|Breaking Bad / Better Call Saul character|
|First appearance||"Better Call Saul"|
|Created by||Vince Gilligan
|Portrayed by||Bob Odenkirk|
Saul Goodman (born James Morgan McGill) is a fictional character in the American television drama series Breaking Bad and the spin-off series Better Call Saul on AMC. He is portrayed by Bob Odenkirk and was created by series creator Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, a writer on the series. Saul is a criminal lawyer and can be easily found in the yellow pages of Albuquerque. Throughout Breaking Bad, he acts as Walter White and Jesse Pinkman's attorney and accomplice. His made-up name is a play on words to better attract clients: "'S'all good, man!" becomes "Saul Goodman". He is also known for his low-budget television commercials and print advertisements in Albuquerque, wherein he advertises mainly under the tagline "Better Call Saul!".
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Upon first meeting Walt, Saul explains that his real name is not Goodman, and that he is actually Irish, not Jewish, as his name would imply. He says he has chosen his name because it sounded Jewish: "My real name's McGill. The Jew thing I just do for the homeboys. They all want a pipe-hitting member of the tribe, so to speak." Saul has had multiple wives in the past, one of whom he caught having sex with his stepfather. At a certain point, he developed a short-lived romantic relationship with his secretary.
He has a highly stylized office in a cheap strip mall. With a repertoire that includes small-time drug busts, fraudulent insurance claims, class actions, and his overbearing manner, he might seem disreputable to police and certain other lawyers. However, despite his shady appearance, Saul is a highly competent extra-legal operator, adept at sniffing out legal loopholes and able to negotiate good deals on the behalf of his clients. He has deep ties with Albuquerque, New Mexico's most influential criminals, such as Gus Fring. He also employs the services of a veteran private investigator named Mike Ehrmantraut, who executes often illegal commands from Saul and Gus such as cleaning up crime scenes and bugging homes. Saul is not completely without integrity, however; he is shown to honor the ethics of his profession, particularly the attorney-client privilege, and is reluctant to involve himself with violence or murder.
Little is known of Saul's legal education. In one episode, a diploma is shown in Saul's office, indicating that "Saul Goodman" holds a Master of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of American Samoa. However, this is a fake credential, as there is no such educational institution, and Saul's last name is actually McGill.
Saul is introduced in the season 2 episode "Better Call Saul". Walt and Jesse contact Saul, after Jesse points out to Walt that they don't need a "criminal lawyer" (as in a lawyer who defends criminals) but a "criminal lawyer" (as in a lawyer who is a criminal). Walter hires Saul to keep Jesse's associate Badger out of prison and goes to extreme lengths (including bribery, kidnapping, and a death threat) to ensure Saul prevents Badger from incriminating Walt. Saul soon becomes a regular character on Breaking Bad.
Following Badger's arrest for selling meth, Walt and Jesse contact Saul for legal representation, as Jesse knows him from successfully defending Emilio twice, and getting him released almost immediately from jail. Walt, posing as Badger’s uncle "Mr. Mayhew", hires him to keep Badger out of prison. Unfortunately, while meeting Badger at the police station he catches a glimpse of DEA agents Hank Schrader and Steven Gomez, and deduces that they are interested in his client and plans to make a deal with the DEA for Badger to testify against his dealer “Heisenberg” (Walt's criminal alias). Walt offers Saul $10,000 to keep Badger from talking to the DEA, but Saul refuses, claiming to be “morally outraged.”
Walt and Jesse then take more desperate measures, kidnapping Saul at gunpoint and taking him to the desert to threaten him into keeping Badger from testifying. However, Saul quickly points out it would make more sense to have Badger killed in prison, but Walt and Jesse reject this solution. Recognizing “Mr. Mayhew” from Walt’s hacking cough, he quickly offers to be their lawyer, accepting payment of six dollars on the spot to establish a confidential attorney-client relationship.
To throw the DEA off Walt and Jesse’s trail, Saul proposes the use of James Edward Kilkely (aka Jimmy “In-and-Out”), who fits Heisenberg’s description and is a professional fall guy who takes the rap for other peoples' crimes for a fee. In exchange for $80,000 ($50,000 of which goes to Saul for a finders' fee) and a decoy pound of meth, Saul has Badger cooperate with the authorities and a sting operation leads to Jimmy’s arrest.
When Mike figures out who Walt is, Saul–intrigued by the DEA’s interest in Walt’s product–proposes that Walt hire him as his consigliere, in the same vein as Tom Hagen from The Godfather. Walt ultimately accepts the offer.
