If there was a recipe to create Saul Goodman, the ingredients would be several cups of persuasive gab, a teaspoon of wanting to do good, and a heaping helping of knowing how to win — no matter what that requires. Like the butter to your biscuits, it’s that last bit that changes everything. In other words, what sets Saul Goodman apart from the other lawyers that are persuasive and want to do good, are his schemes. No one knows how to win quite like he does.
Need more proof? Behold, we’ve listed Jimmy/Saul’s slipperiest schemes from Better Call Saul.
Some people just love money. This family loves it so much that they embezzle it. After firing Kim as their lawyer because she recommended a plea deal — requiring them to return stolen money and admit guilt in exchange for not spending decades in prison — they hire Jimmy to represent them instead.
When Jimmy also tries to get them to take the plea deal, Betsy Kettleman puts the pressure on by threatening Jimmy, noting that his retainer alone implicates him in their crime. This, plus Jimmy finding out that Kim got demoted for losing the Kettlemans as a client, is precisely the pressure that Jimmy needs to get creative.
He hires Mike to break into the Kettlemans’ home and steal the money, returning it to the DA as Jimmy instructed him to. Now this is an unexpectedly ethical move for a guy like Jimmy, and there may even be some regrets on his part, but there’s a bigger plan at play here. When Betsy finds out what Jimmy has done, she tries to threaten him again, but carrying out such threats would only leave her implicated. And of course, Jimmy isn’t easily swayed. As he says himself: “The things you folks need to know about me, I got nothing to lose.” With their backs against a wall, the Kettlemans are forced to do what Jimmy says: go back to Kim and HHM and accept the plea deal.
Does it still count as a scheme if it’s done out of love? Yes, yes it does.
The Elderly Love a Good Commercial
Jimmy had honestly stumbled upon a wonderful opportunity with the Sandpiper Crossing lawsuit — one that seeks to ensure that the elderly are not taken advantage of financially by the very organizations responsible for their care. But once he smells wrongdoing, and a potential return for himself, he turns things up a few notches. And then a few more.
It starts off innocently enough. First, he gets on a bus full of Sandpiper Crossing residents on their way to a restaurant. When they stop, he pays the bus driver to “break down.” With this extra time with all of these prospective clients, Jimmy gets to working his magic. And magic he does work as he gathers everyone’s signatures.
But it’s not enough for Jimmy. He knows if he could take that magic and broadcast it, he could exponentially grow the number of people for the lawsuit. After getting in big trouble for running a commercial while an employee at Davis & Main, Jimmy creates one under his own name.
Jimmy doesn’t cut any corners when it comes to the creative process. He brings in one of his old clients to star and even films on a U.S. Airforce base under false pretenses.
When the commercial airs, it’s clear that his vision is a powerful one. Just watch Kim’s reaction when she sees it on TV:
It’s clear that marketing is a strength for Jimmy. Remember that billboard he put up that both promoted his legal business and mocked Howard Hamlin and HHM at the same time? Of course at first, that’s all it seemed to be. It successfully got Howard’s attention and he proceeded to demand that Jimmy take the billboard down.
Jimmy seemed to comply pretty easily. He hires a worker to remove the billboard, but suddenly the worker falls, with only a rope keeping him from falling to his death. Coincidentally, there’s also a film crew ready and waiting to capture the frightening scene. Sure, Jimmy had to take the billboard down, but he’ll get a lot more eyes being on the news as a life-saving local hero.
The best moment of all may be when Howard realizes he stepped right into Jimmy’s trap:
Huell to the Rescue
When Jimmy and Chuck go head-to-head in court for Jimmy’s disciplinary hearing, everyone who has entered the court has been asked to leave their phones and electronics at the door out of respect for Chuck’s electromagnetic sensitivity. As Jimmy interrogates Chuck on the stand, he asks if he can feel anything. Chuck guesses that Jimmy has something in his pocket, and he’s right.
Chuck takes the phone that was in Jimmy’s pocket and he removes the back, revealing there’s no battery, which explains why he hadn’t felt the impact of the electromagnetic waves. Chuck laughs it off, always ahead of Jimmy’s tricks. He then goes into a rant about how his sickness is legitimate, not a quirk.
