The ‘Better Call Saul’ Series Finale Explained by the Show’s Creator

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This message contains spoilers for the You better call Saul series finale.

Fourteen years ago, Peter Gould wrote an episode of Breaking Bad, “Better Call Saul”, where he was tasked with introducing a character that would serve two purposes: 1) to provide legal expertise to Walter White and Jesse Pinkman so that it would be more plausible if they continued to evade law enforcement; and 2) bring back some of the humor that Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan worried the show was losing when Walt and Jesse’s arcs both darkened. Aside from that, and the casting of Bob Odenkirk in the role, no one thought much about who Saul was, much less believed he would one day anchor a prequel series – also titled You better call Saul – that would compete with the reputation of Breaking Bad yourself.

Now that that prequel has come to an end, Gould (who co-created the spin-off with Gilligan) has aptly acted as writer and director for the series finale, which we’ve summarized here. Gould spoke to rolling stone about why he chose to end the series with Jimmy/Saul going to jail, bringing Walt back for a final interview with his criminal defense attorney, what he thinks is happening to Rhea Seehorn’s Kim Wexler, and much more.

When we spoke after season five, you said that as you were writing that year’s episodes, “the fog was starting to clear a little bit about where we were going with all this.” Is what you had in mind then what you ended up doing?
It’s similar, but not exactly. What we started to realize was that the right ending for Saul was to be in the court system, as a suspect and ultimately a convict, rather than a lawyer. This man has lived in the justice system, he has made a farce of it, he has played it. And it just felt like that was the right place to end the series: him behind bars. But that was about all we had then.

Gould, left, with Rhea Seehorn as Kim.

Photos by Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony

How important was it to the end of Kim’s story that Jimmy was behind bars?
I think Kim was on her own journey. I don’t know that Jimmy is behind bars, comes naturally to her. But I think the fact that they both confess, that they’ve both cleared their conscience, that they’re both living more honest lives, is the crux of the ending.

You bring Walt back one last time. And as in the Breaking Bad finale, “Felina”, you have the main character coming back to Albuquerque, making up for what he did, and a small degree of satisfaction. Did you even think about that when you did this?
When I thought of ‘Felina’, the main thing that came to my mind was one such big, rambunctious episode that Vince wrote and directed. It was so good for Breaking Bad. I knew the ending of this show would have a different feel. It felt good to have these two guys, Saul and Walt, in a final scene, which kind of touches on their unwillingness to be really honest with themselves about what they’ve done and who they are, and what their real regrets are. Neither of them can really bring themselves to tell the truth.

I asked some of the other writers on the show, including Vince, what would they change? Saul or Breaking Bad if they had a time machine. And now you’ve gone and made that question part of the text of this show! So I have to ask if there is anything you would change about both series, just to make your life easier on this.
It’s a tough question, because usually the things in the writer’s room that we struggled with on both shows, where we said, “Oh, if only we had done that differently,” led to an interesting solution. So it’s very hard for me to wish things were easier because it was helpful to make them a little bit difficult. There’s those old quotes from Orson Welles that “lack of boundaries is the enemy of art.” Sometimes life with choices you’ve made makes things more fun.

If I had to pick one thing – and it’s hard to say I’d change it because it seemed so right – it’s what an asshole Saul was to Francesca on Breaking Bad. We are here [on Better Call Saul]but hardly.

Can you think of a specific example where the battle for the plot of? Breaking Bad led to a more interesting solution?
The obvious one is the Lalo-Ignacio dialogue that Saul spat out in the first episode where we met him: “It wasn’t me, it was Ignacio!” and “You’re not with Lalo?” For a long time we wondered, “What the hell is he talking about?” And even after we had Nacho, who was clearly Ignacio, we asked, “What was he doing?” And how is Lalo involved? We just didn’t know. It really helped guide us to where we landed. That was certainly one of them. But the other thing is, why the hell does he have that crazy office? What was the point of it? What is he really after? And finally the question we started with, which seemed unsolvable, which is: What problem does becoming Saul Goodman solve?

