clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The ‘Better Call Saul’ Season 5 Finale Exit Survey

Everyone was right to worry about Kim Wexler—but it’s her soul that’s in the most danger following “Something Unforgivable”

AMC/Netflix/Ringer illustration

Due to her absence from Breaking Bad, the physical health of Kim Wexler has long been the prime concern of watching Better Call Saul. But after a flash of some finger guns in “Something Unforgivable,” the closing episode of the show’s impeccable fifth season, it’s now clear that viewers should’ve been more worried about the health of Kim’s soul. Following the finale, the Ringer staff discusses that development, Nacho’s future, and what to look forward to next season.


1. What is your tweet-length review of the Better Call Saul Season 5 finale?

Miles Surrey: More like Better Call a Cardiologist!

Jackson Safon: My emotions are split exactly in half between relief for Kim’s safety (even if temporary) and fear for Nacho’s.

Jason Gallagher: [Extremely Ned Stark voice for no apparent reason] Lalo Is Coming.

Dan Devine: As much as I hate to say it: I look at you, and I see Slippin’ Kimmy.

Sean Yoo:

Ben Lindbergh: Saul stole some of the thunder from its finale with back-to-back bangers leading up to the end of the season, but “Something Unforgivable” was still a shocking kicker: Kim lived to see another season, but she also went all Walter White on us.

Alison Herman: I was not expecting Saul Season 5 to have the same rough contours as You Season 2, but here we are.


2. What was your favorite moment of the episode?

Safon: Kim’s response to Jimmy—“Wouldn’t I?”—as the camera lingered for an extra beat was special, all-time stuff; right up there with “I am the one who knocks.”

Gallagher: I really enjoyed the part where Lalo turned into a mustachioed terminator and killed the highly trained assassins hired by Gus Fring. He looked amazing doing it.

Herman: I hate Lalo Salamanca. I love watching Lalo Salamanca cheat death and rain destruction on his attackers.

Yoo: It’s hard to ignore Lalo taking on about six assassins John Wick style, but the moment between Kim and Howard is the type of scene that takes this show over the top. The blowup between Jimmy and Howard in “JMM” was an explosive culmination of five seasons of tension between those two characters. The way Jimmy handled it was indicative of his evolution into Saul—brash, overconfident, and unaware of the consequences. Then you have Kim, whose own evolution is perfectly encapsulated in this scene in the finale. Howard tells Kim that Jimmy is someone who is not in control of himself; Kim fires back, saying, “I make my own decisions, for my own reasons. … I know Jimmy and you’re wrong.” She has been in control of every one of her actions to this point and she chooses to stay with Jimmy even though it might get her killed. It’s why she’s the MVP of the show and arguably the best character in the world of Breaking Bad. She’s the only one who’s fully confident and aware of each choice in her life and will stand her ground—no matter what—to defend those choices.

Lindbergh: Jimmy asking Kim, “Am I bad for you?” which barely beat out Howard coming off the top rope with “You know who really knew Jimmy? Chuck.”

Devine: As a major sucker for parallel structure, my favorite moment was when Jimmy’s apparently finalized transformation into Saul Goodman from the Season 4 finale ...

… was turned around and pointed right back at him, with an unfettered Kim now seemingly all in on an extremely wild plan to destroy Howard Hamlin and skate with “around 2 mill” in the process:

This fuckin’ show, man. Nothing wasted.

Surrey: I loved how the episode had Kim mirror Jimmy’s “s’all good, man” from the Season 4 finale. Perhaps it speaks to my own intense emotional investment in Kim that I found the implications of her plan to destroy Howard Hamlin way more excruciating to watch than a bunch of hitmen raiding a Mexican compound.

David Lara: Kim Wexler hitting Jimmy with finger guns felt like Chris Paul hitting Steph Curry with his own shimmy celebration in 2018.

3. What was your least favorite part of the episode?

Herman: When you realize what Jimmy should have asked was whether Kim was bad for him.