But Jimmy’s scheme is far from over. He asks Chuck to reach into his own pocket and in it Chuck finds the battery to Jimmy’s phone. The battery that Jimmy had Huell drop into his pocket over an hour before their court proceedings began. “I am not crazy!” Chuck explodes. He unravels in front of the courtroom, proving to everyone that his feelings toward Jimmy and his own mental stability may be more in question than they thought.
One elaborate scheme was all it took to undo Chuck and his career. And Huell’s light fingers certainly come in handy down the line in Breaking Bad, when Saul again uses the big man to lift a ricin-laced cigarette off of Jesse.
Friendship Is a Two-Way Street
Huell’s support for Jimmy doesn’t always end in success, though. Like the time Jimmy was selling burner phones from the side of the road and he was approached by an off duty police officer. While Jimmy tries to get the guy to take a hike, Huell arrives back from getting his lunch. Not realizing it’s a police officer, and thinking he’s giving Jimmy trouble, Huell hits the man over the head with his lunch and gets arrested. Unfortunately it’s not Huell’s first offense and he’s looking at jail time.
Jimmy knows he’ll have to work up something good to get him off, and so he does. Since Jimmy himself has a suspended law license, the first thing he has to do is get Huell lawyer. Enter, Kim. Meanwhile, Jimmy heads down to Coushatta, Louisiana, Huell’s hometown, with a load of stationary and writing tools. He enlists his fellow passengers on the bus to write letters of support for Huell that are all then stamped with Coushatta return addresses and mailed back to the courthouse that’s prosecuting him. But he doesn’t stop there. He also includes phone numbers for these people, each one leading to a burner phone that Jimmy and his trusty student film crew answer, impersonating people that want to say positive things about their hometown boy, Huell. He even made a website.
The prosecutor and judge are overwhelmed, ultimately keeping Huell out of jail and allowing Jimmy to make good on one of his most important partnerships.
Second Time’s a Charm
Not all schemes require commercials or accomplices, though. Some just require a good story built on a lie.
When Jimmy attempts to get his law license back, he gets rejected by the board. He learns it’s likely because he didn’t even mention his brother Chuck, a well-respected lawyer that had recently passed away. One year later, Jimmy is back in front of a board and this time, he’s not going to make the same mistake.
Jimmy folds up a piece of paper, telling the board that he had planned to impress them with the kind words his brother had left for him in a letter. He pretends to decide against it. Then he launches into an intimate telling of his relationship with his brother, one that seems off the cuff and sincere. The entire room, including Kim, is brought to tears.
Outside, Kim and Jimmy rejoice in the success of his speech. “Did you see those suckers? That one asshole was crying. He had actual tears. Jesus!” Jimmy says to Kim, causing her to reel in shock that what she just heard wasn’t actually sincere. She was among the people Jimmy had duped in that room.
Moments later a woman runs after them to inform Jimmy that he will be getting his license back!
One Fake Family, Coming Right Up
When Lalo comes to Jimmy to get him out of jail for a murder charge, in which a witness can place Lalo’s vehicle at the crime scene, Jimmy knows he has little-to-no chance of winning. But that doesn’t mean he won’t try.
As Lalo and Jimmy await the judge, Jimmy preps him — “try not to be too cool, I mean, look humble, little bit scared?” Lalo casually agrees. Then he asks Jimmy, “Is that them?” He’s referring to a woman, her mother, and her two children sitting in the audience. Jimmy confirms, that’s them.
As the court proceedings begin, the prosecutors make their case against Lalo — a foreign national with no ties to the community, and, in their opinion, someone who is likely responsible for the death of an innocent man. Then Jimmy begins his remarks, noting that Lalo has deep ties to the community. He turns, introducing the woman in the audience as the love of his life, and the children as his step children who rely on him, as he is the only father they’ve ever known.
Despite the fact that the prosecutor is looking on in utter disbelief, and even tries to make a plea in a sidebar conversation, the judge makes the call to let Lalo off on bail. Jimmy achieves the impossible.
Wonder how he got so good at being bad? Relive the critical moments of Jimmy’s spiral to Saul.
Better Call Saul‘s Season 5 Finale airs Monday at 9/8c. To stay up-to-date with all the latest news, sign up for the Better Call Saul Insiders Club.Read More