Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for Better Call Saul Season 6, Episode 12.
The beautifully grim second to last episode of Better Call Saul, the best feel-bad show out there, finally allows viewers to see what’s happened with the kind Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) after six years of being separated from Jimmy/Saul/Gene (Bob Odenkirk). While previous episodes had revealed she was in Florida, the precise details had largely remained a mystery. No longer. Kim, still as meticulous and focused as ever, has sought out the quietest life possible. She works a banal yet stable desk job with kind coworkers, has a relationship of sorts with a boring guy, and just goes about her day — that is, until she decides to go back to Albuquerque to finally reveal to Howard’s wife Cheryl (Sandrine Holt) the truth of what happened in the apartment all those years ago. It is one of many scenes where Kim grapples with the guilt she has carried with her that made this episode one of the best of the series.
It all reaches a breaking point when she takes the bus back to the airport and begins sobbing uncontrollably about all that has happened in her life. She did the right thing by finally confessing, though it has not provided any relief or salvation for her. This only makes it all the more significant yet tragic that she did. It wasn’t for self-serving reasons, or to clear her conscience — as that doesn’t feel like it will ever happen. Instead, after talking with Jimmy over the phone, she realizes that it was the right thing to do and simply sets out to do it. In a show full of selfish people mostly looking out for themselves, she did something at immense personal risk in order to set things right as best as possible. It was a devastating moment made all the more so by Seehorn’s subtle yet sensational performance. Kim Wexler has always been a resolute character who would try to do everything she could to keep her emotions in check. It was a mask she made for herself against the depravity of the world. As it now slips and her emotions come pouring out of her, it is nothing short of heartwrenching. The scene pushes us to sit with Kim at this moment, feeling every tear and sob. It is a hard watch, understated yet overwhelming, though that was precisely what the show needed.
“Waterworks” is a profound yet painful experience that the series would have not been the same without. It isn’t just about closure for Kim’s character, though that certainly is part of it, but about something deeper that can’t be so easily resolved. It is about how, even with all that she had done to repair the damage she and Jimmy caused, there are some things that just can’t be fixed. Whatever she does or wherever she goes, her past will forever hang over her head. This is felt in every detail of Seehorn’s performance, a demonstration of all the years Kim spent trying to run away from her past. Her return back to the place where she had spent most of the show is a somber one, full of quiet details from the empty booth where the departed Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) used to work at the courthouse to the lawyer Kim takes notice of trying to help someone just as she did in a different life. Though Seehorn says little in these scenes, her physical performance is nothing short of revelatory as we journey with her through the rubble of her past. It feels like a proper sendoff, though not one that offers any sentimentality. It is cold and dark, more akin to a funeral than it is a celebration. It is one of the many ways Better Call Saul takes any possible excitement of recognition and smothers it into oblivion. It delicately yet methodically rakes its audience over the coals, showing the cost of what this life has been for everyone still left alive.
All of these scenes with Kim serve as a perfect juxtaposition to what is happening with Jimmy. In their last face-to-face encounter, he is cruel and callous as a cover for his pain to such a degree that evokes disgust. A subsequent conversation Kim has with Jesse (Aaron Paul) outside the tacky office as rain pours down twists the knife even further. Every line of dialogue is, on the surface, about whether Saul is really that good of a lawyer to have as representation — yet the longer it goes on, the more we see it is actually about whether he is a good person that can be trusted. It is a conversation that is perfectly balanced, as Jesse’s naïveté plays against Kim’s knowledge about who Jimmy has become. The scene doesn’t function for the thrill of a cameo where characters say their iconic catchphrases, but about the terrifying banality of the evil that is sitting at the desk just inside. Kim has now fully seen Jimmy for who he really is. She is horrified yet unable to convey all of this to a man who is a stranger to her. It is a deceptively rich scene where two characters, both vastly different, are brought to life with such authenticity that it makes the tragedy of their discussion all the more painful. While Paul talks the most, it’s Seehorn who is the center of attention; she remains an unmatched screen presence.
Of course, Jimmy doesn’t care about any of this any longer. He is instead embracing his worst self in increasingly horrifying sequences. While Kim really does try to do right with her life after leaving him, he decides to just burrow even deeper. The contrast between the two, always present, is made most apparent in “Waterworks” precisely because of how Seehorn carries her fascinating character in what feels like a farewell. She captures the crushing moments of Kim’s past that she confronts head-on for the first time after trying to bury it all away. The details revealed of her life cut deep, as does seeing how dedicated she has been to doing better, even though it means draining her life of almost all joy. All of this is absolutely integral for the show and her character, as it ties everything up in an untidy bow. Seehorn has never been better about offering us a glimpse of the underlying tension and tragedy that has been central to Kim’s life. It reveals the way some things may remain forever broken even with the kindest people trying to put them back together one last time.
Whether we will see Kim again is an open-ended question, though this episode would serve as a fitting conclusion in how it denies an easy catharsis for her even as she gives all of herself to set things right. It also shows how Jimmy is giving all of himself to do the precise opposite, though he can hide no more when the hacky commercial of his past is reflected on him in a way that now feels horrifying. What may be the last episode of Better Call Saul for Kim is not exactly hopeful by any stretch of the imagination, though the dark road ahead for Jimmy remains nothing short of haunting by comparison.