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Better Call Saul season 6 finale: The ending of the Breaking Bad prequel explained and what happened to Jimmy and Kim?
Better Call Saul has ended in dramatic and emotional fashion. But what became of the chameleonic attorney, fan favourite Kim and the other characters in the gripping series?
Better Call Saul has enjoyed a timeline-hopping rollercoaster of a final series, somewhat surprisingly perhaps because viewers thought they knew how it was going to end – by dovetailing with the moment Saul Goodman made his first appearance in Breaking Bad.
Sure enough we saw those scenes unfold in episode 11, itself titled ‘Breaking Bad’. But writers Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould upped the ante in this final season by taking us beyond Breaking Bad and showing us how justice finally caught up with Jimmy McGill’s post-Albuquerque incarnation, Gene Takovic.
On the six-season journey which began in 2014, we’ve seen how Bob Odenkirk’s character went from scammer Slippin’ Jimmy to corrupt attorney Saul Goodman and tracked the development of major Breaking Bad characters Mike Ermantraut, Gustavo Fring and Hector Salamanca.
We’ve also learnt to love (and hate) new characters Kim Wexler, Nacho Varga, Howard Hamlin and Lalo Salamanca, despite knowing all along that their absence from Breaking Bad meant they were unlikely to make it through Better Call Saul unscathed.
So what became of Jimmy and Kim, how did we leave the Breaking Bad characters at the end of Better Call Saul, and what were the fates of Nacho, Howard and Lalo?
From secret codes to Cinnabons: 10 things you didn't know about Better Call Saul
*WARNING: Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad spoilers ahead*
What happened to Gene, Saul and Jimmy?
The final season saw Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) complete his transformation into Saul Goodman while also showing us the character’s post-Breaking Bad life as Gene Takovic, manager of a Cinnabon store in Omaha, Nebraska. It's worth exploring the fates of his three incarnations separately, especially as we get glimpses of all three in the final episode, Saul Gone...
What happened to Gene?
Jimmy’s safe but boring new life as bakery store manager Gene Takovic - only glimpsed in cold-open vignettes until this final season - hits the skids when he is recognised by former Albuquerque cab driver, Jeff. He recognises Gene from his New Mexico days, but when he confronts him about it, Gene tells him he must be mistaken.
Unable to resist a scam, Gene wins the trust of Jeff’s elderly mother Marion. After Jeff finds Gene in his kitchen he confronts him, but Gene talks him into taking part in an elaborate plan to burgle a department store in his mall. The robbery succeeds, but Gene tells Jeff that he can’t now reveal his true identity as he knows about Jeff’s role in the robbery.
Hooked on crime, Gene inveigles Jeff in a second scheme, to drug single men and commit identity theft while they’re unconscious. When the plan goes wrong, Jeff is arrested by the police.
Gene – showing far too much inter-state legal knowledge for a bakery manager - advises Marion to put up Jeff’s bail. But suspicious of why her son called Gene before his mother, she searches “con man Albuquerque” on her laptop (bought ironically with the proceeds of the mall theft) and finds his Better Call Saul television commercials.
When Gene arrives at her house she tries to call the police, but although he rips the phone cable from the wall, she presses the personal emergency alarm around her neck and tells the operator that the fugitive Saul Goodman is in her house.
Gene races home, grabs the shoebox containing what's left of his old life and a burner phone, and attempts to leave town. With police officers on the lookout, he doesn't get far and is eventually taken at gunpoint hiding in a dumpster. By the time we next see him in the police station he has shaved off Gene's moustache and dumped the glasses - Saul Goodman is back.
What happened to Saul?
Jimmy McGill completed his transformation into Saul Goodman in episode 9, Fun and Games. After Kim gives her notice as an attorney and returns home to tell Jimmy that they have to break up as they are bad for each other and the people around them, the story races forward in time to reacquaint us with the Saul Goodman familiar from Breaking Bad.
After waking up next to a prostitute in his ornate mansion, Saul Goodman selects his suit for the day from his extensive wardrobe and drives in his white Cadillac DeVille with the personalised number plate LWYRUP to his gaudy office.
The transformation is clearly complete by the time he and Kim meet in his office to sign their divorce papers, Saul is cold and dismissive, saying little and ending the exchange by telling Kim to “Have a nice life!”
