Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Ending Of Better Call Saul Season 6 Midseason Finale Explained

"Better Call Saul" Season 6, Episode 7 ("Plan and Execution") brings the final season's first half to a truly shocking end as Lalo Salamanca (Tony Dalton) executes Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) for the simple crime of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. In this case, Hamlin is murdered in the apartment of Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) and Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn). 

After Kim and Jimmy succeed with their elaborate plan to discredit Howard and force a settlement in the Sandpiper case — meaning a multi-million dollar payout for Jimmy — an uncharacteristically disheveled Howard comes to confront them. "You two are soulless," he tells them. "I'm going to dedicate my life to making sure that everybody knows the truth ... you can't hide who you really are forever." 

As he is speaking those words, Jimmy and Kim notice a candle fluttering from the breeze as the door opens and Lalo enters. Howard ignores Kim and Jimmy's pleas to leave and insists on engaging Lalo in conversation. Barely a minute later, Lalo loses what little patience he had when he entered the room and shoots Howard in the temple, prompting screams from Jimmy and Kim. 

Later, a promo for the next episode teases a black and white shot of the apartment, now cleaned and scrubbed of Howard's blood and brain matter, with a voiceover of Jimmy saying "So, after all that, a happy ending." Before Season 6 premieres in July, viewers will have a little bit of a wait to find out exactly what that happy ending looks like, but, in the meantime, let's take a closer look at the conclusion of "Plan and Execution."

Jimmy and Kim's plot against Howard works to perfection

It takes extended planning, lots of paid help, and a last-minute scramble, but Jimmy and Kim's complex plan to force a settlement in the Sandpiper case works perfectly. They stage photos showing an actor made up to look like the mediating judge, Rand Casimiro (John Posey), accepting what appears to be an envelope full of cash from Jimmy. The scheming duo then coat the photos with a liquid that dilates Howard's pupils and makes him sweat voluminously. Of course, the secret to the couple's plan is the utilization of a phony private investigator to get the materials into Howard's hands. 

The day of the mediation hearing brings out the worst in Howard; he barks orders at his staff and persuades class representative Irene Landry (Jean Effron) to use a wheelchair to gain unwarranted and unneeded sympathy from the mediator. However, even these moments are small potatoes compared to what comes next. When Cliff Main (Ed Begley, Jr.) and Rich Schweikart (Dennis Boutsikaris) hear what they observe to be a drug-addled colleague accusing the mediator of taking a bribe they quickly arrange a settlement in the Sandpiper case.

Howard's manic insistence that Casimiro is working with Jimmy leaves everyone in the building puzzled, quickly prompting the adults in the room to work out a hasty resolution to the case, much to Jimmy and Kim's delight. With his collar button open and tie pulled down — a truly rare sight — he heads to Kim and Jimmy's apartment, intent on making a point.

Righteousness and pride lead Howard to confront Jimmy and Kim

In his professional life, Howard is accustomed to being heard even in defeat; he feels entitled to deliver closing arguments to Jimmy and Kim even though he expects no justice to come from the proceedings. While it was Jimmy and Kim's plan that angered Howard enough to prompt the nighttime visit, he has numerous opportunities to walk away from the feud. Unfortunately, the same relentless persistence that made Howard a successful lawyer also leads him directly to his premature demise.

He interrupts the couple's viewing of the 1950 comedy "Born Yesterday" to ask them why they plotted against him. He then answers his own question, listing the reasons they have to wish him ill: his role in Jimmy's conflicts with his brother Chuck (Michael McKean), his prior banishment of Kim to doc review, and their jealousy of his privilege and wealth. To Howard, Jimmy and Kim's antipathy toward him is obvious and, on some level, even understandable, but it clearly gets under his skin.

He tells the couple, "You two are soulless. Jimmy, you ... were born that way. But [Kim], one of the smartest and most promising human beings I've ever known, and this is the life you choose ... you have a piece missing." In his bull-headed arrogance, Howard ignores four separate pleas from Kim to leave — including two before Lalo even arrives — and it's this stubborn need to be heard that costs him his life.

