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If you believe that you can pull on people’s heartstrings, you should take your chances with the police. From where I sit, you made your own luck. As did your former partner. As did your lawyer. You said it yourself, a deal’s a deal.
― Ed to Jesse Pinkman[src]

Ed Galbraith, also referred to as the Disappearer, is a vacuum cleaner repairman and salesman who also offers the clandestine service of taking people (mostly criminals) and giving them new lives and identities.

History

Background information

Ed became a vacuum cleaner repairman and salesman at one point in his life, operating a legitimate, successful business. He then began offering a service of giving wanted fugitives and criminals a new life and identity to help them evade the police by extracting them to new locations across the United States. This suggests that he has a possible police or military background given the proficiency of his services.

At some point his services became known to criminal lawyer Saul Goodman who offered Ed's services to some of his clients, though Saul himself never met Ed nor knew his real name.

Breaking Bad

Season 4

Ed's card 1

Ed's card

Ed is first alluded to by Saul as a last-resort option when Walt feels threatened by Gus. Walt turns the option down, hoping to find another solution. ("Bullet Points")

Later, once Walt has learned that Gus plans to kill Hank, he arranges for Ed to collect him and his family once Saul has informed the DEA of the threat. The disappearing falls through since Walt does not have sufficient money to pay for the services. ("Crawl Space")

Season 5

After Walter White asks Jesse Pinkman to get out of town, Saul Goodman arranges for him to be disappeared. As Ed (who is not shown) pulls up to Jesse in his red van, Jesse at that moment realizes that Walt poisoned Brock Cantillo and leaves. ("Confessions")

Following Hank Schrader & Steven Gomez's deaths at the hands of Jack Welker's Gang and leaving his family, Walt meets Ed to start his new life. ("Ozymandias")

Shortly after he takes Walt, Saul has decided to start a new life as well and he takes Saul to his store, creating a new identity for Saul with a Nebraska drivers license. A few days after Saul's arrival, he tells him that he is ready to start a new life and sets him off as Walt remains in the bunker. He comes back ready for Walt and takes him to New Hampshire in the tank of a propane delivery truck. At a cabin in New Hampshire, he tells Walt he cannot leave the property since he will inevitably be caught and makes it clear that if he discovers that Walt has left for any reason, he will not return and Walt will be on his own. Ed also tells Walt that he will come back once a month to provide him with necessities. He comes back several times throughout the winter and stocks Walt with nutrition drinks, glasses, a chemo-therapy kit, and other supplies. He also brings Walt Albuquerque newspapers and has been keeping tabs on his family and keeps him posted about his wife's trial. ("Granite State")

After Walt chose to leave New Hampshire, Ed likely quickly discovered that Walt left his cabin and therefore cut off all connections with Walt. He later learned of his death on the news.

El Camino

After escaping from Jack Welker's Compound, Jesse Pinkman tracks down Ed's shop to enlist his services. Once Ed is done with a customer, Jesse awkwardly tries to remember the passphrase before pulling $125,000 out of the bag of Todd Alquist's drug money he'd recovered. Ed claims to have no idea what Jesse is talking about and Jesse tries to get Ed to admit that he's "the guy," showing Ed that he's not wearing a wire or carrying a gun. With Ed refusing to acknowledge Jesse's demands, Jesse states that he's ninety-six percent sure that Ed is who he's looking for, having recognized Ed's van from the aborted pickup. ("Confessions") Jesse apologizes for breaking Ed's rules and not going with him that day, stating that Ed will never know how sorry Jesse is that he missed that pickup and he begs Ed to help him.

Taking pity on Jesse, Ed tells him that Jesse owes him $125,000 for the first pickup and will have to pay him another $125,000 if he wants his help this time. Jesse accepts the deal, but discovers that combining all of his remaining cash together still leaves him $1,800 short. Ed gives Jesse back all of his money and offers his advice, but makes it clear that he will not help Jesse without full payment. Jesse tries to earn Ed's sympathy by telling him about his captivity, but Ed simply says that if he wants to tug on people's heartstrings, to try his luck with the police. In Ed's eyes, Jesse, Walt and Saul Goodman all made their own luck. With Jesse refusing to leave, Ed calls the police, forcing Jesse to flee when they actually show up. However, Ed provides them with a false description and lies about where Jesse headed instead of turning him in. Calling the store phone once the cops are gone, Jesse makes sure that with Ed that a deal is a deal and when Ed confirms it, Jesse promises to get Ed the rest of his money.

