This episode takes a bit of a turn and by that I mean a hefty swerve in a random yet welcome direction. Mike Ehrmantraut is a sturdy fan favourite with his icy glare and gruff but endearing demanour he his the pinnacle of doing so much with very little and is the straightest of straight men for the flamboyant extravagant that is Saul. I think the audience has been hoping from the start that Mike and Saul would creep together into their inevitable, crushing and delightful collision. This time we get a long and dedicated look into Mike’s past as he is questioned by police due to the murder of officers Hoffman and Fenske, policemen in Philladelphia who were partners of Mike’s deceased son Matty.
There are some nice set prices such as Mike interacting with his daughter in law Stacey and now almost famously treasured niece Kaylee. A highlight however is Saul defending Mike in a police interrogation because no matter how busy this episode is damn it if we can’t squeeze another morale conflict for our favourite legal sleeve! This time it may only seem minor as Mike asks him to distract one of the officers but it shows another shuddering slip down the greasy slope of morale ambiguity. The rest of this episode lingers on Mike’s flashback but this is never a chore, his nuclear intensity is well utilised and under the facade of old age there is always the sense of purpose and turmoil. A few cracks are bravely shown in Mike’s character and shell and these moments are well played and dramatic enough to be vital chapters in an already well established member of the show.
Some may be frustrated at the lack of Saul and some of the scenes or setups may last loner than necessary but this story warranted a full episode to itself, and gives us a delay in the regular plot lines and stops them from being worn or tired. It also provides a colourful backdrop to the overall legacy of both shows as well as taking a different and more noir styled, vengeance filled approach to the continuous theme of bleak crime. The script isn’t as witty or quirky for the most part as it misses the vehicular character of Saul who makes the oddities seem more reasonable, the dialogue does have genuine heart though and is easy enough on the ear. The greatest act of this outing however is the balancing act between showing Mike’s flaws and vulnerabilities while also displaying his danger and strength even amidst his frailty. Mike’s survival skills are on fine display and even in an age where ‘Geriaction’ films are saturating the market, this episode still feels fresh and better than most of the attempts at this genre in circulation.
The verdict: A dark but engrossing jaunt down a sinister memory lane, this keeps the show fresh by diverting away from the main story to add more bleak tints to the tapestry of misery in the background. This achieves the goal of a filler episode but remains relevant and entertaining.