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TV Review: Better Call Saul 1.5 “Alpine Shepherd Boy”
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Better Call Saul Episode 105

Better Call Saul
Episode 1.5 “Alpine Shepherd Boy”
Directed by Nicole Kassell
Written by Bradley Paul
Starring Bob Odenkirk, Michael McKean, Jonathan Banks, Rhea Seehorn, Michael Mando, Patrick Fabian
AMC
Air Date: Monday, March 2, 2015, 10pm

While the episodes of AMC’s Better Call Saul so far showcased Jimmy McGill’s (Bob Odenkirk) struggles as a public defender in the Albuquerque, NM, courts before he became the big shot Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad, Episode 1.5 “Alpine Shepherd Boy” dealt more with Jimmy’s brother, Chuck (Michael McKean).

In previous episode’s flashbacks, we saw that Chuck was actually a successful lawyer who was part of a huge, profitable law firm, but now he has daily struggles of his own. Instead of picking up the pieces for “Slippin’ Jimmy,” now it’s Jimmy’s turn to take care of his brother. Eighteen months prior to the events of the first episode, Chuck developed a condition called electromagnetic hypersensitivity, where he can’t be around electronic devices, which have their own electromagnetic field. Because of this, he can no longer work and is a recluse trapped in his own house, with Jimmy bringing him all the essentials for survival. When exposed to electricity or even the world outside his house at this point, Chuck experiences problems like burning sensation of the skin, nausea, tinnitus, vertigo, shortness of breath, and more. In this episode, an unfortunate incident at his house lands Chuck in the hospital, where he becomes sicker than ever. It’s up to Jimmy to make a choice about his brother’s future.

McKean has stretched his acting muscles many times throughout his lengthy career, including in roles on TV’s Laverne & Shirley and as British heavy metaler David St. Hubbins in This Is Spinal Tap, as well as an SNL cast member, but Better Call Saul really spotlights McKean’s dramatic side.

Along with dealing with his brother’s health problems, Jimmy also has to continue to search for new clients and in “Alpine Shepherd Boy,” we get to see some truly strange people who require Jimmy’s legal help. In what amounts to be basically a montage, we see Jimmy visit his new clients — the guy with the toilet device obviously wins in the weirdo category — and come to the conclusion that perhaps elder law is where he should aim his focus. But while Jimmy knows how to sooth the elderly, it’s obviously not where his talents lie.

While we get some more insight into Chuck in this episode, we also finally see Mike (Jonathan Banks) outside of his usual spot inside the parking lot clerk booth, as he watches a woman leave her home and get into her car. As she drives away, she sees Mike, but nothing is said. Soon after, Mike gets an unwelcomed visit from someone he seems to know. But what does it all mean? Another mystery the show has presented to us. But, it’s likely that this is how Jimmy and Mike forge a connection that extended into the underworld in Breaking Bad.

Although the scenes with Jimmy and his potential clients along with his trips to the nursing home are classic quirky Jimmy when he’s “on,” this fifth episode really deals with more serious issues. It seems like Jimmy and Chuck are really in a bad way, so it’s hard to see how they are going to rise above this — or if Chuck ever will, since he’s never mentioned in Breaking Bad.

Episode 1.5 “Alpine Shepherd Boy” is definitely a more somber installment and doesn’t have the pizzazz that previous episodes did, so I wasn’t wowed by the show the way I typically am. But seeing as we’re at the halfway mark for this debut season now, I supposed it was important to expose some raw emotions with these characters and get the ball rolling on Mike. While I’ve said before that I don’t really enjoy the “Slippin’ Jimmy” the main character once was, I sure do love Jimmy McGill, Esq. a whole lot.

Better Call Saul, Episode 1.6 “Five-0” airs on AMC on Monday, March 8, 2015 at 10/9c.

Episode 1.5 Image Gallery

Episode 1.5 Video

Most Talked About Scene

Jimmy must make a difficult decision regarding Chuck’s health.

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