In an effort to help pay for Walt's cancer treatment, his son Walter Jr. sets up the website, www.savewalterwhite.com, which requests and collects donations. Saul tells Walt that it is a perfect opportunity to launder money. Saul arranges for a wave of fake donations drawn from Walt's drug money.
When Jesse discovers that his girlfriend Jane Margolis has died in his bed from a heroin overdose, he contacts Walt, who contacts Saul. Saul sends Mike to clean up the crime scene and mitigate Jesse's involvement with Jane's death.
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After Walt sells 38 pounds of meth to Gus Fring for $1.2 million, Saul pushes Walt to take Gus’s lucrative offer to continue cooking. Saul also accepts a job from Jesse, using Jesse’s half of the earnings to purchase Jesse's parents' house at a dramatically lowered price, by strong-arming Jesse’s parents and attorney with a potential lawsuit concerning the undisclosed meth lab Jesse was running out of the basement.
After Walt reveals that his wife Skyler has threatened to expose him, Saul assures Walt that she wouldn't talk due to blowback on the family, but Saul secretly hires Mike to bug the Whites' house as insurance. Forced to leave early when Walt comes home, Mike witnesses the cartel hitmen Leonel and Marco Salamanca entering with an axe and quickly places a call to Gus to call them off. Per Gus’ direction, Saul has not been informed of this threat to Walt.
Mike later brings Walt to Saul after Walt creates a disturbance at Skyler’s office, and attempts to talk Walt into cooking meth again. After Saul admits that he bugged Walt’s house, Walt attacks and subsequently fires him. Furious, Saul stops laundering Walt’s drug money. Jesse then approaches Saul with two bags of meth he has cooked himself using Walt’s procedure, and asks to set up a deal. He meets with Victor to make the exchange, only to see he has been given half of the money – the other half goes to Walt. Saul sets up an intervention between Walt and Jesse, offering to give Walt a percentage of Jesse’s future deals. Walt returns Jesse’s half, coldly informing both of them that he has now accepted Gus’ offer and will be cutting Jesse out of the business. Saul quickly dumps Jesse as a client in favor of the much higher profits Walt can produce, and once again goes to work laundering Walt's money – this time for a dramatically reduced percentage.
When Hank - who is also Walt's brother-in-law - deduces the existence of the RV Walt and Jesse use to cook meth, Walt calls Saul in a panic. Saul scolds him for not having a contingency plan. After Hank locates the RV with Walt and Jesse trapped inside, Walt calls Saul for assistance. Saul has his secretary Francesca masquerade as a law enforcement official to tell Hank that his wife Marie has been severely injured in a car accident to give Walt and Jesse time to destroy the RV. Saul later feels guilty for taking part in such a cruel ruse, and Francesca tells him she should be paid more for this sort of work.
After Walt murders two drug dealers and Jesse goes on the run, Mike storms into Saul's office and seemingly intimidates him into revealing Jesse's whereabouts. Saul gives Mike a fake address, however, and secretly meets with Walt and Jesse. He expresses dismay at having been put in a difficult position.
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After Jesse murders cartel meth cook Gale Boetticher at the end of season three, Saul fears he will be next. He locks up his offices, puts a security guard at the door, and starts scanning his offices for bugging devices.
Saul suggests to Skyler she should buy a laser tag business to launder Walt’s drug money. Skyler dismisses the idea, and instead sets her sights on purchasing the car wash Walt has previously worked for. When the owner Bogdan refuses to sell, Skyler and Walt ask Saul for help. Saul suggests they accuse Bogdan of harboring al-Qaeda terrorists, but Walt dismisses that plan, reasoning that Bogdan is not Arabic. Eventually, they concoct a plan to force Bogdan to sell: Skyler hires Saul’s henchman Kuby to perform a fake environmental audit on the car wash and threaten to shut it down, forcing Bogdan to sell for a relatively low price.
When Walt says that he fears his meth business will go under, Saul mentions that he knows someone who can, for a fee, arrange for him to disappear and start over with a new identity. Walt rejects this idea, however.
When Walt angrily blows up the Dodge Challenger he'd bought for Walt Jr. but which Skyler insisted Walt return, Saul helps deal with the legal consequence and cover up the incident. After paying Saul for his services, Walt asks for a list of hit men he could hire to kill Gus. Saul advises against it since Mike knows all of the contacts, and hiring outside of his network carries the risk of encountering undercover cops.
