Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Better Call Saul Season 6, Episode 12, “Waterworks”

“This guy, any good?” This is the question that Jesse asks Kim about the competency of Saul’s legal practice when she runs into Jesse outside of Saul’s office in a crucial flashback scene in “Waterworks.” It’s a wonderful moment, not just because it’s a bonus Jesse cameo, or because it represents yet one more fleeting intersection between Kim and other elements of the Heisenberg-verse (akin to her encounter with Mike in “Hit and Run”), but also because the question can be easily interpreted as being about the quality of Saul’s character, hilariously boiling down Better Call Saul’s central concern into four simple words. Is there anything morally good about Saul Goodman – any vestiges of the good person Jimmy McGill used to be, still tucked away inside of Saul – or is he rotten to the core, having fully become the jaundiced, law-bending clown we know from Breaking Bad? The extended time we’ve had with Gene these past three episodes in the wake of everything that happened on Breaking Bad suggests that the answer is complicated, and that we might not be able to make a final judgment until the series finale. 

To a large extent, Better Call Saul has shown that the impression we got of Saul from Breaking Bad was correct, which the flashback in “Waterworks” emphasizes. Prior to Kim’s chance meeting with Jesse, the scene consists of Saul and Kim signing their divorce papers in Saul’s office, almost certainly their final encounter before she left for Florida. If there really were any last vestiges of good in Saul Goodman, surely they would manifest in Saul’s interaction with Kim, who had previously been the one sacrosanct part of Jimmy’s life that he would do anything to protect. However, we see none of that here. 

Saul begins the scene sitting alone in his office, bouncing a rubber ball off his wall, and as a very irritated Francesca informs us, he’s been doing this for an hour even though Kim and a lobby full of clients have been waiting to see him. One could read this as Saul be wistful, wanting to put off signing the divorce papers for as long as possible. However, given his subsequent treatment of Kim, instead it seems more like Saul is simply making her wait in the ninth circle of hell that is his waiting room - and treating her like any other client - for no other reason than to spite her. 

Once he lets Kim in, rather than a teary-eyed farewell or an appeal to their happier times together, instead Saul oozes callousness: he makes a show of playing on his phone as Kim signs the papers, he kicks his feet up on the desk while casually telling her she’ll regret not taking her share of the Sandpiper settlement, asks her why she’s moving to Florida but then quickly cuts her off before she can answer, and concludes the encounter by dismissively telling her to have a nice life. 

His demeanor here is an act, one meant to punish Kim for leaving him. His callousness and indifference are deliberately designed to diminish everything he and Kim had together and to hurt her in the process, much like how he was hurt when she left him. He knows she would never take any of the Sandpiper money, given that she left over what happened as a result of their attempt to obtain it. It’s forever tainted for her, but he brings it up anyway, perhaps as a way of rubbing her face in what he sees as her own lack of fortitude, or her inability to ignore her conscience. 

In fact, his nonchalance here strongly resembles his reaction to Chuck’s suicide, especially in the season four premiere, “Smoke,” where Jimmy seemed to wash his hands of Chuck almost immediately after the funeral. It’s a pattern of behavior: Jimmy’s defense mechanism against people who hurt him deeply is to cloak himself in an armor of indifference and anger. With Chuck, we saw him channel that anger back into his treatment of the legal community, and with Kim, he has transformed himself into Saul, cutting himself off from the pain by shredding his conscience. All he needs to do to demonstrate his anger with Kim is to let his defense mechanism take over. 

If one of the purposes of this scene is to show Saul snuffing out the last glowing embers of Jimmy’s soul – at least for the time being – by having him deliberately try to hurt Kim, then another purpose of the scene is to give Kim a glimpse of what full-bore Saul Goodman is like. Kim needs to see Saul at his worst not only to ensure that she’s up to speed with the rest of us for when she encounters him again (thus making it easier for her to guess at what transpired between Saul and Walt), but also because it provides her with some closure on their marriage, as well as an opportunity to weigh in on what she thinks of him now, which is something viewers have long wondered about (always with the caveat that she survives this far into the series). 

