Better Call Saul has finally come to a close. It is not just a companion piece to Breaking Bad in form and spirit; it is a moral, ethical, and regal extension. Their shared universe is populated by serious-minded, everyday people with slightly extraordinary problems. The human connection remains the most compelling factor in each’s storytelling. That and a sense of uncompromising belief that every moment in their lives worked as a function of their choices and led them to another moment.
Season 6’s end is nothing as flashy or grandiose as Breaking Bad’s was. Remember when I wrote in episode 10 how that was the day Jimmy died? Well, this certainly is a rebirth of sorts but more sincere and honest and ambiguous.
Bagman – Better Call Saul
We start episode 13 of Better Call Saul Season 6 with never seen before footage from season 5 episode 8 of Better Call Saul, “Bagman”. Mike and Jimmy have just been able to escape the deathtrap with the $7 mil. They are run ragged by the desert heat and finally hit an isolated well. While resting and refreshing, Jimmy proposes they leave with the money. Mike suggests it is not theirs to take, prompting Jimmy to start a “thinking experiment”: what would Mike do if he did indeed take off? Not biting. “I say, we take $6 mil and build a time machine”. Mike suddenly seems interested. What would he change in his life that we know so little about?
Mike responds with an answer – December 1, 2008 – but quickly changes his answer. March 17, 1984, is when he would go back to that he could stop himself from taking his first ever bribe. And then, some years from that day to check in on his family. When it is Jimmy’s turn, his first bite at the cherry is one wish that millions of us wish for every day. Investing the remaining amount of money into Berkshire Hathaway on the day Warren Buffet took over the reins. Common stocks of the company have increased in value by more than a 1000%. He would have been a billionaire in the present.
But this isn’t an honest answer. It is clear Jimmy is holding back. Mike is not one to probe. He will ask you once and that’s it. So when Jimmy says they’re rested and does not want to take the conversation forward, Mike simply complies. But we will get to see more of this in the episode. There can’t really be anything that Jimmy wouldn’t change, is there? Regrets and choices are a running theme in the finale – a sort of nostalgic turning of the clock by our most cherished characters in the shared universe.
We jump to the present where Gene is on the run. Marion stands at the window and reads out the make, colour, and number plates on Gene’s car. He goes to his house and escapes out the back when he sees officers arrive. The chase ultimately leads him to a dumpster, where he wants to do something with his belongings that isn’t too clear. My best guess is he wants to call Ed Galbraith, the Disappearer. To the best of my memory, he ran a vacuum cleaning store and Gene had taken out a similar business card. His shuffling around attracts the attention of officers and he is caught. Gene is arrested.
The officers watch a video of Gene as Saul while he waits for his phone call. Like a respectful professional, Gene calls his workplace in the mall and asks if they opened up okay. He also apologizes for not coming to work and asks Kritsa to call the management: they would need a new manager. Saul cannot believe it. Is this feeble end really the sheepish conclusion to his “heroic” tales and war stories?
He hits the metal door in frustration and is wincing in pain as he spots a message on the wall. “My lawyer will ream ur ass”. Something clicks and he demands another phone call. He calls Bill Oakley, his old nemesis from the courthouse from the DA’s side. This is where we say goodbye to Gene and Saul emerges from within.
Saul propositions him in the most bizarre way. “Think what representing me would do to your career?” He is, of course, referring to the media attention his private law firm will get for being involved in the case. Because this is definitely making it to the news. Saul still has something up his sleeve. Still, he is not ready to accept defeat and give up. Where is this finale heading toward? With his fake moustache off and the air brought a bit to the front, we see a familiar sight. He is brought in front of a panel of government lawyers. He walks past Marie Schrader, who makes a surprise guest appearance on the show. The panel vehemently delivers a resounding sentence to Saul: there is no way he is seeing daylight again in his life.
The scheming conman has the one-upmanship spirit still resolutely stirring him forward. He asks for Marie to be called in. She does and says her piece. The unimaginable loss to Hank, Gomez and countless others is unforgivable. She does not hold back in her scything ridicule of Saul. It is now his chance to respond. In the most compassionate of tones, he begins weaving his preferential truth. He worked under duress and the threat of Heisenberg. He didn’t relish doing what he did; he himself was a victim.
