Major spoilers below for anyone who hasn’t yet watched Better Call Saul final episode!
While it didn’t seem possible back in 2015, Better Caul Saul has earned a spot not only in the same TV trophy case as predecessor Breaking Bad, but on the same shelf. In building the backstory to Heisenberg and Fring’s meth-infused crime reign in Albuquerque, as well as the extended epilogue via Gene, BCS has set a high and slippery bar for fictional universe expansions. Which it probably could have done even without such a boffo series finale, but co-creators Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan and more somehow pulled off as close to a perfect ending as fans could have hoped for, given the extreme circumstances.
Even before Bob Odenkirk’s Jimmy McGill and Rhea Seehorn’s Kim Wexler first shared the screen, Breaking Bad fans already had theories about how the prequel series' characters and stories might connect back to Walter White and Jesse Pinkman’s saga. It’s safe to say nobody guessed exactly how it went down, or that the show's conclusion would manage to feel contextually optimistic, despite logistically being quite dour for Jimmy McGill. But instead of half-mourning his 87-year prison sentence, let’s focus on all the reasons Better Call Saul’s “Saul Gone” was a best-case-scenario finale.
Jimmy And Kim Survived, And Without Devastating Injuries
In a franchise that kills off rougly 90% of the characters who earn proper introductions, many fans weren't exceedingly optimistic for both of Better Call Saul's main characters to still be breathing, above ground, and free from life-threatening maladies. Though let’s be honest, Kim’s possible death was the prospect truly keeping us up at night, already crafting sternly worded emails to Gilligan and Gould in our minds. In the end, though, both Jimmy and Kim were still healthy and wise, if decidedly less wealthy than prior points in their respective lives.
Which isn’t to say the future will be a blessing for either of them. After being sold out by Carol Burnett’s Marion in a jaw-clenching scene from the penultimate ep, Jimmy will almost definitely spend his remaining years in prison for his Heisenberg-related misdeeds. But the show’s creative team expertly muted most fears about Jimmy's safety behind bars, with other prisoners celebrating his criminal-assisting Saul Goodman persona. Bob Odenkirk even thinks Jimmy will use his prison time wisely by helping others, telling EW:
Odenkirk has no issues with Kim having her own Jimmy-free life outside of those visits, and thinks she deserves happiness, even if it involves marrying someone else. Perhaps the least positive element regarding Better Call Saul’s finale is that Kim will presumably keep settling for her boring existence in Florida. But at least we know she’s once again completely comfortable in her own skin, and isn’t that the most important thing? “Yup.”
Jimmy Finally Answered For His Many Crimes
Though Bryan Cranston’s Walter White owned up to his criminal enterprising by Breaking Bad's end, he obviously died without ever repenting or atoning for his endless selfishness, all while Jesse was forced to live with his traumas and awful choices in El Camino and beyond. (Hopefully Alaska is good for trauma-ignoring.) But as a lawyer first and foremost, Jimmy McGill was destined for a different fate, as he finally unburdened and spoke his cartel-connected truths to the court after so many years of ducking the law. And it was basically all on his own terms, which is key.
As “Saul Gone” went on, spotlighting the endlessly excellent Peter Diseth as Bill Oakle, it was clear that something much harsher was in store for Jimmy, despite his successful legal wranglings. But instead of another character getting the drop on Jimmy, he sealed his own fate by finally adopting honesty as an approach, largely to prove to Kim that he was capable of accepting responsibility like never before.
Jimmy's jail time seems entirely logical upon seeing it, but Peter Gould told Deadline the idea only came about after Better Call Saul’s midway point, saying:
It'd have technically been a more freeing ending for Jimmy to get away with everything without justice being served — similar to how Breaking Bad writers briefly considered ending Walt’s story — but would have left too many unanswered questions for fans. In this way, we can take comfort in this concrete ending being one that Jimmy wasn’t conned into, but one he put into action himself.
Kim's Life Wasn't Ruined (Yet), And She’s Back On Good Terms With Jimmy
To be sure, Better Call Saul’s ending didn't completely exonerate Kim regarding her confession to Howard’s widow Cheryl, who was noted to be shopping for lawyers with potential civil suits in mind. But here’s the thing: we did NOT see Kim get served paperwork, while we DID see that Kim kept her brunette locks in the final scene, but added curls to the equation, indicating she’s as far as can be from the troubling mindsets of her past.
As such, even if Kim is threatened with losing everything to Cheryl down the line, she’s at least no longer plagued and burdened by the devious acts that she and Jimmy committed in and out of the courtroom, inevitably leading to Howard’s brutal death. That sense of understanding is more vital for the character’s future than her financial status or legal creds. A peaceful Kim is what the world needs and deserves, and if she can still do pro bono work in the meantime, even better.
