In a series as rich and layered as Better Call Saul, basically any episode you put on is going to be great. There are, of course, widely regarded masterpieces like Chicanery and Fun and Games, but for every universally beloved episode, there are also some that have flown a little more under the radar.
As was the case with Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul‘s predecessor, this show often relishes having the time to set up climaxes. These episodes span Saul‘s entire run and are a reminder of how good even a fairly regular episode of the show could be.
Fifi kicks off the deception that creates a permanent rift in Jimmy and Chuck’s relationship. As Jimmy and Kim agree to open separate law firms in shared space, Kim loses out on Mesa Verde after Chuck convinces the bank to stick with Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill (HHM).
Chuck’s electromagnetic sensitivity gets the better of him, though, and Jimmy is able to forge Mesa Verde documents to make it look like Chuck is incompetent. It’s a fateful decision that has reverberations throughout the rest of the series, and also speaks to the depth of Jimmy’s love for Kim even this early in the series.
The final few episodes of Better Call Saul probably weren’t what anyone expected them to be. We saw Jimmy’s final transformation into Saul Goodman in episode 9, and there wasn’t much more story to tell there.
What did the show do instead? It flashed us forward to Jimmy’s life after Saul, when he’s working as the manager of a Cinnabon and trying to live his life totally con-free. The wrench in that plan turns out to be a delightful Carol Burnett, who shows up and ultimately makes Jimmy veer back into a life of scheming and deception.
Quite a Ride is thrilling in part because it’s our first look at Jimmy in his Saul era, and it comes with tease about a phone call that Jimmy will receive at a specific time and date. In the meat of the episode, though, we see that Kim is focusing too much on her pro bono clients and ignoring Mesa Verde, and that Jimmy is busy selling payphones to low-level criminals while his law license is suspended.
Mike, meanwhile, is evaluating engineers for the building of Gus’s meth lab. And Jimmy decides after meeting Howard that he wants to continue practicing law when his suspension is up.
The revelation that Chuck had a wife was shocking enough, but Rebecca only dives deeper into the story from there. The episode’s main focus is on Jimmy’s inability to acclimate to Davis & Main, and on Kim’s attempts to get herself out of document review at HHM.
When Kim lands Mesa Verde for the firm, but is still unable to escape doc review, she sets herself on a course that will forever put her at odds with Howard. Chuck, meanwhile, makes it clear that he has mistrusted Jimmy his whole life, ever since they were kids when Jimmy skimmed cash from the register at their parents’ convenient store.
This episode features some solid con work as Kim and Jimmy continue to orchestrate their revenge on Howard, but that’s not what drives the episode forward. Instead, Hit and Run gives us the first interaction between Mike and Kim, as Mike explains that Lalo may still be alive, which is why both Jimmy and Kim are being followed.
Kim chooses to keep this information from Jimmy, and the episode closes with Jimmy finding the office space that will eventually become his office in Breaking Bad. It’s a scene-setting episode, to be sure, but a brilliant one.
Earning this spot for the introduction of Lalo alone would be fine, but Coushatta is great even outside of that isolated moment. It features one of Jimmy and Kim’s great cons, as they get Huell out of jail by orchestrating a fake letter-writing campaign from Huell’s hometown.
It’s also an episode that opens the fissure between Werner and Mike, and features a moment when Kim seems to realize how much she hates the work she does all day. It’s a funny, dark episode that functions as perfect setup for the ramp-up to the finale.
A monumental episode in which no major events actually happen, Expenses is perhaps most important because of the way it sets in motion Chuck’s final descent. When Jimmy mentions Chuck’s mental breakdown during his own attempt to get a refund on his malpractice insurance premium, he ensures that his brother will never be able to return to HHM, and condemns Chuck to his fate.
Elsewhere in the episode, Mike and Nacho form a stronger alliance, and Kim expresses guilt over the role she played in Chuck’s fate in court during Chicanery.
Better Call Saul is streaming on Netflix.