In the ‘Better Call Saul’ season 4 finale recap, Jimmy makes one last attempt to get his law license back, Lalo tracks Gus’ business and Mike is forced to break bad…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
Prior to the start of ‘Better Call Saul’ season 4, Bob Odenkirk and the majority of the cast sat down to speak with reporters (myself included) to chat about what was coming over the next 10 episodes of the series.
Right out of the gate one of the first questions addressed the biggest story ending season 3 and then going into season 4 — how would Jimmy react to the death of his brother Chuck?
While we didn’t exactly get to know much about Saul Goodman’s home life away from the office on ‘Breaking Bad’, he never even mentioned having a brother so this was all a mystery regarding their relationship and especially the fallout from Chuck’s death.
Odenkirk characterized his view on the situation by pointing out Jimmy’s disconnection to Chuck after the hurtful comments he made during their last conversation just before his death.
“I really feel like — because the whole season is reverberations of that incident of Chuck killing himself — I feel like because of that scene that happened the night before when Chuck told Jimmy that I never really cared about you one way or the other, you just never meant that much to me at all, that colors the whole impacts of Chuck’s death,” Odenkirk stated. “To Jimmy, I think he walked out of the room and he kind of compartmentalized Chuck and wrote him out of his life the night before he died.
“For me, Jimmy’s written Chuck out of his life and he’s not going to let Chuck’s death weigh him down. That would be how I perceived it.”
All season long it appeared that Odenkirk’s perception of how Jimmy was dealing with Chuck’s death was completely accurate but just about everybody watching the show wondered when would the grief actually hit him?
After all, Chuck was the only family that Jimmy had left and despite their rocky relationship in the end, they did manage to share some good moments including the flashback at the start of the season 4 finale when the brothers sang an ABBA duet at a karaoke bar after Jimmy passed the BAR exam.
As it turns out, Jimmy wasn’t walking a fine line just teetering on the brink of depression over his brother’s death — he genuinely didn’t seem to care. That was never more evident than the events that helped him get back his law license in the season 4 finale as his transformation from Jimmy McGill to Saul Goodman was completed.
How did he get there?
Let’s find out as we recap the ‘Better Call Saul’ season 4 finale titled ‘Winner’…
No Half Measures
Over the course of four seasons, numerous characters from the ‘Breaking Bad’ universe have been explored on ‘Better Call Saul’ but the show has really followed two parallel paths — Jimmy McGill and Mike Ehrmantraut — before they eventually come into contact with Walter White and from there we know how everything turns out.
Finding out how Jimmy and Mike ended up where they are remains the focal point for the series and that’s why those two storylines truly dominated the season 4 finale.
When Mike was first introduced on the show back in the first season, he was moving to Albuquerque to help care for his daughter-in-law and granddaughter following the death of his son Matty. Back in Philadelphia, Mike was a dirty cop and he got his son involved in the same criminal enterprise that eventually cost him his life.
Starting over in New Mexico, Mike tried to just be a dutiful grandfather by working at a toll booth and minding his own business. But for all of Mike’s good intentions, he couldn’t just kill off his instincts and that eventually led him back down a similar path of criminal behavior before he finally intersected with Gustavo Fring.
From a work aspect, the majority of this season has focused on Mike helping Gus build his super lab below the industrial Laundromat where we will eventually see Walter White and Jesse Pinkman churning out millions of dollars worth of crystal meth. Right now, the super lab is nothing more than an expensive hole in the ground thanks to the German construction team that’s months behind schedule trying to get the groundwork laid so the super lab can be built.
Last week saw disaster strike when Mike’s relationship with Werner, the head engineer, led to him making a great escape in an attempt to reunite with his wife after they had been separated for so many months. Mike was more than just kind to Werner, they became friends over the course of the building of the super lab but the former cop’s trust was shattered when his German buddy made a run for it in the middle of the night.
This week saw Mike on the hunt for Werner while assuring Gus that he would handle the problem. Mike vouched for Werner, promising that he was just trying to see his wife and would not speak to anybody else about the super lab much less go to the cops for help. Still, Gus seemed somewhat unconvinced.
As Mike gave chase through Albuquerque — tracking Werner through a money wire his wife was sending him and tracking down the location where they would rendezvous — he started to notice a car following close behind. What Mike didn’t know when his day started was that Lalo Salamanca had been watching the Los Pollos Hermanos warehouse just waiting for something like this to happen.
Now Lalo is following Mike’s journey to hunt for Werner in hopes of gaining some kind of an advantage over Gus Fring.
Mike eventually shakes his tail but Lalo is undeterred as he stops by the same place where Werner received his money and he tracks him down to the same hotel where he’s meeting his wife. Lalo makes contact with Werner and almost gets some crucial information out of him about the super lab but the German engineer is cut short when Mike arrives in time to stop him.
Lalo realizes that he’s now speaking to Mike on the other end of the line and he hangs up after calling him by name. The fact that Lalo got so close to Werner complicates things when Mike informs Gus about what’s been happening. When he tells his boss that somebody was trying to track him, Gus is well aware of who is behind it and the fact that he got so close suddenly makes Werner expendable.
It’s better to have no witnesses so Gus intimates to Mike that Werner has to go but rather than send an execution squad to gun him down, his future right hand man volunteers to do the job himself.
Mike takes Werner to the desert and makes him call his wife to tell her to get back on a plane and return to Germany or she’ll suffer the same fate as him. Werner does as he’s told while begging Mike for a second chance but there’s no escaping what’s about to happen next.
