Better Call Saul has finally moved its final few pieces into place and set audiences up for something they’ve been begging for since the show started. What began as a prequel series is now, at long last, nearly caught up to the events of the show it spun off from.
So, how does the series close the door on the “Jimmy McGill” chapter of Saul Goodman’s life, and where does that leave us by the events of Breaking Bad?
Be warned: full spoilers for everything in Better Call Saul up to this point are ahead!
The Fallout From Lalo
The midseason finale ended on a devastating note. After framing Howard Hamlin for drug addiction and paranoia, Jimmy and Kim were surprised by a visit from a furious but focused Howard. He vowed the dedicate the rest of his life to proving how evil the two of them are. He was about to set out on this mission when Lalo Salamanca, a monster Jimmy thought he’d never see again after Nacho Varga’s plan with Gus Fring seemingly led to Lalo’s death.
Lalo coldly took Howard’s life before turning his attention to Jimmy and Kim, as seen on last week’s midseason premiere, Point and Shoot. Lalo’s gambit nearly paid off, as sending Kim to rattle Gus left the laundromat undefended. This allowed Lalo to slip in with a camcorder, intent on collecting evidence that Gus planned to betray the cartel and initiate his own drug production business. Gus got lucky in their final showdown and quite literally hit Lalo with a shot in the dark.
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Lalo and Howard were buried in the same unmarked grave under the superlab, a grim symbol of the end of an era for Jimmy and Gus alike. For audiences, it was also a symbol that the Better Call Saul era of storytelling was coming to an end–and that Breaking Bad’s events are now just around the corner. In Fun and Games, we see the final threads unraveling as the people we’ve followed throughout the series morph into the characters we met over a decade ago on Breaking Bad.
A Web of Lies
The episode opens with Kim and Jimmy going about their usual schedule, intercut with images of Mike’s crew cleaning the blood out of their apartment. Thanks to Mike’s hard work, it looks like Howard simply drove to the beach and walked into the sea, claiming his own life after an embarrassing professional blow-up during the Sandpiper mediation.
Jimmy and Kim make an appearance at a memorial for Howard at HHM, where they cautiously tiptoe around their known role as the last people to see Howard alive. Cheryl, his widow, confronts the pair, telling them she knows they were harassing Howard while he was alive. Kim delivers a brutal blow to Cheryl’s memory of her husband, falsely claiming she once caught Howard in the act of doing drugs.
The two are aided in this lie by the disappointed Cliff Main, one of Howard’s close friends, who saw the direct evidence of Jimmy and Kim’s attempts to discredit Howard. As far as Cliff knows, Howard was an addict who was struggling to keep things together. In reality, he was a straight-laced lawyer who became the victim of a brutal smear campaign from Jimmy and Kim’s ruthless desire to hurt him. The lie proves too much for Kim, though, and in a painful scene, she passionately kisses Jimmy one last time in the parking garage where we first saw them together back in the first season.
Everyone Is Alone
The episode then cuts to Gus, who is drinking alone at a nice wine bar. An attractive sommelier strikes up a conversation with him, and we get a rare glimpse of Gus actually flirting with someone. However, after the man rushes off to grab another expensive wine to share with Gus, the crime boss comes to his senses and realizes that going any further will only result in David getting hurt. He pays for his wine before telling the bartender that he needs to leave urgently and to extend his apologies to David.
Elsewhere, Mike reaches out to Nacho’s father, Mr. Varga, to tell him that his son lost his life while working for the cartel. While Mike is simply trying to save Mr. Varga from wondering what happened to his boy, it clearly breaks the man’s heart, and he bitterly tells Mike that all gangsters and their misguided view of justice are the same. Mike, who similarly lost his own son to criminal violence, is clearly more alienated and alone after the conversation.
Then the season’s biggest surprise hits audiences like a ton of bricks. It’s not a shocking character death or a surprising cameo, though. It’s the quiet, subtle, heartbreaking way that Kim and Jimmy part ways at the end of this era.
After lying to Cheryl about Howard, Kim can’t bear the weight of what they’ve done any longer. She quits the Bar, packs up her things, and prepares to tell Jimmy they’re through. While Jimmy tries to talk her out of quitting the law, though, he keeps trampling over Kim’s words and accidentally finds all of her bags packed before she has a chance to tell him what’s going on.
She confides in him that she knew that Lalo survived the assassination attempt and didn’t tell him. Tearfully, she says it was because she was having too much fun with him–too much fun tormenting Howard, playing cons on random marks, too much fun breaking the rules with him. She says that they’re bad for each other–and they’re terrible for everyone around them. And, for the first time in the series, Jimmy and Kim say they love each other out loud.
And that’s it, they part, and nothing will ever be the same.
The episode ends on a note that is superficially triumphant. Jimmy McGill is gone, and only Saul Goodman remains. The big-shot lawyer lives in a huge mansion, has massive art pieces on the wall, and drives that iconic white Cadillac from Breaking Bad. However, now that we know what he lost to get here, the Saul Goodman character feels tragic and hollow.
In less deft hands, the series might just end after Fun and Games. Jimmy has fully morphed into Saul Goodman, and it’s now easy to trace the line from here to the first time we see him in the second season of Breaking Bad. However, this series has loftier ambitions. Since the series started, audiences have gotten glimpses of a lonely, dejected Saul, now living as “Gene Takovic,” managing a Cinnabon in Omaha, Nebraska.
These black-and-white sequences show how soulless and empty Saul’s third life as Gene has become. It’s his punishment for falling in with Walter White, of course, but now we know that it’s also his penance for what he did to his brother Chuck, his former boss, Howard, and the way he and Kim drove each other to greater heights of villainy.
Will the series use its final four episodes to explore Saul’s side of the story during the events of Breaking Bad or simply dive into the aftermath of Gene’s recent run-in with someone who knows his real identity? How will TV’s wiliest survivor talk his way out of this one? Or is Saul finally done talking and ready to face justice for everything he’s done?