Tuesday, July 5, 2022

‘Better Call Saul’ Recap: Season 6, Episode 6 “Axe and Grind”

This week’s Better Call Saul episode gives us a glimpse into the Hamlin household, a little black book, and the next chapter in Jimmy and Kim’s scheme. Also, Kim makes a decision that might be what seals her fate for good.

Howard’s Handling It

Sandrine Holt as Cheryl Hamlin, Patrick Fabian as Howard Hamlin – Better Call Saul _ Season 6, Episode 6 – Photo Credit: Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

A few weeks ago, we were given a little information from Howard during his therapy session that his marriage to his wife Cheryl was experiencing some trouble. And in this week’s episode, we got to see the depth of the frigidity between them. Howard gets dressed and ready for work (from the guest house of his property) and walks over to the main house. He spends a significant amount of time preparing an elaborate latte for Cheryl, complete with foam art. But when he offers it to her, she seems disinterested in the effort he put into making it. She pours it into a travel mug and spills some of it on the counter and doesn’t even bother to clean it up.

While Cheryl is destroying Howard’s peace sign foam art, Howard is explaining to her that he is still dealing with Jimmy McGill. Cheryl remembers the havoc he caused in the past when he introduced several bowling balls to Howard’s car, and Howard warns her that she might hear or see… something as a result of Jimmy’s current shenanigans. And he assures her that he has everything under control. “I’m handling it,” he tells her matter-of-factly. Cheryl looks completely bored by this information, and as she’s leaving for work, she tells Howard not to wait up because she is having dinner with friends.

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Later that day, Howard meets up with his private investigator who has been tailing Jimmy. The P.I. gives Howard several dozen photos he’s taken of Jimmy throughout the week. He explains to Howard that there was nothing noteworthy that happened during the week, except for one thing: Jimmy withdrew a large amount of cash from a bank for unknown reasons. He admitted that he doesn’t know for sure, but the P.I. estimated the amount to be around $20,000. Howard says there is no legitimate reason why Jimmy would need that much money in cash. Needless to say, he is very intrigued about the photo.

Sidebar in the Law Library

Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler, Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman, Joe DeRosa as Dr. Caldera – Better Call Saul _ Season 6, Episode 6 – Photo Credit: Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Jimmy and Kim are at Dr. Caldera’s office, the veterinarian who helps out folks needing not-so-legal medical (and other) assistance. Dr. Caldera gives them a small bottle of a drug that causes the user’s pupils to dilate significantly. The vet assures Kim and Jimmy that the drug cannot be detected on a blood screen, and the only “wild card” in this plan is the recipient’s tolerance to caffeine.

Dr. Caldera also mentions that he’s considering hanging up his practice of helping out the nefarious folk, because it causes too much stress in his life. He says he would need to offload his Little Black Book of contacts and clients. This immediately piques Jimmy’s interest, and he asks to see it. Eagle-eyed viewers will recognize the encoded book from this season’s first cold open, where federal authorities were cleaning out Saul Goodman’s lavish mansion, and that book made a brief appearance before it was thrown in a box. So even though Jimmy doesn’t leave Dr. Caldera’s office with the book in this episode, it will end up in his hands at some point in the future.

– Better Call Saul _ Season 6, Episode 6 – Photo Credit: Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Later, Jimmy is at his office with the film crew students he used in past seasons to help with his advertising efforts. It becomes clear very quickly that they are wanting to create still shots of Jimmy with a Judge Casimiro lookalike. (Casimiro is the judge mediating the Sandpiper case, which we learned last week.) While Jimmy stresses out over picking the perfect fake moustache for his hired actor, Kim arrives and tells him that she met with Cliff Main earlier at the courthouse. Cliff has invited her to pitch her pro bono practice idea to the Jackson Mercer Foundation, an organization that funds justice reform programs on the east coast. This is a massive opportunity for Kim, and Jimmy is beyond thrilled. But then Kim tells him that the lunch where she will pitch her idea occurs on “D-Day,” the day their long-form scheme is supposed to come to a head. Jimmy tells her not to worry about it and that she doesn’t even need to be around when their plan goes down.

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When Kim leaves for the lunch, Jimmy goes back to his office where his waiting clients are ruining the brand new furniture that Francesca purchased. She is more than dismayed at what’s become of her personally-designed waiting room. When she walks back to Jimmy’s office behind closed doors, he asks her if she made the call he asked her to make. She hesitates and says that she hasn’t, because she isn’t sure if it’s a proper thing to do. Jimmy requests a “sidebar in the law library,” which is just Jimmy-speak for “Meet me outside next to the trash dumpster.”

He convinces — rather, bullies — Francesca into making the call to HHM. She pretends that she is calling on behalf of her aunt who is meant to call in to the Sandpiper case meeting, and she needs the call-in instructions because her aunt lost them. The HHM representative gives her the instructions and PIN for the call without hesitation, and Francesca hangs up the phone. “You’re not going to make a habit of this, are you?” Francesca asks Jimmy. Anyone who has watched Breaking Bad already knows the answer to that question.

It Happens Today

Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

This week’s cold open was a flashback, to a teenage Kim Wexler in the manager’s office of a Nebraska department store. She has been caught shoplifting earrings and a necklace, and her mother arrives to take her home. We last saw Kim’s mom in an earlier season, when she was late to pick up Kim from school because she had been drinking. Kim refused to get in the car with her and walked home instead. Now, her mother is telling the store manager that she would prefer Kim get arrested for her actions, to really teach her a lesson. The manager says that isn’t necessary and that he has discretion in this case. He asks Kim to promise never to enter his store again and says that’s good enough for him.

When Kim and her mother leave the store, we see that the mother swiped the earrings and then praises Kim for what she did. “I didn’t think you had it in you!” Kim is bothered by this. Clearly, she appreciated the hard boundaries her mother was setting in the manager’s office, even if they were scary to consider. But now, she is disappointed that her mother just used this opportunity and Kim’s predicament to get something for free.

In present-day Albuquerque, Kim is at home with Jimmy, and the storyboard of actions in the great scheme is on display again. Kim removes a sticky note from the board, and the next one in line has “D-Day” written on it. So they have arrived at the end of their plan, and they make a picnic outside of the HHM offices and drink wine to celebrate.

The next morning, Kim leaves for her lunch with the Jackson Mercer Foundation. But while she’s driving, she gets a frantic phone call from Jimmy. He tells her that he ran into the actual Judge Casimiro in a liquor store, and his left arm is broken and in a sling. This means that all the still shots they created with their hired actor (which included shots of Jimmy handing the fake Casimiro a stack of cash) will no longer be convincing, because their Casimiro isn’t wearing an arm cast. Kim is worried about their plan failing, but Jimmy comes to his senses and tells Kim not to. They’ll live to fight another day, he says, and she needs to focus on her pitch instead. Kim disagrees. “It happens today,” she exclaims, and she makes a hard U-turn and heads back to see “D-Day” through.

Better Call Saul‘s seventh episode and mid-season finale, “Plan and Execution,” will air next Monday, May 23 at 9 p.m. EST on AMC. Catch our weekly recaps here.

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