It’s not uncommon for successful TV shows to be followed by spin-offs, because it’s in the nature of network executives to squeeze every possible penny out of their most popular franchises. It is uncommon for those spin-offs to match the greatness of their predecessors; there are a lot more Joeys than Frasiers.
After Breaking Bad was declared to be the greatest TV series ever made, Vince Gilligan risked tarnishing its reputation with a prequel series chronicling Saul Goodman’s rise and fall. But Better Call Saul has defied those odds and become just as much of a masterpiece as the saga of Walter White.
10 Lantern (9.2)
The inevitable tragic ending of Chuck’s character arc came in the season 3 finale “Lantern.” After turning his own brother against him, Chuck also loses the support of HHM.
His mental state worsens until he’s eventually seen at his breaking point in the episode’s haunting closing moments, kicking the gas lantern off of his coffee table to burn the house down with himself inside it.
9 Something Unforgivable (9.4)
The season 5 finale “Something Unforgivable” has set the stage for one heck of a final season. After being invited into the Salamancas’ compound, Nacho was pressured to let Gus’ hit squad in to kill Lalo. But Lalo managed to turn the tables on his attackers. Now, he’s out for revenge.
Meanwhile, Kim is seemingly about to break bad, as she wants to pull a prank on Howard that wouldn’t just damage his car or mildly embarrass him, but would destroy his career.
8 Wexler V. Goodman (9.4)
Kim gets cold feet about scamming Mesa Verde in “Wexler v. Goodman,” so she tells Jimmy to call it off and he agrees. However, when it comes to the actual meeting, Jimmy pulls the old switcheroo on Kim and goes through with the scheme anyway.
The blackmail scheme works perfectly. Jimmy backs Mesa Verde into a corner with a ridiculous $4 million demand (against their $75,000 offer) and a series of ads about class-action suits against Mesa Verde.
7 Nailed (9.4)
The second-to-last episode of season 2 ends on one doozy of a cliffhanger. After tampering with Chuck’s legal documents, Jimmy watches from across the street as his brother berates the copy store clerk that he paid off to conceal his identity.
As the confrontation gets more and more heated, the electricity in the store gets to Chuck and he passes out, smacking his head on a table on the way down. So, Jimmy has to decide if he’ll leave his brother to die or save him and give himself away.
6 Pimento (9.5)
Mike begins his career as a freelance bodyguard in the season 1 episode “Pimento,” which is named after the kind of cheese sandwich he brings to the job. The other bodyguards have brought guns, but after Mike promptly disarms them, he proves he doesn’t need any backup.
Jimmy’s storyline in “Pimento,” as he tries to work alongside Howard and Chuck on the Sandpiper case, gets to the root of how HHM’s treatment of Jimmy effectively led to the rise of Saul Goodman.
5 Five-O (9.5)
Mike’s tragic backstory as a corrupt cop in Philly was filled in by season 1’s “Five-O.” He tracked down the dirty cops who murdered his son, then drunkenly told his killers he knew what they did, so they offered to give him a ride and instead took him to a discreet location to shoot him.
But when they reached that discreet location, Mike revealed he was actually stone-cold sober and shot both of them dead. This episode added a ton of new depth to Mike, who was previously a strong, silent type.
4 Winner (9.6)
There’s a lot of debate among the Better Call Saul fan base over when exactly Jimmy McGill transformed into Saul Goodman. In the most literal sense, it happens in the season 4 finale “Winner,” in which Jimmy feigns grief to curry favor with the board in charge of reinstating his law license.
After convincing them he really cared about his brother’s death, he immediately asks for the paperwork required to begin practicing under the name Saul Goodman. Then, he tells a concerned-looking Kim, “S’all good, man!”
3 Bagman (9.7)
In the opening act of season 5’s “Bagman,” Jimmy is tasked with driving out into the desert to pick up Lalo’s bail from a couple of cartel guys. He talks so much about how simple the job is that it foreshadows something terrible.
As Jimmy and Mike are stranded in the desert and trudge their way back to Albuquerque, “Bagman” becomes a kind of neo-western version of The Sopranos episode “Pine Barrens.”
2 Chicanery (9.7)
Jimmy’s conflict with Chuck came to a head in season 3’s “Chicanery,” as the two feuding brothers found themselves on opposing sides of the courtroom. Chuck wanted to get Jimmy disbarred, supposedly for tampering with his legal documents, but mainly because he never respected him as a lawyer.
In the episode’s shocking final scene, brilliantly played by Michael McKean, a scam pulled by Slippin’ Jimmy and Huell prompts Chuck to melt down and unravel his true intentions, leaving the courtroom in a stunned silence.
1 Bad Choice Road (9.8)
“Tell me again.” The penultimate episode of Better Call Saul’s fifth season culminates in one of the tensest scenes in TV history. As Mike watches through a sniper scope from across the street, Lalo confronts Jimmy about the bullet holes in his Suzuki Esteem.
Jimmy offers to return Lalo’s money, but Kim knows there’s a bullet hole in his flask that’ll give away his lies, so she steps in and manages to get Lalo to back down with nothing but well-chosen words.