“I said, no details,” insists Bryan Cranston’s Walter White to Aaron Paul’s Jesse Pinkman in tonight’s third to last episode of Better Call Saul. “He’s on a need to know basis,” the partially ski-masked high school science teacher and would-be drug kingpin tells his sidekick as a smarmy Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) stands in front of the Breaking Bad duo in their infamous meth lab RV a.k.a. the Krystal Ship.
Lurching towards the August 15 series finale, the Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould-created spinoff weaved back and forth Monday to the periphery of seminal Breaking Bad events in the Thomas Schnauz penned and directed “Breaking Bad” entitled 11th episode of the sixth and last season of Better Call Saul.
On almost any other series, the long anticipated arrival of White/Heisenberg and his henchmen about halfway through the episode would be the marque showstopper. But this being Better Call Saul, there was a far bigger reveal in the slippery cards. If July 18’s Michael Morris-directed and Ann Cherkis-written “Fun and Games” episode outlined the heartbreaking exit of Rhea Seehorn’s Kim Wexler from her life aside Odenkirk’s Jimmy McGill/Goodman, tonight’s “Breaking Bad” revealed her fate after the bloody fallout of the mother show, which ended its multiple Emmy-winning run in 2013.
Kim Wexler lives.
In fact, as a Nebraska roadside phonebooth call from an incognito Goodman as Cinnabon manager Gene makes clear, Wexler is alive and well-ish and working at Palm Coast Sprinklers in Florida. Beyond that, at least for now, we don’t know more about Seehorn’s Wexler life in the Sunshine State. What we do know is her conversation with Odenkirk’s now Gene character, her ex-beloved and literally partner-in-crime, did not go well.
After the scene setting line of “Hi, I’m looking for Kim Wexler, I believe she works there,” there was a wider shot of the payphone and bustling trucks going by. We hear none of the conversation between the two, but it is clearly boisterous and engaging, to say the least, with snow coat garbed Gene jerking his head and body around in the confined space of the old skool phone booth. As with some many things involving the former couple, the call ends badly with a close-up of Odenkirk’s character smashing the handset against the box in a way most of us haven’t seen since the mid-1980s. Wandering around in the snow outside the phone booth, the man once known as Saul Goodman then shows his hold on his lack of impulse control and shatters one of the glass panels with a well placed kick.
That’s all the Kim we get for now, but with two more episodes to go, it is very unlikely it is the last we will see or hear of her. The same can probably also be said of Cranston and Paul.
Not that getting them here and naturally placed in the sometimes deranged BCS world was a cake walk as Schnauz told Deadline today. “Linking up with that moment in Breaking Bad where Saul yells, “It wasn’t me, it was Ignacio!” has been talked about forever as a target we needed to hit, and I was lucky it landed it my episode because it was so much fun to do,” Schnauz said of finding that perfect slot for Cranston and Paul to land.
“So much work, but so much fun,” the long-time Gilligan collaborator added. “It was really over too fast. I only had Aaron and Bryan for a day and a half back in April of 2021, while Vince was directing episode 602. I had to write this scene and be ready way in advance of when we filmed the rest of 611 because those dates were the only time we could get the guys together because of other commitments they had. Bryan and Aaron slid back into those roles so easily, and watching them try to handle Saul was so much fun.”
So, to that, back in their toxic “Laurel and Hardy vibe,” to quote Goodman riding shotgun in the RV later in the episode, Gilligan and Gould wouldn’t have waited this long to bring the celebrated duo into the BCS world only to have them disappear in a puff of drug tainted smoke, so to speak. Plus, the near end of the ‘Breaking Bad” episode sees Goodman strutting into J. P. Wynne High School to confront science teacher White, after getting the skinny on him from the Jonathon Banks portrayed Michael Ehrmantraut – which has benign cliffhanger scrawled all over it.
Along with some Swing Master product placement, there is also another drama playing itself out in tonight’s exquisitely crafted BCS episode. Starting with former Saul Goodman & Associates secretary Francesca Liddy surfacing again in her post-Breaking Bad life, if you can call it that, “Breaking Bad” furthers the descent of Odenkirk’s Gene back into a life of crime, scams, and double-crosses. In that, besides Tina Parker showing up, Carol Burnett is back too in what could be a much bigger role than her “Nippy” debut of last week indicated.
Leaping from the vivid colors of the Breaking Bad timeline and Albuquerque, New Mexico to the dank B&W of Gene’s under the radar existence in Omaha, Nebraska, the Schnauz cooked-up episode lays out an intricate and lucrative scam to drug deep pocketed residents of the Cornhusker State. While the endgame is not painted yet, the tactic is to get welp cabbie Jeff (Pat Healy) and pal enlisted in the identity heist.
Once Burnett’s slightly rebuffed Marion catches a glimpse of her new friend Gene and son Jeffy having a late night dust-up in her garage, it is looking a pretty sure bet that some wild cards are about to be put on the table for the final two episodes.
If that means more Kim, more of Walt and Jesse or a final reckoning, it certainly would fit Better Call Saul‘s profile. For right now: “No details,” as Walter White said.