Of course Kim, who is so often in control of her emotions, doesn’t let Saul get a rise out of her, but hurt and disappointment are written all over her face as she observes Saul’s studied indifference toward her, as well as his gaudy office décor, his garish outfit (perhaps the most clownish he’s looked since he was deliberately trying to get fired from Davis & Main), his pointedly sexist treatment of Francesca, and his seeming eagerness to represent a very shady client (Jesse’s drug dealer “friend,” Emilio, whom Walt will kill with phosphine gas in the Breaking Bad pilot). Perhaps she recalls Suzanne’s description of Jimmy as a “scumbag disbarred lawyer,” or all of Chuck’s fears and admonitions. 

However, despite the silent look Kim and Francesca share after Kim leaves Saul’s office (where Francesca's face seems to say, “Yep, he really is a huge asshole now”), the scene would still feel incomplete with getting a little more insight into what she really thinks of this new-look Jimmy. Thus when Kim steps outside for a cigarette, she encounters Jesse, who has accompanied Emilio to his meeting with Saul, and who strikes up an amusingly one-sided conversation with Kim after bumming a cigarette. Jesse recognizes Kim as an attorney from when she defended Combo as a part of her public defender work (in turn shrinking the Heisenberg-verse just a little bit more), and wants her assessment of Saul’s bona fides, thus his question about whether Saul is any good. After taking a long drag on her cigarette, Kim replies, “When I knew him, he was.” 

It’s a devastating response that shows us how thoroughly she understands the change Jimmy has undergone: in Saul, she no longer recognizes the man she used to love. He’s been replaced by something else, Slippin’ Jimmy with a license to practice law. In signing the divorce papers, it’s as if Saul has signed Jimmy’s death certificate. It’s a fantastic scene, and a far more effective use of Jesse than his and Walt’s cameo in “Breaking Bad,” since Jesse becomes the linchpin for Kim to express to us how definitively she’s moved on from her former husband. In a way, Saul’s contempt for Kim has made it easier for her to put her old life behind her – there seems to be nothing left between them but hurt and anguish.

Of course, “Waterworks” is hardly comprised of just this one flashback. Instead, the episode finds Better Call Saul going back to its roots by featuring two mostly-separate stories, much like how the cartel and legal halves of the show were often self-contained, although in "Waterworks," we're encouraged to draw connections between them. One of these stories involves Kim, now six years removed from that devastating final meeting with Saul. Now that we know she survives the series (barring something insane happening in the finale), another burning question concerns what her life is like post-Albuquerque. “Waterworks” answers that question and then some, spending around nine minutes showing us the minutiae of Kim’s life in Florida.

Kim seems relatively happy and well-adjusted: she’s a brunette now, has a boyfriend (Glenn), a quaint home, a job, and a bunch of suburban friends. From the outside, it all looks perfectly fine and dandy, but compared to her purposeful, meaningful, and exciting former life, all of it comes across as mind-numbingly small and insignificant. Every detail we learn about Kim’s new life seems more mundane than the last. A conflict worth serious deliberation is whether Miracle Whip will work as a replacement for mayonnaise. Her job isn’t to help the poor and disadvantaged win second chances in a judicial system stacked against them, but to make inane catalogs and brochures for a sprinkler company. Her seemingly sweet but idiotic boyfriend is the kind of mediocre guy Kim and Jimmy would have eaten for breakfast in a con, and their relationship is so passionless that instead of spending time together in the evening (like, say, by watching classical Hollywood movies together), he watches reality television while she works on a puzzle.

All of these choices are ones Kim has made in a deliberate attempt to distance herself from her guilt-stricken identity as Kim Wexler, power attorney. She not only fled Jimmy, her career, and Albuquerque, but she also seems to have fled as far as possible from nearly every ounce of who she used to be.* It’s as if all of the small minutiae she had to deal with in her role as Mesa Verde’s lead attorney has become her entire life, but it’s the kind of life that she decided she needed after everything that happened with Jimmy. Yes, Kim seems relatively happy, having gotten what she wanted – a fresh start in a moral life – but from our perspective, it’s bittersweet, since this life represents the scotched potential of a fantastic and altruistic legal career.

* Some things don’t change – she still uses an electric toothbrush, and she’s still precise, thorough, and exacting in her work, even if her efforts are now put toward something incredibly inconsequential. Tough work decisions amount to what kind of ice cream to get for a coworker’s birthday, rather than providing ace legal representation to those in need, or figuring out all the angles of an intricate con. 

