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Better Call Saul Series Finale Review – ‘Saul Gone’

August 16, 2022 | Posted by Lee Sanders
Better Call Saul Bob Odenkirk 1 Image Credit: AMC
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Better Call Saul Series Finale Review – ‘Saul Gone’  

Better Call Saul wrapped up this week with “Saul Gone,” as it rewarded fans a complete and bittersweet ending. It was a worthy sendoff for the James Morgan McGill character portrayed brilliantly by veteran actor Bob Odenkirk, who’s captivated and intrigued us since 2009’s Better Call Saul episode of “Breaking Bad.”

“Where do I see it ending? With me on top, like always.” —Saul

An arrogant Jimmy McGill shares these thoughts with Bill Oakley after Jimmy was arrested in Nebraska within the first 15 minutes of “Saul Gone.” The bravado, and the arrogance of Jimmy after he was found by Nebraska police inside a dumpster! Even after it appears as though the walls are finally closing in on Jimmy, we see his beautiful mind begin to work inside his holding cell. In his moment of silence, we see his eyes fixate on a writing on the wall that reads, “My lawyer will rim your ass!” It’s in this moment we see Jimmy start to cackle like Joaquin Phoenix at the end of JOKER, and he requests to make another phone call. That call is made to Bill Oakley who as we found out from last weeks WATERWORKS episode, had launched his own practice. Jimmy decides Oakley is the lawyer he wants to represent him in his quest to beat the numerous charges coming his way.

Image Credit: AMC

As Jimmy’s final fate unravels, we experience throughout this episode colorized flashback moments of Jimmy having conversations with Mike in the opening prologue (setup immediately after the events of “Bagman”). Jimmy also has a conversation with Chuck (in a flashback set sometime early in Season One of Better Call Saul). Jimmy persuades Mike in a moment of curiosity filled with an intimate moment of bonding, what would Mike change in his life if they had a time machine? For Mike it was easy to answer as he wanted to go to the night that his son was killed. Mike also wanted to go to the moment he accepted his first bribe. When it was Jimmy’s turn to answer, he shared that he wished he invested money in a startup company to be as rich as someone like Warren Buffett. In a later flashback we see Jimmy pose the same question to Walter White. It is a powerful scene of a flashback as it shows the two of them hiding out in the vacuum store’s basement circa the “Granite State” episode of Breaking Bad, as they await for Ed to escort them to their new lives under new identities. It is a conversation that reminds you of Walter’s intellectual arrogance, and his utter lack of respect for Saul as a lawyer. The latter is on display after Walter confides in Jimmy how he wished he wasn’t manipulated into leaving Grey Matter. Rather than take self accountability for his actions, Walt decides to blame others. In this case Walt blames Elliot and Gretchen for manipulating him out of a company he helped start. When Jimmy tells Walt he could have successfully sued them and won, Walt scoffs at Jimmy. Walter sharply and bluntly tells Jimmy he would be the last attorney he would ever hire for that task. Jimmy easily could have told Walter about his successful multimillion-dollar class action suit against a big corporation on behalf of defenseless senior citizens. Instead, Jimmy dummies up and resumes his what-do-I-know routine. When it is Jimmy’s turn to offer up any regrets, Saul offers up a slip-and-fall story that permanently injured his knee.

“So you were always like this.”-Walter, disgruntled and disgusted looks on at Saul as he walks off to end this scene. So far in these flashbacks you are lead to the impression that Saul Goodman is quite comfortable in his own skin. You come to the conclusion that Saul is content with how everything turned out because he lived life. This argument couldn’t be more evident then with one final flashback as we see Saul dropping off groceries to his brother Chuck. This flashback appears to be some time during the first season of Better Call Saul. Chuck questioned why Jimmy was doing these acts of kindness. Jimmy was quick to say because he’s his brother and he knows Chuck would do the same for him. Oh Jimmy, how most of us wish that were true. Off in a distance we see that Chuck has been reading The Time Machine by H.G Wells. Chuck is quick to tell Jimmy; “If you don’t like where you’re heading, there’s no shame in going back and changing the path.” This forces Jimmy to ask Chuck if he’s ever changed his path. Chuck looked on in silence as Jimmy made his exit.

It was fascinating the way Mike, Walter, and Chuck were presented as you’re reminded of the story Scrooge and how he was visited by three ghosts of the past. You could look at Mike representing the mind, Walter representing the body, and Chuck representing the soul. Speaking of soul, it is lacking throughout most of the journey we’ve seen Jimmy as Saul Goodman. It is at full display as we see him brilliantly manipulate federal prosecutors into giving him a deal that would make any criminal with a life sentence smile and give a high-five. Jimmy tells an elaborate lie about being associated with Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, out of fear for his life. As far as the murders of Hank Scharader and Steven Gomez? Jimmy had nothing to do with their deaths as he convinces the federal prosecution that all he needs is one juror, just one to have reasonable doubt to set a mistrial. After everything, Jimmy is able to work out a deal from serving a life in prison, to seven and a half years in a low level federal prison with a golf coarse.

It would seem at this point Slippin’ Jimmy has had the last laugh, or so we thought! While trying to finalize conditions of his sweet plea deal, Jimmy McGill tries to embarrass the feds even more by wanting to get ice cream weekly during his duration in prison. As a last trump card he tries to use Howard Hamlin’s disappearance. It’s in this moment he learns about Kim’s affidavit given to the DA about Howard’s murder. Even worse, Saul realizes his conversation with Kim during the “Waterworks” episode actually came back to bite him in the rear end. Upon flying back to New Mexico for extradition, Bill Oakley tells him that Cheryl Hamlin is likely to sue Kim in civil court and win, ultimately sending Kim to the poor house.

Greedy, cold, and heartless Jimmy McGill decides to offer up a real account of the crimes he has committed in hopes Kim will not only be protected, but that she won’t be standoffish to him any longer. This sets up a grand virtuoso performance from Jimmy one last time as he slips into his Goodman character similar to his performance in front of the New Mexico Bar Association in “Winner” episode of Season Four. Saul admits to aiding and abetting Walter White for those terrible and amazing 16 months, and that there wouldn’t be a Walter White without him. Every move Walt made he knew about, even if it involved people being killed. Saul is saying all the right things despite Oakley telling him to remain silent. Goodman looks back at Kim who sits quietly in the back as she attended this hearing, as if he sought her approval. Kim is not budging as she has a stonewall look on her face. Saul Goodman can fool practically everybody but not Kim as she knows him authenticity. She knows the real Jimmy and in this moment does Saul ditch away the gimmick to go even deeper. Jimmy stops with all the theatrics and speaks from the heart on the guilt he’s had over Howard’s murder. Although Kim left town, he was the one that ran away. He let all his good instincts fade away to cover up the pain he felt by her exit, Howard’s murder, even Chuck’s suicide, even those injured by Slippin’ Jimmy with a law degree. He abandoned his soul a long time ago in this whole process. It is a Jimmy McGill we see sincerely take ownership for his actions and its consequences. Jimmy believes in these words and isn’t just saying them because it’s the right thing to do but because for the first time in his life, he’s speaking from his heart out loud. On top of that despite it all he still loves Kim as he knows she still loves him. You knew this was Jimmy when the judge refers to him as Mr. Goodman, and he insists, “The name’s McGill. I’m James McGill.”

Image Credit: AMC

Finally, to close out this episode in true Better Call Saul fashion, Kim decides to take advantage of her legal career at least one more time, by using her old New Mexico bar card (with no expiration date) to pose as Jimmy’s lawyer for an intimate conversation versus a prison glass. It’s in this moment we learn Jimmy did have seven and a half year prison sentence in the bag, but for not staying silent and confessing to his crimes, he now has to do 86 years in prison. Jimmy jokes about maybe getting out with good behavior. Much like a throwback to the first scene they shared in the series premiere, there’s very little conversation as they share a cigarette. This was shot very noir-style as it gave me shades of Casablanca. A beautiful colorized flame from the lighter onto the cigarette is the only color we see that’s shared between the two. It also was the second time in the series show that we saw color mixed in these black & white shot/episodes, with the first being in WATERWORKS. Shortly afterwards as we see Kim exit the penitentiary, she stops to see Jimmy is in the courtyard watching her. He slightly so ever smiles while pointing up two thumbs at her as Kim so slightly smiles. For Jimmy, just to have this moment where he and Kim have settled all animosity and grudges was worth everything, including his freedom. This wasn’t so much about redemption for Jimmy, but for Jimmy to finally take accountability for his actions. Kim felt remorseful and conflicted in some of the schemes she and Jimmy cooked up. We saw how heavy a toll it was on her particularly with the death of Howard. Jimmy never showed remorse as he simply kept upping the ante. Along the way he lost his humanity and compassion for others, but most importantly his soul. And when you lose your soul there’s no limits one will go to be satisfied. Many good people were hurt along the way.

The way this episode ended you’re left to your own fantasies about what Jimmy is doing to pass time. I can see him helping inmates that’s been wrongfully accused, teaching law, even representing some of them. Without a doubt a model citizen that doesn’t have to look over his back wondering if he’ll be shanked to death. This series ended on such a fulfilling note that left you as a viewer feeling satisfied, and rewarded for being with the series since day one. A fine way for the series to end as Walter White went out in a blaze of glory like James Cagney in WHITE HEAT, while Jimmy went out on his terms and faced the music. Regrets? Who doesn’t have regrets? We all do but we don’t let those regrets dictate our lifestyle and death style. For Jimmy McGill, he can honestly say he lived his life like there was no tomorrow and had one helluva ride doing so.

Thanks Better Call Saul for six amazing years!

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10.0
The final score: review Virtually Perfect
The 411
Beautifully well written, directed, and executed by the great Bob Odenkirk, Rhea Seahorn and the rest of the cast. Very seldom we get a spin-off series that is as successful if not better than its predecessor. Threes Company Two just didn’t have that same magic, Sanford had promise but without Demond Wilson, you knew wouldn’t last thing long. Cheers was a long successful series that spun Frasier which was success as well. The Jeffersons was from All in the Family. It’s a very short list of successful spin-offs as Better Call Saul has you appreciating the Breaking Bad series from a new perspective. If you watched every single episode of Breaking Bad, and Better Call Saul, this series finale rewarded you in such a way that was final. No stone was left unturned but there is little nuggets of imagination for the viewer to wonder. Wonder in their own mind what the Jimmy and Kim characters are up to these days. A great bookend to 15 years of the Breaking Bad universe.
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Better Call Saul, Lee Sanders