REVIEW: Better Call Saul – “Point and Shoot”

The following is a recap and review of the eighth episode of the sixth and final season of Better Call Saul, available on AMC in the U. S. and on Netflix internationally. Expect story spoilers.

In the eighth episode of the sixth season of Better Call Saul — titled Point and Shoot — Lalo Salamanca (played by Tony Dalton) demands that Jimmy McGill (played by Bob Odenkirk) or Kim’s (played by Rhea Seehorn) must kill Gus Fring (played by Giancarlo Esposito). Point and Shoot was written by Gordon Smith and directed by series co-creator Vince Gilligan.

Much like in Rock and Hard Place, this episode’s cold open features a beautiful but hauntingly staged scene in which we see the symbol of a beloved character we’ve lost. This time it isn’t a blue flower in a desert wasteland. Instead, it is the shot of Howard’s car on a beach, with his possessions everywhere in sight (leaving a trail back to his car). Including in the water. This is what the authorities are going to find when they look for Howard. They are going to think he drowned. That he threw his life away. That he was an addict. That’s going to be the way people remember him and that is just heartbreaking.

“I know. I know. You’re a lawyer and not a killer. But, look, you can do this. Okay, this guy he’s a house cat. Black. Medium height. Short hair. Glasses. He kinda looks like a librarian. But don’t be fooled. Even a house cat can scratch.”

On the other side of the cold open, we are back in Jimmy and Kim’s apartment. We’re right back where we left off. Flickering candlelight, blood, and Howard on the floor. Jimmy and Kim are in shock (mostly Jimmy because he thought Lalo was dead). Lalo needs their help. He wants Jimmy to drive up to Gus Fring’s home, knock on the door, shoot, and take a picture of his dead body. He makes it sound simple, but we know it isn’t. Jimmy and Kim aren’t killers, and Gus Fring isn’t a house cat. Plus, he’s got the entire street on surveillance. Now, obviously, Lalo has figured this out. When you stop and think about the plan, it’s clear that he just needs a distraction so that he can get into the super-laboratory in the meantime (however, I’m sure he’d be happy if Jimmy or Kim actually did take Gus out). But Jimmy and Kim don’t know that.

Lalo wants Jimmy to go. And he claims that he’s going to stay with Kim while Jimmy goes to kill Gus. Jimmy is desperate — a stunning panicked performance from Bob Odenkirk — as he wants more than anything else for Kim to get out of there alive. He tries to convince Lalo to let Kim go and do the job, and he gets Lalo to agree to it. Jimmy doesn’t want Kim to kill anyone. He wants her to make an escape. Plus, Jimmy probably doesn’t think he can do it, so if Kim were to stay with Lalo, then Lalo would make Jimmy pay by killing Kim. That’s the way Jimmy thinks. Kim is equally terrified about Jimmy’s prospects alone with Lalo, and she’s probably blaming herself for not telling Jimmy that she knew Lalo was alive. They’re pleading for each other’s life, essentially.

“It wasn’t me. It was Ignacio!”

But Jimmy convinces Lalo. And Kim heads out the door. Held at gunpoint and tied up in his own apartment, Jimmy is questioned about the attack on Lalo’s home. And when pressed, Jimmy basically screams the very same thing that he screamed to Walter White and Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad. It wasn’t him. It was Ignacio. Lalo probably knows that, but he also knows that Jimmy was an associate of Nacho. So there are dots to connect. Lalo basically just needs to tie up and blindfold Jimmy, so he can’t contact anyone, and then Lalo is out the door. He needs to use the Kim distraction to get evidence.

Everything with Kim in this episode is simply outstanding. Outside of Lalo, Kim is the only remaining main character we never saw in Breaking Bad. For all we know, she could die in this episode. So when she is told that she has to go and try to kill Gus Fring, I’m sure all of us are screaming at our television that she should just get the hell out of Dodge. Just leave town. Never look back. If you try to kill Gus, then that could very well be the end of you. As she drove, every fiber of my being wanted her to just drive away. I’m sure Kim had similar feelings. It is conveyed that she considers telling the police at the stoplight, but she ultimately decides not to. She can’t do it. The half-open driver’s side window perfectly encapsulates her internal struggle.

