won't be prosecuted, and will be able to have a fresh start. Jimmy will be caught and sent to prison.

I think the linchpin is that the feds would have (might still?) put pressure on Kim to turn on Jimmy, which she would never do. But since she already confessed in her signed affidavit it's too late, its already done. She only confessed because she thought he had escaped, she couldn't have known that basically the same day he'd go get himself caught. So the timing of this past episode was key. It's all the chickens coming home to roost.
posted by Emily's Fist at 10:39 AM on August 9 [5 favorites]


Has anybody in the BB universe gone to prison? It would be poetic if the lawyer was the only one who did.
posted by rhizome at 10:46 AM on August 9 [4 favorites]


I mean to say -- I think rather than being self-destructive, Kim's confession will be what saves her. It looks like Jimmy will get caught, he could easily say something that would get Kim in trouble -- based on his spiteful attitude during their divorce, he very well might, specifically to hurt her. They made sure to show that she was living in Florida under her real name, she hadn't changed her identity. I think the show has a sense of poetic justice towards its main characters. Kim didn't need to confess but her decision to take responsibility for her actions is what will save her. There's a feeling of karma there, just like there will be if Jimmy goes to prison.
posted by Emily's Fist at 10:49 AM on August 9 [11 favorites]


So I did think some more about this episode, and the thing about Kim is, no matter whether we think that she deserves to be punished (or, more precisely, punished more) for Howard's death and/or any of the other stuff that she did before pulling the plug and going to Florida, she thinks so, or at least that Cheryl needs to know the truth, no matter where the chips fall. That weight--knowing what she did and/or what she let happen--is her real punishment during the Florida years. I was thinking that her exquisitely banal life in Florida was some kind of hell, in the way that the Cinnabon experience was for Gene, but I think that it was really that weight. Those tears may have been as much or more for relief at finally confessing as it was for the possibility that she might suffer as a result. Drunks have a saying about vomiting--better out than in--and it's one that I've used in my recovery when I've done my step 5.

As for Jimmy, well, he could call the vacuum cleaner repairman again, but what's the point? Given how he could have walked away from his past after doing the mall heist--but couldn't even walk away from a single mark in his latest Viktor scam, even when it would have behooved him to do so--maybe he'll just give it up, and become an awesome prison lawyer.

Combo stole a baby Jesus
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:56 AM on August 9 [7 favorites]


Without reading anything, let me just say that after the first watch that is definitely what working for a company in Florida is like, or Pool distributor, but of course the huge cubicles were comical in size. You put six people in that spot.

And with the distortion on life alert, that really sound like Beth maybe that isn’t her name but you know the long-haired Lawyer gal who is also the assistant on mythic quest.
posted by tilde at 10:56 AM on August 9 [4 favorites]


Was I giving Jeff too much credit? The way I read it was that Jeff knew that Saul couldn't leave the house if the cops were there, so he drew the cops off by pretending to be drunk and crashing his cab.
posted by QuakerMel at 11:02 AM on August 9 [6 favorites]


I can't remember the exact wording, but the sentiment has stayed with me: years ago in a discussion of ethics, a professor of mine said "It's not integrity if you only do the right thing when it doesn't hurt you somehow." Count me on Team Kim Needed to Make that Confession.

I also agree that it will, in the end, probably be to her benefit, when Gene gets arrested and the whole story gradually comes out, that she voluntarily admitted to her part of it already.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 11:05 AM on August 9 [10 favorites]


Was I giving Jeff too much credit? The way I read it was that Jeff knew that Saul couldn't leave the house if the cops were there, so he drew the cops off by pretending to be drunk and crashing his cab.

That's exactly how I interpreted that scene, too.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 11:06 AM on August 9 [5 favorites]


I just read it as Jeff panicking. I thought it was a great slapstick moment. There were plenty of other ways out of the situation (Jimmy could have just walked out the front door and pretended he called a cab) and I can't see Jeff, a professional cab driver, trying to get arrested for drunk driving. This is what Jimmy gets for roping amateurs into his operation.
posted by Emily's Fist at 11:09 AM on August 9 [14 favorites]


Agreed about Jeff. This episode finally reveals what his 'bad history in ABQ' was, and it's ... basically being a rowdy drunk. Marion had sorta built it up as something terrible, but it's all very relative. Dude's just a big time amateur and his nerves got the best of him.
posted by destructive cactus at 11:23 AM on August 9 [4 favorites]


I’m totally on team “Kim needed to confess even if it hurts her” but that she did it in a way to give plausible deniability that Jimmy is alive, but if he turns up that she’s on the record of having testified (or at least sworn testimonies) against her ex husband for activities while they were married) ahead of Jimmy eventually getting caught; he’s in life for a reaction, seethe phone call to Florida.

(Also so did the jimmy-side of the audio match up with the distortion in the phone booth?)

And from the POV of giving Cheryl some closure, no matter that status of her relationship with Howard at the time of his death, was a part of it, too. Safe for Kim to fess up now that all the guys with guns gunning for her are dead. And she’s been living under her own name for 6 years; she didn’t go into hiding. Though one of my thoughts when they flashed the vet’s retirement at the mid point of the season was that she’d buy his book and take over the biz, and when jimmy was hollering on the phone to her and then went in on identity theft that she was still in the biz and wanted him to bring her some IDs to replace for the vacuum salesman.

Agreed on the tight ending; I always thought Carol Burnett was taller. I did wonder if he was going to strangle her, though that was pretty well established as a threat from the moment she started “ask jeeves”ing him. She didn’t need the phone line for cat videos.
posted by tilde at 11:26 AM on August 9 [3 favorites]


And yeah Jeff was just an idiot, could’ve just left but no he freaked out and rammed some other car.
posted by tilde at 11:27 AM on August 9


This episode finally reveals what his 'bad history in ABQ' was, and it's ...

Also, yet another public urination incident.
posted by umber vowel at 11:30 AM on August 9 [4 favorites]


So glad I was wrong. You get disappointed by TV writing so much, you don't want to believe a show could still impress, especially at the end.
posted by tiny frying pan at 12:11 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


Another little callback: The automated machine at the airport parking lot, next to the empty booth where we first met Mike.
posted by essexjan at 12:14 PM on August 9 [6 favorites]


Mike's booth would have been at the courthouse but much like the Alaska Airlines sign was a nod to Jesse, the empty booth was definitely a nod to Mike. In fact since the parking attendance system was automated you could say the show was saying "this world doesn't need Mike"
posted by mmascolino at 12:28 PM on August 9 [6 favorites]


I’ve been rewatching Breaking Bad and so I’m utterly confused by the Jesse cameos so far. He’s nothing at all like old Jesse at that time. Even the lines are off. What are they playing at? Did he just really, really not want to do it? Did he forget how to act? It was so amateur and anachronistic.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:55 PM on August 9 [5 favorites]


Another point for Gene getting snatched by the legal system is that...Jeffy is still in jail. The last thing Gene said to him was "don't worry, you'll be out by lunchtime (or whatever)," so I'm sure he's gonna be stewing!
posted by rhizome at 12:56 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


Kim did go to the courthouse to make her statement. And she watched another lawyer dress and coach her client …
posted by tilde at 1:17 PM on August 9 [4 favorites]


Early in the episode: going from the divorce papers to the slicing of a potato (the potato being divided, like the marriage was)! And then the potato salad is like the marrying of ingredients! But it rings false because of using Miracle Whip instead of mayo, the same way the Florida boyfriend -- wearing a loud shirt and a smile -- doesn't have the substance Kim craves! (This is a kind of a placeholder paragraph awaiting kewb's magisterial comparison of potato salad and Cinnabon.)

She's putting together a jigsaw puzzle alone, while her boyfriend watches other people solve puzzles ("The Amazing Race") and marvels at achievements he's not capable of.

She's writing marketing copy and pausing while rewording a line about the exciting revolution in irrigation technology -- the kind of copywriting that Saul excelled at.
posted by brainwane at 1:38 PM on August 9 [4 favorites]


Also, I loved the mention of Ask Jeeves.
posted by brainwane at 1:39 PM on August 9 [5 favorites]


That scene with Kim at the courthouse reminded me of Walter White in the last episode of BB, similarly altered in appearance, revisiting some of his old stomping grounds.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:41 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


I think what has been revealing about these last few episodes is where the writers think Jimmy, or really Saul is at.

When watching breaking bad, Walter was lost for me pretty early on. I didnt see him as redeemable, and was waiting to see his fall.

But with Jimmy, while he was doing some pretty terrible things, there was a heart there. And when we come to Jimmy's end, with Kim leaving him, and the slide into Saul, I had perhaps hoped that Gene might be different. That Gene might want to be like he used to be, like Jimmy, not Saul.

