Better Call Saul Series Finale: The Ending Explained, Jimmy, Kim Wexler

Warning: This post contains Monday’s spoilers Better call Saul season finale.

After years of keeping criminals out of prison by any means necessary, Jimmy McGill ended up behind bars himself.

Better call Saul ended its six-year run on Monday with an oversized series finale in which Jimmy/Saul/Gene found a fitting ending: sentenced to 86 years in prison for his role in Walter White’s drug empire and all his other misdeeds. (Read our full synopsis here.) He could have gotten away with just seven years at a minimum-security facility (with a golf program!), but hearing Kim make a full confession to authorities sparked something in him, and he changed his plea and accepted full responsibility for his crimes, along with his role in the deaths of Howard Hamlin and his own brother Chuck while Kim was there in the courtroom watching. He also reverted to the name “Jimmy McGill” after years of living under an alias.

An incarcerated Jimmy got to share one last cigarette with Kim during a prison visit, and we even got to see Mike Ehrmantraut, Walter White, and Chuck McGill again in flashbacks. However, here at TVLine we still had questions, so we reached out to them Saul Co-creator and showrunner Peter Gould — who wrote and directed Monday’s finale — to ask him how he and the writers came up with this ending, what changed Jimmy’s mind, and if this counted as a “happy ending” for Jimmy and Kim is to qualify.

TVLINE | We know that the overall arc of the series changed a lot while working on it and evolved over time. So at what point did you decide on this particular ending, and what made you decide to go that route with it?
I think it was seasons 4 and 5 where we started thinking about where this is all going and we started having this picture of Jimmy behind bars at the very end. Because what does he do for a living? He represents criminals. He’s the interface between the legal world and the criminal world, and he’s part of the judicial machinery, but he’s the gear that does its own thing. He’s the one who finds the loopholes and lies. And it felt like maybe being a suspect and ultimately a convict might be a good idea for him after he’s been dancing around outside for so many years.

Better call the Saul series finale Jimmy CourtTVLINE | Jimmy confesses everything to Kim there in the courtroom, even though he could have just got away in a comfortable federal prison at the age of seven. Did he see that as the only way to redeem himself and win back Kim’s respect and affection?
I think that’s part of it. He wants her there. There’s a lot of ambiguity there, and there’s a lot that could be read in it. One can wonder: would he have had the courage to do what he is doing if she hadn’t been there? At least that’s what you can see from Bob [Odenkirk] plays, he has every intention of going in there and confessing, but in a weird way he’s almost a little proud and defiant at first. And then, I think Kim’s presence brings him down to earth and makes him more real. Did he do it to redeem himself? I think he’s breaking a cycle. This is a guy who wants to get away with anything. He likes to deceive people. He likes to win in conversations. He likes to win in court. He always wants to win. And I think he breaks out of something that we see him doing over and over again. His behavior this season, especially in the last few episodes, seems to be in some way geared towards that outcome. He struggles with himself a bit, but then one side wins and he gets in there in the courtroom.

I think what you see with Jimmy or Saul, he’s in a cycle where he always seems to react to things the same way. Kim leaves, he becomes Saul Goodman. He has this phone call with Kim, this painful phone call, while he’s in the phone booth in Nebraska, and she tells him to turn himself in, and how does he respond? He goes on a crime tour. And even in the midst of a crime spree, he keeps pushing it harder and harder. It seems like he’s acting something that maybe he couldn’t put into words. Finally, we felt it was pretty important for this character to find out: will he always be like this? Does he ever have a chance to change anything? And for all the pain in the finale, he makes one big change, which is: he stands in court and tells a good part of the truth. He’s not telling the whole truth. But he is telling a good part of the truth, and certainly the part of the truth that will get him into the most trouble.

Better call Saul Series Finale Jimmy Kim CigaretteTVLINE | Jimmy and Kim end up sharing the last cigarette in prison, which was a great callback for the pilot, where they lean against the wall together. It may not be a traditional happy ending, but is this perhaps the happiest ending we can expect given the circumstances?
I think so. In my perfect world, for me, the great movies – and we’ve been striving for it, I don’t know if we’ve achieved it – but the great movies push the story on in your head after the movie is over. Jimmy and Kim are both alive. They both kick. He appears to have found a way to survive behind bars, and she certainly appears to be on her way back to law. In a weird way, I think it’s a happy ending. In my heart, I always wonder if he will end up serving all the heavy punishment that was inflicted on him. We will see.

TVLINE | Well we won’t see it. It’s over!
Yes, we will not see it! It’s up to us to imagine. I’m so used to saying “we’ll see”! I will continue!

TVLINE | We got another scene with Chuck McGill and it was great to see Michael McKean again. Was that flashback what Jimmy would really change if he could travel back in that time machine: just being a low-key lawyer in Albuquerque and still bringing groceries to his brother?
Yes, when we first meet him in the pilot, that’s exactly what he’s doing: He brings Chuck the groceries every day and begs Chuck to cash out on HHM. At that moment, these two guys, maybe their relationship could have changed.

TVLINE | Yes, and that ties into the other two flashbacks where Jimmy didn’t really regret wanting to go back in time and change. Walter White even says, “You’ve always been like this.”
[Laughs] Well, Walt feels the same way. He’s just stolen a baby and rolled on the floor with his son, and yet he regrets something that happened to him in grad school. So I think in this scene these guys are both avoiding the elephant in the room… In all three of those flashbacks, you see [Jimmy] Avoidance of introspection and resistance to change. You know, change and introspection are really tough, but if you wait too long you might end up in a federal prison.

give the Better call Saul Series finale, a grade in our poll, then click on the comments to share any burning questions you still have. Better Call Saul Series Finale: The Ending Explained, Jimmy, Kim Wexler

Lindsay Lowe

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