She does ultimately go to Gus’s house in an attempt to do the job. Thankfully, however, she doesn’t meet her end in this episode (she is stopped before she can pull the trigger on anyone), but by even trying to do it, she has revealed herself to be broken. Would she have done it if she weren’t stopped? I really don’t know. I think it really scares her that she was seemingly ready to do that. She has lost herself completely now that she’s willing to walk up to a stranger’s house with a gun. I really worry about her state of mind going forward. Kim lives to see another day but at what cost? Surely this one won’t be easy to shake off. But, as a sequence, this is one of the tensest and most suspenseful sequences this show has ever done. The way the music swells. The panicked acting from Rhea Seehorn. Once again, masterful.

“You said you were watching us. Where were you, huh?!”

Kim tells Mike everything, and he rushes to their apartment with some of his men (where they find and untie Jimmy). Gus stays at the home with Kim and the rest of Mike’s men. Having planned for this to happen, Lalo uses the distraction to find a way inside the building that hides the super-lab. Not to be outdone, however, Gus figures everything out. Why would Lalo let Jimmy change his plan? Well, because having Jimmy kill Gus wasn’t the real plan. Gus and two bodyguards follow him back to the super-lab where we have one last face-off between Lalo and Gus.

Once there, Gus’s men are shot and killed by Lalo. Held at gunpoint, Gus is told to give Lalo a tour of the super-lab. During all of this Lalo is filming this as evidence for Don Eladio. He even fires a bullet at Gus, intentionally hitting his bulletproof vest. As we know from previous episodes, Gus planned for something like this. He noted where the power line was. He planted a gun. And he uses all of it to his advantage and kills Lalo Salamanca. It all happens so fast and is too dimly lit, which is a shame, but this is the end of the show’s greatest bad guy, who was played wonderfully by Tony Dalton. He makes every other Salamanca look inferior, which is saying a lot. As Lalo bleeds out, the smiling terror still smiles. Why? Is it because he finds it ironic that he meets his end after finding the lab? Or is it because he didn’t wear a bulletproof vest (Lalo had joked about Gus’s vest)? Does he mistakenly think that he too dealt a killing blow? I don’t know, but that bloody grin is a magnificent way to go out. Very Joker-esque.

“So you two are gonna go about your day. Normal. Same as ever. Today, you’re Meryl Streep and Laurence Olivier. No staring into space. Nothing out of the ordinary. You cover. If anybody talks to you, it’s just another day that ends in Y, that’s all. When you get home, we’ll be gone, and everything will be back the way it was. Now. I need to impress upon you: none of this ever happened. None of it. Do you understand? Say it out loud. I need to hear it.”

Back at Jimmy and Kim’s apartment, our married main characters are reunited. Meanwhile, one of Mike’s men starts to empty their fridge. That is how they plan to smuggle out Howard’s dead body before it is buried alongside Lalo’s body underneath the super-lab (no one will ever find it now, but we’ll always know they’re there when we rewatch Breaking Bad now). Without saying Lalo is dead, Mike assures them that Lalo isn’t coming back (if Jimmy knew for certain that Lalo was dead, then he wouldn’t have asked Walter and Jesse if Lalo sent them in Breaking Bad), he gives them a pep talk, tells them what to say about Howard going forward, and he asks them to move on like nothing ever happened. Act your hearts out. Pretend. Life has to go on as normal. But… Will it?

How do you follow a masterpiece episode? Well, Better Call Saul did so by producing yet another true masterpiece. I noted that the previous episode was a masterclass in converging storylines, and this episode shows just how smart this show is. In the first half of the season, the carefully constructed set-up kept us at an arm’s length but not entirely out of the loop. We knew about the planting of the gun. We knew Lalo was coming back into Jimmy’s life before they said anything. Great visual storytelling. No show, frankly, does this as good and intelligently as Better Call Saul does. This is another heartbreaker of an episode and it is stellar. I only have a single minor gripe which is the lighting in Lalo’s final scene. In spite of that, Point and Shoot is right up there with the best episodes in the series, in large part because they manage to get so much suspense out of a show in which, at the beginning of the episode, only two characters weren’t in Breaking Bad. Everything with Kim, especially, is edge-of-your-seat stuff. It is brilliant.

A+

– Review Written by Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.