But that's not the end of Saul Goodman. When the police finally catch up with Gene in the final episode, he is charged under his former name, and soon Saul hatches a plan to mitigate his jail sentence. Although he calls on former legal sparring partner Bill Oakley to act as his co-counsel, the negotiations with the prosecutors are vintage Saul.
First he delivers an empassioned appeal to Hank Schrader's widow Marie, explaining how he is as much a victim of Walter White's machinations as her or Hank. Eventually he talks his life sentence down to just seven and a half years in a low-security prison. But it's when he attempts to reduce his jail time further that he pushes too far - the truth about the murder of Howard Hamlin has already been disclosed by Kim Wexler, who is now facing an expensive civil case from Howard's widow Cheryl.
At the sentencing hearing, Saul - wearing a trademark shiny jacket - plays to the gallery one last time, taking the stand and beginning the same 'victim' speech that he'd given Marie during negotiations...
What happened to Jimmy?
While he had been trading as ‘Saul Goodman & Associates’ for some time, we thought we'd finally said goodbye to Jimmy McGill in episode 9, Fun and Games.
In the finale, however, Jimmy 'returns'. Halfway through his sentencing hearing, Saul diverts from his 'victim' speech, admits to being a key part of Walter White's drug empire, to falsifying statements about Kim's role in Howard's death and to triggering brother Chuck's suicide. When the judge orders Goodman to sit down, he replies "The name's McGill. I'm James McGill." Ultimately, it seems, he has sacrificed his freedom for Kim's - there was a good man in Saul all along.
Jimmy is sentenced to 86 years in prison, but on the bus to the high-security ADX Montrose jail, one of the prisoners recognises him as 'Better Call Saul'. He insists he is Jimmy McGill, but one by one they all recognise him and start chanting his slogan; later, working in the prison kitchen, the other prisoners and even the guard call him Saul - it seems like Jimmy is unable to escape his past.
In the final scenes, he is visited by Kim, who has bluffed her way into the prison using her old court pass. They lean against a wall and share a single cigarette just as they did in the very first episode, the orange tip glowing in the otherwise black-and-white shot suggesting that something still burns between them.
There's still time for one last moment of blind Jimmy optimism. "86 years," he says. "But with good behaviour, who knows?" You wouldn't bet against him...
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What happened to Kim?
Six years after divorcing Jimmy, Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) – now dark-haired – is living a quiet suburban life in Florida. She works as a copywriter for a sprinkler company and lives with her boyfriend Glenn. Her biggest worries are whether Miracle Whip will pass for mayonnaise in her backyard barbecue’s potato salad, and if a colleague’s favourite ice cream flavour is strawberry or vanilla.
Kim’s own vanilla life is suddenly disrupted by Jimmy/Gene, who calls her office using his old scamming pseudonym Viktor St Clair. When he asks how she is, she tells him he should hand himself in, but he tells her that she is not guiltless and should do likewise.
Kim flies to Albuquerque, visiting her old courthouse where she swears an affidavit which details the events leading up to Howard Hamlin’s death, including her and Jimmy’s campaign to discredit him by making it appear as though he is addicted to cocaine and using prostitues.
She then visit’s Howard’s widow Cheryl to explain her actions, but points out that the court is unlikely to take action as there is no physical evidence, not even a body. Cheryl asks her why she has decided to come clean six years after the event but Kim can’t answer. On the bus back to the airport, she sobs hysterically as the emotions of her thrilling but ultimately tragic relationship with Jimmy are finally set free.
In the finale, Saul is told that Cheryl is planning to sue Kim in a civil court case, and could take everything she owns. Having already negotiated a vastly reduced jail sentence, he gives prosecutors a false statement regarding Kim's involvement in his crimes so that Kim - now volunteering at a Florida legal aid office - will attend his sentencing hearing. But while Saul told Mike and Walter in flashbacks earlier in this episode that everything he has ever done was for money, his courtroom confession and ultimate transformation back into Jimmy, it seems, was all for the love of Kim.
As Kim leaves prison following her visit, she notices Jimmy watching her from the exercise yard. As they look at each other through the barbed-wire fences, Jimmy returns the pointed gun gesture she gave him when they agreed to bring down Howard at the very end of season 5.
