Monday, August 15, 2022

REVIEW: 'Better Call Saul' - Saul Asks a Question About Time Travel to Many Influential People in His Life in 'Saul Gone'

AMC's Better Call Saul - Episode 6.13 "Saul Gone"

Series finale.

"Saul Gone" was written by Peter Gould and directed by Peter Gould

Jimmy and Chuck McGill always had the same conversation. It was inescapable. It led to Chuck's death and Jimmy spending the rest of his life in prison. Of course, those developments occurred on vastly different timetables. However, Jimmy was always inspired by his brother - the smartest person he ever knew. Over the course of his life, Jimmy McGill and Saul Goodman have interacted with many influential people. Whenever he was on the verge of death, he got more somber and reflective than ever before. All of this is set in parallel to Saul being arrested in Omaha and brought back to New Mexico to face punishment for his crimes. That too is an inescapable fate. Sure, it's tense for a moment as he attempts to run from Marion's house. However, his fate was sealed the moment she made that call. He couldn't flee to start over again. That wasn't his destiny. His life would still be transformed. In fact, Saul has always been gifted in understanding the gravity of a moment. He was incredibly self-aware. He was simply defeated so much of the time. That left him incapable of climbing up to something better. Kim at least had the possibility to start a new life. It wasn't as rewarding. She was still hiding from aspects of her past. She at least has her freedom. She is lucky in that way. It could have ended very differently for her with all the menacing figures she dealt with in Albuquerque and the schemes she concocted along the way. She made that clean break. More importantly, she confessed to her involvement in Howard's death. That was the one true moment Saul Goodman couldn't anticipate. Gene was prepared to go on the run at any moment. Of course, the police were already closing in the moment he arrived home. He didn't have anywhere to go beyond a dumpster. That's the most humiliating end for this chapter. Gene broke bad because he needed to embody Saul Goodman once more. That will forever be his identity. It wasn't something Marion could ignore once the evidence was staring her in the face. She is left to clean up the mess he caused with Jeff. Saul runs. He's caught. As a crafty lawyer, he can still find a way to manipulate the system to his benefit. He never lost any of his insights while under this new identity. Sure, he acts with compassion knowing how his arrest will impact the Cinnabon he managed. That was his first call. He had to tie up that loose end. And then, inspiration struck. He could craft a reasonable argument for not being held responsible for all that happened in Albuquerque. It would be yet another way to prove Walter White was the most heinous individual who roamed this Earth.

All of this still pivots around regrets and transformation. Jimmy and Chuck had the same conversation repeatedly. Jimmy felt a duty to support his brother. Moreover, Chuck never allowed his legal brilliance to disrupt from the fanciful thinking of time travel. It creates a reasonable question in Jimmy's mind. If time travel exists, what would you do with it? He finds insight in the way it's answered. It's almost always about the other person. It's never him reflecting on the life he lived. For Mike, he immediately wants to go back to the day his son died. He then realizes that wouldn't have changed anything. In order to preserve that life, Mike would have to go back further to disrupt his own corruption on the job. That was the moment everything started to change. This was the path he chose to walk. He still did a few good things in the years since. However, he too was destined to die in a brutal way not knowing if he truly provided for his loved ones left behind. That was the disruption Walter White served. The drug kingpin can't even tolerate the basic premise of Saul's question. It's silly and goes against the nature of physics. It has nothing to do with the reality of their situations. He demands Saul ask about regrets if that's what he's truly getting at. He wants Saul to be upfront instead of hiding behind the more colorful way of examining one's life. More importantly, Walter's regret is a story that has been told many times as well. The tragedy is that Saul never heard it. Knowing that Walter was pushed out of a company he started and lost out on its successes filled Saul's head with so many possibilities. Walter never saw Saul as an actual lawyer though. He was just a criminal who understood the law. He got the various criminals out of their legal consequences without any consideration for what would happen next. Saul saw the altruism in what he did. At the end of the day, it was still all about the money. Accumulating that was ultimately meaningless. He had nothing that could improve his life. Instead, it's all about being deceitful in the hopes of improving his circumstances. Chuck wanted his brother to walk a different path. He was obsessed and enraged over what Jimmy did as a lawyer. He could be less blunt about it sometimes. The overall message was the same. Nothing could change until the people in the midst of these tragic circumstances decided to behave differently. Saul absolutely could have reduced his sentence down to seven years. He could mock the criminal justice system and avoid the harshest punishment. He had the skills to do precisely that. Something changed within him to create a different conclusion.

All of this ultimately pivots around Jimmy McGill and Kim Wexler. That's a fitting end because they formed the most meaningful relationship of the show. They weren't good for each other. They were constantly drawn to each other. They brought out the best and the worst. Jimmy's transformation to Saul Goodman was complete the moment Kim left. Their love wasn't enough for everything else that came alongside it. It didn't have to deprive Kim of her legal talents. It's simply taken years for her to find herself again. And then, that only comes after she confessed to what happened to Howard. Gene became Saul once more because of what he heard from Kim over the phone. It was destructive and impulsive. It inspired changed within both. It led to true accountability. It also brought them back together. That's a fascinating irony. Jimmy needs Kim in the courtroom for his massive confession. Everyone in the room is stunned by what he's doing. It directly contradicts what was already agreed to. The government has no problem with it because it makes them look even better. This has nothing to do with the law and how the world reacts. It's about Jimmy and Kim. Saul tells a story of being forced to do everything for Walter and Jesse. He acted under duress. He told Marie that after she detailed the ways in which Hank and Gomez were good, honorable men who didn't deserve to die. He starts that story to the judge too. It diverges at a certain point. That's the moment when Jimmy returns. He's finally ready to accept the emotional burden of everything that has transpired. It doesn't make up for everything that happened. Plenty of people died. That was true long before Walter White entered the picture. Saul acted on his worst impulses because it was easier than facing the hard, emotional truths. Kim proved him wrong. She unburdened herself despite the legal uncertainty that brought her. Not everything Jimmy details is a crime. It encapsulates all that occurred over the course of this series. The direction doesn't immediately need to resurrect into color to signal that transformation either. The actions that broke the world into black and white are still true. Nothing has changed. Jimmy simply lives in a federal prison. Moreover, he can't actually reclaim the name of Jimmy McGill. The world only wishes to see him as Saul Goodman. Kim knows the truth. That's satisfying enough. They can share a smoke that mimics their first interaction in the series. Those parallels are seen and celebrated. So much has been lost along the way. It's impressive what Jimmy did as Saul. This is still the fate he deserves. Kim can't reciprocate the flex of being Saul Goodman either. Shooting the finger guns recaptures what was lost. That's who he'll always be despite his best intentions otherwise. Kim is the only one to see that. She's capable of more. She still looks back recognizing that connection while ultimately walking away.