This episode was all about the secret origins of Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) and an emotional one at that. Ehramantraut was such a popular character on Breaking Bad, that it is so intriguing to finally get to see a bit of his backstory. Considering that we are still in prequel mode for Better Call Saul, this episode not only plants the seeds for the relationship between our titular character and Ehrmantraut, it offers us a glimpse into the latter’s soul that was previously unfathomable.
At the very end, when Ehrmantraut breaks down in front of his daughter-in-law over the fate of his son, it’s impossible not to feel the pain in his eyes and the helpless sense of regret. Quite possibly, the best in the series thus far.
Truth be told, this episode – “Alpine Shepherd Boy” – was a letdown after the highs of the previous episode. Neatly divided into three parts, the opening act finds Jimmy MacGill realising that getting folks calling him might necessarily mean a good thing as his client prospects tend to be disappointing. However, with the second act – of Chuck getting arrested by police and winding up in the hospital – Jimmy gets the hare-brained scheme to mark out a niche in ‘elder law’ and extends his marketing to the old folks home.
And the show would have ended nicely enough there but that final act with Mike Ehrmantraut seemed awkwardly tacked on. That said, the situation Mike finds himself is tailor-made for Jimmy to come in and save the day.
By now, it’s plainly apparent that Better Call Saul as a series is going to be a proper examination of James M. McGill aka Saul Goodman. Vince Gilligan and company are in no hurry to rush through these opening episodes and instead letting the story of McGill play out naturally. It’s fascinating to see how McGill goes from struggling public defender and the perpetual loser to an opportunist seeing the possibilities in every situation. Sure, he is still a little awkward and a bit of a buffoon but this episode – “Hero” lays out the genesis of Saul Goodman for all to see. The straight and narrow seems to be a path rightly forsaken in exchange for success. For the audience, it is intriguing to witness McGill’s metamorphosis and to attempt to second guess each one of McGill’s moves as he manoeuvres himself into positions of favour.
Definitely in no hurry to go from this prequel sequence of events into the post-Breaking Bad continuity – hoping the series will stay with this timeline for awhile.
Better Call Saul is almost Breaking Bad in reverse. Basically, for fans of the latter, we already know ‘Saul Goodman’ as the unscrupulous, immoral shyster lawyer. This prequel/sequel of sorts is telling us the story of how bumbling, inept, down on his luck Jim McGill become Saul Goodman. The best part? There is no rush to get there! The show takes its time to tell Jim’s story first before rushing into Saul. So far, that has meant first class television for the three episodes we have had so far.
Any familiar faces, you ask? Well at the moment we have Jonathan Banks reprising his Breaking Bad role as Mike Ehrmantraut – who we find as a crusty parking attendant.Ehrmantraut is actually instrumental in helping McGill crack the case and save his own bacon. So suddenly our awkward attorney has his very first significant ‘win’ and how it moves from here is anyone’s guess but the show has all the makings of a humongous hit.
Remember that feeling you had when you watching one of the best TV series around? I am talking about Breaking Bad of course. Well, it’s hard not to get a sense of deja vu when watching Better Call Saul, a spin-off/prequel/sequel to that popular series. Well, Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan is still in the driving seat (together with Peter Gould) and it already looks like this series will be as memorable as Breaking Bad was. Excellent news!