Alex Casey recaps the finale episode, of Lightbox’s much-anticipated Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul. Contains spoilers, obviously. //
This is it, we’ve come to the end of our time with Slippin’ Jimmy McGill, for now at least. It makes sense to open where he has treaded the con artist boards for so many years – a dank ass bar. Jimmy is back with his mate Marco, turning tricks over cheap beers. But, as ever, he’s determined to change his life around
And through the opening titles, featuring a extraordinary slow motion “World’s Greatest Lawyer” mug smash, we are thrown into the finale. In an interview with Variety, writer and director Peter Gould explained the significance of the smashed mug, “there was something sort of apocalyptic about that one. Jimmy has been shattered, in a weird way, by his brother, and so it seemed to go along with the story.” It also foreshadows what is coming at the end of the episode, the final nail in the coffin of Jimmy’s pursuit to actually be The World’s Greatest Lawyer.
After the Hamlin disaster, and Chuck’s complete denouncing of Jimmy as both a lawyer and a brother, an epiphany moment (the first of several) comes during a stylishly stressful round of bingo. The balls fling around their plastic prison, the pitter patter becoming increasingly overwhelming. He draws a B. ‘B for brother’ Jimmy announces over the loud speaker. Another B. ‘B for betrayal’. Another B. Another B. All the B’s. It’s a never ending cycle, not unlike Jimmy’s futile attempts to “do the right thing” over the course of the season. Where has it got him? He’s out there playing serious bingo sure, but there are far greater lawyer-y fun and games to have.
Taking a big B for Break, Jimmy heads back to his old haunt to visit the seedy bar that we saw in the opener. It is here where the ‘Chicago Sunroof’ story is finally explained, and it does not disappoint. Turns out that Jimmy has a sex offender charge for crapping through an enemies sunroof…with his kids sitting in the back seat. Unbeknownst to Jimmy – the deep level of tint meant that he didn’t know the car was occupied. It’s an incredible monologue, delivered with just an incredible blend of pathos and absurdity.
Jimmy is keen to return to his slippery form, and sets about orchestrating an extreme con including a fake coin and a hard sell. With $100 in his pocket and a stupid Suit walking home with a dud, Jimmy and Marco are back in the business. Cue an incredible montage, lifted straight out of some corny gangster movie, glamourising these petty cons through billowy smoke, silhouettes and some hardcore trumpet tunes. Slippin’ Jimmy is back, slipping all over his gallons of snake oil.
The snakiest move of the episode is him convincing a young woman that he is Kevin Costner, and luring her back to his snake tent.
Much like Kevin Costner in Waterworld, Jimmy’s world comes crashing down on the next job, after his partner-in-crime Marco has a heart attack (presumably from doing too many crimes). It’s not all bad though, at least he gets a baller ring out of it. “You might get a couple of bucks out of that” a fellow mourner suggests optimistically. Before Marco died he said “I’ve had the best week of my life.” By all accounts, so did Jimmy.
Back in Mike’s booth of dreams, he’s on the phone to someone “yeah, I’ve done business with him before.” Is it Gus? I keep holding out for Gus and yet, no Gus. Jimmy races past, ready for his interview with the lawyers from Santa Fe. They want him in on the nursing home case. This could be his one chance at ‘going straight’ and ‘doing the right thing’ and all of those other choice phrases he has cautiously winced through as if they were written in his second language.
Before you can say “wow what a great opportunity”, Jimmy has spun around and is heading back to see Mike at the booth. He asks why they didn’t take the Kettleman money and run, why they had to do the right thing. Mike explains with his gravelly Easter Island head that he was assigned for a job, and the job does not extend beyond that into his real life. Jimmy is not as easily convinced, and slowly slips from Slippery Jim to Savage Saul.
Better Call Saul resisted the urge to finish with a Breaking Bad bang. Jimmy finally resigned to the dark side which, after spending so long circling to moral drain, came with a great sense of relief (and impending doom).
It took him a lot longer than I had expected, but Saul has finally arrived.