Episode Review: Better Call Saul Series Finale

  • Publish Date: August 15, 2022
  • Comments: ↓ 3 user comments

Updated 8/17

Better Call Saul, Episode 6.13: "Saul Gone"
Original airdate: August 15, 2022 on AMC

Better Call Saul finale

Spoiler warning: This page contains descriptions of events in this and previous episodes.

Breaking Bad prequel series Better Call Saul wrapped up its six-season run on Monday night with a supersized episode written and directed by series co-creator Peter Gould and featuring the returns of several key Breaking Bad characters. Below, find reviews from an assortment of TV writers about the finale.

We have not attempted to assign scores to scoreless reviews; instead, we are merely trying to capture general impressions about the finale from critics. (Normally, we would divide these commdents into rough categories ranging from positive to negative, but in this case, all of the reviews were positive.) "Recaps" are not included if they merely discus the plot details and fail to assess the episode's quality in any way. Click on any publication name to read the full review.

 

Brian Lowry
CNN

Adding callbacks from [Breaking Bad] and building on its own run, the show delivered a thoughtful contemplation of what transformed the title character, and whether there was any path to redemption.

 

Jeff Ames
ComingSoon.net

All in all, this was a great end to a great show. Like Breaking Bad, the finale was bittersweet but also perfect. Everyone got what they deserved. And while it wasn’t happily ever after, it’s probably the closest thing to a happy ending Jimmy had the right to obtain.

 

Liz Shannon Miller
Consequence

This is what the great shows do: Give you just enough closure, while leaving you with just enough unanswered. Why? Because this way, the characters still feel alive, in their ways — more so especially with Saul, always positioned as both a Breaking Bad prequel and sequel, its story told out of order, a Polaroid photo that took over a decade to finish being developed.

 

Nick Schager
The Daily Beast

It proved an ideal capper to one of TV's all-time greats. ... If its main characters are denied true victory, however, Better Call Saul’s bittersweet closer is nothing short of a triumph. It solidifies the show as one of modern television’s finest—the saga of a man who did wrong even though he knew better, only to remember who he was before it was too late.

 

Boyd Hilton
Empire

How all this plays out in the final episode – first in a masterful courtroom scene, with a truly bravura performance from Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy digs deep into his conscience, for Kim’s sake, and then when Kim shares that cigarette with Jimmy in jail – is surely as ingenious and satisfying a resolution to this story as humanly possible. ... A nigh-on perfect finale confirms Better Call Saul’s steady rise to the giddy heights of all-time classic television drama.

 

Darren Franich
Entertainment Weekly

"Saul Gone" builds up to a big speech where the main character explains his journey and apologizes for his sins. Is it conventional, satisfying, satisfying because it's conventional, or just a bit disappointing? Is it damning with lavish praise to say I expected more?

 

Rafael Motamayor
IGN

It is a fulfilling, thought-provoking, satisfying emotional gut punch, and a perfect bow to tie a just-about perfect show in.

 

Louis Chilton
The Independent

While Breaking Bad’s bullet-sprayed finale pleased a majority of viewers and critics at the time, its reputation has faded in the years since. There was too much bombast, not enough of the mercurial eccentricity that made it such a special series in the first place. Saul opts for a far more subdued approach. The show has always excelled at visual storytelling, trusting its audience to notice and interpret the various symbols and mirrored images without overexplaining things. “Saul Gone” is dense with them, invoking a multitude of images from past episodes to absolutely devastating effect. Sometimes, letting things just calmly play out can be the most affecting, satisfying end there is. In the case of Bang v Whimper, this judge finds firmly in favour of the defendant.

 

Steve Greene
IndieWire

It’s not exactly a revelation in “Saul Gone,” but this finale confirms that the key to Odenkirk’s performance has been an uncanny understanding of the nature of performance.

 

Verne Gay
Newsday

Scene by scene, almost minute by minute, there was almost too much to relish in this finale ... But mostly, we got reaffirmation. "Better Call Saul" knew all along what it was doing and where it was going (and how it would get there). Meanwhile, the pleasure of the journey was all ours.