And to some extent I think Gene wanted that a little, because he reached out to Kim. Kim made him better. The irony of their relationship was that it actually was helpful to Jimmy; she moderated him... until she didnt. Because Kim, who found Jimmy fun, stopped moderating, and started joining in.

But Jimmy never really saw it that way. I think his call to Kim was his last gasp at something different.. when she makes it clear that she finds his choices appalling... well now its time to go full Saul again.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 2:11 PM on August 9 [3 favorites]


Incidentally, they cleared something up in the podcast that left me confused.
“It’s been six years” - I took this to mean that Saul and Kim hasn’t seen each other for 6 years, but was then confused by the Jesse cameo outside Saul’s office which must have been within the last few years.
He meant 6 years since Kim left.
posted by chill at 2:36 PM on August 9 [3 favorites]


brainwane said: Early in the episode: going from the divorce papers to the slicing of a potato (the potato being divided, like the marriage was)! And then the potato salad is like the marrying of ingredients! But it rings false because of using Miracle Whip instead of mayo, the same way the Florida boyfriend -- wearing a loud shirt and a smile -- doesn't have the substance Kim craves! (This is a kind of a placeholder paragraph awaiting kewb's magisterial comparison of potato salad and Cinnabon.)

I think you did most of the work already!

But I am happy to springboard from your fine analysis of Kim's life, the Miracle Whip, all of it, and see where your great start leads. So...Cinnabon: a big brand name, with a standardized product, one in which much of the menu is variations of the basic roll with different toppings. The anonymous and generic quality of Cinnabon is, in practical terms, why it's a perfect false identity to hide out in for a flamboyant criminal like Saul, and the simplicity of the largely prefab ingredients and rote, universal process of making the stuff is why "Gene" can easily, ah, slip into this dull routine on such short notice.

Potato salad? It's also an anonymized staple food, with a thousand little variations, especially the relatively straightforward, cliched kind Kim makes here. But not only is it the marrying of ingredients, it's also homemade, and made as part of a communal fellowship: the backyard party, an intimate get-together. It's not the transaction between strangers that typifies the making and sharing or selling of food at Cinnabon or any other chain. You pick a potato at the store, you cut it, you blend it, you make all the choices about it. Even following a recipe, when something goes wrong, you have to improvise.

Here, Kim's improvisation goes awry, precisely because, as brainwane notes, Miracle Whip is the kind of mass-produced, not what it looks like stuff that doesn't fit with the food-as-connection idea, the make-it-true ethos. Even her tuna sandwiches taste wrong. Of course, this intrusion of the artificial, the bad substitute, the brand is foreshadowing for both Saul's unwelcome reappearance in her life and Saul's eventual exposure to Marion.

It is, I think, also a hint that her self-imposed penance is a bit hollow or false for being self-imposed. Yes, she can send herself to something worse than doc review, yes, she can punish herself, but it's not really her choice to make when she's hurt other people, is it? When Saul tells her in their call -- and it's Saul on the phone, seeking a hit of emotion from an old accomplice -- that she's no more genuine than him because she, too, has crimes to answer for...it rings true. No more using Miracle Whip as a quick, cheap substitute when mayonnaise is the right thing.

And that bring sin the other associations of Miracle Whip and Cinnabon: they are big, widely promulgated brand names. Saul Goodman was, too; the less the surface resembles the substance, the more surface flash needed to sell it, after all. That loud false front, that brand-name artifice, is loud, tacky, cheap, and unpleasantly noticeable, in the end. And Saul Goodman can't survive without, like a human brand, selling someone else on surface without substance. Advertising is a con game, too. (And while Jesse Pinkman didn't need to be the character telling Kim and us that a TV ad is a bad way to pick a lawyer, there is, in the end, some resonance with his grim discovery, over the years ahead for him, that Walter White was never what he looked like on the surface, either.)

Back to potato salad, then! You know what else potato salad is? It's usually a family recipe, or at least a shared one among friends or fellow home cooks. A given recipe's reputation, in most settings, comes from interpersonal connection. At that cookout, notice the characters discussing the colorful dessert, dismissing the idea of using food coloring to "true" the color? It may not be much, but it's an ethos. This ironically staged discussion of bright color in future Kim's black-and-white cinematographic world is another moment that communicates both the disingenuousness of her own choices and a hint about what she must really do: come clean, be transparent, lay it bare.

Now flash to that divorce papers scene: Jimmy, before Kim arrives, is tense, acting out, in turmoil. Ever the movie buff, he bounces a ball like the characters in The Great Escape, and he briefly knocks over the fake pillar -- the facade of Saul Goodman -- because he's shaken down to his Jimmy McGill foundations. But then, up goes the pillar, and with it the facade.

So when Kim arrives, signing the papers and looking for any kind of emotional response, all she gets is the facade of Saul. Yes, there's irony here -- it's clearly Kim who's initiated the divorce, and part of what Jimmy underneath is acting out are his feelings about that. But for Kim, this is about making a final break with what she sees as her past wrongdoings; giving up Jimmy, who made her feel so alive, is her taking the wages of sin, and Florida is her Limbo, or perhaps Purgatory. Everything from her is genuine, all about her very plain and open feelings about herself, about the Jimmy she knew who, as she tells Jesse was good when s he knew him.

But Jimmy has decided to sublimate all of that into the rush of the con. The closest he can get to reconnecting with Kim is to hint that she do the same, and become, essentially, Giselle the Con Artist Queen full time by sharing in the Sandpiper cash. He lives in the sense that the world will never give him a fair shake, so he gets to screw it over right back; if being Jimmy McGill hurts too much or is too hard to deal with, well then screw that, too. One more thing to blame the world for.

Not Kim, though. In the end, she takes Saul's challenge to turn herself in seriously because she decides to take her own advice to Saul seriously. And, per the title, out come the waterworks, the breaking of the dam. All that rain she dashed through back when she severed herself from Albuquerque comes back in her jagged weeping; the difficult emotions Saul repressed in that scene, and that Kim was therefore also forced to repress, pour back out of her at last. She finds herself again, whatever the cost.

She is, at least, no longer a prisoner of the numbness that permeates her earlier scenes in Florida, no longer suspended in the silence (on her end) that punctuates both the hilariously awful lovemaking session in Florida and the confessional scene when Cheryl asks her why she has decided to come clean at last and Kim's answer either never comes or is silenced by the editing. (I think both; I think she had no answer, or at least no answer she knew to be true.)

And Saul? Saul just keeps trying to push it all down, to escape being stuck with himself. But all around him are the signs that he's simply ensuring he'll be trapped in the end. In plot terms, the threat of prison or the feeling of being imprisoned or trapped is always there in the Gene scenes, and here it plays out literally in the depths he considers sinking to to escape capture -- to strangle Marion, to nearly clobber poor Mr. Lingk with an urn full of the ashes of his beloved pet, a real pet, unlike Nippy who never was. (Lingk's name is a sly Glengarry Glen Ross reference to another hapless mark).

But every move he makes just pins him down, seals him further in the prison of Saul Goodman, the only thing he'll be remembered as, the only thing that lets him simulate life and feeling, like Miracle Whip simulates mayo or Cinnabon simulates old-fashioned baking. Color returns to Gene Takavic's world in the hazy, incomprehensible reflection of Saul Goodman's ad on Gene's glasses.

What else is he? What else does he ever choose to be? He does not want a genuine connection to anyone. He does not want to be or know himself. But all the running, all the lying, all the false fronts in the world can't keep him out of that terrible prison, in the end. The only thing that would is the thing he will not do.
posted by kewb at 3:29 PM on August 9 [16 favorites]


“I’ve been rewatching Breaking Bad and so I’m utterly confused by the Jesse cameos so far. He’s nothing at all like old Jesse at that time. Even the lines are off. What are they playing at? Did he just really, really not want to do it? Did he forget how to act? It was so amateur and anachronistic.”

I’m finding the scenes really jarring too, and chalking it up to a 40-something year old grown man trying to pass as a boyish 20-something and it just not being physically possible.
posted by blue suede stockings at 6:07 PM on August 9 [3 favorites]


I was just thinking that one of the story lines in season one was that concious does cost, I think that Mike even said that to Jimmy. Once he is 100% Saul he isn't going to make that mistake again.

