'Better Call Saul' premiere postmortem: Rhea Seehorn on Kim, Kim & Jimmy, and what’s next
[SPOILER ALERT: This story contains plot points from Better Call Saul’s season 2 premiere, “Switch,” which aired Monday night.]
Better Call Saul unveiled its season 2 premiere on Monday night, and “Switch” proved a twisty-turny journey for Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk), who abandoned his law career and then restarted it, with some light grifting in between. The episode also explored his intriguing, subtext-heavy relationship with Kim (Rhea Seehorn), the sharp Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill lawyer who has served as Jimmy’s confidant, supporter, and implied love interest. She joined Jimmy in the bar for one of his scams — and in bed later that night for a romantic reconnection. One got the sense that while the pair had been here before, at the same time they were headed perhaps into somewhat unchartered territory.
EW dialed up Seehorn to talk “Switch” and what’s in store for Kim (and Kim & the future Saul Goodman) in season 2 of AMC’s Breaking Bad spin-off prequel.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This episode gave us our biggest peek into Jimmy and Kim’s relationship, which included their spending the night together. When I talked to Bob, he said, “It’s about time.” Did you get that sense of relief, too? Not just that the audience is finally getting to see more of them, but that you are getting to act more of it?
RHEA SEEHORN: Yeah. I didn’t mind the I-can’t-pin-it down world that it lived in in the first season, and frankly I’m glad that even though more is illustrated, there is still that kind of untouchable quality about them, even in this season. At first you get the script, and for me I was like “Ah, you don’t want to put it all on the field, do you?” But then you read it and [co-executive producer] Tom Schnauz wrote it and directed it and then I had conversations with Peter [Gould, Saul co-creator] and [executive producer] Melissa Bernstein and Bob, and you realize obviously you can rest easy. In these guys’ hands, no relationship is going to be some pat, sappy, simplistic thing. It’s still charged with so much subtext, and the 10-year-plus history that really is still open to discovery for the audience, and for us. There’s new stuff you learn, but for everything they answer they raise two new questions, which is why fans love them and why it’s fun to play their characters.
So the two of them sleep together, and then there’s that fun scene in the morning where they’re brushing their teeth together, with Jimmy using her finger as toothbrush. Do you view all of this as backsliding and revisiting old times, or possibly a new beginning in the relationship? Or a little bit of both?
It’s not brand-new behavior but it’s a new perspective on the behavior. A decision to revisit a path again but in a different way. … I feel like they’ve had every kind of intimacy and label in their 10-year relationship, so it felt more like a revisiting to me than a brand-new thing. But that’s just me contemplating their whole past. We don’t have answers to all that stuff yet.
Kim went along with his tequila scam, and she seemed to be enjoying herself, and then she shuts it down. Is it that she accepts Jimmy and appreciates parts of his Slippin’ Jimmy side, but ultimately this was just a one-time adventure and she doesn’t want to live her life like that? That she’s able to compartmentalize and say, “It’s okay to have a little fun but this can’t overtake your life”?
I think all of that is in there, and I can’t spoil everything. I also don’t know everything because as we know with their writing, you plant these seeds that bloom later and you don’t always know what you planted and what’s going to grow. [Laughs] But there’s something there. For me, it felt like a new version of seeing Kim smile in season 1 during the episode where he makes he makes the fake billboard and then gets all this media attention by faking an accident that he’s the hero. Hamlin is angry and Kim is worried about the consequences of his actions and telling him, “Don’t make a personal vendetta actually get in the way of what you want in life.” But Hamlin turns around and you see Kim smile where no one can see her at the commercial he made. That’s where I started from when we did this episode. I know that she loves Jimmy not because her head’s in the sand and she has no idea who he is. She loves him all-inclusively and then has her issues, like you said, when it gets in the way of real life. And where that line in the sand is I don’t know, and I’m not entirely sure that she knows. It’s fun to play, “What if you just let it go for a minute?” You see her in the morning need to backpedal immediately.
When Jimmy is in the pool and makes the tough phone call to take the job at Davis and Main, did you view that as his saying, “I don’t know if this is the right decision, but I want Kim’s approval, and I want to be a better man, and this is the right thing to do?”
It is explored. That very question and what Kim thinks about it is explored, so I can’t say a lot more about it … I don’t see it as Kim manipulating him to be the kind of man that I feel proud to walk down the street with. He already his. You never see Kim make a little snarky comment about visiting him in a nail salon [out of which where he ran his practice]. She doesn’t judge any of that. But there is a question there: When you’re trying to “help” somebody go after what they say they want, at what point are you manipulating them and you don’t know it?