I kept waiting for this sampling of Kim’s life to be interrupted by Gene’s phone call, and my expectations were satisfied twelve minutes in. He gives Kim’s secretary a pseudonym, “Viktor Saint Claire,” which is the same one he would use when running small cons with Kim’s “Giselle Saint Claire,” so Kim immediately knows who is actually on the other end of the line, and has to brace herself and close her office blinds before picking up the receiver. Her apprehensiveness here isn’t just about who is calling, but about all he represents: her own guilt over her past bubbling up from underneath the emotionally placid life she’s made for herself in Florida.

In this scene we hear the conversation that was withheld from us in “Breaking Bad.” It starts off innocuously, with Gene claiming he just wants to “catch up,” but when Kim starts to resist his efforts to reconnect, he becomes increasingly hostile, especially once she tells him he should turn himself in, a suggestion he indignantly flips back onto her, since all of the people who might come after her for confessing are now dead (Gus, Mike, Lalo), or on the run (Saul). Initially it appears as though Kim is on the verge of tears over discovering how much lingering resentment Gene has for her, but we learn from the flashback scene (which occurs later in the episode) that she already discovered this years earlier. 

Instead, Kim is shaken by the thought of turning herself in, which seemingly hadn’t occurred to her before. She recognizes that Gene is just taunting her here, but it rubs salt in the wound that made her want to start her life over in the first place. Gene eventually relents, bemoaning that they’re even talking about this, and grasping futilely for the words to convey his lingering affection for her – Jimmy momentarily resurfacing beneath his Saul-like cynicism – at which point Kim curtly says she’s glad he’s still alive and hangs up the phone. 

From Gene’s perspective, it’s the kind of conversation where he had one idea about how he wanted it to go before it began, but where his emotions made him swerve in a completely different direction. None of the pent up hostility and resentment that Saul had for Kim in their last meeting has dissipated in the intervening six years, and it unintentionally reemerges here. He still resents Kim for blanching at their responsibility for Howard’s murder and leaving him in its wake, likely because he never really mourned her loss, just as he never mourned Chuck’s loss. Rather than deal with the pain, instead he transformed himself into the kind of guy that wouldn’t care about these things.

Ultimately Gene’s post-conversation histrionics, as seen last week, were more about his own indignation over Kim’s suggestion that he turn himself in than any admonitions from Kim. Likewise, his breaking bad in Omaha is a product of him being angry at himself for how this conversation with Kim went, and he takes it out on himself by leaning hard into some of his own worse tendencies. Saul reemerges from Gene’s placid exterior, like a chintzy butterfly emerging from a sadness cocoon (more on that below).

Kim, though, has been spun in an entirely new direction by Gene, albeit one that is still very true to character. She takes Gene’s taunt seriously, and returns to Albuquerque to confess to her role in Howard’s death and the destruction of his reputation. Along the way she even spots a doppelganger of who she used to be when she crosses paths with a public defender (complete with power ponytail) instructing her client on how and why to dress nicely for the judge. Kim looks at this attorney wistfully, certainly bemoaning the career her guilty conscience forced her to give up.

We don’t see Kim give the DA her affidavit, but instead learn about it after the fact, when Kim visits Howard’s widow, Cheryl, to present it to her as well. It’s a smart choice, because having Kim's affidavit read by someone who is directly affected by it allows for it to have more emotional stakes. From what we see of it, the affidavit reads like a writer’s room breakdown of the first half of the season from Kim’s perspective, but the standout points for Cheryl are that Howard was neither addicted to cocaine nor committed suicide, but was the victim of a confidence scheme, a murder, and then a cover-up. Cheryl is relieved to finally learn that the truth about Howard, but also justifiably angry at the tarnished legacy Kim and Jimmy left behind, and she asks the questions we’re all thinking: what happens next, and what is Kim’s motivation.

As far as what happens next is concerned, Kim says that she may or may not be prosecuted, since there’s no evidence to support her affidavit (she doesn’t know what Mike did with Howard’s body), and no living witnesses remain aside from Jimmy, “Assuming he’s still alive.” This last line is an interesting one. On one level, it reveals that Kim is still protecting Jimmy/Saul/Gene by refusing to divulge that he contacted her. Perhaps a part of her still loves him, or the memory of what they had together, despite his treatment of her in their last meeting, and despite how quickly their phone conversation soured. Or perhaps this is Kim simply playing by the rules of “the game,” which in this case means upholding honor among thieves, in turn suggesting that her attempt to right past wrongs can only go so far, and that she’ll always be beholden to her immoral past. 

