Spoiler alert: Do not read until you’ve watched episode 407 of “Better Call Saul,” titled “Something Stupid.”
Can this relationship be saved?
Given Kim’s (Rhea Seehorn) absence in the future that we know in “Breaking Bad,” it seems only a matter of time before she splits up with Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk). And that fate seems even clear in this week’s episode of “Better Call Saul”, which saw the two characters — each mired separately in their own guilt and grieving process —inch further away from each other.
From the opening montage — another instant classic in the “Better Call Saul” universe — through that awkward office party to the case with Huell, the hour laid bare the tensions, spoken and unspoken, in their relationship.
Here, Seehorn breaks down Jimmy and Kim’s relationship, Kim’s ultimate fate, and what’s ahead for the rest of the season.
So the first and most important question, how happy were you to get the cast off?
I was pretty happy! That is a real cast. It is plaster, not fiberglass. It was applied every morning, two hours before I start work so that it dries and then you go to work and then it’s on all day and it’s sawed off at the end. Because it goes up past your elbow, you can’t slip it on. There are ways to do the fiberglass ones where you can make cuts in the back, but (showrunner) Peter (Gould) wanted the plaster to have the certain sheen that real plaster has.. I had to ask for so much help when it was on because of the angle — and I am right-handed. You can’t reach things, you can’t reach the buttons on your blouse. Going to the restroom, eating was hard. I enjoy knowing how annoying it would be to Kim in all the off screen time that we’re not watching her. It helps me to understand the irritation she would have with constantly having to ask somebody to drive her somewhere, ask somebody to cut something up for her, ask somebody to help get her dressed.
That came through in the montage. You realize like how awkward it is even to just brush your teeth.
Exactly. Putting toothpaste on a toothbrush without the toothbrush flopping over became a whole thing. You wind up moving your head more than your hands. That montage was hard and super interesting technically to watch them figure it out. It took forever. It was definitely an all hands on deck constantly kind of thing. Even the toothbrush stuff, it’s supposed to look like we are standing next to each other at certain times. Other times it’s supposed to look like artistically composition wise we’re in the same spot but it’s two different days and we’re not in the same room together. They’re constantly matching stuff on the monitor and it’s quite technical and then you have to let that go and play these small moments, those moments of the scene which are actually quite small, the very small gestures that add up to a larger story.
You’re basically watching the devolution of this relationship over the course of some very mundane activities.
Which is sort of sad. It was definitely something that Bob and I reflected on a lot because there’s a sadness to it but there’s also a strange maturity to settling into in those moments where it’s the ennui of having to get on with everyday life because these two characters have so much that they’ve begun to not tell each other about their interior and exterior lives right now that it just is so magnified the separation that they feel. I found myself thinking, oh my God, if they could only, if they would only talk to each other, they really might be able to help. But neither one can fully express what’s going on. And in my opinion both think it’s to help the other one. They both think that they’re doing the right thing to not lay their troubles on the other person, you know? And yet they’re wrong. They’d be better off if they did for better or for worse, to be able to just honestly say like, Hey, I’m actually completely losing my shit at work or my guilt is consuming me or I don’t know what’s happening, but I started wearing jogging suits and selling phones in a parking lot. No matter what happened, they wouldn’t be so alone in their thoughts.
Why do you think they can’t open up to each other?
It’s a good question. I felt and played throughout the season for Kim that was already a pretty seriously private person who does not really like admitting vulnerability and just as she started to really have one person that she would do that with Jimmy, she had some guilt about Mesa Verde being ill-gotten gains. She’s not a talk about your feelings kind of person. If anything, Jimmy is the more emotionally talkative person. She’s very project/solution oriented. And the two times she tried, Jimmy can’t discuss it or won’t discuss it. There’s this idea in Kim’s mind that Jimmy is in a state of a very difficult grief / shock and she’s unsure of exactly what’s going on with him. But I feel like someone like her in that moment would believe that she needs to be the strong one, do not put your problems on him right now. And I think a lot of people would understand that feeling. There’s moments in life where things are not going well for you, but your friend or partner, you think it’s so much worse for them that you daren’t lay your s–t on their door too. So I’m not sure how Bob feels. I’m sure there’s got to be a degree of fear for a character like Jimmy to tell Kim everything he is up to and I suppose it would be terrifying too because what if she said like, I understand everything that’s going on, but you need to not act on those impulses. There’s some part of him that clearly needs to act on those impulses.
How much of this is still fallout from Chuck’s death and how they’re both dealing with it?
I think it’s huge. I think Chuck’s death and how his death came about, maybe even more so for Kim, hangs over the entire season and even with this montage, which is one of the first times they’ve done a huge time cut or time jump, it’s only magnified what I think were already simmering problems. It definitely caused this wake, this turning point and there’s an actual horrible reckoning, somebody burning themselves alive that came at the end of the sequence of events, that Kim can argue that she didn’t cause, but she certainly was a part of the sequence of events. I don’t think there’s a lot of love lost for Kim for Chuck. She did not care for this person by the time he was gone, but still it magnifies this reckless train that she’s on and the decisions and the constant repercussions for decisions and then repercussions for the repercussions. I think she’s still looking for a rudder herself. Kim I think is looking for something to right her ship. It’s very rocky and it’s not really a safe place to discuss it with Jimmy right now because she thinks she needs to be there for him. We see her having panic attacks at Mesa Verde and hanging up on her bosses and desperately trying to look for some kind of public defender work or anything that makes her feel in control of righting her ship and keeping things a situated in a way that she feels like she has control over them and that she can make things right for herself if not for the world and these self righteous needs become flaws with her when she can’t stop being obsessive with them. We obviously see that she is doing a worse and worse job at defining her own lines in the sand with Jimmy and for herself. And she’s just constantly fighting to right her own ship and figure out which way to steer.
