Monday, May 23, 2022

REVIEW: 'Better Call Saul' - Jimmy and Kim's Scheme Against Howard Faces Unexpected Consequences in 'Plan and Execution'

AMC's Better Call Saul - Episode 6.07 "Plan and Execution"

Jimmy and Kim deal with a last-minute snag in their plan.

"Plan and Execution" was written by Thomas Schnauz and directed by Thomas Schnauz

No character has been further removed from the cartel world than Howard Hamlin. And yet, he is killed by the one wild card with the potential to upset all the careful and precise order in this world: Lalo Salamanca. It's the latest epic confrontation in Jimmy and Kim's apartment. It reveals just how quickly the tables can turn on anyone. At one moment, people can be celebrating a job well done. Everything has gone according to plan. Things may even be better than they expected. And then, one twist is all it takes to send fear shivering down their spines. It's so powerful and unexpected. The audience probably went into this episode knowing that things were going to end badly for Howard. He is a control freak. He has absolutely none here. He tries to get a leg up on what Jimmy is doing to embarrass him. However, Jimmy and Kim have already thought about every single detail - including hiring the private investigator Howard thinks is working for him. They have accounted for every reaction Howard could possibly have. The disruptions they do face have absolutely nothing to do with Howard. It's all about the logistical details of pulling off this illusion. They need to con Howard. It's something they are doing for fun. It's no longer about the money they will collect from the Sandpiper case. Kim is exactly where she wants to be. Jimmy encourages her to go to her lunch meeting to make her dream job a reality. That's no longer what she wants. She needs to be in Albuquerque for D-Day. She needs to be a part of this plot to take down Howard. Jimmy and Kim knew what would happen to him. They always operated with that clarity. Him losing control was inevitable. He can't contain it in the aftermath either. His actions in the meeting with Rich Schweikart and the mediator dictate the terms of the settlement. Jimmy and Kim destroy this case for their own personal benefit. It's no longer about doing what's right for the clients they once brought together. Instead, it's simply embarrassing Howard. He can see the manipulation that allowed all of this to occur. Passing blame onto Jimmy doesn't solve what's needed to help the clients. Instead, they have to settle for a less than desirable offer because Howard couldn't keep it together. He is more than willing to let out his frustrations on Jimmy and Kim. In that moment, he realizes they are cut from the same cloth. He treated them with kindness once upon a time. They should respect him for that. And yet, he has always been demeaning to them and what they care about. They found their paths in life. They found a passion for the law. They have embraced those tactics to fight for the causes they believe in. They support each other no matter what. They are an effective team. Howard can see that. They belong together. They are perfect. Kim isn't in need of protection from Jimmy's worst impulses. She went into this marriage knowing exactly what she was doing.

And then, Lalo enters the apartment once more. The first confrontation was closely monitored by Mike with Kim being able to talk her way out of it without someone dying. The same luxury isn't afforded here. Howard just happens to be in the wrong place at the worst possible time. He doesn't know what's going on. Lalo pulling a gun out alerts him to the danger. Howard is the ultimate casualty. Jimmy and Kim didn't want him to die. They wanted his reputation ruined. Meanwhile, Howard was starting to realize that being seen as the best legal mind may not be as enviable a legacy as he once thought. The firm has lived on beyond those visionaries who founded it. Howard has power and authority. He can only control so much. And then, all of that can go flying out the window when someone emerges with no morality whatsoever. Jimmy and Kim are horrified by Howard's brain being splattered against their wall. Lalo only had this opening because Mike decided to rally all of the security to Gus' house. That's where they expect Lalo to strike. It's a reasonable assumption. Moreover, it's striking to see Lalo genuinely make a mistake. He calls Hector in the hopes of sharing what he has discovered. It's only after his voice is heard that he realizes the phone has been bugged. Gus' forces act quickly. All this time they've increased security simply because Gus believed Lalo was still alive. They had no confirmation of it. Now, they do. That provides Mike with more options for how to respond. In fact, the threat is much closer than anyone realizes. Jimmy lived in the bliss of believing Lalo died. Kim didn't have that same luxury. She wanted to protect Jimmy. Now, Howard ends up as collateral damage because it was so unlikely Lalo would invade their lives once more. It was always a possibility. It never seemed like the priority. Jimmy and Kim could simply remain focused on their scheme. They didn't have to adjust their schedule. Lalo has different plans. People can't get into his head and know how he will react. Gus has a sneaking suspicion this will all end in a confrontation underneath the laundromat. He hasn't been able to complete that project because of what Lalo might discover. That's how Lalo hopes to strike against the chicken man. Everyone has been waiting for someone to slip. They all have those moments of weakness. No one is perfect all the time. They simply have to adjust accordingly when the worst happens. It's all about how people respond. Lalo sees an opportunity. He lays out the inevitable showdown with Gus. He moves with the confidence he can kill anyone in his way. Meanwhile, Jimmy and Kim are left horrified. They are at his complete mercy. They are now the ones without any control. They subverted that emotion within Howard. It was fun for them. They deal with consequences immediately. That will shape them no matter what happens next. That uncertainty is apparent too. It will bring out their worst impulses. It will force people to be far less connected with the morality of life and the individuals who make plans within it. The scheme was arousing for Jimmy and Kim. They can act on those impulses once it's completed. Yet the consequences are far more horrifying and personal than they ever attempted to realize until it was staring them right in the face once more. All of this is bad and only cements the darkness that inevitably dictates who they are.