Better Call Saul “Alpine Shepherd Boy” Review (Season 1 Episode 5)

In this week’s episode of Better Call Saul we saw Jimmy reaping – or at least trying to reap – the benefits of his billboard scheme, as we watched him visit with three new clients. Unsurprisingly, the clients were a colorful cast of characters that included:

(1) Ricky, who made a large piece of land in the middle of nowhere his home. Ricky offered Jimmy a $1 million retainer in exchange for help with seceding from the United States and forming his own version of Vatican City. Given Ricky’s legal needs, it should not have come as a surprise that his wealth was made up of his own currency bearing his face. The $500,000 retainer in “Ricky dollars” led Jimmy to hightail it out of Ricky’s isolated abode.

(2) Next up, was Roland. Roland was an inventor looking for assistance with getting a patent for his Tony the Toilet Buddy invention. “Tony” was a motion sensor/voice-activated device designed to help parents potty train their kids. “Tony” gave praise in the form of several hilarious phrases, including “fill me up,” “put it in me,” “you’re big, so big,” and “oh yeah, that’s the way.” It was readily apparent that there was a serious flaw in Roland’s design – his phrases of encouragement could double as a script for a porn – not exactly the kind of sayings you want your child to repeat elsewhere. The questionable nature of Tony’s phrases had not dawned on Roland and he wasn’t too grateful for Jimmy pointing out the issue with a joke about the Pacific Rim nations. Strike two!

(3) There was also Mrs. Strauss, a client who wanted Jimmy to prepare her will so that she could be sure that her favorite figurines (including the Alpine Shepherd Boy) would be passed on to her relatives if they satisfied certain prerequisites. The exchange between Jimmy and Mrs. Strauss led to one of my favorite lines of the episode – “I pride myself on my moxie.” Ultimately, Jimmy had about $140 to show for his long day of talking to potential clients.

The other interesting aspect of the episode was Chuck, who had to leave the comfort of his favorite blanket to answer the door when two police officers arrived to ask him why he stole the neighbor’s newspaper. The police officers were not buying Chuck’s $5 story. Unfortunately for Chuck, when his request for the police officers to leave their electronics behind before entering his home exceeded 10 seconds, they came crashing through his door.

Chuck’s brush with the law landed him in a hospital bed, surrounded by lights and all kinds of machinery, i.e., electricity. I loved this character beat for Jimmy, who arrived to at the hospital and began frantically trying to shut down all of the electrical devices near his brother. Jimmy was faced with the dilemma of going along with Chuck’s theory about being allergic to electricity or he could make Chuck face the harsh truth that his electromagnetic allergy was all in his head, which would have resulted in commitment to a mental facility. That would have also given Jimmy a chance to cash his brother out of the law firm he helped start. Bob Odenkirk did a great job at handling this material.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the Mike. After dealing with Saul’s colorful clientele and Chuck’s electromagnetic phobia, the episode took a quieter turn as we caught up with Mike all alone in his toll booth. We see him as he set up outside a woman’s home and looks on from his car for awhile. I could not tell if that was Mike’s daughter, who we had some limited exposure to on Breaking Bad. I’m looking forward to learning why Mike is looking on from a distance. He eventually returns home, where his attempt to watch an old movie and enjoy a beer is interrupted by a knock at his door. Bat in hand, Mike opens the door and discovers the police. A tense exchange follows and it looks like whatever happened that took Mike from the police force in Philadelphia to the non-eventful life of a toll collector in Albuquerque has finally caught up with him. Aside from the dialogue with the detectives at his door, the scenes with Mike were very quiet and gave Jonathan Banks an opportunity to show how brilliant he can be without even uttering a word. It looks like we’re finally getting into Mike’s origin story and I can’t wait to see what’s coming up next.

Overall, this was another great hour in the Better Call Saul series. Although I think spinoffs should be given the room to grow and develop outside of the shadow of their predecessors, it is worth noting when a spinoff manages to the good aspects of the show from which it originated. In this case, the Better Call Saul writers have done a good job at balancing intense, well-crafted moments of drama with moments of levity that feel genuine and organic.

What did you think of this week’s episode of Better Call Saul? Sound off below!