Kim’s place in Saul’s journey became clearer on Better Call Saul Season 5 Episode 10, “Something Unforgivable.”
Back in my review for Better Call Saul Season 5 Episode 7, “JMM,” I made this statement:
“Kim’s actions are making it clear that she’s enabling Jimmy to become Saul. Kim isn’t the last tie to Jimmy McGill but actually another bridge to Saul Goodman.”
I proceeded to claim that I couldn’t quite track her journey to this point, but “Something Unforgivable” puts it all into focus.
Kim hates snooty lawyers.
It’s not a huge revelation, as most of this season had explicitly explored this. She couldn’t stand Acker comparing her to them; she went after Kevin and Mesa Verde just to stick it to them, and she resigned from her fancy lawyer position at Schweikart and Cokely to take on more pro bono work.
The last straw, though, seemed to be Kim’s tour of the pending cases left behind by the “burnouts” (lawyers who moved up so fast they burned rubber leaving the courthouse).
Howard also didn’t help.
I have gone on record, and remain on record, defending Howard for his recent actions. I believe his offer for Jimmy to join HHM was genuine and I believe he really was trying to look out for Kim in “Something Unforgivable.”
It doesn’t matter what I think, though, because all Kim saw was a snooty lawyer looking down on her for the loss of her prestigious position, in disbelief that she’d make such a decision on her own.
The reason I couldn’t quite track Kim’s descent into crooked practices was that I was unaware of how deep and powerful that hatred ran.
That’s what separates “Something Unforgivable” from the rest of Better Call Saul Season 5. Kim makes it clear that she will ruin Howard --gladly ruin Howard, if she can -- indicating just how integral this trait is to her motivations.
Could that be why she’s so attracted to Jimmy? Because he’s the furthest thing from a traditional lawyer? Because his snooty lawyer brother constantly put him down?
Jimmy and Kim share their dislike of those lawyers, which puts them on the same side and makes them a natural fit as scheming partners.
However, they have near-opposite reactions to the dislike that is integral to their relationship moving forward.
Jimmy wants to be better than those lawyers and prove he is above them. He wants to do that through financial success and by one-upping them in the practice through his schemes and trickery.
Kim seemingly wants to destroy those lawyers and justifies her actions under the guise of helping the little guys.
Kim’s view of success in the law is in direct contrast to Jimmy’s, which will eventually prove difficult in their relationship.
Their opposing views also explain why Jimmy has more conscience regarding Howard’s destruction. He may dislike Howard but Jimmy doesn’t hate him on a primal level.
He wants to beat Howard and parade above him, not drag Howard down.
We’re not talking about a bar trick here. We’re talking about scorched earth. We would have to hurt him. Hurt him bad. To get a bunch of lawyers to run for the exits Howard would have to have done something unforgivable. At the end of it he might never be able to practice law again. He doesn’t deserve that.Jimmy
It’s more evident now than ever that Kim isn’t a tether to Jimmy McGill but a bridge to Saul Goodman.
She’s pushing to do something unforgivable, and that sets up the series for some explosive drama (and fantastic schemes) between the two of them in the final season.
Of course, Kim has gotten cold feet before, so we’ll see how far she follows through on her statement.
The tension that I’ve praised the show for over and over again this season returned on “Something Unforgivable” through Nacho and Lalo.
The best aspect of the scene where Nacho opened the gate is not just the specific time that he has to do so (which does provide tension as all ticking clocks do), but the way Nacho had to commit to the act absolutely.
Essentially, Nacho had to make a decision to either reveal to Lalo that he is the one betraying him in the hopes that the hit would be a success or to try to explain to Gus why he didn’t open the gate.
The proposal of that decision lets the audience sink into Nacho’s shoes and empathize with him, to sit nervously as we debate what we would do ourselves.
Despite the danger present, Nacho chose to commit in the hopes that the hit would be a success. It was not a success.
Nacho is screwed.
Lalo survived the attack, which is great in a narrative sense, as he provides a clear antagonist for next season.
This season, as troublesome as he was, he wasn’t a known antagonist (from his point of view) to Nacho or Saul, as he believed he was working with them. Now, he will be a more active antagonist, as he’s got a reason to go after Nacho.
Nacho did something unforgivable.
