Why Better Call Saul's Latest Death Makes Me Want To Stop Watching The Breaking Bad Prequel

Jimmy on a park bench in Better Call Saul
(Image credit: AMC)

Spoilers below for anyone who hasn’t yet watched the Better Call Saul midseason finale, so be warned!

Better Call Saul fans are a crafty and perceptive bunch, so as Season 6 went into its hiatus on an episode titled “Plan and Execution,” I can’t imagine many viewers thought the alluded-to “execution” would be of the completely non-fatal variety. At the very least, one might have anticipated the kind of execution that wouldn’t leave a big gory mess on Jimmy and Kim’s living room floor. Alas, the episode ended with one of the Breaking Bad prequel’s most heartbreaking and completely avoidable deaths — even topping Nacho’s self-telegraphed exit — and it legitimately makes me want to stop watching the show. 

To be sure, my wavering interest in halting all Better Call Saul viewing is not coming from a place of anger or disgust with the show, nor its creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould. This is easily one of my favorite television series in any and all capacities, and is as worthy a bookend for Breaking Bad as anyone could have imagined. But that’s essentially why I feel so hesitant to keep watching when Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn return to our screens for the back half of Season 6, because it seems like only grief and pain are on the horizon. Let’s break that thought down a bit. 

Jimmy and Kim horrified by Howard's murder in Better Call Saul

(Image credit: AMC)

We Have Seen Jimmy And Kim At Their Worst, And There's Still Room To Fall

Despite knowing all of the heinous crimes and drug-related “business” that Saul Goodman gets into during the Breaking Bad years with Bryan Cranston’s Walter White, Better Call Saul has performed such a tight-rope act in giving Jimmy and Kim’s story enough empathy and levity to keep them cemented as this show’s protagonists. But by digging their claws into a relatively innocent patsy like Patrick Fabian’s Howard, all for their own self-indulgence, they both lost any and all semblance of being “the good guys” in this story. Not that many others beyond Mike’s grandkid and her mother are actually “good” people in this tale.

Again, we knew Saul would fall farther than anyone, considering both his Slippin’ Jimmy history and how completely distanced and anti-emotional Saul is during Breaking Bad, but the fact that Kim went along for the ride so willingly is heartbreaking in and of itself. She was the one who pushed for their massive scheme to go forward even in the face of the arm-cast setback, thus setting that day’s deadly events in motion. And let’s not forget she was also the one who previously stood up to Lalo in Season 5, proving herself to be a less cockroach-y adversary than Jimmy. So if avoiding the rest of Better Call Saul’s final batch of episodes means that Kim can continue to live on in my mind as not-quite-a-monster, that’s not such a bad thing, right? 

Howard angry at his desk in Better Call Saul

(Image credit: AMC)

I Don't Want To Know What Happens To Howard's Body That Keeps His Death A Secret

As much as Jimmy and Howard had a weird antagonistic relationship throughout the show’s run, Better Call Saul has never set up Patrick Fabian’s lawyer as an outright villain, and it in fact put a bigger spotlight on the more dour elements of his private life with the first half of Season 6. So it was a complete worm-in-the-apple catastrophe for Lalo to have re-entered Jimmy and Kim’s home while Howard was in the midst of calling his former colleagues out for their career-harming shenanigans. Because Howard’s death was so violent and clearly the product of murder, it almost definitely means more awful things will be done with the character’s body when the season returns. 

There’s almost no way Jimmy and Kim will call any proper authority figures over to report the death, with or without Lalo around, given how that would look for their respective careers. So the likeliest outcome is that they will have to get rid of Howard’s body themselves, possibly in a way that calls back to how Walter White disposed of Crazy-8’s body in Breaking Bad, which was definitely a point of no return for that character’s journey. Not only will that disposal further make me wary of watching Jimmy and Kim's descent, but it probably also means Howard will be “missing” going forward, putting more pressure on the lawyers from Ed Begley Jr.’s Clifford Main, who is the only person that knows “the truth” about everything. Howard's wife probably won't be too thrown, though.

Lalo putting silencer on gun in Better Call Saul

(Image credit: AMC)

I Dunno If I Can Handle What Lalo's Next Move Is

Lalo has been a murderous menace from even before he was actually introduced, and it’s been a delight to watch the effortlessly charismatic Tony Dalton immerse himself in the role. But we’re at the endgame now, and if he’s willing to just walk into people’s homes and shoot well-dressed strangers in the head without context, there’s truly no way to know what will happen next. But considering Howard, Nacho, and Kim have been the three Better Call Saul character whose fates during Breaking Bad were questioned the most, Lalo’s shift in plans doesn’t bode well for Kim in the slightest. 

The Season 6 premiere’s cold open gave viewers a glimpse of that Zafiro Añejo bottle top, which serves as something of a metaphor for backhanded success in this show, and many saw it as a keepsake Saul kept to remember Kim by, presuming she left Jimmy in one uncomfortable way or another. Obviously, I’m hoping for the best case scenario, which is that Kim becomes the first character in this TV world to call up Ed the Vacuum-Repairing Disapearer, as portrayed by the late Robert Forster in Breaking Bad and in the follow-up film El Camino. But Lalo would probably have to make Kim’s life a lot worse for that to be the “happy” ending, and I dunno if I want to experience all that.

That’s only thinking about Kim, too, and not taking into account whatever metaphorical house of horrors Lalo has in mind for Giancarlo Esposito’s Gus Fring. The fan-favorite drug kingpin still isn’t quite the all-hardened monster that viewers first met in Breaking Bad, and it stands to reason that whatever transpires with Lalo in the final episodes will be the catalyst for Fring’s overtly stony stoicism in later years. Will Lalo put Fring through some kind of violent torture that forever scars the Los Pollos Hermanos founder in ways viewers were never able to see in Breaking Bad? I can’t help but think that Lalo does something horrific to Fring’s manhood, but that’s a theory for another time, and one that I already don’t want to think about, or watch. 

Of all the TV and streaming shows ending this year, Better Call Saul will be one of the hardest to say goodbye to, since this universe has become such a dependable source of entertainment and meticulously parceled-out tension. I know I’m going to be right back in front of my television when the show returns to AMC with its final episodes on Monday, July 11, but I also know I’m going to regret it in some way, likely for the reasons shared above. Until then, though, I’ll probably go back and rewatch the first five seasons with a Netflix subscription.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.