Surrey: That Kim Wexler going pew pew with her fingers indicates a moral erosion and impending tragedy—where is she in Breaking Bad?!—that never would’ve happened if she wasn’t committed to Jimmy-cum-Saul. Love hurts; love could get you incarcerated.

Gallagher: The stress caused by knowing that Nacho is trapped in this world forever and that the only escape is death at the hands of an extremely angry Lalo.

Devine: Gus Fring telling Mike early in the episode that the assassins he’s hired to kill Lalo at his compound are “highly skilled; they’re the best in their business.” It was a small line, but it was also a pretty direct telegraph that, no matter how impressive their contract-killer résumés might have been, they were 100 percent not going to get this particular job done. If I had to guess which hitman-for-hire service Gus went through to get these dudes, I’d put my shrink-wrapped wad of cash on La Compañía Dorada.

Safon: Why did Yolanda have to die?!

Lara: RIP the best cook in Chihuahua, Mexico.

Lindbergh: There was very little to dislike about this episode or this season of Saul. If I have to pick something, it’s Don Eladio saying “Salud!” while sitting by the pool where Gus is going to kill him in an episode of Breaking Bad called “Salud.” Saul is usually subtle, but that was a little like Obi-Wan asking Anakin, “Why do I get the feeling you’re going to be the death of me?”

Yoo: Counterpoint: There wasn’t a single bad scene all season long.

4. Lalo Salamanca has survived his assassination attempt and knows that Nacho Varga betrayed him. What’s going to happen to both of them between now and Breaking Bad?

Safon: Something unforgivable.

Lara: I think it ends with Gus killing Lalo to protect Nacho and then Gus killing Nacho to protect his whole enterprise. Because come on, no one just leaves the cartel.

Surrey: At this point, Lalo has an air of “final boss in a video game” invincibility, while Nacho finally being exposed as a double agent seems to leave little room for him to survive the prequel series unscathed. But Better Call Saul is often unpredictable, so I don’t want to fully commit to the idea that Lalo will be the orchestrator of his former protégé’s demise. Anything could happen—except maybe Nacho’s wholesome dad showing up with a machine gun to save his son.

Yoo: In the second season of Breaking Bad, Saul mentions Lalo’s name when Walt and Jesse kidnap him, saying, “It wasn’t me, it was Ignacio, he was the one!” I assume he says it because he doesn’t know the truth about what actually happened and believes Nacho killed Lalo. I think whatever happens next season will be contained to Mexico; either Lalo hunts down Nacho or Nacho actually is the one to kill Lalo. All I know is that I’m terrified of Lalo Wick and even more afraid for Papa Nacho.

Gallagher: I don’t know the exact order in which these men die, but I can tell you for certain that Nacho’s dad will be the first to go; a preemptive RIP to an absolute real one.

Lindbergh: Even Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould may not know the answer to that. It’s possible that they could both be alive; maybe Lalo secretly escapes and Gus is mistaken when he gloats in Breaking Bad about Hector being the last surviving Salamanca. I’m guessing, though, that Gus gets him, and that Saul is mistaken when he seems to think Lalo is alive in Breaking Bad Season 2. As for Nacho, I’m rooting for him and his dad to join Jesse in Alaska.

Devine: I take no pleasure in predicting this, because Michael Mando has been tremendous on this show, BUT: Nacho is going to watch his upright upholstering-ass father get killed as a direct result of his illicit actions, and then die an excruciating death of his own—possibly at the hands of the Cousins, who you’d imagine might enjoy taking apart the guy who got Tuco sent to prison and reduced Don Hector to a bell-ringing invalid. (To the extent they might feel joy about anything, that is.)

Lalo, meanwhile, is going to meet a breathtaking chanteuse in a drag bar, spend the night with her and, when they part ways in the morning, tell her he just wanted to take another look at her.

