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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Louis Chilton

Better Call Saul, season six episode eight review: A fitting showcase for one of TV’s greatest-ever villains


That was a long seven weeks, wasn’t it? It’s been a little under two months since Better Call Saul embarked on its mid-season break – leaving fans on one hell of a cliffhanger. While the show’s creators may insist that the break hadn’t been factored into the final season’s pacing, there could hardly have been a more compelling time to hit pause: the last time we saw Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) and Kim (Rhea Seehorn), they were staring down the leonine eyes of Lalo Salamanca (Tony Dalton), moments after he had strolled through their door and shot Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) through the head.

The entirety of this episode (entitled “Point and Shoot”) takes place in the immediate claustrophobic aftermath of this moment. It quickly transpires that Lalo is there to coerce his onetime attorney into carrying out a surprise hit: he is instructed to walk up to the door of Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito), wait until it opens, and then keep shooting. (The proposed assassination has more than a few echoes of the Jesse-Gale killing at the end of Breaking Bad’s third season). Naturally – as any Breaking Bad viewer knows, of course – things don’t end with Gus’s brains splattered across his foyer. But we’ve seen enough of Lalo to know that there’s always another angle at play.

As a piece of tightly-wound genre television, “Point and Shoot” is nothing short of exemplary. Even when the stakes are life and death, and the soundtrack has crescendoed into a sustained, high-octane throb, there’s still a one-of-a-kind patience to Better Call Saul’s pacing, from the methodical way shots are stitched together to the confident, dialogue-free stretches of heightened tension.

Also crucial to pulling off an episode as outlandish and consequential as this one: it never loses sight of its characters. Seehorn, ever excellent, shows yet another new side to Kim’s character here, with the character in full-bore panic mode from the off. Esposito, too, gets the chance to shine. (Better Call Saul’s repositioning-by-stealth of Gus Fring, from main villain in Breaking Bad to something more akin to an antihero here, has been one of the show’s defter sleights of hand.) Above all, however, this episode is a showcase for Lalo, and for the quicksilver charm of Dalton.

At what point do we all collectively agree to admit Lalo Salamanca into the pantheon of greatest TV villains? Breaking Bad had its share of humdingers – the twins, creepy Todd, Gus of course – but since his energising arrival in Better Call Saul season four, Lalo has distinguished himself as the series’ most riotously entertaining presence. He’s a villain for the ages, and “Point and Shoot” offers him yet another glorious showcase.

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