Despite knowing exactly where a majority of the Better Call Saul characters will be by the end of the series, the Breaking Bad prequel has done a fantastic job of keeping things intense, surprising and shocking right up to its final season (the first half of which concluded this week). Take Nacho Varga’s (Michael Mando) death in season six’s ‘Rock and Hard Place’ – a fate that might have been expected, but was still very much heart-breaking.
So far, there’s been no “gotcha” moment where Bob Odenkirk’s Jimmy McGill disappears and Saul Goodman begins. Sure, by season six the criminal lawyer has set up the business we see thriving in Breaking Bad (and has the garish wardrobe to match), but viewers have also been reminded that Goodman – or McGill – still has a heart. He’s still got a long way to go before he becomes the sort of lawyer who suggests a prison execution as Plan A.
Jimmy’s wife Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) has also spent the majority of this season breaking good, offering legal advice to people who’d usually been unable to afford it. However, away from their day jobs, both Kim and Jimmy have been plotting the downfall of the sleek-but-well-meaning lawyer Howard Hamlin. Yes, he’s made mistakes throughout the run of the show, but he’s also atoned for them along the way – and Patrick Fabian has developed a sympathetic character from one that was deliberately unlikeable to begin with.
Jimmy and Kim’s nefarious scheme, involving paranoia, faked photos and drugged coffee, is put into motion in this week’s mid-season finale, ‘Plan And Execution’. Howard quickly figures out what’s going on and rightly calls them out on it – but it’s too late. The long-running Sandpiper case, first introduced way back in season one, is finally settled, giving Jimmy a big pay-out while leaving Howard’s reputation in tatters.
In the closing minutes of the episode, Howard confronts Jimmy and Kim at their home to find out why they did it. The couple both look guilty when Howard reveals he’s been dealing with “debt, depression and his marriage falling apart,” but assures them he will land on his feet.
Howard then accuses the pair of being “soulless” but perfect for each other. Jimmy, he says, was “born that way,” but Kim, “one of the smartest and most promising legal minds I’ve ever known,” chose this life. Just hours earlier, she skipped a lunch that would have given her a well-paid dream job – helping countless underprivileged people get the legal help they deserve – to make sure their plot against Howard went off properly. It’s the first time that either Kim or Jimmy have been properly called out on the show, and the truth stings.
Elsewhere in Better Call Saul season six, the bloody feud between soon-to-be-kingpin Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) and the Salamanca family has taken an intense turn, following Lalo’s (Tony Dalton) faked death and his trip to Europe to discover just what Gustavo is building beneath the laundry factory (answer – the mother of all meth labs).
Those two plots come crashing together in the closing moments of ‘Plan And Execution’, with Lalo first setting up his own revenge plan and then turning up unannounced at Jimmy’s home. He says he “just wants to talk to his lawyer,” but as Jimmy and Kim beg Howard to leave, Lalo pulls out a gun. Next thing they know, Howard’s dead on their floor – and while Lalo pulled the trigger, they both know it’s their fault. This is likely to be the moment that defines where they both go next, assuming Kim survives.
With six episodes left (and hugely anticipated cameos from both Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul still to come), Better Call Saul has to make some characters disappear and get others to where they need to be for the beginning of Breaking Bad. What happens next, though, is anyone’s guess, as Better Call Saul remains the master of calculated chicanery.
Better Call Saul‘s final season will resume on July 11.