Axe and Grind
Although Gilligan isn’t one for flashbacks, episode 6 of Better Call Saul Season 6, titled “Axe and Grind”, starts with one. Kim, sitting in the back room of a local market-chain store, nervously tapping her feet. Her mother and the store manager walk in – Kim has been caught stealing.
The manager lets her go without calling the police and despite her mother’s reprimanding, Kim gets a pass from her in the end. The next scene brings another new sight: Howard Hamlin’s luxurious and OCD-induced clean life.
He lives with his wife. But from the brief time together on screen, things do not seem to be going well. The passion has visibly died down. For Howard, though, the excitement is reignited by his investigator. He has been tailing Saul for some time now. And during his work, he has spotted Saul taking out big piles of cash every now and then, raising Howard’s suspicions about something fishy. The veterinarian – whose side job is to stitch up men running from the law – is back in the show (from Breaking Bad), taking care of Saul.
Clifford Maine’s assessment of Kim turns out to be right when he sees her in action. Her stout defence for her pro-bono client inspires confidence in him that the Mercer foundation – one of the country’s largest – will sponsor her work as well. She is excited to share the news with Saul at his new office.
We then get to see what is really going on behind the curtains. They are preparing an actor to play Casimiro, the lead arbitrator on the Sandpiper tribunal. Saul withdrew the cash to be photographed giving it to him and making the impression that he is biased to further defame HHM.
Kim shares the news about Mercer with Saul and he is elated. She also reveals that the presentation for the foundation happens on the “D-Day”. Saul reassures her that her presence won’t be required. The scene shifts to a small house in the woods in Germany. Lalo gives one of Werner’s men a visit. He gets the maker’s address from the sculpture he stole from Margarethe’s house in the previous episode. The man runs and injures Lalo, demanding to know who he is. Lalo tricks the man and pins him down, determined to know about “what Fring is building down there” (referring to the meth lab).
Saul asks Francesca to call the HHM office and get the dial-in code for the meeting for one of the clients. This is part of her larger plan of using Casimiro. Mike is reprimanded by Victor, who carries Fring’s message that Mike hasn’t posted enough men at his house and more than necessary men at Alameda Street.
Mike stands his ground amidst the valid criticism. It is then revealed why someone of his intellect and skill set has done so. Mike has relocated his daughter and granddaughter to a house on Alameda Street and wants to make sure they remain safe, even if it means putting his own life in danger.
“Axe and Grind” Ending Explained
Saul and Kim celebrate their respective achievements by having wine at the HHM compound. D-Day has arrived and they go to execute their plans. Kim drives out to Santa Fe for the presentation; Saul remains in Albuquerque to oversee the Casimiro plan.
To his absolute shock and chagrin, the real Csimior, whom he runs into in a wine shop, has actually a cast on his left hand. The photos that Saul framed with the fake Casimiro clearly show his left hand without a cast. He calls Kim in a panic and reveals the mess. She is taken aback. Despite Saul’s insistence that she continues on for the presentation, Kim swirls back towards Albuquerque to execute the plan.
By now, there is so much of a moral difference between what Saul and Kim do, that you almost feel angry at the former for messing up the latter’s plans. Whenever something good happens for her, Saul’s “business” intervenes. Their plan to use the arbitrator’s name and forge a fake conspiracy falls flat on his face.
The coincidence is damning and threatens to derail their entire progress. Can they still salvage the plan? Will Kim still get to do the presentation? We’ll see.
The Episode Review
I hovered my mouse over the playtime bar on Netflix when Mike first appeared in the episode. I saw that just ten minutes more were left to go. Just then, I looked with disappointment at the chips packet I had just ripped apart like an ape.
This embarrassing anecdote is presented for good reason. It is a testament to how good Gilligan is at holding his viewer’s attention without using flashy shots or narrative tools. The immersive moments he creates with his deliberative tone are transformative. They place you right in the middle of things and compel you to soak them in.
The episode ends with a big disappointment but another surprise that will keep us on our toes. Howard is quickly getting close at Saul’s heels. It seems like a matter of time before he figures out the plan and catches him red-handed. As much as we hope that doesn’t happen, Gilligan never compromises on his story and conviction.
I love how there is another tip of the hat to Mike and the substance of his character. His old-school values are so inspiring and respectable, that you seem to forget and despise the modern sensibilities of what “makes a man” for a second.
Being a consummate professional and family man in these times is difficult. It has become out of fashion to impose such obligations on a man. But not for Mike. He has the best moment in the entire episode when he looks at his family standing alone in a dimly lit room. The kind of sacrifice and courage it takes to do something like this is rarely found in real life.
‘Better Call Saul’ is hands down the best show in the television space right now. There is no doubt that the second half of season six will be even more exciting and jaw-dropping than the first. And with one more episode to go until a mid-season break, anything could happen!
|Expect A Full Season Write-Up When This Season Concludes!|