When the very gifted Bob Odenkirk debuted on Breaking Bad in s2, e8 (“Better Call Saul”), we first see the smarmy Saul Goodman, criminal attorney, pictured in a print ad on a bus stop bench. When next we see him, it’s in a low budget, low rent late night TV ad, his siren call to Albuquerque’s criminal element. Next we see Goodman in action, in a prisoner interview room, come to represent Jesse’s boy Badger, fast talking from the word go, kicking out the undercover detective, reminding Badger to never give up his right to remain silent, and asking for his fee in one simultaneous motion.
Goodman tells Badger straight away, after confusing him with a public masturbator, that he needs his fee, $4,650, that he doesn’t care if it’s put up by a relative, his ‘parrish priest or boy scout leader’, and while he takes cashier’s checks, he prefers money orders, made out to “Ice Station Zebra Associates”, which he assures Badger half-heartedly is completely legitimate, and solely for tax purposes. Later, Jesse assures a doubtful Mr. White, while in Goodman’s parking lot, that he is indeed the right lawyer, paying the Odenkirk character the following um, compliment, “you don’t need a criminal lawyer, you need a criminal lawyer.”
From there Walt and Jessie flip for the privilege of not having to go into Goodman’s office and be seen while presenting him the $4,650, a flip that Walt loses. In Cranston’s and Odenkirk’s first scene together, Goodman remarks on Mr. White’s alias.
“Mayhew? Is that English or Irish?”
When Walt says it’s Irish, Goodman explains that he too is Irish, that his real name is McGill, and that he only goes by Saul Goodman for “the homeboys” because they seem to want a “pipe hitting member of the tribe.” Goodman tells “Mr. Mayhew” that Badger is in good hands since the D.E.A. is involved, which unnerves Walt, who then offers a bribe on the condition that he keeps the D.E.A. out of things. Mr. White asks Saul to review their options, at which point Goodman testily informs him that his nephew Brandon has 2 options, to play ball with the D.E.A. or go to prison, where his rectum will be “resized YAY big”, illustrating the point with a hand signal for wide, cylindrical hole.
Quickly thereafter, Walt and Jessie revisit the parking lot at night. They get plotted up in ski masks, kidnap and bring Goodman to the desert where he quickly begins negotiating for his life in Spanish, very comically planting the idea with the audience that Goodman as hostage is par for the course. Goodman is delighted to hear Walt and Jessie address him in English, recognizes “Mr. Mayhew” by his cough, and asks them to remove the masks because he feels like he’s been taken by the “Weather Underground.”
Goodman tells them that with the D.E.A. involved, someone is going to jail, “it’s just a question of who.” Then a plan is hatched whereby a career criminal who is more comfortable in prison than outside, “Jimmy In and Out”, will go down in the buy and bust, satisfying both the D.E.A.’s need to jail someone and throwing them off the scent of the mythic Heisenberg.
In the end, we see another aspect of Goodman’s resourcefuness. He has located Mr. White, tracking him to his classroom, proving to Walter how easily it can be done and consequently, how much Walter still needs his help. From there, Goodman continues to establish himself as a major character, sending his PI, Mike, to sanitize the scene of Jesse’s girlfriend Jane’s overdose, getting Jesse squared away in a top notch rehab center, and setting Walt up with Gus, the big time distributor Walt needs who will allow him the luxury of just having to cook without lining up buyers or precursor chemicals and lab space.
At the end of last season though, Walt and Gus are on the outs to the point where Walt is about to get got. Still, Goodman proves invaluable, figuring into Walt’s plan to try and avoid the innevitable, after Walt has defied Gus by killing 2 of his street level dealers who use kids to complete their transactions, and who then kill them when it suits them.
Something that still has us bothered about last season, ’til this day, is that plausibility suggests that Walt’s days are still numbered, even if Jesse has murdered, or at least kidnapped Gail, Walt’s lab assistant who knows the recipe for that banging blue crystal. As for the cliffhanger regarding the fate of Gail and other stretched plotlines, we have to say, even as the staunchest of BrBa fans, that we are unsatisfied. As we see it, Walt broke a vase that can’t be unbroken. The recipe for the blue crystal should not be enough to reverse an execution order. Any chem grad student, and perhaps some others, could theoretically break down and reproduce the formula.
Since Jessie seems to have known the plan and they have killed before, it will irk us to no end if he’s suddenly gun shy with Gail, which we are expecting based on the nature of the s4, e1 photos up at www.imdb.com. We can run on with our list of complaints. Like, can Walt really be so morally wounded by Gus’s actions and those of his street crew? After all, is Gus not a kingpin/criminal mastermind with at least 1 murderer for hire on his payroll? Or does Walt think Gus is really just busy managing chicken shacks?
It appears that no solution is imminent on the horizon between Walt, Jessie, and Gus, though we feel that Walt has needed to off Gus as soon as Gus became increasingly meddlesome in Walt’s family affairs and with Walt’s brother-in-law Hank. Whatever the case, we are still excited that our favorite show returns in 2 weeks and 1 day (July 17th), and that Bob Odenkirk has a regular credit as Saul Goodman. We have loved Odenkirk ever since he played the role of Larry Sanders’ scumbag Hollywood agent Stevey Grant on The Larry Sanders Show, and as one half the avant-garde comedy duo, Mr. Show with Bob and David.