After Jesse gets all of the needed money, Ed transports him in the back of a moving van to Alaska. Upon arrival, Ed drills Jesse in his new identity and leaves him a car and directions to the nearest town. Jesse hands Ed a letter for Brock Cantillo that Ed promises to mail when he's in Mexico City in a month after reading through it. Ed comments that "not many of us get a chance to start fresh" and wishes Jesse luck in his new life. Ed watches as Jesse drives off before leaving himself. ("El Camino")

Better Call Saul

Season 5

After getting made by a cab driver named Jeff, Gene Takavic calls Ed for another extraction. Ed recognizes Gene as Saul. Gene states that the extraction is hot and that he has been made, though there is no official involvement yet. Ed agrees to extract Saul again, but warns that it will be difficult as well as double the price and cash on delivery again. Gene agrees and Ed states that the pickup will be at 7:00am on Thursday at the same place Saul got dropped off at. Initially agreeing, Gene changes his mind after a moment and tells Ed that he is going to "fix it myself" instead and hangs up the phone. ("Magic Man")

Personality and traits

Ed is a rather complex character whose motives for aiding guilty and dangerous criminals like Walter White and helping them escape justice is unknown though it mainly appears to stem from a desire to attain profit. Despite this Ed is shown to be a highly intelligent, patient and cautious man who delivers his services with the utmost dedication and professionalism to ensure his clients get what the pay for and are able to start a new life and evade the police. He is also extremely honorable and will hold up his end of a deal to the best of his abilities as long as he receives the right amount of money for his extraction services. Ed's services are shown to be almost completely effective, possibly making him one of the greatest criminal extractors in the United States, being able to allow someone to almost completely vanish and be untraceable by law enforcement or other criminals which overall exemplifies his skill and intelligence.

Ed holds some dark traits however and will in no way help someone without full payment or even someone who has suffered extreme horrors and tortures as seen by his interactions with Jesse initially and even Walt to a degree as seen by his lack of empathy for Walt's loneliness and only agreeing to stay with him longer for additional payment. Ed also doesn't take well to recklessness on the part of his clients and will quickly sever ties with them if they make decisions that will be a risk to his interests as seen with Walt and Jesse. He expects nothing but caution on the part of his clients and a willingness to follow his rules without question. He is also completely willing to turn a blind eye to what crimes his clients have committed and help them to evade justice and allow them to remain free.

Despite this Ed appears to have somewhat of a genuine desire to allow criminals to start a new life free of crime and give them a second chance as seen by his interactions with Jesse after extracting him to Alaska, telling them how not many of them get a chance to start fresh and also to allow Walt to spend the rest of his short life in a relaxed environment. He even provides additional serves to his clients without receiving anything in return such as mailing a letter from Jesse to Brock Cantillo, seemingly as a pure gesture of kindness. In his civilian work he is shown to be a reasonable and caring salesman willing to provide quality service to his customers, which is shown to extend to his criminal extraction services as well.

Known Clients

Relationships

Saul Goodman

It is currently unknown how Saul got into contact with Ed, but he was known to offer his clients Ed's services and had used him enough that he was aware of Ed's rules. However, he was unaware of Ed's name or that Best Quality Vacuum was a real business and not just a front Ed used to meet with his clients. Ed and Saul's first and only known direct interaction was when Saul had Ed extract him to a new life in Omaha, Nebraska and Saul spent three days hiding in Ed's basement. ("Granite State") Throughout their interactions, the two maintained a purely professional relationship, unlike the one that would develop between Ed and Jesse which had some elements of a personal nature to it. In this way, Ed and Saul's relationship was much more similar to Ed and Walt's, though the two lacked the extended interactions of Ed and Walt once they met in person.

Ed would later tell Jesse Pinkman that he felt that Saul had made his own luck like Jesse and Walter White did. ("El Camino")

After being made by a cab driver named Jeff, Saul would call Ed for another pickup. Despite Saul not identifying himself, Ed instantly recognized Saul as a former client by voice alone and then pinpointed who he was when Saul stated that he was in Omaha, Nebraska. Ed appeared slightly concerned when he asked how hot Saul was and learned that Saul needed another extraction because he had been made though there was no official involvement. Ed agreed to help Saul again for double the price and was surprised when Saul suddenly changed his mind after agreeing at first in favor of fixing the problem himself. ("Magic Man")