A cockroach gives Lalo a new plan

Howard makes a cascading series of bad decisions to put himself in Jimmy and Kim's apartment that night, but Lalo is only there because he fails to find convincing evidence that Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) was behind his assassination attempt. Lalo spends much of "Plan and Execution" in the sewer across from the laundry facility that houses the infamous meth superlab built by Fring.

Although Lalo envisions an assault on the building that seems more of a revenge-fueled suicide mission than it does a well-planned attack, he eventually develops another course of action. When he discovers that Gus has bugged the phone at the retirement home where his uncle Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis) lives, he stays one step ahead of Fring and security chief Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) by telling his uncle he is coming after Gus. 

In response, Mike pulls all non-essential security personnel from the field, relocating them to the laundromat and Fring's house. After observing this behavior and realizing that his decoy was effective, Lalo sees a sewer-dwelling cockroach scuttle off into the darkness and we see the light appear in his eyes as another path to the information he needs opens up before him. The next time we see Lalo he's walking into Jimmy and Kim's apartment, and a minute later, Howard is dead. 

Although some may have missed this small detail, the appearance of this insect is actually a clever reference to a line from Season 5, Episode 8 ("Bagman"). In this episode Lalo likens Jimmy to a cockroach, telling Kim, "Your man, he's like the cucaracha, you know? Born survivor." 

Chuck McGill was the unbreakable link between Jimmy and Howard

The legacy of Chuck McGill casts a long and dark shadow over much of this episode. Beyond Howard's obvious need for confrontation, his pretense for visiting Jimmy and Kim is to present the two with a bottle of Macallan, telling them that it was his and Chuck's tradition to open up a bottle of the Scotch in celebration after a big case win. Interestingly, Kim and Jimmy's flawlessly executed plan to discredit Howard in a legal proceeding using his own words and actions against him reflects a similar tactic deployed in the past against Chuck. 

In Season 3, Episode 5 ("Chicanery"), Chuck explodes in rage on the witness stand, confounding a panel of judges and leaving his already tarnished reputation in tatters. Of course, Chuck doesn't lose his cool for no reason whatsoever. In fact, Chuck's tantrum is triggered as a result of Jimmy's buddy, Huell Babineaux (Lavell Crawford), planting a cell phone battery in his pocket. When Chuck goes hours without noticing it, his defense attorney is quick to label his electromagnetic hypersensitivity a "mental illness," words that quickly lead to the outburst.

Although Howard's downfall seems to come at lightning speed in comparison to Chuck's, it also evolves from a similar inability to look beyond Jimmy's morally questionable ethics and tactics. While Chuck simply views Jimmy as unfit to practice law, Howard's beef is somehow even more personal. It's what leads Howard to hire a private investigator to follow Jimmy and lure him into a boxing match in Season 6, Episode 5 ("Black and Blue"), and, sadly, it's also part of what leads to Howard's demise. Both Howard and Chuck's deaths are similarly traumatic for Jimmy, and he can probably be expected to handle them both equally as clumsily.

Better Call Saul has just six more episodes to wrap up Jimmy and Kim's stories

In an interview released after the episode aired, Patrick Fabian acknowledged that viewers rooting for Jimmy may not be sorry to see his character killed off. He told Variety, "Some people have a lot of sympathy for Howard and then other people remind me quickly that he screwed Jimmy out of his money ... I think Howard's a good guy, and I think he's tried to do his best. But there's absolutely a case to be made that some of the things he did helped push Jimmy into his becoming Saul." 

Jimmy and Kim will no doubt be further hardened by witnessing Howard's shocking death, although Kim's ultimate fate is still yet to be discovered. It remains possible that she is killed the very same night as Howard. Unfortunately, viewers will have to wait nearly seven weeks to find out. In the meantime, we are left with the aftermath of Howard's hubris and arrogance: Kim and Jimmy clutching each other as they look in horror back and forth between Howard's lifeless body on the floor and the placid yet terrifying Lalo, who calmly repeats his desire to just sit and talk.

Episode 8 airs on July 11, and five more episodes will follow on a weekly basis until the series concludes on August 15. Needless to say, the stage is set for a truly wild finish as we learn what a happy ending can possibly look like after all this carnage.