A few lines from this interview with Vince Gilligan stood out to me about the end of the show: We always said to ourselves, Peter, and I, what did it take to turn this guy to Saul Goodman? And how long does it take for him to get there? But we also said to ourselves how are we going to present this when it comes to this? If we do this right, nobody’s going to want to see him turn into Saul Goodman
posted by shothotbot at 6:14 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


A commenter, DancerInTheSnark, on the AV club writes this amazing comment. The "permalink" doesn't work for me in chrome, so I'm pasting it verbatim below:


Something I just realized after finishing this episode: Jimmy is always at his most vengeful when people attempt to hold themselves accountable. Note how his true rage at Howard started when Howard confessed that he felt responsible for Chuck’s death. When Kim comes in to sign the divorce settlement, his performance of stone-cold indifference—“Well, have a nice life, Kim!”—is because she’s actually trying (somewhat) to take responsibility for what they’ve done. Jimmy’s actually not too bothered when people try to hold him accountable, with the exception of Chuck. He’ll still do everything in his power to weasel out of the consequences, but he generally doesn’t take it too personally. But when people try to answer for their own bad actions, that’s when Jimmy feels truly, personally attacked. That is the only kind of choice that makes him feel genuinely morally implicated because he knows it’s the one thing he’ll never voluntarily do himself. It’s even worse if Jimmy can tell himself the other person’s choice is actually just an act of self-serving hypocrisy—as when Buddy refuses to rob a man battling cancer after having robbed so many others, or when Kim resigns as a member of the bar association and turns down the Sandpiper money, but doesn’t actually turn herself in. (It’s the mark of how complex the BCS/BB ethical matrix is that the writers actually allow those kinds of actions to be both self-serving and genuinely driven by conscience at the same time.)

I think the reason for this is because of a feeling that started creeping up on me while watching “Nippy”: it doesn’t matter how sweet and kindhearted Jimmy can be at an interpersonal level, his addiction to pulling off these kinds of schemes reveals the con artist’s basically malevolent orientation toward the universe. What I mean is that, in order to do this over and over again, you have to believe, deep down in your soul, that a person’s willingness to trust you isn’t just a reason, but a justification for lying to them, stealing from them, and taking things that aren’t yours to take. If somebody trusts you, it means they deserve to be hurt by you. Remember the flashback scene where a young Jimmy watches his father get conned and then starts stealing from the register that very day? That looked an awful lot like the birth of a lifelong contempt for the world, and the thing about contempt is that it has nothing to do with affection or attachment. Contempt is about an absence of respect, not an absence of liking—you can like people just fine and still have no respect for them, or conversely, absolutely despise someone and still have a basic respect for them. (Recall what Jimmy says to Cliff Main after he manages to scam his way into getting fired and still keeping his severance: “For what it’s worth, Cliff, I think you’re a decent guy.” Cliff: “Yeah, well, for what’s it’s worth, Jimmy, I think you’re an asshole.”) What makes Jimmy’s contempt for the world different from Chuck’s is that Chuck’s vengeance and pettiness is activated when people don’t defer to him (he’s a lot like Walt that way), whereas Jimmy’s is activated by its opposite, when people act in good faith and assume he is as well.

So it makes sense that Jimmy is so infuriated by other people’s attempts to take responsibility for themselves, especially if he considers them to be just as compromised as he is. To admit that you’ve done wrong, or that there are lines you won’t cross is to agree that there are ethical and moral standards that go beyond interpersonal kindness, and that adherence to those standards might require some kind of sacrifice. When you’re willing to cross a line and the other person isn’t, who looks like the asshole?
posted by lalochezia at 6:30 PM on August 9 [21 favorites]


I’m finding the scenes really jarring too, and chalking it up to a 40-something year old grown man trying to pass as a boyish 20-something and it just not being physically possible.

Yeah, one of the things about this show is that sometimes you just really have to suspend disbelief when it comes to timelines and actor ages. It doesn't really bother me too much, it just kind of is what it is...
posted by Crane Shot at 7:05 PM on August 9 [5 favorites]


I just had a horrible thought: What are the chances Jimmy's so embittered, broken, and lonely that when he gets caught that he throws Kim into the gears of justice with him?
posted by BetaRayBiff at 7:30 PM on August 9


Seeing and reading into scenes that mean things:

- WHITE (, Walter) bread in huge letters on Marion’s counter
- Gene is seen outside her door from the inside, with those vertical banister things (that start at counter height) between us and him—jail symbolism?
- I clock that against the death symbolism of 2(?) episodes ago: when Gene is returning from the security room, there is a very artful, lingering shot of him riding the escalator up.
- Gene’s glasses reflect Marion’s laptop’s playback of Saul’s advertisement in COLOR, an intrusion of the Color World Timeline into the B&W present.

And what about his mis-timed chorus entrance while singing The Tide Is High. I hate it when that happens.
posted by sylvanshine at 7:45 PM on August 9 [4 favorites]


Rhea Seehorn is an amazing actress, but the way she played Florida Kim seemed odd. I would expect someone as intelligent as she is to either be cruising through life in an easy unchallenging job, or feeling angry and resentful at working at something that doesn't challenge her. (I see some folks think she's emotionally stunted, but it's been six years, long enough for her work through and emotionally process the same realization that kittens for breakfast pointed out: Howard's death wasn't her fault.)

I do not even know what I would do if a romantic partner had that Duke's conversation with me in such an earnest way

I also don't buy her with that boyfriend unless he's incredibly good at sex, which he does not seem to be.

the obvious fan service meeting of the 2 sidekicks

It was like a deleted scene that accidentally wasn't deleted. I hated that scene more than any other scene on the show (in fact, I can't think of hating any other scenes). They could've done the fan service and the Kim's good line about whether Saul was a good lawyer or not in about 10 seconds.

Stealing physical items rather than information, staying too long in the house, contemplating caving the guy's skull in with the urn containing his dog's ashes

Leaving fingerprints everywhere. This is what's been bugging me: both Jimmy and Kim are too smart for the way they're acting.

Believe it or not, you can still have affection and even love for someone you’re divorcing, or even someone you’ve divorced.

Yeah, I get that, and dumping the latte is why I strongly dislike Cheryl. They could've done this: Howard leaves the room * Cheryl looks at the latte with a sad, sweet smile * Cheryl slowly savors the latte with a wistful look. Dumping it was cold.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:24 PM on August 9


What I mean is that, in order to do this over and over again, you have to believe, deep down in your soul, that a person’s willingness to trust you isn’t just a reason, but a justification for lying to them, stealing from them, and taking things that aren’t yours to take. If somebody trusts you, it means they deserve to be hurt by you. Remember the flashback scene where a young Jimmy watches his father get conned and then starts stealing from the register that very day? That looked an awful lot like the birth of a lifelong contempt for the world, and the thing about contempt is that it has nothing to do with affection or attachment. Contempt is about an absence of respect, not an absence of liking

Jimmy's meltdown over the cancer guy didn't quite make sense to me until I read this comment and saw that other people following their own moral codes is what sets him off. I always thought he was a redeemable character. This means he's not.

Jesse got redemption, Kim may get redemption, Walt is an obvious no, but losing Jimmy is rough.
posted by Hume at 9:26 PM on August 9 [8 favorites]


Leaving fingerprints everywhere.
For the record, he was wearing gloves.
posted by chill at 11:03 PM on August 9 [3 favorites]


Oblique BB callback: $737,612,62 - the amount in Mr. Lingk's bank account - is the same amount that Walter calculated he would have to earn to take care of his family after he died.

Personally I think dismissing the Jesse/Kim scene as simply "fan-service" misses out on some of the connections it makes between and within the shows: it is a cigarette break outside, and hence just like the first bonding between Kim and Jimmy outside the office. They say smokers benefit from random connections through their shared habit - and I think we get that idea here: Jesse recognises Kim from her defence baby Jesus stealing friend Cabo - and we have the idea that maybe it is Kim - a proper lawyer not just a TV ad one - who could have been drawn into representing Breaking Bad characters. Perhaps, if she had, she would have actually done some good; Kim's line about Saul/Jimmy being a good lawyer "when I knew him" reveals a truth: Jimmy once really was going some good by his actions, not now.

Jesse is waiting for Emilio, (who is "facing some serious time") to talk with Saul. So would I be correct in my assumption that this scene takes place just after the DEA bust of "Capn Cook's" meth lab that Walter sits in on in the BB pilot? If we remember, we see Emilio getting released unexpectedly later in that episode - to Jesse's surprise. That leads him to the scene with Crazy 8 that lures both characters to their eventual death.

At this stage we know that both Kim and Saul know who Gus Fring was (name seen in Kim's affidavit) - and we also see that Saul is connected to Fring via Mike. We also know Saul knows about Crazy 8 since he mentions him - and we know that Crazy 8 was also in dealings with the Salamancas. We hear from Hank that the meth lab bust we see in the pilot was the result of a tip off. So - we could at least speculate that the communication lines between Gus, Saul and Mike, may have led to the tip off that acted as a trigger Walter White getting involved.
posted by rongorongo at 2:18 AM on August 10 [8 favorites]


kirkaracha said: Rhea Seehorn is an amazing actress, but the way she played Florida Kim seemed odd. I would expect someone as intelligent as she is to either be cruising through life in an easy unchallenging job, or feeling angry and resentful at working at something that doesn't challenge her. (I see some folks think she's emotionally stunted, but it's been six years, long enough for her work through and emotionally process the same realization that kittens for breakfast pointed out: Howard's death wasn't her fault.)

