The season four finale of Better Call Saul is rapidly approaching and, while I do not know what to expect, I am very much rooting for two things to happen. First, I hope someone — anyone, really, but preferably Mike — kabongs Kai The Worthless German Demolition Man on the head with a hard unripened melon, just because we’ve been teased with his weasel-y actions all season and I think we deserve at least some small amount of comeuppance. I will settle for a ripe melon, I guess, but only if it’s in front of his friends and he’s sad about it. Visibly sad. For at least 30 seconds of screen time. I think we’ve earned it, honestly.
Second, I hope Kim dumps Jimmy like a sack of dirt and never looks back.
I realize this is a problem. If Kim and Jimmy split up for good, it would suck a substantial source of drama out of the show and remove its moral center. (It says a lot about this show that someone who just used a fake baby to trick an innocent woman into approving fraudulent building plans can be the moral center.) It would also effectively remove Rhea Seehorn from the cast and that won’t do at all because Rhea Seehorn rules and should be on television more, not less. This plan is not without its flaws.
It is also, however, the best way to protect Kim Wexler, a character I like and do not want to see imprisoned for fraud or killed off at some later date by a disgruntled client or enemy of Saul Goodman. This is the tricky thing about a prequel, and it’s something I bring up almost every time I talk about Better Call Saul. We know where this going. We know the brief moments of personal progress for Jimmy McGill won’t last. They can’t last. At some point, he’s going to become the guy we know from Breaking Bad and that guy is a full-on crook who never once mentioned a girlfriend or wife. Between that and the fact that he proudly advertises offering these kinds of services (probably a bridge too far for present-day Kim Wexler), it’s not exactly a leap to assume she exits his life somehow between this point and that point.
Nothing I’m saying here is breaking new ground. The show reminds us repeatedly, with both subtle nods (little bits of foreshadowing in the action) and unsubtle wallops (the Cinnabon sequences that bookend each season). Hell, I wrote almost this exact same thing last season. Here, look:
Kim is pretty much the only character on Better Call Saul who has an open-ended fate and has to-date been a decent, morally-redeemable character of consequence. In a way, that makes her the most important character on the show. Every time Jimmy teeters over the line into Saul territory (like what he just did to poor Irene at Sandpiper, ruining a gullible old woman’s life and breaking her down in a disturbingly cold manner), it’s just one more step toward what we know he’ll become. Every time something potentially dangerous or serious happens to Kim, it could be the last time we ever see her. The show has done a great job of creating stakes even with all the known outcomes, but because everything — or most things — are already known, the unknown takes on greater significance.
Yup, still true. More true, even, after everything that happened this season. The co-dependency at the start (her supporting him emotionally, him supporting her physically), their diverging paths during the 10-month time jump (him slipping into shady drop phone sales, her having professional and pro-bono success), Kim swan-diving into the Grift Life to spring Huell and fleece the poor woman with the building plans. The distance from Jimmy to Saul gets shorter every episode and the longer Kim stays on that train the closer she gets to assured disaster.
That’s why, upon review, I actually found their parking garage blowout from the most recent episode to be more hopeful than anything else. Oh, it was ugly, let’s not get confused about that. Jimmy and Kim were both shouting hurtful things at each other, in public, in broad daylight. (It’s fun to picture some poor schmuck trying to get to his used Toyota Tercel while they hurled insults at each other, hiding behind a cement column praying for them to stop talking so he can get to Arby’s before the drive-thru hits the dinner rush). Blow it all up, I say. Air those grievances, all of them, dating back as far as you can remember. On another show, a non-prequel, it might be the turning point that finally shocks our hero back to the straight-and-narrow. On this show, it’s our best hope that Kim gets fed up and Jimmy doesn’t end up dragging her into the toilet with him. That counts as a win in the Breaking Bad universe.
(You know what I did not expect heading into this show, way back when it was first announced? To hate Saul Goodman. It just started happening recently, when the thing I already knew — sweet rascal Jimmy becomes sleazy Saul becomes sad Gene — started becoming a reality and I started really seeing Jimmy/Saul/Gene less as three different people and more as one broken dude who breaks everything he touches. That said, my heart still fluttered with joy during his “Street Life” montage earlier in the season. I never said I was consistent.)