Season 6, Episode 4 “Hit And Run”

Jonathan Banks in Better Call Saul

Jonathan Banks in Better Call Saul
Photo: Greg Lewis / AMC / Sony Pictures Television

If you’re going to start your directorial career with an episode of TV drama, you could certainly do worse than “Hit And Run.” Saul star Rhea Seehorn not only helmed a Kim Wexler-intensive story that necessitated her directing herself much of the time, but she also included a pair of memorable shots that forecast where several of the characters find themselves by episode’s end (even if one of them is clueless about the danger that surrounds them).

#OperationHumiliateHowardHamlin is proceeding along unabated, while Howard is spending time on his therapist’s couch. (Business is up at HHM, but all is not well between Howard and wife Cheryl.) As Howard begins telling his therapist about a dream he had, the camera goes to a blurry shot of the back of Howard’s head. But that’s not the beginning of a dream sequence, and that’s not actually Howard’s head. It’s Jimmy, in full HH cosplay (right down to the deep tan and Hamlindigo Blue knit tie), sneaking around outside the therapist’s office, where Howard’s NAMAST3-ed Jaguar is parked. Jimmy looks up and over his shoulder to see Howard through the window, confirming Fake Howard is free to put his plan in motion.

Meanwhile, we move to another shot, this one of the back of Kim’s head and her iconic ponytail. She’s at a café, moving her chair around and looking over her shoulder to set her place at the table just right. She hides her cellphone on a shelf underneath the table and begins a nervous toe tap, when Cliff Main arrives. As they’re catching up and beginning a discussion that Kim hopes will convince Cliff to partner with her on a project that will allow her to do more pro bono work, she surreptitiously texts a message to Jimmy. Soon, she and Cliff are startled by a car speeding by. The driver stops a short distance away; the passenger door opens, and a woman is pushed out, cursing about the driver owing her money. He speeds away, as a shocked Cliff asks Kim, “Isn’t that Howard?”

Why, no, Cliff, it is not. It’s Fake Howard, in the real NAMAST3-mobile, from which our future favorite Breaking Bad Crossroads Motel regular Wendy is shoved. That planting of cocaine (baby powder) in Howard’s golf club locker was the prequel to this ruse, designed to add more doubt in Cliff’s mind about the stability of his Sandpiper Crossing case partner.

The stunt is successful, but after Kim drops off Wendy back at the Crossroads, she picks up a tail. She and Jimmy are giddily recounting their multiple wins with the ploy—in addition to the Howard element, Cliff seemed ready to go full speed ahead with the pro-bono project Kim pitched to him. She asks Jimmy if he ever feels like he’s being followed, because she does. “The wicked flee when no man pursueth,” Jimmy tells her. Does that mean he thinks they’re wicked? No, it’s just a turn of phrase, he says (actually, it’s from the Bible, Proverbs 28: 1), and he tries to reassure her she’s only questioning her feelings about the scam and thinking she was followed because they got away with it.

Whether that’s true or not remains to be seen, but Kim’s gut instincts turn out to be more reliable than Jimmy’s Biblical knowledge. She confronts a pair of guys sitting in a car across from the El Camino diner, which has become her de facto office for pro bono clients. The car dudes neither confirm nor deny their purpose there, but when she returns to the El Camino, a guest awaits her at the counter: Mike! It’s their first official meeting, and all those cars that have been following her (all the way back to the one that tailed her and Jimmy from their last meeting with the Kettlemans) are courtesy of him. He drops another bombshell: Lalo is not dead, despite what she heard. He may be planning to approach her and Jimmy, Mike says, so these cars will continue to be a presence. She wants to know why Mike tells her this and not Jimmy. “Because I think you’re made of sterner stuff,” he tells her.

A shaken Kim later meets Jimmy at a strip mall where he is excited to show her the office space he wants to rent since Mrs. Nguyen kicked him out of the salon, and he has a pocket full of retainer money from the flood of clients that want “Salamanca’s guy” to represent them. She’s hesitant, confirming he got all these new clients because of the cartel connection. Plus the place is dirty, smelly, and there’s a toilet sitting right in the middle of the office. But Kim, who does not share Mike’s chat with Jimmy, quickly stops being buzzkill. She points out the office is near the bail bond offices, the jail, the courthouse, and Taco Cabeza, so Jimmy should go for it. All that’s left is to secure the giant inflatable Statue of Liberty, and he’s set.

