‘Better Call Saul’ Season 6, Episode 8 Recap: Showdown

After a seven week hiatus, “Better Call Saul” resumed exactly where it left off — in Jimmy and Kim’s apartment, with Howard Hamlin dead on the floor and Lalo Salamanca holding the murder weapon.

We soon learn that the silkiest Salamanca, a highly charismatic sociopath, has arrived with an elaborate scheme, one that he presumably has fine tuned during many days hiding in Albuquerque’s sewage system.

He will send an unwilling assassin across town to fire at Gus Fring, thus ensuring that the cavalry is dispatched to Jimmy and Kim’s condo. With heavies like Mike out of position, Lalo was free to infiltrate Fring’s superlab.

It was a plausible plan, and it strained credulity just once. When Lalo enters the laundromat that hides the superlab, he manages to evade the surveillance system designed to prevent the very incursion he is pulling off. 

This is sold as fortunate timing for Mr. Salamanca, who doesn’t seem to realize that he was nearly seen on video camera.

After that, the action follows the same logic as a Western, a realm in which the improbable is expected. Gus determines that Lalo is inside the laundromat about four milliseconds before Lalo starts shooting Gus’s armed security. 

Then Gus delays his own execution with a monologue about the venality and stupidity of the Salamancas, a tactic that gives him time to kick a lighting cable, plunge the lab into near total darkness and retrieve the handgun he secreted during an earlier visit.

Your Faithful Recapper needed to rewatch the shootout three times to see that, yes, Gus does find his gun and fire at Lalo. If we were not plainly in the realm of a High Noon-style showdown,

one might wonder how a killer as accomplished as Lalo missed Gus given the advantage he had. He squeezed off a few shots before Gus even reached his weapon.

The reality is that Gus had a terrific advantage in this confrontation, and it had nothing to do with his chops as a marksman. He couldn’t die because he is alive for “Breaking Bad.” He had a future to live out.

It’s the reason that authentic suspense has been sporadic, at best, since “Better Call Saul” started. For instance, Jimmy has had some close calls — he is nearly murdered by Tuco Salamanca in the debut episode of the show; he nearly expired from heat stroke in the desert hauling millions of dollars in a sack last season — but the tension in such existential moments is not the nail biting variety.