Better Call Saul creator breaks down season 5 finale, Kim and Lalo's bold plans
'A lot of this season has turned out to be about Kim Wexler — and what she's willing to do and the way she sees the world,' says co-creator Peter Gould.
This article contains plot details from Monday's season 5 finale of Better Call Saul, "Something Unforgivable."
Who exactly is Kim Wexler? And how much did she just slip?
In the season 5 finale of Better Call Saul — in the wake of that absolutely alarming confrontation with Lalo (Tony Dalton) — MVP attorney Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) continued her S.O.S. (That's Season of Surprise; see: Acker aid, marriage proposal, corporate firm kiss-off, etc.), and this one was the unsettling topper. Following a chance elevator encounter with former boss Howard (Patrick Fabian), during which he questioned her motivation for quitting the firm, putting it on ne'er-do-well- Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk), she returned to bed with her husband at the hotel in which they'd been hiding out. After the pair exchanged ideas on how to hilariously haze Howard, the world's strangest pillow talk turned rather dark and she pitched a radical scheme to help a bunch of senior citizens by settling the Sandpiper Crossing nursing home case.
Did we say radical? Because we also meant diabolical, given that this plan would involve framing her former mentor. When Jimmy nervously laughed off her machinations with a "You would not be okay with this in the cold light of day,” she upped the tension with a darkly playful, “Wouldn’t I?” Jimmy double-checked in her with once again, and she doubled down: “Kim, you’re s--ting me, right?” he said, to which she deployed her finger guns, blowing off the smoke — and blowing Jimmy away.
Meanwhile, south of the border, the plotting was even more intense. Seeing no other way out of this escalating intra-cartel war, double-agent Nacho (Michael Mando) helped the assassins hired by Gus (Giancarlo Esposito) make their move on fearful, formidable force Lalo (Tony Dalton) in the dead of the night at his estate. Alas, the ever-wily Lalo dodged the hit and El Chapo'd out of his secret tub tunnel, only to return to the compound and take out the hitmen. He left one alive, strategically ordering him to radio back that the murderous mission was a success, and then Lalo marched-hobbled off into the night, hungry for revenge against Nacho and, well, everyone, as the credits rolled.
Not quite ready to embrace the long hiatus that awaits before the sixth and final season? Let’s stuff some hardboiled eggs down our pants, slip a little Nair into someone’s shampoo bottle, indulge in a seaweed wrap, and then pop the frunk on this season finale with Better Call Saul co-creator Peter Gould, who offers up insights into “Something Unforgivable.”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: We end season 4 with Jimmy shocking Kim and giving her the double-guns with his fingers as he walks off to change his name. Season 5, Kim returns the favor, changing not her name but the game, complete with firing guns and blowing off the smoke. How did you decide to end the season for Jimmy and Kim on that moment of whoa!, with Kim laying out a bold plan and making a seemingly transformative leap?
PETER GOULD: It's interesting, a lot of this season has turned out to be about Kim Wexler — and what she's willing to do and the way she sees the world. In the very first episode of the season, Jimmy proposes that Kim — for good reasons — deceive her own client, and she says, “I am not going to lie to my clients.” And then she turns around and does just that. And what we've found with Kim is that she's a deep person. She's complicated. We've learned more about where she comes from. One of the things that we've learned is that she may be more ethically flexible than we thought when we first met her — and Jimmy has very mixed feelings about this. [Laughs] As he says in this episode, “Am I bad for you?” That's a question and in a way, Kim gives her own answer to that later in the episode when she's talking to Howard. She says, “I make my own decisions for my own reasons.” But would she be making these decisions if Jimmy wasn't in her life? And I think the answer to that is probably not.
We know that there’s been a battle inside Kim’s soul, inner voices in conflict. She wants to do the right thing, helping disadvantaged clients with pro bono work, but she’s simultaneously seduced by a darker side where she likes to exact social justice on her own terms, sticking it to the man. After this turn of events, did Kim just figuratively change her name? Are we also watching the origin story of Kim Wexler?
We're definitely seeing some big changes from Kim. What those final moments mean exactly — it’s a little bit ambiguous to me. There's a world where she means every word of everything she says. There's a world where she's shaking up Jimmy in her own way. But the question I have is: how far is she willing to go down this path? Because it's one thing to abstractly say, “I'm willing to ruin Howard,” and it's another thing to actually go and do it and watch a person who you know suffer no matter what the good reasons you think you have for doing it.