While everyone is pointing a finger at him, he lost everything too; his profession, family, his freedom. The AUSA mocks his efforts to come across as a victim. Saul says he does not need the jury to buy his sob story; he only needs one of them. In the absence of a unanimous decision, the AUSA will lose the case, thus blotting his impeccable record.
The man is taken aback by Saul’s crafty and morally corrupt legal genius. He actually convinces the AUSA to come to the negotiation room to explore “the wiggle room”. From a hundred and ninety years (his original sentence) to seven and a half years; Saul is back. He starts getting cocky and even asks to be relocated to an amicable prison in North Carolina. He cannot take the place he is in for granted and be sent to a place like ADX Montrose. The AUSA reluctantly agrees but signals they’re done. Saul has one more trick up his sleeve and offers to give them one more unsolved mystery: that of Howard Hamlin. The panel laughs it off and reveals to him Kim’s confession. Saul is shocked beyond words.
Granite State – Breaking Bad
Episode 15 of season 5 of Breaking Bad is where we end up next. Walter and Saul bunk together to be rerouted into new lives by Ed the Disappearer. Walt tries to work his science brain into ridding the room of the clicking sound from the basin. As he does, Saul asks him a question: the same one that he asked Mike. Walt laughs off the idea of a time machine, saying it is not even theoretically possible. Saul rebrands it as a “thinking experiment” and Walt bites. “Just ask about regrets!” is what Walt screams before sitting down to think 0f one. Walt explains about Gray Matter, the billion-dollar company that he was maneuverer out of.
When Saul says he should have told him about this before, Walt has the ultimate insult up his sleeve. “You’re the last lawyer I would have gone to”. I wonder what Chuck would think about that and how he could hide his chuckles. Walter asks the same question to Saul. Before trying to wriggle away from an answer, he finally blurts out something even more trivial from his life: a slip and fall when he was 22 outside of Marshall’s Field. Walt is in disbelief. “So you were always like this..” is another damning insult from Walt to Saul. He still cannot open up and really let the truth out. Whom is he waiting for?
Back on track – up in the air
Saul is being transferred, just like he is asked, to North Carolina. He is on an airplane escorted by a Marshall. Bill is on the flight too. Saul asks Bill to stop on his way to the bathroom. He again convinces the Marshall of talking to Bill in the hopes of him catching some incriminatory testimony from Saul that he could report to the DA. What a genius!
Bill reveals that Kim took a notarized statement to Cheryl, who is now lawyer-shopping to take her to a civil suit. She can take everything Kim has got. Saul is concerned and on Bill’s way back, he divulges that he has more information he’d like to barter with the government, even if that meant Kim falling deeper into the marshes. This is new. Will Saul really do that? Probably not. Another scheme is in play.
That day at the office, Kim takes an early leave. She goes to a Free Legal Aid clinic nearby and volunteers. The same night, Suzanne Ericsen, the DA from Albuquerque, calls her. She notifies her of Saul’s arrest and that he can put Kim into deeper trouble.
“Saul Gone” Ending Explained: Why does Saul give himself up?
The finale of the finale is nigh upon us. Saul, with the song “All things are Possible” by The Harmonizing Four playing in the background and dressed in one of his characteristic, expensive, zany, and flashy suits, walks into the courtroom. He notices Kim sitting in the back and keeps looking. She nervously taps her feet, anticipating the worst to come out. The presiding judge mostly agrees with the sentencing recommendations by the government is what Bill tells Saul. The AUSA is called by the judge to explain its rationale. Saul interrupts him in between and asks to speak. The judge warns him it could imperil his plea deal but Saul goes ahead anyway. He has nothing to lose and everything to gain. But how? Just bear with me.
The judge allows him to be on the stand. Saul begins the same sob story from before in the episode but pauses in between. He pauses at the point in the story when Jesse and Walter unbound him and he actually senses an opportunity. He had struck gold, career and money-wise. And that is what we hear. He says the truth. Every single word he says under oath is true. Slippin’ Jimmy is back and Saul Goodman, as we knew, takes a rest. He is still there but Jimmy has taken over. His testimony surprises everyone. The government begs the judge for him to keep going; Bill, the opposite.
