James Morgan McGill, also known as Saul Goodman and Gene Taković, is a fictional character who appears in the television series Breaking Bad and serves as the titular character of its spin-off prequel series Better Call Saul. He is portrayed by Bob Odenkirk, and was created by Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould. The character is an Albuquerque-based lawyer who embraces his tendencies as a former scam artist and begins to represent criminals while himself becoming involved in the city's criminal world. Saul's name is a play on the phrase "[It]'s all good, man".
|Breaking Bad / Better Call Saul character|
Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman/Jimmy McGill
|Portrayed by||Bob Odenkirk|
Blake Bertrand, Cole Whitaker (childhood flashbacks)
|Full name||James Morgan McGill|
|Significant other||Kim Wexler|
He adopts the alias "Saul Goodman" during the third season of Better Call Saul, though not as an attorney, but as a TV commercial producer.
In Breaking Bad, the character is introduced to help Walter White launder the proceeds of his methamphetamine production, and later introduces White and Pinkman to drug kingpin Gus Fring. He is depicted as using tacky television commercials to advertise his practice, which is based in a strip mall office that features a giant rendering of the United States Constitution. Until the final episodes of the series, he is portrayed as a relatively light-hearted character, mainly interested in profiting while other characters are concerned with life and death. By the end of the series, when Walt's drug empire has collapsed, Saul is forced to go into hiding under a new identity.
The season premieres of Better Call Saul open with black and white flash forwards that take place after the final episodes of Breaking Bad, showing that after leaving Albuquerque, Saul relocates to Omaha, Nebraska under the alias "Gene Taković", and keeps a low profile as the manager of a Cinnabon establishment.
After Badger is arrested in a sting operation by the Albuquerque Police, Walt and Jesse look into hiring a shady, flamboyant lawyer named Saul Goodman. Saul has already offered to be Badger's legal counsel and has found out that the DEA is hoping that Badger will lead them to "Heisenberg." Walt poses as Badger's uncle and goes to Saul's office, where he learns that Saul will advise Badger to flip to avoid prison. Walt offers Saul a bribe to keep Badger from confessing, but Saul refuses.
Walt and Jesse resort to kidnapping Saul, threatening to kill him if he does not keep Badger from informing on them. However, Saul sees through their scare tactics and instead asks for payment so he can legally represent them, and keep their talks confidential. Saul tells the duo about a man, Jimmy "In-'N-Out" Kilkelly, who makes a living being paid by other criminals to go to jail, and offers to have him stand in for Heisenberg. The DEA busts Kilkelly when Badger gives them a fake deal, but Hank is not completely convinced. Later, Saul visits Walt at his school, telling him that he is too easy to find. Saul offers to be Walt's full-time legal counsel and adviser in covering his tracks.
Saul Goodman helps Jesse Pinkman buy his aunt's house back. Saul and Mike Ehrmantraut bug Skyler's house to find out if she has told anyone about Walt. Saul attempts to get Jesse to convince Walt to get back into cooking methamphetamine. After an altercation between Walt and Ted Beneke, Mike picks up Walt and brings him to Saul. Walt figures out that Saul has been bugging his house and attacks Saul, causing him to refuse to launder anymore money through Walt Jr.'s website. Jesse Pinkman visits Saul with methamphetamine he cooked, asking for a meeting with Gustavo Fring, who takes Jesse onboard. Saul sets up a meeting between Jesse and Walt to solve the issue of Jesse's half of the money. When Saul hears that Walt has been made Gus' main cook, and that Jesse had been used to get to Walt, he switches sides and agrees to launder Walt's money for a reduced price.
When Hank is close to discovering Walt and Jesse within their RV, Walt calls on Saul for help. Saul uses his secretary Francesca to pose as a doctor tending to Marie in order to lure Hank away, and give Jesse and Walt enough time to destroy the RV. Hank attacks Jesse in his home over this, and Saul visits Jesse in the hospital, advising him. When Jesse threatens to expose Walter's identity, Saul privately considers the option of killing Jesse with Walt, though Walt rejects this. Saul tries to convince Jesse to buy property to launder his money but Jesse rejects the idea. Saul discusses plans for money laundering with Skyler and Walt, floating the idea of Walt buying a laser tag business. Skyler, however, is adamant about buying Bogdan's car wash. Walt visits Saul over Jesse's plan to kill two dealers working for Gus over their murder of Combo. Walt discusses the idea of getting Jesse arrested, but the plan is stopped by Mike on behalf of Gus. Saul is threatened by Mike into giving him the whereabouts of Jesse, though Saul gives a fake address. He helps Jesse hide and meet with Walt in the laser tag arcade.
