Recently, Better Call Saul Season 5 finished airing, and it was the series' penultimate season.
The season provided the production quality we’ve come to expect from the series in many key aspects of filmmaking, such as cinematography, editing, score, writing, sound design, and acting.
Better Call Saul makes each of these aspects work together to provide us with countless memorable moments in the form of fantastic scenes.
We take a look back at five of the best scenes from the season.
Saul Goodman: Magic Man — Better Call Saul Season 5 Episode 1, “Magic Man.”
Better Call Saul has always been excellent at montage sequences, and Season 5 hit us with quite a few great ones, such as Saul’s commercial shoot with the film students and Saul’s attempts at disrupting Mesa Verde’s construction plans.
The best montage of the bunch, though, comes at the very start, with a montage of Saul Goodman racking up his potential client base by giving out free phones.
It holds the top spot of the montage pile because it develops Saul Goodman just as effectively as it condenses time, and does so in the fun, lively fashion montages for which the series is known.
The color palette for the scene is deep in pinks, from Saul’s suit to the tent to the veins in his dry eyes, making the scene pop, and has excellent sound cues like the bell Saul continues to ring.
The montage begins almost as if Saul is having a singular conversation, but the recipient of his dialogue shifts between cuts and never responds. The choice to only have Saul speak during the entire montage is inspired as it keeps the focus on him.
Saul’s dialogue hints at the tricky lawyer’s ability to spin a tale on the fly, and the confidence in which the scene is cut, mirrors the comfortability that Jimmy McGill has found in Saul Goodman.
As the scene continues, the pace increases and Saul’s speech gets faster and faster, until eventually, he’s talking over himself.
Sure, the flash is fun, and the montage is a smart choice to build Saul’s client base quickly, but the way this scene perfectly reflects the smooth-talking lawyer is what puts it on this list of the season’s best scenes and amongst the best montages Better Call Saul has ever done.
Kim and Jimmy Breaking Bottles — Better Call Saul Season 5 Episode 3, “The Guy for This.”
I’ve already written extensively about this scene, but there is no way to leave it off the list.
The bond that Kim and Jimmy share is more important than ever moving into Better Call Saul Season 6.
Not only are Kim and Jimmy now husband and wife, but we now know that Kim is just as devious and destructive as Saul — if not more so.
This scene encapsulates what draws them to each other, and the actions between the two of them in this scene take on a whole new meaning with the perspective of the entire season.
Kim and Jimmy reunite on the balcony after each has had a difficult day, and without saying a word, they share in their frustration as Kim throws a beer bottle off the balcony, prompting Jimmy to join in and toss one as well.
Kim has some negative impulses, and Jimmy is much too readily willing to join her, as exemplified by the bottle tossing here.
But it’s also just a quiet scene of a unique love between two people, expressed in a way that can only be delivered through a visual medium.
Saul Goodman v. Kevin Wachtell — Better Call Saul Season 5 Episode 6, “Wexler v. Goodman.”
Saul Goodman may have started to practice law at the start of Season 5, but he didn’t truly arrive until “Wexler v. Goodman.”
In this scene, despite Kim’s pleas to abort their plan to decimate the CEO of Mesa Verde, Kevin Watchell, Saul goes forward with the scheme and brings out all the crooked practices he’s known for on Breaking Bad.
He has the name, the outfit, the swagger, the commercials, and for the first time, the reputation, as Kevin exclusively refers to Jimmy as Saul Goodman.
Kim’s anger at being blindsided by Saul’s actions turns a scene that could have been a glorious reveal of Saul Goodman at his best into a horrifying reveal of Saul Goodman at his worst.
Add the clear energy Jimmy exudes while putting Saul’s illegal plan into action and the satisfaction he gets when it works, and you get a scene that truly births Saul Goodman.
The Shootout - Better Call Saul Season 5 Episode 8, “Bagman.”
I’ve previously stated that I prefer when Better Call Saul stays in its lane instead of calling back to its parent show Breaking Bad, but one of the best scenes of the season is one of the truest returns to the Breaking Bad formula to be found on the series.
