With Better Call Saul entering its final season and gracing our television screens with its presence after a much-too-long two-year hiatus, it’s only natural that viewers, including myself, are overwhelmed with the direction this season is heading. If Breaking Bad was known for its intense, action-packed, and plot twist-filled episodes, Better Call Saul is known for perhaps the exact opposite. While Better Call Saul precedes Breaking Bad, and we know (for the most part) what happens to Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), many characters Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn), I’m looking at you) have a fate utterly unknown to us. It keeps me up at night more than a fictional show about lawyers should.
These first two episodes of the season did many things, none of which included comforting me that everything will be ok in the end and these characters I have grown to love will be ok. In fact, these episodes told me now more than ever that everything is NOT going to be good, and I am correct in assuming that we are about to embark on a drama-filled journey. So, to cope with the impending doom and chaos that this final season of Better Call Saul is going to be, I will be doing the one thing that can help me get a grip on where these characters stand as the show inches closer to its ending – other than therapy and going off the grid for an unspecified amount of time– it’s a power ranking!
First Place: It’s Gramps! Mike Ehrmantraut
It makes sense that the show’s grounding presence would be ranking first. While Mike (Mike Ehrmantraut) hasn’t exactly left these episodes completely unscathed, we know that he makes it through this rough patch and continues to have lots of time to play marbles with his somehow never aging granddaughter Kaylee (Abigail Zoe Lewis). Mike finds himself relatively detached from the danger in these two episodes. The closest we see him get to any potential crisis is his argument with Gus (Giancarlo Esposito) about whether or not Nacho (Michael Mando) deserves to be rescued from the messy aftermath of the hit on the Salamancas we saw at the end of the fifth season. We know Mike will make it through, but how unscathed is another question. Nacho, however, I’ll be talking about him farther down on this list. Much further.
Second Place: Mr. Cartel, Lalo Salamanca
You might think escaping a near-death attack would get you at the top of the power ranking, but Lalo’s (Tony Dalton) refusal to take the easy path or simply stop being a menace to the Better Call Saul society means that he gets knocked down a spot. For now. During the first episode, Lalo has a significant advantage by being alive when everyone thinks he’s dead. He has a prime opportunity to get revenge without anyone expecting it or seeing him coming. Lalo reveals himself to be alive to Don Hector (Mark Margolis), and with Hector’s helpful dings, he realizes that he has proof Gus Fring was behind the attack and decided to stay in Mexico instead of sneaking back across the border. Lalo also has an advantage that no one else does. By barely appearing in the second episode, we know nothing terrible happens to him! Bonus points for proving he hasn’t lost his groove after the attack by shooting two people just because they were unnecessarily rude.
Third Place: Albuquerque’s Own Colonel Sanders, Gus Fring
From the looks of it, Gus isn’t doing so well. Lalo Salamanca escaped the hit that Fring put out on him, and the rest of Lalo’s family is suspicious and on the search for a person to blame for the attack. At first, Gus thinks the hit was a success but later learns that Lalo is alive- something Fring really, really did not want. Gus is in a sticky situation- he could kill Nacho and risk getting his plans exposed, but keeping nacho alive could also result in the same thing. We may know Gus’ safety isn’t at risk, but Gus sure doesn’t. Luckily, he has another few years before this all blows up in his face. Pun intended.
Fourth Place: Jimmy/Saul Mcgill/Goodman
At this moment in the show, it’s easy to think that Jimmy is in a decent place. He managed to get Lalo (or “Jorge de Guzman”) out of jail and is now a friend of the cartel, he’s married to Kime, and he’s planning to take down his enemy, Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian), in a delightfully convoluted and evil way. If Better Call Saul is going to do one thing, though, it reminds us that there is no happy ending for Saul, and things will hit the fan sooner than we most likely expect it. These first two episodes heavily focus on Nacho, and the scenes with Saul are mostly lighthearted, lulling the viewers into a false sense of security. However, we know that these scams probably won’t end well and that Jimmy isn’t going to reach his Saul levels of riches without some missteps. His status of “friend of the cartel” has many implications, none of them good, but all looming over the rest of this season like a dark cloud ready to rain down on everyone.
