Better Call Saul Season 5 First Reviews: Breaking Bad Prequel Leaps Closer to Walter White Meeting

Critics rave as Jimmy McGill breaks bad and Saul Goodman takes center stage.

by | February 19, 2020 | Comments

After an extended wait, Better Call Saul is finally back for its fifth season. The last time we checked in with Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk), he was still dealing with (by not dealing with) the fallout from his brother Chuck’s (Michael McKean) death.

With one moral anchor out of the picture, Jimmy took a huge step closer to filling the shoes of the sleazy, money-laundering, legal representative of one Walter White (Bryan Cranston) the central character of Breaking Bad, one of the best-reviewed TV series of the 2010s. We’re not there, yet. But we’re way closer than before.

In the last moments of season 4 finale “Winner,” Jimmy faced a board of his peers hoping to get his law license reinstated after a year of being blacklisted. The character was at his most vulnerable; referencing a letter Chuck wrote him before he passed away, a teary-eyed Jimmy fought back waves of grief as he expressed his love and respect for his esteemed brother. Board members, as well as Jimmy’s girlfriend and fellow lawyer, Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn), were moved by the emotion on display.

Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill, Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler - Better Call Saul _ Season 4, Episode 10 - Photo Credit: Nicole Wilder/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

(Photo by Nicole Wilder/AMC/Sony Pictures Television)

But as much as we all (Kim, included) were taken in by Jimmy’s confessional moment, the scene that came after was the mic drop of the season, giving viewers a peek at the man we’ve been waiting for. “Suckers!” Jimmy exclaimed to Kim in the hallway. It was all a con. Slippin’ Jimmy struck again.

He got what he wanted, but this reinstatement came as sort of a rebirth. Jimmy decided that moving forward, he would embrace his corner-cutting, con-man skills, and practice law under a new name: Saul Goodman. “It’s all good, man,” he tells Kim as he heads to fill out the appropriate papers. Kim’s concerned look mirrored all of our faces as the episode ended. Kim is never mentioned or seen in Breaking Bad, leading us to wonder if this remaining moral anchor will stick with Saul as the story continues. The likelihood of that doesn’t feel good. Not at all.

Co-creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould have weaved together another epic morality play with this series. In its first four seasons, Better Call Saul has given heart to even the vilest characters, leaving room for the audience to sometimes even root for the bad guy. We’ve been waiting a year-and-a-half for the show to return. Does the premiere episode deliver on the hype?

Here’s what critics are saying about Better Call Saul season 5:


Odenkirk, as always, continues to find new things to explore about this character he’s now been playing for 11 years, with a notable addition to his repertoire in these early episodes: We’ve seen this man angry, scared, happy, and heartbroken—but there’s a new potential in him to be legitimately scary, which Odenkirk plays here with a sort of raw quiet that brings with it a new kind of terror.
Liz Shannon Miller, Paste Magazine

Gould and Gilligan have turned Better Call Saul into a gripping meditation on character and destiny, and in Odenkirk they’ve found a leading man very nearly as compelling and complex as Bryan Cranston. It’s just that he wears louder shirts … And, when all is said and done, he might be even more of a tragic figure.
Norman Wilner, Now Toronto


Michael Mando as Nacho Varga, Efrain Villa as Carlos, KeiLyn Durrel Jones as Blingy - Better Call Saul _ Season 5 - Photo Credit: Warrick Page/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

(Photo by Warrick Page/AMC/Sony Pictures Television)

Jonathan Banks remains exemplary and in theory, Mike’s guilt over last season’s killing of Werner makes sense, but it’s hard to reconcile the hard-drinking, reckless, angry Mike on display here with the consummate professional we’ve always known and loved. Part of the problem is that Mike as depicted in Saul has always felt a lot closer to his Breaking Bad self than Jimmy, so the attempt to craft a downward spiral of his own feels a little contrived.
Gabriel Bergmoseralt, Den Of Geek

The drug lord duel has a new energy thanks to Lalo (Tony Dalton), yet another nephew of Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis). Lalo is the wild card Saul needed, a master criminal not on rails toward an expected ending. Dalton imbues his malevolent operator with charming swagger, so that Lalo seems to be gleefully trolling his own show.
Darren Franich, EW


Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler - Better Call Saul _ Season 5 - Photo Credit: Warrick Page/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

(Photo by Warrick Page/AMC/Sony Pictures Television)

