Verwoester waarskuwing: this recap is for people watching Better Call Saul season six, which airs on Netflix in the UK. Do not read on unless you have watched episodes one to five.
So, Lalo has turned up! The waiting was becoming too much. In each of the opening scenes, the audience and the characters expected him to appear from around a corner at any minute. Kim unable to sleep at night and propping chairs behind the door; Gus having panic attacks (or premonitions?) while serving signature spice curls.
But Lalo is not in New Mexico. He is in Germany, looking a little tousled and with murder not even uppermost on his mind. He wants evidence of what Werner Ziegler and “his boys” were up to underneath the Lavandería Brillante. The best way to do that, he has decided, is through Werner’s widow.
Lalo as a winsome shoulder to cry on is a new one, and it doesn’t require a Fring mindset to imagine the possibility that, at any minute, he might suddenly stop the urbane conversation and kill the poor woman. But he doesn’t, walking the widow home and bidding her adieu, having made a mental note to come back the next day and rob her house while she is at work.
Natuurlik, he very nearly does kill Margarethe during his burglary, being forced to screw on his silencer when she forgets her phone. But as she begins to suspect something and starts creeping towards an inevitable fate, Lalo finds a way out of his predicament, seizing a preserved ruler and getting away through a narrow window.
So our big bad guy is back and as determined as ever, but some delaying of gratification is still part of the Lalo storyline. It’s a great endorsement of the man, and the dedication he has to revenge on Gus, that he is willing to put off extracting his satisfaction in order to build a watertight case. I’m imagining he has never travelled to Germany before, so the change of scenery must have been nice.
In another scene that I expected to include Lalo attacking with a submachine gun, Saul Goodman makes a late-night in-person consultation visit to a client that “sounds like money”. But instead of the cartel, it is Jimmy’s rival and recent fall guy who awaits him. Howard had sussed out the scheme to defame him, and in quite short order too, booking a boxing gym to get his revenge – a thoroughly consensual bout of pugilism with headguards and a referee.
After jiggling his leg up and down during a Sandpiper presentation (one he ends up saving with some Wolf of Wall Street wizardry), Howard is confronted by Clifford Main, who has not one, not two, but three clues that suggest the HHM man is off the rails. Howard denies all charges strongly, and points out how conspicuously timed all these information dumps have been. He asks who Clifford had been meeting during the Jaguar scene, and when the answer comes – “Kim Wexler” – he has Jimmy’s name in his mouth immediately.
And so, to a fight, which Jimmy unexpectedly agrees to take part in. They have both fought before it turns out; they know their way around the ring and each land some meaty body shots. Jimmy quickly tires however and soon enough Howard has him knocked him to the floor with an uppercut. “I’d like to think that this ends it,” says Howard, “Probably not.” And to prove a point he leaves the gym and sics a detective on Jimmy’s tail.
Why did Lalo take the ruler? After another head-scratcher of a start, the object we see being made in the opening scene turns out to be a thank-you gift to Werner from his crewmates. I don’t remember seeing the ruler before, but it definitely looks like something Werner might have had on him, and kept from the beginning of his career. I’m also not quite sure what Lalo is going to do with it next.
My guess is that the label on the bottom of the preserved ruler shows the lab that manufactured it and Lalo will go there to find the addresses of the people who asked for it to be made. Van daar af, he’ll find Kai or Casper and extract a confession.
Lalo has been on the scent of the superlab ever since he started tracking Gus and has found out enough titbits about it to likely convince him it’s real. Evidence of a rival lab would prove the rumours of someone undercutting the cartel to be true and would guarantee Gus’s death. It’s perhaps the power of that fact as much as anything that has the Chicken Man so worried, and is the reason he stashes his ankle gun in the wheel of a JCB at the bottom of the superlab dig. Gus knows Lalo is alive and he knows he knows about the lab, ook. He’s had another premonition and made a bet that the denouement of their rivalry will happen in the place that was made possible by Werner’s passion for measurement.