- Jimmy McGill’s schemes on Better Call Saul often stretch the limits of believability, but his knack for narrowly escaping the authorities is uncanny.
- Jimmy’s first act of thievery as a child forms a destructive rift between him and Chuck, with Chuck forever resenting Jimmy for their parents’ greater love for him.
- Many of Jimmy’s elaborate cons, including stealing money, defending a homeowner, and planting evidence, require significant suspension of disbelief to be successful.
Better Call Saul has enamored audiences with Jimmy McGill’s elaborate schemes, but for as well-thought-out as they usually are, they can sometimes suspend disbelief past the point of believability. Saul runs many creative cons over the course of the show, breaking laws ranging from forgery to breaking-and-entering. Things often go wrong, but Saul has an uncanny knack for narrowly getting away from the authorities scott-free.
Whether he’s avoiding legal prosecution or physical harm at the hands of criminals, Jimmy McGill is an evasive expert. Showrunner Vince Gilligan has been known to keep the universe of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul relatively grounded. Sometimes, the narrow escapes Jimmy gets away with are a bit hard to believe.
10 Stealing Money From His Parents
When he was just a child, Jimmy was shown stealing money from his honest, hard-working father via flashbacks. Though it might seem like small potatoes compared to the schemes he runs as an adult, this early act of childhood thievery is critical to Jimmy’s character. Not wanting to be taken advantage of like his toothless Dad, Jimmy callously begins helping himself to the money in the drawer of his parents’ corner store in Cicero.
The only thing that let the young Jimmy get away with the blatant stealing was his parent’s unyielding love for him. Chuck comments on this during his infamous “Chicanery” rant, mocking his parents’ by saying “Not our Jimmy! Couldn’t be precious Jimmy!” This first crime, while minor, was key in forming the destructive rift that formed between Jimmy and Chuck, with Chuck forever detesting Jimmy for his parents’ greater love for him even in the face of obvious betrayal.
9 Defending Acker’s Home By Any Means Necessary
When Kim Wexler’s prestigious client, Mesa Verde Bank & Trust, looks to rapidly expand in the Southwest, an innocent bystander is caught in the crossfire. Homeowner Mr. Acker finds himself living on Mesa Verde property, the ancient lease his ancestors took on the land running out only after Acker had spent his whole life there. Refusing to take the deal offered by the bank, Acker finds himself in the cross-hairs of Mesa Verde, who are well within their legal rights to forcibly remove him.
Luckily, Saul steps in to help. He concocts a series of increasingly ridiculous lies that tie up Mesa Verde and prevent them from breaking ground, ranging from phony ancient Native American warheads to a religious symbol mysteriously manifesting. Upon any close inspection, these schemes should’ve been dismissed as obviously fake, leaving Mesa Verde to do their worst. CEO Kevin Wachtell even comments on this, recognizing the phoniness of the ploy.
8 Planting A Battery On Chuck’s Person
During his hearing for disbarment, Jimmy is in hot water after (true) allegations surface against him breaking and entering Chuck’s home to forge documents, causing him to lose Mesa Verde as a client. Despite being between a rock and a hard place, Jimmy is able to spin the hearing into a discussion about Chuck’s mental illness, sourcing his intense aversion to electricity. He’s able to prove Chuck’s condition is fake once and for all by enlisting Huell’s fast hands to plant a charged phone battery on Chuck’s person, exposing his supposed “illness” in front of his peers.
While watching this plan unfold is arguably one of the best moments in the series, it’s something of a miracle that Jimmy was able to pull it off. Even ignoring whether Jimmy’s focus on Chuck’s mental health would make the bar forgets bout Jimmy’s possible breaking-and-entering, the legality of Huell getting away with essentially assaulting Chuck is murky at best. Beyond that, going by the logic of Chuck’s description of his disease, a battery that isn’t powering anything isn’t creating a current, meaning it shouldn’t affect him.
7 Admitting To Stealing The Kettleman’s Money
Often forgotten among Better Call Saul‘s amazing cast, the Kettleman family are poorly-prepared criminals encountered by Saul early on. Charged with embezzling 1.6 million dollars, Betsy and Craig Kettleman first rebuke Jimmy’s offer to represent them, insisting he’s the type of lawyer guilty people hire while very much falling into that category themselves. However, Jimmy later discovers the couple hiding in plain sight with the money after the family frame their own kidnapping, taking a bribe to keep quiet.
Later, the tables are turned as the Kettlemans blackmail Jimmy with his accepted bribe to take their case, which he now wants nothing to do with. To get out of this, Jimmy sends Mike to their home to steal the remainder of the money and give it back to the state along with his own bribe, ending matters for good. It’s hard to believe the Kettlemans wouldn’t at least attempt to report Jimmy for breaking and entering, even if it put them under a microscope.
6 The Theft Of The Bavarian Boy
While looking for steady employment after his license to practice law is suspended, Jimmy goes through a few interviews for more mundane careers. During an interview for a sales position at a copy shop, something in the background catches Jimmy’s eye: A valuable Hummel figurine. A nice callback to Jimmy’s experience with the small tchotchkes in season 1, episode 5’s “Alpine Shepherd Boy,” Jimmy enlists a thief, Ira, to break into the office and swap out the expensive heirloom for a more common variety.
