“Better Call Saul’s” sixth and final season ended on Aug. 15, concluding the prequel story of criminal lawyer Saul Goodman, who started in the show “Breaking Bad.” Season six of the show featured 13 nail-biting episodes that led to one of the most emotional and heartbreaking endings in television history. Let’s grade the first seven episodes of the season with a warning for major spoilers ahead.
Episode 1 – “Wine and Roses”: C+
The premier of season six is undoubtedly a good episode but lacks the magic that the great episodes have. It picks up right where season five left off, continuing both the lawyer and cartel sides of the show in a logical and satisfying manner. The highlight of the episode is watching Saul Goodman cleverly create suspicion that rival lawyer Howard Hamlin is using cocaine. However, this episode is mostly small potatoes compared to what happens later in the series, although it is still important to the show as a whole for the small character moments, like Goodman’s wife Kim Wexler helping out her pro bono legal clients.
Episode 2 – “Carrot and Stick”: B
“Carrot and Stick,” the second episode of the season, continues both the lawyer and cartel halves of the show by showing the second step in Goodman and Wexler’s plan to tarnish their reputation of Hamlin and giving more screen time to disgraced cartel associate Nacho Varga on the run. This episode features the surprise return of Betsy and Craig Kettleman from the first season of “Better Call Saul,” delivering satisfying fan service as their appearance drives the plot forward. Like the premier, the only knock on this episode is that it does a lot of work to set up future events, making it not feel as consequential as the episodes to come.
Episode 3 – “Rock and Hard Place”: A
The third episode of season six of “Better Call Saul” is a certifiable classic that fans of the show will be talking about for years. This episode can best be summed up as the ‘Varga episode,’ because almost all of the runtime is dedicated to him and his attempt to evade the cartel, ending with him accepting his fate and taking his own life to protect his father’s. This episode is absolutely heartbreaking and the death of one of the most beloved characters in the series is handled with the proper amount of class and respect, honoring the character while also servicing the overall story of the season.
Episode 4 – “Hit and Run”: B-
While it might not be as iconic an episode as “Rock and Hard Place,” the fourth episode of the season continues the storyline of Goodman and Wexler besmirching the reputation of Hamlin, this time faking him throwing a sex worker out of his car in front of a colleague of his. This scam features the return of “Breaking Bad” character Wendy, a delight for fans of both series. The episode also gives a deeper look into the character of Wexler as she navigates her relationship with Goodman and her legal clients. “Hit and Run” is a really fun episode, but is not as memorable as other episodes in the season.
Episode 5 – “Black and Blue”: C+
“Black and Blue” might be the low point of season six, although it has its merits. On the positives, cartel associate Lalo Salamanca is devilishly charming in this episode as Tony Dalton gives a standout performance. The episode also features the season six debut of many “Better Call Saul” side characters, such as Viola Goto, Lyle and Francesca Liddy. On the other hand, there is a long sequence of Goodman and Hamlin boxing, which feels out of place in the series and it does not really make sense why Goodman agrees to box Hamlin. Once again, this is an episode that focuses on worldbuilding and setup, which makes it valuable but not the most enjoyable episode this season.
Episode 6 – “Axe and Grind”: B-
Like the two episodes preceding it, “Axe and Grind” is mostly dedicated to setting up the big scam that Goodman and Wexler are pulling on Hamlin, in addition to explaining how Salamanca discovers that Gustavo Fring is trying to set up his own drug empire separate from the cartel. The episode also features an excellent cold open, digging into the past of Wexler and her ability to give off a straight-laced appearance while actually hiding a dark secret. Later in the episode there is a great scene with Goodman, Wexler and Dr. Caldera where we learn that Goodman got his “Breaking Bad” contacts from Caldera’s book, including the infamous Best Quality Vacuum Repair. “Axe and Grind” is a really good episode, but lacks the ‘wow’ factor of a great one.
Episode 7 – “Plan and Execution”: A+
There are a few episodes of “Better Call Saul” that truly stand out from the rest and have fans talking long after the episode airs, and “Plan and Execution” is the first one in season six to do it. Simply put, this is the episode where Salamanca kills Hamlin. However, it is so much more. It is the episode where Goodman and Wexler’s scheme on Hamlin is finally revealed and executed, the episode when Salamanca proves that Fring has betrayed the cartel and the episode where the cartel and lawyer sides of the show clash in the most heartbreaking way. The first six episodes of season six walked, so this episode could run — and boy, does it run. This might just be the best episode of the whole series.