Picture: Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television/

The only coherent line of breaking Bad and You better call Saul is a pessimism about redemption – that once characters like Walter White and Jimmy McGill are broken, they are lost forever, slipping so far down the slippery slope that their old selves are only a distant memory. They become the part. Walter became Heisenberg; Jimmy became Saul Goodman. Part of what makes these shows so compelling are those little moments when they rediscover pieces of their humanity and take noble action, but that’s not the same as fully coming to terms with their wrongs. It’s not even close. And it leads them to an extremely lonely place – with no allies, no conscience, imprisoned by the roles they have chosen to play.

In tonight’s gripping episode, Kim Wexler proves to be the exception, though her redemption is fascinating. In the six years since she divorced Jimmy and moved to the Florida coast to work on catalogs and brochures for a sprinkler company, all parties concerned with her situation and that of Jimmy have disappeared. Lalo, Mike, and Gus are all dead, and there’s far more interest in finding “Saul Goodman” than her, despite their relationship. But this week, we finally hear the phone conversation that upset Jimmy so much in the previous episode. It also turns out to be an important exchange for her, but certainly not in the way Jimmy might have expected or hoped for. She fully rediscovers her stubborn self, and it is a glorious thing to see.

Last week, acting on Francesca’s news that Kim had asked about her, Jimmy worked up the courage — the nerve, really — to drop coins into a payphone and call Palm Coast Sprinkler. He affects a casual, what’s up, weird, and off-putting Saul Goodman-esque tone, assuming she’d like to know he’s still there, “get away with it.” When she agrees with this approach, he pushes harder, wondering if she “has a pulse,” perhaps thinking his former partner-in-crime might be as bored with his deceptively normal life in Florida as he’s been playing. Gene the manager of Cinnabon. in Nebraska. “Do you want me to say something? she said sternly. “You should surrender.” The best she can do is end the call saying she’s glad he’s alive. What is heartbreaking is that she thinks so.

But Jimmy is undoubtedly right about Kim’s new life. It’s not worthy of her. Scripted by Vince Gilligan, “Waterworks” takes its time to set the parameters for Kim’s mundane new world before calling the shots. She’s the most overqualified squirt catalog writer in the business, but she can’t help but be excellent at her job, carefully studying the details and deploying powerful verbs like “heralds” in her copy. She has an annoying drug for a boyfriend who offers the exotic Miracle Whip as a substitute for mayonnaise and keeps bleating “Yep!” with every thrust in their surely unspectacular lovemaking sessions. She’s up for barbecues and company birthday parties and doesn’t squirm like “Gene” does in a life of everyday mediocrity. Florida Kim probably never would have acted if a voice from the past hadn’t summoned her.

You almost have to squint a few times to see the Kim Wexler we know in those early scenes in Florida, with that dark hair and those sensible shoes, but the Kim resurfacing in Albuquerque is unmistakable. As she rushes into the courtroom to give a full affidavit of her actions six years earlier, Kim gets a not-so-subtle glimpse of the lawyer she wanted to be while another brilliant woman in the tail of horse prepares a humble client for the court. But she’s here to swallow hard and do the right thing, even if there’s no reward for it. (This is another reason why those who smash the bad can’t smash the good too easily: there’s no angle to be said.) She feels like she owes the widow the truth. d’Howard, Cheryl. From there, the tokens will fall as best they can.

A significant wrinkle to Kim’s confession is that it is calculated. When Cheryl gets to the end — and from the previews we have of the text, she leaves nothing out — she asks what kind of criminal charges Kim expects. She was a lawyer, after all, so surely she thought about it. Kim tells her it’s the district attorney’s decision to prosecute, but she assumes they won’t because there’s no physical evidence and all the witnesses are dead except Jimmy, “assuming he be still alive”. (Essentially, Kim knows he’s alive, so she doesn’t come completely clean here.) Cheryl is threatening a civil lawsuit that could put her out of business, but that would be punitive since Kim has no money, and Cheryl may appreciate the confession of Kim, who is late but still extraordinarily unexpected. When Kim bursts into tears on the airport bus, it feels like the long-delayed catharsis of someone still capable of being human.

On the other hand, Jimmy is quite far. Picking up last week, he personally executes the plan to rip off the cancer-stricken wealthy, but greed and hubris ultimately get the better of him. Gillian speeds up an already tense streak when Jimmy gets away with stealing the man’s identity but can’t bring himself to walk out the front door and escape in Jeff’s cab. There is an element of greed and pride in his decision to return to the house, explore the upstairs, and even treat himself to a drink, but there may also be a willful impulse to self-destruct within him. At the very least, Jimmy must feel the thrill of almost getting caught – close scratches have become a problem for him – and he gets more than he bargained for. Terribly clumsy Jeff, panicked by a cruiser parking right behind him, decides to put it down and immediately crashes into a car parked around the corner. The Mark wakes up too, prompting Jimmy to improvise an escape.

True to form, Jimmy has foreseen this eventuality. He knows very well that Jeff is a loser. So just when it looks like “Gene” would disappear from Omaha forever, Jimmy actually settles down with another drink at his house while he waits for the inevitable phone call from jail. But he’s not counting on Jeff’s mother, Marion, having second thoughts about him, and he’s certainly not counting on his search engine tutorial coming back to haunt him. It turns out that “scammer in Albuquerque” is just as powerful a search as “funny cat videos”. And now Jimmy McGill is on the run again.

But there’s also a small moment of irrepressible humanity for Jimmy here. He can’t hurt Marion, despite his menacing posture with the phone cord. He has a thing for old people. Just ask the grateful plaintiffs in the Sandpiper lawsuit.

• The University of American Samoa is among the faculties of law Hollywood Upstairs Medical College is in medical school.

• The exchange between Florida Kim and her boyfriend (“It still looks like rain.” “Yeah, it’s true.”) is so close to the end of Steven Soderbergh’s Sex, lies and video it must be a tribute, right?

• A good line from Cheryl after hearing that Howard “didn’t suffer”. Jimmy and Kim’s lies have painted a picture of him that is hard to erase. It’s Kim’s hope that her confession will help solve this problem, but it’s a tall order.

• The Cuban cigars in the brand’s loft are reminiscent of a scene in breaking BadHank’s second season brought out his own Cubans, and Walt questioned him about the arbitrary nature of the law and Hank’s hypocrisy in choosing which law to break and which to enforce.

• Kim had the integrity years earlier not to take Sandpiper’s money, which annoyed Jimmy, who eagerly took it and more. The way he casually barks, “Have a good life, Kim,” is stunning in its lack of sentiment.

• Nice scene between Kim and Jesse about Saul Goodman’s abilities as a lawyer. ” This guy ? Everything is fine ? “When I knew him, he was.” This seals everything for Jesse, who wants to get his guy Emilio out of trouble. (Alas, poor Emilio has a different kind of trouble waiting for him.) But Kim’s use of the past tense speaks volumes about the distance between Jimmy and Saul.