Better Call Saul Review – “Alpine Shepherd Boy” S1E5

This week’s Better Call Saul gets a little deeper into the psyche of Jimmy McGill. With all the ruckus of the first couple episodes, Jimmy has escaped with his soul mostly intact… but we know that can’t last long. Our review of “Alpine Shepherd Boy”:


The Sex Toy-let: Tommy the Toilet Buddy, at your service. Oh, that chain in the top? It’s not just for water levels. It also comes in black… leather. “Fill me up, Chandler.” Dear God, this was probably the funniest thing I’ve seen on television in a long time. Wealthier Pacific Rim(job?) nations should count themselves lucky. Now they don’t have to wait for somebody to invent this for them.

The crushing reality of Chuck’s condition: After Chuck’s doctor flipped the switch on his bed, and a few other clues that looked a bit suspicious, it’s becoming more and more apparent that he may be faking his condition. It’s painfully obvious to everybody around except for Jimmy. At the same time, there’s always a possibility that his condition is real and this “demonstration” was a red herring. Will Jimmy eventually have Chuck committed? Then, at the same time, there’s the notion that maybe Jimmy is using Chuck to get money from HMM. Is it about getting back at HMM, gaining restitution for Chuck, or about making a humungous payday to garner himself pain and wealth? Better Call Saul asks more questions than it answers.

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Waiting for Chuck’s leash to break: It’s clear at this point that Chuck is the only thing holding JImmy back from becoming a sociopathic liar lawyer. He hides all his wrong-doings from Chuck and is willing to regress back into himself to make him brother feel better. It’s a cycle that’s bound to break sometime if his brother refuses to get better.

Jimmy finds his niche: Elder law. Not like in Thor or Lord of the Rings or some shit. No, protecting the elderly from scum like… well, like Jimmy. His admirable brother Chuck applauds the idea, and his love interest Kim gave him the idea, so he’s got to at least give it a try. All the better, if he can make real cash out of this, why not? I’m curious to see: 1) who he meets in these endeavors, and 2) if he can keep his sticky hands out of these old people’s pockets.

A budding romance with Kim: Kim has quickly become one of my favorite supporting characters. She’s not side-kicky enough that you expect her to always be at Jimmy’s defense, yet she’s not all about that HMM life that she doesn’t understand Jimmy’s quirky strategies and warped ethics. It would be kinda nice to see her and Jimmy work together eventually, but she seems to prefer the safe shores of HMM to the adventurous and uncertain Jimmy McGill.

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Finally, a look at Mike: John Wilkes Booth finally gets some spotlight time! A tiny bit of Mike Ehrmantraut’s past is revealed, and it looks like next week’s episode will primarily feature him. This is the kind of full-circle prequel-ness that we wanted out of the show: to find out why Mike ran from Philadelphia and what the hell has him running a toll booth.



ABQ Police do not mess around: Won’t let us in the house? Tweaker. You have charcoal inside the house? Tweaker. You unplugged your electrical outlet? Well, you better watch out, fucker, because we are breaking down your door and tasing you, bro. I really didn’t like the police officers in this episode, but when have they ever been our friends in this Breaking Bad world? I know that Jimmy is obviously going to be involved with law enforcement more than Walt, but I could do with a minimum of that.

Pacing, still: Compared to the first few episodes of insane call-backs and guest appearances, the series has dragged on a bit. We know it won’t beat Breaking Bad – except maybe in total number of lines (Saul likes to talk, a lot) – but casual fans might be turned off by Saul‘s snail speed. This show would be much easier to binge watch, but we’re not complaining.

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Tid-Bits and Easter Eggs:

How has Walt never heard of McGill?: I have to know, with the plethora of TV ads Saul ran, the billboards and the news coverage, Walt had to have been living under a rock to not know recognize who Jimmy McGill was, especially since ABQ is NOT a big city. It’s just weird to me.

Doctor is Invisible Girl: Whedonverse fans (okay, Adrian) jumped at the chance to tell me that the doctor in this episode is played by Clea DuVall, known better as “The Invisible Girl” from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Seventeen and a half years couldn’t hide her from our local Buffy expert.

Hummel figurines: Poor old Mrs. Strauss. Here she is, creating a will with Jimmy to leave behind a butt-load of Hummel figurines, getting what I thought was some superb service. However, when he tells her the bill is $140, the guilt she lays upon Jimmy is so thick you can practically cut through it. Those figurines, if antique, are usually worth at least that much each. Old people and their guilt, sheesh.

S&H Green Stamps: S&H (Sperry & Hutchinson) was founded in 1896 – ten years after Sears. The catalog worked the same way as Sears, with the exception being that you could pay with stamps instead of cash. The idea took off during the Great Depression, when the value of the US dollar was plummeting. That’s the most clever old person joke I’ve heard in a while.

Matlock suit: Jimmy’s sexy new white duds? You can thank Matlock for that. The epitome of lawyers, this show featuring Andy Griffith as the title character aired from 1986-1995. And old people ate that shit up.

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Mike will need Jimmy: I would have felt better about this prediction if I didn’t see the preview for next week’s episode right after it, but it seems that the Philly PD has tracked Mike down all the way to ABQ. From the sounds of it, it wasn’t exactly a clean break. With some skeletons in the closet and a Jimmy McGill business card in his pocket, the two will definitely be reuniting soon. This could also lead us to a Giancarl Esposito cameo, as Mike eventually finds new… “work.”

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Do you know any elderly BrBa character?: Think about it! Who do we know to live in a prominent retirement home in Albuquerque? That has connections to somebody we already have met in Better Call Saul?? Hector Salamanca! We may be jumping the gun here, but that’s what we do. We needed something to tie Jimmy back in with Tuco, and this looks like as good of an opportunity as any.


Music from the Episode:

During Jimmy’s fascinating bout with the rich tycoon who wants to secede, you can hear Mozart’s composition, “Soave sia il vento” (Italian for “may the wind be gentle”), from the opera Così fan tutte. This play is about influential men who use ladies’ weaknesses against them to deceive them. Sounds like Slippin’ Jimmy got the slip himself, here.

When Jimmy is strutting his stuff at the retirement home, you can here the delightful tune of “The Third Man (The Harry Lime Theme)” by Malcolm Lockyer Orchestra in the background. Harry Lime was a 1949 noir film starring Orson Welles about a man who faked his death to escape his horrible crimes. I don’t think he joined a Cinnabon, though.


Hush Comics gives “Alpine Shepherd Boy” a B+ for peeling back the Breaking Bad universe one layer at a time, leaving us ask more questions than the show can keep up with answering, but enough to keep us enthralled.

All images belong to AMC and are credited to Ursula Coyote and Lewis Jacobs.