Monday was a baaad mental health day for us, so we went into the Saul finale sort of thinking "what the hell are we doing to ourselves here"… what a final unexpected joy to come out of it instead with the feeling of "damn, I needed to see that today of all days."
"Spiritually rejuvenating" is not a phrase I think I could call any other single episode of either series, even counting El Camino (though I guess its ending comes in second place). But that end to Jimmy's character arc was… healing, I think.
FULL SPOILERS after the break.
I keep thinking about the scene in the final episode of Breaking Bad where Walt finally, after a whole five seasons of denial, says to Skyler, "I did it for me," a final confirmation that that darkness didn't come from his circumstances but from himself. During the flashback with Walt, he basically projects the same accusation — "So you were always like this [an amoral huckster]".
Better Call Saul burst out of the gate depicting that, unlike Walt, Jimmy did outwardly seem to be someone who really did want to do the right thing and just didn't have the resources and support to make good decisions, in contrast to Walt being a man who was itching for the chance to unleash his inner darkness. But the last few episodes have painted a bleak picture of someone in the process being totally consumed by all of his worst instincts, a pulling out of the rug under the idea that there was ever a person of moral fiber in Jimmy McGill and a planting of the idea that, maybe, in the early days of his spinoff, he conned us into thinking he was any different than Walt when he wasn't.
But rather than validating the biggest asshole protagonist ever to be on TV's judgment of Jimmy, it shows us that we were right as an audience to see the redemptive qualities in him — he grows, too little, too late for a comfortable life, but enough for us to see his true regrets about hurting his brother (and Howard!) finally laid bare after 3 seasons of denial and for him to share a final authentic moment, a somewhat amicable goodbye, with Kim, the one person he still really loves and the one person who the idea of hurting finally got him to avert that negative spiral.
That is a really great conclusion, I think, and one that reminds me that self-destructive spirals in ourselves can be grown past, even when they seem too set in stone to meaningfully change, which is a message I love and find so important.
And, also, I, I just really, really liked the one last scene of Jimmy and Kim sharing a cigarette. That really got to me, echoing the start of the series like that, expertly evoking that deep mutual comfort underlying their relationship from day one one last time. And, oh, the scene with Chuck, too, sheesh… I cried seeing them act like brothers that one last time, and I loved how the first two flashbacks had Jimmy dance around what his real regrets were before that third flashback showed them to us point blank. And gosh, I loved seeing Bill and Marie again. And the scene where Gene cracks up at the graffiti and slips back into his Saul persona was just so good. And Carol Burnett's amazing line reading on her final line of the show hit so hard! And… I could keep going and going. There are just so many things I loved about it.
I admittedly haven't seen that many serial shows all the way through in my life, but this is without question my instant favorite finale. With Breaking Bad, they just delivered a finale that was really straightforwardly satisfying and solid and left it at that… but with this show, they ended it off by surprising me in terms of what I thought the show could and was going to say, and about themes that personally resonate with me so much — themes I had no grasp of whatsoever when I began this journey in 2012, goaded by my friend high off the "Hank finds out" cliffhanger into watching the pilot episode, but that now actively factor into my daily life as a mental illness survivor.
I'm very, very happy that this of all ways is how they chose to conclude this riveting story that has been part of my life for the past 10 years.