Kim’s Toothbrush Set Up Better Call Saul’s Howard Twist

TV

The importance of Kim Wexler brushing her teeth in Better Call Saul’s Gene timeline cannot be overstated. Here’s how it sets up her Howard twist.

Better Call Saul is renowned for sprinkling cunning visual cues into episodes – here’s why Kim brushing her teeth is one of the most important shots in season 6’s “Waterworks.” While Saul Goodman was laundering millions in drug money and suggesting which of Jesse’s friends should be shanked, his ex-wife was in Florida writing copy for sprinkler catalogs and hosting cookouts where the wives and husbands occupy opposite ends of the yard. Needless to say, Kim is far from happy, but at least she’s not languishing in jail on fraud charges.

Spending six years under the leafy trees of Palm Coast, Kim has built a new life complete with job, partner, and friendship group. She’s arguably even more settled here than in Albuquerque, where legal work consumed her, and yet Kim risks everything by making a surprise visit to her former hometown and signing an official affidavit admitting her role in Howard Hamlin’s demise. An even more shocking twist awaits, as she visits Howard’s widow to finally reveal the truth. Kim is putting everything on the line here. Even if she can’t be criminally prosecuted due to lack of evidence, Cheryl Hamlin could sue, destroying the new life Kim made. While a Howard-shaped ghost has obviously been hanging over Kim since her move to Florida, that doesn’t quite explain how she can suddenly risk her house, partner, job and reputation without even breathing a word to the man she lives with.

Kim’s toothbrush fills in Better Call Saul’s narrative cavity. The night before she gets a surprise phone call from Jimmy McGill (which prompts her to hop on a plane and confess her sins), Kim is shown brushing her teeth in the bathroom mirror all alone. “Waterworks” then switches to a top-down shot of Kim sleeping next to an empty pillow. In past Better Call Saul seasons, Jimmy and Kim would brush their teeth in the mirror standing side-by-side, and this image became a recurring Better Call Saul motif. Rather than preaching the importance of dental hygiene, these bathroom moments would symbolize the couple’s togetherness. Top-down bed shots were also common, usually with Jimmy and Kim sleeping next to each other. As Rhea Seehorn’s character brushes her pearly whites alone, Better Call Saul highlights how she and her new partner aren’t close whatsoever. Kim is emotionally detached, and this helpfully explains how she can fly to Albuquerque risking total ruination without giving her partner a second thought.

Better Call Saul’s Gene timeline catches up with Kim Wexler, her new life is already built. Audiences can’t be sure whether she accidentally slipped into middle-aged tedium with a man she doesn’t really love, or whether something darker is happening under the Florida sun. After all, Kim hasn’t just accepted her unfulfilling life, she’s actually contributing to it by portraying herself as some bland, opinion-free bystander, rather than the all-action powerhouse from Better Call Saul’s earlier seasons.

When Kim left Albuquerque, she quit being a lawyer due to Howard Hamlin’s death, deciding she no longer deserved the privilege of practicing law. Better Call Saul season 6’s “Waterworks” heavily implies that Kim deliberately found a job she hated, a man she felt nothing for, and friends she shared nothing in common with – all as a means of punishing herself for the Howard incident. This would also explain how Kim can so easily risk throwing her new life away by making her confession to Cheryl Hamlin. Whether she gets thrown in jail, sued by Howard’s widow, or simply resumes life in Florida, she’s paying dearly one way or another.