Better Call Saul can blend the darker tones of Breaking Bad‘s ending with the more upbeat elements of El Camino. Almost 13 years after Walter White first pulled on his iconic white Y-fronts, the Breaking Bad story remains an unpredictable and thrilling ride through the underbelly of New Mexico. Due to wrap-up with its forthcoming sixth season, Better Call Saul has been a masterful example of a prequel spin-off, focusing primarily on Bob Odenkirk’s Jimmy McGill before expanding into a fully-fledged history of the Breaking Bad world.
As the finale of Better Call Saul draws near, a host of questions are waiting to be resolved. What happens between Jimmy and Kim? How does Gus defeat Lalo Salamanca? Where does Howard Hamlin go? With so many loose ends still to tie up, it’s impossible to say how Better Call Saul will end. Breaking Bad took a darker route for its own curtain closer – an embattled and remorseful Walter White sacrifices himself so that Jesse can escape in one of the most widely acclaimed TV finales of all time, but Breaking Bad‘s ending could hardly be described as a happy one. The El Camino sequel movie picked up Jesse Pinkman’s arc and offered a more rousing conclusion, in which Jesse evades the law and starts a new life in Alaska.
Breaking Bad and El Camino comprise two very different endings, both satisfying in their own way, but what approach will Better Call Saul opt for? The Shakespearean drama of Walter White’s demise, or the open-ended freedom of Jesse Pinkman’s liberation? Fortunately, Better Call Saul doesn’t need to choose between them.
How Better Call Saul Can Have Breaking Bad’s Ending
“Bittersweet” would perhaps be the most fitting way to describe Breaking Bad‘s original ending – touches of light and dark that perfectly suit the morally gray nature of the show. The final chapter of Walter White’s journey is one of acceptance. Bryan Cranston hazily passes through a meth lab, acknowledging how much he just loved cooking the stuff, before succumbing to his injuries and collapsing surrounding by his life’s passion. Walt’s wry smile to the tune of “Baby Blue” prevents Breaking Bad‘s series finale feeling dour; his transformation into Heisenberg turned a frustrated chemistry teacher into a world-renowned man of science… of a sort… but “Felina” doesn’t represent victory for Walt. He’s estranged from his family, distrusted by his friends and, when all is said and done, dead.
Better Call Saul can’t mirror the Breaking Bad ending exactly – the lead character needs to be alive for the start of Breaking Bad. But even though “Saul” will survive, Jimmy may not, and where Breaking Bad literally killed its protagonist, Better Call Saul can do so figuratively. Throughout Better Call Saul‘s 5 seasons thus far, Jimmy McGill has gradually transformed into Saul Goodman, but there’s still a noticeable difference in morality between the two personas heading into season 6. The “criminal lawyer” hasn’t completely taken hold just yet, but that moment could come in the very final episode of Better Call Saul – a symbolic death for Jimmy McGill, and the completion of his journey towards becoming Saul Goodman. Just as Walt was surrounded by meth equipment, the thing that both made and destroyed him, Jimmy’s “death” could happen in his Breaking Bad law office, where, in a moment of solitude, both Saul and the audience realize all traces of his former self have disappeared.
Better Call Saul‘s final season offers plenty of potential pitfalls that could chip away at Jimmy, the fate of Kim Wexler being the most significant, but truthfully, Jimmy is still reeling from the death of his brother. Chuck’s suicide marked the first huge shift from Jimmy to Saul, and another tragedy on that level would surely finish the job. The death of Jimmy would mirror Walt’s ending in the sense that two good men have been corrupted by their own ambition, pushing their loved ones away in the process. The only difference would be Jimmy’s story, whereas Walt was left to bleed out, ending his story for good.
How Better Call Saul Can Have El Camino’s Ending
The final moments of El Camino were a veritable fairy tale compared to Breaking Bad. Still suffering the trauma of his enslavement at the hands of a white supremacist gang and their creepy Meth Damon tag-along, Jesse manages to scrape together enough money for a clean break, and the white snow of Alaska represents a land of opportunity for the older, wiser Captain Cook. El Camino never reveals exactly what becomes of Jesse in his new life – he could’ve slipped on a patch of ice while walking into town and forgotten his own name for all the audience know – but it’s the hope of the sequel’s ending that’s important. Much like The Shawshank Redemption, El Camino gives its protagonist a blank page, and that empty blankness is somehow more uplifting and exciting than finding out for certain whether things worked out. Jesse’s ending looked towards the future, balancing Walt’s pre-death trip down memory lane, and fans generally agree that both characters got the finale they deserved.
Should Better Call Saul season 6 follow Breaking Bad and end its present timeline with the metaphorical death of Jimmy McGill (as detailed above) the spin-off can still give viewers a happier, El Camino-esque finale thanks to the “Gene” timeline. Better Call Saul‘s black and white scenes take place in the aftermath of Breaking Bad (or close to it) and depict Jimmy’s life in hiding under a new identity. With an unfulfilling job, crushing loneliness, health scares and a stalker, it’s fair to say that Gene isn’t exactly making the most of his fresh start, but this is where Better Call Saul can inject some optimism into its conclusion. The most recent “Gene scene” saw the downtrodden ex-lawyer decide against another disappearing act, resolving to take matters into his own hands after the Gene identity was compromised. While it’s not yet clear what Jimmy plans to do, his decision could mark the beginning of a turnaround in fortunes.
In the future timeline, Jimmy might finally deal with his demons, confronting the death of Chuck and whatever other tragedies transpire in Better Call Saul season 6. While hardly a happy ending, Jimmy could move forward with a weight off his shoulders, similar to Jesse Pinkman in El Camino. Jimmy might even take ownership of Saul’s crimes and hand himself into the police – a less-than ideal scenario, but a step towards redemption, at least, and perhaps the beginning of a return for “Jimmy” over Saul. Better Call Saul could kick the feel-good factor up a notch and end the Gene timeline on Jimmy reconnecting with Kim (if she’s still alive). It’s not in Better Call Saul‘s nature to go in for the “two lovers running toward each other on a sunset beach” ending, but the return of Kim Wexler into Jimmy’s life would be enough to let the audience know he’s going to be okay, and the unwritten future is firmly in his own hands – just like Jesse in El Camino.