Saul discusses various ways to get Bogdan to sell his car wash to Skyler, but Skyler rules out using violence or intimidation. Saul and Skyler coordinate Patrick Kuby to pose as an environmental regulator to inform Bogdan that fixing his run-off would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Bogdan decides to sell the car wash to Skyler. Walt confides in Saul about his concerns with Jesse, Hank, and Gus. Saul tells Walter about the "disappearer" vacuum repair man who could give Walt and his family a whole new life and identity if things get out of hand. Saul is able to protect Walt from the legal ramifications of the destruction of his car. Walt suggests Saul contact a hit-man to kill Gus Fring but Saul dismisses the idea. On behalf of Jesse, Saul visits Andrea and gives her his money.
To protect Skyler from the IRS' investigation into Ted Beneke's tax fraud, Saul gives 620 thousand of Walt's money to Ted as inheritance from a fake relative. When Ted refuses to use the money to pay the IRS, Skyler calls Saul to deal with it. Saul sends Kuby and Huell to force Ted to sign a check to the IRS, but after he signs Ted trips and injures himself. After being threatened by Gus, Walt demands Saul set up a meeting with his disappearer so his family can escape. Walt asks Saul to tip off the DEA that Gus directed men to kill Hank. Saul agrees but refuses to mention Gus. Saul gets Jesse to come to his office, and has Huell secretly lift the ricin cigarette off of him. Saul gives Jesse his money and leaves for safety. The ricin cigarette is used as a way to blame Gus for the poisoning of Brock to get Jesse onto Walt's side. Saul comes out of hiding to represent Jesse from police investigating Jesse for tipping off the doctors that Brock may have been poisoned. Saul is able to get information about Gus out of Jesse that would be useful for Walt. Saul tells Walt about the vendetta between Gus and Hector Salamanca.
Saul visits Skyler and tells her about Ted's accident. Walt visits Saul angry that he gave 620 thousand dollars to Ted. Saul, upset over the poisoning of Brock attempts to end Walt's business relationship with him, but is intimidated out of it by Walt. Saul tries to convince Walt to stop cooking, but Walt says he cannot because he's broke. Saul hosts a meeting between Mike, Jesse, and Walt, where it is agreed that Jesse and Walt will handle manufacturing and Mike will handle distribution. Saul helps Walt and Jesse look for new locations to cook methamphetamine before agreeing on Vamanos Pest as the best option. Saul defends Mike from the DEA's investigation and trailing by threatening litigation over stalking charges. Mike's lawyer is discovered to be funneling illegal money to his granddaughter and Mike goes on the run. Mike calls Saul asking him to bring him a bag. Saul is unable to get his bag, and allows Walt to get it. Walt shoots Mike in a fit of rage after an argument. Jesse visits Saul with his 5 million and asks for it to be given to Mike's granddaughter and the parents of Drew Sharp, a child Todd killed during Walt's train heist. Saul points out how this plan will attract more questions and get Jesse into legal trouble. Jesse accepts this and attempts to get rid of the money other ways. Saul calls Walt to inform him of how distraught Jesse is over the money.
Walt visits Saul to discuss that Hank now knows Walt is Heisenberg. Saul suggests killing Hank but Walt rejects the idea. Saul helps bail out Jesse after he was caught throwing thousands of dollars out his car window. Saul arranges a meeting in the desert between Walt and Jesse, and Walt is able to convince Jesse to contact Saul's disappearer to start a new life. Saul tries to get Jesse to give up his drugs for the trip but Jesse refuses, so Saul has Huell pickpocket Jesse's cannabis. Jesse realizing his weed was lifted, concludes that Huell must have lifted the ricin too at the orders of Saul. Jesse returns to Saul's office and assaults him over Brock's poisoning. Saul admits that he had the cigarette lifted but didn't know what Walt intended. Saul calls Walt to warn him about Jesse. Saul meets with Walt who is living in a hotel for his own safety, and suggests killing Jesse. After the DEA manipulate Huell into laying low and telling them what happened to Walt's money, Saul is afraid for his life and meets with Walt at the car wash. After Walt goes into hiding due to his identity being revealed, Saul and Walt both contact the disappearer, Ed, who sets up a new life for Saul as a manager of a Cinnabon in Omaha, Nebraska. Walt tries to persuade Saul into going with him, and to contact hitmen to kill Jack Welker over the murder of Hank but Saul refuses. Walt tries to intimidate Saul but doubles over in a coughing fit giving Saul enough time to escape.
Better Call SaulEdit
Season 1 begins with a flash-forward after Breaking Bad. Jimmy McGill is living under the name "Gene Taković" as a manager of a Cinnabon in Omaha, Nebraska. He is afraid someone may eventually notice him, and spends a night watching his old Saul Goodman commercials.