Herman: As with all unknowns on the show, the answer is “No idea, but nothing good.”

5. Now that she’s planning to destroy Howard Hamlin’s career, on a scale of 1-10, how worried are you about Kim Wexler?

Safon: Well, considering I was at a 10 before, I’d say this episode actually dropped that down to a 9.5. But it’s entirely possible that watching Kim lose it all in a professional setting, something she’s worked so hard for, will be even more devastating than the idea of her dying via the cartel.

Devine: Out of 10? I’m at a 63.

Herman: Just as Kim is unable to quit her love for Jimmy despite his obvious failings, I am unable to quit my love for Kim despite her growing evil genius streak.

Lindbergh: I was already at 10 long before an ice-cold Kim asked, “Wouldn’t I?” I’m still extremely scared for her, but Howard now has much more to worry about than bowling balls, prostitutes, and tanning lotion swapped out for sunblock.

Surrey: I’d resigned myself to Kim being caught in the crossfire of Jimmy’s slow devolution into Saul, but I never would’ve expected that she would hatch a scheme that even he wouldn’t be comfortable with. If Kim breaks bad before Jimmy, becoming Saul Goodman full-time might be his way of getting back at the world. God, this show is depressing.

Yoo: I’m extremely worried—I think I’m at an 11. The most recent scheme between Kim and Jimmy had too many cracks in its structure and almost collapsed. Now they’re attempting an even bigger plot that has significantly more emotion involved than the previous one. What’s worse than death for someone like Kim? Disbarment and jail time for a felony-level crime.

Lara: We all know Kim isn’t in Breaking Bad, but are the choices she makes in the Season 5 finale the thing that costs her the career she loves? Does she get sent to prison for trying to destroy Howard’s career? Or will she still get caught in the cartel’s crossfire?

Gallagher: Better Call Saul Season 6 could also be named “The Last Dance,” because Kim Wexler is pretty done after this. Whether she dies or goes to prison or has to disappear, the life she once had is completely over. Best-case scenario is she runs away to a small, remote country to do charity work or something. #ProtectKim

6. Who was Better Call Saul Season 5’s MVP?

Herman: The creeping sense of dread that sits deep in my chest. (Also, Tony Dalton.)

Devine: Rhea Seehorn. Seehorn’s agility in portraying Kim’s slide down the slippery slope—from begrudgingly scamming her client into taking a plea deal in the season premiere, all the way down to pitching a vicious, vindictive, and wildly illegal scheme to ruin Howard, in part because he’s smug and officious but in larger part because holy shit, how great would it be to destroy someone and get away with it—has been unbelievable. Every gesture, tight-lipped smile, head-tilt, and arched eyebrow tells a rich story, betraying both a reservoir of anger and pain just barely beneath Kim’s practiced poker-face surface, and her growing addiction to the endorphin rush of putting her palm over the open flame, again and again and again.

Gallagher: Kim Wexler is the only answer here. She’s probably all of television’s MVP, if we’re being honest. (Lalo is definitely the Most Improved Player and further proof that the best villains tuck in their shirts.)

Safon: Not to promote my own team, but:

Surrey: Tony Dalton was an awesome villain and Bob Odenkirk deserves an Emmy for this speech alone, but c’mon, the only correct answer here is Rhea Seehorn. This was a superlative performance, so powerful and devastating that The Ringer has pivoted to being a Kim Wexler fan site. If Seehorn doesn’t get an Emmy this year—somehow she hasn’t even gotten a damn nomination before—we should honestly consider abolishing the Television Academy.

Lindbergh: Clearly Kim, despite a strong second-place finish from late arrival Lalo. Give her the Emmy, both because she deserves it and to make Miles happy.

7. How did Season 5 compare to the best of Breaking Bad? Are you willing to testify that Better Call Saul has matched its predecessor? Is it even better?