Meanwhile, Skyler's former boss and lover Ted Beneke tells Skyler that his business is being audited for tax fraud. Since Skyler was his bookkeeper, she could also be implicated. At the audit, Skyler acts completely ignorant of accounting practices. The IRS agent, believing the fraud was simply a mistake, orders Ted to pay back taxes and fines. Ted, however, refuses to comply. Skyler, against Saul’s advice, arranges for Ted to receive enough money to pay his IRS debt by having Saul manufacture a fake relative who leaves Ted a sizable inheritance. When Saul follows up, however, he finds that Ted is not using the money to pay the IRS. With no other options, Skyler has Saul’s men—Huell and Kuby—force Ted to write the check. They succeed, but in Ted’s attempt to flee, he trips and seriously injures himself.
Gus coerces Walt into a meeting, where he informs him that he is going to kill Hank to cover their tracks, and threatens to kill Walt and his family if he tries to intervene. Walt barges into Saul's office and takes him up on his earlier offer to go into hiding. Walt also asks Saul to anonymously tip the DEA that Hank is being targeted. Saul eventually agrees, provided Gus' name isn't mentioned. Afterward, Saul gives Jesse back his money and prepares to flee Albuquerque temporarily until the fallout between Walt and Gus is over.
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In the fifth season it is revealed that Saul tasked Huell to pickpocket a ricin-filled cigarette from Jesse, but didn't know that Walt would use it to poison Jesse's girlfriend's son Brock. Saul attempts to end his partnership with Walt, but Walt backs him into a corner and intimidates him back into compliance. As Walt, Jesse, and Mike set up their own meth operation in the vacuum left by Gus's demise, Saul helps them find a meth lab and equips them with a team led by Todd Alquist. Saul helps Mike when the DEA comes close to catching him.
Jesse asks Saul to deliver his share of the drug money to Mike's granddaughter and the family of Drew Sharp, a child Todd murdered for witnessing a train heist, but Saul refuses. After Hank discovers that Walt is Heisenberg, Saul advises Walt to kill Hank, which suggestion Walt angrily rejects. Later, when Jesse is picked up by the police and interrogated by Hank, Saul bails him out of custody. Later, after arranging a meeting between Walt and Jesse to discuss how to handle Hank's investigation, Saul arranges with his contact to set Jesse up with a new identity far away from Albuquerque. However, Jesse realizes Saul's complicity in Brock's poisoning and beats a confession out of him. Saul subsequently advises Walt to call in a hit on Jesse.
After Hank and Gomez are killed and Walt's criminality is publicly exposed, Saul decides to set himself up with a new identity. He and Walt spend several days in a basement together while Saul's extractor, Ed, makes the necessary arrangements. Walt asks Saul to help him find hitmen to kill Hank's murderers, but Saul instead advises Walt to turn himself in to avoid a lengthy and humiliating federal investigation against Skyler. Walt again attempts to threaten Saul into complying, but breaks down in a coughing fit. With his transportation ready, Saul leaves Walt and heads for a new life in Omaha, Nebraska.
Better Call Saul
In April 2013, it was announced that a spin-off series focusing on Saul is being developed by Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan and writer Peter Gould; the latter wrote the episode that introduced the character. Gilligan had considered it in a July 2012 interview: "I like the idea of a lawyer show in which the main lawyer will do anything it takes to stay out of a court of law. He'll settle on the courthouse steps, whatever it takes to stay out of the courtroom. That would be fun—I would like that." In early TV commercials Saul Goodman claims to represent clients in personal injury, car accidents, traffic tickets, drug dealing, bond fraud, DUI and slip and fall accidents. In July 2013, Vince Gilligan commented that the series had yet to be green-lit but he and Gould are "full speed ahead on trying to get going." In developing the series, they were considering making it a half-hour show with a comedic tone but said that they might still choose to go with a one-hour drama like Breaking Bad and would not reveal whether it would be a prequel or sequel series until after Breaking Bad finished its run.
On September 11, 2013, it was announced that the series had been approved by AMC and given the confirmed title Better Call Saul, and is a prequel in a one-hour format. The series premiered on February 8, 2015 on AMC.
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The series starts with a sequence at a mall in present-day Omaha, Nebraska. Saul Goodman, now going by the alias Gene, is managing a Cinnabon as he predicted in Breaking Bad. He is noticeably afraid that people from his past might find him and kill him. He spends his free time in his low-rent apartment drinking and watching old recordings of his commercials from his time as a criminal attorney in Albuquerque. The series then flashes back to the past. Jimmy McGill (the man who will one day be known as Saul Goodman) is an underpaid public defender working difficult cases and defending hopeless clients in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Jimmy vows to never take another public defender case again but then receives a promising phone call from two prospective clients, County Treasurer Craig Kettleman and his wife, Betsy.
