TV

The ‘Better Call Saul’ Lie Detector Test: It’s Never A Good Sign When You Are Sobbing On A Bus

The Better Call Saul Lie Detector Test is a weekly recap of the major events of the final season, separated out by their apparent truthfulness at the time. This is not one of those recaps that gets into granular detail about things. It will miss the occasional callback or foreshadowing. But it will be fun. Sometimes, that’s what’s important.

Season 6, Episode 12: “Waterworks”

LIE FALSE SAUL
UPROXX

Kim Wexler is doing great

SAUL
AMC

Hey, let’s check in with Kim Wexler to see how th-… aaaaand she’s bawling on a bus. That’s not ideal. It’s never ideal, really, to be ugly crying alone on a bus. Or any form of public transportation. Like, if you saw someone having that kind of meltdown on the subway, you’d assume they were really going through something. I doubt you’d jump straight to “that lady has been living in Florida as a brunette for six years to put various murders and relationships as far in her rearview as possible but she just came back to New Mexico to confess to all of it to both the authorities and the widow of her former legal partner whose life she helped ruin before he was killed in front of her by a charming sociopath,” but I don’t know. Maybe you’re intuitive like that.

There are two things going on here, related in every way but also separate. The first is the Kim Wexler of it all. The thing where she’s living in Florida and selling sprinklers and having the most boring mayonnaise conversations you can possibly imagine all day long, sometimes literally about mayonnaise, sometimes with her absolute snoozer of a new lover, a man who shouts “Yup” over and over during sex. She has stripped all the excitement from her life, almost definitely on purpose, as the first five-plus seasons of this show gave her enough for a few lifetimes. You can see how this might be appealing to her.

But then, the phone call. From “Viktor St. Clair.” Out of the damn blue. That seemed to make everything real again and end whatever sun-soaked denial she’d been pushing through. She jumped on a plane and dusted off the legal writing skills and wrote up a whole affidavit about Howard and Lalo and everything she and Jimmy had been running from in very different ways. She went to Cheryl to deliver the news in person because Kim is somehow the moral center of this twisted endeavor, past actions be damned. It was a lot. You would cry on a bus, too.

Which brings us to the second thing: How freaking good is Rhea Seehorn? Holy moly. That shot on the bus lingered on her for so long as everything hit her in waves. She fought the tears and then exploded and it was all so real and so incredible and so devastating. Think about the logistics of that scene. Think about a camera pointing at you with no cuts for a full couple of minutes and you having to go from dead-eyed stare into the middle distance to dropping snot with no one to act off of or even dialogue to help you get there. And that was just the big showpiece scene. The whole episode was her putting on a clinic, even in the Florida sprinkler office where you could see how checked-out she was just by looking at any part of her face and the scene in Saul’s office where she signed the divorce papers and sighed a lot about the guy he had become. She’s pretty good, is my point.

Also, she got to do this toward the end of the episode, in a scene I’ll discuss in more detail later.

SAUL
AMC

Just massively cool. One of the all-time great television characters. One of the all-time great performances. Things got wild at the end of the episode, in a way that will play out in a big way next week, but let’s all try to talk about this part of it all a bunch, too.

Gene could have stopped if he wanted

SAUL
AMC

The thing here that’s important, a thing we discussed last week when Gene kicked off his barbiturate-laced identity theft scam, is that whether he’s Jimmy or Saul or Gene, he is still the same guy and he’s always going to blow up anything good in his life. “Good” is on a sliding scale here, I guess, as he did not seem to be enjoying his boring Cinnabon life very much, but it was not prison. Which counts for something. He just needs action, all the time, in dangerous ways. This is how one ends up brandishing a jar of doggy ashes as a weapon after an identity theft victim wakes up because one took all the time in the world and poured some whiskey while looking for passwords in a home one broke into by smashing the glass right near the front door. You know, to pick an example at random.

Think of all the stupid choices he made that led him to that moment at the end where Marion smashed her Life Alert button and blew everything up. Just the ones in the past few days:

  • Started the identity theft scam with two idiots because one of them recognized him at the mall
  • Kept doing it after he achieved his alleged goal of having dirt on them so they wouldn’t rat him out
  • Followed through with the grift on the cancer guy even though there was no tape on the door and he’d have to smash the glass, maybe out of lingering anger at another guy he knew who had cancer
  • Hung around the house so long that Jeff got nervous outside and panic-crashed his cab because there were cops behind him
  • Mentioned Albuquerque in the phone call with Marion, a sweet woman who recently became familiar with YouTube thanks to the laptop her idiot son — and his business partner — bought her with the proceeds from their crimes

Just a parade of unforced errors. It’s tempting to say the whole situation was avoidable, but also… was it? Wasn’t he always going to destroy his life somehow, if not involving doggy ashes and Carol Burnett using dial-up internet then… somehow? The only thing remotely resembling self-control he showed in the last few weeks was not strangling an old woman with a telephone cord when she tried to call for help after discovering his whole criminal ruse. Which was nice, I guess, but an extremely low bar.

Things are not going to go great for him in the finale, one assumes. Between Marion’s call for help and Kim’s affidavit (which was also the result of an unforced error, what with the whole disastrous phone call where he yelled that she should turn herself in), the whole house of cards is coming down fast. It was always going to happen, but it’s definitely happening now.

Vince Gilligan is kind of rusty at this television business

SAUL
AMC

This episode was written and directed by Vince Gilligan, creator of Breaking Bad and co-creator of this show. He is good at this stuff. The scene with Kim on the bus, the tension in that final scene with Marion, just the confidence to open with like 15 minutes about a sprinkler office and doing puzzles and making potato salad and dates at the new Outback when the entire audience is waiting for the fireworks. Imagine being this good at your job. Imagine being this good at anything.

