Warning: The following contains spoilers for the series finale of “Better Call Saul”
The soft spoken yet pitch perfect finale of “Better Call Saul” manages to serve as both a prequel and a sequel to “Breaking Bad” as it once again revisits familiar faces from the past and provides a coda of sorts for its predecessor. Chief among the finale’s well-known elements is Walter White (Bryan Cranston), who first reappeared in “Better Call Saul” just two episodes ago.
This time around, however, he plays a far more pivotal role in illuminating the driving factors behind Saul’s (Bob Odenkirk) journey. What has always looked like unadulterated greed on the criminal lawyer’s part still remains, but there’s a deeper connection to his relationships that pushes him further along with Heisenberg.
“Jimmy finds himself in a room with a guy who’s just like his brother Chuck,” Odenkirk said. “And he realizes he’s put himself in a relationship with an older, smarter guy who’s s–t and who he can’t gain any respect from and isn’t that the way people in real life reenact these relationships that they have as a child?”
In the finale, Saul resolutely tells the court that “Walter White couldn’t have done it without me” and that’s true. But it’s not the whole truth. As we’ve learned over the past six seasons, the wounded Jimmy McGill has tried and failed to fill the void his unsupportive brother left within him. It’s that emotional yearning for acceptance and respect that partly drove him into the world of Walter White in the first place.
“People think they’re moving on and they they realize ‘I did it again,'” Odenkirk said during a post-finale Q&A that TheWrap attended on Tuesday. “This might as well be Chuck standing here yelling at me calling me an a–hole. And why do I want this guy’s f—ing love?”
Despite the years-long eager anticipation of fans to see Walter White and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) resurface, co-creators Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan knew their presence could suck up all the narrative oxygen and distract from the story at hand. Re-entering the show needed to carry necessary weight and not just deliver fan service. Saul’s scene with Walter in the finale, which takes place near the end of “Breaking Bad” as they both prepare to go on the run, finally provided that opportunity.
“We held off on bringing Bryan and Aaron back until they meant something to the story,” Gould said. “[Saul and Walt] felt like these two guys in a weird way that were on parallel tracks. It just made sense that neither one of them is really owning up to what’s really going on inside that. This just felt like the right time for that.”