Everything You Need To Remember Before The Final Episodes Of Better Call Saul

For countless television fans, the phrase "Better Call Saul" has been an indelible part of our pop culture vernacular ever since the flamboyant, unscrupulous, criminal lawyer played by Bob Odenkirk first appeared on our TV sets (and in several tacky in-universe advertisements) back in the second season of "Breaking Bad." Arriving on the scene fully-formed as the most over-the-top caricature of New Mexico's criminal underbelly that co-creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould could possibly conceive of, Saul Goodman quickly became a runaway fan-favorite character and provided an instant shot in the arm to the show whenever Bryan Cranston's Walter White or Aaron Paul's Jesse Pinkman ran into trouble with the law.

Over 13 years later, the prequel story of exactly how the unassuming and well-intentioned attorney Jimmy McGill transformed into the remorseless monster known as Saul Goodman is about to come to an end — a tragic origin that even the most diehard "Breaking Bad" viewers failed to grasp the wisdom of in the initial stages. The doubters have since been proven emphatically wrong as "Better Call Saul" has matched (or even exceeded) the heights of its parent show, culminating in arguably the most shocking and devastating cliffhanger of either series.

Viewers have been left to worry and speculate about the fate of our favorite characters ever since, though that's set to change with tonight's midseason premiere that kicks off the final six episodes of "Better Call Saul." So what better time to take stock of all the various characters and storylines, which need to be resolved in what's sure to be spectacular, heart-pounding, and probably anxiety-inducing fashion?

Naturally, major spoilers about the journey to this point will follow.

Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman

Slippin' Jimmy finally went too far. Over the course of six seasons, we've watched con man Jimmy's increasingly reckless antics come at the expense of individuals like the obnoxious Ken Wins, Jimmy's stuffy and impossible-to-please older brother Charles McGill (Michael McKean), and all sorts of unsavory characters scattered throughout New Mexico's legal system. Until now, the only blood on Jimmy's hands came indirectly, when a vengeful Chuck brought his own brother to court ... only to melt down spectacularly on the stand and eventually take his own life. But the moment Lalo Salamanca (Tony Dalton) walked into Jimmy's apartment and shot rival attorney Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) dead — who was only there in the first place as a victim of another one of Jimmy's schemes — everything changed forever.

We know Jimmy has to survive this encounter unscathed (physically, at least), but these final handful of episodes have to bring this version of Jimmy full circle with our preexisting knowledge of Saul Goodman. There's still quite a gap to bridge there, given that the generally good-natured Jimmy hasn't yet regressed into the figure who'll eventually tell Walt to kill a troublesome associate at the drop of a hat. Will having Howard's death on his conscience push him to that point? It seems likely, but a lot can happen in six episodes.

That certainly applies to the black-and-white flashforwards centered on "Gene Takovic," Jimmy's post-"Breaking Bad" alias in hiding in Nebraska ... which just so happens to be Kim's home state. Last we saw him, Jimmy was at risk of having his cover blown thanks to a nosy cab driver. We'll undoubtedly get some resolution there, though it remains to be seen if anything resembling a happy ending is still in the cards.

Kim Wexler

How rare is it for an entire fanbase to become united in one simple plea? In the case of "Better Call Saul," that overriding concern rests on whether Kim Wexler will turn out okay or not. As one of the few characters never seen or referenced in "Breaking Bad," her fate remains entirely up in the air. Now at the wrong end of Lalo's gun, we have no choice but to wait and see if Kim can pull another rabbit out of her hat and talk the volatile Salamanca down once again.

But arguably even more than her personal safety, we also have to worry about Kim's personal morals the longer she hangs around Jimmy's corrosive influence. Always the straightlaced, hardworking professional out of the two, we've seen time and again how Jimmy's better half simply refuses to cut corners, take the easy way out, or let petty personal grudges get in the way of the greater good. That last bedrock of Kim's personality took a hit in season 6, when she literally pulled a U-turn on the way to a huge nonprofit opportunity to instead supervise the final stages of their scheme to take down the arrogant Howard Hamlin.

