Few television spin-offs manage to stand alongside their original series. Often spin-offs can feel like a cash grab, and isolating just one element from the original doesn’t always work for an extended series. Expectations were at the sky’s limit for Vince Gilligan’s “Breaking Bad” follow-up, given that that series became a dominant cultural landmark, drew in a massive audience, and was so critically acclaimed. Even now, “Breaking Bad” is cited among the greatest television shows of all time.
Concerns that a spin-off would never live up to that show’s grand legacy were entirely justified, and meant that “Better Call Saul” would have to answer a critical question: could Bob Odenkirk’s shady lawyer, Saul Goodman, lead a series of his own? The answer, resoundingly, was yes. “Better Call Saul” serves as a prequel story that explores a younger Jimmy McGill, the seemingly promising lawyer who transforms into the utterly ruthless Saul Goodman. It dives into the many types of challenging situations, deadly cons, and dangerous villains that Jimmy was able to power his way through before ending up in that iconic strip mall in Albuquerque.
Over the course of its first five seasons, “Better Call Saul” reached dramatic heights that perhaps even surpassed “Breaking Bad.” Jimmy’s story is tragic: He often shows he has good in him, but he’s done more than a few things that cross the line. Here are the most ruthless Jimmy McGill moments on “Better Call Saul.”
Jimmy Humiliates Howard In Public
Jimmy has always had a difficult relationship with Howard Hamlin, as Howard often conformed with Chuck’s sour opinions on his younger brother out of loyalty to his mentor. They have early clashes when Jimmy assumes that it’s Howard who is keeping him from joining Hamlin Hamlin McGill, even though it’s actually Chuck. Jimmy and Howard’s relationship does not improve after Chuck’s death. In his bid to get revenge on his rival, Jimmy concocts a hilarious situation to embarrass Howard in front of his clients.
During a recent case, Jimmy represented two prostitutes, and he hires them again to approach Howard during a lunch meeting with clients. A disgruntled Howard is utterly bewildered and desperately tries to explain that he’s never met the two women before in his life, which as a result makes him look even more guilty. Patrick Fabian’s awkward performance makes the sequence even more hilarious.
Jimmy Creates The Mesa Verde Ads
When Saul Goodman appears on “Breaking Bad,” he’s already a full-on showman who uses elaborate television commercials to broadcast his name. Jimmy shows early signs of his interest in television throughout “Better Call Saul,” as early as season one, in fact, where he hires a crew of film students to help him create his advertisements. Seeing the inexperienced young crew put together cheeky commercials adds a lot of humor to the series.
Jimmy decides to enlist his old friends again in the fifth season when he wants to publicly shame Mesa Verde and plant seeds of doubt in their clients. Jimmy and his team develop a series of retro-style ’60s ads that imply that the banking chain’s founder takes advantage of his clients, teasing “What is Mesa Verde hiding?” Jimmy even goes so far as to track down old family footage of founder Kevin Wachtell and his father to incorporate into the ad.
Jimmy And Kim Fake Their Identities
Kim Wexler is the single greatest character on “Better Call Saul,” and one of the most exciting things about her future on the series is that her fate is not already sealed, as she does not appear on “Breaking Bad.” It definitely creates an aura of suspense as to how Kim’s story will be resolved, as she’s caught between warring influences. Kim is a good lawyer who believes in doing things the right way, but her relationship with Jimmy threatens to corrupt her as he introduces his elaborate cons.
There’s an early tease of Jimmy’s corrupting spirit in the season two premiere episode “Switch,” in which Jimmy takes Kim out on a date at a fancy restaurant. Jimmy enlists her help in pulling a trick on an obnoxious businessman, Ken (Kyle Bornheimer), by convincing him that they’re just as wealthy as he is. Ken has offered to pick up the tab, so Jimmy and Kim begin ordering the most expensive drinks on the menu, including a $50 shot and a pricey bottle of Zafiro Añejo tequila.
Jimmy Purposefully Gets Fired
Jimmy always seems to flirt with the idea of going legitimate and taking an honorable approach to legal practice, but when given the right opportunities, he often can’t handle the pressure of sticking to a set of rules. Jimmy had joined the legal firm David & Main in the hopes that it would boost his chances of joining Hamlin Hamlin McGill somewhere down the line, but he quickly discovers that he’s not suited for strict guidelines — and doesn’t like his fellow employees. He decides that his only option is to remove himself from the firm and set up his own independent practice where he can take on idiosyncratic clients and take a more flexible approach. However, Jimmy is also incredibly cheap, and realizes that if he outright quits David & Main, he will have to repay the signing bonus.
Jimmy is short on cash but doesn’t know if he can stick it out much longer, so he discovers a loophole in his contract: If he’s able to get David & Main to fire him, he won’t be responsible for repaying the initial fee. He decides the best way to do this is to be as irritating as he possibly can. In a hilarious montage, Jimmy begins playing bagpipes loudly in the work office, dressing in flamboyant suits, buys a loud smoothie mixer that he uses in the lounge, and even refuses to flush the toilet after going to the bathroom. His employer Cliff admits, “You win.”