Fifth Place: Kaylee Ehrmantraut
Mike’s granddaughter is in fifth place because she has unblocked the elixir to life and has not aged in the six seasons we have seen her. I hope she continues to play marbles with Mike for as long as possible and stays blissfully unaware of the drama unfolding miles away.
Sixth Place: The Kettlemans
Long live the Kettlemans! It’s been five seasons since we have seen Betsy and Craig, and I’m happy to say that they’ve remained the same insane people they were back in season one when they were “allegedly” embezzling millions of dollars. The Kettlemans are so much fun to watch, primarily because of how big of a hot mess they are. We see that they now run a tax company, and in case anyone was worried, they haven’t changed at all and are still defrauding people. They are unknowingly being used as chess pieces in the game Kim and Jimmy are playing against Howard, and when they threaten to ruin it for them, Kim threatens to expose their little refund scam to her conveniently employed friend at the IRS. Betsy and Craig went into the episode hating Jimmy and Kim, and unlike the rest of the characters, not much has changed for them on that front.
Seventh Place: Kim Wexler, Please Stay Safe
Oh, Kim. We all know why this season of Better Call Saul is causing so much stress, and that is Kim Wexler herself. The show wrapping up means that in the span of 11 episodes, we will find out why Kim isn’t in Breaking Bad, but how she got there, and from the looks of things, it isn’t going to be good. The fifth ended with Kim and Lalo verbally facing off, and while it was an amazing moment that shows just how good Kim is at her job and how much she cares about Jimmy, it’s also a reminder that she is in the game now- and she isn’t going to get out easily. The first two episodes see Kim diving headfirst into her new hobby, scamming Howard Hamlin with the help of the Kettlemans. The scam is fun, and she’s good at it, but it is an unpleasant reminder that Kim’s descent into darkness is a one-way journey that she (probably) won’t bounce back from.
Eighth Place: Howard “Howie” Hamlin
If Lalo Salamanca is the biggest threat to Kim and Jimmy’s livelihoods, Kim and Jimmy are the biggest threats to Howard’s livelihood AND reputation. The two of them simply won’t rest until Howard is run out of town, and unluckily for Howard, they probably will succeed. In season 5, Jimmy had prostitutes sent to Howard’s business lunch, threw bowling balls on his car, and generally made his life hell. However, they’re now upping their game and running a smear campaign around town, spreading the rumor that Howard has a nasty coke habit, or as Jimmy puts it, “the devil’s dandruff”. Howard may not be facing the same intense life, or death-level drama as the rest of the characters are, but I would say his suffering is just as pertinent to where the story is going.
Ninth Place: The Albuquerque Golf Club
Guys, come on, it’s 2022. Antisemitism is no joke! Well, at least antisemitism when it’s against an actual Jewish person. When Jimmy gets turned away from the club after Kevin Watchell (Rex Linn), from Mesa Verde, tells a club worker that they should not accept Saul Goodman, Jimmy decides to humiliate the manager by claiming that this is only because they heard his last name, Goodman, and don’t want to let a Jew into their club, even though Jimmy is 100% not Jewish. It’s hilarious and particularly awful but leaves the club looking not so hot with a potential scandal coming their way! All in a day’s work for Albuquerque’s number one con artist.
Tenth Place: Nacho Varga
Last place in this ranking goes to everyone’s favorite dead man walking, Nacho Varga. It’s not an overstatement that every episode Nacho survives is an unmitigated success, seeing as he has approximately 85% of the cartel after him. Mike is the only person who wants to see Nacho get out of this situation unharmed. Gus, who previously used Nacho as a double agent of sorts, wants Nacho dead to avoid leaked information to the Salamancas. Nacho spends most of the episodes holed up in a motel, waiting to be snuck back across the border. Still, after realizing Gus has people watching him, he escapes out the back of the motel- a momentary success that was cut short by a showdown with the Salamanca Twins. Nacho survives, but what comes next?
Honorable Mention: The Saul Goodman cutout. Rest in peace. You didn’t deserve this fate.