As Better Call Saul heads into its endgame, one particular question from Breaking Bad specifically pertaining to Saul has been nagging at me, and I can’t help but wonder if a pivotal episode of Saul will answer it. Recall that in “Granite State,” the penultimate episode of Breaking Bad, Saul Goodman receives a new identity from Ed Galbraith — the Disappearer — and an escape plan. In a conversation with Walter White in the same episode, Saul says that, from now on, he’s “just a civilian,” “Mr. Low Profile, another douchebag with three pairs of Dockers. If I’m lucky, three months from now, best-case scenario, I’m managing a Cinnabon in Omaha.”
As we know, that’s exactly what happens: Saul becomes Gene, a Cinnabon manager in Omaha. What doesn’t make complete sense to me, however, is: Why? Why is Saul running, and who is he running from? Surely, he’s not running from the feds because he’s defending a drug kingpin, because that’s what lawyers do. So far as I can tell, the feds don’t have anything on Saul — Hank and Gomez knew from Huell that Saul helped Walter hide his money in barrels, but Hank and Gomez kept that quiet — recall, they were working alone to take down Walter — and both ended up dead. Pinkman knew that Saul helped procure the ricin, but Jesse is in the wind, and the only other person who could tie Saul to any actionable criminal activity was Walter, who is also dead.
The last two times we see Saul in Breaking Bad, he’s being assaulted by Jesse for providing the ricin that Walter used to poison Brock (although, Saul claims he had no idea what the ricin was used for), and then the next time we see Saul, he’s meeting with Ed in order to disappear. Last season on Better Call Saul, they filled in the gap between when Saul saw Jesse and when he saw Ed — there’s a cold open that features Saul shredding all of his documents, taking a pile of money, and giving Francesca (his assistant) a cover story.
But again, the question is: Why is he running? What do the feds know that Saul can’t slip out of because of attorney-client privilege and some fast-talking Goodman legal-speak? Who could be after him? It’s not Walt. It’s not Jesse, and the two feds who knew anything — Hank and Gomie — are dead, and even if Saul didn’t know that before he decided to disappear, why not return when he finds out? Just as importantly, who is following Gene in Omaha?
The way I see it, there are two possibilities here: Lalo Salamanca is still alive, and he wants to kill Saul for reasons that aren’t entirely clear. After all, Walter White and the Salamancas interests converged when Hector Salamanca killed Gus, although Lalo could have a long memory.
The other possibility is that someone snitched to the authorities and if I had to guess, that someone is Kim Wexler, who decided to be a “rat” (instead of a “friend to the cartel”). Recall from this season’s third episode that ADA Suzanne Ericsen specifically said that she wasn’t building a case against Saul “at the moment,” but she didn’t rule it out. She was also trying to convince Kim to get Saul to flip on the Salamancas. Saul apparently declined at Kim’s behest.
Meanwhile, Kim continues to build her pro bono practice, and though it wasn’t the point of this week’s scam, it does appear that Clifford Main is amenable to helping Kim expand it. Kim is not going to want to lose that because there’s every reason to believe that she thinks her pro bono practice is more important than both her interests and Saul’s (and Saul may agree). But what if Kim is implicated in Saul’s scheme to take down Hamlin — what if the cops find out the “things” that Mike suggests to Kim this week that “she’d rather keep private”? What if Hamlin finds out? Or worse, he’s hurt amid all these schemes to tank his career, paving the way for a criminal case against Saul. Maybe the ADA lets Kim slide and continue her pro bono practice if she turns on Saul, and maybe that is actually why Saul Goodman is on the run. Wouldn’t it be ironic that, for all his involvement with drug dealers and cartel members, it’s his revenge scheme against Hamlin that goes too far and backfires?
It’s worth noting, too, that in this week’s episode, in the first scene between Mike and Kim of the entire series, Mike references Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar when he tells Kim that she is “made of sterner stuff” than Saul.
If Saul is Caesar, does that make Kim the Antony of Better Call Saul? Or the Brutus? Et tu, Wexler!
Header Image Source: AMC