‘Better Call Saul’ Is Officially a Cartel Show

‘Better Call Saul’ Is Officially a Cartel Show

Spoiler warning

Among the myriad possibilities for the mid-season finale of You better call SaulThe final season of “Plan and Execution,” let’s give the show some credit: surely no one anticipated the parallel arcs of Howard Hamlin and Lalo Salamanca. But unexpectedly, two characters from completely opposite ends of the show – the legal and cartel sides that overlap more with each season as Jimmy McGill morphs into Saul Goodman – found themselves desperately searching for evidence to back up claims. outlandish allegations against their enemies, and arrived at the same destination. Howard and Lalo’s respective journeys land them at Kim Wexler’s apartment before the credits roll, and it ends well for only one of them. Considering their professions, you can probably guess who got more than they bargained for.

Let’s start with Howard, who ultimately found himself at the mercy of Jimmy and Kim’s long-gestating plan to tarnish his career. Their plan hinged on the latest meeting on the Sandpiper Crossing nursing home case that HHM is handling and which is being mediated by a retired judge with a striking handlebar mustache. Jimmy and Kim hired a look-alike to portray the judge and make it look like he was being bribed by Jimmy, staging photos for Howard’s private investigator to deliver to him. But as revealed in “Plan and Execution,” Howard’s PI worked for Jimmy and Kim the entire time. And when the private investigator turned over the supposed evidence to Howard, the photos were covered in the mysterious topical substance that Jimmy and Kim had acquired in the previous episode of Dr. Caldera, something that temporarily causes Jimmy’s heart rate to skyrocket. a person and dilate the pupils. After Howard touched the photos, it looked like he was completely coked.

When the judge showed up for the mediation session, Howard made a wild accusation that the mediator was being paid by Jimmy and said the photographic evidence was in his office. Naturally, however, the fake PI replaced the photos with a few snaps of Jimmy handing a frisbee to a student with a handlebar mustache. (Out of context, these Frisbee photos would feel right at home in a I think you should leave sketch.) The humiliation of the sequence is punctuated by Howard’s dilated pupils and his clammy, manic appearance: irrefutable proof that there is something wrong with him. With the mediation cut short, the judge leaves and Cliff Main informs Howard that they will have to accept Sandpiper’s current settlement. By extension, even though the main purpose of the scheme was to ruin Howard’s image, Jimmy receives a comfortable payout from the settlement that could go a long way to decorating the garish law firm he will have in breaking Bad. (Apologies to Francesca and her lovely interior design.)

“It’s a campaign by Jimmy to bring me down!” Howard reassures Cliff, but his accusations are useless. Howard suffers the same fate as Chuck McGill in You better call Saulfrom season three, when he angrily testified against Jimmy and came out the other side looking totally off balance. The tragic irony is that, like Chuck, everything Howard claims Jimmy did — tampering with photos with a lookalike, hiring a con man to be his IP, drugging him — is true, even if he can’t. prove it. After years of sympathizing with Jimmy for the way Chuck treated him, including offering him a job at HHM last season, Howard finally bore the brunt of one of Jimmy’s claws. Despite having had bowling balls thrown at his car and been accosted by sex workers at business lunches, Howard was admirably levelheaded in the face of Jimmy’s antics – a fitting response from the from someone who has a “Namast3” license plate. But Jimmy and Kim have gone too far, and Howard is ready for a long-overdue showdown.

Meanwhile, Lalo has returned from his relaxing getaway to Germany with a better understanding of Gus Fring’s plans to set up his own meth lab. The problem is that he has to bring evidence to Don Eladio, who has no reason to suspect one of his top earners of wrongdoing. So Lalo spies on Fring’s laundromat business from a drain grate, hidden in Albuquerque’s sewer system as if he were Pennywise the Clown. We can say this for Lalo: The guy is engaged.

For You better call SaulLalo’s conundrum is two-fold: the show created an incredible villain who came to life with the scene-stealing charisma of Tony Dalton, but he never shows up in breaking Bad and we already know Fring’s meth lab will be operational in the future. (Fring also asserts in breaking Bad that all the Salamancas are dead, which doesn’t exactly help Lalo’s chances.) All signs point to Lalo meeting his fate – not only is he vastly outnumbered by Fring’s men, but the Chicken Man has kept a weapon hidden in the still incomplete laboratory in case they have their inevitable confrontation underground.

