The story of Jimmy McGill will come to an end in Better Call Saul season 6, and the show is more likely to take inspiration from the send-off given to Jesse Pinkman in El Camino, rather than Walter White’s Breaking Bad finale death. Although some fans were skeptical of a Breaking Bad prequel when it was first announced, Better Call Saul has established itself as a worthy successor to its parent show, and surprisingly told a deeper, more poignant and nuanced story than perhaps anyone imagined possible for a character who was once comic relief.
Better Call Saul will have outlasted Breaking Bad by the time it draws to a close, with six seasons instead of five (although it’s unclear just when those final episodes will be hit the air). Over its five seasons thus far, however, the prequel has taken Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) and turned him into a fascinating figure of of painful tragedy, one audiences know will ultimately fall into the character seen in Breaking Bad, and yet cannot help but root for anyway.
Exactly how Better Call Saul season 6 ends the show remains to be seen, with a number of plot threads to be tied up even just in the “present” day of the show, which will likely lead-in to Breaking Bad itself. But there’s also the Gene timeline too, which can give things a true ending, and is where it really needs to differentiate itself.
Jimmy’s Story Needs To End In The Future (As Gene)
Although Better Call Saul is largely telling the story of Jimmy’s transformation into Saul, that isn’t where the story should end – largely because viewers already know where it goes. Jimmy’s downfall is very much about the journey to the predetermined destination, and as incredible as that has been so far, it also means it would make for the less satisfying of the show’s two potential end-points come the season 6 finale. Because while viewers know where Jimmy ends up, if not the hows and whys, there are even more questions concerning the ultimate fate of the man known as Gene.
When Better Call Saul started, it kicked off with Jimmy working at a Cinnabon in Omaha as Gene, the identity that had been setup for him by Ed Galbraith (the late, great Robert Forster) towards the end of Breaking Bad. Viewers have only had snippets of Gene’s life so far, although they’ve been every bit as intriguing as Jimmy’s, but season 6 needs to show far more of the character. Not only does ending in the future with Gene bring Better Call Saul full circle, since it was the opening scene too, but it just makes more sense in terms of chronology – this is the future, so it’s where, logically, the story of Jimmy/Saul/Gene can find a true sense of finality.
That itself is intriguing, because it puts it at least towards the end of Breaking Bad in terms of the timeline, and quite likely after it – or in other words, right at the intersection of the death of Walt (Bryan Cranston) and the final goodbye to Jesse (Aaron Paul). That makes for an even greater point of comparison, and it wouldn’t be too surprising for Better Call Saul to lean either way, but it’s the latter that makes more sense.
Better Call Saul Killing Jimmy Like Walt Would Be A Bad Ending
By the time it came to it, ending Breaking Bad was a near-impossible task for creator Vince Gilligan. Although the show started off slow in terms of viewership, it was one of the biggest and buzziest in the world when it reached its finale, with countless theories and predictions on just how it would end. While pulling off a satisfying ending is one of the most difficult tasks for a TV showrunner to achieve, Gilligan largely did it, and did so with a conclusion that killed off Walter White (no matter what some fans may think).
This was undoubtedly the right ending for Breaking Bad. Walt had turned into the monstrous Heisenberg across the show’s run, and because of that it would’ve been difficult to have him survive. It aimed for an epic story with a Shakespearan structure, and the best way to bring that to a close was for Walt to die because of, and for, his sins, while still finding some semblance of atonement too. His family and Jesse can both be free, from him if not free from the scars inflicted upon them, and he dies as the almost mythical drug king Heisenberg, the thing he liked and was good at. It was thrilling, explosive, and just poignant enough – but it’s also not an ending that works for Better Call Saul.
Although Walt started out with good intentions, he ultimately became a person who not only willingly did terrible things, but enjoyed them. For him, death was the right ending. Jimmy, however, is an inherently decent person who can’t help but slip up, which is where a lot of the emotional turmoil in Better Call Saul comes from. His arc is almost like the inverse of Walt’s in that regard, meaning he needs (and deserves) a very different ending. It wouldn’t feel right for the character, story, or for the audience, for Gene to die, because there’s little value in it: he’s already lost most things by this point (his identity, his job, his home, the people he loved), so death would really feel cruel on someone the audience cares for, and who deserves a last chance at happiness. To kill him off, or some other sad ending like sending him to prison, would feel like a disservice to everything Better Call Saul has built.
Jesse’s El Camino Ending Shows How To End Saul’s Story
For all Breaking Bad gave Walt the right ending, it did less so for Jesse – his manically driving away from the compound left things as a coin-flip for whether he’d escape or be captured. Even Vince Gilligan was dissatisfied, as he returned to Jesse’s story with El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, designed to give the character a proper send-off. Rightfully so, El Camino gave Jesse a happy ending (of sorts, at least). He may have had to leave what remained of his old life behind, but he had a chance at a fresh start and a real future in Alaska. And while that itself was a partial mirror of Saul’s Breaking Bad ending, since it involved using Ed the disappearer, it also highlights the approach Better Call Saul should take with Jimmy.
That’s not to say Better Call Saul‘s ending needs to be exactly the same as El Camino‘s – indeed, given Saul has already been disappeared once, it wouldn’t really work again – but more in terms of tone and themes, it feels more fitting for Jimmy/Gene than Walt’s would. Jesse was a good person caught up in events that ended up out of his control; he did terrible things, of course, but at heart he was decent, well-meaning, and wanted to be better. The same goes for Jimmy at his core, even though El Camino teased a sad ending for Saul. That’s a truth the finale of his main story cannot speak to, because he has to fully become the slimeball lawyer fans see in Breaking Bad, which, in a sense, is more akin to his Walt ending, as it’s the full stop on his descent. Better Call Saul can do both, then, and give Jimmy a happy – or happy-ish – ending in the future. That may be a reunion with Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn), or it might be something more unexpected. But for a man who is now constantly looking over his shoulder, a real sense of peace is the right option for him, as it was for Jesse.