The reference to Saul Goodman being “a criminal lawyer who’s actually a criminal” is a famous line from Jesse Pinkman in ‘Breaking Bad’. It’s the audience’s first introduction to the character Saul Goodman, and the moment that he decides to join himself with Walt and Jesse, a decision that will eventually involve him in an avalanche of life threatening problems.
“Pinata” set up Jimmy’s future identity by having Jimmy tell Kim that he was thinking about getting into criminal law once he got his law license back. Granted, Jimmy really just said it because Kim had just told him she wanted to get more involved in criminal law, and he wants to own a law office with her in the future. However, it seems like this conversation is an important turning point for Jimmy, because viewers who have watched ‘Breaking Bad’ now that he actually does become a criminal lawyer, albeit while being a criminal himself.
Jimmy is in the process of getting his burner phone side business off the ground, and to do this he’s starting to perform borderline criminal acts himself. He finally got his revenge on the group of teens who mugged him and stole all of the cash he had made selling burner phones. Jimmy has proven time and time again that he’s great at getting back at people who deserve it, but he also started to show the beginnings of the criminal side of his personality. With help from a couple of “associates” he scared the teens into agreeing to let him have turf to sell burner phones, and told them to spread the word that the “phone guy” was not to be messed with.
The version of Jimmy McGill who’s willing to threaten some teens in a dark warehouse full of pinatas is unsettling to say the least, and just a glimpse of the man he’s going to become. I don’t think Jimmy would ever go as far as to actually hurt someone or be involved in hurting someone, but he has no qualms about running schemes or threatening people in the pursuit of making some extra money.
What Jimmy really wants is to start a law firm with Kim, but every step he takes towards becoming Saul Goodman is a step further away from that dream, and in turn a step further away from Kim.
We did still get to see the side of Jimmy that we know and love, the one that does genuinely care about people even though he shows it in a way that sometimes makes them think he’s a bit of a jerk. Jimmy went to pick up his check from Chuck’s will from Howard, and Howard told him that Hamlin, Hamlin, and McGill was having some issues. Jimmy basically told Howard to stop feeling sorry for himself and to get up and fight. On the surface it seems like Jimmy is just sticking the knife in to Howard and twisting it, but it’s really his way of trying to give Howard some motivation.
Jimmy knows that Howard is still deeply affected by Chuck’s death, and if he lets the law firm go under, Howard will have nothing left. Jimmy and Howard have never seen eye to eye, but I think they do care about each other in a strange way.
Mike also helped Gus move forward with his plan to build the underground meth lab, setting up the engineering team in a secret warehouse. It’s only a matter of time before the lab is built and the events detailed in ‘Breaking Bad’ start to kick off.
Better Call Saul airs Mondays at 9/8c on AMC.