Saul goes on a tame journey to pick up Lalo’s bail money, but before he knows what’s happening, he has a gun up to his head.
Oh, how quickly the world can change.
Luckily, Mike is hiding in the distance with a sniper rifle ready to save the day, but the ensuing gunfight is anything but heroic.
The sound design here doesn’t let you breathe.
The gunfire is deafening and unrelenting. It drowns out any melodic intention of the score, leaving only the percussive beats hammering at your eardrums while the melody uneasily drones away underneath it all.
The camera continually focuses on Jimmy and his perspective, putting you right in Jimmy’s shoes as he cowers in fear, unable to determine exactly if he’s going to live through this situation.
Breaking Bad has its fair share of seemingly “badass” violent moments, but on the whole, the show went the distance to show exactly how unpleasant and disturbing violence is.
This scene takes the best of Breaking Bad’s methods and applies them to Better Call Saul, showing us just how quickly Saul Goodman goes from the criminal lawyer world to the criminal world.
We’ve all been waiting for Better Call Saul finally to cross into the Breaking Bad timeline, and while this scene still takes place well before Walter White ever cooks his first batch of meth, it’s clear we’re closer than ever.
Before we cover the final scene, I want to shout out to several other highlights from Season 5.
Nacho Earns Lalo’s Trust — Better Call Saul Season 5 Episode 2, “50% Off.”
Nacho risks his neck to recover drugs from a drop house about to be raided by the police to earn Lalo's trust, all so Nacho can protect his father.
Excellent editing, and a performance from Tony Dalton that makes Lalo’s viewing of the high-stakes moment feel as if he’s watching an action flick and chowing down some popcorn, makes this scene work.
Ants Devour the Ice Cream — Better Call Saul Season 5 Episode 3, “The Guy for This.”
Ants devour the mint chocolate-chip ice cream Saul dropped on the ground.
It's a great metaphor for the underworld’s impending devouring of Jimmy McGill and a beautifully shot sequence.
The Chase and the Cleaning — Better Call Saul Season 5 Episode 4, “Namaste.”
Hank chases after one of Gus' men as Gus' employee Lyle vigorously scrubs the fryers at Los Pollos Hermanos at his boss' request.
The intense cutting between Lyle scrubbing the fryers while Hank chases after the suspect works through its comparison of how Gus Fring keeps both his operations exquisitely clean.
Kim’s Proposal — Better Call Saul Season 5 Episode 6, “Wexler v. Goodman.”
Kim unexpectedly proposes to Jimmy after an argument.
The acting in this scene is phenomenal. Kim goes from what seems to be a breakup speech to proposing to Jimmy on the spot, and Rhea Seehorn somehow makes the complete heel turn work.
Huell as the Witness to Kim and Jimmy’s Marriage — Better Call Saul Season 5 Episode 7, “JMM.”
Huell is called upon by Jimmy as a witness to his marriage to Kim.
Jimmy explaining the marriage to the curious Huell is a clean way to get the practicality of the marriage across to the audience. Exposition can be tough, but this scene made it effortless.
Saul’s Tirade to Howard — Better Call Saul Season 5 Episode 7, “JMM.”
Saul goes off on Howard about Howard's job offer for Jimmy to work at HHM.
My favorite scene of the season, this one would be on the list if it were a little more comprehensive.
As it stands, Saul’s explosion on Howard is simple in its production; there is no particularly elaborate camerawork, no score, and simple edits.
Instead, all of the focus is on the performances of the scene's central characters, which is where it should be for such a raw and character-driven moment.
As an example of what makes a great scene, it’s rudimentary. As an example of great character work and storytelling, this scene can’t be beaten.
Jimmy and Kim Split-screen — Better Call Saul Season 5 Episode 9, “Bad Choice Road.”
This one is a split-screen sequence revealing Kim’s mental state and Jimmy and Mike’s struggles in the desert.
