By Andy Tarnoff Publisher Published Aug 15, 2022 at 10:49 PM

Spoilers for the series finale of “Better Call Saul” follow. Consider yourself warned.


My favorite show, and now my second favorite show of all time, have finally come to an end. Some 13 years after it all began, I can’t tell you for sure if I liked “Breaking Bad” or “Better Call Saul” better. Honestly, they melded together into one, and I find myself mourning this universe tonight, with mixed feeling and a muted sense of satisfaction in its completion.

Writing this just minutes after finishing the series of finale of “Saul,” I’m still processing it, though. It takes a pretty powerful show to leave me this way.

The history of television has left us amazing series with subpar endings. In 2013, I felt mostly satisfied with “Breaking Bad’s” finale, but unsure how the brilliant Vince Gilligan would spin off a prequel about Saul Goodman. And that show started oh so slowly that I almost wrote it off.

But like its predecessor, Saul just kept getting better and better, with this final season weaving itself into a masterpiece of storytelling and acting performances.

So that leaves us with tonight’s unpleasant but complete conclusion. Don’t look here for an episode recap, though. This is a piece about raw cinematic emotions, and I have many of them right now.

The surprise ending dropped with several minutes to spare, as Jimmy/Saul/Gene surrendered his facade that seemed like a rouse until it wasn’t. You can forgive viewers for thinking he had one more trick up his sleeve, but ultimately, he fell on his sword to exonerate the love of his life. Only the final minutes forecast a glimmer of salvation in Kim’s cigarette behind prison walls, the only hint of color in this monochromatic Gene Takavic world.

In other words, there’s still hope.

And that’s the through line across this entire universe, from “Breaking Bad” to “El Camino” to “Better Call Saul.” Fans got their closure, finally, on every character we care about. We didn’t need to see the literal ending for Jimmy and Kim to know that it hasn’t come to pass. Never rule anything out. There’s always a way.

Even though Saul is doomed to spend the rest of his life behind bars, with Kim on his side, you never know. As it sinks in, it becomes more and more satisfying, doesn’t it?

I don’t watch much TV anymore. The serial nature of my favorite shows is too much to endure over the course of a decade, and I yearn for the episodic style of self-contained stories that don’t require so much of my attention. But the Breaking Bad universe was too intricate, too ornate, too perfect to ever really consider abandoning it. Either you get it or you don’t: Gilligan spun an enduring opus, its ending appropriate, if not wrapped up with a neat bow.

So tonight, I say goodbye to 14 years, off and on, of near perfection. With a heavy heart, I will reflect on a piece of fiction felt real. Two stories of love, hate, greed, fear, dark humor and grave consequences. Fans like me can leave satisfied that while there’s no such thing as a flawless ending, this conclusion, happy or not, was all good, man.

Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.

Before launching in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.

Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.