|Breaking Bad / Better Call Saul character|
|First appearance||"Better Call Saul"|
|Created by||Vince Gilligan
|Portrayed by||Bob Odenkirk|
|Aliases||James "Jimmy" McGill|
Saul Goodman (born James "Jimmy" 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 of the series. Saul is a criminal lawyer and can be easily found in the yellow pages of Albuquerque. His made up surname "Goodman" 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!”.
Upon first meeting Walt (who introduces himself as Mr. Mayhew), 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: "Faith and begorrah! A fellow potato eater! 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 a strong familiarity with the criminal trade and has connections to some of its most influential distributors, like Gus Fring. He also employs the services of a veteran private investigator named Mike, who executes often illegal commands from Saul and Gus such as cleaning up crime scenes and bugging homes. Saul is also not without integrity, as 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", following Badger's arrest for selling meth. After the arrest, 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 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 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, recognizing the danger, 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.
With his private investigator Mike figuring out who Walt is within an hour, 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, gaining Saul’s expertise.
In an effort to help pay for Walt's cancer treatment, Walter Jr. sets up the website, www.savewalterwhite.com, which requests and collects donations. When Walt tells Saul about not wanting to accept 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 Jane has died in his bed from choking, during a drug-induced sleep, he contacts Walt, who contacts Saul. Saul sends Mike to clean up the crime scene and mitigate Jesse's involvement with Jane's death.
Following the success of a $1.2 million sale of 38 pounds of meth, to Gus Fring, 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 parent's 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 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 Cousins entering with an axe and quickly places a call to Gus to call them off. Per Gus’s 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’s offer and will be cutting Jesse out of the business. Quickly dumping Jesse in favor of the much higher profits Walt can produce, Saul is once again hired to launder money for Walt – this time for a dramatically reduced percentage.
When Hank successfully deduces the existence of the RV, 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 make Hank believe his wife has been severely injured in a car accident. Saul regrets being a part of the cruel ruse, while 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. Having given Mike a fake address, when Saul secretly meets with Walt and Jesse, he expresses dismay at having been put in a difficult position.
After Jesse murders Gale at the end of season three, it is shown that Saul has locked up his offices and has a security guard at the door. Saul starts scanning his offices for bugs and becomes increasingly paranoid due to Walt's falling out with Gus.
Saul suggests to Skyler she should buy a laser tag business to launder Walt’s drug money. Skyler objects because it does not fit their story and instead sets her sights on purchasing the car wash Walt has previously worked for. When the owner Bogdan, who still harbors ill feelings toward Walt, refuses to sell (purposely raising the price to $20 million), Skyler and Walt ask Saul for help. Saul suggests they could accuse Bogdan of harboring al-Qaeda terrorists, but Walt rejects because 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 down the business due to contaminants. Bogdan is forced to sell at an even lower offer.
When Walt laments to Saul about how the meth business is falling apart because no one is acting professionally, he proposes that Walt go into hiding, which suggestion Walt soundly rejects.
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.
Ted 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. Then 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. However, a follow up by Saul reveals 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 an earlier offer to go into hiding. Walt also asks Saul to anonymously tip the DEA that Hank is being targeted. Saul initially refuses but ultimately 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.
In the fifth season it is revealed that Saul tasked Huell to pickpocket the ricin cigarette from Jesse, but didn't know it would result in Brock's poisoning. Saul attempts to end his partnership with Walt, but Walt backs him to 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 consisting of Ira, Todd, and others. 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 that Hank should be killed, which suggestion Walt angrily rejects. Later, when Jesse gets picked up by the police and interrogated by Hank after trying to throw away his money, 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 Nebraska.
Better Call Saul spin-off
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 green-lit by AMC, given the confirmed title Better Call Saul and is a prequel in a one hour format. The series premiere will premiere on February 8, 2015.
- "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.
- Josh Ralske (August 7, 2013). "'Better Call Saul!' The Best of Saul Goodman on Breaking Bad". TWC Central.