Better Call Saul Season 5 Ending Explained
Jimmy and Kim make a dastardly plan and Lalo and Nacho encounter some trouble south of the border in the thrilling Better Call Saul season 5 finale.
The following contains spoilers for Better Call Saul season 5 episode 10.
Better Call Saul has had some wild years but season 5 has to be among the most action-packed. This is a season of television that not only found Jimmy McGill practicing law under his Saul Goodman alias for the first time, it also blended his legal world with the criminal one in some fascinating and terrifying ways.
Lalo’s brief invasion into the Goodman household in season 5’s penultimate episode is not something anyone will soon forget. Not only that but it sets up a season 5 finale in which Jimmy and Kim must deal with their new reality and Gus must take care of the meddlesome Salamanca family once and for all.
That’s a lot of ground to cover for one episode of television, let alone an episode of television that has to serve as the ending for a thrilling season. So how does Better Call Saul season 5 episode 10 “Something Unforgivable” pull it off? Follow along with us below to find out.
Jimmy and Kim Plan Something Unforgivable
Following Lalo’s unwelcome intrusion in their lives, Jimmy and Kim do the smart thing and abscond to a hotel for nearly the entirety of this final episode. Other than Kim heading into work to tie up some loose ends (and come across Howard Hamlin and his words of warning), the pair spend their time living in relative luxury.
This means that the Jimmy and Kim arc is the least kinetic of everything going on during this finale, but it is certainly not without some fireworks. In fact, the plan that Jimmy and Kim hatch when left to their own devices may be the most consequential part of the episode and the series’ future.
When Kim briefly encounters Howard at the courthouse, he tells her about all the ways that Jimmy has messed with him this season including tossing a bowling ball through his car windshield and hiring some prostitutes to embarrass him in public. Rather than reacting with horror, Kim gets annoyed with Howard for denigrating her husband. Later on in the hotel she openly ponders at how she can join in on Jimmy’s attempts to mess with their mutual foe.
Jimmy and Kim’s fantasies start with relatively benign pranks like introducing an agent into his shampoo at the gym to make his hair fall out. Soon, however, they become far more intense.
“We’d never do it but…what if Howard does something terrible? No, I mean really bad. Like misconduct. You know, misappropriating funds, bribing witnesses, something like that?” Kim muses.
Within seemingly no time at all, “we’d never do it but…” becomes “we are absolutely doing this.” Kim notes that if Howard is professionally humiliated and forced to bow out of the Sandpiper case, all the lawyers involved will feel an urgency to settle it quickly. The elderly claimants in the class-action suit will get their money quicker…as will a certain artist formerly known as James M. McGill and his new wife Kim Wexler.
Jimmy tries to temper Kim’s enthusiasm, noting that this goes far beyond their usual bar tricks. This is something real…something truly Saul Goodman-esque. If they frame Howard for “something unforgivable,” he may never practice law again. Could Kim live with herself in the cold light of day after that happens?
Kim only responds with some Saul Goodman-esque finger guns. She’s ready for this. God help Howard and God help us all.
What Happens to Nacho?
Going into the season 5 finale, it seemed as though Ignacio “Nacho” Varga (Michael Mando) could be on his last legs. The Salamanca family deputy has spent the whole season with his loyalties split between Gus Fring and Lalo Salamanca as the two try to take one another down.
Double agents don’t usually fare well in these types of shows, particularly double agents that won’t want to belong to anybody. All Nacho wants to do is retire from the drug game, protect his father, and live out the rest of his life in peace. “Something Unforgivable,” doesn’t let Nacho get what he wants in that respect, but it does let him live…and that’s far more merciful than we anticipated this finale to be.
Nacho accompanies Lalo down to Mexico to convalesce at the sprawling Salamanca family compound. As Mike frequently points out, this could be a good excuse for Gus to cut Nacho loose. But Fring, ever the perfectionist, decides that there is still some usefulness in Nacho yet. Gus has assembled an elite team of assassins to take Lalo down. Still, it would be nice to have someone on the inside of that compound to let the team in.
And that’s exactly what Nacho does on Gus’s orders. Using an ingeniously simple foil technique (that actor Michael Mando expounds upon over here), Nacho opens up a padlock and lets the assassins into the compound’s courtyard. He then exits through the door and disappears into the night.
What’s next for Nacho remains to be seen. Gus will certainly have questions as to what went down in Mexico. And Lalo will have questions about his whereabouts during the attack. It seems unlikely that Nacho will be able to return to his old life with both his tormentors still alive. But he’s still drawing breath…for now.
Lalo’s Great Escape
Wait. That previous paragraph said that Lalo was still alive. How can that be if Gus sent the world’s finest assassins after him? See, reader, the thing is: Lalo Salamanca is a bit of a badass.
There really aren’t many holes in Gus’s plan to kill Lalo. He did everything by the book. First, Gus moved heaven and Earth to make sure that Lalo was released from prison so that he could organize a hit on him without it coming back to his doorstep. Then he found the best team of assassins that money can buy and ensured that they were armed to the teeth. As mentioned previously, he even arranged to have a man on the inside of the compound so that the assassins could sneak in after-hours unseen.
The first problem arises when it becomes clear that Lalo won’t be going to sleep anytime soon. Lalo only needs 1-2 hours of sleep per night as he tells the similarly-awake Nacho. (This is a thing, by the way. It’s estimated that around 1% of the population are “short-sleepers.” The extra hours awake must help Lalo when running a drug empire).
Nacho must then improvise, which is always a dangerous thing to do on Better Call Saul. He enters into the kitchen under the guise of getting some tequila and instead fills a skillet with oil and puts it on a burner. When he comes back outside, Lalo sees smoke billowing out of the kitchen and goes to investigate. This is when Nacho is able to let the assassins sneak in and he escapes.
For all of Gus’s planning, the one thing he seemingly failed to take into account is the sizable home-field advantage that Lalo would have operating on Salamanca turf. First he gets lucky when an assassin’s bullet misses him and strikes the young Ciro. But from that moment on, his survival is due to his sheer ingenuity and determination.
Lalo escapes from the home by entering into a lengthy dirt tunnel below the house via a trap door beneath a bathtub. Once Lalo is free on the other side of the property, that could have been victory enough. All he’d need to do is nab a vehicle and drive off to safety. But that’s not enough for the vengeful Salamanca.
Instead, Lalo returns to the home where the assassins have entered into the tunnel in pursuit of him. He opens the bathtub trap door once again to see their black-clothed bodies crawling off in the distance. Then he cuts them down with a machine gun like fish in a barrel.
After it’s all said and done, only one assassin is left alive and barely. This killer doesn’t know who hired them as Gus wisely went through a middleman. It’s ok though, Lalo knows. He tells the man to call his contact and tell them that things got rough but that the job was ultimately done.
Lalo then stalks off into the night, clearly eager to enact revenge.
If nothing else this Better Call Saul finale does an excellent job of reversing expectations. Despite an extended firefight in a Mexican drug family’s enormous compound, not one central character dies. Gus, Mike, Nacho, Kim, and Jimmy all fully expected this finale to be Lalo Salamanca’s swan song. And yet now he’s still out there, angry and more dangerous than ever to each and every one of the show’s remaining characters.
Better Call Saul season 6 will be the last batch of episodes for the series. With both Jimmy and Kim’s war against Howard and Lalo’s war against Gus looming, the show is now in a position to top itself once again.