Plus, despite many Better Call Saul fans thinking Jimmy and Kim’s ties were fully severed by their broken marriage, the finale presented an olive branch to viewers and the characters themselves. Though the pair will almost certainly never rekindle their bond shared through the show’s six seasons, they at least returned to shared ground with shared cigarettes, which seemed like an impossible resolution after the preceding episodes.
Jimmy Got One Last Big Win In
Somewhat similar to Breaking Bad letting Walter White "win" by killing off his biggest foes and dying amongst lab equipment, Jimmy McGill was also able to successfully weasel into his preferred fate. At least when it comes to what was most vital to him. Saul Goodman would have been content with scheming out a shorter sentence, but that wasn't Jimmy's endgame. Instead, he made all the right (if not entirely ethical) moves and half-conned others into convincing Kim to travel to Albuquerque from Florida, all so he could put his future on the line by confessing and proving to Kim that he was able to revert back to the person she fell in love with.
We've seen Saul pull off some ridiculous plots over the years, but it was still a joyful surprise that his final swing for the fences was also a success. Even if the point wasn’t to win Kim back romantically — even that doofus in Florida is less trouble than getting conjugal with Jimmy — he did manage to win back her friendship and her empathy, which is easily the best we could have hoped for. All we needed was the assurance that they laugh together again one day, even if Vince Gilligan may never return to this universe to show us.
And for anyone who doesn’t like the idea that Jimmy still unfairly got what he wanted in the end, just take comfort in knowing he’ll never live down the fact that he was disgustingly soiled and hiding in a dumpster upon being arrested.
Betsy Brandt’s Marie Delivered The Most Emotional Breaking Bad Cameo
Even after all Better Call Saul's prior Breaking Bad character arrivals, from Fring and Hector to Gale and Walt, I admittedly wasn’t expecting any franchise vets beyond Bryan Cranson to pop up in the finale, and definitely didn't expect anything outside of flashbacks. (Though I wished for Bill Burr’s Kuby in the post-BB timeline.) So when the episode revealed Betsy Brandt’s Marie Shrader in the courthouse for Saul's deal talks, it was a black-and-white shock to the senses.
Whether Brandt’s appearance marked the “greatest” Breaking Bad cameo within the follow-up drama is hard to say, but it was easily the most emotional reprisal, with no other characters’ returns boasting anywhere near the impact of Marie’s heart-wrenching exchange with an increasingly vindictive Jimmy. (And the increasingly bewildered Oakley.) Given Breaking Bad’s final episodes were as hectic as they were deadly, viewers were never able to sit with Marie’s grief over Hank’s murder. But that was absolutely rectified in “Saul Gone,” and Peter Gould explained the surprise cameo to TV Insider, saying:
That balance between Kim/Cheryl and Jimmy/Marie is a rather perfect aftermath-nutshelling of the biggest hyper-tragic gut-punch deaths in Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad. But Betsy Brandt’s appearance wouldn’t even need deeper narrative relevance to be the best possible BB cameo for this swan song.
Mike Actually Chuckled During His Final Appearance
Better Call Saul’s finale understandably kept its focus mostly away from Saul Goodman’s criminal past in the latter-day timeline. Fans witnessed a previously unseen and introspective moment between Bob Odenkirk’s character and Bryan Cranston’s Walt, but it was more about Walt’s pompous dismissal of time machines than meth-making and murder. Jonathan Banks’ final scene as the beloved hardass Mike Ehrmantraut went a similar route, and was surprisingly as gleeful as Mike's scenes could be. Before quickly devolving into wistful darkness, of course.
The finale returned to the torturous desert in flashing back to Season 5's harrowing "Bagman," which turned into a sub-perfect way to close Mike's curtain, so to speak. Sitting atop millions of dollars, Jimmy asked the episode's first time machine question, suggesting Mike to be a history buff who'd enjoy trips back to the Civil War or ancient Rome. And it made Mike legitimately chuckle! Even if his version was 25% of a normal person’s chuckle, and stretched across three different segments. Still, it was Mike in the relative vicinity of happiness, even if it was only a reaction to Jimmy's ludicrousness.
Mike then peeled back the layers of his regrets and said he'd go back and change the day he first took a bribe as a cop, while also saying he’d travel forward to see his daughter-in-law and granddaughter. Because even when Jimmy’s head is in the clouds with his fantasies, Mike never takes his eyes off of his priorities. And after "Waterworks" jarringly referenced Mike being in ground in the later timeline, we needed this oh-so-brief slice of levity to keep us going.
As hard as it is to believe, Better Call Saul is completely over with now, at least without cops listening in on the line. Fans can currently watch all six seasons on AMC+, while a Netflix subscription makes the first five seasons available for bingeing. Head to our 2022 TV premiere schedule to see what other big and memorable shows will be around to take BCS' place in the future.
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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.