‘Better Call Saul’ Season 6, Episode 7 Recap: Plan A

As the producers of “Better Call Saul” have wondered publicly about how to end the show, they have been guided, they say, by one question: What does Saul Goodman deserve?

“Plan and Execution,” as this episode is called, complicates the answer. Through the first six episodes of this season, and throughout “Breaking Bad,” Saul — and his progenitor, Jimmy McGill — seemed like a relatively benign weasel, a colorful grifter who often put his talent for chicanery to constructive use. None of his professional life was purely altruistic, but when he behaved like a crook it was often in the name of fairness.

Now though, the scheming of Jimmy and his wife and accomplice, Kim Wexler, have ended in the murder of a civilian, as noncombatants are called in mob movies. Howard did not “land on his feet,” as both he and Jimmy predicted during Howard’s final minutes of life. He landed on his head, with a bullet lodged in it from Lalo’s gun.

If one were defending Jimmy/Saul in court over the question of his culpability in Howard’s death, there are arguments to marshal. Lalo pulled the trigger. Kim pushed the plan. The former deserves life in prison. The latter needs therapy. But given the way that this show’s sequel hems in so much of the plot, the chief matter of suspense is what becomes of Gene Takavic, the third identity of Jimmy McGill, who runs a Cinnabon in an Omaha mall in the post-“Breaking Bad” timeline.

And what happens to Kim? If she survives, does she wind up with Jimmy?

It was easier to root for an Omaha reunion before Operation Frame Howard ended with the words “There’s really no need to … ” and a corpse on the floor. But that might be the ultimate point of this suddenly grim chapter of “Better Call Saul.” It gave Kim a chance to demonstrate moral complexity. She’s come a long way from the strait-laced attorney we met early in this show. Nor is she any match for the guy who’s about to interrogate her and Jimmy in their home. Like many of the best characters to emerge from the mind of the creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, she’s a mix of compassion and malignancy, sympathy and cunning.

The Return of ‘Better Call Saul’

The “Breaking Bad” prequel returned April 18 for its final season.

A Refresher: After the show’s two-year, Covid-induced hiatus, here’s where things left off.Serious Success: Bob Odenkirk was a comedian’s comedian — until “Better Call Saul” revealed him as a peerless portrayer of broken souls.Writing the Perfect Con: We asked the show’s writers to break down a pivotal scene in the ​​transformation of Jimmy McGill into Saul Goodman.Cast Interviews: Rhea Seehorn and Tony Dalton told us how they created the complex Kim Wexler and the murderous Lalo Salamanca.

If her destiny is tied to Jimmy’s, it’s safe to assume that it will be determined by how the couple handle the realization that their larky stratagems have ended in blood. Which doesn’t mean that Jimmy and Kim will cope with whatever comes next the same way. The first episode of this season is called “Wine and Roses,” a reference to the 1962 film, “Days of Wine and Roses,” about a couple, played by Lee Remick and Jack Lemmon, who are alcoholics. Lemmon’s character gets sober. Remick’s character remains in love with Lemmon’s but refuses to stop drinking, and they part. This is either foreshadowing or a fake out, but it raises the possibility that Kim will continue trending toward the wicked and Jimmy will not.

Although, who knows? The reverse could be true.

Regardless, R.I.P. Howard. You were much derided, mostly because of your smooth manners, good looks and old-timey shirt collars. They made you seem haughty and foppish. You were far more thoughtful than your enemies realized. If it’s any comfort, Patrick Fabian played you with an impeccable mix of confidence and vulnerability.

The plot against you will not be missed. It was a ridiculous endeavor and never more so than in the middle of this episode, when Jimmy and Lenny, the aspiring actor/shopping cart wrangler, played by John Ennis, are photographed in a park, pantomiming a bribe. The point is that Lenny looks a lot like the Sandpiper mediator, Rand Casimiro (John Posey).

The effort to settle the Sandpiper case and humiliate Howard had a few twists for viewers, like the realization that Howard’s private detective was a mole. But it was ultimately a Rube Goldberg contraption, fanciful to the point of absurdity and somehow effective nonetheless. About the best that can be said for this scheme is that it’s over. Plus, it seemed to have a profoundly aphrodisiacal effect on its perpetrators.

By the time Lalo has secured the silencer on his gun, the amorous celebration has given way to terror. The question of what to do with Howard’s body is now Kim and Jimmy’s problem, but the more immediate issue is that Lalo wants some information. He will want to know the truth about Jimmy’s benighted $7 million trek through the desert, made possible by Mike’s sniper work and survival techniques last season. He will likely learn that it was Mike who engineered Lalo’s bail jump.

What Jimmy can’t offer is details about Gus Fring, whom he presumably knows nothing about. (In “Breaking Bad,” he connects Walter White to Gus without knowing the man’s identity.) He can’t illuminate much about the superlab.

And superlab is Lalo’s focus. He has returned from Germany with information tortured from Casper, who, to Your Faithful Recapper’s surprise, apparently knew the location and purpose of the excavation site where he worked. Lalo is surveilling the laundry above it from an underground lair in the city’s sewer system. Realizing that his phone call to Hector is bugged, he suggests, for the ears of Fring’s underlings, that his next move is an assault on Fring’s home. In fact, he plans to infiltrate the superlab and send images of it to Don Eladio, the head of the Mexican cartel.

“Tonight, I go in, I kill all the guards and show you proof,” he says in a video message to Eladio. “Then you decide.”

The possibility raised here is that the proof eventually offered will not be compelling enough to persuade Eladio to against Fring. As Lalo puts it, Fring will have his own story and defenders because he’s an “earner.” In fact, we know from “Breaking Bad” that Fring will finish his “mother of all meth labs,” as Lalo calls it. The question is whether Lalo can delay the inevitable without getting killed.

Odds and Ends

Nothing in “Better Call Saul” is haphazard, so let’s note that the movie Jimmy and Kim are watching before Howard shows up is “Born Yesterday,” a 1950 film directed by George Cukor, about a woman, played by Judy Holliday, who falls in love with a journalist, played by William Holden, who’s been hired by her millionaire husband to educate her. We overhear a snippet of dialogue in which Holliday’s character is discussing Alexander Pope’s “Essay on Man,” a poem published early in the 18th century. One of Pope’s themes is the limits of science to grasp the true nature of humanity.

Howard’s exit monologue is remarkably insightful. His guesses about what motivated the plot against him are as good as any out there, and unlike viewers, he wasn’t privy to the hotel room conversation last season when the idea was giddily conceived. “You did it for fun.” True. “You’re perfect for each other.” Yup. And so on.

Fun fact: The guy playing the shopping cart wrangler and mediator look-alike is the father of Jessie Ennis, who plays Erin Brill, the law firm associate at Davis & Main. In this episode, she’s in charge of the group phone call during the mediation.

The show now goes on hiatus until July 11, when the final six episodes will air. Your Faithful Recapper expects that a good portion of the remaining action will occur in the post-“Breaking Bad” era. But your recapper is faithful, which is very different from clairvoyant. So feel free to speculate about what comes next in the comments section, or about anything else you would like to share with the group.

Until then, namaste.