'Better Call Saul' Season 6 review: A fitting finale that honours the legacy of 'Breaking Bad'
Better Call Saul’s status among all-time best series may deserve a debate, but there’s no question that it’s up there among the best spin-off series.
When the unforgettable Breaking Bad ended, you could be forgiven for wondering if you would ever see such great television again. News of a spinoff focussed on a less-explored character, Saul Goodman, raised some eyebrows, but season after season of Better Call Saul has shown that it’s a worthy successor that deserves its own place next to Breaking Bad. The sixth and final season gives us closure to some of the best-written television characters, and neatly integrates itself into the world of Breaking Bad. Better Call Saul’s status among all-time best series may deserve a debate, but there’s no question that it’s up there among the best spin-off series.
Serving both as a prequel and a sequel to Breaking Bad, the sixth and final season of Better Call Saul had the unenviable task of maintaining the momentum of the franchise from previous seasons, and also patching a cross-over into the world of Walter and Jesse. The best part of this final season is how it begins with events that seem rather superficially related to our titular character, Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman, but as the episodes progress, things begin to get personal... very personal. The big question is, do the shenanigans of Saul Goodman catch up with him? Or does he have one masterful trick left in him?
The series begins with showing how Saul (Bob Odenkirk) and Kim (Rhea Seehorn) work on discrediting Howard (Patrick Fabian), while on the other side, Nacho (Michael Mando) gets in trouble for trying to kill Lalo (Tony Dalton) who returns with a vengeance to take down Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). Both worlds collide at the end of Part 1 of Season 6 and that’s when Jimmy’s world starts getting undone. Part 2 sees Jimmy, under his Gene Takavic alias, playing with the boundaries of the law, and this time, we also see that the character isn’t as selfish as he is often accused of being.
Much like Walter White, Jimmy McGill rises and falls over and over again. Walter knew his time was ending and had to gamble away his life. Jimmy, meanwhile, is made to gamble and hustle (Howard calls him ‘Charlie Hustle’). There’s collateral damage with both characters, and Better Call Saul is terrific for how it doesn’t capture Kim Wexler (a sensational Rhea Seehorn) as just Saul’s victim but gives us plenty of reason to define her as a protagonist too. Hers is a more complicated character, and the actor is great at showing how Kim is torn between a conscientious life and an entertaining life.
There’s plenty of foreshadowing, as can be expected from a series that’s written as well. In the first episode of this season, we see police seizing Saul’s personal property and throwing a life-sized standee of him into the bin. In the last episode, it’s a bin where officials find Jimmy hiding in. The last season remembers to bring back focus on the many important characters of the series, including brother Chuck McGill (Michael McKean) and Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks). The much-anticipated cameos from Walter White and Jesse Pinkman happen, and one interaction between Jimmy and Walter is focussed on what they would do with a time machine. The answers are summaries of the uniqueness of the characters and what they are each after.
Unlike Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul has never been about big explosions or setpieces. There’s a laid-back approach that allows for deeper drama and invested performances. The six seasons have gone through their own journey, with the series beginning as a fun, humorous legal drama before morphing into an emotionally rich exploration of its many characters. This is the gold-standard for spin-off content, and why for the web series format as well, and do not be surprised at all if the jury is split on whether this is even better than its source material, Breaking Bad. If I had to summarise the final season for those wondering if Season 6 lives up to the previous ones, I’d simply say, “It’s all good man.”
Creators: Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould
Cast: Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Rhea Seehorn, Giancarlo Esposito
Streaming on: Netflix