the version of You better call Saul what we’ve been watching since 2015 basically ends with “Fun and Games.” The cartel characters usually don’t appear anymore, the main title sequence is different, and the focus is almost entirely on Jimmy and Kim. Why did you decide to organize the season this way?
There are many different pieces in the show, but ultimately the continuous line, the core, the emotion of the show is about this man’s journey – about Saul Goodman/Jimmy McGill/Gene Takovic, his journey. We felt it wasn’t enough just to answer the question of how he became Saul Goodman. We wanted to know, was there ever a chance for this man, even in a small way, to redeem – redeem is a big word, I don’t know if he redeems himself, but will he always get stuck in this cycle that he been inside? It felt good to continue the story, because the man’s life went on. That, of course, was the idea, really from the start. That’s why we started like we did, right at the beginning of the show, showing Gene Takovic and getting back to the Gene story. I think we really would have left something on the table if we hadn’t finished the Gene story.

Walt reappears, you bring back both Chuck and Marie Schrader. Were there any other characters you wanted to include in the finale but couldn’t?
oh man. You talk to the writer-director of the episode. I would have loved to have Patrick Fabian back and Dean Norris back. Anna Gunn would have been great if it had fit into the story. I love our entire cast. Giancarlo Esposito is one of the best and most fun actors to work with. So I would have wanted them all. I’m greedy. We didn’t want to make an overcrowded epic, and I hope we didn’t. We wanted it to feel like a drama, not a collection of scenes. I would absolutely have brought them back. And of course Michael Mando, the shade of Nacho hangs all season. The feeling I had with this episode was that it was a bit like: A Christmas song. Gene becomes Saul and he is visited by three ghosts. And every time he is visited by one of these ghosts, you realize that this man is stuck in the cycle. It’s not an exact analogy, but hopefully those flashbacks help illuminate the change he’s making in this episode. He’s making a change, and it’s hard to do.

Do you think what Saul does during the hearing will get Kim out of legal trouble with Cheryl?
No, not me. I think Kim is on her own journey, and I think he knows it. He feels bad about what’s happening to Cheryl. But I don’t think Kim would like it if Jimmy pulled a maneuver to protect her from Cheryl. He doesn’t save her; she saves her. They’re done saving each other by then. What he sees is that she had the courage to face what she has done. And she did something that I don’t think Jimmy/Gene ever thought she would do, not just to turn herself in, but to sit across from Cheryl Hamlin, who they both lied to disgustingly, and be 100 percent truthful .

Over the years, whenever I asked you if Jimmy was really Saul yet, you said you’d continue to refer to him in the scripts as “Jimmy” as long as Kim did — that is, until the transformation was complete. I’m curious if his name kept shifting in the script and stage directions for this episode in this episode’s black and white scenes, or if you just used one of Jimmy, Saul, or Gene everywhere.
Since this is an episode where he goes from Gene to Saul and finally back to Jimmy, I was pretty careful about using the name that felt “right” at any point. I mentioned those moments in the script. [Gould emailed me: “Here’s a screenshot of one of the pages to illustrate.”]

Peter Gould

Finally, Vince says that, at least for now, this is the conclusion of the Heisenberg universe. You’ve been doing this for 15 years. how does it feel to be at the end of it?
I’m not sure what I think about it. It’s really disturbing. In my day-to-day life, the most disturbing thing is that I don’t see all of my associates and accomplices on the show every day. My life for the past 15 years has had a very regular rhythm of going to the writer’s room, of being on set, of being at the post. That’s the beauty of this job. Just when you are exhausted with one phase of it, the next phase begins. In my heart, I keep feeling like we’re about to reopen the writer’s room for season seven. But of course that doesn’t happen. My fervent hope is that as many of us as possible go back to work. And of course these characters mean so much to me. I love writing them all, but I especially love writing Jimmy, and Kim, and Mike. Their voices, I’m really going to have to struggle, in whatever I do in the future, not to let those voices peek through. They are deep in my heart and deep in my soul, and I don’t think they will ever end.


The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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