Wednesday, March 29

Is Kim a secret crime kingpin? The various ways Better Call Saul might finish | Television

A month ago, I wrote about Better Call Saul’s final stretch. The crux of the piece was that the show has long been revealed in telling a story as slowly as possible; how it steadfastly refuses to cut corners by denying us a single element of its overarching narrative. But with so much left to tell, and such a short amount of time to do so, I thought that it was all over. This last season was going to be a full-blast rocket ship, I figured, and we would all have to strap in or miss out.

Clearly, I was wrong. Rather than rush to its big finale, Better Call Saul’s six most recent episodes have been as methodical as usual, with just about every character meticulously plotting out various unexplained endgames in granular detail. Jimmy and Kim have spent the entire season piecing together an elaborate plot to bring down Howard Hamlin. Lalo Salamanca is roaming the world as part of an impressive big-picture scheme to take revenge on Gus Fring. Fring is busy, too, fortifying himself against the inevitable attack. Lots of pieces are in motion – but Better Call Saul is being exceptionally cagey about where they will end up.

But at the end of episode six, things took an ominous turn. Kim Wexler, the breakout character of the entire show and – thanks to her lack of visibility in Breaking Bad – the subject of myriad panicky fan theories, spent the episode being shown a way out. The opportunity of a lifetime came her way, a post that could have underlined her position as a reputable force for good. But something went wrong with her plan to topple Hamlin, and the final shot of the episode was (literally) a drastic U-turn as she went back to fix it. Forget driving away into the sunset. Kim has made her decision to remain in the murk.

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The thorn in her side…Patrick Fabian as Howard Hamlin. Photograph: Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

The episode that is released next week will be a miniature season finale, before the show picks up for its final six episodes in July. There is still a long way to go to connect Better Call Saul with Breaking Bad, and this seems like a logical moment to finally explain why Kim doesn’t make the jump. So what exactly is going to happen to her? Glad you asked, because I have some thoughts.

The worst theory is that we’re about to see Kim die. There has been plenty of dark talk of this season being “tragic”, and what could be more tragic than killing off the most beloved character, played by the best actor on television (Rhea Seehorn), long before the final episode? Perhaps something goes awry during their plot to take down Howard. Perhaps Howard, who we recently saw beating up Jimmy, flips and murders her. That would certainly explain why Jimmy goes off the deep end so wildly, in the G-string and Viagra-filled mansion we saw a glimpse of in this season’s first episode. But is that what we want to happen to Kim? Isn’t it a bit expected? And wouldn’t it be tonally jarring for a show that rejects such easy answers?

Another theory is that she simply breaks bad. The plot goes off without a hitch and, like almost everyone else who falls into Saul Goodman’s orbit, she simply loses a bit of her soul in the process. There have been a few nods to this – Kim has spent this season so far telling Jimmy who Saul should be – so perhaps she will end up becoming the Evil Emperor of Breaking Bad, guiding Jimmy’s path unseen by all the other characters. Again, though, this feels like a cop out, an instance of the writers keeping a character around her because they love her too much to do anything interesting with her.

Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill.
Deserving of some happiness … Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill. Photograph: Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Something the producers said a while ago has stuck with me: what ending does Jimmy deserve? Call me an old-fashioned fool but, after seeing his early good intentions of him, not to mention his years spent in Cinnabon purgatory, I think he deserves a modicum of happiness.

So here’s what I think will happen to Kim. In episode 7, Jimmy and Kim’s plot is going to go majorly wrong and Howard will try to get them arrested. Kim will be the only one who goes to jail, either because she sacrifices herself to save Jimmy, or because Jimmy throws her under the bus. Without her around her, Saul’s mask ends up eating Jimmy’s face from her. He goes to ground and starts acting upon all his worst impulses from him. Then Breaking Bad happens, and he goes into hiding. The series will end with Kim being released from prison, tracking down future black-and-white Jimmy in Nebraska, and grinding out an uneasy rapprochement with him. They’ve both been broken, they’ve both been punished. They’re different people, but now they have each other again. Not a sad ending, not a happy ending, but a Better Call Saul ending. It’s the ending I’d like to see. But, I’ve been wrong before.

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