Kim remains the most fascinating character of the series. Her proximity to Jimmy means she’s forced to go through his insane ups and downs right alongside him, and that creates a dilemma: How do you have Kim stick with Jimmy without having her seem like a complete push-over? It’s to the credit of the show’s writers, and Seehorn’s consistently brilliant performance, that Kim never seems like a sucker. Is she being sucked? Oh, of course she is. And Seehorn has a way of silently playing things so you can tell Kim sort of knows she’s being conned, but doesn’t quite want to believe it.
Chris Evangelista, SlashFilm

In what remains current television’s most underrated performance, Rhea Seehorn continues to shine as Kim Wexler, the lawyer who encapsulates this conflict between goodness and indulgence as well as does Saul.
Daniel D’addario, Variety

After last season inarguably belonged to Kim Wexler, I was worried that Better Call Saul’s best character wouldn’t have as much to do in Season 5, but Seehorn is handed some of her most interesting material yet this year.
Kelly Connolly, TV Guide


Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill - Better Call Saul _ Season 5, Episode 1 - Photo Credit: Warrick Page/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

The best show on TV remains — emphatically — the best.
Verne Gay, Newsday

It’s a more fascinating transformation than Breaking Bad’s science teacher turned meth gangster.
Tim Appelo, AARP

Better Call Saul Season 5 digs deeper than ever into the sorrow at the heart of Jimmy and the characters that surround him, and along the way solidifies a feeling I’ve had for some time now—Better Call Saul just might be a better TV show than Breaking Bad.
Adam Chitwood, Collider

Better Call Saul returns for a two-night season 5 premiere on Sunday, February 23 and Monday, February 24 on AMC. Subsequent episodes will air on Monday nights.

Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: Grounded by Bob Odenkirk's endlessly nuanced, lived-in performance, Better Call Saul's fifth season is a darkly funny, vividly realized master class in tragedy.

