It’s somewhat unlikely that Better Call Saul will have a truly upbeat ending, but the prequel needs a happier conclusion than parent show Breaking Bad – at least for the future version of Jimmy McGill, Gene Takavic. Better Call Saul season 6 will bring the show to a close, and has to wrap-up not just Saul Goodman’s story in the series’ present, but also that of Gene in the post-Breaking Bad timeline. It’s no easy feat to deliver conclusions to such layered, long-running narratives, but creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould have already proved themselves capable of doing so
Ending Breaking Bad when they did was a near-Herculean task, given the show was more popular and more acclaimed than ever. There were various expectations and theories on how things would go down, but ultimately they managed to pull off a satisfying conclusion. To that they killed off Walter White (even if some fans didn’t believe it at the time), and that was a fitting ending for his arc. As the man had been corrupted over the show, then it made sense he got to go out in his lab, after having helped secure the futures of his family and Jesse Pinkman.
While Breaking Bad‘s ending was a good one, it wasn’t anything close to what you’d call happy. Walt ended up dead, his family are left financially secure but with a lot of scars, and Jesse goes speeding off, similarly scarred and with no guarantee of escape (though El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie would eventually give Jesse the happy ending he deserved). With Better Call Saul, viewers know where Saul Goodman ends up because of Breaking Bad, but it’s Gene who deserves a happy ending, because Jimmy is a decent person underneath it all. The ending for Saul will in some ways be his equivalent of Walt’s own denouement, but while it’s possible Gene will also have a sadder ending, it wouldn’t quite feel right.
At this point, Jimmy’s arc is essentially the inverse of Walt’s. Walter continued to produce meth and run the enterprise as Heisenberg not only because h wass good at it, but because he enjoyed it. He feasibly could’ve stopped at several points, but was too consumed by his own power. Jimmy is different. He often appears to know what he’s doing isn’t necessarily the right way, but he’s tried and failed so many times and only been rewarded when he’s acted as Saul, so he’s left thinking this is the only chance he has to succeed. It’s a tragedy that will lead to him fully becoming the Saul Goodman of Breaking Bad, but the Gene timeline has already stripped that bravado away. Because of that, it can get back to the core of who Jimmy is, which is someone who fundamentally can be better if given the chance.
If Better Call Saul were to end with Gene dying or some other grim fate befalling him, then it would feel perhaps like a fair ending for Saul, but not for the entire journey Jimmy goes on and who he really is. Gene doesn’t necessarily need to have an overtly happy ending, but something quieter and more hopeful – like, say, a reunion with Kim or a fresh start like Jesse gets in El Camino – would be much more fitting with his arc. Gene is perhaps his atonement for Saul’s misdeeds, but Jimmy deserves another shot at being happy and free from constantly looking over his shoulder. That could never have happened with Walt in Breaking Bad, but Better Call Saul can, and should, make it work when season 6 concludes.