Lalo can also likely surmise that Nacho didn’t carry out the hit on his own, so his grudge against Gus will probably become even stronger, making him a more active antagonist to Gus as well.
Both of those storylines are major successes in how they set up storylines for the next season, but I don’t feel they close the book on Season 5 quite as strongly.
Jimmy: I talked to my guy. Lalo’s in Mexico and he’s staying there.
Kim: But you said he might call someone.
Jimmy: He’s not gonna do that.
Kim: You’re guy, how does he know for sure?
Jimmy: He’s not gonna tell me, but he knows.
Kim: And you believe him?
Jimmy: Yeah, I do.
Kim: So, we're safe?
In some ways, this episode felt more like a season premiere than a season finale.
While we did get the culmination of Kim’s arc this season and Gus’ botched attempt to solve the season-long Lalo problem, the larger focus of the climaxes was on the outcome regarding the continued storylines and not the completion of the events.
This isn’t a knock, necessarily, just an observation!
A slight knock I do hold against “Something Unforgivable,” though, is repeated information.
First is Mike’s explanation to Saul about what is happening with Gus regarding Lalo’s assassination.
We already know all of that, as we learned it earlier from Gus and Mike (and it was heavily implied in previous episodes), but Saul was in the dark.
Saul’s panic and desperation would be more tangible if the audience was as clueless as he is, and I do think that slightly hurts Saul’s storyline.
The audience being privy to the behind-the-crimes information comes with its own benefits, as I’ve stated previously. Having characters repeat information we already know is not one of those benefits.
Luckily we were spared a third repeat and had Jimmy deliver this information to Kim offscreen.
A similar situation happened elsewhere here.
I understand Howard had to tell Kim about Jimmy’s “pranks” on him, and I understand Kim needed to reveal she heard from Howard about Jimmy’s “pranks” on him, but this was the fourth time we’ve received that information this season.
Howard: No person in their right mind would behave the way Jimmy has. We are talking about someone who’s not in control of himself. You and I both know it makes no sense to drop a client like Mesa Verde, and I gotta think Jimmy had something to do with that.
Kim: Do you have any idea how insulting that is? I make my own decisions for my own reasons.
Howard: You gotta listen to me, the man needs help.
Kim: Howard, I know Jimmy and you’re wrong.
Howard: You know who really knew Jimmy? Chuck.
The first was when Jimmy committed the acts, the second when Howard called Jimmy out on them (which was fine because it was a reveal that Howard knew it was Jimmy), and now two more times on “Something Unforgivable.”
Howard’s reveal to Kim gets a pass because Kim’s immediate reaction to the information was integral to understanding her state of mind in the moment. I’m less convinced we needed the information divulged a fourth time.
Even just Kim stating she heard about Jimmy messing with Howard and omitting the details would have been enough.
But hey, if those few lines of dialogue are my biggest knock, that says a lot.
On a technical level, “Something Unforgivable” looked great and used its cinematography to enhance the narrative.
I particularly want to shout out to the contrast of steady camera accompanying Nacho’s fireside chat with Lalo with the shaky handheld used when Nacho was desperately trying to figure out how to get the gate open.
The score was great here as well, with those emphasized percussive beats amplifying the tension. I absolutely loved the way the score lingered when Nacho came back with the booze.
Despite the camera once again going static, the uncomfortable score hummed underneath the ambiance of the scene, and that dichotomy really helped the scene be as tense and troubling as possible.
Excellent cinematography and score are standard for Better Call Saul, though; Season 5 only continued the tradition, among other things.
Kim’s character growth this season was handled excellently, as was Jimmy’s first full season as Saul Goodman.
Jimmy: Am I bad for you?
Kim: Are you bad for me?
Jimmy: I got you into this. What happened tonight. None of this would have happened if you weren’t with me.
Kim: You crossed a line. You’re not going to do it again.
“Something Unforgivable” opened several new storylines filled with potential and pushed Lalo into the perfect position to be a great antagonist for the final season.
While I don’t feel “Something Unforgivable” quite reached the heights of the previous two entries, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t another excellent example of how to provide character transformation and tension in a television series.
What did you think of Season 5? Are you excited for Better Call Saul Season 6, its final? Catch up on all the action and watch Better Call Saul online.
Tommy Czerpak is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.