Florida Kim is Kim punishing herself, giving herself a life she hates because she thinks that's what she deserves. And because she seems to be convinced that "being clever/enjoying being clever" was what made her and Jimmy so toxic.

But there are hints that she blames herself for Howard's death precisely because that's easier than confronting how the smear campaign hurt Howard, Cheryl, and the folks who worked at HHM. If we're going with the addiction metaphor, think of Kim as someone who's trying to white-knuckle it, who is avoiding the real work of recovery and living this numb, stressed, self-flagellating life to try to stay away from her bad habit and live in a kind of self-pity. "I'm so terrible for what I've done," she thinks, "So this boring job and boring boyfriend are all I get. Oh sad, wrong
me."

I mean, realizing what she'd done to Cheryl was specifically what prompted her break with Jimmy and her law career and exile herself to Florida. but even years later, the best she's insisting that Howard's death was "painless" and has to be confronted rather directly with the reality of her humiliation campaign, along with her gaslighting of Howard's family and colleagues.

Even when she divorces Jimmy, there's quite a bit of self-blame for "Saul Goodman" evident in her reactions. She's not "making amends;" she's making it about her, which is a perverse kind of keeping it all within her control.

The dam only breaks -- and she only really starts processing it all -- after she makes a gesture to give control back to the people she's wronged, to let them set the terms of what making it right or being punished will look like.

Kim is very smart, and often very self-possessed, but the first of those things also makes it really easy to rationalize and to think oneself into knots. The second can easily become a kind of self-possessive reactance: "I know what I did wrong and I will handle it." Saul telling her she's hardly turned herself in and Cheryl telling her of the hurt she caused to Howard -- irrespective, in some ways, of his death -- puncture the things she's been telling herself. Not coincidentally, they take her out of her self-imposed Florida "sentence" and out of her tightly wound, numb strategy of self-punishment as avoidance.

I'd almost guarantee she doesn't keep the crap job or the crap partner when she gets back to Florida, but also that she's going to actually feel awful in a way her avoidant Florida life has not made her feel.
posted by kewb at 3:29 AM on August 10 [19 favorites]


Also, as so many are pointing out, Howard's death is the part of all this that Kim bears the least responsibility for. But that's why it's what she fixates on; even her affidavit talks an awful lot about what Lalo and Mike did. When she talks to Cheryl, Howard's death happens because "He was in the wrong place and the wrong time." Just bad luck and bad circumstances.

The part that is mostly Kim -- the smear campaign and the lies maintained after Howard's death -- is the part Cheryl has to force Kim to talk about in their conversation.

We can infer from this, I think, that Kim has not been owning up to the part she is most directly responsible for, internally or externally, and instead has been all about the parts that she can know are also other people's fault. It's why she can so vehemently tell Saul to turn himself in, because then the conversation is about how he has to own up to what he's done.
posted by kewb at 3:35 AM on August 10 [12 favorites]


At this stage we know that both Kim and Saul know who Gus Fring was (name seen in Kim's affidavit) - and we also see that Saul is connected to Fring via Mike. We also know Saul knows about Crazy 8 since he mentions him - and we know that Crazy 8 was also in dealings with the Salamancas. We hear from Hank that the meth lab bust we see in the pilot was the result of a tip off.

If anyone is interested, and is chronologically tuned in enough just to carry this stuff in your head, I would love to see a a timeline across the shows of who met whom in the cartel business--the crossover, mainly, between Jimmy & Kim, Walt & Jesse & Mike, and the cartel-- including major life events such as deaths or breakups! not a recap, just a timeline. I rewatched BB a few months ago, and now it all blends together so much in my mind it's kind of making me crazy. Something like--

(BB) Don Hector kills Gus's boyfriend
(BCS) Saul meets Mike (when?) Connected to Gus?
(BCS) Nacho tries to kill Don Hector, and is thereafter pulled into working for Gus (I think?)
(BB) Gus, Mike, and Germans work on lab
(BCS) Saul meets Lalo in prison
(BCS) Saul makes desert trip to collect Lalo's money, is bailed out during shootout by Mike
(BCS) Kim meets Lalo in apartment. Dresses him down on Jimmy's behalf.
(BCS) Nacho attempts to kill Lalo. Nacho is captured, and kills himself.
(BCS) Mike tells Kim Lalo is alive.
(BCS) Lalo kills Howard. Gus kills Lalo in unfinished lab.
(BCS) Kim and Jimmy break up
(BCS) Saul connects with Walt, on his own initiative, against Mike's advice?
(BCS) Kim & Jimmy divorce? Is this 2 years after their breakup, 4 yrs before the phone call?
(BCS) Kim & Jesse have smoke break
(BB) (ongoing) Saul represents Gus & associates? Or does he just work with Walt, and with Mike on cleanup scenarios?
(BB) Don Hector kills self & Gus
(BB) Nazi group kills Hank
(BB) Walt dies, Jesse escapes, Saul buys a vacuum cleaner part
[skip skip skip]
(BCS) Saul informs Kim that Lalo, Mike, and Gus are all dead.
(BCS) Kim confesses

...but some of that might be out of order, and also there are obviously big gaps. That was off the top of my head, trying to put a bit of scaffolding together. I don't remember when Gus's big retaliatory poisoning event takes place. Don't recall specifics of Saul's relationship with Gus, if any. I know I could put together a cartel timeline myself, but it would require reviewing dozens of episode recaps though two long-running shows, and I thought someone here might just have a better grasp on the key chronology. Anyone feel free to c&p, and add, subtract, or edit!
posted by torticat at 5:34 AM on August 10 [3 favorites]


I know it's a minority opinion, but have to say that I agree on the whole with kittens for breakfast, here.

I've probably said this before, but I felt like Howard's reputation was kind of rehabilitated after his undeserved death (hahaha--in fanworld, that is; on the show, obviously, it was quite the opposite). Howard was not a good guy. During his admittedly moving speech to Kim & Jimmy, he was throwing out all those reasons why they might go after him like that, and I was thinking YES!! to all of them. "Because I put you in doc review too often?" YES! "Because I didn't stand up to Chuck on your behalf?" YES!! "Because I was born with a silver spoon, while you two had to work for it?" YES, YES, YES! And regarding that last one, it may be easy to forget that Howard and Chuck kicked Jimmy and Kim back down the latter multiple times, from their perch of privilege. Chuck was sociopathically cruel to Jimmy, and Howard went along.

Remember that amazing tirade Kim delivered to Howard back in the day, all on Jimmy's behalf, while her arm was in the cast (which, incidentally, was because she had fallen asleep at the wheel because she'd been working so hard--thanks, Howard). Maybe Howard spoke some truths to Jimmy and Kim in his final speech, but she sure as hell spoke some truth to him back then, as well.

In real life, of course none of that would add up to Howard's deserving to be pranked. In the morality of this fictional universe, I thought it worked just fine, and I was rooting for them the whole time (well except that their plot was absurdly byzantine).

In addition, HHM had been patently working in their own interests and not in the interest of their aging clients. Jim's and Kim's endgame for the Sandpiper settlement was the correct one for the clients. As always, though, they didn't have the power to make that happen (a fact that was largely down to HHM, btw), so they went with what they did have, the power of the scam. Of course it wasn't right if you are thinking only of the dictates of the system. If you are thinking through a different, more flexible moral lens and considering the greater good, it made perfect sense. (I also believe the dissolution of HHM was a perfectly just outcome. They had not been a good firm.)

Again, in a real-life sense, Howard should not have been scammed. He most certainly shouldn't have been shot dead. I do think the proper reading of that last part, though, is what Kim said--"wrong place at the wrong time." Kim & Jimmy were guilty for hurting his reputation (that had expected that to be only temporary, though--Howard had in real fact participated in setting back both their careers, and they were simply going to set his back in return). And they were guilty for gaslighting his grieving widow, and making the reputational damage permanent. They were not guilty for his murder.
posted by torticat at 6:08 AM on August 10 [7 favorites]


Probably have said enough but I'll just add one more thing, having to do with Kim's character. I think she was correct when she said that she and Jimmy together were poison. However, I think she went too far, or assigned herself too much blame, when she said she had not told him about Lalo just because she was having too much fun.

Yes, she enjoyed the con, and she loved doing it with Jimmy. But that doesn't mean that she wasn't also still acting on the motivation of the arguments she made when she talked him into doing it in the first place. (Which were dubious, yes, but not toward a selfish end.)

Kim never really broke bad. But it is interesting that the thing she seemed to feel almost the most guilt about was that she had been enjoying herself. Her penance for that (her retreat to her B&W world) was to strip every bit of actual fun out of her life. To go to a place where not a single friend is a kindred spirit; where her sex life is apparently joyless and one-sided; where she gets none of the rush of pleasure of using her talents and work ethic to help people.

