REVIEW: ‘Better Call Saul’ Episode 5: Alpine Shepherd Boy

Michael McKean as Chuck McGill - Better Call Saul _ Season 1, Episode 4 - Photo Credit: Lewis Jacobs/AMC
Michael McKean as Chuck McGill – Better Call Saul _ Season 1, Episode 4 – Photo Credit: Lewis Jacobs/AMC

This has got to be one of the worst days in Chuck McGill’s life.

Let’s start with the opening. Chuck, freshly traumatized and hiding in his space blanket after his adventure stealing his neighbor’s newspaper, now has the police at his door that theft  (“I paid him $5, and the cover price is 50 cents,” he says to the cops). The police want him to open the door, but as we have seen, Chuck is not a fan of the outdoors. The cops look through his back window, see the propane he uses to cook his food (“he seems like a tweaker,” the cop says). They bust down his door, tase him and bring him to the hospital.

Jimmy McGill’s day is not going so well either.

If there is one thing Jimmy can take away from his little billboard stunt from episode four, it’s that fame has lead the crazies to his doorstep now. Jimmy is getting clients, unfortunately they are not the type he had in mind.

Let’s start with the first client we see. A seemingly well-to-do man, living in a nice house. He tells Jimmy he wants to secede from the United States (RED FLAG!) and wants Jimmy to help him pull that off. Of course, Jimmy sees nothing but potential money here. He is offered a cool million for his efforts, which Jimmy has said could go on for years.

One problem, the client’s face graces the hundred dollar bills. He prints his own money, to be used in his dreamland within the U.S.

Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut - Better Call Saul _ Season 1, Episode 5 - Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/AMC
Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut – Better Call Saul _ Season 1, Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/AMC

The next client has what he thinks is a brilliant invention. So brilliant he has Jimmy sign a non-disclosure agreement. His invention: a talking toilet to encourage kids during potty training. The problem: What is says, and how it says it, sounds pretty sexual. Or as Jimmy calls it, it’s a sex toilet. And it was truly very creepy.

Third client is an elderly woman who wants Jimmy to prepare what she leaves to whom once she passes on. Yet, all she is passing on to family is Hummel figurines. But here is where the germ of Jimmy’s next plan begins.

As Jimmy is later talking shop with his friend Kim, describing his day to her, she suggests he look into elder law. The elderly needs someone in their corner, she tells him, after listing off some horror stories from her own family in such situations. It is during this moment, Kim gets a call from Hamlin, informing her that Chuck is in the hospital.

Now, this is the moment when Jimmy is so different from his alter-ego, Saul Goodman, down the line. We see Jimmy truly fighting for his brother after learning what happened. He is angry it happened, he’s shutting off the lights and telling people to hide their electronics because Chuck is “allergic to electricity.” He truly is there for Chuck, 100 percent.

We learn, once Chuck comes to, that Chuck thinks he has a disease. He has what he calls “Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity,” and electronics, sunlight, ect. cause him physical symptoms that pain him. The doctor thinks it’s mental, but Chuck is adamant that it is not. Jimmy doesn’t believe it 100 percent, but he wants to be there for Chuck, to defend his brother whom he obviously admires and looks up to. The doctors want Chuck committed, but Jimmy refuses.

Hamlin shows up, stating that they are making sure Chuck remains free, but Jimmy sees this as another ploy to not allow Jimmy to cash Chuck out of the company. Later, Jimmy tries to talk to Chuck about the billboard story, but Chuck wants nothing to do with that. He sees Jimmy sliding back to “Slippin’ Jimmy.” Jimmy wants his brother’s respect and tells him he is going to be 100 percent legit. Oh, such a bad promise to make.

Jimmy, going for the elder law angle, designs a suit to match Matlock’s. He advertises on the bottom of Jell-O cups at retirement homes, where he swoops in a schmoozes with the elderly as potential clients. It’s a very odd way of networking clients. But it is a legit way of getting clients.

The show ends with Mike Ehrmantraut at the booth, with a little back-and-forth with Jimmy. But it’s his life away from the booth that is intriguing. He’s driving I think the same car he has six years later in “Breaking Bad.” He visits the restaurant that in six years he will be having covert meetings with Lydia. We get to see his estranged daughter briefly, the one who I think has his grandson and whom he will contribute blood money to with his cut from the drug cartels and Walter White.

And he is approached at the very end by cops at his door, one of them he obviously knows. So I think the next episode will be heavily focused on Mike (and I am not complaining about that).

THOUGHTS:

* Jimmy telling the elderly woman he can’t accept S&H Green Stamps as money. She pays him $140 cash. The happy look on his face at actually getting paid is priceless.

* Chuck seems to have lost sense of time, as he struggles to identify when his illness began.

* “The rules of parking violations are pretty simple. Most people figure it out right away,” Mike.