Among the visual calling cards of Better Call Saul are the montages detailing the methodical processes of manual labor. Shots of things being assembled, moved, loaded, screwed, vacuumed, wrapped or packed are more common than in other shows. They often involve long sequences in which the series shows the painstaking preparation behind the well-oiled operations carried out by the characters. The series takes pleasure in observing workers doing things like loading refrigerators or carrying carpets and makes it a pleasure for viewers as well. In fact, appreciating the fine details is something that defines Better Call Saul, not only visually, but also narratively, just as it did in Breaking Bad, where such sequences were also common. Both series have a team of writers behind them who, like the workers depicted in these sequences, ensure that everything, absolutely everything, fits together perfectly. I imagine Vince Gilligan as being like an eagle-eyed Mike who would never allow a mistake to slip past him. Or like a Gus Fring who, even at his lowest moments, ensures the food is good at Los Pollos Hermanos. Everything must be as flawless as Saul Goodman’s ties.
This passion for perfection guarantees a mind-blowing finale for Better Call Saul. Because unlike many other series, which have endings that seem to have been made up as they went along, or where they try to pull off a surprise ending (often unsuccessfully), here it is clear that the series creators have long been assembling the pieces in a finely-tuned master plan leading to a truly grand finale. After all, attention to detail has marked this spin-off from the start. Instead of looking at it as a way to continue milking the success of an earlier series, as is often the case with spin-offs and prequels, what they did was find a way for Better Call Saul to make Breaking Bad even better – adding nuance, depth and complexity to it on all levels. The idea of making a spin-off based on a comic sidekick like Saul Goodman could have turned out really bad if it hadn’t been treated as a labor of love, one that reinvents the character with a tragic arc at the same time as filling in the backstory of the Breaking Bad universe in a way that regularly links back to the earlier series and expands it such that the spin-off and original merge as one, blurring the boundary between them. This is what makes Better Call Saul an exemplary spin-off and what viewers find enthralling about the series, especially in this final stretch – seeing how the remaining pieces are being assembled into the puzzle and how everything fits together.
And it fits together perfectly. A good example of this is the dénouement of the Lalo Salamanca storyline (spoilers ahead), in the first of the latest batch of episodes just released on Movistar+. Despite knowing his story was never going to end well, the way it unfolded, the tactical maneuvers involved in the lead-up to it, the level of precision down to one loose screw (the intricate details once again being crucial), the face-off with a Gus Fring who manages to instill fear in him, the carelessness of a character who had come to believe he was invincible, and that final smile – it was all exquisite. It was an episode that was tension-filled and one that forever alters one of the most iconic locations in Breaking Bad, the laboratory – which from now on will be impossible to see without thinking of those two corpses – and which will possibly generate new theories about the fly episode. The series still has many loose ends to tie up – especially involving Kim Wexler, but also regarding the future of the lead character – and there are only five episodes to go. But rest assured that Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould and their ‘work crew’ are going to wrap up the series with a showcase finale.