On another level, “Assuming he’s still alive” also could refer to Jimmy’s moral character. There certainly didn’t seem to be anything about Jimmy left alive in Saul the last time she saw him, but the end of their phone call, where Gene’s voice was full of regret as he tried and failed to find the words to apologize to Kim and to tell her that she still meant something to him, seemed to offer a glimmer of hope that a little of Jimmy is still buried deep down under the layers of Gene and Saul. Indeed, this hope could be another reason for why she decided to protect him in her affidavit. 

As for Cheryl’s question about why Kim is doing all of this, the scene ends before Kim can respond, but we know the answer. She’s doing it for Howard, to clear his name of scandal and salvage what’s left of the legacy she helped to destroy, and of course, she’s also doing it for herself, to finally expunge – as best she can – the stain of guilt she tried to bury by fleeing to Florida. She started her life over, but just like with Jimmy’s transformation into Saul, the person she has become is informed by the person she used to be, and owning up to her actions and facing the consequences head-on is very in keeping with who Kim Wexler has always been. She may never be able to fully clear her conscience, but leaving her fate up to the DA and Cheryl (who can sue her in civil court) is as good a way she can think of to atone for her crimes.  

However, ultimately even these acts of atonement aren’t enough for Kim. As she’s set to leave Albuquerque, she breaks down on the shuttle from the car rental agency to the airport terminal. In an amazing single shot (please give Rhea Seehorn all the Emmys), Kim tries to maintain control of her emotions (as she so often has in the past), but she fails, and is completely overcome with remorse, sobbing heavily as the weight of what she’s done – and the futility of her attempts at absolution – wash over her, in turn providing the “Waterworks” of the episode’s title. 

Her sobbing is a powerful display of her remorse not only because of its intensity, but also because of its novelty. Kim has never lost her composure in public like this before, further contributing to the climactic and nature of her breakdown. She’s sobbing over the destruction of a professional and personal life she worked so hard to build for herself, over the wasted potential of all the good she could have done as an attorney, over her reawakening to the tragedy of Howard’s death, over the fact that she might not face any legal consequences for coming clean, and perhaps most significantly, over her realization that no matter what she does she’ll never really be able to absolve her guilt. If this is the last we ever see of Kim, it would be a devastatingly tragic end for her character. 

The second half of “Waterworks” pivots from the tragedy of Kim’s story to the suspense of Gene’s by picking up right where “Breaking Bad” left off. Gene confirms that the mark is still asleep and begins to explore the house, finding all of the usual documents he’s stolen from previous marks. However, just as he’s about to return to Jeff’s cab, he heads back into the house to peruse the mark’s belongings and find a few items to steal. 

Here it seems almost as is if Gene wants to be caught. The whole point of these robberies was to steal from marks without letting them realize it. Here, that point is defeated not just by Gene breaking in, but also by his stealing material goods. Really, Gene wanting to be caught (perhaps subconsciously) might explain his decision to even embark on these robberies in the first place. After so thoroughly scotching things with Kim, perhaps he’s decided that he’d rather go out living life like Saul than hiding away like Gene.

However, Gene’s behavior throughout the rest of the episode complicates the hypothesis that he wants to be caught. The robbery turns into a well-orchestrated suspense scene: not only does the mark begin to wake up with Gene trapped upstairs, but a police car has pulled up behind Jeff’s idling taxi. Both of these events turn out to be red herrings. The mark falls back asleep, allowing Gene to escape, and the suspense of the police car is nicely undercut with comedy when we discover the cops have simply pulled over to eat, not because they suspect Jeff of anything. Nevertheless, these developments provide evidence that even if Gene is subconsciously sabotaging himself, consciously, he still values his freedom, since he’s ready to clock the mark on the back of the head in order to get away. 