Jimmy Turns The Elderly Against Irene
Although Jimmy’s legal cases often force him to be ruthless and distasteful, what he does to poor Irene Landry crosses the line into downright cruelty. Jimmy represented several senior citizens from a local retirement community when he was trying his hand at legitimately joining the law firm David & Main. Desperate and in need of cash, Jimmy figures that if his elderly clients settle in the case proceedings immediately, he’ll be able to collect his residual earnings and make a quick profit. This isn’t exactly in the best interests of his clients, as if they wait longer the potential settlement reward would be much greater.
Jimmy tries to convince the elderly women to settle quickly; Irene is very polite and good-natured, but she decides to heed the earlier advice she was given and wait to settle. Jimmy decides to convince Irene by making it seem like she’s already received the settlement, and he starts turning her friends against her. He spreads rumors among the other elderly women that Irene has already profited; he buys her an expensive set of clothes, and then tells the other women that Irene bought them and is hiding the money from them. Irene’s friends stop talking to her and — in one heartbreaking moment during a bingo game — Irene calls out a winning streak and no one claps. She breaks down in tears and eventually calls Jimmy and decides to settle.
Jimmy Replicates The Mesa Verde Documents
The relationship between Jimmy and Chuck has been sour from the beginning; their arguments tend to center on Jimmy’s irresponsibility and his aptitude for lying. Chuck is proud of the progress his brother has made in getting his own law practice, but continuously snubs his chances to join his own firm. Jimmy sees this as an act of selfishness on Chuck’s part, arguing that he’s more obsessed with protecting his public reputation than he is a close family relationship, whereas Chuck sees that Jimmy is deceitful and not willing to do the hard work to improve himself.
The leverage Jimmy holds over Chuck is personal, as Chuck claims to suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity, although many suspect it’s an elaborate form of mental illness and the condition is not entirely legitimate. Jimmy is looking for any excuse he can to poke holes in Chuck’s seemingly perfect reputation, and he’s also looking to help out Kim Wexler, who hasn’t been able to serve as the legal counsel on the Mesa Verde case. Jimmy decides to take out two birds with one stone: He breaks into the office and sabotages the Mesa Verde case, meticulously copying all the files over into replications in order to make Chuck look inept in front of his clients. It opens the window for Kim to once again be considered as the potential legal council. This act of legal malpractice sets two of Jimmy’s relationships on a downward spiral.
Jimmy Creates The Cobbler Story
One of the most interesting relationships on “Better Call Saul” is Jimmy’s dynamic with Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), the hitman and personal bodyguard who joins Jesse and Walt for many capers in “Breaking Bad.” Mike and Saul didn’t interact very often on “Breaking Bad,” but they are shown to have a close working relationship that begins during the “Better Call Saul” pilot. Mike is fleshed out more as a character here: He feels responsible for the death of his son, a cop who decided to stay straight in accordance with his father’s advice. Mike takes care of his widowed daughter-in-law and granddaughter. He tries to stay honorable in the midst of his profession, but occasionally he has to call in the swindling Jimmy to help him out.
Mike is facing potential police prosecution after he’s hired to protect Daniel Wormald (Mark Proksch), an employee at a pharmaceutical drug company who steals and sells samples to dealers. Mike tries to coach Daniel on how to do the deal, but when his home is invaded Daniel does everything wrong. Jimmy agrees to help both of them out, but he forces Daniel to comply with a completely ridiculous story.
When detectives probe Daniel for answers, Jimmy explains how the strange man is embarrassed by an “intimate” relationship he has with a Hoboken Squat Cobbler. It’s humiliating for Daniel, but he’s forced to go along with Jimmy’s story in order to avoid criminal prosecution.
Young Jimmy Steals From Parents
Although “Better Call Saul” takes place many years before “Breaking Bad,” the show further changes up the timeline by including sequences that take place significantly prior to the beginning of the spinoff (or after the “Breaking Bad” series finale, “Felina”). The flash-forwards provide an update on Saul’s job in witness protection, but the flashbacks to his past are integral to the emotional core of the series, as they highlight moments between Jimmy and Chuck that indicate the rising tension. Chuck’s constant dismissal of Jimmy’s abilities and his refusal to take him seriously can grow tiresome in the early moments, but Chuck has every reason to mistrust his younger brother
Chuck, for instance, is at this point still reeling from an incident in their youth in which Jimmy steals money from their parents. Charles and Ruth own a shop that they rely on as their sole profession, and Jimmy’s theft causes them to go out of business. According to Chuck’s memory, Jimmy gradually stole over $15,000 and took advantage of his parents’ constant belief that he was innocent. His parents’ lives are destroyed and his father’s health begins to deplete, and Jimmy and Chuck share a tense moment by his hospital bed where Jimmy refuses to admit any wrongdoing.