Before leaving the courthouse, Jimmy is infuriated by a run-in with the gate keeper at the courthouse parking garage, Mike Ehrmantraut. Mike tells Jimmy that he has to get his parking validation completed or else pay the remainder of the fee for parking. After an over-the-top rant at Mike, Jimmy goes back to the courthouse to complete his validation so that he may leave the courthouse and attend to his important potential clients. At a diner later that afternoon, Jimmy meets with the Kettlemans. Having read in the newspaper that $1.6 million has gone missing from the county treasury, Jimmy tries to convince the Kettlemans that it is imperative that they hire him as their lawyer. Seemingly convinced, Mr. Kettleman is about to sign Jimmy's letter of engagement when his wife stops him. They decide to sleep on the decision, and bid Jimmy farewell. While driving through a neighborhood later that day, Jimmy turns a corner without catching sight of an oncoming skateboarder, who slams into his car and tumbles painfully across the windshield. The skater, Cal, and his twin brother, Lars, demand $500 from Jimmy in compensation for Cal's serious injuries. Jimmy realizes he's being scammed and chases off the young -- and uninjured -- con artists.
Jimmy attends to his mail in his makeshift office in the back of a Vietnamese-owned nail salon. Among the mail's stack of overdue bills is an envelope from the law firm Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill containing a check for $26,000 that Jimmy angrily tears the check into pieces. At the offices of Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill, Jimmy barges into a conference room demanding to know why he was sent a check. Name-partner Howard Hamlin explains that the money was meant for Jimmy's brother, Chuck, who is also a name partner at the firm. Noting that Chuck hasn't set foot in the offices for almost a year, Jimmy insists that the firm should pay $17 million to cash out Chuck's share. Hamlin declines, maintaining that Chuck's absence is simply "an extended sabbatical." After the meeting, Jimmy overhears Hamlin welcoming the Kettlemans to the firm. Jimmy has a brief conversation with his ex-girlfriend, Kim Wexler (an employee at Hamlin, Hamlin, & McGill) and heads back to his car dejectedly. Jimmy arrives at the home of his brother Chuck, who has quarantined himself inside his house due to a peculiar condition that causes him to suffer when exposed to certain types of electromagnetism.
Worried that Chuck is running out of money, Jimmy pushes him to cash out his share of Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill. Chuck refuses saying that his condition will improve and he will return to work and that Hamlin had delivered him a check earlier that day. Chuck also relays a request to Jimmy from McGill: that Jimmy stop using the name McGill. This aggravates Jimmy who immediately storms back to his car and is struck with an idea. Jimmy tracks down Cal and Lars at a nearby skate park. Jimmy tells them about his younger days, when he became known as "Slippin' Jimmy" by earning thousands of dollars feigning injuries from staged slip-and-fall accidents. Jimmy offers to pay the twins $2,000 to stage an accident aimed at his proposed target: Mrs. Kettleman. Jimmy shows the boys Mrs. Kettleman's brown station wagon and takes them to the intended hit site: an intersection she crosses daily. His plan is to swoop in, save Mrs. Kettleman from the scam, and win her trust and her business. He leaves the twins to take his post in front of the Kettleman house, giving them a warning as soon as she gets into her car. All goes according to plan, but instead of the stopping, the station wagon pulls away rapidly with Cal and Lars in pursuit. When the station wagon finally reaches its destination, an elderly Mexican woman gets out. The twins get in her face and threaten to call the police, demanding restitution for harming. Understanding, she motions that they follow her inside the house. Inside, it is revealed that the woman is the grandmother of Tuco Salamanca. In retaliation for attempting to con his grandmother, Tuco beats them savagely with a cane.