Much to Ira’s chagrin, the manager of Neff Copiers has fallen on hard times, and is spending his nights in the office. Trapping Ira under a desk in the same room, he’s barely able to get word out to Jimmy, who stages a distraction with the manager’s car to give Ira a window to escape. Not only is it hard to believe that the burglar was able to stay in the same room as the mopey manager without giving away his presence, he’s strangely understanding with Jimmy about the whole ordeal afterward, not shorting him when the figurine sells for more than expected.
5 Orchestrating The Billboard Rescue
One of Jimmy’s most daring plans involved a dizzying climb up the billboard he had purchased. Knowingly advertising his own practice with extremely similar visual language to Howard Hamlin, Jimmy’s billboard was ordered to be taken down. Taking advantage of the situation for free advertising, Jimmy has his trusty film students tape him as he sadly comments over the process, springing into action to save the worker after he conveniently falls.
As someone who knows his brother all too well, Chuck is able to quickly see through Jimmy’s ruse, painting himself as a hero in the public’s eyes. Even without the insider knowledge, it’s hard to believe that Jimmy’s acting skills were good enough to convince the general public. Not only that, but Jimmy and his stand-in worker exchange a quick high-five after the rescue is complete, which may have even been caught on the footage.
4 Planting The Baggie Of Drugs In The Country Club
As part of his ongoing campaign to ruin Howard Hamlin’s reputation, Jimmy begins a smear campaign to convince his peers that Howard is a cocaine addict. His efforts to convey this gets bolder and bolder, with Jimmy deciding to audaciously infiltrate the country club himself. Somehow, Jimmy is able to sneak into the locker room under the guise of a tour, planting a small dime-bag of drugs to perfectly fall out of Howard’s locker for all to see.
This scheme is one of Saul’s most ridiculous, confidently strolling into Howard’s club in plain sight. His entrance isn’t exactly subtle, drawing the ire of Kevin Wachtell, who also happens to be at the same club, loudly calling out Saul in a scene that would make no question of his alibi. Not only that, he’s nearly caught by Howard himself when he walks into the locker room, even speaking to Jimmy who throws a towel over his head to disguise himself. It’s a feat of stealth that’s nearly impossible to believe, stretching the suspension of disbelief further than ever.
3 The Colombian Cartel Almost Ends Saul’s Story In The Desert
It isn’t always the authorities that Saul is running from. When he gets in over his head delivering Lalo Salamanca’s bail money, Saul is caught defenseless in his Suzuki Esteem by a gang of gunmen from the Colombian Cartel. Nearly killing him and taking the money, Jimmy only lives thanks to an appearance from his guardian angel, Mike, who dispatches the gangsters with his sniper rifle.
This scene from one of the series most highly-acclaimed episodes, season 5, episode 8, titled “Bagman”, is the closest Saul ever gets to dying in either series he appears in. Mike’s appearance is something of a Deus Ex Machina, the gunmen holding Saul at gunpoint just long enough before to give Mike time to shoot first. As over-the-top as it is for him to step in and save Jimmy at the last second, the realism behind Mike’s sniping skills in Better Call Saul saves the tense shootout’s realism.
2 The Appointed Arbiter’s Broken Arm Nearly Cost Kim and Saul Everything
The culmination of a series of schemes involving the Sandpiper case, the fake picture switch of season 6, episode 7 “Plan and Execution” features a harrowing close call. As the Sandpiper lawsuit Jimmy started drags on, he works with Kim on an elaborate con to gaslight the opposing counsel into thinking Howard is crazy, meaning they’ll be forced to settle immediately. The climax of this plan hinges on Jimmy and Kim creating fake photos featuring the neutral arbiter appointed by both parties to mediate taking a bribe from Saul himself.
Being smiled upon by fate, Saul’s stop to a liquor store has him seeing the arbiter in person, revealing a critical detail: His arm is in a cast, unlike the fake photos they had already taken. Jimmy calls Kim, wanting to call off the operation, but Kim insists they can still do it, racing to correct the discrepancy with a frantic new photo shoot. If it wasn’t for a chance meeting, Jimmy would’ve never known something was off, exposing his plan to Howard without affecting the Sandpiper case at all.
1 Jimmy Steals Howard’s Car
The Sandpiper con was broken up into a series of smaller scams, systematically destroying Howard Hamlin’s reputation before going in for the kill with the arbiter photos. One of Jimmy’s attempts to mischaracterize Howard was his most ambitious scheme yet. Dressing up as Howard, Jimmy steals Hamlin’s signature car during his therapy session, drives like crazy in front of H&M partner Cliff, and returns before the end of Howard’s session.
The amount of moving pieces within this scheme, from the earlier quick copying of Howard’s key to the recruitment of a prostitute to be cast out from the stolen vehicle, make this con a true marvel. The ticking time element makes it truly impossible to believe, Jimmy arriving back at the therapist’s office only to find someone else had parked in Howard’s designated spot. Jimmy has to summon all his strength to rip a sign out of the ground and re-plant it in front of the car, making this scene the clearest moment in all of Better Call Saul where Jimmy shouldn’t have gotten away with it.