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In Better Call Saul, in the episodes and scenes that take place after the end of Breaking Bad, Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman/Gene Takavic works at a Cinnabon in a shopping mall in Omaha, Nebraska.

Why does he have to do this?

  1. He's a fugitive on the run, so why would he risk being publicly visible in a shopping mall for many hours per day?
  2. Presumably he has some cash left over from his Breaking Bad days that can tide him over.
  3. But even if he has completely run out of cash and badly needs some money, as a master hustler/con artist/scammer, surely he can find other ways to make money? And in particular, make much more money than as a Cinnabon manager?
  4. Even if for whatever reason he wants work at a legitimate job, why not work in say some office where he isn't publicly visible to hundreds of passers-by everyday?
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  • How far into the series have you watched? Some of this gets addressed towards the end of the final season. Jun 30, 2023 at 12:36
  • @MichaelSeifert: The entire series
    – user97401
    Jun 30, 2023 at 15:20

2 Answers 2

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I don't think we know why Saul chose the particular occupation he did, so I'm not sure that Questions 1 & 4 are answerable.1 We don't know all the details of Ed's extraction process; maybe the occupation was "baked in" (hah!) to the new identity that Saul was given, and he just went with the flow.

We have a bit more to go on concerning Questions 2 & 3, though.

In "Breaking Bad" (S6E11), Francesca tells Saul that the feds have seized all of his assets, "except what you took with you — and I'm guessing that's not chump change." We actually see the cash that Saul takes with him in "Quite A Ride" (S4E02),: enough to fit in a small bag, about 8" x 8" x 12" at most, and not particularly tightly packed (a bunch of rolls of cash.) If I had to guess, I'd ballpark it to be on the order of $100k, give or take a factor of two — substantial but not enough to live off of indefinitely. He also took some diamonds with him, but those would have been difficult to liquidate without drawing attention. And even if he had a lot of money, living a lavish lifestyle while having no visible source of income is a good way to draw the attention of the IRS — exactly what he doesn't want at this point.

As far as Question 3 goes: Gene does start scamming people instead of relying on his Cinnabon wages. Gene only actually works for Cinnabon for about six months; per this timeline, he "disappears" from Albuquerque in March 2010, and he's running an identity-theft scam by mid-November. But how does this turn out for him?

In the end, Jimmy/Saul/Gene is too undisciplined to fly under the radar for long when doing criminal activities. Within about a month, he insists on going ahead with a scam when it's obviously no longer viable, leading directly to Jeff's arrest, which in turn arouses Marion's suspicions and leads her find Saul's old ads online.


1 At least in-universe. Out-of-universe, Vince Gilligan & Peter Gould probably thought it'd be funny to have Saul's throwaway line near the end of Breaking Bad come true:

I'm not your lawyer anymore, I'm nobody's lawyer. The fun's over! From here on out I'm Mr. Low Profile, just another douchebag with a job and three pairs of Dockers. If I'm lucky, a month from now — best case scenario — I'm managing a Cinnabon in Omaha.

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  • Out-of-universe, Vince Gilligan & Peter Gould probably thought it'd be funny to have Saul's throwaway line near the end of Breaking Bad come true. I think this is probably the best explanation. But unfortunately in-universe, his working at Cinnabon seems a bit inexplicable to me.
    – user97401
    Jul 1, 2023 at 1:51
  • Gene does start scamming people instead of relying on his Cinnabon wages: But this was only because Gene/Saul/Jimmy got recognized by Jeff the taxi driver. Gene then initially requests another identity change, before changing his mind and deciding to try to keep Jeff quiet by teaching him how to hustle/scam.
    – user97401
    Jul 2, 2023 at 4:32
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    @user24096: My point is that trying to be a con artist again is what got him caught. If he'd just gone straight to that source of income, rather than taking a lower-profile job, it seems likely that he would have just gotten caught sooner. Jul 2, 2023 at 13:09
  • Could we put the 'throwaway line' in here as text, in case the link ever disappears?
    – Tetsujin
    Jul 2, 2023 at 17:42
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    @Tetsujin: Done. Jul 2, 2023 at 19:26
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  1. He moved far away from Albuquerque, grew a mustache, changed his hairline, and adopted a very low key, low flash life style. Just like no one suspected quiet high school teacher Walter White of being Heisenberg, people will be less likely to suspect quiet, polite Gene from Cinabon of being a wanted felon, even if he's in front of them every day. Most people in Omaha wouldn't have seen Saul's TV commercials, and probably wouldn't even be aware of the Walter White/Breaking Bad crimes. It was just bad luck that the taxi driver id'd him. Apparently there are few folks who now live in Omaha but used to live in Albuquerque . Having been id'd, the smart move is to follow through with the call to his fixer and bug-out again. The trouble is that Jimmy HATES this life and can't bear not being Saul anymore.

  2. As @Micheal Seifert points out in his answer, most of his money is gone. What he does have he needs to conserve in case he's recognized and has to pay for another bug-out. Those aren't cheap. He ends up not doing the bug out, but he was clearly prepared to.

  3. Saul is facing very hard time if he is ever caught. At the conclusion of the series he gets what is effectively a life sentence. Note that there is no parole for federal offenses so he is really likely to spend the rest of his life in a high-security penitentiary. Not a happy prospect. He shoulda/woulda been highly motivated to avoid any contact with law enforcement, lest it blow his cover. Putting together a new crew to run scams is a very good way to get to meet local law enforcement. In general the more money he makes the higher the profile he'll have, the more likely someone will drop a dime on him. Also note that Jimmy/Saul has been caught three times: once in Chicago, once for the vandalism of Chuck's home, and finally in the collapse of the Heisenberg drug empire. He's a smart and clever con artist, but he does screw up when his emotions get the best of him, and I think he knows this.

  4. Jimmy paid a pretty penny for the services of someone who knows how to drop off the grid and assume a new life with a low profile. That's presumably the person who set him up with the Cinnabon job. Just like when you hire a lawyer you should listen to them, when you pay some guy a couple $100k to buy you a new life, you listen to their advice. Strangers walking by you in the mall may not be as dangerous as having regular co-workers who are around you day-in, day-out, and constantly inviting you to social occasions and nosing into your life history. Nobody at the Cinnabon is going to do that. A lot of the employees you supervise will come and go in a matter of months, and the age difference will discourage them from wanting to socialize.

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