Gallagher: Breaking Bad’s highs are higher and its peak lasted longer. That said, the fact that we’re even having this discussion goes to show how far Better Call Saul has come from the days of staring into Michael McKean’s cold, paranoid eyes (no shots).

Safon: Five seasons of Better Call Saul don’t nearly match five seasons of Breaking Bad, but this season of Saul was as good as any. I do not believe it to be better than Breaking Bad, but Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan’s ability to move with such grace between the interpersonal drama of Jimmy and Kim to the physical violence that happens in Mexico is something to marvel at.

Lara: I dare say it’s matched its predecessor, but the sixth and final season might need to bring it just as much before we start saying it’s better than Breaking Bad.

Surrey: It’s better. I’ve felt this way for years, but Season 5 allows me to drop this take and not immediately get laughed out of the room. I’d go even further and put Better Call Saul among the best shows of the century; it belongs on TV Mount Rushmore.

Lindbergh: At minimum, it’s lived up to Breaking Bad’s legacy while establishing a stand-alone identity, which few prequels can say. It’s not quite the all-consuming communal experience that Breaking Bad became (although it could be by the end), but I think it’s made me care about its characters more than I ever cared about Breaking Bad’s.

Devine: In terms of sheer week-to-week anticipation, I think the only stretch of Breaking Bad I looked forward to watching every week as much as I did this burst of Better Call Saul was its fifth and final season—the mammoth two-parter that featured, by our reckoning, five of the top 13 episodes in the show’s entire run, including its very best.

This feeling is different, though. By the end of Breaking Bad, I was fiending for the next episode because the stakes just kept getting raised higher and higher, and the action set pieces kept getting more elaborate and visceral, and I felt like I had to see how it all wrapped up. On Better Call Saul, I’m less interested in the vulgar displays of power (with apologies to “Bagman,” which was fucking wild) than I am in the quieter moments that I find more powerful: the split-screen montages, the dropped ice cream cone-as-metaphor, the way Jonathan Banks tells a decades-long story every time he sighs or sucks his teeth, and the way Rhea Seehorn does ... well, everything.

Yoo: Season 5 of Saul is probably as good as, if not slightly better than, Season 5 of Breaking Bad. Walt’s climatic ending aside, this season of Better Call Saul has operated on a higher level in terms of direction and production quality, and also in the level of character growth and development. Peter Gould and his brilliant team took the best parts of Breaking Bad and fine-tuned them into a well-oiled machine with Better Call Saul.

Herman: They’re two different shows! (And the show that Better Call Saul is happens to be better than the show that Breaking Bad was.)

8. Barring delays, the sixth and final season of Better Call Saul is set to be released in 2021. What are you most looking forward to?

Devine: The choice is clear: It’s what happens to Kim Wexler. The writers, producers, and performers on this show have gotten me completely invested in how Kim’s story line unfolds and concludes (or doesn’t). I’ll wait as long as it takes to get the answers; I trust the people behind Better Call Saul will make it worth my while.

Herman: I’m most looking forward to the revelation that Breaking Bad was all the bad dream of public defender Kimberly Wexler. Barring that, Lalo’s untimely demise.

Safon: I’m extremely worried for the health and safety of literally everyone who isn’t in Breaking Bad, but that doesn’t take away from the excitement of watching what happens before we get there.

Gallagher: I’m most intrigued by Kim Wexler’s fate. I don’t know if I’ve ever been this invested in a character and on top of all of that, we know it’s very likely that something bad happens to her. As great as Season 5 was, the sixth and final season has the potential to be an all-timer.

Yoo: What. Happens. To. Kim. Wexler???

Lindbergh: According to Kim, “There’s not gonna be a next time,” but Kim doesn’t know about Season 6. I’m looking forward to a full season of Lalo vs. Gus, and I’m dreading the inevitably devastating dissolution of Jimmy and Kim as a couple. I was hoping for El Kimino, but it looks like we’re getting Breaking Kim.

Surrey: Meet me at the Cinnabon.