Better Call Saul Season 6 Breaks Bad And Turns On The Waterworks

Welcome back, "Saul" fans. I was on vacation last week, which means you get a double-dose of "Better Call Saul" recaps tonight, with both episode 11, "Breaking Bad," and episode 12, "Waterworks." And of course, it's worth mentioning that tonight's episode is the penultimate ep of the series — yep, there's only one more "Better Call Saul" episode left before the show rides off into the sunset. Time to scream in terror and anxiety!

Breaking Bad

Seemingly ever since "Better Call Saul" began, fans have wondered: when will Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) show up? It was a foregone conclusion since "Saul" is a "Bad" prequel. But here's the thing: I was never one of those fans clamoring for more Walt and Jesse. Don't get me wrong! I love "Breaking Bad"! I think it's one of the best shows of all time, no hyperbole. But I think "Better Call Saul" is better. I know that's a wee bit controversial, but it's what I believe. And as far as I was concerned, I was perfectly fine with Walt and Jesse never making an appearance.

But Heisenberg and his trusty sidekick finally appeared in season 6, episode 11, aptly titled "Breaking Bad." Anyone hoping for the duo to have a big part of the story was likely disappointed: Walt and Jesse only appear in some flashbacks, as Saul recalls the first time he met the pair — when they abducted him and made him think they were going to bury him in a grave in the desert. Here, we see more of the conversation after that incident, with Saul quickly figuring out that Walt is Heisenberg. Saul sees a huge opportunity here, but later, when he talks with Mike, Mike is quick to shoot the entire idea down. He states that Walt is an amateur, and getting mixed up with him will be a mistake.

Of course, we all know Mike is right. And you can't help but think of how different everyone's fates would be had Saul just listened to Mike and walked away from Walt and Jesse. But as the rest of the episode shows, Saul has difficulty letting things go.

Slippin' Jimmy

The majority of "Breaking Bad" focuses on how Gene, aka Saul, aka Jimmy, is continuing to slip back into his Slippin' Jimmy con artist mode. Gene was forced to think up a scam involving a mall heist to get leverage over Jeff (Pat Healey), who recognized him as Saul Goodman. But even though he told Jeff that they were done working together after the mall job, Gene just can't let things go. And so he reunites with Jeff and Jeff's buddy (who is named Buddy) to cook up a new scheme. In true "Better Call Saul" fashion, we don't quite know where this new plan is leading. But it involves Gene posing as a guy named Victor. Victor hangs out in bars and quickly zeroes in on a mark (later we find out Gene has done extensive work to narrow down his targets). After Gene (as Victor) gets the mark nice and drunk, Jeff shows up in his cab to take the intoxicated rube home. He also drugs them with a barbiturate-laced bottle of water.

This causes the victim to pass out at home, at which point Buddy (and his very good, very obedient dog!) breaks into the house and proceeds to take photographs of credit cards, bank statements, and more. Is Gene/Jimmy/Saul/Victor (phew) planning some massive identity stealing plan? I don't know! We'll have to wait and see.

Meanwhile, a complication arises. One of the marks ends up revealing that he has cancer (just like Walter White). Gene has a moment where he pauses, and you think he's going to call the whole thing off. But instead, he goes forward with it. Buddy, however, is uncomfortable ripping off a cancer patient. Gene tries to change his mind, ghoulishly stating that it will take months for the victims to even find out they've been scammed — at which point the cancer guy will probably already be dead. But Buddy can't be swayed, and Gene decides to break into the house himself.

She asked about me

Everyone's favorite ponytail-sporting, chain-smoking, morally compromised former lawyer Kim Wexler has been absent from the show since the devastating episode "Fun and Games." In "Breaking Bad," we finally get info on her whereabouts. She's apparently working at a place called Palm Coast Sprinkler in Florida. This info comes to us after a conversation "Gene" has with his former secretary, Francesca.

We learn that in the post-"Breaking Bad" world, Francesca is a landlord. She's also still being tailed by law enforcement, since she's one of the few people from the Saul-days that's still around (she mentions that Walt's wife Skyler cut a deal, so she's in the clear and not being hounded). Gene has left a large sum of cash for Francesca in the desert, near an abandoned gas station. After making sure she's not followed, Francesca drives out there and receives a call, via a pay phone, from Gene. He wants to know how hot things are back home, and Francesca tells him that even though Walter White is long dead, law enforcement isn't giving up on trying to track Saul down.