It just seems extra-sad that that was one of her main takeaways. And (to me) makes her breakdown on the shuttle all the more heartbreaking, as well. So much bottled up.
posted by torticat at 6:27 AM on August 10 [11 favorites]


I'd almost guarantee she doesn't keep the crap job or the crap partner when she gets back to Florida, but also that she's going to actually feel awful in a way her avoidant Florida life has not made her feel.

kewb, I take back everything I ever thought about you overanalyzing; I thought the same exact thing here. After that good cry on the bus, I choose to believe she takes full control of her life again.
posted by whuppy at 6:42 AM on August 10 [2 favorites]


Here is that clip of Kim tearing Howard a new one, if anyone wants to revisit Kim Wexler at the height of her powers!

(And recall what an awful, awful person Chuck was. Part of the reason I was happy to see HHM go is that it represented the destruction of any legacy of Chuck's.)
posted by torticat at 6:54 AM on August 10 [5 favorites]


The simple, plot-forwarding act of Gene fleeing from Marion's house was actually devastating for me. Gene has finally been shocked out of his weird, numb, fake identity and now has to act in a way that will have consequences again. I hadn't realized how much I "identified with" Jimmy as a protagonist, so when I saw him flee like a man with nothing left, no hope really, it hurt.

He has been playing identity games for so long—both with his own personal identity, by changing his identity even more for scams, and finally via scams that alter perception of other peoples' identities. His latest scam is literally, as far as I understand, identity theft. Now, fleeing, his games drop away, shown to be foolish responses to life, and he is naked. Who is he now?

Also devastating was his possible willingness to assault two people in this episode. It destroys any remaining sympathy for the character, IMO. We may have moved right through the "Saul Goodman" years, but we can see the "personal philosophy" that provides a map from Jimmy to Saul to Gene.

Both the leads have retreated into emotional numbness in this timeline, which for me is the real meaning of the black and white. Look at the literally empty hearth in Gene's generic living room, and the way he no longer bothers to be careful with his cons. He was sipping liquor at two moments this episode, telling himself he wasn't worried, when the world was falling down. "The tide is high but I'm holding on."

As I watched the ending twice, I thought it would have been a good time to return to color, just a sneak peak of color as he flees, because Reality, which is never actually numb, has returned. I tend to think the final episode will be in color for this reason.
posted by sylvanshine at 8:56 AM on August 10 [6 favorites]


And what about his mis-timed chorus entrance while singing The Tide Is High. I hate it when that happens.

This was a great, and very BCS, way of showing us that Gene is getting ahead of himself.
posted by snofoam at 9:11 AM on August 10 [11 favorites]


Resolving the mystery of "what's been going on with Kim all this time" was sort of devastating. The life she was inhabiting, with all of its pervasive numbness. And of course she wound up in Florida, in a top-5 FL sort of job. Maybe she wound up working for Madrigal somewhere, was one fan theory. No way. She's been on autopilot for some time now, with a sort of existential dread stalking her for six years.
posted by jquinby at 9:53 AM on August 10 [4 favorites]


I'm genuinely mystified by the people who continue to insist that Kim wasn't responsible for Howard's death. She absolutely was. Someone I haven't seen anyone mention is that there was absolutely no reason for Jimmy and Kim's scheme to go forward. None. The whole point of the scheme, or at least a major part of the point, was for Kim to get enough money from the Sandpiper settlement to start her own pro bono practice. (We'll leave aside for a moment the fact that $2 million is absolute chump change in the world of law and *might* have been enough for a couple of years rent on commercial office space, so it was always a pipe dream that $2 million would have allowed her to do much of anything. But as I say, put that aside.)

But the Sandpiper money was no longer necessary; Cliff Main set up a meeting for her with the foundation from New York, so she didn't need the money anymore. She was going to have everything she needed -- clients, support staff, office space, salary. She was all set without Sandpiper. She blew off her meeting in Santa Fe because her precious pro bono work eventually proved to be less important to her than screwing over Howard. And had the (by that point totally unnecessary) scheme not gone forward, Howard wouldn't have been murdered. That's incontrovertible.

So she is one hundred percent responsible, especially since she knew Lalo was alive and didn't tell Jimmy because it was more fun for her not to. We'd already seen what happened when Jimmy knew Lalo was sniffing around: he hauled ass out of the apartment and hid. He would have had even more reason to do that if he had known about Mike's warning, and they wouldn't have been there when Lalo showed up.

I mean, unless we're taking the position that big firm lawyers deserve to be murdered for being good big firm lawyers -- which Howard assuredly was, as was Kim, by the way -- I really don't get all the vehement defenses of Kim here.
posted by holborne at 10:00 AM on August 10 [21 favorites]


Totally hear you, holborne! Although I'm not really hearing "all the vehement defenses of Kim here"--to me we seem to be in a very distinct minority! ;-)

This is an interesting point, and I hadn't seen anyone make it before, either:
the Sandpiper money was no longer necessary; Cliff Main set up a meeting for her with the foundation from New York, so she didn't need the money anymore.

I'd have to go back & rewatch to see exactly was in that for her. Was it a done deal? Would the foundation indeed have provided everything she wanted in terms of pro bono work? I think I was so caught up in the plotting there that I missed those details!

It's true, though, that when Kim decided to go back to help with the scam (filming the fake judge)--that u-turn was a significant (and very obvious) symbol showing where her mind and her priorities were.

[Jimmy] would have had even more reason to do that if he had known about Mike's warning, and they wouldn't have been there when Lalo showed up.

True, too; but Kim also believed they were under Mike's protection. She did not know the level of risk she entailed, nor the risk to anyone like Howard who might stop by their place.

I mean, unless we're taking the position that big firm lawyers deserve to be murdered for being good big firm lawyers

I don't think anyone's said that; in fact I think Kim's defenders have been explicit that that never ever should have happened.

I have made the point that I think Chuck's and Howard's actions over the years led directly, and justly, to Kim's & Jimmy's resentment--and to their lack of power. I guess I would say to you--if unintended consequences made Jimmy & Kim morally responsible for Howard's death... well, you could also say that unintended consequences of the actions of HHM, Howard, and Chuck led Jimmy and Kim to where they were. There are no innocents. The show had also made it clear that the damage reached all the way back to Jimmy's and Kim's childhoods.

It's very morally complex, and I don't intend in my comments to suggest it's not.
posted by torticat at 10:34 AM on August 10 [5 favorites]


telling himself he wasn't worried, when the world was falling down. "The tide is high but I'm holding on."

What an inspired song choice. Also Gene getting out of the car and continuing to sing to himself "I'm not the kind of girl who gives up just like that/ I'm gonna be your number one"

Gene's not thinking about the words he's singing, but that is some fantastic irony.
posted by torticat at 10:43 AM on August 10 [6 favorites]


I re-watched this today. I don't think we'll see Kim again in the last episode. I think her confession allowed her to have some form of personal closure or redemption, and, having done that, she knew she could move on, away from the past and start over, but in a new way (not Florida) that brings her some fulfilment.
posted by essexjan at 10:48 AM on August 10 [7 favorites]


Believe it or not, you can still have affection and even love for someone you’re divorcing, or even someone you’ve divorced.

They weren’t sharing the same bedroom anymore and things weren’t right between them anymore, but were Howard and Cheryl actually getting divorced?
posted by Ranucci at 12:27 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]




I just want to say how thankful I am for a show big enough to both be a pulse-pounding hijinx-packed crime thriller and a testament that what brings people freedom is not secret lairs and a drug empire but honesty, both to yourself and others (Kim's arc this episode), and what disarms people often isn't a bigger gun, but appealing to the better person they could be, or at least have been ("I trusted you.") Jeez, what a moment that was with Marion and Jimmy. Bravo Vince/Rhea/Carol/Bob/etc.

Very curious where Jimmy ends up next week. I agree with shothotbot ("Making things seem both surprising and inevitable is a hell of trick."). One of my other favorite things about this universe is that I rarely know where things are going to go, but once they go that way, it usually feels as solid as steel. Jimmy's a bitter man, and maybe that bitterness is well-earned. I don't see him ever losing that. I think he has a conscience, and isn't as narcissistic, for example, as Walter White - that is, I think he can see the impacts he has on other people, and that can make him decide to stop "breaking bad." But I can't imagine him ever finding any kind of rapproachment with the "legitimate" world. He just has no faith in it. Where do you go, when your choice is between two worlds that feel equally poisonous to you? I guess he could once more follow in the footsteps of Chuck... that would be a pretty grim close.

