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Kim, Jimmy and the moral sandwich-making of “Better Call Saul”

Condiment purists may disagree with this particular, but to the common person’s tastebuds, Miracle Whip and mayonnaise are fundamentally interchangeable. The penultimate hour of “Better Call Saul,” “Waterworks,” hints as of this when Vince Gilligan, who wrote and directed the episode, transports us in the colorless post-Albuquerque life of Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn).

Kim could have fled from Jimmy, but her life in Florida is a shade or two less lackluster than her ex-husband’s Omaha purgatory. She’s traded her sensible work suits for drab bargain bin separates and ugly, puffy gym shoes, crowned by way of a lifeless, curl-free brunette mop.

Kim may still pass her legal name, but this is simply not exactly the same woman we’ve grown to admire. This Kim Wexler designs boring catalogs and brochures for Palm Coast Sprinklers and passes enough time in her off-hours by assembling an all-white puzzle. She seems cured of daring and danger, to the stage of tolerating missionary sex from the boyfriend who punctuates each sad pump with “Yep . . . yep . . . yep . . .” as though he were sipping beer with Hank Hill and Dale Gribble.

Only once she gets a call at the job from Victor St. Clare and reacts such as a dried-out addict white-knuckling their recovery by themselves does her truest self shine through. This is actually the other side of the conversation that has been seen from Gene/Jimmy’s phone booth viewpoint in the last episode, “Breaking Bad,” which drove him right into a berserker’s rage.

Kim, however, quietly hyperventilates before picking right up the telephone to silently pay attention to her ex-husband’s bull. Gene/Jimmy tries to sound casual, saying he’s just checking in after realizing “it has been six years,” ostensibly discussing your day they signed their divorce papers, scenes that play throughout this hour.

He brags about still having gotten away with everything, which Kim meets with stony silence. Then asks her to state something.

“You need me to state something?” she replies. “You need to turn yourself in. You heard me. I have no idea what type of life you’ve been living, nonetheless it can not be much.”

The black-and-white future where Gene/Jimmy and Kim separately exist is a lot quieter than their garishly bright past. Or simply it is a matter of the main characters having less dialogue, although the verbosity of Bob Odenkirk’s con man has ramped up in recent episodes as his various personalities messily squish together.

In any case could be, this episode vividly demonstrates the “Better Call Saul” writers’ and directors’ aptitude for creating pointillist portraits of Kim and whoever Odenkirk’s Jimmy reaches at any time by assigning significance to the tiniest details. A few of these are purely for fun, like Gilligan’s choice going back name of Jimmy’s Victor alias: St. Clare may be the patron saint of television.

For the advantage of those set on establishing the series’ timeframe, a glimpse at Kim and Jimmy’s divorce documents shows these were married on, may 6, 2004.

Others hint about who someone thinks they’re or what drives them to accomplish what they eventually elect to do. Take the scene meet Florida Kim in her kitchen as she’s attempting to make Aunt Foshee’s Classic Potato Salad. The recipe is really a page extracted from a 2008 copy of “Salt & Earth” magazine, a title that implies goodness and honesty.

This episode vividly demonstrates the “Better Call Saul” writers and director’s aptitude for creating pointillist portraits of Kim and whoever Jimmy reaches at any time.

The perfect reader of this type of publication wouldn’t countenance using Miracle Whip rather than mayonnaise, which Kim’s boyfriend bought instead of the suggested ingredient since his favorite brand wasn’t available. He asks her whether she thinks it’ll suffice as an alternative, and she bats the question back at him.

Florida Kim is agreeable this way, never saying what she thinks and always reflecting others’ opinions. If someone says it appears like it will rain, it sure is. Asked to select between vanilla and strawberry ice cream, she can’t both are so good.

At the cookout, she serves the not-quite-authentically dressed potato salad without saying anything concerning the Miracle Whip substitution. Later when her boyfriend declares that nobody noticed the difference, she says nothing.

However, Kim’s deception bothers her enough to say while she’s having lunch with her fellow “basic” chatty co-workers that she used Miracle Whip in her tuna salad sandwich rather than mayonnaise. Nobody cares. But she does.

That is why when Gene/Jimmy fires back at her assertion he should surrender by asking what’s stopping her from turning herself in, she realizes the solution is nothing. After mouthing her way by way of a lifeless office special birthday, the episode cuts to the Albuquerque airport.

From there Kim heads to the Bernalillo County courthouse, and to go to Howard Hamlin’s widow Cheryl (Sandrine Holt) showing her the typed affidavit she filed detailing her and Jimmy’s scam to ruin Howard’s legacy, together with the information on his murder by Lalo.

Better Call SaulSandrine Holt as Cheryl Hamlin in “Better Call Saul” (Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television)

This will not grant Cheryl any closure or Kim a mote of absolution. As Kim tells Cheryl, it’s around the district attorney to prosecute her, but without the physical evidence, the only real corroboration to her story will be Jimmy’s. “Why are you currently achieving this?” Cheryl frustratedly asks. We don’t see Kim’s response, and her spontaneous burst into loud sobs on the airport shuttle to her return flight could possibly be explained in virtually any amount of ways.

