The following is a review of the sixth episode of AMC’s Better Call Saul, which premiered in Europe on Netflix this morning. Expect spoilers from the episode, as well as minor spoilers from Breaking Bad.
Way back in late May 2009, we were first introduced to the character Mike Ehrmantraut – little did we know that today he’d be a fan-favorite character. Way back in 2009 he was somewhat mysterious, and he was so for most of his time on Breaking Bad. His dream of getting his granddaughter money was never truly fulfilled, due to the DEA, Walt, and just terrible luck in the final seasons.
When this show was announced, and he was announced in it, it excited me. We had heard stories about Mike, but Jonathan Banks’ character had been somewhat of a closed-book on the show – only ever showing sincere, heartfelt emotions around Jesse and his granddaughter. Finding out that this episode was about Mike left me intrigued. How did it turn out? Well, let’s take a look.
The nice little opening scenes featuring his daughter-in-law and granddaughter were well-shot, and intriguingly passive on Mike’s part when being questioned. As the episode then shifted to Mike calling for McGill, the episode changed quite a bit – and it was nice to see the calculating, smart Mike that we know from Breaking Bad.
I like how they set Odenkirk up to initiate the huge information dump during the questioning with the officers from Philadelphia – that was very inventive, and definitely entertaining. I love that Jimmy eventually chose to spill the coffee, I mean – Saul would do it in a heartbeat, but you could definitely see the change as it happened within Jimmy. Also, it was very clear how he was plotting how to exactly do it when he stood up to leave.
Mike did what he had to do in Philadelphia, he was right all along. Seeing him get revenge was great, especially considering we finally have an understanding of what exactly happened in Philly. We all had an inkling of the fact that Mike was a dirty cop, and seeing him tell the truth to his daughter-in-law was great. The department was dirty, that’s how it was.
“It’s like killing Caesar, everyone’s guilty.”
One of the most heartbreaking moments, in perhaps the entire Breaking Universe, ended the episode. Mike had disappointed his son by telling the truth – Matty was a good man, but Mike broke him. Mike was amazing in this episode. Opening the episode by angrily defending his son in front of his daughter-in-law, it gave me the chills seeing him act like that – seeing Mike finally crack, and hearing him do so as well.
To then, in the end, see him acknowledge that he caused everything – saying how he feels responsible… If Jonathan Banks doesn’t get award-love for this performance, then people don’t know what they’re doing. This was a stellar, honest, pure, and utterly devastating performance – underlined by seeing him profess his guilt to the only family he had left.
The episode made me think a lot about Mike and Jesse’s friendship. How Mike, when the opportunity came, strongly adviced Jesse to get out of it – stay away from Walt, the danger. Mike had learned what could happen when you let the people you care about toy with fate.
This was, without a doubt, the best episode yet. It is, honestly, the best new episode I’ve seen in 2015 – and it is going to be one of the most memorable episodes of this series – for sure. Even if Better Call Saul never fulfills its potential, then at least it gave us this masterpiece.
I’m Jeffrey Rex