Jimmy McGill is working as a public defender, attempting to grow his own law practice out of a small office in a nail salon. Jimmy meets Betsy and Craig Kettleman who have embezzled $1.6 million. They consider hiring Jimmy as their lawyer but end up hiring Hamlin Hamlin McGill (HHM) instead. Jimmy confronts head of HHM, Howard Hamlin over his refusal to cash Jimmy's brother Charles McGill out of HHM. Charles, a founding partner of HHM, is unable to work due to electromagnetic hypersensitivity and is cared for by Jimmy. On his ride home he hits a skateboarder, who with his brother, attempts to scam him. Jimmy approaches them later with a plan to have Jimmy defend the Kettlemans from the brothers, earning their trust. They end up hitting the car of the grandmother of Tuco Salamanca back to her house where he is staying. Tuco kidnaps Jimmy and the brothers with the help of Nacho Varga and bring them to the desert. Jimmy tells them about the Kettlemans and is able to convince them to let the brothers go if they break one leg each.
Jimmy continues his public defender work. Nacho wants to know where the Kettelmans' money is so he can steal it. Jimmy makes an anonymous payphone call to the Kettlemans saying that they are in danger. Jimmy learns from Kim that the Kettlemans have disappeared. Nacho tells Jimmy that he was staking out their house but did not kidnap them and that if Jimmy does not exonerate him he will have Jimmy killed. Jimmy is convinced that the Kettlemans actually kidnapped themselves out of fear. Mike, a parking validator, suggests that the Kettlemans are hiding close to home. Jimmy finds the Kettlemans in a tent. The Kettlemans offer Jimmy $30,000 as a bribe and Jimmy takes it, after protesting. Jimmy buys new clothes, and sets up a billboard similar to HHM's. Jimmy sets up a publicity stunt where he saves a man falling from the billboard. Chuck steals his neighbors newspaper and finds out. Jimmy settles down into elder law using the $30,000 to fund his new firm. The police arrest and taser Chuck over stealing the newspaper. The doctor believes Chuck's condition is psychological and asks Jimmy to commit him. Jimmy refuses, and reaffirms Chuck that the billboard was a one-time stunt. Jimmy seeks out new clients in retirement homes. Jimmy offers Kim a partnership but Kim refuses. The Kettlemans leave HHM over their deal, and contact Jimmy. The Kettlemans blackmail Jimmy into taking their case due to Jimmy taking $30,000 of their stolen money. Jimmy works with Mike to steal the Kettlemans' money and make it whole again, and to deliver it to the district attorney's office. Jimmy is able to convince the Kettlemans to take HHM's deal.
Jimmy discovers that the Sandpiper retirement home has been overcharging its residents. Chuck and Jimmy plan a class-action lawsuit against Sandpiper Crossing, but are dumped with paperwork by the Schweikart firm. Jimmy agrees to give the case to HHM. Chuck makes a phone call to Howard at night advising him not to take Jimmy on board for the case. Jimmy meets with Howard who says they want the case but not Jimmy. Kim informs Jimmy that it was Chuck who told Howard not to give Jimmy a job. Jimmy confronts Chuck and Chuck reveals that he does not trust his brother as a lawyer. Upset, Jimmy stops caring for Chuck. Jimmy meets his old scam friend Marco. The two scam more people until Marco suffers a heart attack and dies. Kim calls Jimmy and tells him that Davis & Main are working on the Sandpiper case with HHM and want to bring on Jimmy as a partner. Jimmy considers whether or not to join Sandpiper, and vows never to let go of $1.6 million again.
In a flash-forward, Gene Taković ends a work day at the Cinnabon. He takes out the trash but gets stuck in a room with an emergency exit that would notify the police if opened. Gene leaves after leaving "S.G. was here" scrawled on the wall.
Jimmy has decided not to take the partner-track job from Davis & Main. Instead he spends his time running scams, and is able to convince Kim to join him for one. Jimmy and Kim go home together and Jimmy decides to take the job at Davis & Main. Jimmy gets an assistant named Omar, and is now working under Clifford Main who chose him to be head of client outreach for the Sandpiper case. Jimmy attends a meeting on the Sandpiper case at HHM, and Chuck enters to observe Jimmy making him nervous. Jimmy helps Mike by being the lawyer of Daniel Wormald. Jimmy covers for Daniel's hidden compartment for prescription drugs by making up a story of fictitious fetish videos of Daniel sitting in pies (squat cobbler). He tells this to Kim, but Kim is angry at him for fabricating evidence by creating the video. Jimmy recruits Sandpiper customers onto their lawsuit by talking to them on a bus. During a meeting at HHM Chuck implies that Jimmy broke the rules of conduct for solicitation. Jimmy promises to do everything above board from now on. Jimmy talks to Cliff about the idea of running a targeted advertisement to get more Sandpiper clients. Jimmy makes an ad with art students from UNM and one of his elderly clients. Jimmy shows the ad to Kim. Jimmy goes over Davis & Main's heads by running the advertisement once on local television. For this, he is admonished and nearly fired from Davis & Main by Cliff and the partners. Jimmy is upset to learn that Kim has been punished by Howard for knowing about the advertisement beforehand. She does not admit to being lied to about Jimmy already having approval, to make Jimmy look better. Jimmy tries to get Kim to sue HHM but Kim refuses, trying to work her way back to where she was.
