Fans of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul were excited to learn last week that Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul are set to reprise their iconic roles as Walter White and Jesse Pinkman in the spin-off show’s upcoming sixth and final season. We haven’t checked in with Bob Odenkirk’s Jimmy McGill (now officially operating under the more familiar Saul Goodman persona) since the previous season wrapped up in early days of the pandemic, and it’s been even longer since we saw him on screen with Walt and Jesse. We wouldn’t blame you if your memory was a little foggy when it came to the initial introduction as the duo’s colorful attorney and confidant and how his exploits match up with the evolving character we’ve come to know in his own series. But that’s where we come in.
Here’s your guide to some of the most memorable and important Breaking Bad episodes featuring Saul Goodman. And if this entices you to go back and watch more, AMC has been running a marathon of back-to-back episodes leading up to the Better Call Saul premiere on April 18, so you can relive all the epic highs and lows of one of the best TV series of all time.
“Better Call Saul”
Season 2, Episode 8
The episode that gave the spin-off its title is also the one in which Odenkirk joined the Breaking Bad universe, making an instant impression. In this episode we get a 0-60 mph look at the sleazy world of attorney Saul Goodman, not merely a criminal lawyer but a criminal lawyer. Notably, his first appearance isn’t in a scene with Walt and Jesse, but with Badger (Matt Jones), one of their dealers who’s just gotten picked up by the DEA. Saul may think he’s just taking on another low-level drug offender, but his ultimate fate is sealed once Walt and Jesse get involved.
In a pivotal scene that will come to inform a lot of what happens in the prequel series, Walt and Jesse don ski masks and bring Saul to the desert under cover of night in order to intimidate him into representing Badger without giving up any bigger fish (namely Heisenberg himself) to the DEA. Saul assumes the cartel is behind his abduction, and name checks both Ignacio (who we’ll meet later/earlier in Better Call Saul as Nacho Vargas) and Lalo, someone he seems particularly terrified of. He also uses the now-familiar phrase “amigo del cartel,” or “friend of the cartel,” the exact words Lalo tempted him with in Season 5.
Season 2, Episode 11
In this episode, Saul connects Walt and Jesse with a mysterious client who can potentially take some product of their hands as their distribution channels are drying up. That client would turn out to be Breaking Bad‘s biggest of big bads, Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). Welcome to the party, Chicken Man. Saul claims he doesn’t know his name, but describes him as a careful businessman who keeps a low profile, not unlike Walt himself. He’s not wrong. When Jesse shows up at their appointed meeting at Los Pollos Hermanos late and high, Gus reconsiders. Saul quips: “With this particular individual, all you get is the one shot.” Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your point of view), Walt convinces him to give his valuable product another chance.
Another classic Goodman line in the episode: “As to your dead guy, occupational hazard.”
This episode might also technically have the first mention of middle-man Mike Ehrmantraut when Saul says, “Let’s just say I know a guy who knows a guy who knows another guy.”
“Caballo sin Nombre”
Season 3, Episode 2
Of course, Better Call Saul isn’t just the origin story of the title character. It also shows us how Mike (Jonathan Banks) went from a disgraced ex-cop working as a parking attendant to the right-hand man of the city’s most-feared drug lord. In this episode (the title of which translates to “Horse with no Name,” the song playing on the radio when Walt is pulled over in the teaser) we not only get the first glance of his beloved granddaughter Kaylee but we see his detective skills in action. Saul puts him to work monitoring Skyler after Walt admits she knows about his meth business (though he tells Walter he has no cause to worry). In the process, Mike winds up saving Walt’s life without him or Saul ever knowing.
We also get to see a little of Saul Goodman’s unconventional negotiation style. Jesse finds out that his parents are selling his their home and turns to Saul for help to buy it anonymously. Saul’s solution is to offer the Pinkman’s half the asking price in cash, which they’re forced to accept after he tells them he knows about the illegal meth lab in the basement. Jesse not only gets the house at a bargain, he also gets the satisfaction of slamming the door in his condescending parents’ faces.
Season 3, Episode 13
In the eventful third-season finale, Saul makes a judgment call that shows his loyalty to his clients and also puts him at odds with Mike. Although the two of them go way back, as we now know, and Mike is willing to work for Saul from time to time, his orders from his actual boss Gus will always take precedence, no matter how bloody. So when Gus is hot for vengeance amidst an escalating turf war, Mike pays Saul a visit and demands he give up Jesse’s location. In a rare moment of—dare we say—ethics, Saul gives him a fake address. Even under threat of a hole in the desert or getting his legs beat until they don’t work, Saul doesn’t turn stoolie. It’s a matter of professional pride, you see, and a trait that will come in hand in the next couple of seasons.
