If Better Call Saul has a calling card, it’s the montage. Though its forebear, Breaking Bad, also used that narrative device on occasion, it benefited from the baser thrills that made jumping into a drug empire so exhilarating: shoot-outs, corpse disposal via sulphuric acid, death by box cutter, death by Pontiac Aztek. What Better Call Saul’s montages may lack in flash, they make up for in substance—and the seventh episode of the fourth season, last week’s “Something Stupid,” was an all-timer.
In the span of five minutes—scored by a cover of the Frank and Nancy Sinatra song of the same name—“Something Stupid” carefully distills and deconstructs the relationship between Jimmy McGill and Kim Wexler over several months. Using a split screen to separate their routines, Jimmy continues his side hustle selling burner phones to unsavory clientele under the name Saul Goodman, and Kim opens up a plethora of bank branches for her main client, Mesa Verde. The juxtaposition serves as a metaphor for the couple slowly drifting apart, spending fewer mornings, dinners, and bedtimes together. By the end, Kim’s side of the screen is completely black; Jimmy is isolated. That Better Call Saul spent four seasons demonstrating the inscrutable yet impervious bond between the couple and then tore it apart in a single cold open was devastating. It was like the tear-jerking Up montage by way of AMC.
The montage seemed to spell the point of no return for Jimmy and Kim, and the inevitability of the prequel series catching up with Breaking Bad—a show in which Kim is never seen nor mentioned. (At any rate, fans are just hoping Kim won’t be leaving in a body bag, like Chuck did.) But before that, Jimmy has one more request for Kim: help out Huell Babineaux, who’s facing jail time for clocking an undercover cop with a bag of sandwiches (which is the most appropriate way for a human meme like Huell to get arrested). Jimmy knows his best bet is to con the system, but before he does something too stupid, Kim jumps in with an idea of her own.
The core of Monday night’s episode, “Coushatta,” puts Kim’s plan in motion—that, too, is an all-timer. It features Jimmy commuting all the way down to Huell’s hometown of Coushatta, Louisiana, and writing dozens of fake letters from townsfolk pleading Huell’s innocence. A fraudulent church website is set up with donations to support Huell before the trial. Jimmy uses his burner phones to make numbers for the congregation. The faux-campaign and the pressure it puts on the judge overseeing the case, as well as the assistant district attorney prosecuting Huell, is enough to reduce his sentence from as much as 18 months of jail time to four months of probation. The plan, while obviously super illegal, is a rousing success. But the revelation of Jimmy (again) sidestepping the law doesn’t serve as the last straw in Jimmy and Kim’s relationship. Instead, the scam has the inverse effect: She jumps him passionately in the stairwell of the courthouse. Later, when she’s taking a drag of a cigarette, she says four of the most ominous words ever spoken on this show: “Let’s do it again.”
[Deep breath.] Here we go. It’s time to raise our Kim Concern Level back to a full 10. About as quickly as it seemed that Kim was going to slip safely away from Jimmy and perhaps out of the show, she is once again invested in his scamming. It’s not like we haven’t had hints before that Kim enjoys conning people who, perhaps, deserve it. In the second-season premiere, she and Jimmy scammed a douchey Wall Street bro out of an expensive bottle of tequila and dinner. (Then, too, Kim passionately jumped Jimmy after executing the con.) We’re reminded of that moment in “Coushatta” when she opens up her office drawer, revealing the tequila bottle she stashed as a keepsake. Still, that instance felt like a temporary, euphoric high; low-stakes scams allow Kim to let off a bit of steam, but they don’t stain her moral compass.
This one seems different. The circumstances of Huell’s arrest notwithstanding—he genuinely didn’t realize he knocked down a cop—this latest scheme is a far cry from conning a stockbroker out of exorbitantly priced tequila. Kim is bypassing the judicial system that she has adhered to and admired her whole career. (Her go-to movie is To Kill a Mockingbird, for Christ’s sake.) We know nothing too bad can happen to Jimmy, or otherwise he wouldn’t become the go-to lawyer for shady clientele in Albuquerque. But there is a risk to Kim getting in the game, since we know she isn’t in the picture in Breaking Bad.
The heartbreaking montage from “Something Stupid” teased a Kim-less future as the result of some kind of falling out; after all, most of the fourth season has been dedicated to the existential ennui seeping into Jimmy and Kim’s personal and professional lives. Now, with Kim’s newfound interest in pulling more Huell-like scams, the possibilities are endless—and ominous. Will Kim get caught and disbarred? Will she perjure herself? Be sent to jail? Worse yet: Could she somehow get enveloped in Jimmy’s tenuous connections to the cartel and meet the kind of unsavory end more familiar to characters in Breaking Bad?
She probably won’t, but there is a heightened aura of tragic inevitability surrounding Kim, akin to Chuck’s waning moments in Better Call Saul’s third season. The catalyst for Kim agreeing to help Jimmy pull the scam in “Something Stupid” came when the prosecuting attorney said that Huell’s only witness was a “scumbag disbarred lawyer who peddles drop phones to criminals.” Kim’s anguish conveyed an array of emotions: shock, befuddlement, defensiveness, and tacit acknowledgment. She needs to reorient her moral compass before she fully breaks bad alongside Jimmy. But like Heisenberg’s blue meth, now that she’s got a taste for it, there might not be any going back.