Walter White

Walt is a particularly special case for Ed. Normally, once he has set his clients up in their new surroundings he never sees them again. Since Walt is a unique client due to being the subject of a nationwide manhunt and dying from cancer, Ed makes supply trips and helps him perform his chemo-therapy. He tries to maintain a purely professional relationship with Walt, always referring to him as "Mr. Lambert" and only staying to play cards with him for an extra hour in exchange for $10,000. Walt initially did not seem to like Ed much and was disgusted that he had to pay him so much money to bring him supplies, however over time Walt appeared to enjoy Ed coming to bring him supplies (as he was the only human contact Walt had during his time hiding) and even trusted Ed with keeping tabs on his family for him. Walt nearly also considered trusting Ed with the task of giving his family his remaining money after his inevitable death, though found that even if Ed agreed to do it, he would not believe him. ("Granite State") Ed later tells Jesse Pinkman that he thinks Jesse, Walt and Saul Goodman all made their own luck. ("El Camino")

Jesse Pinkman

Like with Walt, Jesse is a particularly special client for Ed. After enlisting Ed's services the first time, Jesse backed out at the last minute after realizing that Walt poisoned Brock Cantillo. ("Confessions") Jesse would later state that Ed would never know how sorry he was to have missed that pickup. During both the aborted pickup and the successful one, Jesse broke several of the strict rules Ed operates by, something that Ed let slide which is indicated to be highly unusual for him.

After being rescued by Walt from the White Supremacist Compound, Jesse sought out Ed's services again, but couldn't remember the correct passphrase, instead awkwardly insisting that Ed was "the guy," using Ed's van from the first pickup as proof. Though it was against Ed's rules of dealing with his clients, he appeared to take enough pity on Jesse to deal with him anyway. Ed insisted on being paid for both pickups and refused to deal with Jesse when he was $1,800 short, going so far as to call the police when Jesse refused to leave. Despite feeling that Jesse owed him for at least the first pickup, Ed still returned all of his money when Jesse couldn't come up with the second half and gave him advice on how to run on his own. Ed stated that he would not take the money Jesse owed him for the first pickup as he felt it wouldn't end well for either himself or Jesse and was prepared to let Jesse leave with all of his cash as a result. When the police actually did show up, Ed misdirected them and gave a false description rather than giving Jesse up and assured Jesse that he would keep his end of the deal if Jesse could pay him despite their argument just moments before and Jesse's attempt to force Ed to help.

Despite claiming to have no sympathy for Jesse when he tried to use the story of his captivity to motivate Ed to help, Ed did show moments where he seemed somewhat sympathetic such as agreeing to deal with Jesse in the first place and then after he read Jesse's letter to Brock. Without asking for anything in return, unlike how Ed made Walt pay each time he provided an additional service, Ed promised to ensure the letter would be delivered and asked if Jesse wanted to contact anyone else, suggesting that Ed would've helped him send another letter if he had it. When they parted ways, Ed seemed happy that Jesse would get a fresh start, noting how rare it was that someone like them got one. This suggests that on some level, unlike his purely professional relationship with Walt, Ed developed something of a more personal one with the young man though he rarely let it show and did not let it affect how he operated overall in their professional dealings. ("El Camino")

Quotes

Gene: "Yeah, I need an adapter for a Hoover Max Extract® Pressure Pro™ Model 60."
Ed: "Aha. We've delivered to you before, haven't we?"
Gene: "Yeah, I'm in Omaha, Nebraska."
Ed: "Mr. Takavic. That will be a very difficult part to obtain. And I wanna warn you it's gonna be more expensive than the original."
Gene: "How expensive?"
Ed: "Double the price. And we are still in a cash on delivery situation. Uh, will that be a problem?"
Gene: "No, no, it's fine."
Ed: "How hot are you?"
Gene: "I got made."
Ed: "You got made. Any official involvement?"
Gene: "No. Not yet."
Ed: "Pickup is going to be in the same place you were dropped off. Do you remember where that is?"
Gene: "Yeah, I do."
Ed: "Alright Mr. Takavic. Thursday. 7:00am. Same spot. You know the rest, am I right?"
―Ed Galbraith and Gene make plans for Gene to disappear again

Ed: "Mr. Takavic? Still there?"
Gene: "I've changed my mind."
Ed: "Changed your mind?"
Gene: "Yeah."
Ed: "To be clear, you are not going forward with this?"
Gene: "I'm gonna fix it myself."
―Gene decides to do things his own way

"You are the hottest client I have ever had. By far"
―Ed to Walter White[src]