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How would you sum up their complex dynamic?
She’s a bit of a straight man to his antics, but she’s also funny in her own way. She’s very, very dry and quick, so they enjoy riffing with each other. It almost flips what are very old but still-there stereotypes of male and female characters: Kim is much less emotionally reactive and talky-talky than Jimmy is. Often the female character would be that person, and Kim is pragmatic and practical and they’re good peers. They’re intellectual equals and formidable confidants to each other. And by that I mean their relationship is so close that they are frank with each other about challenging each other’s viewpoints. but she’s not there to chide him. Some of the other characters in his life put him down because they think he’s actually a bad person at heart. Kim doesn’t. Kim listens to what he says he wants and you see that. In episode 1 when I come up to him at the pool like, “Yeah, you made me look like a fool, but I’m primarily here because you said that you wanted to keep your Sandpiper case. You said that you went to law school because you always wanted to be taken seriously as a legitimate lawyer, and you’re pissed that everybody got in your way, and now you’re the one in your way.” So she shakes him like someone that really loves you should, and I love that.
He doesn’t feel loved and protected, especially by his brother Chuck [Michael McKean], who betrayed him, and Kim is the one who is looking out for his best interests — and really the one in this crazy world who gets him.
Yes. I think it only helps the audience to have another point of view on our anti-hero as well that Kim sees him for who he is and without the mask on and thinks he’s winning and funny and deserves everything. And the audience feels that way too, even when they know he’s going to become a seriously morally questionable criminal lawyer. [Laughs] We still loved him in spite of it, so it’s great to have that point of view through Kim. She’s got to figure out what she can tolerate and where that lies. But for the most part she just is trying to warn him about the consequences of his own actions while maintaining herself and her own trajectory, because thankfully and beautifully they’ve written this female character that’s not ancillary to the men, either. She has her own plans for her life and he is a great confidant to her and helped her all through season 1 really start to say, “You know, things are not that black and white, and good and bad.” And the pillars of justice of Chuck are capable of great betrayal that she finds very immoral. And Hamlin [Patrick Fabian] is not the villain with a personal vendetta that Jimmy said. But I also find out he’s quick to kick Kim to the curb when she can’t keep the crazy Kettlemans, and then quick to hog the spotlight on TV when she gets them back. Everyone wants to say Jimmy’s a con man and he’s actually the least duplicitous person in her life. He is what he says he is.
By the way, what did you make of the Breaking Bad callbacks with Ken [Kyle Bornheimer] and the tequila?
All the winks, they’re fun. I think that people love that they are not stunts. They are there to serve the story that we’re now doing as opposed to just like, “Make sure you throw candy to Breaking Bad fans.” [Laughs] Because that doesn’t speak to how intelligent Breaking Bad and now the Better Call Saul fans are, and Vince and Pete write to that intelligence. They’re never stunts. They’re just embedded so well and so perfect for the story. … I loved seeing [Ken] again. I always thought the best small character parts are the ones where you wonder about the people when they leave screens and I always wondered about his character. Where is that guy going?
How would you describe the relationship journey of Jimmy and Kim moving forward in the rest of season 2? Is it a bit of a roller coaster?
They’re great confidants going down the rabbit hole of a relationship that reveals the rabbit hole of their own journeys, if that makes sense. It’s less of a roller coaster I would say than it’s a peeling onion. It’s just layers upon layers until you get the core of who you really are to each other. They are comedic leavening agents to each other. They are a soft place to fall for each other and other times it ratcheted up with a lot of tension and discourse to be felt. So it’s all of it. It’s a wide, wide journey.
In the season 2 trailer, she is quickly seen saying to Jimmy, “You faked evidence.” With that said, what can you tease about Kim and Jimmy in episode 2?
That moment that you see Kim participating in a con in episode 1 and then having to backpedal the next morning or needing to or deciding to — you get another taste of how she is going to keep drawing this line in the sand. If your relationship is based on taking the masks off when people really take their masks off, what do you do with that information?
Are these two “in love”? And are you rooting for them to be together as a couple, or have you not made up your mind yet?
I think they authentically love each other, and who knows? As fascinating and surprising as these guys write, I could be a giant liar. But as an actor right now the way I play it, I absolutely think they authentically love each other and that’s why I do root for them at their foundation. I root for people who I think authentically love each other and have each other’s backs and there’s no questioning that. I absolutely believe those two have each other’s backs.
Can you leave us with a cryptic hint about Kim or something she’ll do in season 2?
I would pay attention closely to the fact that Kim is as much about what she doesn’t say as what she does say.