I think about Better Call Saul a lot. I watch every episode at least twice, I keep up on the recaps (including Brian’s terrific coverage), I follow the cast and the writers on Twitter, I read message boards, and I listen to every Better Call Saul Insider podcast.
Peter Gould and the writers keep things very close to their vests, but the way they emphasize certain things in both episodes of the show and on the weekly podcast always end up making sense in retrospect. It’s next to impossible to predict where Better Call Saul is going, but once it goes there, you can see the telltale signs along the way. There were breadcrumbs in season three leading to Chuck’s death, and in season four leading to Kim’s car accident.
I’ve been trying to read those breadcrumbs this season, and the most recent season (and the most recent episode of the Insider podcast) have led me toward a specific direction as far as it concerns Kim Wexler. This will not be popular theory, and I wasn’t even pleased with my own brain for taking me here, but hear me out.
Here’s what we know about Kim in season 5: She still has immense affection for Jimmy McGill, but she is very suspicious of Saul Goodman, although she also appreciates Saul’s ability to think outside the box and bend ethical rules for the good of a client. It’s why Kim enrolled Saul to help her save Mr. Acker from Mesa Verde.
Kim loves to occasionally allow herself to get caught up in Jimmy’s whims and schemes, but she always ends up regretting it. Kim is precisely the kind of person who will throw a six-pack of beer bottles into a parking lot in frustration but clean up the mess the next morning. Kim also hates working for Mesa Verde, but loves to do pro bono work. It’s what she lives to do. She wants to help people, but she doesn’t have Jimmy’s knack for finding creative solutions in the grey areas of the law.
Here’s what else we know: Kim is not going to ultimately settle down with Jimmy. That was obvious in her reluctance to seriously consider buying a house with him. It’s obvious in her discomfort with Saul Goodman. My guess, however, is that Jimmy/Saul will eventually burn her so bad with one of his schemes that she finally ends her relationship with him. I don’t think Kim dies on Better Call Saul. It doesn’t feel right, and Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould are adamant about making natural choices for the characters. There would be nothing natural about Kim Wexler ending up dead.
But we also don’t know her whereabouts in the post-Breaking Bad world. That is true of one other character, as well: Howard Hamlin. Now, before you get ahead of me, yes, that is exactly what I was thinking, and let me tell you why. Besides Kim Wexler, there is only one other character on Better Call Saul who knows what it feels like to fall under the spell of a McGill. More than that, as this week’s episode illustrated, Howard Hamlin has a huge soft spot for Jimmy McGill. Howard Hamlin loves “Charlie Hustle” so much that he offered Jimmy/Saul a job, in spite of everything else.
Jimmy rejected that offer in his actions (by throwing bowling balls on his car), and my guess is that Howard will now exactly who is responsible, and he won’t do a thing. Because Howard is a good guy, and he understands why Jimmy would resent him. Where it concerns the McGill brothers, Howard and Kim have a lot in common. And Howard finds in Kim — a former employee of his — someone with whom he can confide. Remember “Pimento”? It was in Kim that Howard confided that Chuck refused to hire Jimmy at Hamlin and McGill because Chuck did not respect his little brother. Howard has confided in Kim before.
With Jimmy eventually out of the picture for Kim, and her obvious dislike for the Mesa Verde work, there’s a very good possibility that Kim Wexler returns to the firm that put her through law school. She won’t go back to working for herself again — there’s too much risk and she obviously cannot afford to do pro bono work without the backing of a bigger firm. In lieu of Jimmy, Howard would hire Kim and let her do the work she loves to do — after all, he basically offered just such a job to Jimmy this week. If Howard and Kim start to work together again, they may find themselves bonding over their shared history with the McGill brothers, over their fondness for the two men but also their guilt over their fates. Howard and Kim could become very close because that would make sense for their characters.
Assuming that Kim is alive in the future, why doesn’t Saul Goodman ever reach out to her? Why hasn’t Gene Takovic made contact? What is the one thing — more than any other — that would keep a prideful Jimmy McGill from reaching out to Kim Wexler and asking for her help?
Knowing that she’s with Howard Hamlin. It makes a perfect, painful kind of sense, doesn’t it?