Mike wasn’t always a stone cold killer — remember earlier in ‘Better Call Saul’, he went out of his way to prevent innocent bystanders from being caught in the crossfire. But this time he had no choice but the pull the trigger himself as he kills Werner in the middle of nowhere while simultaneously eliminating any risk that he could ever tell anybody about Gus’ super lab.
Much like Jimmy has been trying to walk the fine line between lawyer and criminal, Mike has been hesitant to give himself over to Gus and his mission to become the drug kingpin of the southwest. Now Mike broke bad by killing someone he once considered a friend and his transformation from part time enforcer to full fledged hitman is nearly complete.
As for Gus, he is still determined to finish this super lab so before the season ends, we get one more scene with him in that half finished basement along with his prodigy Gale Boetticher, who makes a return for the last episode of season 4. Gale is overjoyed with the idea of helping Gus build this super lab but when he suggests moving ahead with his first cook, his boss quickly shuts him down. Gus is nothing if not meticulous and he won’t start creating his own drug supply until this super lab is perfected.
Something tells me, we aren’t all that far away from seeing Gus’ super lab fully operational and awaiting a master cook like Walter White to arrive.
It’s All Good, Man
After being denied his law license last week after a panel determined that Jimmy was insincere with his answers after being questioned about his misdeeds, he’s working overtime to do everything possible to get ready for his upcoming appeal.
Jimmy got into a brutal shouting match with Kim last week where they each unleashed a lot of pent up anger that’s been simmering just underneath the surface of their relationship for months. Still, Kim promised that she would do anything to help Jimmy get his law license back and that work was done during the season 4 finale.
Kim recognized right away after Jimmy returned from his hearing that the reason why the committee failed to believe him was because he never actually addressed his brother’s death much less how that impacted him considering the way he was suspended in the first place. Jimmy lashed out at that notion but this week he gets on board with the program to show how much Chuck meant to him before returning to meet with the panel that would decide whether he would be a lawyer again or not.
Jimmy spends a day at Chuck’s gravestone on the one year anniversary of his death as he greets friends and colleagues who come to pay their respects. Jimmy donates $23,000 to rename the local law library in honor of his brother and while he made the payment ‘anonymously’, he’s hired his student film crew to work the event where they ‘accidentally’ let the news slip about who funded this entire thing.
The final stage of Jimmy’s plan involves appearing at the Hamlin, Hamlin and McGill offices for the selection of the Chuck McGill scholarship that will benefit three lucky kids from the area looking to attend law school.
The revolving door of students doesn’t really seem to differentiate one from the other — it’s a cavalcade of honor students, class presidents, and debate team leaders — but one kid in particular really left an impression on Jimmy. When the votes are tallied for the first time, one student named Christy received only a single vote and it came from Jimmy.
He then gives an impassioned speech about why he chose Christy, who was described by one of the other board members as ‘the shoplifter’.
It seems a few years ago, Christy got busted stealing from a store but since that time she’s cleaned up her act and used that experience as inspiration to get involved with the law. Despite Jimmy’s pleas, the board ultimately passes on giving her the scholarship so he chases down the young lady in the parking lot to pass along the bad news and some advice that sounded like he was speaking to himself from 20 years earlier.
Jimmy tells Christy that no one is ever going to see past her misdeed so she’s going to need to work twice as hard and cut corners to get to where she wants to go in life but eventually when she gets there, she’ll look down on all those doubters and prove them wrong by becoming the best attorney she can be. Jimmy more or less tells the girl that she’s going to have to game the system if she wants to succeed but if she’s willing to do what the other guys won’t, she’ll find success.
Following that meeting, Jimmy ends up crying in his car — the frustration of seeing himself in that girl and possibly realizing that no matter what he does, people are always going to look at him two ways. They will see him as Chuck McGill’s screw up younger brother or they’ll simply view him as ‘Slippin’ Jimmy McGill, the two-bit lawyer who got his degree from an online university.
Jimmy finally leaves there and reconvenes with Kim at the meeting where he will talk to the panel that will decide the fate of his law license. They’ve orchestrated a perfect plan by spending weeks with Jimmy mourning and honoring his dead brother, who was a pillar of the legal community in Albuquerque. By the time the hearing started, all of the members of this panel undoubtedly found out about Jimmy’s good deeds to pay homage to Chuck.
At first, Jimmy’s plan is to read Chuck’s letter to him to the panel — the one he left in his will — but after uttering a couple of lines he stops and decides to speak from the heart instead.
Jimmy is rather eloquent while speaking about Chuck and how his brother may have liked him as a person but never thought much of him as a lawyer. He spoke about how much he always wanted to make his brother proud while admitting that he’ll never be as good as Chuck but he’s going to do everything possible to try.
His heartfelt speech brings a tear to his eye and the same happens to Kim as she finally watches Jimmy deal with the loss of his brother.
After the hearing ends, Jimmy and Kim celebrate because they both know he’s going to get his law license back but she’s shocked to hear him turn from a grieving brother to a conman as he jokes about the people he just suckered into believing he was actually trying to live up to Chuck’s memory.
For the first time since they met, Kim has just been conned by Jimmy McGill.
Her stunned silence turns to stammering speech when the clerk finds Jimmy and informs him that he will be reinstated and he just has to fill out a few forms. Jimmy then tells the clerk that he needs to file one additional piece of paperwork because he no longer plans to practice law under the last name ‘McGill’.
Kim doesn’t know what to say except to ask why Jimmy isn’t going to use his last name for his law practice. He turns back to her with a crooked smile and a criminal’s wink and tells her ‘it’s all good, man’.
The paperwork Jimmy is filling out will undoubtedly transform him from the screw up McGill who was never quite good enough for his brother Chuck and he will become his own man and his own lawyer named Saul Goodman.