Better Call Saul Season 6 Series Review: A fitting finale that honours the legacy of Breaking Bad
The sixth and final season not only gives us closure on some of the best-written characters ever, but also neatly integrates itself into the world of Breaking Bad
If the 62 episodes of Breaking Bad, 63 episodes of Better Call Saul, El Camino and the minisodes have proven something, it's got to be how different they are from the other streaming content out there. While Bryan Cranston's Walter White and Aaron Paul's Jesse Pinkman established this franchise with the Breaking Bad series, it's Bob Odenkirk's Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman/Gene Takavic and his wicked games in Better Call Saul that expanded the franchise to new horizons. The sixth and final season not only gives us closure on some of the best-written characters ever, but also neatly integrates itself into the world of Breaking Bad. Undoubtedly, Better Call Saul is easily one of the, if not, the best spin-off series of all time.
Creators: Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould
Cast: Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Rhea Seehorn, Giancarlo Esposito
Streaming on: Netflix
Serving as a prequel and a sequel to Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul had to pull off the tedious task of maintaining the momentum the franchise has created despite the audience knowing who would cross over into the world of Walter and Jesse, and what will happen to them. Given how part one of season six sees the death of some of our beloved characters, the second part dissuades itself from the easy way out and yet delivers a nail-biting finale. The best part of this season is how it starts off as happenings that are remotely related to our titular character, and as the episodes progress, things get personal... very personal. Just like how we catch up with the various aliases of Jimmy, by the end of the show, fate too catches up with our 'hero' leading him to a path of redemption.
The series' first few episodes spend considerable time narrating the events both physically and story-wise away from Jimmy. While our man of law, along with Kim (Rhea Seehorn), decide on discrediting Howard (Patrick Fabian), on the other side, Nacho (Michael Mando) gets in trouble for trying to kill Lalo (Tony Dalton) who is back with a vengeance to take down Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). As expected, both these worlds collide at the end of part one of season six and that's when Jimmy's world starts ripping apart. Part two sees Jimmy, under his Gene Takavic alias, finding it difficult to stay on the right side of the law, and how its repercussions get the better of him. We see how he is forced to handle it all by putting others first instead of himself for the first time.
Being a spin-off series, the parallels to Breaking Bad are quite obvious. After all, both are the stories of men who could have been simple law-abiding citizens but are forced to become fugitives after their tryst with the dark side. Just like Walter White, Jimmy is given ample space to fall and rise multiple times before finally hanging up his boots. The character has come a long way since his earlier days of getting locked up for silly crimes only to be rescued by his brother. Bob Odenkirk slays the role of a man who doesn't mind gambling with his life. The events of the series hurt not just him but Kim as well, and Rhea Seehorn pulls off the tough role of a conflicted person stuck between right and wrong and does a splendid job at it.
More than the brilliant plot, it's the foreshadowing and referencing that makes this series an intriguing one for those fresh to its content and the hardcore fan following that has been cultivated over the years. In the first episode of this season, we see police seizing personal property from Saul Goodman's mansion and his life-sized standee being thrown into the bin. In the last episode, the bin is where the officials find Jimmy hiding. In a similar fashion, there are callbacks to previous seasons too. Just like at the end of season four, where Jimmy pulls out a performance in front of the judge to prove he's a good lawyer, this season's finale sees him doing the same, albeit for a different result. In a quick monologue, he mentions the happenings of the whole two series, also mentioning the key characters we have seen so far. When he talks about his brother Chuck McGill (Michael McKean), we see the shot being placed from above the courtroom, next to an exit sign, buzzing with electricity, as a callback to season three where he proved Chuck's electromagnetic sensitivity is a psychological condition. The best part of this season happens to be a series of intimate moments Jimmy shares with Chuck, Mike and Walter about regrets in the form of a 'what would you do with a time machine' question. How each one of them answers differently - one being emotional, one turning the question back at Jimmy and the other, citing the practical impossibility of time travel, makes for one of the best-written conversations we have seen in this franchise. In one of the final scenes of the series, Jimmy and Kim share a cigarette in silence as how they did in their very first scene together.
Better Call Saul has never been about big explosions, action set pieces and fast-moving sequences like the Breaking Bad episodes. Yet, the laidback approach makes the drama in this series more pronounced and some brilliant performances from its lead cast along with some expected and unexpected cameos, make for one of the best series watching experiences of all time. Thinking back, Better Call Saul started as a fun and humorous legal drama that follows the trials and tribulations of characters and how they deal with personal and professional stumble blocks. But over the last six seasons, it has morphed into a different beast that kept hovering blades over our favourite characters we have deeply invested in. No wonder this franchise has become a calling card for the web series format and Better Call Saul, thanks to its well-roundedness, makes it as good as, if not, even better than Breaking Bad.
After all, when was the last time the expression 'It's all good, man' has been homophonous with a series' lead name and also denoted how the series is?