[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for “Better Call Saul” Season 4 Episode 9, “Wiedersehen.”]
You’ll rarely talk to an actor who’s put more time and thought into who their character is, and what their relationships are, than someone working on “Better Call Saul.” And the results show in the deeply nuanced work that can make the most seemingly mundane fight into some of the year’s most captivating television.
In “Wiedersehen,” the penultimate episode of Season 4, longtime partners Kim (Rhea Seehorn) and Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) have the sort of war of words that can destroy a relationship permanently. The brawl on the parking garage rooftop is fueled by Jimmy’s anger and frustration on his past year of work trying to rehabilitate himself in the eyes of the bar association and regain his license to practice law.
Key to the scene, Seehorn told IndieWire, was both careful collaboration between herself, director Vince Gilligan, co-creator Peter Gould, and writer Gennifer Hutchinson, and Odenkirk — including, at a certain point, putting some distance between herself and her co-star prior to filming.
“We rehearsed just lines,” she said, “…but then we kind of retreated, Bob and I, to allow ourselves the room to come at it from the very different points-of-view that are happening in that scene.”
This was because “it was necessary for Bob to understand and believe that Jimmy’s point-of-view is in that scene as much as it’s necessary and helpful for me to understand Kim’s, and they’re diametrically opposed for a large chunk of that scene. We both felt very honest in portraying those two sides.”
The fight is about far more than Jimmy’s failure to reattain his license; seemingly smaller issues that have been planted all season long as Kim and Jimmy’s relationship has been complicated by underlying insecurities, slights, and insults.
“I’m good enough to live with, good enough to sleep with, but god forbid you should have an office with me,” Jimmy slings at her at one point, one of the scene’s most memorable moments, one that was key for Seehorn’s take on the scene.
“These are partners in every sense of the word and the fact that he would throw that at me — I think that Kim and Jimmy, they are romantic and I think they are sexually attracted to each other, and that is part of why they are a couple instead of remaining as friends,” Seehorn said. “They made that decision. But the fact that he would choose to throw it back at me in the middle of a heated argument is actually what struck me when I’m coming from Kim’s point of view of, ‘Why is that necessary?'”
It speaks to a key part of Kim’s characterization — her instinct to compartmentalize various aspects of her life, which lets her both serve as a practicing corporate lawyer while also running cons with Jimmy on the side, and live with Jimmy while also not fully committing to a law practice together.
“The fact that he would throw in the fact that we’re romantically involved is just another flag to her that he’s just going for the jugular,” she said. “He’s being utterly insensitive and coming from just an absolute place of defensiveness, which can, on a great day, Kim can walk away from, I think.”
Continued Seehorn, “That was fun to play too. I think normally, Kim can see, and we see it all the time. When she sees people metaphorically hanging themselves, she usually just waits until they have enough rope. She doesn’t really speak or engage and that’s one of her tactics. In this case, she engages and she engages quite violently by the end of that argument.”
By the end, Jimmy and Kim have left each other both metaphorically quite bloody. “Vince was key and Gennifer was key in really wanting me to dig in to everything Kim might be feeling and how far she could be pushed in this scene, because Jimmy is relentless. He’s relentless in it as far as assuming things about her without her saying a word, and she fights back, and I think one of the things people really do love about Kim, male and female of our audience, is that she’s a fighter.”
Things don’t end there for the pair in this episode — instead, a tentative effort is made to reconnect in the end, though on very specific terms.
“That was a hard scene too,” Seehorn said of their final moments together. “Two people in two different rooms trying to figure out who’s gonna offer a peace offering and what’s that look like to them.”
Seehorn noted that she and Odenkirk had different ideas about the meaning of those scenes, “not in an argumentative or contentious way between us as actors — we enjoy each other very much. But just, that, what are you doing when you come home and insist you’re moving? Is it hoping somebody will stop you or is it a real offering of love to say, ‘I think you’d be better off without me’?”
In the end, it’s Kim who does go to him, but, Seehorn noted with a laugh, “then still has to put a caveat on it by saying, ‘This is about helping me to be a lawyer.’ It’s just very funny. They’re both such peculiar characters to me in that often, I’m just like, ‘Jesus.’ In many ways, they’re more alike than not alike. It gets highlighted so much how they’re different, but in those moments, in the arguments, sometimes, and then in the small reparation, I find them to be incredibly similar.”
With Season 4 almost wrapped, and a fifth season greenlit, there wasn’t much Seehorn could say about the future. “I’m pretty sure the writers [for Season 5] just recently assembled, and I don’t have a clue,” she said. “I don’t know where they plan on picking up the story timeline-wise, I don’t know where Jimmy is or if he’s Saul or…”
She trailed off. “There’s a very big cliffhanger that will cause you to at least be even more pensive about that question in Episode 10. They usually do that with the penultimate and the finale. They answer one question and raise two.”
“All I can tell you is that you’ll be left with the same feeling that I had which is, ‘What is happening?’ Oh my god.”
The “Better Call Saul” Season 4 finale premieres Monday, October 8 at 9 p.m. on AMC.