How Better Call Saul's Finale Turned Jimmy Into Breaking Bad's Saul Goodman
Spoiler warning for anyone who hasn't yet watched Better Call Saul's Season 4 finale. Spend some time watching and relaxing in hot springs before reading.
It's the rare TV show whose future is already completely set in stone in viewers' minds, and yet Better Call Saul consistently finds ways to surprise us. Season 4 was partially focused on Jimmy McGill's year-long suspension from practicing law, which finally got situated in the extended finale, and the episode ended on Bob Odenkirk's Jimmy heading off to officially change his lawyerly name to his Breaking Bad persona Saul Goodman (who showed up this season already). But how did it get to that point?
Jimmy was as hopeless as he'd ever been in the penultimate episode, having failed to reverse his suspension with the New Mexico bar association. Thankfully, Kim's cooler head prevailed going into "Winner," in which she and Jimmy pulled off a pretty magnificent and legal swindle in order to put him back in the bar's good favor. Basically, they used the one-year anniversary of Chuck's death to prey on the sympathy of others, with Jimmy playing the part of the mourning brother.
By spending a big chunk of change and spending a day posted at Chuck's grave -- not to mention taking part in the HHM scholarship fund selection process -- Jimmy attempted to raise his social status among the area's more legally minded citizens. And for the most part, it worked, with many buying into his pooched-out bottom lip. But it wasn't enough. So Jimmy and Kim pulled out their secret weapon: Chuck's posthumously delivered letter.
To backtrack, the episode started off on a younger Jimmy celebrating his new law license and drunkenly convincing Chuck to sing (some very on-the-nose) karaoke, before blindly assuming to Chuck's face that he would become a partner at "HHMM." That apartment-set flashback served as the fuel behind Jimmy's speech to that unfortunate scholarship candidate, in which he told her that she would only ever be known for her setbacks, and that she should cut any corner she needed in order to be successful in the face of constant adversity. It was after this sub-confrontation that Jimmy had his first real breakdown of the season as he sobbed in his car within the HHM parking garage.
When it was time for Jimmy to once again stand before those responsible for his future, he brought out Chuck's letter in lieu of reading from his own prepared speech. But in the middle of reading that out, he stopped, seemingly caught at an emotional crossroads, and declared the letter to be too personal to share in such a setting. Jimmy then pulled together one of his most show-stopping monologues yet, eking every ounce of sympathy from anyone listening. He went so far as to promise to do right by the name McGill if he was allowed to be a lawyer again. (Alarm bell alert.)
It was a success, too, In fact, Jimmy was so successful that even Kim bought into his emotional appeal, believing his words and feelings about Chuck to be genuine. And not, you know, some more manufactured garbage that comes first-nature to Jimmy. And she was left standing there, confused and upended, as Jimmy went off to do right by his surname by changing it altogether. His final words to her sealed the deal completely: "S'all good, man." He has arrived.
Now that Jimmy is finally on his way to using Saul Goodman as his everyday name, we can almost definitely expect to see a closer connection between his world and Mike's world with Gus Fring. And, by extension, we'll likely get to see whatever events led Saul to believe that Lalo was trying to kill him during his very first Breaking Bad scene.
Better Call Saul Season 4 is now over, and Season 5 won't be coming around AMC until some point in 2019. So until then, feel free to rewatch all four seasons over again, and then to follow them up with all five seasons of Breaking Bad. And while waiting for more New Mexico tension, head to our fall TV premiere schedule to see what else is on the way.
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Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.