Tag Cloud

Oscars Cartoon Network Hear Us Out LGBT PaleyFest Academy Awards crime Interview critic resources The Purge japanese rotten movies we love theme song summer TV The Arrangement robots Animation YouTube Red sports stoner Fall TV RT21 Film Festival twilight genre latino new star wars movies Tubi 93rd Oscars HBO Go TV renewals CNN Year in Review Mary poppins renewed TV shows aapi AMC women USA book adaptation comic slasher TNT Shudder serial killer satire Set visit Baby Yoda batman Bravo VICE Travel Channel what to watch biopic HBO Max festivals boxoffice zero dark thirty dreamworks interviews Syfy Comic Book 71st Emmy Awards AMC Plus science fiction The Witch a nightmare on elm street Legendary psycho hispanic Marathons ratings know your critic space singing competition TIFF Prime Video USA Network docuseries Election Video Games worst movies historical drama TV SundanceTV cancelled TV shows Best Picture boxing mockumentary New York Comic Con sag awards Crackle cinemax Pirates Family dceu diversity Dark Horse Comics Turner Best Actress Tumblr young adult 79th Golden Globes Awards revenge YA Best Actor YouTube Premium Pride Month halloween BBC One politics FOX golden globe awards Reality versus scary sequels Country Rock ViacomCBS Elton John high school nfl wonder woman true crime Funimation Martial Arts NBC Netflix Christmas movies Nickelodeon TV One Hallmark Christmas movies A24 2020 venice book South by Southwest Film Festival BBC America TCA Awards Broadway godzilla Shondaland hidden camera facebook free movies summer preview spider-man aliens hist First Reviews Wes Anderson Cosplay indiana jones rt labs CMT 99% Pop Star Trek Pet Sematary Infographic james bond 2021 VOD Marvel 73rd Emmy Awards Hollywood Foreign Press Association Paramount Plus prank Sundance streamig Musicals HFPA Amazon Prime leaderboard olympics japan MGM TruTV kids Image Comics scary movies Focus Features hispanic heritage month Exclusive Video talk show Trophy Talk E3 screenings Film Fantasy E! Alien concert razzies 2018 IMDb TV richard e. Grant TCA 2017 black comedy Best and Worst Ghostbusters children's TV rt labs critics edition Apple TV+ halloween tv dexter BAFTA Rocketman Lifetime Christmas movies blockbusters TV Land Winners Paramount Pictures Tags: Comedy documentaries Writers Guild of America Winter TV biography Lucasfilm films child's play posters Reality Competition Amazon Studios 20th Century Fox Horror DC streaming service adenture spinoff cults Crunchyroll crime thriller disaster blockbuster king arthur criterion festival critics Paramount war ABC Family VH1 APB Marvel Television Avengers X-Men Photos 1990s Drama spider-verse Hulu spanish language The Walking Dead Music slashers Esquire technology news Calendar elevated horror transformers streaming movies ESPN Pop TV Sneak Peek Fox Searchlight feel good die hard kaiju zombie Quiz TLC Biopics Comic-Con@Home 2021 vs. Tarantino all-time Showtime rotten PlayStation Sci-Fi Kids & Family SDCC Disney streaming service RT History superman deadpool TCM chucky 24 frames unscripted adaptation Lifetime movie Disney Ellie Kemper asian-american Comics on TV australia Superheroe marvel comics Mudbound animated mcc natural history Rom-Com Sundance Now kong Awards Tour Apple Binge Guide hollywood medical drama FX comic book movie french Sony Pictures obituary GLAAD ghosts Vudu social media Superheroes cops DC Universe DC Comics Television Academy Peacock reviews NYCC king kong Countdown Summer IFC Films The Walt Disney Company Arrowverse remakes The Academy Nat Geo Grammys psychological thriller reboot name the review zombies witnail 4/20 broadcast cancelled TV series harry potter franchise casting Sundance TV Polls and Games romantic comedy telelvision crossover TCA Winter 2020 CBS All Access superhero Fargo 94th Oscars documentary History canceled TV shows toy story Walt Disney Pictures Netflix emmy awards finale Marvel Studios cartoon Stephen King Cannes anthology screen actors guild Discovery Channel Podcast docudrama Lionsgate video international Disney Channel laika sopranos stop motion Epix art house Character Guide Rocky comedies Anna Paquin 007 San Diego Comic-Con debate nature Awards Watching Series SXSW 2022 canceled monster movies Action sequel Trailer Heroines Amazon TBS Instagram Live universal monsters WGN Spectrum Originals FXX spain Freeform marvel cinematic universe Food Network dc Ovation police drama MSNBC Western Universal ABC FX on Hulu Pixar Captain marvel dark 90s christmas movies OneApp Holiday target 21st Century Fox Warner Bros. YouTube italian saw Opinion travel Comedy Central Nominations political drama Britbox worst American Society of Cinematographers stand-up comedy blaxploitation Fox News basketball movies Christmas Disney Plus doctor who Best Director indie Creative Arts Emmys cancelled 72 Emmy Awards Endgame new york suspense TCA DirecTV ABC Signature ID summer TV preview Masterpiece football GIFs Teen dragons Emmy Nominations cancelled television Black History Month mission: impossible supernatural scorecard 2017 Pacific Islander Television Critics Association award winner Women's History Month rom-coms TV movies Apple TV Plus adventure Spring TV Spike CW Seed dramedy royal family Logo game show Adult Swim 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Chilling Adventures of Sabrina BET composers period drama anime BET Awards MCU National Geographic President streaming Tokyo Olympics MTV Mary Poppins Returns live event rt archives CBS sitcom Classic Film Extras south america cars PBS video on demand Schedule comic book movies discovery live action joker jurassic park Red Carpet Neflix parents Chernobyl series Valentine's Day legend Emmys archives romance nbcuniversal See It Skip It best NBA First Look based on movie independent vampires OWN spy thriller Holidays Oscar Black Mirror Song of Ice and Fire Brie Larson dogs toronto Turner Classic Movies scene in color justice league television Amazon Prime Video heist movie pirates of the caribbean HBO comiccon Thanksgiving teaser Musical Toys fast and furious BBC Comedy popular Starz A&E jamie lee curtis LGBTQ spanish GoT 2015 new zealand Mindy Kaling 45 IFC thriller classics binge Premiere Dates Columbia Pictures The CW cooking breaking bad ITV Mary Tyler Moore green book foreign strong female leads Hallmark Trivia directors trophy Star Wars comic books 2019 DGA Paramount Network tv talk cats miniseries action-comedy El Rey SXSW trailers golden globes mob Super Bowl comics lord of the rings quibi game of thrones crime drama fresh mutant werewolf Tomatazos Box Office black Disney+ Disney Plus 2016 Acorn TV obi wan gangster Universal Pictures WarnerMedia Mystery Certified Fresh Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt