Saul Goodman is dead. Saul Goodman, please be with us.
After a tragic series of self-destructive and sloppy decisions that resulted in the removal of Jimmy McGill, I was prepared for a gloomy series finale that would involve all of us in entrusting ourselves with Saul and his shady schemes at the expense of actual ruined lives. But the series finale of Better Call Saul proved that change was possible, rather than a nihilistic I-told-you-so about who Jimmy/Saul/
Better Call Saul has always been a show about craftsmanship. We watch Jimmy hang dozens of Post-it notes as he prepares to execute his revenge on Howard Hamlin; we watch Kim Wexler tighten her ponytail and button her outfit before every professional conversation. You cant fear being discovered as a fraud if youve already planned every possible outcome.
Better Call Saul's inability to exist in a vacuum was undisputed. A tiny, crucial detail that would eventually lead to a major, devastating revelation might not be applicable to the high drama of Saul or the monotony of any CBS copaganda series. They left no stone unturned, and no breadcrumb unfollowed.
Howard Hamlin's terrible wrong-place, wrong-time death at the end of the final season should have alerted us to the fact that, no matter how well we've gotten to know these characters, their circumstances and schemes might still surprise us. In a sense, it was foolish to go into this finale believing Jimmy McGill was irredeemable, that he'd crossed moral lines that could never be resolved the way Walter White did on Breaking Bad years earlier.
Jimmy and Walter are different beings. Heisenbergs inherent lust and greed, concealed by the pleasant surroundings of suburbania and monotonous middle class Americanity, morphed a high school chemistry teacher into a monster once achievable power was introduced into the complicated equation of his life and illness. Jimmy's actions are less Shakespearean, more quotidian. He was both motivated by greed and hubris, but he never quite had the bloodlust of Walter White. Where Walter White wanted to demonstrate what he
Saul Goodman, the walking mutation and coping mechanism Jimmy became as he diverted further and farther from his loved ones, is not necessarily the same as Jimmy's; he takes Jimmy's watch me attitude and his desire to do things just because he can to a whole new, dangerous level.
Saul was a joy to observe in plea bargain negotiations, while also likable and smartly wielding the law in the way only Saul Goodman can. He is so powerful that he transcends multiple life sentences into only seven and a half years in prison, plus a hand-delivered pint of ice cream every week. It's also so rewarding to witness a craftsman work, no matter how little we want him to succeed.
It's also very satisfying to see the craftsman remove a peg while he's at the end of his negotiations. When Kim discovers that she has already confessed to the police everything she knows about Howards murder, it gives him a twinge of guilt, his first in a very long time.
A flashback to a conversation with his brother Chuck, which occurred early in the course of the mental illness that would eventually erode their connection and result in his tragic death, was a relief to me. Jimmy was always resentful and irritated, yet he also was persistent in attempting to impress people he trusted.
Jimmy is Jimmy's lover, and Saul is the ego that keeps him back. When Saul speaks up in court and declares himself to be James McGill, he's revealing who he wants to be. Kim, his partner in crime, and everyone else is watching. He wants to please her, stand up for her and uphold her morality.
Jimmy gets caught up in a bus to prison for the next 80 years, only to be recognized as Saul by the other prisoners who chant the same phrase that would make him famous for working in the prison kitchen. It's tragic that no matter how much work he does on himself, he will always be recognized for the things he did when he was at his lowest and lonely emotional age.
Jimmy became Saul before he was recalled to New Mexico after receiving news about Kim. We saw Saul transform into Jimmy once he was released from prison.
The latest McGill mutation, the one who invites Kim Wexler back into his life, isnt a step backward into Jimmy McGill we first encountered, who was meticulously constructed from the series he led to become better and greater than the sum of his parts. He chooses to share a cigarette behind bars with the person he loves more than a world worth scamming.
Jimmy and Kim's post-breakup conversations were mostly in black and white, but the tip of that cigarette lit up gold when they met at the end of the series. It's comforting to know that light can always come back. You can always change for the better for those who really know you.