But Lalo gets a lifeline in “Plan and Execution”: when he calls to give Hector Salamanca an update, he hears faint static on the line. With the phone in his uncle’s room at the retirement home tapped, Lalo no longer has the element of surprise when facing Fring and must pull himself together. That’s when Lalo sees a cockroach rushing into the sewers. It may seem trivial, but in last season’s “Bagman,” Lalo reassured Kim that nothing was going to happen to Jimmy in the desert because he’s a “born survivor” like the cucaracha. And seeing as Lalo once had a memorable confrontation at Kim’s apartment in Season 5, he knows exactly where to find him.

Howard is the first to show up at the apartment, something Jimmy and Kim were already expecting. It’s a tense scene, not least because the specter of Lalo looms over it. But there are still bright little moments reflecting Jimmy’s inner turmoil. When Howard mentions that he is suffering from depression and marital issues, Jimmy looks genuinely surprised and looks at Kim, the real mastermind behind the operation. Deep down, Jimmy knows that Howard probably doesn’t deserve such punishment. The fact that they piled on a guy who loses his wife and clings to his career to feel a sense of normalcy is especially cruel. “You two are perfect for each other,” Howard says. “You are missing a piece. I thought you did it for the money, but now it’s so clear: To hell with the money, you did it for the fun. You get off, you’re like Leopold and Loeb, two sociopaths.

As Howard promises to dedicate his life to exposing the truth about them, Lalo arrives. Unsurprisingly, Jimmy and Kim are both terrified, while Howard is oblivious to the mortal danger he finds himself in. “I just need to talk to my lawyers,” Lalo tells Howard, to which he replies, “Do you want my advice? Find better lawyers! It’s an eerily funny exchange that almost immediately turns into chilling terror, as Lalo attaches a silencer to his pistol and Howard slowly realizes he’s out of his depth. It’s a feeling he won’t hold onto for long: with a quick kick to the temple, one of HHM’s H’s was wiped off the board. Just before the credits, Lalo reminds Jimmy and Kim why he’s there: he wants to talk.

For viewers who criticized You better call SaulFrom its relatively leisurely pace to begin its final season, “Plan and Execution” is a proverbial headshot that sets up a tantalizing cliff-hanger heading into the remaining six episodes. (Good thing we just have to wait until July.) And like Nacho Varga’s tragic send-off earlier in the season, the home stretch will have to do without another series stalwart in Howard Hamlin. Among the many great performances on You better call Saul— here’s my regular reminder at the Television Academy that Rhea Seehorn deserves an Emmy nomination for this performance — it’s easy for Patrick Fabian to get overlooked. But the actor did an outstanding job of getting audiences to hate Howard at the start of the show and then sympathize with him. Caught between wanting to do Chuck right and his own reluctance to treat Jimmy like crap – and later to reckon with his legal partner’s likely death by suicide – Howard found himself in constant existential turmoil he barely concealed. behind the front of a polished, high- end lawyer. This reaction shot from season 4 is timeless:

As for Jimmy and Kim, it’s hard to say what Lalo’s dramatic re-emergence portends, or what they can do to help him get a head start on Fring. (Again, it’s not like Lalo can do a lot when we know Fring will be alive and the meth lab will be open for business in breaking Bad.) If nothing else, we have a better idea why Saul was so terrified thinking that Walter White and Jesse Pinkman had been sent by Lalo when he was introduced in breaking Bad.

There’s also the little issue of Kim finding out Lalo was still alive earlier this season thanks to Mike Ehrmantraut and refusing to tell Jimmy, and whether that would strain their relationship. Mike told Kim he didn’t think Jimmy had the stomach for the job and that she was “made up of tougher things”. Perhaps, given his absence in breaking Badit was Kim who reached a breaking point.

In any case, Howard’s death means that You better call Saul has reached a point of no return. With Jimmy and Kim drawn deeper and deeper into the Albuquerque underworld each season, the legal side of the show hung more and more by a thread. Aside from the immense impact Howard’s death will have on the psyches of his main characters, You better call Saul is now completely subsumed by cartel-related conflict: a fitting development as we get closer and closer to breaking Badchronology. (Not to mention the ongoing black-and-white adventures of Cinnabon manager Gene Takovic.) We know that Jimmy-cum-Saul will emerge unscathed from his last encounter with Lalo – he is, after all, the cucaracha. But with Howard lying in a pool of his own blood and Kim nowhere in sight breaking Badall other bets are off.

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