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The Explainers Explaining the ‘Better Call Saul’ “Nippy” Ending, Explained

Google has created an insurmountable obstacle for those of us in the pop culture criticism business. The algorithms that drive the most powerful and influential search engine in the entire sizzling world make it flatly impossible for any writing to reach an appreciable audience without first playing by those algorithms’ rules. Which means writing to the terms most likely to be searched for on a given topic. This is something of an oversimplification, to be sure; to give a hopefully helpful example, though: if I want to write about some topic related to the ending of the most recent Better Call Saul episode, I would need to include and keep foregrounded in my article the preferred search term “Better Call Saul ‘Nippy’ ending.”

What I’m saying is not breaking news. Google tweaks its algorithms constantly, in an endless cycle of refinement intended to bring the highest quality, most perfectly relevant Better Call Saul ‘Nippy’ ending content to you, the viewers and readers and content creators at home and on the go and caught in the go so steady it never ends, &c &c. Nor is the late-state inexorability of it all particularly noteworthy. What is is a reminder that behind every Better Call Saul ‘Nippy’ ending explainer is a writer struggling to earn literal nickels and dimes and to connect with an audience itself struggling to find and connect with any unexplored lines of logic or curious insights or fellow gobsmacked human beings eager to extend indefinitely the conversation about their filmed entertainments of choice.

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Gene Takavic (Bob Odenkirk) high-fives Marion (Carol Burnett) while Marion’s little Jeffie (Pat Healy) looks on, deeply confused and slightly worried – ever so slightly – that Gene is plowing his mom. (COURTESY: AMC)

But all of this threatens to become helplessly abstract. If you’ve clicked on the link and come to this article, it’s because you yourself are looking to extend that same conversation. So – the time has come to put an end to the toe-dipping and dive right into the waters of specificity. A barrage of Google-friendly search questions and Better Call Saul ‘Nippy’ ending answers coming right up:

The Better Call Saul ‘Nippy’ Ending Explained

What happened at the end of ‘Nippy,’ Better Call Saul Season 6 Episode 10?

Gene got away with it. He conned Jeff the Cab Driver into going through with an after-hours robbery of high-end merchandise at a big department store in the same mall where Gene is the manager of a Cinnabon franchise. Jeff managed the heist despite a pretty spectacular slip-and-fall, protected from major head trauma by Better Call Saul having already used up its allotment of this particular plot device. Gene gained sufficient leverage over Jeff, and his true identity will remain a secret. For now.

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Frank (Jim O’Heir), the Cottonwood Mall security guard Gene seduces with those cloying, irresistible cinnabons he now bakes all day. (COURTESY: AMC)

A-HA! You said “true identity,” but Saul Goodman is not that man’s true identity.

Right you are – you must be a Better Call Saul fan. Thanks for stopping by!

Hi, I’m a Breaking Bad fan, and I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation. If that isn’t Saul Goodman, who is he?

Thank you for asking so politely, Breaking Bad fan; your alpha pose belies your calm demeanor. That man up top high-fiving Carol Burnett is indeed Saul Goodman, first played by Bob Odenkirk in Breaking Bad. On Better Call Saul, we discover his real name is James (“Jimmy”) Morgan McGill. And after he goes into hiding, he assumes the identity of one Gene Takavic. So, technically, his “true” identity is as misty as a Led Zeppelin mountain hop.

What was the deal with that montage? All Gene did was take out the trash and feed cinnabons to the security guards. They used the song to make it seem cool, but it was all just kind of boring.

That song is thoroughly amazing, isn’t it? It’s called “Jim on the Move,” and it was written by legendary Argentinian composer Lalo Schifrin for the soundtrack to the original Mission: Impossible TV series. In fact, “Jim on the Move” was the B-side to the original “Theme from Mission: Impossible” single, released in 1967. And just to restate, in case you didn’t get it the first time around: five decades before Better Call Saul aired its first episode, a man named Lalo wrote a song about a man named Jim for a critically acclaimed television show about heists and secrets and double-crossing.

OK then; back to the Better Call Saul ‘Nippy’ ending. Why does Gene “Saul (Jimmy McGill) Goodman” Takavic leave the flamboyant shirt and gaudy tie on the rack in the episode’s very last scene?

