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Spoilers below for the penultimate episode of Better Call Saul.
For much of Better Call Saul, the quasi-villainous Howard Hamlin has been traveling confidently and unwaveringly along the outskirts of the main narrative, but with the hectic Season 3 ending, Howard has reached an end of his own. Actor Patrick Fabian recently spoke with CinemaBlend about his character's trials and tribulations with the McGill brothers, and he drove home just how stuck inside himself Chuck has become, keeping him from seeing his downward spiral in a big-picture sense. And though Fabian obviously couldn't spill all the beans, he hinted at Howard's impending breaking point, and how Jimmy's influence may factor into it.
I think Howard builds on what we saw [in Episode 9], absolutely. I think Howard is attempting to affect events without letting events affect him. So maybe he's taking a page out of Jimmy's book, in terms of saying like, 'All right, Mr. Get Up and Go, I'm gonna do something.' Maybe Howard's gonna do something. Since he did the thing with the billboards in Season 1, maybe I'll start doing some 'Slippin' Howard' and steal some of his thunder.
During our chat, I'd asked Patrick Fabian if Howard's approach to handling The Chuck Situation would hearken back to the ways that Howard has seen Jimmy take on Chuck's stubbornness over the years, and I fully expected more of a denial. Why? Because Howard is still one of the only main characters with a healthy sense of morals, ideals and professionalism, and he's witnessed the impact of what behaving like Jimmy has earned both Chuck and Kim. Sure, he doesn't know about Kim's baffling accident yet, but Howard has consistently had his mind blown by her increasingly sketchy path from HHM to bootstraps-pulling solo work alongside Jimmy, and they got to have it out a couple of episodes ago over her out-of-place attempt to repay her debts.
Howard also got to bring some heated verbosity to Jimmy in "Fall," -- and Patrick Fabian was delighted to talk about "how gauche" it was for Howard to physically offer Jimmy money from his wallet -- but somehow, Chuck didn't get much of an earful whenever he immediately got litigious about Howard's careful "advice" about his partner not practicing law anymore. Fabian brought up the string of olive branches that Howard held out for Chuck this season, only to get turned down each time, and then the actor said the most sensible thing imaginable about the McGills.
Ironically, everything that Chuck hated Jimmy for -- not respecting the law -- Chuck is now not respecting it. He completely allowed himself and his personal vengeance to cloud his judgment as a professional, intellectual lawyer. And Howard has gently tried to let him and lead him to water on his own, and he refuses to. And now, now that's he's left with nothing, all of a sudden Chuck wants to sue [Howard].
Laying that out for Chuck would be the most devastating thing that Howard could do, and it might just come to that. (And Chuck wouldn't be able to sue him for saying it.) Patrick Fabian says there are several reasons why Howard has allowed so much rope for Chuck to essentially hang himself with, and it comes down to years of genuine affection for his senior partner, both in a personal sense and in respecting the man's genius, as well as an obligation not to become unprofessional at any point during their time together. I mean, just look at the hurt on Howard's face here.
While I definitely don't want Howard and Chuck's relationship to splinter to a point where the former character isn't a notable part of Better Call Saul anymore, I really want to watch Howard go batshit bananas on Chuck in the Season 3 finale. Loud enough to shatter all the light bulbs in the lamps that Chuck is half-faking his comfort around.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Patrick Fabian is definitely down for returning for another season of Better Call Saul, should AMC wisely renew it soon, and so I asked him about why no light has been shined on Howard's home life, and the potential for that happening. And again, his answer was somewhat surprising.
I keep pitching Sean Connery as my dad and Jennifer Lawrence as my wife, but they don't seem to be biting on that yet. Part of that is that, you know, business is business and we don't see Howard's home life right n...yet. We haven't necessarily needed to, I guess. Who knows? Maybe we'll see something in episode 10, but I'm not sure. And again, I'm always good for the Jennifer Lawrence pitch.
Sean Connery and Jennifer Lawrence aren't the surprising bits, although those casting options sound magnificent. No, the curious moment occurred when Patrick Fabian momentarily stumbled on his words -- which only happened the once, since Fabian's verbal dexterity is something to marvel at -- and it wasn't clear if he'd meant to say "now" or "yet," as the latter would imply Howard's outside-HHM world is indeed being set up for an introduction at some point, either in the finale or beyond. Considering he pitched casting for his dad and his wife, though, I'd guess that anyone we'd meet soon would fall outside those relationships. Perhaps a mother or brother, or even a child? Or no one, of course.
Assuming the Sandpiper case was settled so that Howard would have more financial backing to pay Chuck off, the end of HHM is nigh, and it's hard to tell what Better Call Saul would be like without Howard and Chuck as law partners, or where either of their lives would go beyond that. I'm guessing that whoever stays in contact with Jimmy the most will have the rougher go, though. Sorry, Chuck.
Better Call Saul will possibly resolve Howard and Chuck's issues -- as well as Kim's physical injuries from her wreck, Nacho's attempts to kill off Hector Salamanca, Mike's new title within Gus Fring's empire, and Jimmy's next step down the rabbit hole -- with Season 3's finale, which will air on AMC on Monday, June 19, at 10:00 p.m. ET. Needing something to stay busy with when Saul is over? Head to our summer TV premiere guide for all the new and returning shows hitting the small screen soon.