Better Call Saul Proves That Jimmy McGill Is Actually The Main Character Of The Breaking Bad Universe

As we inch ever closer to what seems like the definitive ending of the "Breaking Bad" and "Better Call Saul" saga, now seems like as good a time as any to take a look at both series as one cohesive story. "Breaking Bad" and the story of Walter White's ascension to infamy may have been what kickstarted this world, but the latest episodes of the prequel series "Better Call Saul" seem to paint another picture entirely: one that has Walt being a byproduct of Saul's machinations, stemming from his need to take something with dangerous potential and see if he can pull it off, just for the thrill.

Between the two shows mentioned earlier and "El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie," every main character in Albuquerque's seedy underworld has been accounted for, given one definitive ending or another. Walter White got his just desserts; Jesse Pinkman fled to Alaska, the last frontier; and now there only remains Saul Goodman, now known as Gene Takovic. Between the previously unseen "Breaking Bad" interactions featured in "Better Call Saul" and the fact that Jimmy is the last one to get his story resolved, has the criminal lawyer introduced in "Breaking Bad" actually been the main character this entire time? There's certainly an argument to be made.

Spoilers follow for the sixth and final season of "Better Call Saul."

The downward spiral of Jimmy McGill

When viewing "Breaking Bad" and "Better Call Saul" as one big story, it's clear that the story doesn't start with Walter White. Instead, it begins with Jimmy, his brother Chuck, and a whole lot of resentment. At the start of the series, Jimmy is shown as an individual with the capacity for good but more inclined to use his scheming for his gain. The precedent is set with the skateboard twins in season 1 of the series. The twins on their own do little to no damage. However, when Jimmy sets his sights on them, the chain of events following his machinations is nothing short of catastrophic. 

These small stakes schemes get out of hand when Chuck's fear of Jimmy's potential for trouble with a law degree sends Jimmy off the deep end. Now getting an acquired taste for schemes, Jimmy's potential for trouble grows with each season. 

This recurring pattern of Jimmy noticing someone else's value and using it for his gain only continues in a dangerous upward trend. The consequences continue to get bigger with Jimmy's involvement in varying schemes. From skateboarders to elder law cons, one of Jimmy's final hurdles is when, after changing his name to Saul Goodman, he agrees to become Lalo Salamanca's bag man. From there, McGill (now Goodman) truly becomes a criminal lawyer, aiding Lalo in his scheme to get off scot-free from the murder of an innocent man.

Saul Goodman breaks bad

The final season of "Better Call Saul" accentuates this point best. The last few episodes of the series have given fans that long-awaited return to the "Breaking Bad" timeline, giving us a better look at Saul's mindset during that period. Most importantly, significant parallels are made in the "Breaking Bad" flashbacks and the Gene Takovic flash-forwards. One such similarity comes in season 6, episode 11, titled "Breaking Bad." Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul make their triumphant return to the series in this episode, showing us the aftermath of their first meeting with Saul Goodman. This flashback and first meeting occur during season 2 of "Breaking Bad," when Walt and Jesse are still cooking in the RV (endearingly called the crystal ship by Jesse). Their fledgling operation was struggling under the weight of inexperience. 

Fortunately for them, it's Saul Goodman whom Walt and Jesse had kidnapped. This scene reunites Walt, Jesse, and Saul for the first time in years, and it's for more than just fan service. Saul sees the inside of the RV, and upon learning of Walt and Jesse's operation, there's almost a glimmer in his eye. Saul sees this as another opportunity for himself. Almost everything in "Better Call Saul" up to that point has led Saul to Walter and Jesse, a duo he sees as having potential to make himself money. 

The parallels of Saul and Gene

While Saul sees the potential of Walter and Jesse in the past, Gene Takovic repeats his old habits in the future. Gene's bad decisions, including scamming marks and stealing their financial information, come to a head when one is revealed to have cancer (like a certain Heisenberg who Gene used to know), causing one of his partners to back out. In a fit of rage, Gene breaks into the house himself, in a cleverly edited scene that is intercut with Saul showing up at the high school Walt teaches at. In a scene previous, Mike warns Saul of getting involved with White, calling Walter an amateur and dangerous, even if he's going to die soon.

Saul's response speaks volumes about the character's importance to the story of "Breaking Bad." Saul sees Walter as "170 pounds of clay ready to be molded." Mike says to let it go. It's an eerie parallel to Gene's arguments with his cohorts in the future, who want to let a specific mark go. Instead, as Gene walks toward the mark's house, so does Saul approach the doors to Walt's high school against Mike's warnings. Those who have seen "Breaking Bad" know how that latter story turns out, with Walt ascending to the top of his drug trafficking empire. If the story of Heisenberg is any indication, Gene's decision in the future to break into the mark's house by breaking the door in won't end well for anyone involved.

Giving Heisenberg a push

Walt and Jesse's inclusion being so late into "Better Call Saul" had to be done for a specific reason. Now that Jimmy McGill is gone, we see the tragedy of Saul Goodman on full display. Goodman has been seen as an integral character in the past, but now that we have the (almost) full story with only one episode left, its clearer than ever that the man once known as Jimmy McGill is at the center of the "Breaking Bad" and "Better Call Saul" universe. The constant machinations of Jimmy transformed him into Saul, and in turn, the scheming and money-making opportunities Saul Goodman saw in Walter helped the chemist turn into Heisenberg. 

If not for Goodman's connections, one could argue that Walter White would not have gone as far as he did in his criminal endeavors. Heisenberg eventually outgrew Saul in later seasons of "Breaking Bad," threatening and bossing the lawyer around. However, that doesn't change the fact that if it weren't for Saul Goodman, Heisenberg wouldn't have risen to prominence. Now that all is said and done, Saul Goodman, now under the alias of Gene, is the only character who hasn't been given a proper conclusion.

Gene's actions being the crux of the story in both the past and the present help to solidify the argument that he is the main character of the "Breaking Bad" universe, and his ending being saved for last speaks volumes of his importance to the story. 

Saul gone

Overall, Jimmy McGill and his need to profit off others' potential made the character the main character of the "Breaking Bad" universe. Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould's prequel/sequel series "Better Call Saul" has given us an entirely new outlook on the character of Jimmy McGill. When viewing both of the series as one singular story, it's clear who, besides Walter White, could be considered the tragic center of this story. It's the man known as Slippin' Jimmy, a con man who could never truly resist the allure of taking the easy way out. 

Unfortunately for Jimmy, he would soon bite off more than he could chew with the character of Walter White. Heisenberg and the damage he would bring upon others could be seen as a byproduct of Saul Goodman pushing Walter further in that direction, setting off the chain of events in "Breaking Bad." The previously described "170 pounds of clay" that is Walter White would quickly take a mold of its own, leaving Jimmy a shell of his former self in Omaha, Nebraska.

Now known as Gene Takovic, Jimmy has reawakened his love for the game at the cost of being rediscovered as Saul Goodman. With his cover blown and the authorities closing in, the person that could be interpreted as the actual main character of the "Breaking Bad" universe is about to get his conclusion. 

The final episode of "Better Call Saul" airs on AMC on August 15, 2022.