Warning: this post contains spoilers from Monday You better call Saul The series finale.
After so many years of keeping criminals out of jail by any means necessary, Jimmy McGill found himself behind bars.
You better call Saul concluded its six-season run on Monday with an oversized series finale that saw Jimmy/Saul/Gene meet a fitting end: sentenced to 86 years in federal prison for his role in Walter White’s drug empire and all its other misdeeds. (Read our full recap here.) He could have got away with just seven years in a minimum-security facility (with a golf program!), but hearing that Kim made a full confession to the authorities sparked something inside him, and he changed. his plea, taking full responsibility for his crimes, as well as his role in the deaths of Howard Hamlin and his own brother Chuck, with Kim there in the courtroom watching. He also went back to calling himself “Jimmy McGill”, after years of living under an alias.
An incarcerated Jimmy got to share one last cigarette with Kim during a prison visit, and we even got to see Mike Ehrmantraut, Walter White, and Chuck McGill again via flashbacks. We here at TVLine still had questions, so we contacted Saul co-creator and showrunner Peter Gould – who wrote and directed Monday’s finale – to ask how he and the writers came up with this ending, what changed Jimmy’s mind and whether it qualifies as a “happy ending for Jimmy and Kim.
TVLINE | We know that the general arc of the series changed a lot while you were working on it and evolved over time. So when did you decide on this particular ending and what made you decide to go this route?
I think it was in seasons 4 and 5 that we started thinking about where this is all going, and we started getting this image of Jimmy behind bars at the very end. Because what does he do in life? He represents criminals. He’s the interface between the legal world and the criminal world, and he’s part of the judicial machine, but he’s the contraption that does its own thing. He is the one who finds the faults and who lies. And maybe it was a good idea for him to be a suspect and ultimately a convict, having been dancing outside for so many years.
TVLINE | Jimmy confesses everything with Kim there in the courtroom when he could have got away with seven years in a cushy federal prison. Did he see this as the only way to redeem himself and win back Kim’s respect and affection?
I think that’s part of it. He wants her there. There’s a lot of ambiguity in there, and there’s a lot you could read in there. You may think: would he have had the courage to do what he does if she hadn’t been there? You can see, at least in the way Bob [Odenkirk] plays, he fully intends to go there and confess, but in a weird way he’s almost a bit proud and defiant to begin with. And then Kim’s presence, I think, brings it down to earth and makes it more real. Did he do it to redeem himself? I think he’s breaking a cycle. He’s a guy who wants to get away with it all. He likes to deceive people. He likes to win in conversations. He likes to win on the court. He always wants to win. And I think he’s coming out of something that we’ve seen him do over and over again. His behavior this season, especially in the later episodes, it seems like it was all aimed at that outcome, in a way. He’s a bit at war with himself, but then a game wins, and he comes clean in the courtroom.
I think what you see with Jimmy or Saul, he’s in a cycle where he always seems to react to things the same way. Kim leaves, he becomes Saul Goodman. He has this phone call with Kim, this painful phone call while he’s in the phone booth in Nebraska, and she tells him to surrender, and how does he react to that? He embarks on a series of crimes. And even in the midst of a series of crimes, he keeps pushing him harder and harder. It looks like he’s playing something he might not be able to put into words. Finally, we thought it was quite important for this character to know: is he always going to be like this? Is there ever a chance for him to make a change? And despite all the pain in the finale, he makes one big change, which is: he stands up in court and tells a good chunk of the truth. He is not telling the whole truth. But he’s telling a good part of the truth, and certainly the part of the truth that’s going to get him into the most trouble.
TVLINE | Jimmy and Kim end up sharing that last cigarette in jail, which was a great reminder to the pilot where they’re leaning against the wall together. It might not be a conventional happy ending, but is it perhaps the happiest ending we could expect, given the circumstances?
I think so. In my perfect world, for me, great movies – and we aspired to that, I don’t know if we achieved that – but great movies keep pushing the story forward in your head after the movie ends. Jimmy and Kim are still alive. They both kick. He seems to have found a way to survive behind bars, and she certainly seems to be back in the law. So, in a weird way, I think it’s a happy ending. In my heart, I still wonder if he will eventually serve all the heavy sentence that has been imposed on him. We will see.
TVLINE | Well, we won’t see. It’s finish!
Yes, we will not see! It’s up to us to imagine. I’m so used to saying “we’ll see”! I keep doing it!
TVLINE | We had another scene with Chuck McGill, and it was great to see Michael McKean again. Was it this flashback that Jimmy would really change if he could get back into that time machine: just be a low-key lawyer from Albuquerque and still bring the groceries to his brother?
Yeah, when we first meet him in the pilot, that’s exactly what he does: he brings Chuck groceries every day and begs Chuck to cash in on HHM. In that moment, these two guys, their relationship could have changed, maybe.
TVLINE | Yeah, and that ties into the other two flashbacks where Jimmy didn’t really have big regrets, he wanted to go back in time and change. Walter White even says: “You have always been like that.
[Laughs] Well, Walt is the same. He just stole a baby and rolled on the floor with his son, yet his regret is about something that happened to him in college. So I think these guys, in this scene, they’re both avoiding the elephant in the room… In these three flashbacks, you see [Jimmy] avoid introspection and resist change. You know, change and introspection is really hard, but if you wait too long, you might end up in a federal penitentiary.
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