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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 22 April 2020 at 7:11pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Greg and Brian, both of you are right on the money about Kim.

Here's my take on it:

We as an audience were massively conned.   We went into BCS expecting to learn Jimmy's story and sympathize with him much like Walter White in the early BB seasons, and then learn to hate him through his Mr. Hyde turn into Saul/Heisenberg.   Kim was always foreshadowed as the ultimate victim, both in Rhea's performance and by her abscence in BB.

The massive rug pull here is that Kim is in reality the Walter White analogue and we just saw her moment of heel turning, possibly ending up as the villian of the entire series when you take it in as a whole.   All of this triggered by her realization of how much danger Jimmy was in and from standing toe-to-toe to Lalo -- but instead of being horrifed by it it's actually energizing her -- sort of a weird reverse-PTSD.   It's possibly the best slow-play villian turn I've ever seen.   She's almost too bloodthirsty to take down Howard, which is frightening because on the surface it comes off as glib but underneath it's deadly serious.  Very much like Lalo.

(interestingly enough, Lalo lives up to his role as a character who basically walks in and breaks down all the walls -- in last weeks episode he sees her for who she really is and comments accordingly, we just read his banter with Kim as small talk because we still viewed Kim as the victim at that point)  

What I didn't expect was that Jimmy is really the equivalent of Jesse in all this.  Jesse spends most of BB wanting out of 'the game' and this is the mode that Saul is in right now.   Jimmy is haunted by the grief of Fred Whalen's family in much the same way that Jesse is scarred by Drew Sharp's murder.   Jesse never 'breaks bad' and neither does Saul, they are in this because of circumstances beyond their control and not because they want to be there.

I want to pull back a bit from this character analysis and focus on the storytelling vocabulary that Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan are using.   Sometimes the abscence of something is just as significant as it's inclusion:

This is only BCS season finale that doesn't use a Jimmy flashback as a framing device.  

The structure of the first four BCS seasons has been pretty rigid:   The opening episode of the season has a flash forward that drips a little more of Gene's story.   There are usually no other flash forwards or backwards in the middle episodes of the season, with maybe one exception.   The final episode of the season has a Jimmy flashback, usually something related to Chuck.

We didn't get that flashback for this finale and it's conspicuous by it's absence.   However, we did get a Kim flashback in a middle episode of the season!  That, IMO was a subtle signal from our showrunners that there was something different about this finale -- the episode was more about Kim than Jimmy.   It was literally a sign saying "Pay attention to Kim, not the man in the flashy suit waving his hands in front of you because he's the distraction".

What will be interesting is if the Season 6 opener breaks convention and doesn't include a Gene flash-forward -- signaling that S5 bleeds right into S6 without skipping a beat both chronologically and thematically.   Season 6 is slated for 13 episodes but I wonder if they will pull a BB and split it up into a 6+7 episodes.   I'm sure COVID lockdowns may also play a role into how the season gets doled out as well.


Edited by Rob Ocelot on 22 April 2020 at 9:18pm
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Vinny Valenti
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Posted: 22 April 2020 at 8:53pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

"Jesse never 'breaks bad' and neither does Saul, they are in this because of circumstances beyond their control and not because they want to be there."

---

Well....let's not let Saul off the hook, here. He has his "Elliot and Gretchen" moment TWICE this season - the first when he turns down Hamlin's job offer, and the second when he could have walked away from delivering Lalo's 7 million, but decides to do it for $100000. In each case, he made the conscious decision to choose the dark path.
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Vinny Valenti
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Posted: 22 April 2020 at 8:56pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

And regarding Kim, I still need to process that, maybe even rewatch the past 2 seasons. At first glance her apparent heel turn feels out of character, but I'm betting there were clues I missed the first time around that were there all along.

Much like the aforementioned "Elliot and Gretchen" moment. I was upset when I first watched it, thinking that it didn't make sense for Walt to turn it down. It took a few episodes for me to realize that that was exactly the point.


Edited by Vinny Valenti on 22 April 2020 at 8:56pm
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 22 April 2020 at 9:33pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

The massive rug pull here is that Kim is in reality the Walter White analogue and we just saw her moment of heel turning, possibly ending up as the villian of the entire series when you take it in as a whole.   All of this triggered by her realization of how much danger Jimmy was in and from standing toe-to-toe to Lalo -- but instead of being horrifed by it it's actually energizing her -- sort of a weird reverse-PTSD.   It's possibly the best slow-play villian turn I've ever seen.   She's almost too bloodthirsty to take down Howard, which is frightening because on the surface it comes off as glib but underneath it's deadly serious.  Very much like Lalo.
++++++

We need more information, though. I’m not willing to see it as a heel-turn, just yet.