Meanwhile, Jimmy arrives soon after and pounds on the house's front door. When it opens, Tuco reaches out and puts a pistol to Jimmy's forehead and yanks pulls him inside the house. Jimmy promises that he and his “moronic clients” will disappear and keep their lips sealed. Swayed by his rationalization, Tuco brings Jimmy to where the brothers are tied up on the floor of his garage and tells him to free them so that they may all leave. A frightened and irrational Lars then blurts out that Jimmy was the mastermind behind their whole scam. Once again, Tuco levels his gun at Jimmy. Out in the desert, Tuco and his henchmen stand guard over Jimmy and the twins while Tuco grills Jimmy as to his identity and why he is "after him." Jimmy insists that he’s just a lawyer who was trying to win over clients that had stolen $1.6 million from the county treasury. Tuco doesn’t believe Jimmy, but his right-hand man, Nacho, does. Nacho warns Tuco that killing lawyers is bad for business. Reluctantly, Tuco lets Jimmy walk free. Later however, Nacho arrives at Jimmy's office and offers Jimmy a hefty finder’s fee if he can help Nacho steal the Kettlemans’ ill-gotten gains.
Jimmy, concerned about Nacho's inquiry places an anonymous phone call to the Kettlemans warning them that they are in danger. The next day, Jimmy is leaving court when he receives an urgent call from his girlfriend Kim regarding the Kettlemans. Too rushed to deal with Mike's continuing insistence that he have enough validation stickers, Jimmy reaches inside Mike's booth, pushes the button to open the gate, and drives off. Jimmy learns that the Kettlemans' house has been ransacked and the family has disappeared. Jimmy is taken to the police station where it is revealed that Nacho has been arrested for kidnapping the Kettlemans and claims that Jimmy is his lawyer. A neighbor saw Nacho's van parked in front of the Kettlemans' house and reported the plates to the police. Upon searching the van, the detectives found blood on the floor (actually belonging to Lars and Cal but is unidentified) and arrested him. Nacho refutes the charges claiming that his van was at the scene only because he was casing the house, planning his future heist. Nacho threatens Jimmy, saying that if he does not get him out of jail "he is a dead man."
Jimmy claims to the detectives that the Kettlemans must have run off with the money they had stolen from the treasury and tried to make it appear to be a kidnapping. Mike, revealing himself to be a former detectives, tells Jimmy that he believes his story and says he belives that the Kettlemans are hiding close by. Jimmy rushes to the Kettleman's neighborhood to search for them. He finds them camping in the land behind their own backyard singing campire songs while guarding a duffel bag filled with the money that Craig had stolen from the treasury. The Kettlemans decide to bribe Jimmy in order to assure his silence and after some hesitation, Jimmy accepts the bribe.
Using money from the bribe Jimmy decides to exact revenge upon Howard Hamlin for asking him not to use his own name. Jimmy has a suit tailored for himself in Hamlin's signature style: blue pinstripes, with a club collar shirt, tie bar, and knit tie. He then has his hair cut and dyed in Hamlin's style and then takes out an advertisement on a billboard located on Hamlin's commute to work. The billboard features Jimmy, dressed as Hamlin, and the new logo of the James M. McGill (J.M.M.) law firm, closely copying that of Hamlin, Hamlin, and McGill (H.H.M.). Hamlin orders Kim to serve Jimmy a cease and desist. Jimmy is ordered to remove the billboard within 48 hours. While the billboard is being removed, Jimmy decides to plead his case in front of the billboard being taken down while two film students film him. During the filming, the workman removing the billboard falls nearly to his death but is saved by Jimmy. It is revealed that Jimmy paid the man to fall and that the whole incident was a publicity stunt.
- "Vince Gilligan Talks BREAKING BAD, the Saul Goodman Spinoff, the Behind-the-Scenes Documentary, and More". Collider. 2013-09-13. Retrieved 2013-09-23.
- Andreeva, Nellie (April 9, 2013). "AMC Eyes ‘Breaking Bad’ Spinoff Toplined By Bob Odenkirk". Deadline.com. Retrieved January 20, 2015.
- "Is Saul Goodman a Car Accident or Personal Injury Lawyer?". David Azizi Legal Blog. 2014-09-12.
- O'Neal, Sean (2013-07-03). "Breaking Bad spinoff that was in development now in super-serious development". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2013-09-23.
- O'Neal, Sean (2013-09-11). "Breaking Bad's prequel spinoff about Saul Goodman is basically a go at AMC". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2013-09-23.
- Roots, Kimberly (November 20, 2014). "Better Call Saul Gets Two-Night February Premiere on AMC". TVLine. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
- "Better Call Saul - Uno - AMC". AMC TV.
- "Better Call Saul - Mijo - AMC". AMC TV.
- "Better Call Saul - Nacho - AMC". AMC TV.
- "Better Call Saul - Hero - AMC". AMC TV.
- Josh Ralske (August 7, 2013). "'Better Call Saul!' The Best of Saul Goodman on Breaking Bad". TWC Central.