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 7: “Plan and Execution”
Howard had a great day
This was never going to go great for Howard. There was just no reasonable situation where things played out in his favor. He’s on a short list of characters on Better Call Saul who do not appear, or even really come up at all, in Breaking Bad. There has to be a reason for that. The shows are too good and too thought-out to leave important threads dangling and blowing in the wind. We saw how that worked out for, say, Nacho. It’s one of the reasons that Kim and Lalo are now the most interesting characters on the show. The unknown is thrilling. And terrifying. It’s a lot of things.
And I’ll get back to the ending and Howard’s fate in a second. I couldn’t avoid it even if I wanted to. But I think it’s important to discuss how things got there. Howard was right, eventually, in a couple of ways. He was right in the way he put the pieces together, even if putting them together in front of another person made him continue to look paranoid and manic. He was right in his diagnosis of both Jimmy and Kim at the end, about Jimmy not being able to help himself and the two of them plugging their missing pieces together. And he was right that he didn’t really deserve any of it, even if he does drive a Jaguar with a “NAMAST3” vanity plate. They treated Howard like a supervillain when he was just a putz. It was never fair.
The plan did play out perfectly, though, Once they did the emergency reshoots, with Kim going half-Scorsese on the proceedings. If you’re trying to make your mark look crazy, I mean, getting them to say this out loud is pretty much ideal.
It was all so meticulously planned. We had, among other things:
- Liquid-based amphetamines soaking through his fingers
- Private investigator flim-flams
- Photograph ruses
All strung together perfectly, in order, like a maestro conducting various pieces of an orchestra. Two things become clear in all of this: One, if Jimmy and Kim ever really wanted to use their powers for good, if this wasn’t all so thrilling to them in the moment, the sneaking around and the subterfuge and the naughtiness of it all, they could do almost anything; two, even the best-laid plans cannot fully account for a mustachioed agent of chaos.
This brings us to the ending.
I saw this coming
What I am going to do here is just present you with the notes I took as I was watching the last few minutes of the episode, typos and all, to give you an idea where my head was at as it played out…
Lalo sneaks in
Jimmy and Kim are freaking out
Howard doesn’t realize
LALO WANTS TO TALK
Which, I think, is both a fair representation of how I felt watching Lalo sneak in to make all these shenanigans suddenly very real and a nice little window into my writing process, to the extent I have one. I legitimately shouted a little. Television is fun.
Kim Wexler got what she wanted
Hoo buddy, she sure did not. This was all fun for so long. She and Jimmy even got a little handsy with each other when it was playing out, a little celebration nooky. The plan worked and they got what they had been working toward all season and then, suddenly… not so much. It’s all fun and games until a charming psychopath slips in and blows your former boss’s head all over your living room floor. People say this constantly.
A few things are worth noting here, and I’m going to do them via bullet points for the sake of efficiency:
- I still don’t think Kim ends up dead, for a lot of reasons, most of them related to Jimmy not being a shell of a person when we meet him in Breaking Bad, but I do think that card for the vacuum cleaner guy who makes people disappear that popped up the other week sure looks more interesting now
- It’s wild to trace this back and see how many potential exit ramps they both blew past that could have prevented this from happening, up to and including Kim literally disregarding an exit to pull a screaming U-turn to follow through with the plan that day
- Rhea Seehorn is very good at acting
All worth remembering as we move forward.
This is the beginning of the end of Lalo
I could be wrong on this and I’m sure someone will yell at me if I am but… was that moment in the sewer, when he heard the click and realized Gus was tapping the phone at the nursing home… was that the first time we’ve really seen Lalo lose his cool? It felt notable, even if it wasn’t the first time. Lalo does not crack like that. He’s cold and charming and suave and patient and surprisingly athletic, and he uses all of those things to create an aura of something approaching invincibility. The man has been doing surveillance alone in a sewer for lord knows how long and seems to enjoy it. As I’ve said before, he’s like John Wick crossed with Danny Ocean. Maybe with a little Bond villain tossed in. He delights me.
But this… this felt like a tiny crack in that exterior, right? Like maybe he’s about to let his emotions cause him to make a mistake? The thing about creating a character who seems invincible is that you have to find a way to slide in little slivers in the armor to make them vulnerable. (Superman, kryptonite, etc.) If Lalo starts to snap a little, the cold and calculating and smiling forcefield of his could weaken, and then suddenly that gun hidden in the superlab becomes a whole thing. Shoutout to Chekhov.
What we don’t know yet is how long this all takes. There are only a handful of episodes left. Lalo can’t have long for this universe. But if this is how it starts, if he gets angry and makes mistakes… that could explain a lot of things.
Hiding in a sewer seems cool
I don’t know. One on hand, sewers are smelly and dark and wet and I do not think I would enjoy hanging out in one for any amount of time at all, even just a minute or two. I am very much an above-ground/dry-land type of dude.
On the other hand, Lalo seemed like he was having fun. And the image at the top of this section made me laugh out loud. There is very little separating him and a ninja turtle in this moment. You know, besides, like, ooze. Still.
The real winner here is Irene
Extended litigation would have taken up to two years, by Howard’s own admission. Everything going to heck in dramatic tweaked-out fashion gets her a chunk of the settlement now, in cash, to enjoy in the remaining time she has. Good. Irene deserves everything. If this show does anything to harm her I might blow up a building.
I bet she will be sad about Howard, though. I do not want Irene to be sad. She’s a sweet woman. I hope one of the last episodes is devoted entirely to her blowing all the money on a fancy Mediterranean cruise. Let Irene live.
There is no going back at this point
Better Call Saul was always kind of two different shows at once: The fun lawyer shenanigans one with Jimmy and the serious drug one with Mike and Gus. The two worlds circled each other a lot and occasionally intersected, but for the most part, stayed in their own lane. That is no longer an option. It stopped being an option somewhere in those closing moments, as early as Lalo appearing in the shadows behind Howard and as late as Lalo depositing Howard’s brain on the carpet. Maybe when he screwed on the silencer.
Either way, welcome to the point of no return. It’s pretty stressful here. And it’s not going to get much less stressful as we press on. Everything is extremely real now, for the characters on the show, of course, but also for us watching at home. It is not a huge leap from here to Jesse getting kidnapped by meth Nazis. We are a lot closer to that than we are Slippin’ Jimmy. Might be time to work on some breathing exercises.
The people who make this show are very good at their jobs
I had chosen this heading already based on a number of things — the camera work when Kim and Jimmy were staging the scene at the bench, the damn Frisbee, the way the show took a throwaway reference to someone named “Lalo” from Breaking Bad and turned it into the most fascinating character on television, etc. — but then I noticed something else.
The title of this episode is “Plan and Execution.”
Plan and EXECUTION
These brilliant bastards went and told us the ending way before it happened. We all saw that and thought, “oh, right, of course, execute the plan,” but they meant, like, an actual execution. It was right there in front of us the whole time. I find this somehow hilarious and perfect and infuriating all at once. These rascals. They must have all been sitting around giggling about it for weeks. Imagine their faces when they came up with it. Full-on ear-to-ear Grinch smiles throughout the room.
Good for them.
This is a lovely and useful GIF
Yup. I suspect I’ll be dropping this one a lot. Has nothing to do with just about anything else on the show, and I respect that me devoting a whole bolded section to it might feel trivial after such a wild and heavy episode, but… also…
Look at him.
Better Call Saul is a pretty good show.