The split-screen shows us both events simultaneously, effectively comparing two wildly different forms of distress.
Lalo’s Failed Assassination — Better Call Saul Season 5 Episode 10, “Something Unforgivable.”
Gus' men break into Lalo's home with the help of Nacho but fail to take out their number one target.
A heart-pumping scene supported by erratic camerawork and a stressful score that reflects the moment, this scene gives us the full view of Lalo Salamanca's capabilities.
“Wouldn’t I?” — Better Call Saul Season 5 Episode 10, “Something Unforgivable.”
Kim reveals her bad side to a scared Jimmy when she says she wants to bring down Howard Hamlin.
Kim Wexler is the MVP of Season 5, which primarily revolves around her increasing desire to serve her own brand of justice.
Throughout the season, Kim’s character build-up to this scene is absolute but subtle. However, that subtleness makes the potential effectiveness of this moment uncertain.
Through excellent writing and an exceptionally well-acted performance, this scene takes a potentially jerking character revelation and makes it work, startling us without blindsiding us.
And now we finally reach the best scene of the season!
Lalo’s Visit — Better Call Saul Season 5 Episode 9, “Bad Choice Road.”
One of the best scenes of the series and a masterclass of building tension, everything about this scene works.
It doles out each technique for tension sequentially, never overplaying its hand. The scene starts with Lalo just entering the apartment, which is enough of a disturbance to carry the scene through its first act.
Once Lalo asks Saul to repeat his story, indicating that this confrontation is going to continue, the score finally kicks in.
It’s subtle and atmospheric, mostly just driving a wedge in your side to boost the uncertainty of the scene with each note lingering well past its initial strike, just as Lalo lingers in the apartment, and it will only fade once Lalo leaves.
The editing mostly stays inside the apartment but starts to cut outside to Mike, who is watching from afar with a sniper rifle, after Lalo insists on hearing the story a third time.
This could give us a slight sense of security, but instead ends up increasing the tension as it subtly implies the gravity of the situation, as gunfire may absolutely ensue, and any sense of security gets disrupted when Kim steps into Mike’s line of sight.
Each piece is carefully placed within the scene to squeeze out as much tension as possible from each aspect before further increasing the pressure with a new element.
And yet it’s the simple characterization that truly elevates the scene.
Lalo’s no rush, calm attitude and his cool demeanor are a contrast to the fear he creates, yet he’s still able to turn up the intimidation as he changes his tone entirely halfway through the scene.
The power play of roaming the apartment and sitting down on the couple’s couch, gun visible, tells us exactly who is in charge, as does Lalo tapping the fish tank despite Jimmy’s instructions not to.
His repeated demands for Saul to retell his story sets such an uncomfortable tone, and you can hear the waver in Saul’s voice increase during each retelling.
It’s a character-driven scene, pulled entirely from the characters that were built up to that point.
Lalo is a man of loyalty and takes pride in his family, so any slight at them or whiff of betrayal doesn’t sit well with him, and he’s dangerous, so Saul possibly being on his hit-list is terrifying.
Saul is known to be able to talk his way out of anything, but Lalo’s insistence that he continues to repeat the same story renders that ability completely useless.
Kim ends up saving the night here, as she refuses to give in to Lalo’s intimidation and belittles his attempts at it by criticizing the way he’s running his business.
It completes the trio of men she's put in their place in Season 5, building from everyman Acker, through successful CEO Kevin to dangerous cartel man Lalo.
Even this heroic moment, though, is rife with tension as we don’t know exactly how Lalo is going to take her rebuttal.
The preexisting knowledge of Kim’s absence in Breaking Bad makes the scene all the more terrifying since we don't know what happens to her.
From start to finish, Lalo’s visit proves itself to be the best scene of the season and one of the best scenes of the series with its character-driven drama and incredible use of its production to push the stakes and tension of the scene to its limit.
What other scenes from Better Call Saul Season 5 did you like?
Do you disagree with any we picked? Let us know in the comments below.
Tommy Czerpak is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.