(This is independent of what he should do, just trying to think of what he might do - though he might be out of the ability to choose...)
posted by nightcoast at 1:15 PM on August 10 [4 favorites]


I don't think we'll see Kim again in the last episode. I think her confession allowed her to have some form of personal closure or redemption

essexjan I heard someone or other on a podcast make this case, and thought it was pretty persuasive. I do suspect we'll see Kim again. But if we don't, she will have had a beautiful send-off. A very complex personal arc with a satisfying ending. Also as this podcaster noted, her last spoken line would be a perfect farewell/kiss-off (in response to Jesse's question "Is this guy any good?"):
"When I knew him, he was."
posted by torticat at 2:08 PM on August 10 [4 favorites]


The line that struck me the most in this episode was during Gene's phone call to Kim: "I'm still getting away with it!" There's this duality of Jimmy/Saul/Gene where he both craves getting away with things and sometimes almost seems like he wants to get caught. Hanging out in the guy's house drinking his liquor after robbing him, putting on the whole Saul persona on the phone to Marion, I don't know.

I think to people like Saul, not getting caught is further proof of an uncaring and indifferent universe. Like the scene at Neff copiers ("No background check? I could be a serial killer!"), in the back of his mind he's hoping someone will see through the con and protect themselves. He kind of can't stand to watch people get conned even when he's the one doing the conning. He's such a good character.
posted by petiteviolette at 2:20 PM on August 10 [15 favorites]


her last spoken line would be a perfect farewell/kiss-off (in response to Jesse's question "Is this guy any good?"): "When I knew him, he was."

Yes, as soon as she uttered that line and ran off into the rain, I thought: "Oh! That's it! That's her ending."

There's a bit of room for her to return — maybe that's just the end of that arc — but, yeah, after several episodes of teasing us with her absence, they gave her closure and a good, compact sendoff. Is there much left to tell about her that wouldn't be better left to the viewer? (e.g., does she nope nope nope out of Mr. Yep Yep Yep?)
posted by fruitslinger at 2:34 PM on August 10 [7 favorites]



As I watched the ending twice, I thought it would have been a good time to return to color, just a sneak peak of color as he flees, because Reality, which is never actually numb, has returned. I tend to think the final episode will be in color for this reason.


Reality was reflected in color in Gene's glasses when he turned Marion's computer to see that she was watching Saul Goodman commercials. I really liked that.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:31 PM on August 10 [2 favorites]


So what about the season premiere cold open going from B&W to color as the ties fell and Saul Goodman's mansion got dismantled?
posted by whuppy at 4:40 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


I've been wondering about that too.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:42 PM on August 10


- Gene’s glasses reflect Marion’s laptop’s playback of Saul’s advertisement in COLOR, an intrusion of the Color World Timeline into the B&W present.


Literally his "colorful past" arriving into the current timeline.
posted by tiny frying pan at 4:55 PM on August 10 [4 favorites]


long enough for her work through and emotionally process the same realization that kittens for breakfast pointed out: Howard's death wasn't her fault.)


Howard's death is absolutely her fault in my eyes, as well as Jimmy. But for their scheme, Howard wouldn't have been in the wrong place, wrong time, in a state of anguish about the lies they created about his life. It was a depraved and sick thing they did to him, for little reason then the love of the game. Jimmy even wanted to call it off. She's culpable, no doubt.
posted by tiny frying pan at 4:58 PM on August 10 [6 favorites]


Kim set up another life to avoid even the near occasion to sin. She understands her transgressions and designed her penance well.
posted by whuppy at 5:19 PM on August 10 [4 favorites]


The debate over Cheryl here—was she an ass to Harry? does she deserve Kim's confession?—feels surprisingly pertinent to the themes and the message of this show. And I think it ties in with the AV Club comment that lalochezia posted above, particularly the remark about contempt being different from dislike.

In The Sopranos Sessions, David Chase gets asked about Skyler White directly: why didn't fans hate Carmela Soprano in the same way they hated Skyler? His response is basically that Carmela is given a tremendous amount of agency, actively driving narratives of her own rather than existing in reaction to Tony. By the time she leaves Tony, viewers of the show were prepared to appreciate the emotional complexity in both directions, because she existed as something more than obstacle. Skyler, on the other hand, was a magnificently-wrought and subtly-played agent of opposition, for the better part of Breaking Bad's run.

Better Call Saul avoided that trap with Kim. In fact, if anything we saw a point where Jimmy was in Kim's way. Cheryl, on the other hand, has only ever been presented adversarially: first to Harry, who was always sympathetic to unexpected lengths, and then to Jimmy and Kim at Harry's funeral. It's possible to infer emotional complexity—Harry's death surely transformed her whole understanding of their relationship—but she's treated as the same kind of functional that Skyler often was. That is to say: she exists to provide a tension, not because the show is particularly interested in her existence.

But both Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul are, on some level, stories about justifications. They're about bad people convincing themselves they're good people—or convincing themselves that they're complicated people, at least, in ways that they believe free them from having to take responsibility for their actions. They would take responsibility, you see, but the situation wasn't fair.

We permit Kim that complexity, because Kim has been permitted a measure of humanity. Just as, in Breaking Bad, Jesse was viewed more sympathetically after he shot and killed a man. It's not that we think either Jesse or Kim (or Walt) are blameless—it's that their depth invites compassion. When they bump up against flatter characters, that depth means we're able to see their actions from more angles than we view the fixed-perspective people who antagonize them.

And isn't that Saul's m.o. in a nutshell? He defends criminals from the law because the law can be unfair, and because Jimmy is capable of feeling empathy for the sad sacks and outcasts who he founds his eventual practice on. To some extent, that's Kim's practice too, when she becomes a public defender. This is true from literally the second scene of the show, where Jimmy tries to portray those corpse-mutilating teens as kids caught up in the carefree magic of summer. Don't let them go because they're innocent. Let them go because they're human, no matter what they did.

And in that first courtroom scene, The Law is represented by that silent prosecutor, who simply plays the security recording of those kids cutting up a body. Story or no story, humanity or no humanity, this happened. If The Law is dispassionate, even cold, it is because it concerns itself only over what did and didn't happen—no more, and no less.

TV likes to portray victims as conveniences. They're there to be shot, or they're there to give law and order something to do. They're no more human than the shallow antagonists we root against—The Sopranos was supremely guilty of doing this too. And a part of why Kim leaves law, I think, is that she's suddenly incapable of looking past the crimes. She can't help but think of the victims as people too, whether or not she was personally invested in them, whether or not she knew anything about them whatsoever.

Jimmy, though... well, Jimmy got his start because his father's inability to defend himself made him seem like less of a human, to his son. Jimmy doesn't just dehumanize victims—he feels scorn for some of them. Instead, he humanizes the people who exploit and harm others. He sees them in their complexity—just like he pities himself for who he's become. It wasn't his choice. It was Harry. It was Chuck. It was the cartel. And if someone chooses to hate or judge him for it, Jimmy resents them for it, because they're just not giving him a fair shake. Why deny him his humanity just because he did those things you said he did?

On the one end of the story, you have Chuck—a man who was obsessed with The Law to the point of narcissism and even sadism. A man who used "what's just" as a way to excuse his own desire to see others belittled or tortured, and as a way of ignoring his own conscience. On the other hand, you have Marion, who calls the cops on Gene even as he's begging her to have sympathy for him—for him over her own son, who Gene just helped land in prison.

And in between, you have Kim, who is deeply conflicted and human but still does believe in justice, and in good and evil. Kim, who can't ignore the human cost that Jimmy does, because she sees criminals and victims as complicated and human, and understands that the law is an attempt, however flawed, to fairly reconcile the harm that one does to the other. Kim, who sees that "these things happen" is a politer, more avoidant way of saying: "They got what's coming to 'em."

Jimmy can't bring himself to see the people who he hurts as human. He likes people well enough. He (usually) avoids causing undue pain. Oftentimes he even feels guilty about the things he does to them. And he's not opposed to doing what's right, or to helping people when he can! Even if there's always a sense that he's better at making those people like him than he is at genuinely showing them care.

But he finds remorse unbearable, because remorse acknowledges the victim. Remorse lets the victim be human, not just part of an equation. Remorse, for Jimmy, means admitting just how many people he's hurt—not just Harry, but Kim and Chuck and his own father. And that's impossible for him, in part because Jimmy's never been able to look past his own suffering to see others'. The moment he hurts, he forgets everyone else. And the worse he hurts, the more criminal he lets himself become.

To his mind, the world still owes Jimmy the fairness that he's due. And until he gets it, it's unfair of people to judge him. How could it possibly be just, when it all started with the injustices that were done to him?

