WARNING: SPOILERS FOR BETTER CALL SAUL
As Lalo Salamanca stands over the last living would-be assassin sent by Gus Fring to kill him, he looked over at a glass half full of tequila and knows he's been betrayed by assumed-confidant Nacho Varga. After Lalo orders the assassin to tell his boss the hit was done, he trudges through a compound filled with dead bodies and into the night to exact his revenge. The credits role and Season 5 of Better Call Saul ends.
It was the cliffhanger of all cliffhangers, a finale that feels like a precursor to looming disaster and, for the first time in in its history, Better Call Saul finally lived up to its predecessor's immense legacy.
There's little point in going through the history of Breaking Bad. If you're reading this, odds are, you watched the series. Perhaps you watched it three times like me, or more. Regardless, if you've gotten to this point and haven't watched Breaking Bad, go do so now and know I'm jealous you get to watch it for the first time.
For those like me who did watch it, you know that what made it so great was how invested you were in the characters. Whether it was the compassion/anger/fear/amusement you felt for Walter White and Jesse Pinkman as they evolved in the drug business or or the empathy you felt for Hank Schrader or the disdain Skyler White's face conjured up or the the fear Fring instilled, every character in Breaking Bad made you feel something.
The first four seasons of Better Call Saul, there was some of that. But season five finally made us care.
What's going to happen to Nacho? Will he get back to his father before Lalo kills him? What about Kim Wexler? She just got married to Saul, but we don't know if she'll survive the series as we never saw her in Breaking Bad. Are Goodman and Wexler really going to get Howard Hamlin, their former co-worker turned foe, in serious trouble? Even Lalo is an interesting character who I'm pining to know how he meets his fate.
Also, don't forget we don't know what Saul Goodman is going to do as he tries to track down and "take care" of the person who identified him in the mall. He was about to go into hiding again, but decided he would handle the situation himself. Does he survive? Or does he kill the two men who recognized him?
It's that unknown about characters we feel something for that made Breaking Bad so great and Better Call Saul finally captured the same feeling.
Of course, Better Call Saul was at a disadvantage to start because we knew Goodman and Fring and Mike Ehrmantraut all survived this part of their lives because they were alive in Breaking Bad. They also had to give us the backstory of Goodman, then known as Jimmy McGill, and all the people who were part of his early life, which was kind of a bore because being a regular attorney is pretty boring. However, now they have their hooks in us and everyone who love the two shows can't wait to see how it all plays out.
Honestly, the end of Better Call Saul Season 5 was so good, and left so many questions unanswered, you almost forget how good the entire season was. Goodman's attacks on Hamlin, including throwing a bowling ball through his back window and sending prostitutes into a business meeting, were comical. Wexler going toe-to-toe with Lalo as he contemplated whether he should kill her and Goodman was unforgettable. Goodman and Ehrmantraut surviving hitmen and the elements in the desert was captivating. We even got a deeper look into Fring's business operations.
Regardless of what happens next, we're now hooked. The characters matter (even the ones we hate) and their fate matters. It took Better Call Saul a few more seasons to get to that place, but it's finally at the same level as Breaking Bad.