Not to overstate the matter, but it's likely that whatever happens to Kim will dictate how the final season of "Better Call Saul" is ultimately received. We never see Saul's personal life in "Breaking Bad," so it's conceivable that he comes home to Kim every night ... but wouldn't staying married to a loathsome creature like Saul almost be a worse fate than death for her? Whether she lives or dies will get all the attention, but let's keep an eye on her rapidly-eroding principles, too.

Lalo Salamanca

It's incredible to think that, much like the late Ignacio "Nacho" Varga (Michael Mando), the entire character of Lalo sprung out of the throwaway bit of dialogue from Saul Goodman's first appearance on "Breaking Bad." Taking that one namedrop and running with it, the writers' room crafted one of the most terrifying villains in all of "Better Call Saul" — a coldblooded killer who'll do so with a suave, sociopathic smile. Mysteriously missing for much of the sixth season in the aftermath of Gus Fring's (Giancarlo Esposito) failed hit on his Mexican rival, Lalo's quest to systematically destroy Fring and his drug-running empire took him all the way to Germany and back, uncovering the construction of the underground meth lab that will one day house Walt and Jesse.

It's unclear exactly how Lalo intends to use his knowledge of this site, his sudden appearance in Jimmy and Kim's apartment, and the information he learned in Germany to his advantage ... but much like the writers themselves, you can bet he has a grand scheme up his sleeve. Lalo's another character whose whereabouts during the events of "Breaking Bad" remains an open question. Saul clearly thinks Lalo is still around somewhere, but could he possibly still be alive and allow Gus to essentially take over the Salamanca family's drug trade? And more importantly, would the conflict between Gus and Lalo in "Better Call Saul" feel satisfying without Lalo ultimately dying at his hated enemy's hand?

Gus Fring

Ah, yes, the chicken man. Gus Fring easily stands as the greatest and most intimidating villain in all of "Breaking Bad," thanks in no small part to Giancarlo Esposito's chilling performance. The actor smoothly slipped into the skin of the drug lord for "Better Call Saul" once more, giving us a parallel origin story of how he would become New Mexico's inarguable drug kingpin and how Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) would eventually operate as his right-hand man. This younger and somewhat less established version of Gus might seem as implacable as ever, but his war against the Salamancas and Lalo in particular prove that there's still room to grow into the formidable and ruthless Gus of "Breaking Bad."

When last we saw Gus, he'd hidden a handgun in the still-incomplete shell of his eventual meth lab — strongly implying that he suspects that to be the location of one final showdown between himself and Lalo. That's really the only outstanding piece of housekeeping for Gus to deal with until the events of "Breaking Bad." The lab remains a few years away from completion, which will allow him to cut out the cartel middlemen altogether and put a stranglehold on the New Mexico drug scene. Fring still maintains a tenuous alliance with the Salamancas throughout the early seasons of "Breaking Bad," so whatever happens with Lalo likely won't be public enough to sever his connections to the overall family. Stay tuned.

Mike Ehrmantraut

"Better Call Saul" has one secret weapon: Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut. The ultra-cool and impossibly composed Mike started out as an attendant for the parking garage that Jimmy (and Kim) used every day at the local courthouse and, by the time "Breaking Bad" begins, managed to find himself as Saul Goodman's "cleaner" and a trusted lieutenant of Gus Fring. Those somewhat contradictory dual jobs came as a result of Banks so impressing the writers on "Breaking Bad" that they feverishly tried to figure out a way to keep him on board in a larger role than they originally envisioned. Now, it's left to these final few episodes of "Better Call Saul" to reconcile why Mike would still work for Saul and Gus at the same time (and without Saul knowing about it).

While we know his ultimate endpoint, Mike's descent into giving up his own morals has felt just as heartbreaking as Kim's. The ever-honorable Mike had no choice but to dispatch his friend Werner when the meth lab construction worker ran afoul of Gus and, most recently, played a large role in the capture and execution of Nacho Varga. These instances went a long way towards establishing the killer who would go on to menace Walter White ... but also the kindhearted man beneath the rough exterior who would have a soft spot for Jesse Pinkman. It's easy to imagine Mike looking at Jesse and seeing quite a lot of Nacho in him, after all. His scenes with his granddaughter Kaylee have added even more motivation to why he does what he does, but I'd go so far to say that his monologue back in season 1 more than justified his inclusion in the show.

"Better Call Saul" returns tonight at 9 p.m. EST on AMC.