Monday, July 11, 2022

REVIEW: 'Better Call Saul' - Lalo Uses Jimmy and Kim to Make His Move Exposing Gus' Betrayal in 'Point and Shoot'

AMC's Better Call Saul - Episode 6.08 "Point and Shoot"

An unexpected visitor forces Jimmy and Kim to face the consequences of their actions.

"Point and Shoot" was written by Gordon Smith and directed by Vince Gilligan

Jimmy and Kim were told Lalo was dead. Later on, Kim was informed Mike's men were watching over the lawyers on the off chance the cartel leader would reach out to them. And then, Lalo is standing in their apartment in all his terrorizing yet charismatic glory. Jimmy and Kim react according. They know exactly what he is capable of doing. They fear they can't emerge safely from this interaction like they did the previous time. Howard didn't understand the gravity of the moment. Lalo killed him mostly because he's focused on his own mission. He can't let anything distract him from what needs to be done. He no longer cares about Jimmy and Kim's deceit. That's in the past. Sure, he would like answers eventually. Those aren't his priority. He doesn't need to know if Jimmy was part of Nacho's complicity in order to use the lawyer to achieve his goal against Gus. Lalo doesn't even need Jimmy to serve as that distraction. He simply needs one to go and one to stay. Jimmy pleads for Kim to be sent to complete the task. It's not because she would inherently be better at killing an unsuspecting target. It's because he needs to keep her safe. He sees that fate as certain the moment she walks out the door. That's how this situation ends. One of them dies in the apartment. The other has the potential to escape. Of course, that's not the full extent of the game Lalo is playing. He leaves shortly after Kim does. He has to be in position to discover what Gus is hiding beneath the laundromat. He needs his enemies to converge on a location believing that's where he is. He needs to create the vulnerabilities in the system in order to achieve his wildest ambitions. Things work better than he ever could have imagined. Gus comes to him. Lalo can record a devastating confession that reveals Gus' betrayal towards Don Eladio. It's all wrapped up so neatly. It equally serves as confirmation of his physical prowess and ability to read people. This world is full of strategic thinkers. They plan for every possible development. They are willing to be patient before enacting the trap. Lalo has to act urgently. He exposed his proximity. He must put a plan into motion. He only has an hour for all of this to occur. That's more than enough time. He has it all mapped out. He's careful that way. He exerts dominance over those who cross him. It's all incredibly deliberate and powerful. That's what makes it gutting when it ends in his death. That may have always been inevitable given Gus' stature on Breaking Bad. The unpredictable nature of this show's pacing leaves the audience unnerved and never quite knowing what to expect from moment to moment.

It's relatively easy to get caught up in the moment when Lalo is explaining to Jimmy exactly what he wants to do. It may be an incredibly inefficient way to kill Gus without having proof of his betrayal to the cartel. But it would be a convenient way to achieve the goal after coming up short for so long. With a clear head and sense of objectivity though, that possibility was never going to be accurate. Gus figures that out. Mike is tasked with protecting Gus no matter what. It's his responsibility to access the situation and react accordingly. The information he receives points to Lalo remaining in one location. Mike has to strike in order to end this conflict now. His men are already stretched thin. This is the chance to reset the status quo. He can fulfill his duty to Gus. Meanwhile, the boss is the one skeptical of Kim's story. He doesn't question the peril she is in or the fear for Jimmy's life. He doesn't particularly care about what happens to them. He's simply caught off guard by the notion anyone could have talked Lalo into doing something differently. Lalo only acts when he believes he knows exactly what will happen. Jimmy and Kim have successfully talked Lalo into changing his mind before. They could present a rational argument that alters his fears. They were pleading for their lives. They are very smart and articulate. Lalo couldn't tolerate being manipulated again. Jimmy still gets to have that moment of doing what he does best. It has the perception of influencing Lalo. In reality, it has no meaning whatsoever. Gus picks up on that because he too has had his fair share of interactions with Lalo. He knows exactly how determined this man is. He went all around the world to learn exactly what Gus was building. By the time Gus realizes the danger he's in, it's too late for any of his men to do anything to stop it. All that matters is the carefully placed weapon he has below. That's the only chance at emerging from this conflict alive. Of course, Lalo still feels victorious. He documents everything Gus has long kept hidden. He will push his enemy to the brink of life as well. A bulletproof vest can't protect against everything inflicted by a gunshot wound. That pain is still incredibly convincing to do what's ordered. It's Gus fulfilling a narrative Lalo must enjoy. It's the way in which he seeks validation. He can return with praise to his uncle. He defeated the chicken man. He bested him when he thought he was the most clever person in the world. In the end, that assumption is confirmed correct - at least for a few more years before Gus' luck finally runs out and with a Salamanca behind it all.

This ordeal is fulfilling for Gus too. He gets to eliminate the threat that has terrorized his life for awhile. His operation can return to normal. He also gets to express exactly what he thinks of Don Eladio. He receives that courtesy. It's a blessing really. He gets to lambast the head of the cartel for his lack of imagination. It's all just a clever distraction to get Gus in position to use his weapon. He knows this space better than anyone else. And yet, so many horrors can still be found here. So much has happened in this environment already. That comes from the history of both this show and Breaking Bad. The construction is at a transition point. One where all work had to stop because of Lalo's quest. That work can start up again. Gus can achieve his grand goals for taking over drug distribution across the entire continent. Don Eladio is the obstacle who stands in his way. He has reserved himself to be patient. He has to be smart in how he handles this betrayal. He has to spend years planning for all of it to pay off. Lalo serves as a key disruption. He's a person who doesn't want Gus to achieve these dreams. They come at the expense of the livelihood for the entire Salamanca family. Gus must be punished for that. He needs that to be felt. It needs to be absolutely visceral. Lalo still loses. Gus gets that superiority over his enemy. He won and Lalo lost. As such, Gus gets to set the entire narrative. He can continue building. Meanwhile, Mike delivers Kim home to Jimmy. He tells them exactly what they are going to do to cover up what happened. That includes a convenient story for Howard's death. They have to act like everything is normal. That will be incredibly difficult. Jimmy has proven himself capable of that compartmentalization. Kim can possibly achieve that as well. And yet, their lives are shattered. They can make their home livable once more. They also have to accept a world of danger they never would have tolerated just a few years ago. The way all of this started is so different from what they now have to accept. That's to be expected given this is the path to Breaking Bad. That reality is full of darkness and brutality. Jimmy and Kim can't talk their way out of every problem. They have to embrace a new mentality in order to survive. That doesn't promise to keep them together. They are bonded because they've survived so much. The immediate threat is gone. What lingers is the uncertainty of their own minds and how they can cope with what they've done. They messed with Howard. And now, he's dead and buried under a secret lab. Mike can use the story they were using to scam him. That's the next logical step of the forces they were playing with. That can't be denied. Once they opened up that potential, this is the path laid out for them whether they like it or not.