Better Call Saul has rested its case after six glorious seasons — and it made quite a closing statement.
Monday’s series finale begins with a flashback to Season 5’s “Bagman,” with Jimmy and Mike trudging through the sweltering desert heat and finally finding a water tank to drink from. As they rest, Jimmy suggests they run off with the seven million bucks they’re carrying and split it. Mike says no: “It’s not ours.” Jimmy says he’d take the money and build a time machine. Where would Mike time-travel to, he asks? “December 8th, 2001,” he replies first, presumably the day his son Matt was murdered. Then he changes his answer to “March 17th, 1984,” aka the day he took his first bribe, which led to Matt’s death. He’d also go forward in time and check on some people, “see if they’re doing OK.” As for Jimmy, he’d go back to the day Warren Buffett took over Berkshire Hathaway and invest in it so he’d be filthy rich. “Is that it? Money?” Mike asks him. “Nothing you’d change?” Jimmy walks off without answering.
Back in the Gene timeline, he flees on foot after Marion calls the cops with her Life Alert necklace. He goes home and grabs his secret shoebox, slipping out a window when he spots cops out front. He makes a run for it, ducking a helicopter overhead, and hides inside a Dumpster when he sees cops coming. He opens the shoebox and retrieves Ed the disappearer’s business card, trying to memorize the exact wording for the Hoover adapter, and then tries to open his diamond stash, but ends up spilling them all over the Dumpster floor. The cops find him in the Dumpster, and he sheepishly comes out, hands in the air. At the police station, he uses his one call to phone a girl at Cinnabon and tell her “you’re gonna need a new manager.” But while he’s cursing himself in his cell, he spots a message scrawled on the wall: “My lawyer will ream your ass.” He laughs hysterically and leaps to his feet, demanding another phone call.
He rings his old pal Bill Oakley, offering to make him his “advisory counsel” and basically acting like he’s doing Bill a favor by hiring him. “Where do you see this ending?” Bill asks, and Gene answers: “With me on top, like always.” Bill accompanies Gene to a meeting with the feds — with Hank’s widow Marie watching! — where they inform him he’s facing an avalanche of charges from conspiracy to traffic narcotics to accessory to murder, adding up to life in prison plus 190 years. They offer him 30 years if he’ll plead guilty, and Marie tells him how much damage he caused and how noble Hank and Gomez were: “You helped the two-faced poisonous bastard behind it all. For what? Money. You did it all for money.” Gene tries to offer her his condolences for Hank, adding: “You and he are victims… and so am I.”
Gene launches into a sob story about how he was kidnapped by Walter White and threatened at gunpoint, insisting he only acted as his lawyer because he feared for his life. “You are looking at a man who lost everything,” he pleads. “I have nobody. I have nothing.” The federal prosecutor scoffs: “And you think jurors are gonna buy that?” Gene smiles: “All I need is one.” He reminds them juries can be fickle and wonders if they have “wiggle room” to negotiate. Marie is horrified, but the feds reluctantly work with Gene and Bill, dismissing a bunch of charges and eventually whittling his sentence down to a measly seven years. Gene even insists on picking his prison, a cushy one in North Carolina: “Only federal institution with a golf program. If it’s good enough for Bernie Madoff.” A smug Gene pushes his luck and asks for a pint of premium ice cream every day while he’s inside, offering more intel on Howard’s death in exchange. But the feds shut him down, telling him Kim already told them everything about Howard: “Sounds like you and your ex aren’t talking on a regular basis.” Gene is left stunned.
We get another flashback, this time to Saul and Walter White around the time of Breaking Bad‘s “Granite State,” while they’re waiting to be extracted by Ed. Saul presents the time machine question to Walt, and he dismisses it as scientifically impossible: “If you want to ask about regrets, just ask about regrets.” Walt tells him about Gray Matter, blaming his friends for “artfully maneuvering me into leaving my own creation” and lamenting how rich he could’ve been if he’d stayed. Saul says he’d go back to when he was 22 and pulled a slip and fall outside a department store and really hurt himself: “My knee’s never been the same.” Walter chuckles to himself: “So you were always like this.”
