This week’s Better Call Saul episode, “Plan and Execution,” was the mid-season finale, and it packed several punches. We saw the return of Lalo to Albuquerque, as well as the culmination of Jimmy and Kim’s long-form scheme. But their plan wasn’t the only thing that was executed in this episode.
Jimmy and Kim’s Plan
There’s a man at the local supermarket, collecting the carts from the cart returns in the parking lot. He’s talking to himself, seemingly trying to remember a dialogue. “Listen to me. I’m a philosopher,” he repeats several dozen times, trying to nail the inflection. Suddenly, Jimmy pulls up to a screeching halt in his car and tells the man that his services are needed again. (The man is the actor Jimmy hired to play the part of Sandpiper mediator Casimiro. It was hard to recognize him without his fake moustache.) Lenny gets in Jimmy’s car, and they rush off.
At a local college, one of Jimmy’s film crew students is teaching a class. Jimmy throws open the door and pulls him out of it, running with him to a park to reshoot the photos with the fake Casimiro, this time with an arm cast. They are on a very tight deadline, and no one is moving quickly enough for Jimmy. As they’re setting up, Kim arrives to the location. Jimmy tells her that if they hurry, she can still make her luncheon to pitch her pro bono practice idea. But she tells him, “This is where I need to be.” The photoshoot finally takes place.
Later, the photos are developed in the red room, and Jimmy and Kim pick out the best ones. But before putting them in an envelope to deliver them to the private investigator that Howard hired (who, of course, has been working for Jimmy all along and is in on this whole thing), Kim gets the small bottle they got from Dr. Caldera and drops several drops of the caffeine-like substance on the photos. This is how Howard will get the substance into his system.
Jimmy and Kim’s Execution
At HHM, Howard is in the main conference room, getting everything ready for the Sandpiper mediation. While he’s straightening the glasses and vases of flowers on the conference table, his secretary informs him that Genidowski (the private investigator) has arrived, and he needs to see him urgently. In Howard’s office, Howard is looking at photos of Jimmy handing off a large envelope — what Howard surmises to be holding the cash he withdrew earlier — to some man in a handlebar moustache and an arm cast. Howard has no idea who the recipient of Jimmy’s envelope. He realizes the photos are damp but thinks nothing of it. His mind is on the mediation.
Downstairs, Howard welcomes the class-action lawsuit representative, Ms. Landry, who is sitting with Cliff Main. He explains to her what the meeting with the Schweikart law firm will be like, and then they all go to the conference room to start the mediation. After everyone is seated (and after Jimmy and Kim have called in to the meeting to hear everything go down), Judge Rand Casimiro (the real one) enters, handlebar moustache and arm cast in tow. Howard looks shocked, having just seen this man in those photos with Jimmy. And the drug that laced the photos is now in full effect: Howard’s pupils are the size of saucers, and sweat is covering his forehead.
After Casimiro introduces himself to the room, Howard immediately confronts him, telling everyone that he has been compromised by Jimmy McGill. He explains to everyone that Jimmy has paid Casimiro $20,000 that was handed off to him at a park earlier in the morning. Casimiro is understandably confused, and Cliff Main is understandably worried about his colleague. Howard orders his secretary to get the envelope of photos from his desk that will prove his claims. But when the photos are given to Howard, they’ve been switched out with innocent photos of Jimmy handing off a frisbee to some guy who looks nothing like Casimiro.
Cliff takes Howard out of the room to ask him what the hell is going on, and Howard sounds even more ridiculous, with claims of “Jimmy did this! He somehow did all of this!” Howard then runs off to figure out how to prove that “Jimmy did all of this,” and Rick Schweikart informs Cliff that his firm will be going back to their previous offer and will subtract a million dollars from the offer for every day Cliff and his colleagues do not accept the terms.
Cliff informs Howard about this reduced offer and strongly suggests that they accept immediately. Howard still claims that Jimmy caused everything that is happening, and Cliff says that even if that were true, they need to remember their clients and take the offer, because it will be the best one they ever get, after what happened in the conference room. A few minutes later, Cliff can be heard on Jimmy’s cellphone speaker informing the clients that an offer has been accepted. Jimmy and Kim are making out like teenagers on the couch, celebrating the end to their successful scheme.
Lalo Salamanca’s Plan
The cold open focused this week on Lalo Salamanca, who has made it back to beautiful New Mexico from Germany. We see him crawling out of a manhole in the middle of an empty street in the dark of night. He drives to a gas station and pays to use the shower. Lalo then drives back to where the manhole is located, takes a brief nap in his car, and then climbs back down underground, replacing the manhole cover perfectly.
He walks through a long tunnel for several minutes and finally arrives at a place where he’s stored some water and a chair to sit in. We soon learn that he is across (and under) the street where Gus’ laundromat is located. He pulls out his binoculars and watches and waits. Later, he records a video for Don Eladio on his little pocket recorder, telling him of his plan and what he’s learned. He says that Gus is currently building the “mother of all meth labs” underneath the laundromat, and he is staked out across the street to learn about the manpower and firepower that is located there. He wants to take out the guards and get into the lab.
He then calls his uncle, Hector, at his nursing home to give him an update. But as he’s waiting to be connected, he hears a repetitive clicking on the phone, which tells him that the phones at the nursing home have been tapped. Lalo hangs up and calls back immediately with a plan, knowing what he says will be recorded and heard by Gus. He tells his uncle that he has no proof about Gus’s dealings and he wants to “go back to Plan A” and attack Gus.
Lalo’s plan works: Mike hears this phone call and plays it for Gus. He tells Gus that the best thing for him to do is to act like he is unaware that Lalo is back, go home, and act like everything is normal. Mike and his men will be following him closely, and he will pull men off the lower risk targets to focus on Gus and his whereabouts.
Lalo Salamanca’s Execution
Jimmy and Kim are at home watching a movie and drinking wine. There’s a knock at the door, and Jimmy answers it. Howard is there to confront them both. He congratulates them on their plan to burn him to the ground. They both act like they have no idea what he’s talking about, but Howard doesn’t relent. He wants to know why they did what they did. Why did they plan so meticulously and for who knows how long, just to watch Howard fail? He eventually realizes that they did it for fun, because they get a kick out of hurting people. “You two are soulless,” Howard asserts.
While Howard is ranting, Lalo silently enters the room. Jimmy and Kim see him over Howard’s shoulder. Jimmy is shocked, because he thought Lalo was dead (and Kim never told him otherwise, remember). Kim immediately yells at Howard to turn and leave. Howard asks Lalo what’s going on, and Lalo tells him that he’s just there to talk to his lawyers. Howard tells him that he should find better lawyers. Kim begs him again to just leave, and Howard scoffs. But when Lalo pulls out his gun and installs the silencer, Howard knows he is in a very bad place. Howard turns to leave, but Lalo immediately shoots him in the head. Howard Hamlin dies on the floor of Jimmy and Kim’s apartment.
“Okay. Let’s talk,” Lalo says.
Tonight’s episode will be the last one for a while. Better Call Saul‘s eighth episode will kick off the second half of this final season on Monday, July 11 at 9 p.m. EST on AMC. While we wait, check out our recaps of this season’s aired episodes here.