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.”
Saul, on the other hand, is more “fully mature. He’s fully aware of who is going to get hurt, and he doesn’t care. It’s about serving himself. So, when he makes those emotional choices without regard to the consequences, that’s when we’re getting in touch with Saul.”
“It’s not the name,” Odenkirk continues. “It’s not the fast talking. He did that when he was 16. He’s done that his whole life. It’s the growth of the character to an awareness that people get hurt by his schemes and then not caring. A choice to be mercenary.”
So why exactly does Jimmy turn into Saul Goodman? “It’s just getting his feelings hurt in life over and over,” Odenkirk presumes. Jimmy has learned the wrong lessons in life. “We very often feed our kids too many cookies because our parents wouldn’t give us cookies. That’s not the right lesson.” Giving cookies to your kids is fine, but it’s important to give the right amount of cookies.
in Saul, Jimmy gets his feelings hurt by Chuck, by Kim, and by Hamlin, and instead of being more careful of other people’s feelings, Jimmy McGill simply takes the wrong lesson in life and decides to double down by hurting other people even more.
That’s the journey of Jimmy McGill to Saul Goodman. In other words, we’ll know that Saul Goodman has arrived when Jimmy hatches a scheme fully knowing that it will result in someone else’s emotional pain, and he goes through with it anyway, indifferent to the consequences.
(Via the Better Call Saul Insider Podcast)