‘Better Call Saul’: The Origin of Jimmy McGill’s Pinky Ring Points to Him Fully Becoming Saul Goodman
Fans of Better Call Saul have no doubt noticed that whenever Jimmy McGill, the man who becomes Saul Goodman, is nervous or excited or even just staring into space, he’s usually absently spinning his pinky ring. Everything about Jimmy’s personality has been changing lately as he slowly becomes Saul Goodman. But the one constant is this very significant piece of jewelry.
But where did Jimmy’s pinky ring come from and what does it mean? Perceptive fans who have been following the story remember that it once belonged to someone very special in young Jimmy’s life.
Jimmy McGill went through some dramatic experiences during his formative years
We learn early on in the series that Jimmy McGill has always wanted to live up to his older brother, Chuck, but he’s never felt smart enough — and it doesn’t help that Chuck never saw him as an equal. Fans discover that Jimmy’s nickname used to be “Slippin’ Jimmy” since he was always pulling petty cons on unsuspecting victims from a young age. It’s a skill he uses in adulthood, too.
Jimmy’s childhood best friend and former partner in crime Marco Pasternak is the original owner of the pinky ring. That connection to the past is why Jimmy is so obsessed with the ring.
The pinky ring is a symbol of Jimmy’s darker con man nature
Better Call Saul is, at heart, the struggle of a man’s two sides. On one hand, there’s Jimmy McGill, an upstanding citizen who knows that justice matters most. On the other, there’s Saul Goodman, the morally bankrupt criminal lawyer who fans recall from the days of Breaking Bad. We always know Jimmy will become Saul. We just don’t know exactly how.
Part of the answer comes at the end of Season 1 when Jimmy learns Chuck has betrayed him by blocking any chance of him getting a job at the cushy law firm Hamlin, Hamlin, McGill, where Chuck is a founding partner. After learning his own brother has no faith in him, Jimmy abandons his attempt to make something better of himself and heads back to Cicero to get into mischief with his old pal Marco. The two get up to their old tricks until the very last night of Jimmy’s visit when Marco suddenly dies of a heart attack.
Jimmy takes Marco’s ring as a symbolic gesture to remember his friend. But on a deeper level, the ring represents the scheming aspect of Jimmy’s personality that he starts embracing in earnest after Chuck’s devastating betrayal.
Jimmy McGill hasn’t gone full Saul Goodman — yet
We already know that Jimmy McGill will become Saul Goodman, leaving any semblance of his former life behind. But that process can’t be pinpointed to a single moment. Rather, it’s a sequence of events that gradually add up to Jimmy losing his moral compass and becoming the worst, most vile version of himself.
Marco’s pinky ring may be innocent enough on the surface. It’s simply a treasured object Jimmy owns to memorialize a close friend. However, more than that, the ring symbolizes the man Jimmy will eventually become.
Catch new episodes of Better Call Saul on Monday at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.