Much of “Better Call Saul” is about redemption and decline, and although Jimmy’s nature grows darker over the course of the show, there have been signs from the beginning that he’s always destined to let down his loved ones.
Jimmy Saves The Twins From Tuco
Some spinoffs are too overtly similar to their original shows and rely heavily on nostalgia, and thankfully “Better Call Saul” doesn’t do that. The connections to “Breaking Bad” are authentically integrated within the story, so when a beloved character appears, it’s for a reason that justifies the story being told. This is certainly the case in the pilot episode, in which the fearsome Tuco Salamanca of “Breaking Bad” shows up as an early opponent for Jimmy.
Jimmy is running an illicit scheme to stage a false pedestrian accident with his new recruits, a pair of twins named Lars and Cal. The bumbling fools end up targeting the wrong car during their operation and accidentally hit Tuco’s grandmother. Tuco is enraged and kidnaps the twins, who quickly tell the fearsome drug kingpin of Jimmy’s involvement.
The three are transported to the middle of the desert, but Jimmy manages to escape his fate by mentioning to Tuco the danger of killing a lawyer. Tuco agrees but isn’t about to show the same empathy for the twins. Scrambling to save the two unfortunate brothers who got him there in the first place, Jimmy works out a deal for Tuco to just break each of the brother’s legs. It’s a brutal moment that saves their lives, and shows just how quick-thinking Jimmy can be. Unfortunately, the twins aren’t about to thank him.
Jimmy Saves A Guy From Falling Off A Billboard
Jimmy quickly learns that he is going to have to do a lot to save his seemingly toxic reputation, as he can’t get anyone to take him seriously. Chuck is no help in Jimmy’s eyes, as his brother insists that it’s only after years of service and self-examination that people will see the true changes in Jimmy’s nature. However, Jimmy favors a faster approach, one that will allow him to immediately launch his career.
Jimmy’s rivalry with his brother grows when he’s barred from joining Hamlin Hamlin McGill, and he tries to stay in the business by launching a competing firm. In order to disgrace the firm, Jimmy creates an advertising campaign that lampoons his brother’s practice and offers up a caricature picture of Howard Hamlin. At the center of the campaign is a massive billboard, but after a cease and desist order, the billboard is ordered to be removed.
As a construction worker takes it down, he begins to slip and fall. When Jimmy sees the worker clinging for his life on the side of the billboard, he leaps into action, climbs the sign, saves the man, and turns himself into a hero in the process (which is especially easy, given the cameras that are on-hand to capture the action). Jimmy set the whole thing up, of course, but it’s a great early look at how far he’s willing to go to make a point … and make himself look honorable.
Jimmy Changes His Name
The biggest question “Better Call Saul” had to ask was how, exactly, Jimmy McGill would become Saul Goodman. It’s more than just a change of names, as Jimmy is shown to be a much different person at the beginning of the first season of “Better Call Saul” than he is during his debut on “Breaking Bad.” The show also contains many flash-forwards that tease events after “Breaking Bad,” when Jimmy is in a witness protection program and works a lowly job at a Cinnabon at a shopping mall. Over the course of the series, “Better Call Saul” explores how his irresponsible and erratic behavior doomed him to such a pathetic fate.
Jimmy first mentions the name “Saul Goodman” during a drunken escapade as a half-hearted joke, but the name sticks with him. Eventually, he begins using television ads to promote his burgeoning independent identity. While it’s more of a testament to his showmanship than anything else, it’s a sign that he’s more interested in working around the truth than he is in actual law practice.
It’s in the season four finale, “Winner,” that the deal is finally sealed on his future. Appealing to reinstate his license, Jimmy offers a series of lies before the court and claims he wants to honor his brother’s legacy and bring respect to the name “McGill.” It’s after the case that he shows no regret, simply smiling and telling Kim, “It’s all good, man.”
Jimmy Brings Chuck To Court
“Better Call Saul” truly honors “Breaking Bad” with its complex interpersonal character relationships, many of which are dramatically gripping and emotionally devastating. No central relationship in the series is more powerful than Jimmy’s tormented dynamic with his brother Chuck. Chuck and Jimmy have clashed since childhood, and Jimmy always desired to live up to his brother’s reputation by also becoming a lawyer.
However, their relationship is complicated by Chuck’s devastating mental illness, which forces him to rely on his brother to help him out when health scares strike. Jimmy shows genuine empathy towards Chuck in these moments, but as their relationship grows more toxic, Jimmy makes the realization that Chuck no longer trusts himself entirely. It’s a dilemma Jimmy can take advantage of.
The two face off in a court case in one of the best episodes of the series, “Chicanery.” Jimmy is facing charges of being expunged from practicing law, and had given Chuck a confession admitting his guilt. In a shocking turn of events, Jimmy questions Chuck publicly regarding his EHS. He claims that Chuck’s fear of electricity is a delusion, and proves it by taking out a phone battery in the middle of the courtroom. It ruins Chuck’s reputation and mental health.
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Source: Slash Film