‘Better Call Saul’: The Many Reasons Jimmy McGill Trashed Howard Hamlin’s Car
While certain scenes depict Jimmy McGill as Gene, the manager of a Cinnabon in Omaha, Nebraska, for the most part, season five has brought us the hilarious lawyering’s of Saul Goodman.
In “Namaste,” the episode began and ended with Saul enacting revenge on his enemy, Howard Hamlin. Saul made the decision to lob bowling balls over Howard’s security fence to ultimately destroy his beloved Jaguar, and it wasn’t just because of their strained history.
Saul Goodman’s junk store quest
“Namaste” opens with a scene of Jimmy/Saul perusing the wares in a local junk shop. What he was looking for was unclear at first — he simply seemed to be browsing.
It quickly became apparent he was looking for something he could toss. As he picked up each object, from a typewriter to a decorative lamp, he tested his exaggerated throwing motion. It wasn’t until he discovered three bowling balls that he decided to make his purchase.
The bowling balls don’t appear again until the end of the episode when Jimmy McGill — or Saul Goodman, rather — arrives at Howard Hamlin’s lavish home.
Saul introduces Howard’s beloved 1998 Jaguar XJ8 to two of the three bowling balls. As Saul is vandalizing Howard’s property, the camera poetically panned to Howard’s license plate, which read “NAMAST3.”
Howard Hamlin offers Saul Goodman a job
In the past, Howard and Jimmy’s brother, Chuck, made it abundantly clear that they didn’t want Jimmy working for the Hamlin, Hamlin, and McGill (HHM) law firm. For years, Jimmy strived to prove his worth to his brother, but his efforts came to a sudden halt when Chuck committed suicide.
Having seen the transformation Jimmy has gone through to become Saul Goodman, Howard invited him back into the HHM family. Desperate to harness Jimmy’s “take-no-prisoners” attitude, Howard explained how he should have fought for him to be part of the company, even when Chuck wouldn’t.
As Howard explained his position, Jimmy noticed his Jaguar and its ironic license plate. Realizing that Howard was only offering him a job for his own selfish benefit is just one of the reasons Jimmy decided to destroy Howard’s car.
Why Jimmy McGill trashed Howard Hamlin’s Jaguar
Howard’s insulting job offer was just the tip of the iceberg. In the past, Howard had done nothing but belittle Jimmy, preventing him from ever achieving his goal of working with his brother at the prestigious HHM firm.
Ultimately, Howard is to blame for the distance between the McGill brothers. In some ways, Jimmy blamed Howard for Chuck’s suicide and his own inability to grieve him properly, too.
What’s more, Howard has made it abundantly clear that he has had enough time to grieve Charles’ death. Offering Jimmy a job at HHM was proof of that. Jimmy’s jealously and inability to grieve himself were also motivators in his decision to trash Howard’s car.
With an understanding that he is using the Saul Goodman persona as a coping mechanism, Jimmy’s hate for Howard was fueled knowing Howard had gone through grieving and Jimmy had only continued to ignore it.
The symbolism of Saul Goodman
Jimmy McGill is no stranger to loss. His former partner in crime, Marco, died of a heart attack after a final night of get-rich-quick scheming with Jimmy.
At Marco’s funeral, Jimmy took Marco’s ring, making it clear that he would do whatever it took to make money. Marco’s ring was symbolic of Jimmy’s future as Saul Goodman. In Breaking Bad, the ring rests on Saul’s pinky finger to serve as a reminder of the “take-no-prisoners” attitude Howard Hamlin so desperately wishes he had.
In a way, Saul Goodman is Jimmy’s solace from the crippling guilt and grief he feels for Charles’ death. But Saul is also permission for Jimmy to focus on the now-profitable schemes he’s able to partake in instead of grieving the loss of his brother.
Eventually, Saul will be the reason Jimmy must once again find a new persona in Gene at the end of his greatest scheme of all.