Saul Goodman is a persona. He’s the product of pain and rejection. He may be funny and successful and great at his job, but he’s also a profoundly sad man. Better Call Saul is a journey through the pain and heartbreak that transforms the naive, hopeful, people-pleasing Jimmy McGill into the man we know from Breaking Bad. At its heart, Better Call Saul is a tragedy — a collection of rejections that eventually transform McGill into Goodman.
Thankfully, Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould are able to take our minds off some of the heartbreak each week by dropping interesting details, callbacks, and Easter Eggs that we can appreciate as we absorb the slowly unfolding tragedy. As we did last year, we’ll return each week and take a deeper look at each episode and pick up on the details that may be missed with only one viewing. Why? Because Gilligan and Gould are generous enough to give us layers that can be peeled back. That’s not true of many shows, so we should take advantage.
The following details were gleaned largely from rewatching “Switch” several times, listening to Kelly Dixon’s excellent Better Call Saul Insider podcast with Gilligan and Gould, and scouring the internet for other details and theories. Hyperlinks are to the Better Call Saul Insider podcast unless otherwise noted.
1. “SG Was Here”
Let’s start with the opening scene, which takes us to Omaha and “Gene” — formerly Saul Goodman, formerly Jimmy McGill — working at a Cinnabon. This scene exists mostly to remind us of where Jimmy McGill eventually ends up, although there’s a moment in this sequence that’s called back at the end of the episode (see #10).
Additionally, while trapped in the Dumpster room, he scrawls the following:
Viewers can interpret that any way they’d like, of course, but the writer and director of the episode, Thomas Schnauz, interprets it to mean that “Saul Goodman was here,” and he is no longer. In other words, there’s nothing left of Saul Goodman inside of this man, Gene. Saul Goodman has checked out for good.
That’s abundantly clear in this shot. There’s no trace of Goodman.