'Better Call Saul' - Season 6 Gives Fans A Powerful, Bittersweet Goodbye
By Sal LoCicero | August 17, 2022
Note: This review contains major spoilers.
It has been seven years now since creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould brought to us a Breaking Bad spin-off show, one that many were in doubt of before its first season’s pilot aired on April 6, 2015, and after years of waiting for the pot to slowly catch fire, Better Call Saul has finally reached up to the finish line. The sixth and final season of Criminal Defense Lawyer/Con-Man Saul Goodman, and the complex world that he has built around him, is nothing short of excellent. Better Call Saul: Season 6 exceeds on every level, hooking the viewers in for the unexpected. ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘Better Call Saul’ use the same exact storytelling techniques to keep you invested, yet are completely opposite of one another in tone. Breaking Bad was a ticking time bomb that kept exploding repeatedly, while Better Call Saul takes that time bomb and allows it to keep ticking all the way until it reaches the perfect moment.
In Season 6, it already teases what is about to come and the fact that it won’t get any better for these characters. There is no light at the end of the tunnel, and from here on out, nothing will ever look good for Saul Goodman again…that is, unless he comes to terms with himself as well as his actions that have led him to this point. From the first episode, the show continues right where Season 5’s finale left off. Saul Goodman and Kim Wexler are married and are working together to ruin Howard Hamlin’s life. Gustavo Fring is at war with the Salamanca family. Lalo Salamanca is presumably dead after the events that took place at his house, which Nacho Varga started. However, later in the first half of the season, Lalo becomes the big threat in Albuquerque. Mike Ehrmantraut continues to work alongside Gus, while still trying to keep in touch with both his daughter-in-law and his granddaughter. Nacho Varga is removing himself from the Salamanca crime family, by betraying Lalo and going on the run, even though he’s aware of the consequences that are to come his way.
The first two episodes don’t really have a particular main focus, as the rest of the episodes, but given that Ep. 1 “Wine and Rose” & Ep. 2 “Carrot & Stick” are the first two, it makes sense that the focus is not exactly dedicated to just one person, because it depicts the pre-mayhem that is to come. Once we move onto Ep. 3 “Rock and Hard Place”, the main focus is directed at Nacho Varga, (after he burnt down Lalo’s house in order to create a distraction while opening up the gate to let the assassins kill Lalo’s family), he has already fled the scene and is on the run. Since Nacho distracted Lalo, Lalo “supposedly” doesn’t know that Nacho betrayed him, and while on the run, they both keep in contact with each other planning a place for Nacho to hide. After finding out that the hotel that Lalo instructed him to go to, is a set up, Nacho finds himself back on the run, where he stops at a small place and meets a nice stranger who offers him new clothes. He uses the telephone to contact his father and say his final goodbye, it is a very emotional scene involving two people having a brief talk. Meanwhile, Gus knows about the incident that Nacho caused, Gus and Mike use Nacho as a target against the Salamanca’s, which is when Nacho decides to give his final speech, an uproarious f**k you, to Hector Salamanca, that ends with Nacho pulling the trigger on himself as a relief from misery.
In Ep. 4 “Hit and Run”, Saul and Kim continue with their mischief scheme against Howard Hamilin. Saul dresses up as Howard, breaks into his car and brings a prostitute along with him, while Kim uses their plan to take Clifford Main (Ed Begley Jr.), the founder and senior partner at the respected law firm Davis & Main, out for lunch, Saul reaches the location where Kim and Main are and throws the prostitute out of Howard’s car, painting a picture in Main’s head about Howard Hamlin. This whole subplot continues all the way up until the mid-season finale “Plan and Execution” comes into play, showing how broken Howard is inside. Howard has reached his breaking point and confronts the two. In doing so, back from hell comes Lalo Salamanca reappearing at Saul and Kim’s apartment, which ends with Lalo shooting Howard in the head.
