Better Call Saul's Howard Twist Was Even More Tragic Than You Think (2023)

By George Lawley

Over the course of Better Call Saul, Howard Hamlin turns from a villain into one of the good guys - but that's not how people will remember him.

Better Call Saul's Howard Twist Was Even More Tragic Than You Think (1)

Warning: this article contains spoilers for Better Call Saul season 6.

Better Call Saul serves up a gut punch in the season 6 mid-season finale, but when the final season returns, viewers will realize that the tragedy of Howard Hamlin's fate will not subside any time soon. During season 6, Howard is the main target for Jimmy and Kim's scheme - who seek to ruin Hamlin's reputation rather than reap him for any financial gain. Their dedication to seeing the scheme prevail demonstrates Kim truly breaking bad, and Jimmy immersing himself into his Saul Goodman persona. The scheme is always going to have consequences, however, but Jimmy did not imagine that it would be Lalo Salamanca, reappearing from the dead, gun in hand.

(Video) Better Call Saul's Most Tragic Character - Howard Hamlin

When first introduced to Better Call Saul, Howard Hamlin is easily disliked. Successful, sleek, and smug - Howard'sthe antithesis of Better Call Saul's protagonist Jimmy McGill. This demeanor and Howard's white knight complex is the main reason why Jimmy and Kim went after him in the first place, but season 6 emphasizes that deep down, Howard's just a normal person too. A troubled marriage, meetings with a therapist, a no examples of genuine ill-will morph Howard into a very sympathetic character, arguably one of the most moral on the show.

Related: Better Call Saul: 1 Genius Detail Explains Why Lalo Went To Jimmy

This change in character and perspective isan excellent demonstration of skilled writing, making the audience care about Howard before Lalo pulls the trigger in the night. The fact that Howard is shot simply because he is at the wrong place at the wrong time, though, does not illustrate the true tragedy of his death. Even though Jimmy and Kim's scheme is now successfully over, the consequences will now be eternal, and Howard's legacy will be tainted. Despite the character's initial perceived flaws, he will now be unfairly slandered in the eyes of everyone left alive, unfairly tarnishing what should have been a solid reputation. Even beyond this, however, there are actually several reasons why Howard Hamlin's death is even more tragic than it seems.

(Video) How That Key ‘Better Call Saul’ Death Was Kept Secret From Stars Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn

Everyone Will Remember Howard As A Drug Addict

Better Call Saul's Howard Twist Was Even More Tragic Than You Think (2)

Jimmy and Kim's scheme culminates in Howard's frenzy at the Sandpiper Crossing meeting, with Cliff Main, Rich Schweikart, and Erin Brill all present as Howard breaks down. Howard's embarrassment after accusing Judge Casimiro of accepting a bribe from Jimmy, and his evidence vanishing before his eyes, is bad enough. It gets even worse for Howard when his pupils dilate and his body temperature rises because hetouches the wet drugs slathered on the original photographs. Even Erin notices Howard's jitteriness, asking if he's okay.

Howard can certainly talk himself out of most situations, and it's likely that with enough time and eloquence, he could have pleaded his innocence to everyone present at the Sandpiper Crossing meeting. Howard will never get that opportunity now, and the lasting memory that many people (who had huge respect for him) will have of Howard is of a man who struggled with drug addiction. What's worse is that once rumor gets out, Cliff Main will back up the claims due to Kim and Jimmy's interference. Thanks to them, Cliff sees a bag of drugs drop out of Howard's locker and a sex worker thrown out of Howard's car by Jimmy in disguise. Cliff Main reveals the tragedy of his son's struggles with addiction and is, therefore, an easy target who iswholly convinced of Jimmy and Kim's lie. Now, Howard won't just be remembered as a great lawyer but as onewho fell from grace.