But of course that's not how it works. Harm is harm, no matter the why. So Marion calls him in. And so Kim confesses to Cheryl, who was a jerk to Harry, who did put her into a position where she felt the need to lie at Harry's wake. She confesses, not because Cheryl has "earned" a confession by being a loving, doting wife, but because she did what she did. She confesses only the truth. And that is the sum total of what she owes, and would owe regardless of what we do and don't see of Cheryl, regardless of what Cheryl is or isn't: the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. So help her God.
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 5:27 PM on August 10 [21 favorites]


Confession is good for the soul.
posted by whuppy at 5:30 PM on August 10 [2 favorites]


but even years later, the best she's insisting that Howard's death was "painless" and has to be confronted rather directly with the reality of her humiliation campaign, along with her gaslighting of Howard's family and colleagues.

Also yes. I love how like complicated, and realistic, the characters are on this show.
posted by tiny frying pan at 5:58 PM on August 10 [3 favorites]


Love that comment, THCBT.

One quibble, with this:
you have Marion, who calls the cops on Gene even as he's begging her to have sympathy for him—for him over her own son, who Gene just helped land in prison.

I think that Marion sacrificed Jeff as well as Gene, when she called the cops. Gene had actually been on his way to try to spring Jeff out of prison and had already explained to Marion how it could be done--no bondsman, no stolen goods found on Jeff, no case against him. By alerting the cops to her knowledge about Gene, though, Marion probably implicated Jeff. Gene had been hanging out with Jeff and Buddy--with evidence of crimes committed, in Marion's garage!--for weeks if not months.
posted by torticat at 6:01 PM on August 10 [7 favorites]


Ooh, good point!
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 6:03 PM on August 10 [2 favorites]


Remember that amazing tirade Kim delivered to Howard back in the day, all on Jimmy's behalf, while her arm was in the cast (which, incidentally, was because she had fallen asleep at the wheel because she'd been working so hard--thanks, Howard).

I'll attribute Kim's incredible work obsession to her own attitudes about work, since she wasn't working for Howard or HHM at the time? She was working for Mesa Verde.
posted by tiny frying pan at 6:04 PM on August 10 [6 favorites]


I went back to rewatch parts of episode 6, and I do believe that that this overstates the case, holborne:
But the Sandpiper money was no longer necessary; Cliff Main set up a meeting for her with the foundation from New York, so she didn't need the money anymore. She was going to have everything she needed -- clients, support staff, office space, salary. She was all set without Sandpiper. She blew off her meeting in Santa Fe because her precious pro bono work eventually proved to be less important to her than screwing over Howard.

Cliff invited Kim to be one of several people representing "up & coming" orgs who would be making pitches for support from the foundation. Kim specifically warned Saul that it was not a done deal. Saul referred to the foundation as the "good housekeeping seal of approval." There was nothing to suggest the idea that even if she received a grant, she would be provided office, clients, staff, salary, and all that.

Which admittedly doesn't change the fact that Kim did turn away from a potential legit opportunity, to return to the scam.

I did want to say that the Jimmy-and-Kim parts of episode 6 are worth rewatching. The "before" part of their downfall is really well-portrayed. The two of them are mutually supportive, and they are enjoying each other and being allied together (working toward their nefarious ends of course). And it's the last you see of that relationship before everything goes to hell, Howard's murdered, Jimmy and Kim sink into whatever combination of bitterness, loneliness, and guilt, and neither of them really has a kind word for the other ever again.
posted by torticat at 6:39 PM on August 10


I'll attribute Kim's incredible work obsession to her own attitudes about work, since she wasn't working for Howard or HHM at the time? She was working for Mesa Verde.

This is true, and that was my stretching the case! I blame Howard and Chuck for driving them away from HHM. But I think also that Kim was taking on extra work at the time to cover for Jimmy, who'd lost his license--so that was on Jimmy! Mixed bag, I guess. They'd all being kind of cheating on and stealing from each other.
posted by torticat at 6:45 PM on August 10


She might have told herself that but it felt a self imposed reason, to me. They were fine, financially.
posted by tiny frying pan at 7:03 PM on August 10


I know there's not much chance of it but my wife and I both hope the next entry in the Vince Gilligan cinematic universe is all about the emancipation of Cissy.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:34 PM on August 10


Has anybody in the BB universe gone to prison?

Mike's imprisoned "legacy cost" guys -- Gus's laundry manager etc -- are a major storyline in the first half of S5. It doesn't end well for them.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:20 AM on August 11 [3 favorites]


Y'all, mods have talked about this: please don't discuss promos for future episodes in Fanfare. Many of us deliberately avoid promos, and I would very much like to now not know what you just posted.
posted by mediareport at 12:21 AM on August 11 [9 favorites]


And what about his mis-timed chorus entrance while singing The Tide Is High. I hate it when that happens.

We see Jimmy/Gene display his manifestly awful karaoke skills several times: for example he uses this rendition of "Brandy (You're a fine girl)" as part of a lure for his first identity scam mark in Omaha. Much earlier we see him use it to draw Chuck onto the stage to try to salvage "The Winner Takes it All". I find it interesting because he is either using his natural tone-deafness, very successfully as part of a con game - or he is a front rank student of how to act tone deaf - because he knows how effective that strategy is. I don't think we know the truth.
posted by rongorongo at 1:41 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


So what about the season premiere cold open going from B&W to color as the ties fell and Saul Goodman's mansion got dismantled?
That was just a sneaky fake out, I don’t think anything should be read in to it. The first few ties had no colour in them to make us think we were in the Gene times, but as more colourful ties fell we realised we were in colour and so some time else.
posted by chill at 4:13 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


Kim has been whipping herself, hoping for the miracle of absolution.
posted by GrammarMoses at 9:00 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


Florida is just who Kim is without lawyering and Jimmy (and also with the burden of leaving those two things behind).

I don't believe that for a second. Kim is driven and very, very smart. Her Florida life was a deliberate choice on her part, not the result of an absence of lawyering.
posted by rhymedirective at 9:19 AM on August 11 [7 favorites]


I don't believe that for a second. Kim is driven and very, very smart. Her Florida life was a deliberate choice on her part, not the result of an absence of lawyering
There is, I imagine, a great missing episode where we see Kim activity seek out the most dull job and irritating boyfriend she can tolerate. Where we see her actively practicing suppressing her own opinions in every conversation. Either that or she falls into a kind of fugue state for 6 years until the point of Gene’s call. Either is an interesting story.
posted by rongorongo at 9:40 AM on August 11 [6 favorites]


The first few ties had no colour in them to make us think we were in the Gene times, but as more colourful ties fell we realised we were in colour and so some time else.

They said on the insider podcast that they actually got a gradient of totally black and white ties to normal and that shot was practical
posted by shothotbot at 11:00 AM on August 11 [6 favorites]


she falls into a kind of fugue state for 6 years until the point of Gene’s call

I think most people (me included) tend to underestimate how much psychological damage can be done by an unresolved sense of guilt coupled with trauma. The trauma of seeing someone shot in the head in front of you in your own home, then having to lie about it to survive, then feeling partly responsible for him ending up there "in the wrong place at the wrong time"... I'd say it is rather plausible that it all would lead to that kind of "fugue" state. For six years sounds like a stretch but when you're on autopilot life rolls on one day after the other with no change before you notice six years have passed. I find Kim's black and white story arc more believable than Jimmy/Saul/Gene's own story arc in these final episodes.
posted by bitteschoen at 12:06 PM on August 11 [12 favorites]


I think Kim just moved as far as she could go and then, no longer trusting her own desires and ambitions, settled for whatever was there, whatever couldn't possibly give her the opportunity to hurt people. The job is fine. The boyfriend is fine. The miracle whip is fine.
posted by Emily's Fist at 1:41 PM on August 11 [8 favorites]


I gotta agree with fugue state. With some chronic pain, bad bad bad job, and depression, I have a few years that were so autopilot.

I saw Kim as just trying to hyper not make another deadly decision.

And I thought east coast was Hellmans? I don’t Mayo so I don’t have a good grasp on that.
posted by tilde at 3:56 PM on August 11 [1 favorite]


Duke's is definitely a Southern thing, and they're in FL, after all. I looked straight at his grocery bags - Publix might have been a more appropriate store. Winn-Dixie also works, I suppose...but Publix is Ur-Florida.
posted by jquinby at 4:30 PM on August 11 [1 favorite]


Publix …
Winn Dixie cuz in Florida the further north you go, the further south you are. Titusville would be Winn Dixie and about in that time frame Publix was over priced fancy. Then Whole Foods came …
posted by tilde at 4:59 PM on August 11 [4 favorites]


I just watched it again and ugg this episode was so beautiful. So many little touches. One thing I did not notice the first time is that the last time we see Kim in "the present", she puts up her hood, and sprints away into the dark, alone, in the rain*. What a perfect send off. I love Kim so much.

I also noticed the second time how much Kim is still doing the thing she always does in this episode. She's so consistent. She's always doing carrying out a series of inscrutable actions that we have no way to understand and that she refuses to explain until her reasons become clear, and then suddenly it all seemed inevitable. I just think she realized she used her powers for bad, and therefore didn't deserve to have powers.
posted by bleep at 7:54 PM on August 11 [8 favorites]


Best case? [for if she had stayed in Nevada] Probably married to the guy who manages the gas station, maybe cashiering at the Hinkey Dinkey.
- Kim being interviewed for Schweikart & Cokely .

