On this week’s episode of Better Call Saul, we saw the full-on return of the grifting “Slippin’ Jimmy,” as Jimmy McGill took one more step toward becoming Saul Goodman. Over the course of three seasons, we’ve seen Jimmy gradually become more Saul-like, but it’s not in the way he dresses or the way he acts. He’s taken on many of the characteristics we associate with Saul — Jimmy’s wearing Marco’s ring; he wears Saul’s loud suits; and as a commercial producer, he’s even borrowed Saul Goodman’s name — but “Saul Goodman” is not about the name. It’s not even about the fast-talking or the grifting or the lies, because Jimmy has always been a guy that could hatch a scheme.
In this week’s episode, when Jimmy threatened the parks and rec guy with a lawsuit in order to free the drug dealer from his community service hours, that wasn’t exactly a move closer to Saul Goodman for Jimmy. “I don’t think that’s Saul,” Bob Odenkirk said on this week’s Better Call Saul Insider podcast. “That’s Jimmy. That’s who he is. That’s a facility he has. To manipulate other people and think about what matters to him and negotiate.”
It’s his ability to manipulate other people and negotiate, in fact, that makes Jimmy a good lawyer, but not necessarily Saul Goodman. If coming up with a quick scheme to allow Jimmy to rest his back while doing community service and freeing a drug dealer to make a deal is not Saul-like, then what is?
The difference between Jimmy and Saul is not in their actions, it’s in the consequences, Odenkirk says. “Saul is the guy who doesn’t really care about the collateral damage. And knows it. And is aware of it.”
While Jimmy sometimes “does things to hurt people,” Odenkirk continues, “it’s not the purpose of his schemes. He’s oblivious to the collateral damage. Or he doesn’t want to look at it.”