Better Call Saul “Five O” Review (Season 1 Episode 6)

An episode of Better Call Saul centered on Mike Ehrmantraut? Yes! An episode that digs into Mike’s origin story? Icing on the cake!

At the conclusion of last week’s episode of Better Call Saul, we saw Mike’s quiet evening of beer and movies interrupted by a knock at the door. In classic Mike style, he answered the door with a bat in his hand, where he found the police waiting for him. A tense exchange followed and we were left waiting for a new episode so that we could find out what exactly happened when Mike was in Philadelphia.

Most of this week’s episode focused on Mike telling his daughter-in-law how his son died. Matty was new to the force and altruistic. Mike, on the other hand, was a longtime veteran who believed that it was necessary to build camaraderie with other officers by showing that you are comfortable with blurring the lines of the law from time to time and greasing a few palms. Mike feared that if Matt played the straight and narrow too much, it might put him in danger if his fellow officers feared that he might report their shady dealings.

Following his father’s advice ultimately led Matty to his death, as he entered a Philadelphia crackhouse where he was shot by the cops with whom he was trying to develop trust. Jonathan Banks continued to his shine as he recalled the loss of his son and the pain of knowing that Matty’s demise was due in part to advice he took from his father.

I liked the choice by the writers not to present the story as a flashback. Instead, we learned about Matty as Mike told the story to Stacey. With a stoic character like Mike, if you’re going to have him break character, it has to feel organic because viewers who know him from Breaking Bad understand that Mike is not the kind of guy who loses his cool very often. Having that moment result from his frustration with Stacey’s suspicions that Matty was murdered because he was on the take was perfect.

Despite the very somber tone of the episode, it was not without it’s moments of levity as Jimmy learned more about his soon to be partner. In particular, I loved when Jimmy began freaking out as it dawned on him that Mike had been accused of killing two cops back in Philadelphia – “Your friends from Philly back there? They think you killed two cops!” In return, Mike delivered a perfect, deadpan “yep.” I also loved Jimmy’s sarcastic remark to the cops who tracked down Mike – “Don’t let Mr. Ehrmantraut’s dancing eyes and bubbly vivant personality fool you – he’s actually, believe it or not, somewhat taciturn.” Ha!

In addition to being a great origin story for Mike, the episode also helped viewers understand how the two seemingly polar opposite personalities – Mike and Jimmy – eventually became trusted partners. In the event that some Better Call Saul viewers did not watch Breaking Bad, I do not want to completely spoil Mike’s story arc on the show. I will say, however, that knowing Mike’s story arc on Breaking Bad contributed to the emotional weight of what I learned about his time in Philadelphia in “Five O.”

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