Here's When And Why Jimmy Made That Fateful Decision In The Better Call Saul Finale

"Better Call Saul" has always made an art form out of not showing its hand too soon. It's a show that rewards patience, not just when it comes to overarching plots and character development, but with specific scenes and episodes, too. Often, chapters will open with con man lawyer Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) or fixer Mike (Jonathan Banks) working on a detail-oriented task that will only much later be revealed as part of a grand plan, the likes of which we never could've guessed. The series finale employs a similar structure, circling around its center point without revealing it until — in keeping with the grand tradition of the legal drama — the truth comes out during a climactic courthouse moment.

In the end, Jimmy reveals himself to be a better man than audiences worried he might be. He's capable of selfish and criminal acts, sure, but when the plan he's been slyly piecing together finally clicks into place, for once it doesn't reveal a scheme, but the truth instead. Jimmy doesn't wear his heart on his sleeve until the court date he uses to confess, apologize to Kim (Rhea Seehorn), and reclaim his given name, but series co-creator and episode writer-producer Peter Gould says the gears start moving in his head earlier on.

Jimmy hatches one last plan

Gould spoke with Talk AMC about "Saul Gone," the show's series finale, and explained exactly when Jimmy's cocky request for mint chip ice cream turned into a plan to reunite with Kim at all costs. "I think you can see that he is really feeling like Saul when he's negotiating for his own sentence," Gould says of the scene, calling the version of Jimmy we see come to the bargaining table a "hard-a**, manipulative negotiator."

Gould singles out one point in this scene, in which Jimmy convincingly tells Marie Schrader (Betsy Brandt) a version of events that positions him as a scared, innocent victim of Walter White. After putting on a fantastically thorough performance, Jimmy makes it clear that he's just after juror sympathy, sliding back into his arrogant default in a way that's incredibly alienating for both Marie and viewers watching the show. It's a truly disgusting moment, one that Gould calls "as nasty as we've ever seen him."

But once Jimmy gets what he wants — the deal of a lifetime, and a cushy spot to live out his sentence — he's given a piece of information that instantly sobers him. "At the end of that sequence, he finds out that Kim has turned herself in," Gould says, "and I think his whole feeling of victory over the system turns to ashes in his mouth at that point." Compared to Kim's unadorned honesty, his scheme suddenly makes him feel empty inside. "It feels empty because he knows in his heart he could do better," Gould shares.

A decision we don't see

Odenkirk communicates this with only the guarded yet shell-shocked look on his face when Jimmy hears the news about Kim, but he still keeps his cards close to his chest. Viewers don't know exactly what he has planned when he talks his lawyer into embroiling Kim in the state's case. Does he want to humiliate Kim? Trade her freedom for his? It sounds like he was still figuring it out, too. "On the airplane, he knows what he has to do, but he also knows that he may or may not have the courage to do it if Kim isn't there to follow her example," Gould says. That's when he decides to get Kim to Albuquerque, knowing full well she could show up hating him after their last phone call.

In the end, Kim shows up for Jimmy, first in court, and then in prison with a pack of cigarettes at the ready. While we can see his decision to give up his freedom for her on his face, we're left wondering about her decision. The pair share a smoke in an achingly romantic scene, shot in gauzily shadowed black and white that makes them look like a pair of film noir lovers on the lam. Then she leaves and looks at him as she goes. What is she thinking? What will she decide? 

"Better Call Saul" made us accustomed to a pattern of intrigue and reveal, but for its last trick, it shows us the machinations without the reveal. Jimmy made his fateful decision, and as the credits roll for the last time, it's up to Kim to make hers.