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How Better Call Saul's Bagman Episode Got Its Name

Fans of AMC's "Better Call Saul" have been waiting nearly two years since Season 5 ended with Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) officially becoming Saul Goodman, Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) quitting her job at Schweikart & Cokely, and Lalo Salamanca (Tony Dalton) surviving a raid on his house in Mexico. With Season 6 coming on April 18, fans will be playing catch-up on back episodes for the next few weeks.

Going back just three installments brings us to Season 5, Episode 8, "Bagman," which aired on April 6, 2020, and was ranked by Yardbarker as the second best "Better Call Saul" episode ever. CBR's Peter Foy claimed it deserved the top spot, saying it "was an hour of television that fired on all cylinders, and really cemented this series as the best show on television."

The highly-regarded episode follow's Jimmy's attempt to act as a courier for Lalo's $7 million cash bail (via IMDb). When Jimmy is ambushed by a Salamanca family rival, he is rescued by Gus Fring's (Giancarlo Esposito) enforcer Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), but has to lug the money for miles through — and spend a night in — the desert until the two find their way to safety.

In choosing a title for the episode, writer Gordon Smith drew from both the literal and poetic applications of the term "bagman."

Smith referenced Jimmy's task on both a micro and macro level

Gordon Smith, a writer and producer who has earned six Emmy nominations for his work on "Better Call Saul" — including one for writing "Bagman" — explained in a Twitter Q&A that he used the title in the metaphorical "sense of a person tasked to collect or distribute illegal money — a runner or delivery boy for criminals. But we also liked the idea that Jimmy had to carry these two, very very heavy, literal bags through the episode." Smith also said he favored "Bagman" as the title but also pitched "Malpais," the Spanish word for "badlands."

Show creator Vince Gilligan told The Hollywood Reporter that he and prop master Mark Hansen estimated the weight of $7 million in actual currency at about 150 pounds total, but even at 50 pounds per bag, Bob Odenkirk "could barely get the thing off the ground. Even though Bob's very tough and he's in great shape and wanted to do it very Method-y, even he, by the end of the first week or the second week, was saying 'I gotta be able to work tomorrow. I can't carry these things.'"

But Odenkirk's performance did carry the episode, giving the actor perhaps a third claim to the "Bagman" title.