SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not watched the series finale of “Better Call Saul,” titled “Saul Gone.”
More than seven years after “Better Call Saul” began, and 13 years after Bob Odenkirk first popped up as the sleazy lawyer in “Breaking Bad,” his story has come to a close — and Saul is behind bars.
More from Variety
After a little United States v. Saul Goodman legal action, the now-reformed Jimmy McGill ended up with 86 years in prison as Walter White’s “indispensable” criminal lawyer. After going down a dark path the past few seasons, Saul finally turned a corner and confessed to all of his crimes, clearing Kim Wexler’s (Rhea Seehorn) name.
So how did we get to this (somewhat) happy ending, at least by “Breaking Bad” standards? The episode started with a flashback to “Better Call Saul” Season 5, Episode 8, where Saul and Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) are trapped in the desert carrying $7 million. While sweating it out, Saul asks Mike what he would do if he had a time machine and could go back to change something? Mike says he’d go back to the moment he accepted his first bribe, or he’d check on a few people in the years to come. Saul, on the other hand, selfishly would go back in time to when Warren Buffett took control of Berkshire Hathaway so he could play the stocks and become a trillionaire. This time machine motif continues through the episode, so pay attention.
Then, we pick up where last week’s episode ended: Saul is on the run from the police after Marion (Carol Burnett) LifeAlert-ed them. But finally, Saul’s luck runs out. Everywhere he turns, there are cops. After hiding in a dumpster, Saul tries to dig out a phone to call Ed the Disappearer, but he fumbles everything he’s holding and the police find him.
Saul lands in a prison cell, where he calls his Cinnabon co-workers to tell them they’ll need to find a new manager. Then he convinces Bill Oakley (Peter Diseth) to be his advisory counsel in the upcoming trial. At this point, we get our first shocking cameo of the episode: Betsy Brandt is back as Marie Schrader! For the first time since “Breaking Bad,” Marie has returned to put Saul behind bars for the rest of his life.
“They told me they found you in a dumpster. That makes sense,” she tells Saul, tragically recounting how her life has changed in the wake of Hank (Dean Norris) and Steven Gomez’s (Steven Michael Quezada) murder in “Breaking Bad.”
But Saul has a story for himself: He’s been a victim ever since he was kidnapped by Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and forced to do his bidding. To paint a picture of just how violent Walt was, Saul even describes the prison massacre Walt orchestrated, where 10 men were killed in three prisons within two minutes. Ultimately, Saul says he only needs one juror to believe him. His sentence gets reduced to seven years, plus he gets a cushy prison in North Carolina. He even offers to give up the dirt on what happened to Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian), but the prosecutors inform him that Kim already gave her confession about the murder.
From here, we jump back to “Breaking Bad” and see what Walt and Saul were up to while they were waiting to get whisked away into their new lives. Saul returns to his question about the time machine, which Walt brushes off as a scientific impossibility, but then says he regrets leaving Gray Matter Technologies, the company he co-founded. When Saul says he regrets pulling a “slip and fall” in his 20s, Walt coldly asks “So, you were always like this?”
Back in Florida, Kim is volunteering for the Central Florida Legal Aid, but Saul is seemingly plotting to betray her — she learns he’s going to testify about Howard’s murder. Now, it’s showtime: the United States v. Saul Goodman commences. Saul, Kim and Marie are in court, as Saul represents himself with Bill Oakley. The judge says Saul’s recommended seven-year sentence is the most generous she’s seen in her career, but before a full-blown courtroom drama can unfold, Saul interrupts to tell his shocking testimony. After being sworn in, Saul pulls a 180 and confesses to all of his crimes with Walter White, almost bragging about how Walt couldn’t have built his drug empire and stayed out of prison without him.
Saul also confesses about how he sabotaged his brother Chuck McGill’s (Michael McKean) career, which led to his suicide. The courtroom erupts in pandemonium. Saul asks to be called James McGill and the prosecution wants the full sentence.
Before we see Saul’s fate, we get another flashback with another surprise guest star: McKean back as Chuck. In his brother’s darkened home, a younger, pre-Saul Jimmy drops off some groceries. In the final reference to time travel and regrets, Chuck tells him that there’s “no shame in going back and changing your path.” It’s then revealed that Chuck has been reading H.G. Well’s “The Time Machine.”
Finally, we see Jimmy, shed from his Saul persona, on a prison bus, surrounded by inmates who recognize him and chant “Better call Saul!” Before Jimmy is locked away for the rest of his life, he gets a visit from Kim, who shares a cigarette with him, just like in the series premiere. We learn he’s been sentenced to 86 years, just a tiny bit higher than the seven years he first negotiated. Once friends, co-workers and lovers, Jimmy and Kim share glances at each other while Jimmy is in the prison yard. With a quick blast of the finger guns, Jimmy is gone. His life of crime has finally caught up to him, and “Better Call Saul” has finally come to an end.
More from “Better Call Saul”
Best of Variety