Breaking Bad may have been about the shock factor but Better Call Saul has certainly been about the slow build. Since 2015 fans of the Breaking Bad universe have watched as Jimmy McGill went from third rate hoodlum working out his brother’s law office to the eccentric, egotistical Saul Goodman, all the way to on the run Gene Takavic.
Along the way fans were introduced to two of the universe’s best characters, heart of gold but deadly drug dealer Nacho Varga and maybe television’s greatest supporting character of all-time, Kim Wexler. The show also gave fans a unique look at the motivations of Mike Ehrmantraut and just how strong and deadly the Salamanca family was with Lalo.
In its final season Better Call Saul changed many things we would go on to see in Breaking Bad by showcasing how the parallel, yet different lives of McGill and Walter White would interlock simply because Jimmy did what he always had done before, never listening and being stubborn to his way of thinking. For Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, Better Call Saul will end making the exact same point it was intending to from day one, Jimmy McGill may have led a different life before becoming Saul Goodman, but he certainly was never a good person before, during, or after being Saul Goodman.
Chuck was right all along
Chuck McGill, Jimmy’s older brother, laid hints about his brother’s personality along the way from season’s 1 - 3. Oftentimes comparing him to an “alcoholic that doesn’t know how to stop”. Despite his huge ego and electromagnetic hypersensitivity, Chuck had always warned of the ills his brother would cause if given the chance, especially as a full-blown lawyer. While at times the show’s writers brilliantly had written Chuck to be the “bad guy” and Jimmy as the “poor little brother”, most of what Chuck prophesied came to pass.
Through Jimmy’s charm or “they just don’t understand me” victim spiel, Jimmy went from petty crimes as Slippin’ Jimmy to full blown involvement with a drug cartel. Along the way Jimmy, with his law degree, hurt many of the people closest to him, including Chuck himself, Howard Hamlin, and his ex-wife Kim Wexler, who defended Jimmy for most of the show’s run.
Jimmy went from a kid stealing money from his father’s cash draw to almost strangling an old woman to death in last week’s episode. Jimmy/Saul was also a master at using people to do his will no matter how “good” or “bad they were. Once again it was about the slow build, fans slowly saw how Jimmy went from petty to downright serious over the decades.
With only one episode left fans will most likely get closure on the funny, low brow, “guy will do anything for a buck” lawyer we were all introduced to in Breaking Bad. Saul Goodman went from slimy lawyer to one of television’s most layered characters in the last 20 years. We laughed, we were shocked, we even cried with Jimmy McGill, and along the way we may have even forgotten that the guy in front of us was never a good person, he just had good charm.