Howard Would Have Survived Jimmy and Kim’s Scheme

Better Call Saul's Howard Twist Was Even More Tragic Than You Think (3)
(Video) Better Call Saul | 6×07 Plan and Execution | Howard's breakdown during meeting

Howard may have been able to convince people of his innocence but Lalo takes away that opportunity. Right before the candles flicker and Lalo ghosts into the apartment, Howard appears convinced that he will rise from the ashes of Jimmy and Kim's scheme. He almost appears relieved that their plans have been fully realized, he statesthat "I've worked my way through worse." Howard goes a step further, however, letting Jimmy and Kim know that even if they proclaim their innocence, he will "dedicate my life to making sure everybody knows the truth." Howard proves that no matter what they throw at him, his spirit will not be broken. To him, their plot is just another hurdle for him to hop over, after his "debt, depression, my marriage falling apart."So it's not unreasonable to imagine that Howard would have seen the light on the other side of the tunnel after their scheme. Even on the worst day of his professional career at the Sandpiper meeting, his side closed a deal, and "HHM's share will be substantial" from the settlement. Even if it's not what Howard wanted, his prior work ensured that the Sandpiper deal didn't end up a total disaster. With his death, however, this potential opportunity for redemption is snuffed out once and for all.

Related: Why Howard Insists Irene Sit In A Wheelchair In Better Call Saul

Jimmy and Kim Will Get Away With It

Better Call Saul's Howard Twist Was Even More Tragic Than You Think (4)

Howard's bold statements about how he will reveal the truth about Jimmy and Kim's true nature will never be realized now, and ultimately the couple will get away with the scheme. With Lalo hammering the final nail into Howard's coffin, Jimmy and Kim have no option but to uphold their lie after Howard's death. It's likely that they might have to dispose of the body entirely or weave a story about how Howard took his own life at their home. Either way, audiences know that Jimmy walks freely during Breaking Bad, and it's highly unlikely that he would be able to do that even if Kim takes all the blame. If both of them get away with it, it's yet another cruel layer of irony in Howard's death in Better Call Saul. Howard's a man that based his life and his image on the law, and when both of them are destroyed, justice will not prevail or offer any consolation.Nonetheless, whether or not they get away with it doesn't really matter. What matters is the fact that Jimmy and Kim will have to lie with the everlasting consequences for a scheme that as Howard says, they did "for fun." The fact that their scheme lacks any purpose or tangible gain proves how meaningless their plot and Howard's death were.

(Video) "Lightning Bolts Shoot From My Fingertips!" | JMM | Better Call Saul

Howard's Death Is More Tragic Than BCS & Breaking Bad's Other Major Kills

Better Call Saul's Howard Twist Was Even More Tragic Than You Think (5)

Howard's demise is not the first dose of death in Better Call Saul season 6. Nacho's death in season 6, episode 3 shocks the audience due to both its inevitability and how early it is in the season. Like Howard, Nacho was a well-liked character but his death is not as tragic as Howard's because Nacho died as a result of his own actions. Nacho chooses to involve himself in a life of crime, and thus, puts himself in harm's way. Regardless of where Nacho's morality tips on the scales, he is inadvertently the architect of his own destruction.

This is a common theme throughout all of Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad. Characters, such as Mike or Gale, effectively seal their own fates. Mike's death in Breaking Bad is tragic because he's a well-like character, shows compassion for Jesse, and his death is avoidable. Gale, on the other hand, seemingly can't harm a fly. Nonetheless, both of them enter the business knowing the dangers and potential repercussions. Even Hank Schrader is aware of the dangers of his actions and accepts his fate, even if he is a DEA agent and acting as a force for good. Howard Hamlin, however, is as far detached from crime as possible, even if Jimmy and Kim seek to change that. Not only is his death a result of other people's actions, but he is also completely innocent. The avoidability of his death and the lasting consequences of it, make it one of the most tragic in all of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.

(Video) Howard Hamlin's Speech | Better Call Saul S6E7 Ending

Next: Better Call Saul's Final Season Has Already Lived Up To Its Brutal Promise


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