The last half of the season puts ‘Better Call Saul’ in the most unpredictable directions. Ep. 8 “Point and Shoot” brings us right back to where the show ends, Lalo holds Saul hostage in his own apartment while using Kim to go to Gus’s house and kill him. She gets to Gus’s house, and before we know it, Mike quickly runs behind, grabs her and brings her to Gus's safehouse for an explanation. This is when the show immediately erases every prediction that fans have had about the show. Episode 8 ends with Gus killing Lalo in his underground layer. Mike buries both Lalo and Howard’s bodies deep inside the layer where no one can find them. Mike orders Saul and Kim to go on with their lives as if nothing happened. By Ep. 9 “Fun and Games”, Better Call Saul’s pre Breaking Bad-era ends. Saul and Kim split up, and at the end, Saul is where he was when he was first introduced in ‘Breaking Bad.
Ep. 10 “Nippy” presents us with a black and white look at the present day. Gene Takovic, who is Saul Goodman’s disguise. He is living his life in a hideout, pretending to be a random citizen in Nebraska who works at a Cinnabon in a shopping mall. Here we come across a handicapped elderly citizen named Marion (played by Carol Burnett), who encounters Gene on a cold winter day. Gene offers to help Marion, whose electronic wheel chair is stuck in the snow. After helping, Marion invites him to her house for a drink. When her adult son walks in the house and sees Gene, he knows exactly who Gene truly is. This episode gives us a day in the life of present day Saul Goodman, showing how no matter where he is, or where he plans to hide next, the con man he created is stuck inside him.
Ep. 11 “Breaking Bad” promises fans with its title. Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) make a special appearance reenacting Season 2 of ‘Breaking Bad, where Walt and Jesse kidnap Saul and threaten him in the middle of the desert. While this episode may be structured unevenly, the scenes involving the three men in the RV make it redeeming enough.
Ep. 12 “Waterworks” is the beginning of the end for Saul Goodman. The show introduces Kim Wexler in the present day, living with her boyfriend in Florida and working at Palm Coast Sprinklers. “Waterworks” is about Kim and Saul from the past to present day, exploring how the two of them went their separate ways but inside they are haunted by their past. It is one of the most dark and upsetting episodes in the entire series, with the black and white imagery representing their lives. Marion finds out that “Gene” is really Saul, when she types on her laptop “con man in Albuquerque”, which repeats the theme of the “Nippy” episode. Marion calls for help on her life alert system and yells out Gene’s true name.
In the series finale, Saul Goodman is on the run from police. Eventually he gets caught inside of a garbage dumpster (signifying who he is as a person), and is brought to the police station. They lock him in a cell, where he begins to have a meltdown, once he sits down, he sees a writing on the wall that says “My lawyer will ream ur ass”, and that is when Saul starts laughing maniacally in the cell room sitting flat down on the floor in isolation. The writing reminds him of how powerful he was as a con-man. At the same time, he realizes that his continued escape plan is over. But the spirit of Saul Goodman is not going down without taking advantage of the lawyers. He fights with the lawyers about his 86 year prison sentence, he mentions the situation with Howard Hamlin that instantly screws him. When he enters the courtroom that is when Saul Goodman slowly fades away, and he returns back to James McGill. For the first time ever, he chooses the right thing to do, by telling the court the truth about him and Walter White, the murder of Hank Schrader and Steven Gomez, and the shocking truth about Howard Hamlin’s death, he also decides to let Kim Wexler off the hook and allow her to live her own life.
The theme of the series finale is about regret. Regret is what has and continues to live inside of James McGill, and even after getting an 86 year prison sentence, he still has to live with the impact of what Saul Goodman left behind. But what’s most important here, is that he has finally come to terms with who he really is and for that he has freed himself.
After almost 15 years of the Breaking Bad saga, it has now concluded with a bittersweet farewell. This show made ‘Breaking Bad’ even better, and it did the impossible by exceeding its predecessor. For a final season, Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould knocked it out of the park, along with the cast who all gave a stellar performance. What ‘Breaking Bad’ did for Bryan Cranston, is what ‘Better Call Saul’ has now done for Bob Odenkirk, he is a tour de force.
What are your thoughts?