Lalo Salamanca is dead. The deliciously charismatic Cartel killer met a surprise end in the mid-season premiere of Better Call Saul season six after it looked like he was being positioned to engineer the final hours of Jimmy McGill’s ultimate transformation into Saul Goodman. Vince Gilligan’s TV work has always had a habit of flipping the script last minute – from Tuco Salamanca in season two of Breaking Bad to Nacho Vargas in the earlier half of this split final season, he has always made it abundantly clear that no character is safe.
Apart from the trademark cold open, ‘Point and Shoot’ picks up exactly where the mid-season finale ‘Plan and Execution’ left off. If you remember, poor Howard Hamlin had a hole in his head on Kim Wexler’s apartment floor, dispatched with cool efficiency by Lalo. TV’s favourite legal couple, Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) and Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn), are expectedly cowering in shock and fear as Better Call Saul’s apex predator turns his gun on them. Jimmy and Kim are wily and conniving, increasingly detached from any normal sense of morality, but Lalo and the Cartel operate on an entirely different level.
Anyway, Lalo doesn’t want to kill Jimmy and Kim, he has a higher purpose for them – he wants them to off Gus Fring for him. It’s Kim who ends up burdened with the task after Jimmy convinces Lalo to send her in a desperate attempt to save her life. It’s here where you think we might finally see the end of Kim, who never appears or is mentioned in Breaking Bad. Surprisingly, she lives to see at least one more episode when it becomes clear that the assassination attempt is just a ruse by Lalo to infiltrate the laundromat and get Gus on his own.
And the plan works well. After dispatching his bodyguards, Lalo corners Gus in the tomb-like superlab. We know only one of the men are coming back to the surface and because of Breaking Bad we know which one that is but the sequence (indeed the whole episode) is still intensely thrilling. Their confrontation takes on a kind of operatic showiness. Lalo is pleased with his scheme while Gus retorts with a flowery putdown of the Cartel – and in particular the Salamanca family. Then with a sudden gunshot, Lalo Salomanca dies laughing. The chicken man lives.
While this episode is relatively light on Jimmy and Kim after the opening sequence, it is ultimately an hour detailing their moral decay and the consequences of their dealings with New Mexico’s foulest gangsters. At the end of ‘Point and Shoot’, Jimmy’s dodgy associate Mike tells them to go about their lives as normal. Lalo won’t be coming back, but it’s clear from Kim’s haunted expression that nothing will ever be normal again.
Most WTF moment: adiós, Lalo
Flashes of light. Gunshots. Lalo choking on his own blood, laughing as he dies like Laurence Fishburne in ’90s neo-noir thriller King of New York. It looked like he was safe to the end of the series, given the lack of another ‘big bad’. He was not.
This week’s biggest question: what will happen to Kim Wexler?
It’s been Better Call Saul’s biggest question for a while now but with Lalo out the way, her future looks murkier. No other significant character seems likely to be her murderer given what we know about Saul, Mike and Gus from Breaking Bad. Maybe she’ll pop up in one of the flash-forwards, maybe she leaves Jimmy for good. Of course, as its parent show proved, there can be worse things than death.
- “You keep telling the lie you’ve been telling” – Mike to Jimmy and Kim about Howard’s death
- “He kind of looks like a librarian” – Lalo, not inaccurately, on Gus Fring’s appearance
- “Gustavo thought he was building an empire, but all he built himself was a tomb” – Lalo’s prophetic words about the superlab, shortly before he dies in it
‘Better Call Saul’ airs every Monday in the US on AMC, and every Tuesday on Netflix in the UK