Warning: spoilers ahead!
There’s a lot to unpack about the final season of BETTER CALL SAUL, so much so that one can almost forget about the foundation of the character of Saul Goodman and his issues with his brother, one of the best slow-burns I’ve ever seen on TV.
However, I want to call attention to one facet that I haven’t read much about: Kim’s shift. Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) was always the heart and soul of the show, a brilliant workaholic who always wanted to do good, but was often drawn towards the thrill of darker places, towards the power she could enact through her smarts and her voice and brazen, bold blonde ponytail.
However, at the end of the series she goes brunette, trades her signature ponytail for bangs, and is now in a relationship with the most milquetoast dude in the world. That’s not the worst of it, though: she has relinquished command of her voice.
“I don’t know?”
Past Kim was always declarative, decisive, but after seeing what her voice had wrought — the inadvertent death of Howard — she obviously made a conscious decision to stop using her coercive powers. Instead, she mutters indecisively or stuffs bland tuna fish sandwiches into her mouth. She even re-edits her own dull ad-copy on the website of the sprinkler supply company website she oversees.
What I have always loved about Kim is: she’s smart. She’s far smarter than Jimmy/Saul. Jimmy was the clever enabler, the slick man that made it fun for her to do bad things, and she finds that she loves to manipulate, loves toying with people, especially those she’s felt wronged by (and by simply being a woman in America, that list is very long).
By the end of BETTER CALL SAUL, we see her afraid of her own voice, her potential, her command, afraid of what she has wrought, afraid of what she’s capable of. She feels guilt, shame, but is still restless. We finally see her volunteer at a local legal non-profit, silently shuffling papers, a bit of a callback to her prior legal work. We see her telling her story, the events that lead to Howard’s death, through printed words, entirely unspoken but plain on the page.
Kim gets it. At the end of the day, it’s all about communication. And she checks out of it and checks into a life that doesn’t require it, for better or for worse.