TV

The ‘Better Call Saul’ Lie Detector Test: Chaos In The Superlab

The Better Call Saul Lie Detector Test is a weekly recap of the major events of the final season, separated out by their apparent truthfulness at the time. This is not one of those recaps that gets into granular detail about things. It will miss the occasional callback or foreshadowing. But it will be fun. Sometimes, that’s what’s important.

Season 6, Episode 8: “Point and Shoot”

LIE FALSE SAUL
UPROXX

I am fine

SAUL
AMC

What we have on our hands here is one of those Two Things Can Be True At Once situations.

The first true thing is that, yes, Lalo Salamanca is dead, because Lalo Salamanca was always going to die. He was a major antagonist for pretty much all of the characters who survive into Breaking Bad and yet he’s nowhere to be seen in that show. He burned fast and bright in a way that does not usually mesh well with longevity. Gus Fring literally says the sentence “All of the Salamancas are dead” at a point a little ways down the timeline. Barring something outlandish like, to choose one example I definitely have not been thinking about a lot, Lalo deciding to get out of crime and faking his own death and becoming a handsome tennis pro named Bert Nebraska at a five-star resort in Aruba, this is how it had to end. Chekhov’s hidden superlab gun and so on and so forth.

But this gets us to the second thing, which is equally important and just as true: I loved Lalo and wanted him to live forever. He was such a great character. It’s crazy that the people who created this whole universe were able to pull that off, to take a character who was mentioned in an apparent throwaway line in one show and then retro-fit a charismatic maniac into a show they filmed years later that took place years earlier. Think about that for a while at some point. Lalo was kind of like the Joker crossed with James Bond but with a tremendous mustache. I am going to miss him a lot.

But, again, sure, we were always headed here. That’s one of those things about a prequel. Once Lalo started waging war against Gus and Mike and holding Jimmy and Kim hostage, I mean, that’s about where the line is. This had to happen for the Gus we see now to become the Gus we met in Breaking Bad. You can set up all the dominoes in a pretty and elaborate pattern, but the whole point is that they still all eventually tip over once you apply pressure to the first one. That’s where we are now. Dominoes are falling. Lalo was a big one. Not the biggest one, though. Which, conveniently, brings us to…

I AM FINE

SAUL
AMC

We are officially on Wexler Watch now. We already were, really, and have been for a long time, in part because Kim has always been the most notable character from this show who does not appear in Breaking Bad and in part because Rhea Seehorn is so damn good at playing the character. But now, in the home stretch of the final season, with Lalo gone and Kim being the last great unknown, things are becoming very serious. I am kind of not okay about it.

Like, go back and watch the scene where she’s driving to ambush Gus. Watch her pull up next to the cops. Watch her walk slowly across the lawn. Watch her raise the gun as a shadowy figure rushes toward her from behind. This is some stressful business here, people. And I say that as someone squarely in the “Kim is not going to die” camp. It is still my position that she ends up going back to Nebraska and eventually runs into Gene at the Cinnabon. I’m a romantic like that.

It’s going to get dicey, though. There are still lots of t’s to cross and i’s to dot. Things are going to get more stressful before they get less stressful. Lalo being dead alleviates some immediate danger, but now Jimmy and Kim kind of owe a debt to Gus Fring. They have gone out of the frying pan and into one of the many immaculately maintained fryers in a Los Pollos Hermanos. We will continue to monitor this situation.

Howard Hamlin probably expected to be buried in a dirt hole next to a cartel boss

SAUL
AMC

Not the most important thing in all of this but, man, what a tough stretch for Howard Hamlin. The guy started this series as a powerful lawyer and upstanding member of the New Mexico community and now he’s buried in a dirt hole with Lalo Salamanca in a drug lab under a laundromat and being painted in broad strokes as a cocaine-fueled maniac who had many deep dark secrets that led to his eventual mysterious ocean-based disappearance.

And, like, for what? What was Howard’s greatest crime? Being kind of a putz? Listening to elevator music in a Jaguar with a NAMAST3 license plate? He deserved some level of comeuppance for being That Freaking Guy, I’ll give you that. I would not have been heartbroken to see him, say, get a bunch of cupcakes whipped at him by unruly teens, or get his house and car egged every Halloween. But this was… a bit much.