In the midst of this conversation, Francesca reveals that she got a phone call from Kim, asking how she was doing. Francesca also reveals that Kim asked about Jimmy, news that truly surprises Gene. The idea that Kim might still care for him is like a shock to his system, and after he hangs up with Francesca, he places a call to Palm Coast Sprinkler. Here, director Thomas Schnauz does an interesting thing — the camera cuts to outside the phone booth where Gene is making his call. We see him on the phone, and can sort of hear him talking, but we can't figure out what he's saying. We can't even tell if he's talking to Kim. In any case, the call goes bad, leading Gene to smash the receiver down, Robert De Niro in "Goodfellas"-style, and then kick out a bit of glass from the booth. Was it Kim who upset him so much? Or someone — or something — else. We'll have to wait and see.

Sidebar 1

  • As usual, "Better Call Saul" knocks it out of the park visually. I firmly believe this is the best-looking show on TV right now, and there are a wealth of incredible shots and sequences here. One particular standout is a shot of an open grave that slowly fades into Gene laying in bed, framed as if he were in the grave itself.
  • While talking with Francesca, Jimmy/Gene/Saul asks about some of the old gang from his glory days. For instance: where's Huell? Apparently, he went back home to New Orleans, and is not still sitting in a motel room like we last saw him on "Breaking Bad."
  • Carol Burnett returns as Jeff's mom Marion, and she spends the majority of her screentime watching cat videos on a computer Jeff bought her. But before the episode ends, she spots Gene, Jeff, and Buddy heading into the garage after the cancer patient job goes wrong. Hmm.
  • Speaking of Jeff, Pat Healy really makes a great addition to this world. He's an actor who feels like he definitely belongs here.
  • I know it's part of their dynamic established in "Breaking Bad," but it feels a little weird to see Saul be so mean and obnoxious towards Mike here, considering all Mike did for him in the wake of the Lalo incident. 
  • Is Kim really working at a place that sells sprinkles? I know she gave up being a lawyer, but that sure seems like a huge step-down, career-wise! I guess we'll find out what's going on there in episode 12. Maybe. 


I have been holding out hope — perhaps naively — that "Better Call Saul" might have a happy ending. I never felt this way about "Breaking Bad" — Walter White's story could only end in death. But Jimmy aka Saul aka Gene isn't Walter White. And there was always a slight chance that this story might end with some sort of redemption. But after "Waterworks," I'm pretty sure that's impossible.

This is a dark episode, and it's immensely tense — although the majority of the runtime doesn't even involve big, thrilling action or set pieces. It mostly involves characters sitting around in long stretches of silence, remembering all the terrible things they've done. First and foremost is Kim, who returns this week much changed. It's been six years since she and Jimmy last spoke (more on that later), and now Kim lives in Florida, enjoying what appears to be the banalest, boring life imaginable. On top of that, she's hardly recognizable, now sporting a much different haircut (no ponytail!), and her hair dyed brown. 

Is Kim content with her new life? It sure doesn't look like it. Instead, she moves like a zombie. She has what appears to be a boyfriend, a guy who seems both very nice and incredibly dull. They engage in some passionless sex (wherein Kim's beau chants "Yup, yup, yup," over and over again) and attend a lifeless backyard BBQ. It's like Kim has become a zombie shambling through suburbia. 

And then she gets a phone call. 

I'm glad you're alive

I've gone on record several times as saying Rhea Seehorn is one of the best actors on TV right now. From the very start of the season, she fast became the best part of an already great show. Seehorn's acting secret seems to be in how she allows her character to reactLike Spencer Tracy, she's a great listener — when other actors are talking, Seehorn takes care to make it clear her character is actually listening, and thinking things over. That may sound simple, but it's a lot harder than it looks.

Seehorn has already had several jaw-dropping moments throughout the series, but this might be her finest hour. Last week, we saw Jimmy place a phone call to Kim's place of employment — a company that sells sprinklers; she works in the marketing department — but we never heard either side of the call. This week, we hear it. At first, Jimmy tries to act as if nothing has changed; that they can just slide back into their old form of conversation. But Kim is mostly silent, unable to think of what to say. Again, Seehorn puts her remarkable listening powers to the work, and we can see a million different conflicting emotions on Kim's face as she listens to the call. Eventually, she does speak — to tell Jimmy that he should turn himself in.

Jimmy is incensed at this idea, flying off the handle and mockingly saying that if Kim feels so guilty, she should turn herself in. Finally, Kim ends the call, stating: "I'm glad you're alive." She hangs up the phone, and everything feels bleak and devastating. And we're just getting started. 

Have a nice life

As it turns out, Kim takes Jimmy's advice. She heads back to Albuquerque and files an affidavit in which she breaks down what happened: how she and Jimmy teamed up to ruin Howard, and how Howard was murdered by Lalo. She then takes this document with its gory details to Cheryl, who is understandably horrified. Once again, Seehorn mostly sits and reacts to how her scene partner, Sandrine Holt, reacts as Cheryl pours over the words that finally reveal her husband's tragic fate. 

