‘Better Call Saul’ Star Bob Odenkirk Reacts to Jimmy’s Outburst at Howard Hamlin

Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) can usually talk his way out of any situation. Every time an opponent thinks he has the upper hand, Jimmy reveals a new angle. That’s why it was so surprising to see him flat out yell at Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) at the end of the Better Call Saul episode “JMM.”

[Spoiler Alert: This article contains spoilers for Better Call Saul.]

Bob Odenkirk in Better Call Saul
Bob Odenkirk | Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Odenkirk joined The Better Call Saul Insider Podcast for an episode that posted March 31, 2020, the day after “JMM” aired. Episode writer Alison Tatlock and director Melissa Bernstein joined Odenkirk to discuss Jimmy’s outburst at the end. Better Call Saul airs Monday nights at 9 p.m. on AMC.

Bob Odenkirk’s first reaction to his ‘Better Call Saul’ outburst

Odenkirk has spent a long time as Jimmy McGill. Even as Saul Goodman on Breaking Bad, he was still Jimmy McGill inside. When Better Call Saul asked him to lash out at Howard Hamlin, Odenkirk understood the scene.

“The guy’s cracking up,” Odenkirk said. “I think the guy cracks up fairly often. He’s got a lot of pressure on him, a lot of internal pressure. I thought a legitimate place for all of his frustration and shame to go is striking out and striking back at Hamlin.”

L-R: Tony Dalton and Bob Odenkirk | Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Odenkirk turned to Tatlock and creators Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan to thank them for writing him layers on Better Call Saul.

“Plus, you guys are so good at writing justifications,” Odenkirk said. The character’s self-justifications for whatever they’re feeling or want to say or do, especially Jimmy. That gives me an emotional logic and a thinking logic that he can use to do whatever he wants, in this case, to lose his cool and tear up Hamlin, hopefully to make Hamlin feel bad.”

When Bob Odenkirk said Chuck’s name, he crossed a ‘Better Call Saul’ line

Tatlock pointed out an important part of Jimmy’s outburst was about his brother. He blamed Howard for Chuck (Michael McKean)’s death back in Season 3.

“I was really struck watching it again how the death of Chuck is invoked in such a direct way,” Tatlock said. “So much of Season 4 was about the fallout of the loss of chuck and then Season 5 we kind of buried it and it’s bubbling underneath. Then bam, it just comes daggering out in that scene and it’s kind of shocking. It was shocking even to me having written it and seen it shot repeatedly and watched it many times, just to hear that accusation, hear you say Chuck’s name.”

Bernstein also wanted to give credit to Fabian for playing the receiving end of Odenkirk’s outburst.

Patrick Fabian | Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

“I loved what Patrick did in that scene too,” Bernstein said. “I think he’s really struggling to understand Jimmy in that moment but he also has this way of pushing his buttons that does get under your skin. He’s doing both at the same time in such a convincing and meaningful way.”

Jimmy has nothing to hide anymore 

In the beginning of Better Call Saul, Jimmy kept up a bit of a front with Howard. He did it for his brother’s sake, and at one point he was hoping to win his way back into Hamlin, Hamlin and McGill, although always working his own schemes. Odenkirk says he’s past that point now.

Bob Odenkirk in Better Call Saul
Bob Odenkirk | Nicole Wilder/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

“I feel like at this point that character is smart enough to know what he’s doing but he doesn’t give a sh*t. He’d still prefer to cut loose and push back on this guy and see how much he can hurt someone else because he’s feeling hurt. As opposed to who he was when he started this thing, I think he’s way more aware of the kinds of bad choices he makes or the places he puts his frustration, anxiety and pain. He can see that he’s doing that but he still runs from it. He still jumps and tries to dodge it all but at least he’s getting more aware I think.”

Bob Odenkirk, The Better Call Saul Insider Podcast, 3/31/2020