[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for Better Call Saul, Season 6 Episode 9, “Fun and Games.”]
For the past few episodes of Better Call Saul, a pretty dark pattern has emerged: As the countdown towards the end of the series continues, each week we’ve seen one of the show’s primary characters, who we always knew didn’t appear in sequel series Breaking Bad, be eliminated.
Episode 7 ended with the casual execution of Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian). In Episode 8, Lalo Salamanca (Tony Dalton) laughed his last laugh after a fierce firefight with Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). And Episode 9, “Fun and Games,” also ended with a casualty: Specifically, the death of Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk), with the shell of Saul Goodman left behind in his place.
Of course, another series regular also has seemingly made her last appearance on the show, but that came maybe under the best possible circumstances for the character, given everything we know.
As played by Rhea Seehorn (now rightfully Emmy-nominated for her performance on this show), Kim Wexler has been one of Better Call Saul’s more enigmatic characters. Except that from the beginning, one of her defining traits was a fondness for Jimmy, born out of a previous relationship that seemed to end relatively well, given how they did eventually find their way back to each other.
What stood out about Jimmy and Kim as a pairing was that unlike other TV romances, it snuck up on us a bit, giving us the rare treat of seeing two mature adults develop an adult relationship (as opposed to the bombast and drama of the best-known love stories). It wasn’t a fairytale romance and that’s why it was so memorable; Jimmy and Kim fell in love the way that real people often do, with all the flaws and setbacks that real people often face.
But even without the specter of Breaking Bad’s future hanging over the show, the seeds of disaster were always present, because Kim’s attraction to Jimmy always had something to do with the danger. While the first season established that their platonic friendship had been preceded at some point by a more intimate one, the first time they even kissed in the show’s “present day” storyline came in the Season 2 premiere, after Jimmy lured Kim into helping him con the obnoxious KENWINS at a fancy bar.
If Jimmy had more impulse control, or a stronger sense of right and wrong, maybe this relationship wouldn’t have been so doomed. But if he had had those things, this relationship might never have happened. Because that was the foundation of their connection: Jimmy seeking Kim’s validation and approval, Kim craving the thrills Jimmy brought to her life. As a result, being together in this way meant bringing out the worst instincts in both of them, and whether or not it’s fair to put the full blame for Howard’s death on them being together, it’s certainly how Kim is feeling at the end of “Fun and Games.”
Seehorn barely speaks for most of the episode, but the camera captures her mind working, processing everything that’s happened, coming to her own conclusions about the future even as Jimmy rambles about moving on: “One day we’ll wake up and brush our teeth, and some point we’ll realize we haven’t thought about it at all, any of it. And that’s when we’ll know. We’ll know we can forget.” Maybe Kim is capable of forgetting. But she’s got just enough moral compass left to know that she can’t let herself do that.
And so, she quits. Quits the law, quits her marriage with Jimmy, and, it seems, quits Albuquerque. (The way Seehorn spits out her last words of the episode, maybe her last words of the entire series, are impossible to forget: “I didn’t want that because I was having too much fun.”) For those who have spent years on KimWatch, waiting to find out what kind of awful undoing would befall her prior to the end of Better Call Saul, it’s a bit of a relief to see the show present her departure as a fait accompli — again, the best possible outcome for the character. It’d be nice to have more details about where she went and what she’s doing, but what matters right now is that Kim got out. And not a moment too soon.
Because then “Fun and Games” fast-forwards through a good chunk of time, maybe years, to bring us up-to-date with the new/old status quo of Saul Goodman, Attorney-at-Law. The final sequence of the episode, rich with details about this man’s life, serves as a re-introduction to a man we first met in Breaking Bad Season 2, making it clear that Kim Wexler is long gone — and so is Jimmy McGill.
Living on a diet of Xanax and Nutrigrain bars, keeping his quick mind busy and distracted with work and sex workers, and rejecting any sense of false humility with his World’s Best Lawyer coffee mug, Saul Goodman is now fully in charge, and it hurts only because over the seasons, we’d gotten glimpses of his capacity for goodness. Maybe there’s some alternate universe out there where Jimmy McGill has a nice stable practice focused on elder law — maybe he’s not dating Kim, but there’s some nice woman in his life, and every Sunday the two of them go over to Chuck McGill’s house for dinner by candlelight.
While that’s not our reality, there are still four episodes to go, and as much as we know about the future of this story, there’s still plenty left unanswered. Such as whether or not Jimmy — wait, sorry, Saul — might ever see Kim again. In interviews over the years, Seehorn has repeatedly dodged questions about Kim’s post-Breaking Bad fate with her own pitch for the future: Kim’s working at the same mall as Gene Takovic, specifically at a Claire’s Accessories right next door to the Cinnabon. (A perfect choice, by the way — raise your hand if you’re a suburban kid who first got your ears pierced at a Claire’s.)
That idea has of course grown more farfetched as we’ve gotten to see more hints as to Gene’s life in Omaha, but it’s not impossible to imagine the series finale featuring a somewhat older Kim, randomly wandering through a Nebraska mall and having a craving for some gooey cinnamon goodness.
The question is, what would happen, if she was spotted by the man who was once her husband? Would Jimmy McGill try to say hello? Would Saul Goodman scream at her for leaving him? Or would Gene Takovic, with so little fight left in him, just let her walk away?
Not being sure of the answer to that question is yet another reason why Better Call Saul will keep us fascinated to the very end.
Better Call Saul airs Mondays at 9:00 p.m. ET on AMC.