This Better Call Saul review contains spoilers.
Better Call Saul Season 6 Episode 8
They called it a break, but it felt more akin to torture. Better Call Saul, amid its sixth and final season, took a month-long hiatus after “Plan and Execution,” a barnburner of an episode that ended with perhaps the most excruciating cliffhanger of the series. A break? I spent the month agonizing over the wait and wondering what could come next. While others were enjoying high temperatures, fireworks, and cookouts, I thought about Howard Hamlin lying lifeless on Jimmy’s apartment floor. I’m exaggerating, but only slightly.
The final episodes — this time we mean it — are finally here, and while a Better Call Saul-shaped hole in my life is on the horizon, I’ve got six weeks to bask in all the Albuquerque-based goodness. “Point and Shoot” begins with a glimpse at the cover-up that will hide Howard’s death at the hands of Lalo Salamanca. If anyone on this show would take the “walk straight into the ocean” suicide route, Howard fits the bill, but I worried that the cold open was jumping to the immediate aftermath of that shocking execution, skipping ahead to avoid the heavy lifting. Thankfully, the rest of “Point and Shoot” immediately canceled out these fears.
Jimmy and Kim’s horrified, frantic reactions coming on the eve of this year’s Emmy nominations is some perfect synergy (cancel the Emmys entirely if they aren’t nominated). Lalo remains as calm and jovial as ever, detailing a list of instructions for Jimmy to go murder Gus at his home while he keeps watch of Kim. Unlike the last home visit from Lalo, Jimmy does what he does best, persuading Lalo that Kim is the one to carry out the hit, despite her protests. Jimmy wants to ensure that Kim gets as far away from Lalo as possible, no matter the outcome. Kim’s fear is absolutely palpable, but she takes the instructions and soldiers ahead. Fittingly, Lalo refers to her as “Mrs. Goodman” as she’s walking out the door.
The tension is sky-high as Kim makes her way to Gus’ home. At a stoplight, Kim is waiting next to a cop car, and she almost instinctually rolls her window down to flag for help, but fear, adrenaline, and a green light keep her from raising any flags. It’s a small thing, but it helps illustrate how torturous this all is for Kim. This is not her world; these are not the sort of compromises she makes. Mike once told Kim that she’s made of sterner stuff than Jimmy, but she hasn’t been thrown into the deep end like this. She arrives at Gus’ home, and with no other option to help her protect Jimmy, she rings the doorbell. Mike’s familiar face answers and pulls her inside.
For as anxiety-inducing and gripping as these scenes are, and as good as the rest of the episode is in a vacuum, from the moment that Mike answers the door, the rest of the episode plays out pretty much as expected. We saw the great lengths Gus went to to ensure that he would not be a sitting duck in his home should Lalo return. We saw Gus hide a strategically placed gun in the lab. Most of all, we know that Jimmy, Gus, Mike, hell, even Tyrus, are in no real danger.
While Better Call Saul has mostly avoided this classic prequel problem by introducing new characters we care about, like Chuck, Howard, Nacho, Lalo, and Kim, as we reach the end of the show and move toward the Breaking Bad timeline, there’s a fear that an air of inevitability will permeate these final episodes. That said, “Point and Shoot” wastes no time wrapping up the Howard and Lalo storylines to give us ample time to spend with Kim, Jimmy, and hopefully, Gene. There’s still some unknown left to mine, just not in “Point and Shoot.” This episode hits every expected beat, for better or worse.
Gus’ final showdown with Lalo is still wildly entertaining, thanks to Tony Dalton. Dalton is the best villain of both Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad, full stop. His performance is the perfect mixture of all the qualities that made the other Salamancas so terrifying, but with a bit of a cracked mirror image of Jimmy thrown in for good measure. Plus, the man has catlike agility, but not so much so that he can avoid a hail of gunfire. Lalo’s pure glee of exposing Gus on camera is cut short by Gus’ own Nacho-like takedown of Don Eladio and the Salamancas before he hits the lights and retrieves his stashed gun.
Still, not to beat a dead horse, but we knew what needed to happen here before Gus even stashed that gun because we knew Lalo wasn’t a factor in Breaking Bad and that all the other Salamancas were dead by the time Hector enacts his final revenge on Gus. Despite all of this, Lalo using his last breath to laugh at the Chicken Man is potent stuff, and kudos to the head honcho himself, Vince Gilligan, for making the most of the unfinished lab’s floodlights for dramatic effect. The episode has the same propulsive forward momentum as his original show’s best episodes.
Back at Jimmy’s apartment, Kim returns home with Mike who sternly lectures them to continue telling the lie that they started about Howard Hamlin and to keep calm. Throughout the scene, Kim looks despondent over her role in all of this, while Jimmy almost looks like he’s transfixed on Kim from the corner of his eye. It’s as if he knows that whatever they had is over, like he finally broke Kim Wexler by forcing her to play Mrs. Goodman. Where they go from here will likely provide the meat of the final episodes, but their faces say it all. “Point and Shoot” concludes with Mike burying Howard Hamlin next to his killer, beneath the super lab. One corner of Better Call Saul’s world rests forever next to the other, put there by the character that bridged the gap between the two. It’s almost poetic.
While “Point and Shoot” may have played too close to expectations to be genuinely transcendent, it’s still damn good, well-made television with mesmerizing acting across the board. And as I said above, it’s a good sign that “Point and Shoot” is crossing so many obligatory to-dos off the list in just one hour. The biggest question I had after “Plan and Execution” was how Jimmy and Kim would move on from this horrific night. Well, it’s now morning and the clock is ticking.