It turns out that there once was a man and the future Jimmy McGill will pursue his selfishness, borrowing a phrase from Bob Odenkirk’s Saul Goodman in the elegant finale of one of TV’s most consistently strong dramas of the past decade.
Saul structures a plea bargain that will get him in and out of prison for a potentially-extension-but-which-seven-year count. But then he looked up and took the opportunity to clear the name of his ex-wife, Kim Wexler, and retrieve her real name, which he had previously used, “Saul.”
He committed himself to cheating the whole time. Jimmy will almost certainly spend the rest of his life behind bars in the knowledge that he was taken to a moment of grace in this spinoff of Breaking Bad, nearly fourteen years after mothering debuted on AMC. The end of the universe marks the possible end of this creative universe.
Saul’s ending fits into the conundrum of Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, with a slightly intriguing tension. Breaking Bad’s vision was pitch-dark with the show’s conclusion that perverted criminal Walter White regained everything he had before he died. was calm in the knowledge that he was perfect.
The spinoff of the show that might have given fans everything they wanted deprived us of the juicy pleasure of watching Saul make one last big score, leaving us sadly about the more complex satisfaction of doing the right thing.
The finale was based on Saul’s moral woes, with the chaos of the various supporting characters involved in the drug trade now only a list of crimes for which Saul must answer.
Points for the deployment of key supporting characters to make Odenkirk have never been stronger than on the court scene and yet are absolutely certain in their decision to use their lawyer skills on behalf of someone else.
Seehorn’s performance as Kim is charming in that she pretends to be her ex-husband’s lawyer in order to share one last cigarette in prison as a reminder of all the gifts they pulled together in happy times.
The direct indication of “Breaking Bad” on Better Call Saul was found to be somewhat clumsy. Bryan Cranston’s flashback cameo from this episode earned his spot as Walter in So You Always Were That Kingpin Tells His Lawyer as the pair discuss the initial slip-and-fall scandal pulled off by Saul.
Walter was forced into a life of crime or so he tells himself that Saul was born for it. Their discussion refers to Saul being unusually philosophical. One note I have about this scene is that Cranston ate up because of Walter’s refusal to understand the question.
I’m accustomed to Odenkirk’s dominant performance and Better Call Saul’s less jagged rhythm. Michael McCain returns for another retrospective scene in which Chuck is betrayed by brother Jimmy, and it is tragic.
This is coupled with a promise that Jimmy will take care of his brother which we know he does not keep. The finale also acts like a time machine, not just to relive the moments in Jimmy’s life.
Its streamlining made the episode a tightly constructed narrative machine but the smooth resolution lacked grit and texture. It’s perhaps not surprising that series creator Vince Gilligan has made repeated attempts to advance the story.
He has done so with the feature-length film “El Camino” which follows Jesse Pinkman after the events of “Breaking Bad” and now with the story of Saul that gave him and Peter Gould a second chance at the series finale.
“Saul”, for this viewer, was a feat that could never have been achieved without further improvements to his previous series. The finale confirms that sentiment once and for all with Jimmy and Kim’s fatal parting – once united against a world now separated by a prison wall and wisdom.