Courtney's reviews has a take on this episode - and particularly on how Kim came to be where she was. If unresolved trauma has made Gene like Frankenstein and it has made Kim like a zombie.
posted by rongorongo at 5:43 AM on August 12 [2 favorites]


Stayed in Nebraska but yeah.
posted by tilde at 7:09 AM on August 12 [3 favorites]


"He'll put me in my grave", "He'll be the death of me".

I do hope that's misdirection.
posted by Grangousier at 2:26 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]


I love the blank jigsaw puzzle -- what a great metaphor for the whole story.
Every little thing about this episode was so gorgeous, except -- Aaron Paul? That performance wasn't "fan service," it was "fan slap-in-the-face." It must have been hard work for him to be so bad. The scene was otherwise so beautifully done, it was painful to see him ruin it.
posted by Corvid at 7:18 PM on August 12


Kim, early in the series: “You don’t save me. I save me.”

Kim, post-Howard’s death: you don’t punish Kim. Kim punishes Kim.

Many have mentioned that Kim finally lets it all out on the bus with that cry. Kim didn’t let anything out - it was coming out whether she wanted it to or not. It hit her like a freight train. For the past several years, she has simply existed. Nothing more, nothing less. Jimmy/Saul/Gene/Viktor’s phone call lit the fuse on the powder keg that was going to explode in full view of a bus full of strangers in a city that was no longer her home. Confessing to Cheryl, however incomplete (“if he’s still alive”) and filing the affidavit with the DA does not absolve her of what she has done. It is, however, the right thing to do, and a necessary and huge first step on the road to healing, for her and for a lot of others. She will likely never be able to get a law license again after her confessional affidavit. In a way, this is too bad, because she has shown the ability to help people in very bad situations, and it has proven to be extremely fulfilling work for her. You saw the way she looked at the public defender who was getting a rough-looking client ready for their court appearance. Perhaps she finds a way going forward to do meaningful work that helps those who really need it. That would be as close to her redemption as you can possibly get. (Kim Wexler is one of my all time favorite characters in TV or movies. So well written and Rhea Seehorn has done just an incredible job with the portrayal.)

Is there redemption for Jimmy? I really don’t see how. The best I can see is that he is stopped and that he finally comes to grips with what he has done, with all the time he would have for thinking while serving a very long prison sentence. He is hurting people for the sake of winning the scam game. It’s not personal against the victims at all (aside from taking down the big fish, which he’s always enjoyed doing), and that’s worse. If it were personal you might not like it but you could at least understand it. He is hurting people without a care for the pain he is causing. As many have noted, scamming is his addiction and he’s on an all-time bender. We saw him go on a bender in season one with Marco. Through the series, he’s mostly tried to stay on the right path but the lure of his addiction is always there, and he is so good at it. As the season continues, he falls further into darkness and then truly becomes Saul after springing Lalo. Once he does that, the legal community shuns him, which gives him the license to be Saul Goodman instead of the flawed but fairly well liked Jimmy McGill. Kim was right to leave him. That isn’t what sent him into the over the top SG life. That was lurking under the surface and if it hadn’t been that, it would have been something else. It did turn out to be a hell of a coping mechanism for him. He has caused so much damage that I think there is no redemption, only the chance to set a few small things right and pay his penance to society.
posted by azpenguin at 8:07 PM on August 12 [9 favorites]


I don't think any character who "did wrong" in either BB or BCS ever really reckoned with the sum of what they'd done... up till now. Skyler? Mike? Not really. Certainly not Walt.

In a way, we're essentially watching Kim be sin-eater for them all. And Rhea Seehorn delivered 100%.

I disagree with the folks who don't think that Gene is capable of murder. The only thing that saved the guy with cancer was his passing back out at just the right moment.

And what a great serious actor is Carol Burnett. So nice to have her back on any screen.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 9:00 AM on August 13 [8 favorites]


And what a great serious actor is Carol Burnett. So nice to have her back on any screen.

She reminds me in many ways of my mom, and of so many elderly people who don’t have the freedom or ability to do as much as they were able to do in the past. Marion is stubborn, somewhat cantankerous and grumpy, and yet you can’t help but like her. She is happy to have a friend around to chat with and to have a couple of drinks, and she likes to have her children around, but in public she’s clinging to any independence she has. Carol Burnett is playing this role to *perfection.* This is not a role where she’s going for laughs, of course, but I’d like to see her get a comedic role somewhere sometime soon if she wants to do it. That would be a treat.
posted by azpenguin at 7:49 PM on August 13 [4 favorites]


Publix …

Based on her new wardrobe (ghastly) I think Wal-Mart would be more realistic for a mayo run then a Publix or even a Winn Dixie. Wal-Mart is cost effective. It is also an extraordinarily depressing place. If self-flagellation is her objective, it doesn't get much more gloomy than going from a successful, meaningful career as a lawyer, who can buy all the nice organic foods in nicely lit soft-Musak emporiums like Fresh Market, to trying to buy a watermelon at Wal-Mart and realizing somebody decided to spit all over them. (Personal experience.) I would have directed it to be Wal-Mart bags. My two cents.
posted by Armed Only With Hubris at 11:37 PM on August 14


Walmart would have definitely had mayo though, I'm guessing.

The problem was probably getting a company to sign off on using their name. Same as when they used a generic department store to steal from.
posted by tiny frying pan at 5:06 AM on August 15 [1 favorite]


This was my favorite episode this season (so far, but I often think penultimate episodes are better than finales, so I would bet on this standing). Gene has felt like purgatory for Jimmy this whole time, and now we've seen Kim's purgatory too. They're both making moves to get out - Kim through facing up to what she's done, and Jimmy attempting to revive his cons. It's pretty clear who the narrative thinks is making the right choices.

I am interested to see what the finale brings, but this episode stuck the landing for me.

My dog, who mostly ignores the tv, was deeply offended by Jimmy's singing. Got up out of a sound sleep and walked as far from the noise as he could get to settle back down. The cops resignedly putting away their dinner to go arrest hapless Jeff had a very similar air. Idiots can't just let us have a moment of peace.
posted by the primroses were over at 6:55 AM on August 15 [1 favorite]


Speaking of the ultimate episode, one of the things I'm going to miss are these threads. Thanks to everyone who's been posting to them. It's made the experience of the show even more enjoyable.

And in these times, that ain't nothin'.

We ditched our cable part was through the BCS run, so I've been relying on iTunes to tell me when the new episode is available, so by the time I get around to watching it and crack open the thread, there's already an abundance of great comments, analysis, and even over-analysis, all of which has been fantastic.

I like brainwane's formulation above ("This is a kind of a placeholder paragraph awaiting kewb's magisterial comparison of potato salad and Cinnabon"), and I eagerly await kewb's final analysis of the final episode.

Thanks, everyone.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 4:37 PM on August 15 [5 favorites]


Speaking of the ultimate episode, one of the things I'm going to miss are these threads. Thanks to everyone who's been posting to them. It's made the experience of the show even more enjoyable.

And in these times, that ain't nothin'.


Seconding this!! Thank you everyone.

Going into this last episode, I'm at a loss with predictions. Seems like a lot of folks expect Saul to be apprehended, but I don't feel like his ending up in an orange jumpsuit would be either adequate or satisfying. Just think what Slippin' Jimmy could do in prison!

Don't think he will die in a shootout either (been there). He could slip out with another vacuum part reincarnation; but that would seem a bit like a Sopranos-type ending (and also inconsistent with where the show's seemingly been headed, with genuine repercussions for actions). I am fascinated to see where the show-runners are going with all this.

Saul's already lost Kim. I just deeply hope that the consequences for his actions don't entail anything worse for her. REALLY hope they don't end Kim's story in a way that serves just as more punishment for Saul--I mean, with something worse happening to her--although I could see it going that way. I agree with the primroses were over that the 2nd-to-last episode stuck the landing, at least as far as Kim is concerned, and I hope they let that be.
posted by torticat at 5:34 PM on August 15 [1 favorite]


Finished a rewatch (oof that "I trusted you" and oof that "Time to sing!") just in time to get booted off AMC+ when I tried to watch the finale, and am now unable to sign in and scrolling joylessly through replies to @AMCPlus on Twitter saying it's down for them, too. Guess they learned nothing about managing high volumes of traffic from the season premiere, when the service also went down.

Ah, at least this time AMC+ is acknowledging they fucked up:

Hello -- we are aware of issues for some users streaming tonight's #BetterCallSaul. We are working on a fix ASAP.
posted by mediareport at 7:04 PM on August 15 [1 favorite]


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