So it has all come down to this: Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), the last standing associate of the Heisenberg/Fring/Eladio crime syndicate, in a stroke of karmic justice, is taken down by an elderly widow – the exact type of client that he represented, and took advantage of, in the beginning of his legal career. The difference this time is that the widow in question can see through Saul’s bullshit. And is portrayed by Carol Freakin’ Burnett.
I did NOT have that on my meth Bingo card.
But Saul’s downfall is not what we are here to talk about today. Saul’s downfall seemed inevitable since he first appeared onscreen, (13 years ago!) in season two of Breaking Bad and the only mystery surrounding his downfall seemed to be HOW it would happen and not If it would happen. The loveable Saul hijinks of representing public nudists, bribing bailiffs, and filming funny commercials have been replaced by a darker version of Saul who, in a last-ditch effort to stay free of the law, drugs and steals from persons with terminal cancer and threatens to strangle elderly widows.
Lalo Salamanca was right when he told Kim that Saul was a cockroach.
What is infinitely more interesting is that this episode (Waterworks) marks Kim Wexler’s (Rhea Seehorn) first appearance in three episodes as well as her first appearance in the black and white time line.
Relegated to Florida after her divorce from Saul, Kim has settled into a suburban lifestyle that doesn’t seem challenging for a person of her talents. Her impassioned work as a public defender has been replaced by writing catalog copy for a water sprinkler company, the lunch dates with A-list private clients at high-end restaurants have been replaced with date night dinners at chain steakhouses, and in a twist the should not befall even the most abhorrent members of society, her Duke Mayonnaise has been replaced by Miracle Whip.
No one deserves that.
Peaked by her unexpected telephone conversation with Saul (where it is confirmed that anyone who would want to kill her is ‘in the ground’), Kim decides to relieve her guilty conscience by returning to her former workplace, the Bernalillo County Courthouse, and confessing the truth about Howard’s murder, first to the District Attorney and after to Howard’s widow Cheryl (Sandrine Holt).
Upon her return to the court house Kim is confronted with visual reminders of her old life; Mike’s (Jonathan Banks) toll booth, Saul and Kim’s favorite lunchtime table, and the vending machine area where deals, in which she helped the most vulnerable members of society, were regularly brokered.
However, while Kim is waiting for the elevator to take her to her mea culpa, she is gutted by observing a young, female public attorney fighting the good fight; the fight that Kim, through the ramifications of her addiction to chaos, was forced to abandon.
At Cheryl and Howard’s house, things go even less smoothly for Kim as she is forced to take her emotional lumps while watching Cheryl’s read the affidavit that confirms her long held suspicions about Howards’s death. Kim is shamed, remorseful, and penitent, but in Kim true fashion, maintains her poker face.
It seems that Kim has begun the long and arduous process of redeeming herself, even if redemption means prison time and/or having to file bankruptcy after a civil suit.
Of course, redemptive arcs aren’t easy and Seehorn, in perhaps the best acted scene in the entire Albuquerque universe, saves her best performance for her last appearance of the episode (if not the series). In this dialogue free scene Kim, while riding an airport shuttle, is overcome with a mixture or relief and guilt, FINALLY lets down her guard, and weeps uncontrollably. Without saying a word, Kim conveys a lifetime full of regret, anger, and disappointment and the viewer can’t help but to feel compassion for her.
As both Jimmy and Chuck McGill were fond of saying, ‘May justice be done, though the heavens may fall’.
Asking Jeeves and Life Alerts
- I also cry whenever I am forced to visit Florida.
- Seeing Mike’s tollbooth replaced by an automated ticket machine was hard to watch, even though Mike was a drug dealer and a killer. No one is better at making you root for the bad guys than Gilligan and Gould.
- Saul’s first appearance on Breaking Bad was on 04/29/09, a full 13 years and 10 seasons of television ago. Gus Fring debuted three episodes after and Mike Ehrmantrout two episodes after that. Thanks for your years of hard work, gentlemen!
- Kim working again in proofreading has parallels to Howard putting her in document review. I am not sure if that is a coincidence, but it probably isn’t.
- The attorney that Kim spies in the courthouse lobby even has Kim’s signature ponytail
- ‘Yep, yep, yep’. More like gross, gross, gross. Poor Kim.