First, let’s pause for a substantial spoiler alert:
If you didn’t catch the series finale of “Better Call Saul” (shown here in a previous episode) Monday (Aug. 15), please don’t read this yet.
It’s a terrific episode, quirks and all, and should be seen without any advance hints. Catch it on AMC+ or elsewhere, including any time-travel devices you have on your TV.
OK, now for those who have seen it, a quick review:
“How do you expect this to end,” a lawyer asks Jimmy (also known as Saul and Gene).
“With me on top, as usual,” Jimmy replies.
Yeah, we wish. As with “Breaking Bad,” creator Vince Gilligan and his colleagues wrote themselves into a corner: They created a deeply human and deeply flawed lead character, one who had committed so many crimes that he couldn’t be saved.
For “Bad,” they killed Walter White, but only after he did an honorable deed, helping his young colleague escape. For “Saul,” they did roughly the same; they sent Jimmy to prison forever, but only after he did an honorable deed, clearing his ex-wife.
Both shows have other things in common — sharp (if offbeat) writing and stylish visuals. (Since the flashforward scenes have been in black-and-white, this entire, 95-minute episode had only a few minutes in color.0 And both turned comedy guys into amazing drama actors.
Bryan Cranston was known mainly as the “Malcolm in the Middle” dad; Bob Odenkirk, long ago, linked with David Cross for the brilliant “Mr. Show” sketch series. Still, they fit perfectly into the weary worlds of Walter and Jimmy.
They did it by recognizing that less can be more. They were subtle, quiet … and perfect.
They became guys we liked, even as they (often) did wrong. We rooted for them … while, alas, realizing they were doomed.