Jimmy has been assigned another assistant, Erin, to watch over Jimmy to make sure he is acting ethically. Jimmy has trouble sleeping in his company paid-for apartment and decides to return to sleeping in the back of the nail salon. Jimmy, feeling as if he does not fit in with Davis & Main, drafts his resignation letter with Omar. Omar informs Jimmy that he can't get his signing bonus if he resigns so soon after coming on board. Jimmy, now trying to get himself intentionally fired without cause, buys multicolored suits, refuses to flush the toilet, and plays bagpipes in his office. Jimmy is fired by Cliff, who demands to know why he never tried. Jimmy tells him that he was a "square peg" and that he always thought Cliff was a good person. Jimmy convinces Kim, who has been approached with a job offer from another firm, to start a partnership firm with him. Kim agrees under the stipulation that the work two separate practices in the same office. Jimmy buys a property for him and Kim. When HHM get the Mesa Verde client back, Jimmy sneaks into Chuck's house and changes his filing date for the address, leading to a conflict in the courtroom whereby Mesa Verde leave HHM back to Kim. Chuck confronts Jimmy and Kim and accurately deduces what Jimmy did. Jimmy denies it and Kim defends Jimmy. However, once Jimmy and Kim are in the car Kim is angry at Jimmy, believing he doctored the files. Kim suggests Jimmy should cover his tracks, so he returns to the copy shop he used to edit the files and convinces the clerk to lie to Chuck. Chuck confronts the clerk while Jimmy and Ernie watch, until Chuck faints due to his electromagnetic hypersensitivity and hits his head.
Jimmy and Ernie rush Chuck to the hospital. Jimmy refuses again to commit Chuck for psychiatric treatment opting instead for a temporary emergency guardianship. Jimmy and Ernie visit Chuck, and Chuck accuses Jimmy of bribing the clerk and watching him from a distance. Kim visits Jimmy as they wait for Chuck's CAT scan results. The doctor tells Jimmy that Chuck is physically fine with a mild head wound, and that Chuck suffered from a panic attack. Jimmy is told Chuck is stuck in a state of "self-induced catatonia." Chuck comes to in the hospital and Jimmy cares for him. Chuck asks if Jimmy is going to commit him, and Jimmy brings Chuck back to his home. Chuck asks for Jimmy to leave and the two agree to get Ernesto to continue to care for him. Jimmy takes his first customers and Kim says Howard called for Jimmy about Chuck. Jimmy visits Chuck who has lined the walls of one of his rooms with mylar sheets to protect from supposed electromagnetic frequencies. Chuck lies to Jimmy telling him he has retired from being a lawyer. Chuck says that he lost his confidence after the misfiling. Jimmy confesses that he doctored the files for Kim to get Mesa Verde back. Chuck retrieves a hidden tape recorder recording the whole conversation, to get Jimmy disbarred.
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The need for a character like Saul came from two paths of Breaking Bad's development around the show's second season. First and foremost, as White and Pinkman got themselves deeper into the drug business, the show's writers felt they needed a character to be a guide for them. At this point, they had written that Pinkman's dimwitted friends like Badger were selling their drugs, they envisioned what type of lawyer they would enlist should they run into trouble. The creators decided on the name "Saul Goodman" as a play on the phrase "[It]'s all good, man", as in that even his most simple-minded clients would remember his name when they get arrested. Secondly, they were at a point in Hank's narrative where he had suffered a major trauma in seeing an informant's severed head, and he would no longer be able to serve as the show's bit of lightness. They thus made Saul more of a comical character to fill this void. The character was originally intended to appear in only three episodes of Breaking Bad, but instead became central to the narrative of the series.
Odenkirk described Saul in Breaking Bad as a "front" who "seemed to enjoy being a showy cheeseball," while in Better Call Saul, Jimmy is an "earnest, sweet guy whose brain naturally cooks up dishonest solutions to the challenges in front of him." Gould described Saul as a "hermetically sealed slickster." Odenkirk based the character's speaking style on producer Robert Evans.
In 2014, as a publicity stunt for the launch of Better Call Saul, a billboard for "James M. McGill, Attorney at Law" was placed in Albuquerque, mimicking a billboard that appeared on the show, with a phone number connecting to a voice mail message recorded by Odenkirk.
For the first, second, and third seasons of Better Call Saul, Odenkirk was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series as well as the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor.
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