These developments also provide evidence that Gene’s initial decision to sever ties with Jeff at the end of “Nippy” was the correct one, since Jeff is just as much a hopeless amateur as Walt ever was. Jeff is so freaked out by the presence of the police car that he idiotically decides that his best recourse is to make a break for it, even though there are a thousand ways he could spin his presence should the police actually find him suspicious (he’s waiting for a fare that never showed; he’s fallen asleep; he’s lost; he’s taking a break, etc.). Instead, in what is easily the funniest shot in the episode, we see Jeff try to hightail it away from the police by erratically driving through a stop sign and then immediately rear-ending a parked car. 

Further evidence that Gene doesn’t want to get caught, at least not consciously: he’s come up with a contingency plan for Jeff getting pinched. After returning home, he waits for Jeff’s call from jail and lays out all of the reasons Jeff has nothing to worry about, leaning heavily on Saul’s many years of criminal law experience. You don’t even need to be a criminal lawyer (emphasis on either term) in order to figure a way out of this jam (perhaps Jeff was spooked by a spider in his lap). Sure, Jeff’s actions are suspicious, but that’s all they are.

However, Gene has gotten sloppy in his self-loathing determination to resume his old habits. Since he can’t actually stroll into the police station as Jeff’s legal counsel without seriously jeopardizing his cover, his plan is to wind up Marion with all of his legal advice and point her at the police, figuring that the force of her personality, combined with his legal knowledge, will lead to minimal repercussions for Jeff. 

It’s a good plan, except that it’s sabotaged by Gene’s sloppiness with his previous handling of Marion. Not only did he arouse her suspicions through his curt treatment of her and his late night appearances in her garage in “Breaking Bad,” but he also doesn’t think to consider that she might have heard of Saul Goodman through her efforts to help Jeff out of the legal trouble he got into in Albuquerque. Likewise, he doesn’t stop to think that Marion might find it odd that Gene has such specific knowledge of the differences between Albuquerque and Omaha’s criminal codes. After all, Marion is on high alert for negative influences in Jeff’s life, given that she blames his previous problems on his falling in with a bad crowd. Yes, Gene made a good first impression, but if he really is such a nice man, why does he know these things? 

These doubts lead Marion to do exactly what I half-jokingly predicted might happen in my recap of “Breaking Bad”: she takes to the internet to research Albuquerque con artists, and learns all about Saul Goodman, which Gene discovers, to his horror, upon arriving at Marion’s house to take her to the police station. In a particularly nice touch, when we see Gene investigate Marion’s evidence, we see Saul’s commercials reflected, in color, on Gene’s glasses. Gene’s previous nostalgia for these ads has now been transformed into panicked terror. 

While I was right about Marion cracking Gene’s identity, I was wrong about it being funny. Instead, it’s just sad. Marion is genuinely hurt by Gene’s betrayal of her confidence, and the scene ends up being a true test of who Jimmy/Saul/Gene has become. When Marion moves to call the cops, Gene violently rips the phone cord out of the wall. His voice is calm as he tries to talk Marion down, but as he begins to approach her, he also starts to coil the ends of the cord around his hands in a makeshift garrote.

The question immediately comes to mind: is Gene actually considering killing Marion to save himself? Would he really stoop so low? Suddenly this scene called to mind something that longtime Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul writer and director Thomas Schnauz said in an interview with Alan Sepinwall, which is that Jimmy really, fully turned into Saul when he decided that it was okay to kill somebody. 

Indeed, Saul never blanched at murder as a way of resolving problematic situations, but he never actually got his hands dirty. He would present it as an option to his clients (we saw him do so repeatedly with Walt and Jesse), but leave it to them to make it happen. Murder always seemed to be a line he was unwilling to cross himself, but perhaps it was because he never found himself in a situation where personally committing a murder was a viable solution to a predicament. Here, with Marion, it is a potential solution, and the moment is pregnant with the possibility that Gene has become as rotten and irredeemable as Walt. 

However, the moment passes. Gene discards the garrote, almost as if he didn’t realize what he was doing with his hands while he was trying to sweet talk his way back into Marion’s good graces. Yet he still approaches her menacingly, and ends up prying her Life Alert pendant from her fingers before she can muster the courage to press the pendant's button. It’s unclear what he intends to do next (perhaps use the pendant to strangle her, rather than the phone cord), but whatever it is, he stops himself upon hearing the hurt in Marion’s voice when she ruefully tells him she trusted him. He releases the pendant, and then flees once Marion uses it to call the police.

