Better Call Saul, Season 1, Episode 6 (Five-O).
This was the Mike we were waiting for. No more are we seeing Mike grumpily arguing with Jimmy about parking stamps – but rather we’re seeing Mike in his prime. Last week, viewers were partially teased with Mike’s backstory; we knew that Mike’s criminal lifestyle would tie into the spin-off, but now it has finally happened.
The episode takes an interesting dynamic by switching from the past to the present. “Five-O” never once followed Jimmy’s life as he struggles to uphold his career, but instead focuses on Mike’s life and how Jimmy interweaves to his story. We’ve seen time-shifts before in Better Call Saul, but never to the extreme of taking up the majority of the episode. In a sense, the story isn’t just to provide context to Mike’s personality in Better Call Saul, but acts as a fan-service to diehard Breaking Bad fans who’ve eagerly waited to discover more on Mike Ehrmantraut’s past.
Jonathan Banks successfully manages to hold all the emotional scenes, we really get a sense of the impact which Matt’s death had left to Mike. Mike’s always had a devotion to family. In Breaking Bad his central focus was on Kaylee, so it’s easy to imagine just how close Mike and Matt were. Even though Matt was never featured on-screen, those who’re that delved into the world of Breaking Bad would easily fall to the emotional strings of Mike losing his son.
It isn’t until half way through the episode where it’s easy to identify the plot. The first half is all about the not-knowing; we see Mike and his daughter-in-law discuss Matt’s death, but we’re lead to believe that Matt was playing “dirty”. It isn’t until later when we discover that Hoffman and Fenske were behind Matt’s murder – but it’s quite obvious Mike was therefore behind their death. But in-between this, we really see the practical mind of Mike at work. He stitches himself up and uses a Maxi pad for his wounds, he breaks into a Police car with just a piece of string (yet I’m still questioning how?)- yet more importantly – he convincingly acts drunk in order to avenge Matt.
To retain the comedic elements which Better Call Saul has enforced more than Breaking Bad, the present scenes with Jimmy and Mike balances out the bleak flashback. Jimmy’s cheesy appearance leads to him being referred as “Matlock”, and even Jimmy and Mike arguing about spilling the coffee is portrayed in a humorous tone. These scenes are hardly included in the episode, yet it does showcase the future possible storylines as Mike and Jimmy are more likely to alliance.
Not only do we discover that Mike was somewhat responsible in causing his son’s death, but we see Mike essentially break-down as he reveals he “made him lesser”. Whatever this illegal and corrupt scheme was, Matt evidently didn’t have the criminal heart which Mike had, resulting to his death. As Mike pleads to Stacey to see that Matt wasn’t “dirty”, we really sense the remorse in his heart.
Next weeks episode “Bingo” is more than likely to return to the original formula – follow Jimmy’s life as he attempts to build his career. It’ll be interesting to see how Mike will still remain relevant to the plot after Jimmy defending Mike – but “Five-O” was definitely needed to add a new perspective to Mike’s character other than just handling tickets and his future bad-ass attitude.
+ “So what happened? Mayor didn’t give you enough stickers?”
+ Mike’s dialogue near the end was perhaps the greatest lines I’ve heard all year. My particular favourite is “It’s like killing Caesar. Everybody’s guilty.”
+ The chilling delivery of “I know it was you” made this episode a 9 on its own.
– Yes it’s a character flashback episode, but still not enough Jimmy as I’d like.