Because he’s still Gene. And Gene, in hiding from all authorities, can be neither flamboyant nor gaudy. He has to remain as inconspicuous as possible – you might even say he has to live a life in black and white, devoid of all potentially showy color. “Nippy” writer Alison Tatlock called the moment Gene walks away from the clothes “almost a longing for a lost lover” and “like an actor leaving his costume behind.” But Tatlock also said the notion that this was Slippin’ Jimmy’s final con is a “wait-and-see question.”

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Someone’s real-life dog is to Nippy as Jimmy McGill is to Saul Goodman and Gene Takavic. (COURTESY: AMC)

Why did Gene tell Marion the story about Nippy the dog? Did he really lose his dog?

Gene needed to gain Marion’s confidence so he could both rattle and get close to Jeff. That’s what he is – a confidence (“con”) man. He has a gift for storytelling and a cachet of tricks deeper than Mary Poppins’ carpetbag. He made up a story about a missing dog because missing dogs make people go misty-eyed. Nippy is not Gene’s dog. Nippy is no one’s dog. Nippy is a prop, a metaphor, a state of mind. And, as at least one especially astute observer has pointed out, it’s a handy adjective to describe life without Kim Wexler.

I still don’t understand why Gene needed Jeff the Cab Driver to do the heist. It wasn’t even that big a robbery. Walt could have blown the whole store up with the lint and loose chemicals on the floor of his car.

At the beginning of Better Call Saul Season 4, Jeff appeared to recognize Gene while driving him home in his cab. This was confirmed and became an open-ended threat at the beginning of Season 5. So Gene had to resort to his Slippin’ Jimmy persona to neutralize Jeff’s power over him. First, he befriended Jeff’s mom. Then, he convinced Jeff to go in on the robbery that he – Gene – was planning. Then, after the robbery was a success, Gene informed Jeff that he’d just committed felonies punishable by approximately 30 years in prison. Thus, if Jeff ever goes to the authorities with what he knows about “Gene,” Gene will be able to turn on Jeff, too.

In his final scene with Jeff, Gene mentioned “mutually assured destruction.” What is that?

Inquire with your local historian.

How the Better Call Saul ‘Nippy’ Ending Ties Into Breaking Bad

It’s important to remember that there’s also a veritable assault on the Better Call Saul ‘Nippy’ ending critical discussion by a relative onslaught of disgruntled Breaking Bad fans. This is because just before Season 6 began airing – and following months of juicy rumor and tasty speculation – Better Call Saul co-creator and producer Peter Gould confirmed that the show’s final run would indeed feature well-placed story-relevant cameos from Bryan Cranston’s Walter White and Aaron Paul’s Jesse Pinkman.

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Gene Takavic (Bob Odenkirk) is neither Walter White nor Jesse Pinkman. (COURTESY: AMC)

Then, just a few weeks ago, some mischievous soul edited the IMDB cast list for Better Call Saul Season 6 Episode 10 to include Cranston and Paul. And because IMDB is gospel, it was naturally assumed by both show’s fans that that episode would be the first to feature Breaking Bad‘s biggest stars, the most-dead and most-in-Alaska characters that Vince Gilligan has yet created.

Except that – no Better Call Saul ‘Nippy’ ending spoilers! – Walt and Jesse do not appear in 6.10. It seems IMDB, like the Pope and the evening news, is fallible after all. And the legions of Breaking Bad defenders who canceled their AMC exile for a glimpse of their baby blue superheroes found themselves instead faced off against a seemingly low-stakes, deliberately quiet black-and-white character-driven caper so studded with show-specific details it may well appear impenetrable to anyone who hasn’t watched every episode of Better Call Saul. And if Better Call Saul‘s ratings – solid by 2022 standards; meager by those of Breaking Bad‘s 2013 heyday – are any indication, those legions have not stuck around for Saul’s six-season spotlight solo.

All of which is to say that in the wake of ‘Nippy’ there are a hell of a lot of Breaking Bad fans micturating in the swimming hole, stirring up sediment, and generally muddying the already murky waters of Discourse. Those waters are never really clear in the first place. As someone who enjoyed Breaking Bad and does not need the fleeting appearance of two of its characters to fall head-over-heels in love with Better Call Saul, I feel it might be worth pointing out that there is room enough in this crazy mixed-up world for both shows to coexist, receive acclaim, bring joy. We’ll see whether anybody responds by pissing on my leg.

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3 Responses

  1. Season 6 episode 10 was a place holder, b & w slow, boring, and without an interesting plot. What was the ‘snow’ made of, asbestos?

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