 

Samuel Moore
NME

Whereas Breaking Bad’s decision to let Walt go out on his own terms felt undeserved given all that had come before, Jimmy’s personal reckoning felt apt for a character that was always better than he allowed himself to be.

 

Eric Deggans
NPR

The series began with Jimmy McGill desperate to prove that everyone in his life who saw him as a loser had it all wrong. And it ended with a bravura finale showing Saul Goodman realizing those people were more right about him than he wanted to admit. That is the stuff of legendary television.

 

Allison Keene
Paste

In the end it focused back on the heart that drove the series to greatness: a love for Kim, love for Chuck, and even love for the law. In doing so, it has become one of the best.

 

Alan Sepinwall
Rolling Stone

In an episode filled with callbacks and flashbacks, the sentencing hearing is one more designed to evoke all things Better Call Saul. ... It is an incredible, beautiful sequence, precisely because of the patience Peter Gould (writing and directing the finale) and company have demonstrated over the years, and because of their trust in their performers to say a whole lot with very little.

 

Melanie McFarland
Salon

The perfect series finale is elusive, and almost always a matter of luck instead of intention. Gould apparently knows this, which he demonstrated by striking a balance between delivering just closure for Jimmy McGill and all the men he purported to be and tying up whatever loose ends were leftover from Heisenberg's wreckage. ... With that, Saul Goodman's engrossing, poignant and beautifully tragic story is finished. And in the end, it really was all good.

 

Chris Evangelista
Slashfilm

This was an absolutely perfect finale. From top to bottom. I am awed (not that I had any doubts).

 

Ed Power
The Telegraph

Forget about a tear-jerker or hair-raiser. This was a heart-squeezing come down. ... Is it better or worse than the conclusion to Breaking Bad? Opinions will differ – but Saul's leave-taking feels every bit as momentous and painstaking as that of its sibling thriller.

 

Judy Berman
Time

Jimmy’s great act of heroism was to use his inherent crookedness to give Kim the justice her inherent honesty never would’ve yielded. Forget Bridgerton—that’s a romance for the ages.

 

Mike Hogan
Vanity Fair

No, it didn’t have the relentless, clock-like precision of the Breaking Bad finale, but clock-like precision isn’t Better Call Saul’s thing. What it did have, and I really appreciate this even if I have a quibble or two, is heart. Without descending into schmaltz or phoniness. We got our beloved, if deeply flawed, Jimmy McGill back. And, in the final moments, we got that Jimmy and Kim reunion we’ve all been pining for. It wasn’t not grim, but it was a lot less grim than I’d feared it might be.

 

Daniel D'Addario
Variety

[A] striking and elegant finale ... This finale felt meticulous, from the way it pulled in on Saul’s moral crisis — with the chaos of various ancillary characters involved in the drug trade now simply a list of crimes for which Saul must answer — to the deployment of key supporting characters to make its points. Odenkirk has likely never been stronger than in the courtroom scene.

 

Scott Tobias
Vulture

[The finale] finds an ending for Jimmy that’s hopeful and authentic without feeling rosy or unearned. It’s possible largely because Better Call Saul is a show about Kim Wexler, too, and their partnership is worth more than the sum of its considerable parts.

What about the series as a whole?

Some critics offered concluding thoughts about the series as a whole in addition to (or in lieu of) reviewing the finale specifically. Here are some of those takes ...

 

Richard Roeper
Chicago Sun-Times

Thanks to showrunner Vince Gilligan, an enormously gifted team of writers and directors, one of the best ensemble casts in recent memory and Odenkirk’s richly layered and electric work as Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman/Gene Takovic, “Better Call Saul” evolved into arguably the greatest spin-off series in the history of television, a near-equal to “Breaking Bad.” Saul turned out to be as complex and Machiavellian as Walter White himself.

