It's a strange feeling to know that 2019 allowed viewers to spend more time with Breaking Bad characters than Better Call Saul characters, thanks to the release of El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, which gave a more definitive closeout to Vince Gilligan's original drama. Thankfully, Saul is returning to AMC soon for its long-awaited Season 5, but that good news was recently coupled with the reveal that Season 6 will be the spinoff's final round. The big question now, of course, is which show's ending will be more satisfactory.
For many fans, Breaking Bad's final episode ("Felina") is one of television's all-time great finales; its anti-hero's fate was germane, its dark horse protagonist regained hope, and the world was left spinning in Heisenberg's aftermath. Considering Better Call Saul's ongoing set-up isn't meant to hit the same overall peaks as its predecessor, it would make sense if Saul's swan song didn't quite stand up as tall.
However, franchise mastermind Vince Gilligan already believes that fans are going to come away from these two series holding Better Call Saul up over Breaking Bad where the endings are concerned. In his words:
This show is absolutely, under Peter’s leadership, gonna stick the landing. It’s gonna be awesome. And The Hollywood Reporter, and other wonderful journalistic outlets, are going to be having articles about, 'Which one had the better ending? Breaking Bad or Better Call Saul?' And I’ll bet you folks are gonna say Better Call Saul.
Such a claim might have been laughed right out of the room some years ago, when it seemed highly improbable for Better Call Saul to truly match the same quality control as Breaking Bad, but those times have definitely changed. Though Vince Gilligan stepped back from co-showrunner duties in order to bring El Camino to life, he's obviously still quite invested in the fictional world as an executive producer, so he presumably knows exactly where Peter Gould is heading with this increasingly intensifying story.
Vince Gilligan shared his fairly bold claim during the TV's Top 5 podcast, on which he was a guest alongside Peter Gould. One has to wonder how much of that answer was his genuine belief on the matter, and how much of it was assumptions about more fickle TV viewers who inevitably need everything to be a competition. Gilligan isn't a TV creator who spends a lot of time stoking the fandom, though, so it probably is more humble opinion than anything else.
By all means, Better Call Saul definitely could have a better ending for several reasons, generally speaking. For one, its 13-episode final season will arrive eight or so years after Breaking Bad's finale, so Peter Gould and his creative team have had a long time to think about the perfect way to blend Saul's final run into Breaking Bad's timeline, which will almost definitely include all the major cameos we want.
As well, Gould & Co. have had all that time to reflect on fans' overblown opinions to both BB's ending and to El Camino reactions. (Mostly good, though perhaps more lukewarm than expected.) Not that their creativity should be wholly guided by the fanbase, but outsider opinions are bound to influence some decisions.
Considering Saul, Gus Fring, Hector Salamanca and many others are still alive when Breaking Bad kicks off Walter White's epic rise and fall, Better Call Saul fans obviously shouldn't expect the final episode to hinge on any of their fates. However, the biggest puzzle piece in this entire franchise right now is arguably Rhea Seehorn's Kim Wexler, whose absence in the flagship series makes her remaining episodes all the more emotionally fraught. She's finally getting to meet the burgeoning Saul Goodman persona in Season 5, but will she stick around to see that evolution, or will she pack up shop and leave Saul behind?
Of course, I'm working with the strong assumption that Kim does indeed survive throughout the rest of Better Call Saul. Because if Kim dies at any point before or during the finale, then I don't see how anyone could possibly then say that Saul's ending topped Breaking Bad's. Especially if she would die in the finale itself. I don't want to live in that world, so I'm going to think happy thoughts, such as "We have 23 more episodes of Better Call Saul left!"
Mark your calendars, because Better Call Saul Season 5, which will finally premiere on AMC on Sunday, February 23, following The Walking Dead's midseason premiere. Saul will then air its second episode during its normal Monday-night time-slot on February 24.