It’s hard not to see Gene’s decision to leave his fate in Marion’s hands as a moment where Jimmy’s character reemerges from beneath Gene’s steely façade. He seems to be letting his remorse guide his behavior here, much like how Jimmy would sometimes allow himself to be guided by a sense of morality. Sure, Jimmy was never morally impeachable, but unlike Saul, he wasn’t driven solely by spite and avarice, and he allowed himself to feel guilt over taking advantage of others. Sympathy and empathy were not alien to him like they were to Saul. 

Indeed, one of the most prominent instances of Jimmy’s sense of guilt leading him to doing the right thing was back in season three, when he reversed course in his manipulation of the Sandpiper residents. Jimmy was trying to pressure the elderly residents into settling early because he needed his share of the settlement to keep alive his dream of a dual law practice with Kim. He created this pressure by ingratiating himself with elderly community, and then poisoning them against their chosen representative, Irene, figuring that her discomfort would make her insist on having the lawyers settle. However, once he realized how miserable Irene’s life had become upon being ostracized, and that he couldn't undo the damage without sacrificing his early settlement, Jimmy took pity on her, and revealed his scheme to the rest of the residents, letting his dream die in the process.  

We can see echoes of that moral turn here in “Waterworks.” Marion, like Irene, is an elderly woman who placed her trust in Gene, and who has been genuinely hurt by his betrayal of it. Likewise, Gene, just like Jimmy, decides at the last minute to place an elderly woman’s welfare ahead of his own. Like the affection in his voice at the end of his conversation with Kim, Gene’s remorse with Marion, and his willingness to deal with the consequences created by abiding by it, signal that there is still – perhaps - something good and redeemable within him, despite all the harm he’s caused while traveling a “bad choice road” as Saul Goodman. It’s unclear if this momentary glimmer of Jimmy will blossom into anything in the series finale, especially considering that Gene appears to be on the verge of getting caught, but it’s an encouraging sign that there might be room for something else in store for the end of the series other than unrelenting tragedy. 

Ultimately, “Waterworks” is a study in comparisons between Saul/Gene and Kim, and how each of them has attempted to come to terms with their past, which is fitting considering that long ago Kim became just as central to Better Call Saul as Jimmy. Both try to bury the past, but Jimmy does it by leaning into the skid and becoming the worst possible version of himself, while Kim does it by fleeing her past life and starting a very different one. They take opposing solutions to similar problems, but despite their divergent paths, neither solution really ends up working for them in the long run, since they both end up miserable in different ways, Kim over her guilty conscience, Gene over being forced into what he considers a wasteland of a life. Perhaps they’ll find some solace in having each left their fates to others, willingly or not, although given the state with which we leave them in “Waterworks,” I have serious doubts. Here’s hoping the series finale provides an elegant and moving resolution to what has been a largely magnificent series. 

Other thoughts:

- We learn that the Doric columns in Saul’s office are made of Styrofoam or some other similarly cheap material, which is a nicely tacky touch for such a tasteless guy. 

- For all of Saul’s studied indifference in his meeting with Kim, at least he took his phone earpiece out.

- What a treat it was to see Jesse again, especially considering that after last week, I assumed that we were done with Breaking Bad cameos. His revelation is especially artful: the camera keeps Kim in the foreground while slowly arcing around a pillar outside of Saul’s office, revealing him standing in the background, out of focus. It’s one of many well-directed touches from Vince Gilligan in this episode. 

- Another Vince Gilligan directorial flourish: some of the shots of Kim and Jesse standing outside of Saul's office resemble the staging and framing other shots from seasons past where Kim has stood outside of buildings, sometimes smoking, all of which relate to important moments in Kim and Jimmy's relationship (see above and below).  

- Jesse always had a lot of emotional intelligence, and in conversation he often had a way of cutting to the core of a matter even if his dialogue was often laced with immaturity. I like that those traits manifest again here in his conversation with Kim, even if he doesn't realize the dual meaning of his question to her. 