 

Liz Shannon Miller
Consequence

With all of its delicate touches, its attention to detail, and its unblinking moral gaze, Better Call Saul built on the foundation of Breaking Bad to create a modern fable that with quiet certainty told one of the greatest stories ever told on television.

 

Darren Franich
Entertainment Weekly

Gould and co-creator Vince Gilligan pushed Breaking Bad's stylistic innovation to new heights, even as they cannily downshifted their focus. ... The usual rag on any prequel is that the events are unimportant by nature, working gradually up to the real story everyone already knows. Saul made that smallness a feature.

 

Stuart Jeffries
The Guardian

Over six series, Better Call Saul evolved into a more profound and beautiful drama about human corruption than its predecessor. It mutated into something visually more sumptuous than Breaking Bad, while never, for a moment, losing its verbal dexterity and moral compass. ... Really, there is nothing on television at the moment that has dared to beguile us in these ways, nor has there been a show for a long time that switches back and forth between storylines, confident that the audience is savvy enough to keep up. How strange, perhaps even singular, to find a long-form drama that doesn’t insult our intelligence, but sets it to work.

 

Daniel Fienberg
The Hollywood Reporter

I don’t think Better Call Saul, as breathlessly suspenseful as it often was, was ever on the same level as much of season four of Breaking Bad or certainly something like “Ozymandias,” but I don’t think Breaking Bad ever had a relationship that I cared about on the same level as Jimmy and Kim’s. That makes Breaking Bad a more exciting and rewatchable show, perhaps, but not a show that ever stuck with me with the character-driven potency that Better Call Saul did. Breaking Bad was a genre show executed with expert craftsmanship. Better Call Saul was a human melodramedy executed with expert craftsmanship.

 

Angie Han
The Hollywood Reporter

Both [Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul] are about seemingly unassuming, ordinary men turning increasingly toward the dark side. Where they differ is in what each journey seems to say about each man, and how we, as the audience, are encouraged to respond to it. If Breaking Bad was a hallmark of the aughts-era antihero craze, Better Call Saul, especially in the beginning, felt like a response to it.

 

Gerard Gilbert
i News

So where does Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould’s drama rank in the pantheon of great American TV shows? It has surpassed its progenitor, Breaking Bad, and while in my view it’s not as profound as Mad Men or The Sopranos, it is surely one of the most beautifully directed of all premium dramas. I will miss all those oblique close-ups, witty camera angles, the crystal-clear cinematography and the lack of bossy incidental music.

 

James Poniewozik
The New York Times

“Saul” had the benefits of experience without the complacency of incumbency. It was one of the best-made shows on TV — confident, attentive to detail and gorgeously composed. ... It challenged itself to be more than a new version of a thing you used to like. And it ended true to its ideas and its protagonist.

 

David Segal
The New York Times

It was occasionally a great show that was more often a pretty good show and too often a dull show. ... In the end, what shines brightest to Your Faithful Recapper is the psychological richness of the show’s characters. One could argue over their motivations as if they were real people; their actions were often ambiguous enough for viewers to debate. Also, the show was always beautifully directed and shot. ... And there was a lot of exceptional dialogue, ranging from poignant to hilarious. You often watched and thought, “Nobody on television writes this well.”

 

Allison Keene
Paste

You can argue that Better Call Saul had some of the same issues as its predecessor (an unsteady start, a few too many cartel-focused plotlines, a cascade of implausible coincidences), but it was, like Breaking Bad, a fantastic and exceptionally artful show, one that ultimately wore its heart on its sleeve. ... I didn’t always love Better Call Saul as feverishly as some; it had a rough start, and too often swayed away from the law and towards Breaking Bad in ways that weren’t as compelling as the things the finale honed back in on. But when it was at its best, Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan’s series was both hilarious and devastating in turn, and a tour de force for its exceptional cast—particularly the legendary work done by Rhea Seehorn and Bob Odenkirk.