I think it actually comes down to insecurity, just like with Walter White. Kim had a rough childhood. We don’t yet know exactly how things went down with her mother. All we know is that Kim was forced by circumstances to become a self-made woman, and that she had at least one toxic relationship in her past. A relationship where she was forced into being the level-headed one trying to right the ship.

We’ve seen again and again throughout the run of BCS how driven Kim is. How unemotional and devoted to problem-solving and logical solutions she is. As Seehorn has noted, it’s a bit of a gender-role swap—Jimmy is the emotional one in the relationship, and Kim is the cool-headed one. 

More and more, we’ve seen Kim become determined to win at all costs. She goes to Saul Goodman for help with the Acker case, primarily because she feels guilty for evicting him, and doesn’t want that emotional burden. She’s deeply dissatisfied with banking law, and plunges headlong into pro bono cases. Because she wants to help people—especially underprivileged people—put their lives back together. 

She’s a fixer, someone a psychologist would refer to as a “White Knight”. And that can be an extremely dangerous thing for both parties in a relationship. More and more, we’ve seen Kim actively seek out people and situations to “fix” (with Jimmy being Numero Uno on that list) because of this childhood emotional wound she carries around with her. A deep-rooted insecurity and fear of loss. A quiet desperation to hang on to loved ones.

Seeing her break down and cry at the end of the opening teaser in “Bad Choice Road” was rather shocking, for me. We’ve seen Kim happy. We’ve seen Kim angry. We’ve seen her surprised and terrified and funny and romantic. But we’ve never really seen her completely break down in tears. She came close when Jimmy nonchalantly read the letter from Chuck after the latter’s death. She came close when Jimmy gave his “sincere” speech to the New Mexico State Bar, so he could get reinstated. She came close at the end of “Wexler v. Goodman”, when her voice began trembling—right before that problem-solving mind of hers kicked in and she proposed marriage to Jimmy.

We always assumed that she was Jimmy’s rock, the normal, stable person who would likely either die or be ruined by the birth of Saul Goodman. The reality of the situation is quickly shaping up to be something much, much worse. She might just be a damaged woman whose insecurity and fear of loss leads to both her downfall and Jimmy’s. The unwitting catalyst for tragedy.

We’ve had a number of false-starts in this series regarding the actual “birth” of Saul Goodman. As has been well-publicized, the original plan was for a half-hour comedic show about Saul having wacky adventures with his criminal clients. Then, it mutated into an hour-long drama- comedy-prequel, with the plan being to turn Jimmy into Saul at the end of the first season. But, along the way, something funny happened. Gilligan and his team fell in love with Jimmy McGill and his story, and so did we. So, they put off the birth of Saul for as long as possible, and succeeded in turning it into a source of dread and tragedy, rather than an exciting reward for viewers who stuck with the show for long enough.

I thought that the end of season four (“S’all good, man!”) would finally get us going to that place. But, despite Jimmy wearing the suits and using the name...he’s still Jimmy. A darker and more broken Jimmy, but still Jimmy. Thus, even this penultimate season has been something of a bait-and-switch, too. 

I was also shocked by that shot of Jimmy sitting on the bed, looking wordlessly at Kim as she casually finger-gunned him, mirroring his own move at the end of last season. Wondering just who the woman he loves has become. And we also saw Jimmy trying to both keep Kim out of “the game” and to rein her in by telling her that quitting Schweikart & Cokley was a bad idea. More and more, he’s actually becoming the voice of reason, whereas she is becoming more and more involved in a criminal world that she’s totally unprepared for. But he isn’t.

I have a sinking feeling about all of this. Jimmy still ain’t Saul, and this pulling-the-rug-out-from-under-us bit with Kim is extremely disconcerting. We always assumed that the birth of Saul would be mainly because of Jimmy’s bad choices, and his toxic relationship with Chuck. Now, it almost looks like he’s just going along for the ride, as the woman we thought we knew ends up being the one to lead him down the path to the dark side.

Chilling. And not too far off from BREAKING BAD’s gradual revelations about what Walter White’s backstory and true motives were. One of the great things about BCS is that it’s exploring similar themes and ideas as BB did, but in fresh ways and from different angles. Both BCS and BB are Swiss watches in terms of their structure and complex, layered symbology (perhaps even the TV equivalent of something like WATCHMEN), and will rightfully be studied and puzzled over for years to come.


