What could happen to Kim Wexler in Better Call Saul that would ensure she’s never even mentioned in Breaking Bad? Vince Gilligan’s landmark TV series is packed with fascinating supporting characters, but perhaps none more so than Saul Goodman, the crooked lawyer hired by Walt as an accomplice in his meth empire. Saul’s wise-cracking ways and Bob Odenkirk’s performance endeared the character to viewers and spawned a spinoff venture in the form of Better Call Saul. Set in the years prior to Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul shows a new side to its title character – that of Jimmy McGill.
Despite his side-hustle as a conman, Jimmy is a largely moral entity and chooses his targets carefully, putting things right when a scam goes too far. As Better Call Saul progresses, however, Jimmy’s arc mirrors that of Walter White’s in Breaking Bad, and the aspiring lawyer embarks on an ethical descent whereby viewers see more and more of Saul emerge and less of Jimmy remain. One constant in McGill’s life is Kim Wexler, as played by Rhea Seehorn. First a friend, then a business partner and a lover, Jimmy and Kim are kindred spirits in a sense, albeit with vastly different personalities. Certainly from Jimmy’s perspective, Kim is perhaps the only real treasure in his life – which makes the fact he never mentions her throughout the entirety of Breaking Bad highly suspect.
Obviously, the behind-the-scenes reason for Kim’s omission is simply that she and Better Call Saul didn’t exist when Breaking Bad was being written. But Vince Gilligan has expertly interwoven the narratives of both shows, creating a virtually seamless timeline from one to the other. In light of this, there must be a reason for Kim’s Breaking Bad absence, given how close her and Jimmy are in Better Call Saul.
There are 3 options as to where Kim might be during Breaking Bad. The first (and most cheerful) is that Kim and Jimmy are still in contact during the latter’s days working as Saul Goodman, and that the lawyer simply keeps her existence a secret from his criminal clientele. After all, letting Walter White know about your loved ones is not an advisable strategy. However, this eventuality has seemingly been ruled out by Odenkirk, who has ominously stated that Kim “goes away” when asked about Kim’s fate in interviews.
This realistically leaves only 2 options: either Kim gets sick of Jimmy’s increasingly rapid descent into criminality, or she meets a tragic and devastating demise. Both eventualities would fit with Jimmy’s arc in Breaking Bad. If Kim leaves Jimmy, he might finally decide that she deserves better and resign himself to a life with lower aspirations because, after losing Chuck and Kim through his own self-interest, that’s all he has left. Or, Kim’s death could make it too painful for Jimmy to be Jimmy. Without Kim, there’s nothing for him to aspire to and fully embracing the brash and cartoonish Saul persona prevents Jimmy from truly coming to terms with Kim’s death.
Although both a dramatic departure and a traumatic death are plausible endings for Kim in Better Call Saul, everything the spinoff has shown the audience so far points more heavily towards the second, permanent option. One of the common traits between both Jimmy and Saul is a tenacity and a determination. If Kim did decide to leave Jimmy because of his new lifestyle, it’s hard to imagine Jimmy wouldn’t desperately try to win her back. The whole of Better Call Saul is about Jimmy trying to prove himself to someone, and being dumped by Kim would just be another opportunity for an underdog fightback – Jimmy’s specialty. Conversely, Kim’s death would pose the question, what happens to Jimmy when there’s nobody left to prove himself to? The answer to that may very well be Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad.