Better Call Saul Season 6 Episode 13 Review: Saul Gone

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This Better Call Saul review contains spoilers.

Better Call Saul Season 6 Episode 13

I’ve had this feeling before. Breaking Bad’s conclusion in 2013 felt monumental to me for a multitude of reasons. Not only was Breaking Bad the darling of Peak TV’s first wave, a word-of-mouth hit upping the ante creatively each week until it crescendoed to universal acclaim, but it was also special to me beyond the entertainment it provided or the conversations it drove. Breaking Bad may not have been the first series I covered for Den of Geek, but it felt like the first time I was really connecting with people through my writing.

Reviewing Breaking Bad was the first time I received feedback from strangers in the comments here, and shockingly, it was mostly positive. I was a broke college kid constantly wondering if I should have majored in business instead of journalism, but once I saw that I was reaching people, even in a small way, through writing about great art, it helped silence my doubt. Breaking Bad was crucial in my development as a writer, and I was sad to see it end.

That personal attachment to the show was why I initially bristled at the idea of a prequel centered around the show’s comedic relief. While good prequels have been made, they’re few and far between and often fail to justify their existence beyond merely being money-drive property extensions. My fears were that Better Call Saul would tarnish the legacy of my sentimental favorite. My fears couldn’t have been more unfounded.

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In my eyes, Better Call Saul ended up eclipsing Breaking Bad. Saul is a show about the simultaneous motivating and corroding nature of family influence, about falling victim to your worst impulses, how change is hard, about how self-destructive self-avoidance can be, and those themes ultimately spoke to me on a greater level than the thrilling journey of Walter White. While Breaking Bad was impressive in getting me to turn on its protagonist, BCS was miraculous in getting me to love the man behind Saul Goodman.

This time, there’s a real finality to this goodbye. I’ve had this feeling before, but it was quickly erased by the announcement of Saul. This time, if Vince Gilligan is to be believed, there are no more stories coming in this world. There is no El Camino coming up the drive. Gilligan may revisit Albuquerque somewhere down the line if the muses or desperation strike, but this is the end. Thankfully, “Saul Gone” is not just a proper, loving conclusion to these stories and characters, but it’s also one of the most artful series finales I’ve ever seen.

One of the episode’s savviest moves was staging three past-tense conversations with some of the most impactful people in Jimmy’s life, centering on regret. These conversations help illuminate who Jimmy is at his core and why, and they also end up showing how meaningful Kim Wexler was in changing Jimmy McGill’s heart. They also give us precious final moments with Mike, Walt, and Chuck, giving us a snapshot of who they were as characters on a fundamental level and allowing them a curtain call. Most fitting is that Mike is the first of these flashbacks because early on, Better Call Saul was as much Mike’s origin story as it was Saul’s. Gilligan and co-creator Peter Gould have been frank about the fact that Saul’s story has evolved greatly from its original conceit, and Mike’s presence in the series may have suffered as a result, but it’s nice to see one more conversation between the two characters.

Jimmy asks Mike what he would change if given a time machine, and as if he’s pondered the question across many sleepless nights, Mike instantly suggests returning to 2001 to stop the murder of his son or going back even further to stop his own descent into becoming a crooked cop, thus preventing his son from ever being in the situation that led to his death. He also discusses using the time machine to visit his family in the future. In just a few quick lines, the pain and regret that hovers around Mike, but his desire to provide for his loved ones are all illuminated.

When we watch Saul deliver the same question to Walt during the “Granite State” timeline, Walt’s character is similarly outlined well. Walt tears into the absurdity of the premise using science and is domineering toward Saul, yet he’s wise enough to get to the heart of what Saul’s really asking. He plainly discusses his backstory with Gray Matter, the moment that curdled his genius and ultimately turned him into the petty and vindicative man that we saw clearly in “Ozymandias.” Bryan Cranston so effortlessly slips back into Walt’s skin and metaphorically paints using all of Walt’s colors.

In both instances, Saul basically acts like the living embodiment of a “No Regrets” tattoo. However, a final flashback with Chuck explains the behavior. In one of Jimmy’s weekly, selfless supply drop-offs to Chuck, he not only notices his brother reading H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, which likely inspired the questions to Mike and Walt but when Chuck suggests that Jimmy could change course when it came to his career and life choices, Jimmy observes that his brother — a man that he ultimately greatly respects — never second-guessed any of his actions. Chuck lived a life of no regrets, mostly out of his own arrogance, but it sticks with Jimmy. Ultimately, everything Chuck did stuck with Jimmy.

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We learn that in Saul Goodman’s final appearance. After being caught in a dumpster and forced to confront Marie Schrader face-to-face (a stroke of genius to bring Betsy Brandt back in this capacity), Magic Man talks his way into an extremely lenient plea deal. Clearly enjoying himself despite the circumstances, the Saul Goodman mask only falls once Kim Wexler’s name is brought up.

When Jimmy learns that Kim did the right thing and turned herself in for the murder of Howard Hamlin, Jimmy decides to ditch his sob story (which miraculously just stated plain facts) and fesses up about his real motives and role in Walter White’s empire and its collateral damage. In an almost helpless fashion, he circles back to the events of “Chicanery” and its fallout, revealing how Chuck was always to blame for the full Saul Goodman transformation, whether directly or indirectly. However, Jimmy’s love and respect for Kim were the only things that allowed him to get past the pain that Chuck caused. Kim was the only person that could break the hold that Chuck had on Jimmy’s psyche, the only person that could make him feel regretful.

The episode’s final moments are sublime and beautiful. In the end, Jimmy throws away a slap-on-the-wrist sentence to do the right thing. We’re given a glimpse of his life in prison, and unsurprisingly, Slippin’ Jimmy looks like he’s just about running the joint. The cherry on top is Kim visiting using a very Gisele-like tactic. When Kim says, “Hi Jimmy,” it nearly melted me, and in a perfect bit of circular storytelling, the two share a smoke just like in their first scene together. In the end, Jimmy McGill gets exactly what he deserves. He may be in prison, but he’s made amends with Kim. No regrets.

In the end, Better Call Saul goes out just as it lived — in intelligent, charming, deeply human fashion. This series, and its parent show, have given me so much and they’ve created an impossibly high standard that every other show will have to contend with. Showtime is over, folks. It’s Saul over but the crying.

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