Kim, meanwhile, is looking over her shoulder as she and Jimmy head off to Taco Cabeza. And she’s not the only one who’s got Lalo on the brain.

Rhea Seehorn and Ed Begley Jr.  in Better Call Saul

Rhea Seehorn and Ed Begley Jr. in Better Call Saul
Photo: Greg Lewis / AMC / Sony Pictures Television

This beautifully shot episode opens with a pastel-clad couple riding their bikes through their neighborhood. After a break to drag a nearby home whose owners have painted it “tomato red,” the couple arrives home—a darkened home that harshly contrasts with the sunny day they were just enjoying—where a living room full of computer monitors show cameras trained on the house across the street: Gus’s house.

When Gus arrives at his residence later that day, the sun illuminates his entrance a sliver, and then it fades to darkness once he’s inside. We get our first real glimpse at his full residence—his lair—and his routine, as the camera follows him. The tour reveals his bulletproof vest and gun strapped to his leg. Also, his home is multileveled, with moving bookcases and secret hidden doors, a downstairs passageway, and people milling around, not greeting or acknowledging Gus in any way, even as he passes right by them. After making his way through the labyrinth and up a flight of stairs, Gus arrivesinside the living room where the bike riders with the pastel sweatsuits entered earlier. Mike’s there, and they study that same set of monitors. Mike has men on the job all over town, 18 hours a day, he tells Gus, despite not even a “sprinkle” of Lalo’s presence in town. “Lalo Salamanca is alive,” Gus insists.

Gus, like Lalo, has a compound. His consists not of a ranch in Mexico, but of two suburban houses connected by an underground passageway. Gus, like Kim, is terrified by the prospect of a visit from Lalo Salamanca. While Jimmy, for the moment, remains blissfully ignorant of the menace that may be heading his way, Gus and Kim know. And they’re looking over the shoulders for the monster behind them.

Stray observations

  • Mr. and Mrs. Ryman, the bike-riding couple from the opening, are played by real-life married couple Kirk and Joni Bovill.
  • The criminals love him, but Jimmy is the scourge of the courthouse now that Bill, Hannah, the Beanie Baby-loving contract counsel administrator, and the security guard all know he’s Salamanca’s guy. Deputy DA Bill is not content to just snub his one-time frienemy, either. He makes sure Jimmy knows he knows Jimmy scammed the court and put the “murder cartel psychopath back out on the street.”
  • On the other hand, while everyone else may be dealing with his consequences right now, it was a lot of fun seeing the playful side if Jimmy front and center. His pitch to the courthouse administrator (the always fantastic Nadine Marissa) with the graduation cap-wearing owl Beanie Baby was a bust, but this line and Bob Odenkirk’s delivery of it (“I can not use a pen, I have no opposable thumbs”) is going to make me giggle for a long time.
  • Special shoutout to one of the clients loving that Saul is promising “speedy justice for you”: Spooge (David Ury), the memorable meth addict who robs Skinny Pete (and whose head meets the business end of an ATM machine) in the Breaking Bad episode “Peekaboo” (season 2, episode 6). And remember, it’s just Spooge, not “Mr. Spooge ”; you can dispense with the formalities as far as Spooge is concerned.
  • Now that Kim seems likely to get Cliff’s support for her pro-bono efforts, does she still need to get Jimmy’s Sandpiper settlement so desperately? If not, does that mean she will be forced to admit to herself that she’s really trying to ruin Howard’s reputation just because she does not like him? Will she be able to continue breaking bad, or be able to live with herself, if the consequences of that plot go further than she expects? Like maybe Chuck-level consequences? With Howard’s marital woes on top of what Kim and Jimmy have planned for him, his life could spiral downward very quickly.
  • I do not think Jimmy bought Wendy that case of root beer he promised her.

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