Part of me wants him to just keep spinning off characters from these shows and building out the universe for decades. (I repeat: Don Eladio prequel, please.) Another part of me wants to see what else he has in the tank. Either way, I think it’s fair to assume it’ll be good-to-great based on the track record. Really no losing here for me.

LIE UNCLEAR SAUL
UPROXX

Kim is going to prison

SAUL
AMC

ON ONE HAND: She did just confess to a lot of crimes and confessing to a lot of crimes is a good way to end up in prison. The stuff with Howard and the drugs, the covering up of his murder, all of it. And she doesn’t seem to be hiding from any of it. She very much seems like a lady who is tearing herself apart with guilt and is seeking some kind of punishment she feels she deserves for the actions she’s been running from.

ON THE OTHER HAND: A lot of this is hard to prove even with her confession. The murder was scrubbed clean by a guy who bled out next to a river. The body is buried under a superlab that was operated by a guy who got his face blown off. The only one who can corroborate it all is the guy she did it all with. I don’t know how that all works out. And then there’s the possibility that she gets off for testifying against Jimmy/Saul/Gene, a noted fugitive who has been on the run for an extended period of time.

A lot of ways this could go. All of which I will be thinking about this week. I worry about Kim Wexler a lot.

Jimmy/Saul/Gene is going to prison

SAUL
AMC

ON ONE HAND: The crimes. So many crimes. Old ones and new ones. He could get a decade just for this last Nebraska-related breaking and entering. And that doesn’t even touch on the various New Mexico things he’s running from, dotting across various timelines, as far back as the Howard stuff Kim is airing out to anyone who will listen and going all the way up to and through the Heisenberg business. There are probably a number of prosecutors who would very much like to get their hands on him for any number of reasons. And it’s not like he has much to trade anymore either, seeing as most of his immediate conspirators are dead. Grim future for Slippin’ Jimmy.

ON THE OTHER HAND: There are probably some cartel guys out there who have long memories and grudges and do not have anyone else left to take it all out on. And maybe he has one last trick up his sleeve. Maybe he grows a beard and changes his name to Percy Valentine and goes to work at a landscaping company. Until he blows his life up again a few years later. Which he will. As we have discussed. So it’s basically “jail or murder for him,” really. Again, grim future.

Wild to remember this was the “fun” character they spun off from the other show.

Tammy needs a new husband

SAUL
AMC

ON ONE HAND: An exercise bike? For her birthday? Come on, buddy. Come on. You simply cannot be that dense and expect there will be no consequences.

ON THE OTHER HAND: He probably thought he was doing a nice thing — “She’s always saying she wants to start exercising and I thought this would help” — but was just so hopelessly misguided that he ended up here. Sweet but dull is better than a lot of other alternatives. He won’t live this down, ever, but maybe they can work through it.

LIE TRUE SAUL
UPROXX

I still love hearing Jesse Pinkman drop an unnecessary “yo” or two

SAUL
AMC

Three things are true here, all of which I can pound out via bullet point:

  • For the second week in a row, I whooped a little when I saw Jesse, this time as the camera pulled back and revealed him outside Saul’s office, mostly because I still have a soft spot for that goofball even knowing who he is and what he’s about to do
  • There was one second where I thought Kim had flown to Alaska instead of Albuquerque, when she was standing near the signs for Alaska Airlines and Frontier airlines, and I got very excited she might have gone up there to find him and do some sort of business up there related to Saul
  • “It’s like bananas, all this rain” has now officially entered my brain and I suspect it will reappear every time the clouds open up around me in real life, at least for a few years

I wish there was a way I could alter history and save him from the meth Nazis. He’s a sweet misguided boy. He just got in with the wrong crowd. Leave him alone.

I called it

SAUL
AMC

I apologize in advance for how insufferable I am going to be about this for pretty much the rest of my life, but here’s what I said last week.

We need to consider the thing at the end of this episode. The thing where she heard a doggy ruckus outside and looked through her window while Gene was melting down on his accomplices in that shed. And the thing where she now has an internet-connected computer and an increasing knowledge of how to navigate YouTube. And the possibility that there are a number of YouTube videos — news reports, weirdo fan tributes, etc. — about the mysterious disappearance of crooked New Mexico attorney Saul Goodman. And the possibility that she will stumble across one and think about how much that guy looks like sweet Gene and how her beloved Jeffy spent time in New Mexico and how it’s weird that the two of them are spending so much time in that shed.

What I’m saying here is that there’s a non-zero chance that the diabolical Saul Goodman ends up finally getting arrested after years on the run because a Nebraska senior citizen played by Carol Freaking Burnett got bored watching cat videos one day. That would be pretty awesome.

Freakin’ nailed it. Close enough, at least. Is there an argument to be made that this was all less me being a handsome genius and more the show laying out details meticulously — Marion getting a computer and going on YouTube, her getting suspicious about Gene and Jeff meeting in the backyard, a show casting Carol Burnett in 2022 like they wouldn’t absolutely use her for a pivotal moment in the series — in such a way that even a doofus like me can see what’s coming, even subconsciously?

Hmm. Maybe. Possibly. But it’s more fun for me to run around shouting “I CALLED IT,” so let’s just all agree to go with that.

That cop was right about fish tacos

SAUL
AMC

We live in the damn future. We can send satellites to outer space to take pictures just so we know what the weather will be like in a few days. Elderly ladies can uncover years-long criminal mysteries with a box they use to watch cats being silly. We should be able to get fresh and delicious fish tacos anywhere at any time. Figure this out. It’s madness and we should not stand for it.

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