TV Review: Better Call Saul: Episode 6: Five-O (SPOILERS)

This recap/review of BETTER CALL SAUL is written with the expectation that everyone who reads this and comments below will have seen the episode already. Thus, if you've yet to see the episode in question, DO NOT GO ANY FURTHER. SPOILERS!

EPISODE: Season 1, Episode 6: Five-O

PLOT: Two cops from Mike's (Jonathan Banks) past show up with questions regarding the murder of his late cop son's former partners.

REVIEW: After several episodes that kept one of BREAKING BAD's most memorable tough guys manning a toll booth, BETTER CALL SAUL – after teasing it last week – finally gave Mike an episode all of his own. The result is probably SAUL's best episode yet (no mean feat as the previous five episodes have all ranged from good to great) and one as dark and as gripping as some of BREAKING BAD's finest hours. One thing's for sure, if this is the episode Sony and AMC send out to Emmy voters, Jonathan Banks seems like a shoo-in for a best supporting actor nomination.

FIVE-O is certainly the darkest BETTER CALL SAUL has gotten yet, although Bob Odenkirk himself suggested that the show would get very dramatic as it went along in an interview he did with The Nerdist a few months ago. So far SAUL's been a dramady, but this one drops the comedy and plunges us deep into Mike's grim world, revealing things about his past that BREAKING BAD never had the time to. He was always one of the juiciest supporting characters, and this episode gives him a dramatic backstory (only hinted at on BB) that makes him sympathetic, but also explains how he could go from upstanding cop to a bag-man for someone like Gus Fring or Walter White (although the latter didn't work out so well for him).

I absolutely loved the flashback scenes showing his initial arrival in New Mexico, where he touches base with his dead son's widow and her daughter (who he winds up caring for in BB). From there it's suggested that Mike somehow knew something more about his son's death than he was letting on, and further flashbacks reveal the way Mike avenged his son and turned his back on a career that first defined him and then took from him the only thing he held dear – which was his defiantly honest son. It doesn't excuse his transformation, but it explains it somewhat – furthering the Vince Gilligan theme of good men gone bad.

While Jimmy (Odenkirk) mostly sits this one out, he's there for an important scene where he cleverly makes Mike's former colleagues both spill the beans on his past and clue the audience in with some much-needed exposition. Mike's family loyalty immediately moves Jimmy – who himself is absolutely loyal to his older brother Chuck (M.I.A this week along with much of the regular cast) – enough so that he helps Mike steal the interrogating officer's notebook. It suggests a bond between the two which will likely grow as both take a darker, criminal turn – although as we know from BB, there will never really be anything more between them than a little grudging respect (if that).

The ending is especially powerful, with Banks giving a mini tour de force as he comes clean about his son's death and his own sins from being a cop on the take. At this point, Mike's fully accepted his own corruptibility, with family responsibility being the only thing that sustains him at all, and the thing that will likely plunge him into an abyss that goes far deeper than the one Jimmy finds himself in – although then again, you never know. At any rate, this was an exceptional episode and about as gripping an hour of TV as I've ever seen.

BREAKING BAD crossover: Not much, although on Twitter many have noted that Mike's history as an alcoholic gives us an interesting new perspective on the way his relationship with Jesse played out.

Source: JoBlo.com



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