Walter: "One of these days when you come up here, I’ll be dead. My money over there–What happens to it then? What if I ask you to give it to my family? Would you do it?"
Ed: "If I said yes would you believe me?"
―Walter and Ed in the cabin in New Hampshire.[src]

"If you believe that you can pull on people’s heartstrings, you should take your chances with the police. From where I sit, you made your own luck. As did your former partner. As did your lawyer. You said it yourself, a deal’s a deal."
―Ed to Jesse Pinkman[src]

"Not many of us get a chance to start fresh. Good luck, Mr. Driscoll."
―Ed saying goodbye to Jesse[src]


Appearances

Breaking Bad

Episodes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
Season 1
Season 2
Season 3
Season 4
Season 5A
Season 5B

Better Call Saul

Episodes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
Season 1
Season 2
Season 3
Season 4
Season 5
Season 6

Trivia

  • Ed is one of only two characters that appears in Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul and El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, the second being Mike Ehrmantraut. Jimmy/Saul and Lydia (indirectly) get mentioned in El Camino, but do not appear.
    • As an actor, Simon Drobik appears in all three in different roles
  • Ed drives a:
  • The client has to ask for a dust filter for a Hoover Max Extract® 60 Pressure Pro™ to get in contact with him.
    • The Hoover Max Extract® 60 Pressure Pro™ is a real Hoover model,[1] though it does not have a dust filter.
    • When Jesse Pinkman comes in, he can't remember what to ask for resulting in Ed directing him to the Hoover vacuums until Jesse manages to clear things up. ("El Camino")
    • When Saul Goodman calls for a second extraction, he calls for an adaptor rather than a dust filter. Despite this, Ed still appears to be satisfied with the password, possibly because he recognizes Saul's voice as that of a previous client. ("Magic Man")
  • Despite being mentioned in several previous episodes, Ed is not seen in person until "Granite State". In the episode "Confessions", his face is not visible as he comes to pick up Jesse in his 1991 Toyota Previa nor is it visible when he picks up Walt in "Ozymandias".
    • Ed and Jesse's conversation in "El Camino" confirms that it was in fact Ed in the van in "Confessions" despite his face not being seen.
  • The new identities Ed supplies are shown to stand up to scrutiny, including a check of the social security numbers. ("Smoke") Saul tells Walt that Ed gives his clients "new everything" and no one would ever be able to trace him. ("Bullet Points")
  • It appears that Ed tries to hide his own identity from the people he provides his services to in the event they are ever found or arrested as Saul, who had presumably known about Ed for years and referred clients to his services does not know his name as revealed in "Crawl Space" and neither Walt, Saul or Jesse ever refer to Ed by his name. Ed however did announce his full name in "El Camino" while phoning the police on Jesse, making Jesse his only known client to know his real name.
  • Ed is shown to have a series of strict rules regarding his services, several of which Jesse Pinkman has broken. When calling Ed in "Confessions", Saul confirms that Jesse knows and understands the rules. Jesse later admits in "El Camino" that he knows he broke Ed's rules. Ed's rules as seen in "Crawl Space", "Confessions", "Granite State", "El Camino" and "Magic Man" are:
    • He must be contacted through his special passphrase though its unclear if it has to be done just over the phone or can be done in person as well. When Saul gave Walt instructions he said to leave a message and Ed would call back within five minutes. When calling for Jesse, Saul talked directly to Ed. Without the passphrase, Ed refuses to acknowledge that he is the person the client is looking for.
    • His fee is $125,000 in cash per person for the deluxe service. The amount is non-negotiable and without the full fee, Ed will only offer advice if the client is on the run and won't otherwise lift a finger to help.
    • He works fast so the client must be ready to go before they call to arrange a pickup after which Ed will put them up in a safe house located beneath his vacuum repair shop until everything is settled.
    • He will not take anyone who is high at the time of pickup and possibly not if they have drugs on them.
    • The person (or persons) being picked up must not be accompanied by anyone who is not taking part in the relocation.
    • Ed is always "Punctual with a capital P."
    • When supplying his clients with their new identity, Ed, depending on the severity of the situation they are escaping from, sometimes allows them their choice of where he will take them to begin their new life as in "Confessions" Saul confirmed that Jesse would have a say in where he would go and Ed would later in "El Camino" take him to Alaska at his request. However Ed himself chose Nebraska as the location where he would take Saul, likely due to his face being too well known. It is unknown if it was Walt's request to go to New Hampshire though it likely wasn't due to him being too hot a client (and also dying from cancer) to be left on his own in public and Ed chose his location specifically to hide him and bring him supplies covertly.