- I really can’t get over how hilariously unappealing Kim’s boyfriend Glenn seems, particularly in his confusing Sweden for Switzerland when expressing his neutrality, and in his extremely passionless, off-putting sex, where he exclaims “Yup!” with every thrust. Yeesh. He also seems not to really know Kim either. When commenting that the The Amazing Race probably doesn't have its contestants participate in Pamplona's running of the bulls because it's too dangerous, Kim looks at him and flatly replies, "Maybe." He knows nothing of the real danger Kim has weathered. 

- During our sampling of Kim’s life in Florida, a lunchtime work conversation provides an interesting opportunity for Kim raise crystal meth – which in turn would have demonstrated that she’s been keeping tabs on Saul – but the opportunity closes as soon as it opens when she sharply redirects the conversation to mayonnaise substitutes. Kim is determined to stay off of the bad choice road in this new life.

- When Kim correctly guesses that Gene hasn’t been living much of a life, Gene levels the same accusation against her, which makes it seem as though Saul had been keeping tabs on Kim. His knowing where she worked last week in “Breaking Bad” suggested as much. I wouldn’t have put it past Saul to hire a PI in Florida to provide him with updates on Kim’s life.

- Kim’s return to Albuquerque contains a few other callbacks aside from her doppelganger: she pauses in front of the table outside the courthouse where Jimmy used to eat lunch, and also spares a glance for the empty parking lot tollbooth that Mike used to occupy.

- Saul cuts off Kim before she can tell him why she chose to move to Florida, but my guess is that it’s because it’s just about as far away from Albuquerque as she could get without having to deal with a winter weather climate. Although I suppose Hawaii was also on the table, assuming she wanted to remain in the US. After all, the impetus behind Jesse choosing Alaska as his refuge seemed to be similarly distance-based. 

- I doubt Cheryl will sue Kim in civil court, given how well-off Cheryl is (she’s still living in her and Howard’s mansion), and how forthcoming and repentant Kim is. When Cheryl raises the possibility, Kim is simply resigned to it, signaling that she wouldn’t fight it at all, and the small sigh Cheryl gives in response indicates - perhaps - that Kim’s genuine repentance is enough for her.

- “Waterworks” isn’t just a way of referring to Kim’s breakdown in this episode, it’s also a bit of Saul terminology. “Waterworks” is a phrase he has used in the past to describe crying, often derisively. It’s as if the episode is describing what Saul would make of Kim's scene on the shuttle. 

- Evidently the name of Gene and Jeff’s accomplice from last week is Buddy, not Ricky. Whoops.

- The lead up to Jeff’s decision to peel out is particularly well-directed. We see lots of extreme close-ups of Jeff getting ready to make a break for it: releasing the parking break, increasingly closer axial cuts of dashboard as he shifts into drive, glancing at the police car in the rearview mirror, etc. These are accompanied by pulsating music, culminating in a cut to the mundane conversation in the police car interior about one of the cops’ dissatisfaction with the amount of fish in his taco. The contrast is itself funny, but cutting to the police car also switches the focus of our suspense from anticipating what the cops will do to anticipating what Jeff will do, and when Jeff finally blows it, we see it from an interior shot of the police car, momentarily placing ourselves in the cops’ perspective. Also, the erratic stunt driving is just really good physical comedy.

- More hilarity: Marion grumpily telling her ringing phone, “Keep your shirt on.” Carol Burnett is a national treasure. I'm glad her character ended up playing such a pivotal role.  

- As sloppy as some of Gene’s moves are in this episode, he still possesses some finesse too, like when he moves the phone’s receiver away from his head when he takes a sip of his drink while speaking with Marion. He doesn’t want Marion to hear the sound of ice in the glass and deduce that he’s drinking. It’s a smooth move, even if it’s not enough to save him.

- Another parallel between Gene and Walt: Gene sings along to a song on the radio as he drives to pick up Marion, oblivious to his peril. Walt would often do the same. 

- One further visual parallel linking Gene and Kim's actions in this episode: both are shot in close-up while on the phone, looking out of windows. Even the compositions are similar. 

- I wonder if we’ll see Gus or Mike in the finale. I’m guessing no, since they each received something of a resolution in previous episodes, Gus in “Fun and Games,” and Mike to varying degrees in both “Point and Shoot” and “Fun and Games.” Still, they’ve been a big part of the series, especially Mike, so I wouldn’t rule it out entirely. 

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