Photo Credit: Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television
The storylines would inevitably converge.
From the beginning of this first half of the last season of Better call Saul, which began with Lalo surviving the attack on his family compound in Mexico, we eagerly awaited his reappearance in Albuquerque seeking revenge on Gus. At the same time, we also watched as Jimmy and Kim carried out their lengthy con on Howard, following every small step in an elaborate plan to wrest the Sandpiper settlement from HHM. A meeting between Mike and Kim was a strong indicator that Lalo would come back into her life, but the “how” and “when” of that were significant question marks. And given the pacing of the show and the way these subplots have been compartmentalized throughout the season, the convergence wasn’t necessarily going to happen now. Or what this.
The makers of Better call Saul tricked us just as brilliantly as Kim and Jimmy Howard, using subtle deception to take such a shocking opportunity off the table. Looking back, that meeting between Mike and Kim works for us like Jimmy McGill’s trio of obvious pranks (the cocaine in the dressing room, the Kettleman lawsuit, the prostitute thrown from the Jaguar) on Howard — to make us think we’ve got it done an indication of what was going on while an even greater ruse was in progress. We may be particularly concerned for Kim’s well-being, knowing that she is not part of the breaking Bad timeline. We were right to worry, but not about a direct threat Lalo posed to her life. The ramifications of what actually happened are far more complex — not to mention downright shocking.
The fun at Better call Saul – and breaking Bad before – is that all the main characters are highly intelligent and think several moves ahead on the chessboard, but life still throws them curveballs. Sometimes they can make adjustments, e.g. B. try to retake the fake bribery photo when Jimmy discovers that the real judge has a cast on his arm. This is fate dealing Jimmy and Kim a playable hand. But fate can also be cruel and non-negotiable: If Lalo doesn’t find out that Gus tapped the phones at Casa Tranquila, Howard lives. When Better call Saul Returns in mid-July for its final episodes, there will be questions about all the decisions that led up to this tragic moment that will have left Jimmy and Kim utterly deranged. How are they progressing in the short and long term? And how do they do it together? (More on these questions in a moment.)
The experience of watching Lalo shoot Howard – a man he doesn’t know and has never met who is just in the wrong place at the wrong time – reminded me a little of the scene in pulp fiction where Samuel L. Jackson interrogates a dealer, played by Frank Whaley, and casually shoots the dealer’s boyfriend on the couch. “Oh, sorry, did I disturb your concentration?” That’s the level of dissonance here, because we’re focusing on it, quite intensely, as Howard confronts Jimmy and Kim about the baroque plan they just pulled on him. Howard asks them the simple question we may have asked ourselves about their motives. “Why?” Namely:
“What are you telling yourself? What justification makes it ok? Howard is such an asshole that he deserves it? So what is it? I’ve sided with Chuck too many times? I got you out of your office, took you to document review? Howard’s daddy helped him get to the top, but you both had to fight. Howie has so much, but we have so little. Let’s take him down a stick or two. what allows you to do this to me?”
Howard is wrong, or at least mostly wrong. There are reasons for her to annoy and embarrass him. And he’s right when he says the two enjoy pulling off these hoax conspiracies, starting with the time they tricked a loudmouth into buying them an expensive bottle of tequila. But the Sandpiper plan also appeals to the nobler side of Kim and Jimmy as lawyers: they want clients to get justice quickly, Saul Goodman-style. Irene and her fellow retirees don’t feel any happier in their golden years if they wait years for a bigger severance pay. And Howard’s crude subservience to Irene feels like a form of bullying: he’ll get her the honeyed chamomile tea she likes and cart the wheelchair to make her “more comfortable.” He will explain what a mediator does to her as if she were a child. His reward is the assurance that she will do whatever her lawyers tell her, which isn’t necessarily the best outcome for her.
Cliff gets it too. As Howard struggles to explain himself after the meeting blows up and vows to keep pursuing the lawsuit even if it goes to court, Cliff gives him a reality check. From Cliff’s point of view, it doesn’t matter that Jimmy did what he could have done. He says he’s not thinking about Howard or Jimmy, but the additional time and expense involved in refusing to settle, as well as the uncertainty. “I think about the customers,” he says. That’s where Howard’s motives are so alien to Kim and Jimmy’s motive for practicing law, and he’s not alone either. All of the shenanigans at Mesa Verde’s call center last season were about finding justice for an old man who wouldn’t leave his house. The system does not serve such men. And in the case of the Sandpiper suit and HHM, the suit is considered larger than the customers.
None of this eases the gut punch of Howard’s death. The staging of the entire sequence is masterful, especially the candle contraption, which is performed in the first shot of Kim and Jimmy curled up born yesterday, and later flickered with Howard’s performance and, more ominously, with Lalos. It’s a Steven Spielberg manner to approach a threat first with reaction shots: the candle is like the shimmering glass of water inside Jurassic Park, and the look on Jimmy’s face before we see Lalo resembles the push-in close-up known as “the Spielberg face.” And really, Kim and Jimmy’s reactions are the ones we need to sort through as they process this traumatic, life-changing event. Howard’s story ends with shocking abruptness, as rude as his wife pouring his pristine coffee drink into a mug.
What do we do now? Lalo needs his lawyers at short notice. Then there’s the reckoning for the murder of a prominent lawyer. But it’s Kim’s future that’s the brightest. She has never approved of Jimmy’s dealings with Lalo or other drug dealers, and pointedly threw away the shot-up “World’s 2nd Best Lawyer” mug that Jimmy had taken so much trouble to bring back from the desert. Now that she’s witnessed the consequences of Jimmy’s choices, can she stay? Before dying, Howard tells Kim that she is “missing a part”. is he wrong Will she notice? Worrying about Kim is a constant for Better call Saul fans, but it doesn’t seem like the possibility of her going the Howard path should be the biggest concern. There are different ways of dying.
• Fantastic Cold opens with the revelation that Lalo is monitoring the Lavanderia Brillante. The 180-degree sweep from the drain he’s hiding in to the laundry across the street was a particularly high note.
• Speaking of getting good grades, how about this episode title? “Planning and execution.” In cold blood.
• The wonderful actor who plays Lenny, grocery store clerk and committed actor, is John Ennis, a cast member of Bob Odenkirk’s deservedly beloved HBO sketch series Mr. Show with Bob and David. And the monologue he’s practicing in the parking lot (“I’m not afraid of death. What could the death I haven’t met?”) come from Roy Cohn Angels in America.
• Wonderful speech from our video author denying his students the good equipment. From the camera to use instead: “340 lines of so-called resolution, suitable for recording your sister’s second wedding, local community board meetings, or non-story porn.”
• It’s worth considering Howard’s line to the intern, who hopes that one day someone like Howard will call Charles McGill “the greatest legal mind” they’ve ever known: “Maybe there are more important things,” says Howard.
• I don’t want to undermine Irene’s suggestion for chunky leeks here, but the New York Times‘ Recipe for leek and potato soup is excellent. (One important note: the recipe calls for eight cups of water or vegetable broth. Use vegetable broth. It makes a big difference.)
https://www.vulture.com/article/better-call-saul-season-6-ep-7-recap-plan-and-execution.html “Better Call Saul” Season 6, Ep. 7 Summary: Plan and Execution