Where did we leave the Breaking Bad characters?
A handful of characters joined Saul Goodman in appearing significantly in both series, giving us an insight into their later characters and the motivation for their actions in Breaking Bad.
Mike’s (Jonathan Banks) transformation from car park attendant to the ice-cold fixer and enforcer of Breaking Bad is almost as dramatic as Jimmy’s. Fleeing Philadelphia after killing the two corrupt cops who murdered his son, Mike’s determination to provide for his daughter-in-law and granddaughter Kaylee leads him to take ever-more well paid but dangerous work.
From playing bodyguard to a small-time drug thief – which sees him hire Jimmy for the first time – Mike finds himself up against the fearsome Salamanca family, but soon finds allies in his fight, notably wannabe drug kingpin Gustavo Fring and the Salamanca’s own lieutenant, Nacho Varga.
Ultimately, the calm and calculating Mike becomes Fring’s trusted lieutenant, but while he does carry out hits on the 'Chicken Man's' behalf, he acts as his moral compass, often trying to talk Fring into less bloody solutions to his problems.
It’s this same conscience that, after Nacho’s death, sees Mike visit Nacho’s father Manuel to reassure him that his son died quickly, and that he was a good man with a good heart. While Mike approaches Manuel as one grieving father to another, Manuel condemns Mike as just another “gangster”, underlining his transformation once and for all.
In the Better Call Saul timeline, we last see Mike in Saul’s office. Now Goodman’s private investigator, Mike tells Saul about a high school chemistry teacher turned meth manufacturer known as Heisenberg, but cautions him against any further involvement…
We already knew a lot of Gus Fring’s (Giancarlo Esposito) back story – how Hector Salamanca had killed his business partner and lover Max on the orders of Don Eladio – from Breaking Bad. Better Call Saul recounts how Gus found allies in his revenge mission against the Salamanca family in Mike and Nacho, and how he managed to win the trust of cartel boss Eladio while undermining Hector’s operations.
Central to this is the building of the meth superlab where Walter White and Jesse Pinkman work in the original series. But the activity arouses the suspicions of Lalo Salamanca, and it’s when Lalo is revealed to be still alive after the assassination attempt in Mexico that Gus, for the first time in either series, genuinely seems afraid.
We last see Gus in a bar, chatting with sommelier David about the merits of vintage wines. The two seem to be hitting it off, until, when David leaves to retrieve a bottle from the cellar, Gus tells the barmaid to tell him that he has been called away. Ultimately, for Gus, nothing can be allowed to get in the way of his mission to avenge Max’s murder.
Breaking Bad fans know Hector (Mark Margolis) as the wheelchair-bound associate of Don Eladio who communicates only with the aid of his hotel reception bell. But his Better Call Saul back story begins with him in better health and at the peak of his powers, intimidating Mike’s family, Gus’s restaurant staff and Nacho’s father as he bids to retain control of drug distribution north of the border in the face of Gus’s courting of Don Eladio.
Nacho switches Hector’s heart medication with ibuprofen, and Salamanca eventually collapses after losing his temper with Gus and fellow cartel member Juan Bolsa. Gus saves Hector's life through CPR, but it’s later revealed that Hector had a stroke; during his recovery Lalo brings him the bell which he had recovered from a hotel the two of them had burned down years earlier.
After Lalo’s death, Hector ends Better Call Saul a weak and frustrated character. When he visits Eladio and tells him, in a letter, than Gus killed Lalo, the cartel chief refuses to believe him and mocks him, imitating his frantic bell-rining before sending him to bed and giving Gus greater control of the New Mexico drugs network.
Walter White and Jesse Pinkman
One of the highlights of season 6’s 11th episode, Breaking Bad, was the return of Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) as the timelines of the two series began to overlap. Their scenes filled in some gaps in Breaking Bad’s season 2 episode titled Better Call Saul, in which the pair kidnap Saul but later agree to engage him as their legal counsel.
Walter also returns in a flashback in the final episode, Saul Gone, chatting with Saul about their regrets in the basement of Ed's vacuum shop as they await their new identities.
Jesse, however, turns up in the Better Call Saul timeline, albeit briefly in episode 12, Waterworks. After Kim has signed her divorce papers, she meets Jesse outside Saul’s office and the two share a cigarette as they shelter from the rain.
