‘Better Call Soul’ breaks in the right direction with its satisfying series finale

Never exactly a racehorse in terms of pacing, the extra-long finale continued to follow the show’s slow-and-steady strategy, which this season has devoted an entire episode to a drop-dead-funny sight gag inside a department store.

Yet, as the series reaches its logical conclusion, it finds Jimmy/Saul (Bob Odenkirk) engaged in a single noble, self-sacrificing act to bring himself back, even momentarily, with his ex, Kim Wexler (Rhea). Seehorn). Her fate has always served as the show’s most fundamental mystery and the key to Jimmy’s evolution (or descent) into a fast-talking huckster.

After getting trashed all over the place by a medical alert bracelet (creating a precious cameo for Carol Burnett), Sal gets down to doing what he does best – namely, gaming the system.

As Walter White (Bryan Cranston) observes in a pointed flashback, it’s something he’s been prone to doing forever, which explains why he couldn’t resist returning to his thieving ways, eventually leading to his capture.

“So, you’ve always been like this,” Walt said.

In his case to plead his case, Saul once again overruled the litigants by securing an absurdly lenient sentence. That’s despite another “Breaking Bad” alum, Mary Shrader (Betsy Brandt), seeking justice for her husband Hank’s complicity after his death.

The “bad” characters serve a purpose, with fellow transplant Mike (Jonathan Banks) expressing thinly veiled disdain when Saul hears about the time machine, saying he’ll use it to invest shrewdly and become a billionaire.

“What is it? Money?” Mike scoffed.

In the end, though, Saul finds something more important, as it seems less about protecting Kim, or clearing her from a potential lawsuit, than seeing her again. It was an expensive cigarette in terms of the years added to his sentence, but all things considered, worth it, redeeming at least a piece of his soul.

Written and directed by Peter Gould (who co-created the show with Vince Gilligan), “Saul” certainly couldn’t provide the same fireworks that distinguished the “Breaking Bad” finale, but it proved to be satisfying in a way that felt real. performance

Notably, “Better Call Saul” has not won an Emmy in any category this season. Along with its pending nominations, this second batch of episodes — currently playing outside the eligibility window — will likely put the series, and perhaps especially Odenkirk, who survived the near-death experience to deliver the performance of a lifetime. Next year’s controversy, assuming anyone can remember that long ago.

When his cover is blown at the beginning of the episode, Saul demonstrates his priorities by trying to take his money and run. Ultimately, though, first Kim and then Saul/Jimmy had to atone for the show’s pivotal moment: how their shared joy in running scams ultimately inadvertently resulted in the death of Howard (Patrick Fabian).

Any innocence is lost in that moment, drawing a straight line to Jimmy’s “Breaking Bad” years and his dark, colorless future.

Even then, his Cinnabon-acting experience with baked goods comes in handy, a skill he’ll apply in his new role as a prisoner. Because “Breaking Bad,” like “Better Call Saul,” has always found ways to bring past, present and future together, even if it’s as small as Jimmy’s knack for manipulating different kinds of dough.

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