    • Ed refuses to do anything to help a client that risks exposure or danger for himself and will quickly sever ties with his clients if they behave irrationally and jeopardize his interests. When dealing with Walt, Ed tells him that he must not leave the property or he will stop dealing with him as Walt's leaving risks exposure for them both. He also refuses to take any of Jesse's money when he can't complete the deal as he feels it will end badly for them both. When Jesse tries to use this rule against him, Ed calls the police which Jesse sees as a bluff initially as it risks exposure for Ed, but it is not a bluff. However, Ed does not expose Jesse who has left and lies to the police despite their argument just moments before and Jesse's attempt to force Ed to help.
    • With Ed, a deal is a deal and his word is his bond. If a client makes a deal with him, as long as he is paid, he will honor the deal to the best of his ability.
    • Ed requires that the client pay for any previous aborted pickups if they seek his services again.
    • Ed typically requires $10,000 more each time he performs an additional service for his clients as seen with Ed forcing Walt to pay him each time he brings supplies and to spend an hour playing cards with him. This rule appears to be more flexible however as Ed agrees to deliver Jesse's letter to Brock Cantillo without requesting anything in return. It is possible Ed did not demand additional payment from Jesse due to the fact that, unlike Walt, he would never see him again or simply as a gesture of kindness. Ed did remain cautious as he did not touch the letter without gloves as to not leave his fingerprints, read it to ensure it revealed no details about Jesse's location and he asked Jesse to seal the letter as to not leave his own DNA on the letter either. He also chose to mail it from a faraway location from Albuquerque in Mexico City, where he would be traveling to in order to prevent the letter from being traced back to him and possibly to mislead the police on Jesse's whereabouts as well.
    • Ed is willing to extract and relocate a person more than once in the event their new identity is compromised, but the second time costs double ($250,000). The extraction location will be the same place the person got dropped off at with Ed setting a specific time and date.
  • Ed is indicated to use inconspicuous commercial vehicles to transport his clients. He transported Walter White to New Hampshire in the back of a propane tanker and Jesse Pinkman to Alaska in a secret compartment the back of a moving van with a space heater set up to keep Jesse warm on the trip and a battery-powered lantern to see by. The rear of the moving van was filled with various boxes to complete the ruse, at least one of which can be seen with the label Kitchen on it.
  • Despite his uncompromising demeanor with his clients in his business as a "disappearer", Ed appears to be less harsh and more sympathetic in his day to day life. In "El Camino", Ed talked a woman into having him repair her old vacuum which was cheaper for her rather than buying a new one after she discussed money concerns. This act was less profitable for him and a more sympathetic and cheaper choice for the customer.
  • Ed is shown to only refer to his clients by the new names that he provides them rather than their original names. In "Granite State", "El Camino" and "Magic Man", he calls Walt, Jesse and Saul "Mr. Lambert", "Mr. Driscoll" and "Mr. Takavic" respectively. In Saul's case, this was likely to keep Saul's cover intact and in Jesse's case he was likely simply wishing him good luck in his new life as "Mr. Driscoll". Interestingly he still refers to Walt as "Mr. Lambert" while both are alone at his isolated cabin.
  • Ed appears to have a good memory for his clients and their new identities, recognizing Saul as one by voice alone in "Magic Man" and then instantly identifying him as "Mr. Takavic" without consulting any sort of records after Saul stated that he was in Omaha, Nebraska.
  • The writers revealed on a Better Call Saul Insider Podcast that they didn't intend for Mike to have known Ed, suggesting that Saul found out about his services through some other means.
  • Ed's actor Robert Forster coincidentally sold vacuum cleaners door to door for a living before becoming an actor.
  • Ed's name is not revealed on screen, but in the description of the episode, Granite State on AMC's website.
    • His full name is revealed on screen in "El Camino" when he calls the police on Jesse.
  • Robert Forster's appearance as Ed in "El Camino" was one of his final acting appearances as he died of brain cancer on the same day that the movie was released. Some posthumous appearances included Season 5 of Better Call Saul and the show Amazing Stories.
  • The name Robert Galbraith (first name of the actor and last name of the character) was one of J.K Rowling’s aliases when publishing other books than Harry Potter.

Notes

  1. Hoover® Max Extract® Pressure Pro™ Carpet Deep Cleaner product page
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