The transformation is complete. Vince Gilligan pulls off a directory masterpiece, again.
Just like Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul slowly shows the fundamental process of change for the protagonist. The way it is shot, directed and acted, will again create a clear milestone for streaming TV. Breaking Bad sees Walter White, a moral man set in an unfair world, set upon bettering the future life of his family but spiralling into the depths of crime, purely out of circumstance. On the contrary, the world see’s Jimmy as bad, despite his selflessness to look after his older brother, Chuck. This forces Jimmy down a route of living out the perception others have of him, thus, turning him into a con artist.
The finale acts almost as an entire encapsulation of everything that has come before it; a clear transition stage from Jimmy McGill to Saul Goodman. The episode began with a emotional look back to what could have been between Chuck and Jimmy, a celebration to mark the starts of Jimmy’s career in law. A heart warming performance of Chuck and Jimmy singing ABBA’s “The Winner Takes It All” pulled on my heart strings, a moment which has been lost on the viewers in the midst of the brother’s relationship. A scene of ecstasy, love and caring, followed by another heart warming scene where the two brothers staring longingly at the ceiling, slowly reciting ABBA, a moment to live long in the memory. In this moment, as Jimmy wished, what if this relationship could last?
The middle portion of this amazing episode was dominated by Mike and his pursuit of Ziegler, the one that got away. The whole cat-and-mouse chase was crafted straight from the fundamental intensity that made Breaking Bad just so damn good. The dialogue, the creativity of Mike, and the bold injection Lalo, together, these ramp up the adrenaline of the show exponentially. As the fate of Ziegler is unknown, as he plays no part later on in Breaking Bad, his fate was left uncertain, adding a layer of unease to the whole narrative. Lalo is actually first referenced by Jimmy in his first episode in Breaking Bad, when Walt and Jesse take him out to the desert. Jimmy questions them both “Lalo didn’t send you?”, suggesting Lalo will have a huge part to play in the series to come.
For what felt almost like a filler at times, the final scene between Mike and Ziegler does not take any prisoners. The deep and sudden realisation for Mike when it dawns on him that he needs to kill his friend is truly heartbreaking. This is then followed by an equally/if not more so heartbreaking conversation between Ziegler and his wife. The deed is done. Mike’s own personal transformation from anti-hero to criminal is complete.
The last scene is extremely powerful; As Jimmy stands for his appeal he begins to read an emotional goodbye letter from Chuck, he pauses. In that moment it seemed that Jimmy had truly been struck by what had happened to Chuck and its sentiment in its entirety. He gives a eulogy, to both the board and Kim, demonstrating his pure sincerity to his late older brother and how he would do anything to honour the name McGill. A scene that had been long overdue, it is hammered home by a fantastic monologue and some spine tingling acting from Bob Odenkirk, the true star of Better Call Saul. He had me fooled, too. It was a all a con.
Saul’s deception hits Claire hard, she believes that Jimmy has turned a corner; throughout the series she has gazed on whilst Jimmy read Chuck’s letter with no emotion; how he disregarded everything with such ease. But now, she thought he had changed. Jimmy bounces over, cruelly teasing how he manipulated her and the board to solely and selfishly get his appeal acfepted. He completely disregards the name McGill to take up the Breaking Bad mantle of Saul Goodman. He lives Kim standing the in hall, lost, confused, and ultimately feeling betrayed. She had been his partner, through thick and thin, the catalyst for him to pull this off, but in the end, she feels like another victim of one of his crimes.