While Breaking Bad depicted Walter White’s treacherous evolution into drug lord Heisenberg, Better Call Saul follows the parallel journey of how lawyer Jimmy McGill (played by Bob Odinkirk) turns into Breaking Bad shady side-character Saul Goodman. Though it has a certain brand of levity due to the nature of protagonist Jimmy, the show has its fare share of tragedy, as the Season 3 finale recently proved. Vulture recently spoke to Better Call Saul writer Gennifer Hutchison about the Season 3 finale and exactly what happened to Chuck McGill, Jimmy’s older brother, in the finale’s final moments.
The season finale saw Chuck’s relapse, doubling back on his efforts throughout Season 3 to make progressive turns against his psychosomatic state of electromagnetic hypersensitivity. In the episode’s final moments, Chuck has a breakdown eventually ending in him purposefully knocking over a lantern, subsequently lighting his house on fire with him inside. While some fans speculated that Chuck made his way out to and will later return in Season 4, Hutchison confirmed the sad truth: Season 3 ended with Chuck’s definitive suicide.
Hutchison spoke on Chuck’s manner of death and stressed that the scene carries a serious weight not only in terms of Chuck’s character arc, but also for the series as a whole. “We wanted to bring this story to a head and serve the character well, to make sure it felt like an earned moment and really spent some good time with him,” Hutchison said. “But obviously, what this means for our other characters is incredibly important as well. You really want to honor a character and have anything they do affect everyone around them.”
Hutchison also suggested that Chuck’s suicide was his final way of taking control over a situation he felt was rapidly spinning away from him. “It’s all Chuck McGill at the end. He’s on his own island,” Hutchison mused.
Actor Michael McKean, who plays Chuck McGill on the show, has also spoken out about his character’s fate in the Season 3 finale. In an interview with The New York Times, McKean added to Hutchison’s confirmation that Season 3 was the end for Chuck. “We’re saying that’s the end,” McKean stated.
The actor stressed that Chuck’s death will have serious ramifications on Jimmy, suggesting that Chuck’s suicide will be a crucial turning point in causing Jimmy to turn to his Saul Goodman persona for good. McKean explained, “One of the things that made Jimmy [turn into] Saul Goodman is the burden of, if not guilt, then that nagging feeling of having being somehow involved [in Chuck’s demise].” In their final scene together, Chuck is decidedly bitter towards Jimmy (with Chuck telling his brother, “I don’t want to hurt your feelings. But the truth is, you’ve never mattered all that much to me.”), no doubt reinforcing Jimmy’s guilt in relation to his brother’s awful fate.
McKean did tell The New York Times that the creatives behind Better Call Saul have some flashbacks of Chuck planned for the show’s upcoming Season 4, so its not the entire end of Chuck on the show. But from this moment on – for better or worse – Jimmy will no longer have his brother Chuck around on his journey to becoming Saul Goodman.