The episode’s title is also a reference to Mike’s principle of “no half measures,” which he explains in the previous episode (titled “Half Measures,” naturally) became his philosophy when he was still on the force and found out an abusive husband he let go turned around and beat his wife to death. As we’ve seen time and time again, he holds true to that vow, no matter how difficult the circumstance.
Season 4, Episode 11
This is widely considered one of the best and most intense episodes of Breaking Bad ever produced. It’s a Cranston tour de force, but Odenkirk admirably holds his own. It very well could be the episode that convinced the creative team that Odenkirk not only deserved to headline a spinoff series, but was more than capable of it.
As viewers may recall (as prompted by the title), a pair of subplots merge, leading up to Walt’s breakdown while laying in the crawl space, where his ill-gotten gains have unexpectedly dwindled. On the outs with Gus—who doesn’t need him now that he has Jesse to cook in his place—Walt desperately needs to leave town and disappear. Fortunately, Saul knows a guy. He gives Walt a business card for a vacuum fix-it man named Ed Galbraith (Robert Forster) and the vague but specific rules when calling for new dust filter for a Hoover Max Pressure Pro Model 60 (the road to a certain Cinnabon in Omaha begins right here).
Saul also comes to the Skyler’s aid in this episode, though it will eventually complicate things for her husband’s attempt to flee. She needs to convince her former boss Ted to pay the large sum he owes to the IRS, knowing that any investigation of him will eventually lead back to her and Walt. Saul becomes the conduit for a large sum of money with the cover story that Ted has inherited it from a long-lost relative. When that doesn’t work (dumb Ted buys a car with it instead), Saul sends his henchmen Patrick (Bill Burr) and Huell (Lavell Crawford) to turn up the pressure. The money, of course, came from the stash Walt was hoping would fund his escape. The deficit leaves him in a tough spot (literally and figuratively) by the end.
It’s also worth noting that Gus mentions twice in this episode (once to Hector and once to Walt) that he has wiped out the entire male Salamanca family line. This might be a hint of the eventual fate of Lalo, who is still alive as of the Season 5 finale of Better Call Saul (having just survived an assassination attempt). If Lalo Salamanca is in fact dead at the time of Breaking Bad, it sure seems like Saul isn’t aware of it (per his panic in the aforementioned abduction scene).
There’s one more Better Call Saul connection to note here: the doctor who treats Gus, Mike, and Jesse in Mexico shows up multiple times as his personal physician in the spinoff series. He’s the one who tends to Mike’s injuries in Gus’ little village after he’s beaten up by street thugs, thus indebting Mike to Gus from that point forward.
“Live Free or Die”
Season 5, Episode 1
In the fifth season premiere we see the culmination of the wild events set in motion at the end of Season 4. Gus is dead (and Hector with him), Mike is back from Mexico, and Ted is in the hospital and no longer a threat. But the money Skylar gave him to fix his little IRS problem is still gone. This revelation sets off a confrontation for the ages between Walt and Saul. It ends with Walter admitting he intentionally poisoned a child to manipulate Jesse and Saul declaring that he’s “done” working for Heisenberg. But Walt, fully crossed over to the dark side now, refuses his resignation, telling him, “We’re done when I say we’re done.”
Season 5, Episode 15
Fittingly, Odenkirk’s last appearance in the penultimate episode of Breaking Bad ties directly into that previous confrontation at the beginning of the season. Both episode titles refer to the state of New Hampshire, where Walt will go off the grid for a bit with the help of Ed, the aforementioned professional disappearer. Feeling some heat blowing in his direction thanks to Walt, Saul is also forced to make use of Ed’s services and the two are temporarily stuck together in the basement of Best Quality Vacuum while they wait for extraction. Saul advises Walt to turn himself in, but he’s in full megalomaniac mode and won’t consider it until he can get all his money to his family. When Saul’s ride to Nebraska arrives, Walt wants him to come with him instead, but Saul isn’t going anywhere with Walt. He’s not a lawyer anymore, he tells him, he’s not anyone. He even accurately predicts that if he’s lucky he’ll be managing a Cinnabon in Omaha (did he already know the plan or was Ed listening in?). An enraged Walt starts to remind him of his earlier words, but a coughing fit stops him in his tracks. Saul leaves him with two words, his last of the series: “It’s over.”
Turns out he was wrong about that, and we are truly grateful he was.
Better Call Saul returns to AMC for the first half of Season 6 on April 18. It will run for seven episodes and then go on a brief hiatus before returning for the final six episodes on July 11.