Spoilers below for those who haven't yet watched Episode 9 of Better Call Saul.
Better Call Saul has perfected the art of intra-personal drama, and just about every character is painted in both light and dark tones, with very few of them leaning in wholly virtuous or evil directions. Howard Hamlin gets an honorable mention here, because even though he's the most reasonable and pragmatic character around, audiences are still geared to view him as Jimmy's enemy. Actor Patrick Fabian spoke with CinemaBlend about all things Howard, and he gave me a convincing defense for why his legal beagle is not the douche that people think he is.
Perhaps not coincidentally, that point of view there speaks to what co-creator Peter Gould recently said about the lessons that he and Vince Gilligan took from Breaking Bad to Better Call Saul. Namely, that whoever the lead character is going against is also the person that the audience will go against. And with his perfectly coifed hair and inability to look ruffled, Howard Hamlin couldn't have been more diametrically opposed to Jimmy when introduced, and that first impression (along with that first insult) is obviously what stuck with people. Even though we've seen all kinds of things that should make morally grounded people like Howard more than Jimmy.
Yet, of all the acts that characters have performed on Better Call Saul, almost nothing that Howard has done was driven by malice or blind ill will. For all intents and purposes, he was and is still a man doing his job while trying to not let a criminal dupe and devour his longtime partner. But despite Howard's best efforts, chaos reigns, and as viewers can tell, it's all finally starting to take a toll on him. Here's what Patrick Fabian says are the issues causing Howard's surprising outbursts.
Think about it. What if this show was called Howard's Law or some shit? If that were the case, then Patrick Fabian would be playing our debonaire and smooth-talking hero, making the felony-free Jimmy, the electricity-sensitive Chuck and the back-stabbing Kim the "true" villains. For what it's worth, though, a buttoned-up character like Howard is exactly the kind that's most fun to watch when the unraveling gets underway.
Patrick Fabian definitely doesn't take the role for granted, and he adores what the all the writers do with Howard. (And for what it's worth, he's pitching that the story should introduce Howard's family, with Sean Connery playing his dad, and Jennifer Lawrence as his wife, because why not?) As you might imagine, these most recent episodes have been particularly fun and interesting for the veteran actor as his emotional barriers start to chip away. In Fabian's words:
I seriously could have just sat there all day listening to Patrick Fabian amusingly go on about "how gauche" Howard was (and knew he was being) when he dug in his pockets to sarcastically offer Jimmy a cash handout. And while he may have looked like a douche there, let's not forget that in the same episode, Jimmy put a whole bunch of time and effort into fixing a Bingo game and making an elderly woman's friend-base completely shut her out. Who's the real villain here, guys?
I don't know how any of us will make it through the rest of the year, but Better Call Saul has just one cliffhanger-resolving episode left in Season 3, and you can catch that finale on AMC on Monday, June 19, at 10:00 p.m. ET. Thankfully, the small screen has lots of other options to go with, and you can find them all in our summer premiere guide.