Previously, on Better Call Saul: “Hero”
Riding high from the minor fame he received thanks to the “rescue”, Jimmy actually has a few messages on his answering machine. Hope springs anew, and during his first consultation, McGill presumes he literally hit the jackpot. Sadly for him, the day only becomes more disappointing, stranger, and downright bizarre. If the phrase “sex toilet” doesn’t linger in your head for the rest of the week, then bless you. You’re a better person than I. Ultimately, Jimmy resorts to the level of trivial, uninspiring work that’s guaranteed to pay him (poorly).
The day may not have turned out as Jimmy expected, but at the very least, he can laugh about the ridiculousness with Kim (Rhea Seehorn), who is turning into a rather likable character. There is an obvious past between the two who seem to be rekindling old feelings, albeit quite slowly. Jimmy may be failing, but he is upwardly; each move he makes is helping him get closer to the success he wants to be. Kim recognizes the change in him, and James can actually feel a new leaf turning. That is until everything takes an abrupt, dark turn.
Unlike the previous episodes that intertwined the humor of Jimmy’s hopelessness with the tension of bargaining with killers and druglords, “Alpine” effectively divided the goofiness of Jimmy’s consultations from the seriousness within the majority of the episode. The opening immediately began from the end of “Hero”, as Chuck’s overly cautious neighbor calls the cops on him which – as you guessed correctly – use an excessive amount of force on a generally misunderstood man.
It is quite clear Chuck (Michael McKean) isn’t faring well and won’t be getting any better, a heartbreaking realization for Jimmy and Kim. Although he provides a convincing argument for his worsening condition, Chuck’s malady is proven to be a mental illness rather than a physiological issue. This episode was a rough reminder of the stigma attached to those with poor mental health. As society currently stands, any person who has a break or simply upsets the status quo is immediately shunned or put to the wayside, as Chuck’s attending physician suggested. The dynamic between James and Chuck will likely be skewed due to the continued presence of the older McGill’s former partner Harry Hamlin (Patrick Fabian). Jimmy’s enmity for his brother’s partner is so concrete, he’s willing to sink Chuck further into his own mania to fulfill his need to right the supposed wrongs committed by Hamlin.
Elsewhere in the Land of Enchantment, everything appears ready to hit the fan for Mike Ehrmantraut. Our favorite morose parking lot attendant has a lot more on his mind than he’s let on. There were so few things we learned during his stint on Breaking Bad, including Mike’s history as a cop in Philadelphia, which will definitely come into light in the next few episodes.
The most sobering episode yet, “Alpine Shepherd Boy” has flipped the charmingly screwball tone of Better Call Saul on its head, laying a potentially serious path for the remainder of the series.
The next episode, “Five-O” airs Monday, March 9th, at 10pm, on AMC.
Starring: Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Michael McKean, Rhea Seehorn, Patrick Fabian
Dir: Nicole Kassell