 

Alan Sepinwall
Rolling Stone

As a spinoff of a perfect show built around a character who barely had two dimensions, let alone three, Better Call Saul had no business being good, never mind becoming a show where fans can legitimately question whether it’s better than Breaking Bad. To have come so improbably far over these six seasons, to have done so many things so well over these years, and to have facilitated so many absolutely dynamite performances by Bob Odenkirk, Rhea Seehorn, Jonathan Banks, and everyone else, has the show not earned the right to toot its own horn here at the end? ... We may not see its like again for quite some time.

 

Judy Berman
Time

More often than not, when a TV series is described as timely or relevant it’s because it literally parallels a specific cultural moment: a show about workplace sexual harassment in the #MeToo era, or a show about a pandemic during a pandemic. Among the many elements that distinguished Saul from Breaking Bad—and made it the superior of the two classics—was its rigorous engagement with justice, a preoccupation whose creeping pessimism proved timely in a more artful, profound way. ... If The Wire became a classic by showing us the crumbling of America’s institutions, then Better Call Saul deserves a place in the canon for the vividness with which it captured something less tangible but more elemental: Americans’ crumbling faith in the values that once gave those institutions meaning.

 

Barbara VanDenburgh
USA Today

With brilliant writing, a charismatic lead and a romantic heroine who burns just as brightly, Gould and Gilligan took their unlikely spinoff starring the huckster comedic relief of one of the all-time-great dramas and made a prestige series that might, in certain lights, outshine the show that gave birth to it. It's good enough to make a shared cigarette in a supermax federal prison feel as intimate and devastating as the ending of "Casablanca."

 

Daniel D'Addario
Variety

“Saul” was, to this viewer, an achievement that might never have been made without its predecessor series and one that improved upon it. Its treatment of “Slippin’ Jimmy” falling away from grace hit notes of sorrow that the more operatic “Breaking Bad” couldn’t quite achieve.

 

Jen Chaney
Vulture

In a sense, Better Call Saul itself has functioned like a time machine, zipping to different moments in different years that give us deeper knowledge of the characters and greater context for what we’ve already seen on Breaking Bad. In its finale, and throughout its run, the show does this with elegance and a sense of purpose that too often eludes lesser shows that clumsily toggle between time periods. ... If time travel is really just a way to confront regrets, then the time machine that is Better Call Saul has done its job. In the end, both Jimmy and Kim have their regrets to live with, not each other. We only fully understand the depth and ripple effects of those regrets because Better Call Saul dared to widen its scope and go bigger than Breaking Bad ever did.

 

Inkoo Kang
The Washington Post

Over the AMC drama’s six seasons, creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould have exemplified the creative freedoms that might be more readily available to a prequel than a sequel, spinning an endlessly tense, funny and existential yarn that hardly needed “Breaking Bad” to justify its existence, while using the events of the parent series to rivetingly draw its protagonist to a Greek tragedy that he was helpless to avoid.

What do you think?

Are you satisfied with the way the series ended? In the comments section below, let us know what you think of the Better Call Saul finale and of the entire final season as a whole.

Photo credit: Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

 

Comments (3)

  • UncleWillard  

    What a wild ride and what a great ending, for me anyway. He finally lived up to the standards he so desperately envied and mocked in Charles. This show is really good at making us hate the people who are right in favor of the people we know are wrong. Skylar White has been universally loathed (except for the time she was in on it and then we kinda liked her), and Charles was as well. Both because we knew they were right about our protagonists, but we wanted them to win anyway. It's wonderfully frustrating and often had me yelling at my screen. I can't wait to see what these crazy kids cook up next!

  • Jaredc324  

    I feel like they wrapped up the Lalo thing too quickly and conveniently, and Jimmy's story in the last 3/4 episodes was kind of a drear. But it's still made-up with the quality of content we expect from Gould and Gilligan. It just made me think and reminisce the richness of the world they had, and just so quickly turn-tabled just to fit in with Breaking Bad's agenda's. It was a strong start to S6, but kind of a meh finish in my mind. But one of the greatly made shows without doubt.

  • MarcDoyle  

    Hell of a "second" series..... never seen anything like it.

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