Sunday 21 August 2022

'Saul Gone!' - Better Call Saul Finale Review

 'Saul Gone!' not only is that the perfect pun for the title show's finale episode but also a worthy label for the perfect conclusion to a 14-year masterpiece of Vince Gilligan & Peter Gould.

The series that primarily explored Breaking Bad's meth kingpin Walter White's lawyer, Saul Goodman whose real name is Jimmy McGill and his background, came to a satisfactory ending. The finale revealed his apprehension by the Nebraska police & trial for his crimes with former client and accomplice, Walter White. This allowed me to breathe a sigh a relief as I was nearly convinced that Jimmy was destined to a similar fate as his ex-client where he’d most likely meet his own death while on the run. Thankfully that was not the case for him *pun intended*.

While the episode proceeded to present the current timeline of the aforementioned events, it also gifted us with three flashback scenes from his past that were never shown to the audience before. Two of them explored scenes where Saul/Jimmy talks about regrets with Mike Ehrmantraut and Walter White while the third shows when he and his older brother, Chuck were still on good terms.

The flashbacks of Saul with Mike and Walter reminded me of how when someone begins to think of some of their biggest regrets in life when they are going through a rough patch; which is what Saul asked both of his partners in crime about. The only difference was Walter was more arrogant with his response compared to Mike who was more calculating as he is known to be. The writers did a great job of maintaining Walt and Mike's personalities in those two scenes; considering how closely the fans pay attention to such details due to their undying love for the two shows and their cast.

Considering everything Jimmy said in the courtroom to finally fess up and serve his time, it got me thinking that the only thing he didn’t regret was marrying Kim Wexler, the love of his life. He had no problems going back to being Jimmy unlike Walter who once he became Heisenberg he had no chance in reverting to his old self and ultimately met his demise in a blaze of glory in true Heisenberg style. Whereas Jimmy could be safe in the knowledge his choice meant he could put his regrets to bed knowing he's owned up to his mistakes and is finally taking responsibility for his actions. This was the perfect send off for his character in my opinion.

On the other hand, the flashback with Chuck exhibited how things could have gone differently if Jimmy had spent more personal time with his older brother, Chuck, who the viewers were led to believe was the main cause for Jimmy to go back in his old questionable ways of doing things. The complexity of their relationship was further deepened with that revelation, which is what makes this show and the characters as unique as its predecessors.

More gifts were parted by the showrunners in the form of cameos from old faces. Hank Schrader's widow, Marie, and Jimmy's old rival in the court, Bill Oakley. When he lied in front of Marie with Bill's help to get a sentencing hearing, it only proved that there is that one part of him which will never change and that he will resort to any shady tricks to get what he wants. This was further proven when he goes back on his word later in court and puts his attorney Bill at a tough spot. This is because he finally experiences a moment of clarity that he will be better off in prison as Jimmy McGill than roaming the streets of Albuquerque as Saul Goodman. I would like to think that he believed this was his only salvation considering everything he realized about regrets, the laws he’s broken and the relationships he’s destroyed.

Jimmy is then seen being transported to penitentiary after getting sentenced to 86 years, where other inmates befriend him upon recognizing him as the lawyer, Saul Goodman - Better Call Saul, who helped many people even if they were the real culprits in their cases. Despite the warm welcome from his new peers, Jimmy is clearly seen to be done with his Saul Goodman persona as he realized it was the only constraint in his life that allowed him to truly connect with people and develop meaningful relationships. Yet accepts it as an atonement after being inspired by how Kim had initially come clean about her involvement in Howard’s death with Jimmy.

Another detail I really appreciated was how this final season came full circles in many aspects. Firstly, we saw a brief return of the Kettlemans from season one. Secondly, Howard saying "I'm not crazy" after being framed by Jimmy to look like a drug addict, very much like Chuck did in season 3 during Jimmy's trial, illustrating how Jimmy concocts the same formula to bring a foe down. Finally, after Jimmy is settled in to prison life, Kim Wexler pays him a visit & shares a cigarette with him just like they did in season 1, telling the audiences that some relationships never truly end. 

In an interview with 
Variety, Gould discussed a subtle flash of color during the finale. He explained why they made the detail extremely subtle in the scene, as to not distract viewers from the performances. Check out his comments in the space below:

"In Epsisode 13, it's different. I'm glad you spotted it, we made it very subtle, the color in the flame and cigarette. I wanted to make sure everyone was watching the wonderful performances by Bob and Rhea and not getting distracted by technical artifice. It's more about, this is the one bit of color in his world, his relationship with Kim. [She's] the one person who sees him as he is and as he was. Each use of the color is a little bit different. It just felt right."

This was a marvellous way to take us down memory lane to reminisce the memories from 2015 and 2017.

Better Call Saul truly set a new bar for spin offs and prequels with its masterstroke of an ending. Co-creators Vince Gilligan & Peter Gould deserve a life-time award for creating wonders with their abilities of long-term storytelling. Vince said he plans to explore other universes outside of Breaking Bad but won’t rule out a return to the franchise in the future. Therefore, fans of the 14-year lore can remain hopeful to see more content someday from the kings of television drama. For now, we can all bask in the glory of the AMC’s lead shows’ legacies.

Make sure to share your thoughts with us on the show in the comments. 

Arthur Kaz


1 comment:

  1. As a fellow fan of the series and breaking bad world, it was highly enjoyable to read the review of someone as passionate as you. Loved the take on the regrets and the "coming back full circle". Let's hope this is not the end!