Better Call Saul‘s upcoming sixth season is confirmed to be its last, which may have many fans expecting a blood-soaked finale akin to Breaking Bad. However, Better Call Saul has the potential to diverge from the series it spun off from and create a different type of devastating conclusion without killing anyone. Such an ending would better reflect Better Call Saul‘s strengths and provide a more fitting end to Jimmy McGill’s transformation into Saul Goodman.
The ending of Breaking Bad sees a now-wanted Walt return to Albequerque to confront Jack and Todd’s neo-Nazi gang which has imprisoned Jesse and taken control of the area’s meth trade. Walt frees Jesse but is himself killed in the confrontation, with the final shot being of him bleeding out. Lydia, Todd, and Jack are all also killed, and Hank died just before the finale. Like other antihero-driven series such as Sons of Anarchy, Breaking Bad uses a series of deaths to up the stakes moving into its endgame.
It’s already clear that, unlike Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul will not end with the death of its central character, at least not in the time frame that most of the series was set in. Saul Goodman has to survive to be alive in Breaking Bad, as do several other major characters like Mike, Gus, and Hector. However, Better Call Saul also introduces new characters like Kim, Nacho, and Lalo, who are notably not around in the Albequerque of Breaking Bad. This has led some to speculate that Kim or Nacho could die before the series is out.
However, a bloody conclusion would undo the ways in which Better Call Saul has carved out its own identity. In showing Jimmy McGill’s struggles, Better Call Saul has shown its ability to make a relatively small-stakes legal and character drama just as compelling and suspenseful as violent crime. Whereas Walter White was doomed to die from the pilot of Breaking Bad, if not in the way he thought, Jimmy McGill is instead doomed to lose his moral direction and become the sad man we see in black and white flash-forwards. Because of this different focus, Better Call Saul will need a different type of ending—one that hinges on Saul’s character.
The character of Kim Wexler is one of Better Call Saul‘s biggest departures from Breaking Bad, a complex female character who acts as more of a co-conspirator to Jimmy than a moral compass. Having Kim killed as a consequence of Jimmy’s interactions with the underworld would certainly be dramatic, but also in a sense let Jimmy off the hook, making his downfall and transformation into Saul ultimately a result of someone else’s actions. If Kim decides to leave Jimmy behind of her own accord, it would represent a more devastating statement on his descent.
Similarly, Nacho and Lalo’s character arcs could reach more interesting endings if they survive. Breaking Bad made a familiar pattern out of dramatic deaths, often involving the Salamanca crime family, so providing a different type of ending would help set Better Call Saul apart. Perhaps Nacho is able to get out of the criminal world, and Lalo mythically vanishes into the distance. Lalo surviving would help to explain why Saul is still afraid of him in Breaking Bad. While the series could kill all or any of these characters in a sensitive and compelling way, the most dramatic move of all would be a series finale in which everyone survives—everyone, that is, but the more innocent persona of Jimmy McGill.