On the plane back to Albuquerque, Gene asks Bill what’ll happen to Kim now. The D.A. probably won’t file charges, Bill says, but she is facing civil litigation from Howard’s widow Cheryl, who is “out lawyer shopping as we speak.” Gene then offers to tell the feds even more about Howard than Kim did… even though Bill warns him it could endanger Kim’s civil case. (“It’s really good ice cream,” Gene counters.) Kim is volunteering at a free legal service firm in Florida when she gets a call from Suzanne Ericsen, who lets her know Saul was arrested and is being extradited to New Mexico: “He’s giving testimony that affects you, personally.”
So Kim is there watching in the courtroom when Gene/Saul/Jimmy shows up for his hearing, wearing a shiny Saul Goodman suit and quietly telling himself, “It’s showtime.” (Marie and Gomez’s widow Blanca are there, too.) The judge questions why the feds are offering him such a generous sentence, and Gene offers to clear things up, launching at first into the sob story we heard earlier about how he was scared of Walt… “but not for long. That night, I saw opportunity.” He changes course, admitting he helped build Walt’s drug empire. The judge warns him he’s contradicting his testimony and swears him in under oath. Gene says he lied about Kim’s involvement because “I wanted her to come here today. I wanted her to hear this.” He confesses that he “was more than a willing participant” in Walt’s crimes. “I was indispensable.” Walt would’ve soon been dead or in prison without him, he claims, and Hank and Gomez would stil be alive: “Walter White couldn’t have done it without me.”
He looks behind him and locks eyes with Kim before continuing: “What happened to Howard Hamlin, it was… I can’t even.” He gets choked up as he credits Kim for starting her life over: “I’m the one who ran away.” Then he brings up his brother Chuck — as the courtroom’s exit sign buzzes overhead — calling him “the most brilliant lawyer I ever met” and berating himself for not trying harder to help him: “Instead, when I saw a chance to hurt him, I took it.” He blames himself for taking away “the one thing he lived for: the law. After that, he killed himself.” He adds sadly, “And I’ll live with that,” before taking his seat again. Bill tries to tell him what happened with Chuck wasn’t even a crime, but Gene disagrees: “Yeah, it was.” Oh, and Gene-slash-Saul tells them he wants to be called Jimmy McGill. He turns back to look at Kim again while the lawyers argue over re-imposing the maximum sentence on him.
Speaking of Chuck, we get our third flashback to him and Jimmy around the time of the series premiere, with Jimmy bringing his brother groceries and telling him about his small-time clients. Chuck tells him, “If you don’t like where you’re heading, there’s no shame in going back and changing your path” — and he clutches a copy of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine as he goes to bed. Back in the present, Jimmy (let’s just call him Jimmy, huh?) rides a prison bus on his way to the subpar facility he tried to negotiate his way out of, the one he dubbed “the Alcatraz of the Rockies.” One of the other prisoners recognizes him as Saul Goodman, and though he tries to tell him his name is McGill, word spreads fast, and soon the whole bus full of prisoners is chanting “Better call Saul!” Jimmy allows himself a little smile at this.
In prison, he’s baking bread just like his Cinnabon days, and a guard tells him his lawyer is here to see him. Jimmy goes to the interview room to find — Kim! (Her New Mexico bar card doesn’t expire, apparently.) She gets the guard to uncuff him, and she and Jimmy share a cigarette and lean against the wall together, just like they did back in the good old HHM days. “You had them down to seven years,” she says with admiration — and after his confession, now he’s been sentenced to 86 years. “But with good behavior, who knows?” he says with a smile. As Kim leaves the prison, Jimmy watches her through a chain-link fence from the inmates’ basketball court… and he shoots finger guns at her as she walks out.
Alright, Saul fans, let’s hear your testimony: Give the series finale a grade in our poll, and then hit the comments to share all of your post-finale thoughts. (Plus, for more scoop on the finale, read our post mortem with Saul showrunner Peter Gould.)