I actually feel sorry for the doof. Which is really something. Imagine how angry you’d be if you were sitting at a traffic light and saw that vanity plate in front of you. This might be the show’s greatest achievement to date.

LIE UNCLEAR SAUL
UPROXX

Lalo is dead for the same reason he was so much fun while he was alive

SAUL
AMC

Bullet points, for efficiency:

  • Lalo could have shot Gus the instant Gus showed him the hidden door to the superlab
  • He didn’t because he is a showman who wanted to create a whole dramatic scene he could show off on a big-screen television at Don Eladio’s compound
  • This is one of the reasons Lalo was such a good character, because he did things with flair and they always worked out

Until… they didn’t. Lalo was always depicted in this show as a kind of supervillain. Smarter than everyone, surprisingly agile, etc. It’s a really cool bit of storytelling here that the show used these strengths against him for his undoing. He just couldn’t help himself. The Lalo Show was just always on, all the time, even when it shouldn’t have been. And now it’s canceled.

This is really the moment Jimmy becomes Saul Goodman

SAUL
AMC

Yes, I know, I have probably said this at least two dozen times over the course of this show. I stand by most of them. The people who built this character have done an incredible job of laying it all out piece by piece. And yes, I know he started doing business as Saul Goodman a little while ago, which was a big step. But did you see Gus Fring’s face in that bit I have screencapped up there? When he realized Jimmy talked Lalo out of something? When he realized that the gift of gab was more than just a character trait and closer to a superpower?

That was cool. Everything else was stressful as hell. But that was cool. It’s not going to end great for anyone, sometimes involving missing faces and mall-based baked goods, but still. Cool. Kind of.

UPDATE: A few people have pointed out that this could have actually been Gus realizing that Lalo didn’t care who he sent because he was going to the superlab anyway. This is a better explanation. Let’s pretend I said that!

I will get the damn Los Pollos jingle out of my head before I die

SAUL
AMC

Dammit, Lyle

DAMMIT, LYLE

This could have very easily been a whole section about how Gus Fring is a good boss. About how committed he is to his less lucrative chicken business that he’s calling store employees while bleeding from gunshot wounds. About how he probably pays better than most other fast-food places. About how his employees apparently like him so much that they’ll offer to give him a ride when a “family emergency” pops up. But no.

NOOOOO.

Now I have this jingle in my head. The only silver lining is that it has temporarily pushed out the jingle for Rally House. The human brain is both miraculous and deeply, deeply stupid.

LIE TRUE SAUL
UPROXX

This show can pay off a bit

SAUL
AMC

Back to the bullet points:

  • The gun in the superlab was set up a while ago and paid off exactly as we all expected, but imagine having the patience to wait this long before actually getting to it
  • The car thing at the beginning was all paid off via Mike’s explanation at the end, which was cool and yet another reminder that Mike is very good at his job
  • I am still trying to figure out how exactly Mike staged the scene to have one set of footprints that went in that exact pattern and then stopped like they did, and yes, one of my theories is “he was wearing a jetpack and took off from the beach and landed back on the solid ground”

It could have happened. You don’t know.

I do not want to disappoint Mike Ehrmantraut

SAUL
AMC

The thing about Mike is that he’s always Mike, all the time, even when he’s talking to his boss. He really sat Gus down and started to lecture him like he was a child and not a ruthless drug kingpin who had just murdered his main adversary using a trap he had laid weeks earlier. I love it. I love Mike a lot. I think I would crumble into a small pile of dust and blow off into the wind if he ever sat me down and talked to me like this, but I do enjoy watching him do it to other people.

I kind of want to see Lalo’s bathtub now

SAUL
AMC

This is what Lalo said when the industrial washing machine slid back to reveal the superlab. The obvious assumption here is that he had the bathtub set up to hide his own drug-related secrets. Which is cool. I guess. But the thing about Lalo is that he’s the type of guy who might have had a hidden passage for any number of reasons. Maybe he had a secret poker room. Or a little man cave. Maybe he just kept a tiger down there and like to go visit it. Lalo was a truly fascinating human being and a great television character and I will miss him a lot. (WHOOPS: We did see his bathtub! I just forgot! Although he could have a second one that goes to a room with a tiger! We’ll never know!)

Rest in peace and/or in a dirt hole next to a doof lawyer who crossed the wrong people. That’s a saying, right?

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