Spoilers ahead for the Better Call Saul series finaleBetter Call Saul co-creator and executive producer Peter Gould confirms the moment Saul became Jimmy again. After Marion called the cops on disguised fugitive Gene Takavic in its penultimate episode, Better Call Saul’s series finale, “Saul Gone,” sees its titular character get caught. His first phone call lets Cinnabon know they’re going to need a new manager, and the second convinces Bill Oakley to be Saul Goodman’s advisory counsel. The former asks where he sees this going and Saul responds, “with me on top, like always.”
Back in Albuquerque, they’re told Saul’s laundry list of crimes for operating as Heisenberg’s Tom Hagen, not the least of which are multiple murders, including those of DEA Agents Steve Gomez and Hank Schrader. Saul invites Breaking Bad‘s Marie Schrader in to hear his side, claiming to be a victim of Walter White after being dragged out to the desert by him and Jesse Pinkman. While no one is buying the act, Saul reminds them that he only needs to convince one juror. Like a chimp with a machine gun (to quote Chuck McGill), Saul reaches a plea deal with the feds – which turns a life sentence into 7 years in the same place they sent Bernie Madoff. However, when he tries to sweeten the deal even more by revealing the details of Howard Hamlin’s death, he learns that his ex-wife, Kim Wexler, already spilled the beans. Although he doesn’t reclaim the name until after that courtroom confession, it is this moment that sets Saul on the path back to Jimmy.
Peter Gould – who wrote and directed “Saul Gone” – recently spoke with AMC.com about the rebirth of Jimmy McGill in the Better Call Saul series finale. When Saul finds out that Kim turned herself in, Gould says his “victory over the system turns to ashes in his mouth” as a feeling of emptiness takes over. It is this feeling that turns Saul’s negotiations into a plot to lure Kim to the courthouse, where he forgoes his plea deal and finally speaks the truth, something he was incapable of doing in the episode’s flashbacks. Read the full quote below:
That’s the moment where he becomes Jimmy McGill again. That’s the last moment of Saul Goodman. When he walks into that courtroom, he walks in as Saul Goodman and he walks out as Jimmy McGill, and that’s really the feeling that I’m hoping people get, whether or not they put it into those words. Seeing him with Mike and with Walt and then with Chuck, it’s an interesting structure. We used to talk about the progression of Jimmy McGill, of Saul Goodman as being a little like A Christmas Carol. In A Christmas Carol, Scrooge gets visited by three ghosts who change his perspective on life. And so in a weird way, maybe there’s an echo of that in this episode where there are these three ghosts of three dead men who all made a huge impact on Jimmy’s life in one way or another.
Throughout Better Call Saul’s final episode, Saul asks his partners in crime about the theoretical impossibility of a time machine. Where Mike Ehrmantraut says he’d go back in time and refuse his first bribe, Walt gripes about Gray Matter Technologies, the multi-billion dollar company he co-founded. Saul talks about investing in Berkshire Hathaway stock and recounts a “slip and fall,” as if to say (or at least convince himself) he has no regrets. The third flashback with Chuck contains a conversation not about changing the past, but the future. The scene ends with Chuck picking up his lamp and copy of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine.
After confessing, under oath, that “Walter White couldn’t have done it without me” before explaining the role he played in Chuck’s suicide – the guilt over which he buried with opportunity and money – Saul tells the judge, “The name’s McGill. I’m James McGill.” After Chuck’s death, Jimmy ran from himself and embraced the persona of Saul Goodman even more after Kim left him. It’s only fitting that she inspires him to change his path and recover his soul. This is why Better Call Saul’s finale uses color in the cherry-on-top that is the pair’s final cigarette. While he lives out his 86-year sentence, everyone in prison may call him Saul, but Kim (and the audience) knows he’s now Jimmy.