One thing she’s learned from Jimmy is she can now see the shortest distance between two points. Jimmy's always seeing that there's a way to get what you want, which may not be following the rules. And for better or for worse, Kim has learned this way of looking at things. Maybe she had more of it than we thought when we met her, but she seems to be going down a very different road. The [season 5] penultimate episode that [executive producer] Tom Schnauz wrote and directed is called “Bad Choice Road.” And maybe Kim is going down a Bad Choice Road.
Kim has a fiercely independent streak and no one tells her what her to do. Plus, she likes to stick it to the man and exact her own form of justice. But why did Howard’s questioning of her motivation to quit the firm – and his suggestion that Jimmy was controlling her — push her buttons so much that she would suggest the brutal action she did?
Kim has a strong sense that she is the captain of her own ship. She decides what she does. And everything she has, she earned. Howard may be a good guy in a lot of ways, but he inherited his position. And I think that rankles her, and it rankles her when she hears Howard condemn Jimmy and say that Jimmy’s out of control. And I have to say, there's nothing that irritates you more than someone telling you something that you know in your heart is true. In some ways, in that scene, Howard gets her back up partially because some of the things that he says about Jimmy have validity. But she loves Jimmy — and that’s not where she wants to go.
Unlike in her on-the-fly conversation with Lalo in episode 9, Kim seems a little more calculated when it came to her Sandpiper pitch to Jimmy. How long has she been mulling over this plan?
That's a very good question because Kim evolved into an expert scammer. And, of course, one of Jimmy's biggest attempted scams was to get Sandpiper to settle back in season 3. But he was doing it at the expense of a nice, older lady’s social life and her happiness, and ultimately he couldn't bring himself to do it. Now, Kim is looking at all the angles. It certainly does seem like she may have given this some thought. Maybe not serious thought. Also, by the way, she’s a brilliant lawyer and so I could believe she would come up with all that on the fly.
When did you decide to bring Sandpiper back in the fold? Was it a pan cooling off on the back of the stove that you’ve been waiting to heat up again?
Sandpiper really is the gift that keeps giving! That, of course, is a case that came up in season 1. The logic that we had was really, “Jimmy is working with elders. What if he came across a very interesting, possibly even lucrative case in his work with elders?” And it was as simple as that. We thought that was really all about giving Jimmy a leg up, and then Jimmy finds out that Chuck is really the obstacle standing in his way to a more respectable legal career. But the truth is that the way we left it, Jimmy has a share in this very big class-action case, and it's not something that we can forget about. It’s almost like he has a lottery ticket and he doesn't know when it's going to pay off, but when it pays off, it's probably going to pay off big. So it’s something that comes up a lot. And then it came up again in season 3 when he tried to short-circuit the whole process.
Perhaps the only thing more dangerous than Lalo is a Lalo that people think is dead. How worried should Nacho — and for that matter, Gus and Jimmy and Mike — be, given that the last image of the season is Lalo hobbling off with angry determination, knowing that he’s been crossed?
I've never seen Lalo like that, and I love the way Tony plays that scene. It really feels as if the scales have fallen from Lalo’s eyes. Lalo sees a lot of things more clearly at this point, which can’t be good news for any of our other characters. [Laughs] It can't be good news for Jimmy and Kim or Mike or Gus — or certainly Nacho. We'll have to see, but the truth is, as you just pointed out, they don't know. The people who were sent to kill Lalo are now dead, and the message that was sent was that the job was done. So where is Lalo? What’s Lalo’s next move?
There’s a famous scene in Breaking Bad — which you know better than anyone, having written it — where Saul tells Jesse: “No, it wasn’t me. It was Ignacio [Nacho]. He’s the one,” and then asks, “Lalo didn’t send you? No Lalo?” Is Saul possibly referring to the assassination attempt or its aftermath?
Boy, it seems like it's possible. It's so funny because everything on both shows is a group effort — that was an episode that I wrote; I got to introduce this character in season 2. And I have to say, when Lalo and Ignacio came up in dialogue, there really wasn't any thought we would ever see those guys. It just helped you know that Saul Goodman was involved with lots of people. Now that we've met them and we've seen some of the dynamic, there's still more to say about Saul Goodman, Lalo, and Nacho Varga.
So, how much illumination will the sixth and final season provide on the context of that moment?
I hope it will provide some illumination. We have a lot to pay off. There are always scenes and characters who I want to see again that we don't get to in any season, and I always kind of mollify myself by saying, “Well, we'll get to it next season.” But after season 6, this is it for this story. So if we leave loose ends, they may stay loose. I know there will be some — but hopefully as few as possible.
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