Maybe she decided it had been time for the assertive, courageous Kim Wexler to resurface from the faade of bland agreeability she’s been hiding behind, whatever the price.

The person masquerading as Gene Takavic isn’t so direct, once we see after he breaks into his cancer-suffering mark’s house to complete his team’s dropped identity theft caper.

Gene finds the person (played by Kevin Sussman) still asleep, and harvests his banking information and passwords, as usual. But Gene gets cocky. He heads upstairs and casually helps himself to some of his watches . . . and then realize the person has awakened and headed to his bathroom.

Gene’s mark stumbles out, still groggy, and slumps down on the stairs to check out his phone, blocking Gene’s exit. As that is happening Jeff pulls up in his cab to supply Gene’s getaway. Shortly from then on, two cops pull up behind him. The policemen are simply just on a rest, but Jeff is spooked enough to lurch his taxi into drive, screeching by way of a stop sign and crashing right into a parked car on another block.

The cops sigh and flip on the lights.

Gene, meanwhile, calmly exits his target’s house and walks back again to his place, where he waits for Jeff to call his burner. Once that occurs Gene flips into Saul Goodman mode, assuring Jeff that when he holds tight and doesn’t say anything he’ll get him the very best legal defense available.

He plans to send Jeff’s mother Marion (Carol Burnett) to the station and calls her immediately to inform Marion about Jeff’s arrest. Initially, she’s horrified and anxious about after that happen. Jeff’s criminal background in Albuquerque left her with a pile of bills, you see. However when Gene attempts to soothe her worries by detailing the differences between your laws in New Mexico and Nebraska, Marion correctly becomes suspicious.

Better Call SaulBob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman in “Better Call Saul” (Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television)

Some could have thought that the producers of “Better Call Saul” titled the last episode “Breaking Bad” to acknowledge the long-awaited appearance of Bryan Cranston’s Walter White and Aaron Paul’s Jesse Pinkman. That isn’t necessarily so; from what we are able to tell the title identifies Jimmy, as Gene, deciding to obtain his hands dirty by directly committing a crime rather than facilitating crimes for others.

Jesse also appears in this episode, immediately after Kim and Jimmy sign their divorce papers and he taunts Kim for refusing her share of the Sandpiper settlement money. A beat later, Jimmy condescendingly identifies Francesca (Tina Parker) as “sweet cheeks.” That’s all Kim can stomach.

She stalks out the entrance to Saul Goodman’s office, and then discover that it’s pouring down rain outside. She waits beneath the eaves to remain dry and lights a cigarette. Jesse emerges from the darkness to bum one from her. Recognizing her from the courthouse, Jesse tells Kim he’s looking forward to a pal of his who’s visiting Saul for the very first time. It isn’t Walter, but a man he runs with called Emilio.

Prefacing his question by saying to Kim he knows she’s an excellent lawyer, Jesse asks, “He . . . worthwhile?”

“When I knew him, he was,” she says, before running in to the rainstorm to clean off the final smudges of Saul Goodman.

Jimmy’s drug gets away along with his crimes.

That scene comes before Gene sets his play in motion with Jeff and, he thinks, with Marion. However when he finds the old woman’s house, she’s already made him, having typed “con man in Albuquerque” into Ask Jeeves to see his name pop-up, “big as day.”

Gilligan allows two squares of gold to seem Gene’s Omaha life for an instantaneous as Saul Goodman’s commercial, immortalized on YouTube, reflects in the Cinnabon manager’s glasses. However the man who emerges next is another person. He rips the telephone cord out of Marion’s wall and wraps it around his hands just like a garrote when she threatens to activate her Life Alert button.

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Which is Gene/Jimmy/Saul’s moment of truth. When he was inside your home of his con’s target, Gilligan laced Odenkirk’s dance between your awake-but-very-out-of-it victim and Gene with sharp tension while still incorporating a lot of humor. Even Jeff’s panicked motor vehicle accident is farcical, along with marking another ignored opportunity where Gene may have cut bait and vanished.

His drug gets away along with his crimes, another version of the empty high he used to take pleasure from in assisting other criminals skate by punishment. And that addiction includes a quite strong pull on his soul. But threatening to murder a vintage woman is another degree of wrongdoing, he realizes. Gene relents and runs away as Marion pushes her button, alerting the cops about what’s happening in her kitchen and identifying her assailant as Saul Goodman.

That persona isn’t Jimmy’s true flavor any longer than Florida Kim could stand set for the Kim Wexler who was previously a formidable attorney. At the very least Kim could have found a method to come clean in a manner that enables her to forgive herself and become forgiven. But Jimmy has wandered too much from the things that made up the person he was previously for his efforts to be salvaged now.

The “Bettter Call Saul” series finale airs Monday, Aug. 15 on AMC.

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