No one ever accused Saul Goodman of being a great lawyer, but it’s an accusation I’m making now.
From the moment Bob Odenkirk’s sleazy attorney first bumbles onto the screen (Season 2, Episode 8 “Better Call Saul”) we’re supposed to look at him as a bit of a joke. Something to laugh at. Indeed, we do laugh at him because the very first thing out of his mouth is kind of hilarious. “Did they recruit you out of the womb,” he asks the baby faced officer who arrested Badger. “Go get a juicebox,” he says, ushering him out of the interrogation room.
Thus marks the official introduction of Saul Goodman. In a show whose primary theme is change, Goodman is, perhaps, the sole constant. Every moment you see him on screen after this one only builds off what you see here and it quickly becomes apparent that the whole sleazy incompetence angle is just an act; Saul Goodman thrives on being underestimated and scoffed at. He makes his adversaries doubt his abilities only to come back and hit them harder than they’ve ever been hit before. Yes, he’s still a greedy ambulance chasing bottom feeder, but even those on the bottom need solid legal counsel—and say what you will about his personality, his legal maneuvering is second to none.
We’re just days away from the premiere of the Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul and, to celebrate, we’ve compiled a list of Saul Goodman’s best moments that prove, beyond all reasonable doubt, why it’s probably a good idea to heed his advice and call Saul.
Buying the Pinkman House (Season 3, Episode 2 “Caballo sin Nombre”)
If ever you had doubts about Saul Goodman’s skill at lawyering this scene should dissuade you. The Pinkman’s lawyer exudes the kind of scary vibe that most people think of when they think of high powered attorneys. And then there’s Saul. Little ol’ ambulance chasing, late night TV ad Saul. The way he saunters into the room, goofy and laughing, quoting his own TV ad feels cheesy and slimy, but then the tables are flipped. Saul, behind the smiles and the laughs, totally screws the Pinkmans out of their money by reminding them that the house they’re selling was used to cook meth. Never mind the fact that the client he’s working for was the one who did the cooking—that’s totally irrelevant for the purposes of negotiation. Saul Goodman may be a shady lawyer with a slimy demeanor, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take him seriously. The Pinkman’s with their high priced, high powered lawyer didn’t and, well, look at how well that turned out for them.
Jesse Gets Questioned About Ricin (Season 4, Episode 12 “End Times)
As greedy as Saul might be, his patience does wear thin, and his patience is just about done with at this point in the series. While Walter and Gustavo’s beef is about to come to a head, Saul finds himself having to bail Walt and Jesse out of increasingly sticky situations. Jesse had the squeeze put on him by the cops after wondering if Brock was poisoned by ricin and it’s not looking too good for him. Enter Saul. He wastes no time getting the ABQ detectives out of the room so he can yell at/advise young Jesse. “If I ever get anal polyps I’ll know what to name them,” he says which might be the truest statement ever uttered. Despite his annoyance and frustration, he maintains a cool enough head to keep Jesse calm and, hopefully, out of any further trouble. Sure, he’s mostly looking out for his own interest here…after all, if Jesse goes down, there’s a good chance Saul’s going down in the process, but that doesn’t mean he’s not capable of giving solid and sound legal advice.
Mike Gets a Restraining Order Against the DEA (Season 5, Episode 6 “Buyout”)
There’s balls…and then there’s balls. Saul has pulled off some pretty ballsy things in his days—see everything I’ve written above—but this is a new kind of sack that hasn’t been attempted before. As the DEA is inching ever closer to unraveling the mystery of Heisenberg, Mike has been getting tailed with increasing frequency. That’s a pretty smart move on their part, obviously. Mike, as we know, is clearly up to something. Despite the fact that his professionalism gives him the skills to ditch the tails whenever possible, it’s only a matter of time before the hammer falls. So what does Saul do to protect his client? He uses his judicial connections to get a temporary restraining order against the DEA. ASAC Schrader is none too pleased with this turn of events, but Saul, stalwart that he is, doesn’t even blink. He matches Hank’s insults by flaunting his connections, reminding Hank that even though he thinks our favorite lawyer is a joke, he’s still in good with at least one judge in town. Obviously this solution is merely a stop-gap, but it allows Mike the time needed to get his affairs in order and wash his hands of any residual grime. (Well, in theory anyway…but that’s not really Saul’s fault, is it?)
Saul’s Last Goodbye (Season 5, Episode 15 “Granite State”)
As if Saul hadn’t done enough to prove his loyalty, his last interaction with Walter shows that when Saul takes the case he’s in it for the long haul. Even as his life–his world–is falling apart, he takes the time to dispense some departing wisdom to the most dangerous client who’s ever crossed his office threshold. His practice is done, life as he knows it is over, and he’s facing the prospect of a life managing a Cinnabon in Omaha, but that doesn’t dissuade him from dropping one last bit of knowledge. Walt and Saul are hidden away beneath the floor of the vacuum store when Saul offers his “nickel’s worth of advice.” While Walt is making plans to kill his adversaries and get his money to his wife, Saul, genius that he is, spells it out for him as straight as he can. “Face the music,” he tells his client. Maybe that doesn’t seem like a long haul sort of move but, in this case, it’s the best option on the table. It gives his family a chance to keep the house and maintain some semblance of normality now that Walt has been caught. Not only that, but it’s the last chance to earn any sort of good will from the DEA. It’s sound advice, really, even if his client has descended so far down the megalomaniacal rabbit hole that he can’t be made to listen to reason. Saul may be slinking off into the shadows, disappearing from all existence, but that doesn’t stop him from giving the best damn advice as humanly possible.
Better Call Saul premieres Sunday February 8 on AMC.