Also, Rob, brilliant catch with the flashback-structure analysis. I hadn’t even considered it, but, yes, we’ve always gotten the various flashbacks to Jimmy’s early days with Marco, Chuck, and Kim. Not this season. This season, we had the flashback to Kim’s childhood, which—at first—seemed to be there mainly to provide justification for her vigorous pursuit of letting Acker stay in his home, and for her continued doubling-down on her relationship with Jimmy.

But, no. All signs now point to a much longer, larger, and more insidious game that’s been playing out right under our noses the entire time. Oh, man.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 22 April 2020 at 9:36pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

...also, did anyone in their wildest dreams imagine when this show was originally announced, six-odd years ago, that it would end up being a tragic love story?
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 22 April 2020 at 10:15pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

Inspired by this discussion, I just went back and rewatched the three crucial scenes: Howard confronting Kim, Kim proposing her plan to Jimmy, and Jimmy being stunned by her glib-yet-serious commitment to said plan.

Yeah. This has all been building for five years. Right under our noses.

The slow, subtle camera push-in on Kim as she asks Jimmy “What’s next?” after bringing up the bowling balls and the hookers is an important detail. Jimmy’s obviously discomfort with Kim’s continual testing of the waters with “innocent” prank suggestions like shaving Howard’s hair is an important detail. 

There’s an undercurrent of sadness to Seehorn’s performance, too. It’s not just villainy or mania or addiction to the con, here. 

In bed, when Kim finally makes her proposal, she uses EXACTLY the same justification that Jimmy used when he was greedily trying to get the Sandpiper case settled, way back in season three: If the case is settled sooner, the elderly Sandpiper residents could have more time to enjoy the money. And then Jimmy tries to talk her down with EXACTLY the same reasoning that Howard used with him, way back in season three: “And the lawyers get paid”. Just as Howard saw through Jimmy’s surface justification to the greed lurking below the surface, now Jimmy is doing the same with Kim. Wow.

Also—and we’ll see how it plays out—I totally called Howard ultimately being the sacrificial lamb of this show. The Law of Economy of Characters dictated that it seemed too...convenient for him to keep hanging around the periphery of the show after his usefulness had seemingly ended with Chuck’s death.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 22 April 2020 at 11:53pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

https://www.indiewire.com/2020/04/better-call-saul-rhea-seeh orn-kim-wexler-season-5-ending-1202226029/
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Joe Zhang
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Posted: 26 April 2020 at 3:46am | IP Logged | 8 post reply

I wonder what happens after Better Call Saul. Is it the end of the Breaking Bad saga? 

*spoilers*

Breaking Bad El Cimino kind of put a full stop to Walter and Jesse's story. Jimmy's story presumably ends next season. I can't really see them making a series about the surviving members of White's family. Ditto for Kim, though many would watch such a show. 


Edited by Joe Zhang on 26 April 2020 at 3:56am
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Brian Miller
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Posted: 26 April 2020 at 4:12am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

If I’m not mistaken I read an article at some that mentioned a possible,
but not probable, Kim spin-off.
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John Harrison
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Posted: 26 April 2020 at 6:03am | IP Logged | 10 post reply

I wonder what happens after Better Call Saul. Is it the end of the Breaking Bad
saga?

*****

Most likely but I would watch a show centered around Lalo
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 26 April 2020 at 8:32am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

I really do think that next season should be the end of the whole thing. After over a decade of top quality work, the crew deserves to rest and/or move on to other projects. 

Personally, I think just about any character from the Gilliganverse could make for a good spinoff (The adventures of Badger and Skinny Pete! Gus changes his name and escapes from Chile! Nacho on the lam! Stories from the Mexican cartel! Holly White discovers the truth of her father’s legacy!), but less is more.

The Hollywood greed machine may well eventually give us more spin-offs and whatnot, and perhaps even without the involvement or approval of Gilligan and his team. Or—Urgh!—an eventual remake/reboot. But I really, really hope that doesn’t happen, and that these two TV shows and one movie stand triumphantly apart as a pillar of modern storytelling. A single, long-form story, with a beginning, middle, and end. After that story is complete following BCS’ next and final season, just leave it alone.
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Vinny Valenti
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Posted: 26 April 2020 at 10:53am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

I love how Dalton just swept in with Lalo and became such a natural element of the show in just a few episodes - but he mainly works because he's such a good foil for the rest of the characters. A spinoff of his own would not have that value.
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