Cheryl wants to know what will happen next — is Kim going to jail? Maybe ... but probably not. As Kim states, it's up to the District Attorney to file charges, and there's a good chance that won't happen because there's no physical evidence. Kim also tries to stress that Howard didn't suffer when he was killed, but Cheryl reminds her that Howard's reputation was ruined right before his death, and now that's all anyone remembers of him. Kim replies that she wants to change that ... somehow. "Why are you doing this?" Cheryl asks.

Kim doesn't have an answer. But later, we see her riding a bus, and we are forced to watch as she has a complete breakdown. Director Vince Gilligan keeps the camera trained on Seehorn's face as it slowly cracks, bit by bit, until she's overwhelmed with emotion, sobbing. It's brutal to watch. As is another scene that comes after — a flashback to when Kim and Jimmy last saw each other six years ago. It involved the former couple signing their divorce papers. Jimmy is in full Saul mode, and rather cold to Kim, dismissing her with a cruel, "Have a nice life!" before returning to his criminal clients. 

After the deed is done, Kim heads outside of Saul's strip mall office. It's pouring rain, which isn't exactly normal for this location. As expected, Kim needs a cigarette after the previous painful encounter, and she lights one up. As it turns out, she's not alone — also outside is none other than Jesse Pinkman, who asks to bum a smoke. Kim obliges, and Jesse proceeds to go on a very Jesse-like diatribe about the weather, and about his criminal buddies — one of whom Kim actually represented years ago. Finally, he asks Kim about Saul Goodman. Another of Jesse's friends is represented by Saul (because he likes the commercials), and Jesse wants to know if the lawyer is any good. "When I knew him he was," Kim replies. Like I said: brutal. 


The Kim stuff is honestly enough for an episode all on its own, but we also check back in with Gene this week in the aftermath of the last episode, when he was seen breaking into the house of one of his marks. In a tense, bleakly amusing scene, Gene goes about rummaging through the house and even steals some watches upstairs, only to be hampered when the homeowner wakes up. Fortunately for Gene, the man is still too drugged to stay awake long — which is good, because Gene comes very close to bashing the man's head in with an urn containing the ashes of a dead dog. 

After the victim passes out again, Gene goes to make his escape with Jeff waiting outside in his taxi. But as bad luck would have it, a cop car has parked behind Jeff. Not because they care about his cab or what he's doing there — but because they're having themselves a late-night lunch. Jeff doesn't know that, though, and freaks out — crashing the cab in the process. Gene gets away on foot, but Jeff is busted — and his situation is made worse when the homeowner comes out and accuses him of theft.

Later, Jeff calls Gene (calling Gene "dad") and asks for help. Gene, who has been downing several drinks, says it won't be a problem — the cops have no evidence. Gene promises to pick up Jeff's mom Marion and bail Jeff out of jail. But, like everything else involving this caper, that doesn't go according to plan. Marion grows suspicious that Jeff would call Gene instead of her after his arrest. And she also finds it odd that Gene has such extensive knowledge of the law. By the time Gene shows up at Marion's home to pick her up, it's too late — Marion has been watching the old Better Call Saul commercials, and she knows Gene is Saul Goodman (she found him, amusingly enough, by going to Ask Jeeves and typing in "Albuquerque" and "Con Man." Yep, that'll do it. 

His cover blown, Gene gets downright scary here. He pulls out the phone cord so Marion can't call the cops, and he even wraps it around his fists as if he's going to strangle her to death. While she doesn't have a phone, Marion still has her Life Alert — the medical alert system for seniors made popular by the "I've fallen, and I can't get up!" commercials. Gene moves to stop her from using that, too. But Marion states: "I trusted you." Carol Burnett puts just enough weight on her delivery of that line, and the words clearly take Gene aback, remaining him of the days when he wasn't such a bad guy. 

With nothing else to do, Gene flees.  

Sidebar 2

  • Was not expecting to see Jesse again, so that was fun! Although I think Aaron Paul is too damn old to still be playing this part, if I'm being honest. 
  • "I'm still out here. I'm still getting away with it!" — Jimmy talking to Kim on the phone. 
  • I know Saul was on record as being okay with the attempted murder of a kid on "Breaking Bad," but this episode has to be the most threatening the character has ever appeared. He's downright maniacal at points, and it's scary to watch. Like I said: probably no chance of a happy ending at this point.
  • I don't know what I expected the final episodes of this show to be, but I was absolutely not expecting any of this. And I am not complaining.
  • I really, really hope this isn't the last we see of Kim. It can't be, right? She has to come back for the finale? Right...?
  • Next week: series finale.