Jimmy also confesses that Kim has no part in the wrongdoing and he lied to the government because he wanted her present. Now, do you understand? He has “everything” to gain. Winning back Kim is everything to Jimmy; maybe not Saul. Jimmy is relentless in establishing that he was pivotal in keeping Walt’s operation going and keeping him out of jail. He accepts all wrongdoing. “After Howard, Kim had the guts to start over. I’m the one who ran away”. The day that Jimmy died and Saul was born. Redemption is nigh. Kim is more accepting and amicable and low-key proud of Jimmy as he goes on. And then he comes to Chuck. Yes, Charles McGill, his illustrious brother who thought nothing of him.
I can’t remember when but Kim was ruthless in calling out Jimmy for what he did to Charles. She always reminded him that Kimmy should have done more. And Jimmy bares his heart out. This is the first we hear of Chuck in this season and it is so fitting that we see a montage of the brothers together doing brotherly things for each other without hate or an agenda. This confession endears the crowd – Kim -0 the most. In his most trying circumstance, Jimmy comes clean. He shows courage and bravery and stands up to his regrets and lets it all out. He does what few men would even think about doing. It is like he is confessing to God himself, with the sanctum of judicial authority and the court of law playing Him.
He is done. Bill gets up and so does the AUSA, arguing with the judge to strike off testimony. Jimmy could care less; Kim, even lesser. For they had found each other again. Their eyes locked, and the face gradually lit with an accepting grin and an approving nod. This is the closure we all needed.
After the Charles montage, we see Jimmy being transported in a bus to ADX. So the government did win the case and dumped him into a hellhole where he never wanted to go. Something even spectacular awaits us. A prisoner on board recognizes him as Saul. The rumour spreads and the prisoners sing his name in appreciation and chant “Better Call Saul!”. A final hurrah! He is God among criminals. He is the ultimate criminal. Jimmy, as Saul, breathes in the appreciation and lets out a smile. He is somewhat proud of what he did.
At the facility, he is back baking buns in the kitchen. Exploiting the “people’s person charm” he has, he has made friends with the cellmates and commands a certain respect because of his past. A guard calls him outside; his lawyer is there. He knows he doesn’t have one; so do we. Jimmy and we both expect his guardian angel to be there. And there she is. Kim Wexler, attorney at law. She explains her New Mexico bar card hasn’t expired. She lights a cigarette, leaning against the wall with Jimmy. The two share it, like the old days of hustle at the HHM offices. Kim praises Jimmy for his manoeuvring and getting down the jail time to seven years. Now he has eighty-six.
She takes his leave. Jimmy stands in the courtyard; Kim is on the other side of the fence. They are separated by the contours of law. They look at each other with a glint in their eyes. Jimmy shoots fake finger guns at her. Kim lets out a chuckle. The door to the outside world opens and Kim exits. She takes one more peek at Jimmy. He is still standing there, looking at her. The scene cuts to black and the credits roll.
But there is a surprise. The monochrome of the yellow butt of the cigarette steals the eye against the garish black and white. Old sparks reignited is the best way I can put it. Nonetheless, it is a beautiful sight just seeing them be themselves again. The place, circumstances, and everything else takes a back seat. Kim and Jimmy, who fell in love, might just start falling back again. At least that is how I would like to see it.
The Episode Review
Ah. All good things must come to an end; but why? Can’t we be stuck in time and experience all those great moments over and over again like it is the first time? Better Call Saul has finished. I can’t even believe I am writing that. The show that people thought would live in the shadow of its mighty predecessor outgrew its bounds and emerged as a truly masterful cinematic think piece without a peer. It is a story of its own; of a man and a woman who have each other. But in doing so, drift further away from themselves. They are poison together but we like. Oh, god. What a finale!
It is certainly an improvement upon Breaking Bad. I do not have much to say other than thank you to the entire cast and Gilligan and Gould. There will be a season review that will talk more deeply about the entire season as a whole. I hope you will forgive me for not saying any more. Goodbye, Better Call Saul.