Remember when Jonathan Banks was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award a couple of years back for season 5A of “Breaking Bad”? He may be getting another nod this year for “Better Call Saul,” based on his performance alone in Monday’s “Five-0.” This was, without question, the strongest episode of the series to date. The irony here of course is that it really did not revolve around Saul / Jimmy McGill in the slightest.
Let’s first talk about color. While Jimmy’s episodes have for the most part been bright, chipper, and at times even optimistic, Mike’s scenes were filled with darkness, soft blues, and at times hazy backgrounds. The Vince Gilligan trademark is a standout here, as these colors represent a man clearly beaten down. It almost reminds of the black-and-white world that Saul eventually finds himself in while working at Cinnabon.
Mike’s story and his secret, as explained to his daughter-in-law and explained via flashbacks, are simple enough: His son was killed by fellow officers after he hesitated on an offer to go dirty, and Mike then killed them in retaliation. Everyone seems to know it to a certain extent, as Mike pointed out near the end of the episode indirection. The question is how to live with it.
For him, Albuquerque represents an escape of sorts, and a chance to not even think for a second about everything that once happened to him. Unfortunately, that doesn’t quite work with the police there. He hired Jimmy mostly to serve as a patsy so that he could ultimately confirm some of his suspicions about the police, and that was really Bob Odenkirk’s ultimate contribution to the episode.
It is almost funny that so little really happened over the course of this hour, and yet we somehow feel like we know so much more. Everything about Mike is now framed in this tragedy, and it makes what happens to him at Walter White’s hands (to date, still the most baffling thing in “Breaking Bad”) all the more tragic. The best episode of the entire series. Grade: A.
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