But no, it’s not Lalo. It’s Howard. Looking terribly disheveled. He’s come to say that he knows exactly what they did, and he wants to know why. “What’s it all about? What do you tell yourselves? What justification makes it okay?…Why go through that elaborate plot just to burn me to the ground?”
When I interviewed him, Patrick Fabian said he thinks this speech was written in part to give the audience a chance to say these things to Jimmy and Kim. I’m grateful for that, but also, given what is about to happen to Howard, I’m glad he had this opportunity to say his piece. Howard started out as a “heavy,” as Fabian puts it, and he’s always been fairly ridiculous. But this season, we’ve also grown to care about him. Arguably, the entire Breaking Bad Cinematic Universe hinges on these transitions from hero to villain and back again, and Howard’s journey has been a fascinating one.
Without ever acknowledging the truth of Howard’s accusations, Kim and Jimmy basically let it be known that they don’t feel that bad for them and they really want him to buzz off already.
Then, the candle flickers.
Maybe the most disturbing thing about this scene—hell, about this whole episode—is the fear on Kim and Jimmy’s faces as Lalo strolls in. These two are pretty seriously unflappable, but here they are reduced to abject horror. In Jimmy’s case, we know he believed Lalo was dead. “How?” he gasps. In Kim’s case, she has to be seriously regretting her decision to keep the news she got from Mike to herself.
As for Howard, it takes a minute for him to realize what’s going on. By the time he does—“I think I’m in the middle of something”—it’s too late. Lalo is brandishing his trusty silencer. He lifts the gun to Howard’s temple and pulls the trigger. Jimmy and Kim both scream, but Lalo shushes them. “Let’s talk,” he says.
In my notes, I have the word “WHY???” written just like that. Fabian told me he thinks Lalo killed Howard simply because he was in the way. “I’m a fly,” he said. I guess that’s right. Still, it feels unfair. And unjust. Because if Jimmy and Kim hadn’t played this cruel trick on Howard—and if Kim hadn’t made that U-turn and prioritized her taste for vengeance over her dream of helping the less fortunate—then he wouldn’t have been in the way, and he wouldn’t be dead on the floor. He’d still be buzzing away!
Better Call Saul is on hiatus until July. There are, if my math is correct, six more episodes. I can’t imagine Lalo killing Kim here, now, with that many more hours to go. And of course we know that Jimmy will make it through and become, once and for all, Saul Goodman.
Clearly, Lalo thinks Jimmy and Kim can get him to Gus—or at least Mike. Whether he uses them to set up a meeting or simply takes them hostage (or both), they do appear to be more valuable to him alive than dead for the time being. And speaking of villains becoming heroes and vice versa, right now I for one am feeling extremely protective of Mike and even somewhat solicitous of Gus’s well being. But we know those two make it out of the prequel alive, whereas Lalo’s days are presumably numbered. Is it possible there’s one last mega-twist awaiting us that will reverse our sympathies and make Lalo seem like the good guy, at least in comparison to Gus?
We’ll know in a couple of months!
RELATED: Patrick Fabian discusses his final episode as Howard Hamlin in Better Call Saul