Better Call Saul S05E07 “JMM” aka The Birth of Saul Goodman

Better Call Saul aired “JMM” which finally showed us the exact moment Saul Goodman was born into the world.  “JMM” has several game-changing moments that split the series into before and after sections, forever.

Saul Goodman has entered the building in a public outburst that forever defines the rotten core of his soul. Buckle up your seatbelt for a bumpy ride!

Obligatory Spoilers warning

 

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I share spoilers, so be sure to watch the episode before reading below.’


Alison Tatlock wrote “JMM” ; Melissa Bernstein directed the episode. “JMM”‘s title comes from the initials on the briefcase Kim gave Jimmy when he got his law license back.  James Morgan McGill. When Jimmy became Saul Goodman, he told Kim the initials would stand for “my new motto: Justice matters most.”  Lalo Salamanco tells Saul he should change it to  “Just make money”.

It’s the Spousal Privilege, Stupid

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Marriage for spousal privilege- we do!

Jimmy and Kim decide to get married so the spousal privilege goes into effect. Once married, they cannot be forced to testify against each other about anything.  Marriage seals their secrets away and allows them to keep their law licenses and careers.

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Saul provides proof of his past 2 marriage dissolutions

While the couple fills out paperwork, the clerk asks Saul for “proof of your two previous dissolutions”. It is hilarious yet a subtle moment tucked into the scene.  Breaking” Bad fans may remember that Saul mentioned once that his second wife slept with his stepfather.  That’s all we knew before “JMM” aired.

Huell is unhappy with this fast, no-frills wedding.  He peppers Saul with questions between trying to upgrade the wedding.  Is Kim pregnant- no (thankfully). Will Saul take her away for a glamorous honeymoon- nope. Will Kim be a McGill or Goodman?  Neither, Kim stays a Wexler. The courthouse ceremony is brief, with no rings but Huell as a witness to the shortest legal vows possible.

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Kim is glowing and happy in her usual low-key way.  Despite this being an arrangement to save their careers (and law licenses) Kim seems to feel or hope they can be happy together. Both go right back to work after the ceremony.

She may not have a ring or flowers but Kim has Hope.

“JMM” is a terrific episode for most of the characters but my focus here is the wedding and the “birth ” of Saul Goodman, fully formed.  Saul learns after the wedding that Lalo Salamanca, under an alias, has been charged with the murder of Travel Wyze employee Fred. Lalo killed Fred in season 4.

Lalo offers Saul a chance to become a “friend of the cartel” with all the power and wealth he could ever want.  Saul just has to get Lalo out on bail, a near-impossible task, first.  Saul is giddy with the possibilities of a friend of the cartel status: a ranch in Wyoming, a private plane.

Congratulations, Saul Goodman is here!~

Saul tells Kim of Lalo’s offer on the wedding night under their new agreement to tell each other everything.  Kim isn’t impressed so Saul quickly agrees with her that friend status would not be the “right thing” to do. He still wants it, though working in secret in “JMM” to get Lalo free. Just married and already the key vow – total honesty- with Kim is broken.

Gus sends Mike to Saul with research showing witness tampering, which Saul uses well.  Saul first has a moment of weakness seeing Fred’s grieving family in the courtroom.  He loses his train of thought and spins out for a long moment.  Saul’s suddenly on his feet, arguing powerfully that the witness tampering has curtailed Lalo’s civil rights.

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On cue, Saul points to a ringer family of two children and “the love of his life” woman paid off to pose as Lalo’s local ties to the area.   Bail is granted and Saul Goodman is born into the world.

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Saul Goodman has come into his own, completely.

James Morgan McGill, aka Chuck McGill’s loser brother, will always be a part of Saul Goodman’s soul.  But Saul has become more than just Slippin Jimmy with a new name in this episode.  Winning Lalo his bail on a murder charge convinces Saul of his own talents, almost his godhood.  Saul is harder, smarter, more manipulative than Jimmy. He’s not afraid to throw around his weight anymore. God help Kim, who still thinks about choices as right or wrong where Saul sees only opportunity, money or power.

Man, Lawyer or self-proclaimed God?

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Saul erupts into his own blaze of hubris and glory when he runs into Howard in the courthouse.  Howards asks Saul if he’s considered returning for that firm job.  Saul unleashes a meltdown, telling Howard he is now far above Howard, that lightning even sparks from his fingertips.  Saul screams at Howard as everyone in the courthouse watches in shock.

We finally have the complete Saul Goodman on the stage now and it feels that no one is safe now.  How will Saul handle Kim when she inevitably disagrees with his choices?  How long will the marriage last before Saul’s new friend of the cartel status drives ethical Kim from his life?