“Plan and Execution”
The first moments of the episode reveal an interesting deception. No elaborate and detailed processes of making things: just Lalo in dirty overalls coming out of a manhole. He changes, takes a shower, rests, and drives his car back to the hole. And then it is revealed why: he has eyes on Fring’s meth lab. He phones Hector to let him know of the lab and his plans for Fring. Hector is furious when Lalo reveals his suicidal plan but isn’t able to do anything about it.
The focus immediately shifts to the cliffhanger in the last episode. Saul is running around ragged getting his team back to recreate the picture of Judge Casimiro in a sling. Kim also comes back to assist Saul. The photos are clicked and another big surprise is thrown at us. The PI that Howard had hired, Ginodowski, actually works for Saul. He is given the photos to give to Howard on the day of the mediation so that he becomes paranoid and creates a scene. And that is exactly what happens.
We also get to know the reason why Saul went to the vet in the last episode. It was to take a drug that dilates your pupils when it comes in contact with your skin. Saul laces the photos with that drug and Howard touches it. The moment Howard sees Casimiro enter, he suggests that the judge is compromised, as he is seen accepting money from Saul in the photo. He asks Julie to bring them in from his office. But, the photos that we see feature Saul with a man wearing a hat, not Casimiro or the actor playing him.
This is because the PI had changed the photos after Howard went out of his office. The mediation is called off and the substantially reduced settlement is accepted by Cliff. Howard’s antics are attributed to his supposed cocaine addiction. His professional career falls into the pit of huge uncertainty; it seems like things are over for him. Mike then reaches Fring and informs him that Lalo is back and Fring must be seen to be alone in his house to tempt Lalo to come for him.
The plan is intact to take him out. We then see Kim and Saul “celebrate” their victory. All their planning over the last six episodes has given them great satisfaction. The doorbell rings and it is Howard. He enters with a bottle of wine and tries to understand the reasons behind the couple’s relentless efforts to destroy his life. There is a kind of regretful and uneasy tension in the air and we see an unexpected guest walk in from the door: Lalo. Saul and Kim have a ghastly look on their face and insist Howard leave the house. Lalo asks him to stay. Just as Howard is about to leave the scene, Lalo shoots him dead.
The Episode Review
Phew. What an end that was before the mid-season break. Howard Hamlin is no longer alive and I am guessing that you, like me, are feeling a bit hard done by. And a lot of shame for how we were complicit in Kim and Saul’s plan to destroy him. In the end, he didn’t even die a dignified death, or before gaining the respect he had earned being a thorough professional and being brilliant at what he did all his life. Gilligan and co have a tendency to respect the intelligence of their audiences. This has been a constant phenomenon since the rimes of BB.
So, if one compares this episode to the one where Nacho was killed, there are huge differences. The atmosphere was not one of mourning but a sense of accomplishment, at least until the very end. The big plan that was made to derail Howard’s life amounted to nothing in the end. We still do not know what drove them so strongly to pursue it and see it to its end. Nacho’s death might seem to be unceremonious like Howard but at least he went on his own terms. He had control over his choice to die, whereas Howard just became someone in the wrong place at the wrong time.
It will be difficult to shrug off Howard’s face as he fell to the floor with a bullet in his head. The shock of it does not even compare to the more painful realization of worthlessness that we and Saul & Kim feel. For me, it also changes the scales of goodness between the two in some ways. Saul has been seen as a bad man till now; lawyering for the criminals, taking advantage of the loopholes in the system, and resorting to immoral means to achieve his goals.
It is destiny that it was Kim who had gotten rid of the men following her just a couple of episodes ago. Had those men been there, Howard would have had more chances to live. However abstract it might be, it will play on the back of her mind. And some of us. But for some reason, I passionately feel Lalo’s days are numbered as well. His well of sins is almost full, now. Fring is a desperate man – but also very powerful. He will not let harm come to the precious business that he has built from the ground up. The one that does not involve fried chicken. Until the next episode, rest up and prepare for the next episode.