Jimmy And Kim's Love Story Is The Key To Better Call Saul's Success

Who doesn't like a good love story? Especially a complicated love story that you can't help but root for. That is exactly the type of relationship that Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) and Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) had on "Better Call Saul," the "Breaking Bad" spin-off that evolved from being just supplementary watching to must-see television in its own right. Part of this evolution was thanks to the dynamic between Jimmy and Kim; after all, the two have good chemistry, both when platonically conducting schemes or are literally getting married.

However, their relationship is also a double-edged sword for this very reason. Viewers know that things are going to end terribly for the two of them, and instead of being interested in just how they will fall, they are actively rooting for it to somehow make it through. Maybe they can find their way back to each other, even if it seems impossible given the circumstances.

It is this doomed love story that ultimately makes "Better Call Saul" such an engaging television show in its own right. While interesting and complete as individual characters, Jimmy and Kim really seem to complete each other — but you wouldn't exactly call their relationship "healthy." As Kim said herself, while they love each other, together they're "poison." 

The signs were always there

The very first moment that Jimmy and Kim share the screen has them leaning against a parking garage wall, sharing a cigarette (in the loosest terms) in the only sliver of light the garage can seemingly provide. It's an instantly memorable shot that clearly sets up some kind of future dynamic between the two. Even their minimal interaction creates a sort of odd couple dynamic: the uptight workaholic and the laid-back attorney with loose morals. They seem both perfect and horrible for each other, something the two of them think as well despite their crushes on each other.

Teasing this dynamic from the very beginning of the series makes the eventual progression of Jimmy and Kim's relationship feel organic. There is a clear denial of feelings being made between the two of them, especially when it's revealed that the two had a sort-of relationship in the past. The more that is slowly revealed about the two of them, the more important it is that they eventually act upon their feelings for each other.

Of course, they eventually do, but their actual onscreen intimacy is kept as minimal as possible throughout the seasons. A kiss here, a hug there, and maybe viewers can get a nice cuddle as they watch a movie. It's a bit frustrating to see their physical connection be so limited, but the sparseness of their contact makes the audience want to see them together even more. When you think about it from a storytelling perspective, it's terrific.

How it extends to real-life

It also helps that the chemistry between the two is so palpable because of Odenkirk and Seehorn's acting. When watching any scene between Jimmy and Kim, it's clear that the two actors enjoy each other's presence. They seem like genuine friends not only when they're behind the scenes, but in front of the camera as well.

Viewers can almost always tell when two actors pretending to be in a relationship actually like each other or not. There is a different feeling in their body language, and the lines they recite to each other carry a more poignant weight. It's a subtle difference, but they often make the difference between a meaningless and meaningful fictional relationship.

I'm glad you're alive

With all of this in mind, it makes the ultimate reveal of where Jimmy and Kim ended up that much more painful. While Jimmy has taken up the identity of Gene Takovic in Nebraska, Kim has become a Floridian at a sprinkler company, receiving bad sex from her boring new partner (they seem to only be dating, not married) and pretending that using Miracle Whip in her tuna salad is daring. This was not the life neither of them wanted for the other; after all, they were supposed to be a lawyer power couple that just happens to do shadier things on the side.

However, the ultimate tragedy is that they were never destined for that life. Jimmy and Kim were always going to crash and burn in one way or another because they were just too different. Kim has too much of a conscience, while Jimmy's has all but deteriorated. All the tension and chemistry in the world was never going to make up for that key detail, which is ultimately why Kim filed for divorce.

This major difference in conscience still doesn't eradicate just how much they still love each other. When Kim returns to Florida after confessing to the crimes that she and Jimmy committed, she breaks down on the bus in a painfully upsetting scene that shows just how much she's hidden over the past few years. At around the same time, when Jimmy is attempting to rob one of his victim's houses, he seems to be purposefully sloppy and lackadaisical in his actions, almost like he's trying to get caught because that way, he'd have to face the consequences he'd been running away from.

We make each other happy. How can that be bad?

The story of Jimmy and Kim is the glue that ties everything together. Not just the story of "Better Call Saul," but the entire story of the "Breaking Bad" timeline. If Jimmy and Kim had not been together, there is a chance that Saul Goodman would have never existed, at least not in the form that the persona eventually takes. The pain of losing Kim is what drives Jimmy to dive headfirst into the world of Heisenberg and organized crime. Besides, what else can he offer? And it is ultimately the end of the drug kingpin that helps usher in a renewed desire to make things at least partially right.

Jimmy and Kim, by themselves, are great and complex characters. However, when the two come together in their doomed yet still emotionally resonant romance, they truly shine. This is a perfect example of not only an effective romance but also how said romance can influence other aspects of the show, such as plot and character development. It makes perfect sense that "Better Call Saul" hinges on the love between these two, and it is ultimately what makes it stand out as a spin-off worthy of its own unique status.

"Better Call Saul" will air its final episode on August 15, 2022 on AMC.