Jesse, whose accomplice Emilio is now meeting with Saul, asks whether Goodman lives up to the braggadocio of his advertising. "Is he good?" he asks. Kim replies, "When I knew him, he was."
Who didn’t make it to Breaking Bad?
Three of the series’ favourite characters sadly never made it into the Breaking Bad timeline – Nacho Varga, Howard Hamlin and Lalo Salamanca.
What happened to Nacho?
Pursued by a vengeful Salamanca cartel for the attack on Lalo’s compound and left in the cold by Gus – who he had been covertly working for – Nacho Varga (Michael Mando) comes out of hiding and, his fate as a sacrificial lamb all but sealed, is taken into the desert by Gus’s men.
There he is forced to tell the Salamancas that Gus had no part in the attack on Lalo's homestead. He also takes great glee in telling Hector that he had caused his stroke by switching his heart meds. Nacho then grabs a gun and shoots himself before the Salamanca Cousins or Gus's henchman Victor can kill him.
What happened to Howard?
The demise of Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) was sudden and dramatic, although it came at the end of a drawn out and devious campaign by Jimmy and Kim to discredit the highly-respected lawyer. In a bid to force a settlement on the Sandpiper case, the pair pull various stunts to make it appear that Howard is addicted to cocaine and using prostitutes, weaking his influence as rumours spread through the Albuquerque legal community.
After he is forced into settling the case for less than expected, Howard pieces together the con and arrives at Jimmy and Kim's flat to confront them. As he is demanding an explanation, Howard is interrupted by the arrival of Lalo, who cold-bloodedly shoots him in the head, killing him on the spot.
Mike later cleans up the murder site and successfully frames Howard’s disappearance as a suicide.
What happened to Lalo?
When cartel loose cannon Lala Salamanca (Tony Dalton) takes over as head of the family drugs business from the incapacitated Hector, he immediately becomes suspicious of Gus Fring’s operations. A wary Gus sends a group of assassins to kill Lalo at his Mexico compound. After the attack, Lalo is presumed dead, but re-emerges in Germany on the hunt for information about the building of Gus’s giant meth lab.
On returning to New Mexico, Lalo finds the location of the lab, but rather than discrediting Gus in the eyes of cartel chief Don Eladio, decides to avenge the attack on his house himself. He turns up at Jimmy and Kim’s flat (where he shoots Howard) and orders Kim to drive to Gus’s house and shoot him. She is intercepted by Mike, who sends Gus’s men to the flat to deal with Lalo.
Lalo, however, has headed for the megalab, where he takes Gus captive and asks him to take him on a tour of the installation so he can make a video of his planned deception for Don Eladio. After asking to deliver a final message to Eladio, in which he promises to destroy the Salamancas, Gus kicks a power cord to knock the lights out. In the darkness he grabs a hidden gun, shoots Lalo in his throat and watches as he suffocates on his own blood.
Mike supervises the digging of a double grave in the foundations of the superlab. Howard and Lalo, along with his video camera and his and Gus's guns, are thrown into the hole.
Will there be another Breaking Bad spin-off?
Breaking Bad showrunners Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould have spent the best part of 15 years creating the Breaking Bad universe through the original series, the Jesse Pinkman-focused movie El Camino and now Better Call Saul.
So is there more of the Breaking Bad story to tell and could another spin-off be on the cards? Gilligan, above with Bob Odenkirk, told an interview with Rolling Stone that he was keen to tell more of the story, but cautious of spoiling a good thing.
"Selfishly, I’d like to do so, to keep this thing going," he said.
"But without naming any names, I look around at some of the worlds, the universes, the stories that I love, whether they’re on TV or in the movies. And I think there’s a certain point, and it’s hard to define, where you’ve done too much in the same universe. Just leave it alone.
"The main thing I’m scared of is becoming too much of a one-trick pony. Yes, I could do more with this universe. And maybe someday I will, especially if I fail at everything that comes next. Then I’ll come crawling back.
"But right now, whether there’s more room to grow or not – and there probably is – I feel like it’s time to do something new.”
Watch seasons 1-6 of Better Call Saul and seasons 1-5 of Breaking Bad on Netflix now