Is that why she goes back to work at a law firm?
I think she legitimately thinks I’ve got to pay all the bills right now. I don’t really know what’s going on with Jimmy for awhile, I don’t know what a cell phone store pays. I think she does think she needs to make sure she can take care of herself and him financially. But there’s always a cost. It’s always a bit of a slippery slope when Kim tries to have her cake and eat it. She wants to not face what she’s actually feeling, which is I don’t really want to open up 10,000 banks as my contribution to the world. Apparently it’s not uncommon at all that very highly paid lawyers who do almost all white collar work or help find tax loopholes for giant billionaire companies that they often go and do public defender work to remind themselves of the love of the law that they used to have. But Kim’s filling up every second of every day because God forbid she should just sit with her feelings for a minute.
Do you think she’s trying to do it to save the relationship or to save herself?
I think Kim thinks saving herself is a gift for a relationship. I haven’t gone about any scenes where I thought the subtext is I’m trying to break up with him in a super slow dragged out way. What she’s doing is stabilizing for them. Even if it’s just to say I can pay all the rent for this year, don’t worry about it. Granted, Jimmy starts to do things this season that she doesn’t know about, but even when she did know things about him that were slightly shady, she always sort of accepted him as this is who he is and you don’t get to like completely ask somebody to be somebody they’re not. It’s just more about can we do this together? Her compartmentalizing of all that stuff continues to grow.
Then she finds out that he’s been selling drop phones on the street, and she is not happy about that.
Exactly. That scene cracked me up when he comes and asks me because there is so much weirdness being thrown at her. Why are you selling cell phones late at night? Why it so important that I help this person? I never heard about him before! Kim wants to help Jimmy and she’s not happy about how she’s been dragged into it, but the writers do this in so many scenes and do it so well —it’s never going to I’m going to save my man because I love him. They add this thing that totally reels Kim in and Jimmy knows it which is presenting it as this is an actual injustice in the world that she should fix. Part of the anger that I felt in that scene as Kim is that I think she also is irritated with the fact that she just can’t not check it out and see if it’s actually an injustice. She just can’t help herself.
So what should we read into her little shopping spree at the end? What is her plan?
Oh, I can’t tell that! All is revealed though.
She does like her Post-Its…
She does like her Post-Its! Wouldn’t it be funny if that was Kim’s release, just to go mad at Staples! There’s very little I can say about that, but all is revealed for sure.
How does it feel to be getting closer to the “Breaking Bad” world?
It’s very cool, this Venn diagram of where these two stories overlap is getting bigger and bigger. I’m often not in those scenes. As a character Kim doesn’t know about everything that Jimmy is doing and certainly didn’t know about the cartel stuff or does she? Maybe she’s Gus Fring’s best friend! (Laughs.)
But what I hadn’t thought about until I was on set for a couple of the cartel scenes and some Gus Fring stuff and some Nacho stuff and then I went back and did a very quiet but difficult scene with Bob. I had gone and watched some other scenes from this whole other storyline with crazy insanity and people being suffocated and bullet riddled cars, and I had forgotten that this tapestry is being woven tightly together the entire time, and the ride the audience is on keeps their heart rate at a certain level that all the scenes begin to be infused with a type of danger. I guess what my realization in that moment was that there are more similarities than I thought as well in the emotional journeys of the characters regardless of circumstance, people trying to figure out how to right their ship. People trying to figure out how to not just dig their hole deeper and deeper and deeper. People who would be better off if they could just actually be honest with the person that’s right next to them. And people that are struggling with constantly moving a line in the sand of right and wrong for themselves. That was interesting for me to watch and to realize that there is a danger element running through all of these characters regardless of circumstance.
Are you getting any closer to an answer about Kim’s fate in the “Breaking Bad” world?
Now that I know of! I can’t spoil the end of the season, which was very interesting, but you know, every time we play a scene I feel like answers one question leads to new ones. I don’t think they’ve nailed that down either and they’ve done such a good job of blending the timeline backwards, forwards and even during “Breaking Bad” but with some new viewpoints.
How would you describe what’s to come the rest of the season?
It is a crazy ride from here to the end. We all love this season. Kim and Jimmy’s relationship is tested and expands in ways that are extremely complex. Jimmy’s descent into Saul definitely continues in surprising, alarming, funny and tragic ways. Kim’s awareness of her own inner turmoil just keeps rising to the surface for her, her having to reckon with what’s going inside, what’s going on inside of her own head.
There’s still more really wonderful “Breaking Bad” surprises. You will meet Lalo and that’s an incredible introduction into the storyline. I can’t believe there’s just three more episodes — the amount of storytelling happening, even one hour is insane. There’s so much happens between now and the finale, it is some of the funniest stuff and some of the most tragic stuff and some of the scariest stuff that I’ve seen in all of the seasons. You just ping from one to another, sometimes in the same scene.