‘Better Call Saul’: Patrick Fabian on Howard Teaching Jimmy a Lesson in Season 6
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 6, Episode 5 of Better Call Saul, “Black and Blue.”]
Thinking Jimmy is the sole participant, he challenges the criminal lawyer to a boxing match to settle their differences in a physical way that doesn’t leave either party fully satisfied. It’s a marked victory for Howard who knocks Jimmy down before exiting the gym he lured him to. But Howard has more tricks up his sleeve as he hires a private investigator to follow Jimmy. Could he uncover Kim’s (Rhea Seehorn) involvement in the scheme along the way?
Below, Patrick Fabian opens up about Howard’s motivation, and what’s on the horizon along with delivering one of the episode’s most powerful lines.
Jimmy and Howard face off in a boxing match. Is this the end of all their qualms or would that private investigator hint that it’s just the beginning?
Howard is not a dumb guy. He may be a lot of things, but he’s not stupid. And so all these things that have been going on, he’s put them all together. And I think Season 6 has started up like gangbusters. That’s a tip of the hat to the brain trust, the writer’s room, headed up by Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan. They have managed to sort of top themselves almost every season, and Season 6 is probably going to be the most satisfying.
Part of the reason is that if you’ve been following Howard, he has extended his hand [to Jimmy] so many times to try and help him, and it’s just been slapped away. At the end of Season 5, he washed his hands of [Jimmy and Kim], and now they’re deciding to do something to him. Howard’s sort of “enough is enough.” He’s also namaste Howard too. So he’s also trying to see holistically. And I think he wants to end it all right there. The boxing thing is very much Howard trying to get into Jimmy’s psyche. But I love the fact that he has the PI in his back pocket. I’m pretty sure Howard is sure that Jimmy’s going to take the bait, and want to take a swing.
Definitely. And before Howard met Jimmy at the gym, he told the office to clear his schedule for the week. Is this going to be a big part of Howard’s story moving forward?
I think the clear my schedule is there to signal how important this is, how big of a shift this is. Because really, Howard played around in the edges. He got a bowling ball throw on him, the hookers got sent to him at lunch. There were a lot of things that were thrown at Howard, which when you take them as a collective whole have now added up to, let’s get in the boxing ring. So I think the idea of clearing my schedule is just an announcement that I’m going to take care of this thing in a week, but I’m going to give it my entire focus. And that’s why the PI guy is there to help.
While Jimmy and Howard have had their differences, Howard has always seemed to respect Kim. Do you think he’s fully aware of the extent to which she is involved in this situation?
By the end of Season 5, I say my piece with Kim and it was one more tether, one more hand extended to her to see if she had any humanity left. He always has a soft spot for Kim more than Jimmy, without a doubt. And he doesn’t know why Jimmy holds sway over her. He’s just more disappointed and sad if that’s the way she’s gone. I don’t think he thinks that Kim is involved with what’s going on. In this episode, Alison Tatlock wrote such nice words in the scene with me and Ed Begley Jr. in the parking lot.
Ed’s such a good actor, and he’s truly concerned. What she’s written is a scene of cross-communication. I’m talking about one thing and he’s talking about another, but I love that moment because that tells me the depth of the relationship and respect that Cliff and Howard have for one another. That’s as close as Howard and Cliff will ever get to kissing.
Why does Jimmy want to torment Howard? Especially since he learned that it was his brother Chuck (Michael McKean) who held him back from rising in the ranks at HHM.
Well, yes, and I’ve come back and offered him a job and all these things. But they think I am part of the man, the establishment, Jimmy very much thinks of himself as the rock and roll guy outside the rules. And he’s played outside the rules. He plays very loosely with the rules and Howard’s a rule guy if there ever was one. So I think there’s just sort of a general antipathy and antagonism that goes towards Howard.
Is Howard going to find some kind of peace with digging deeper into Jimmy and Kim’s game right now?
I think Jimmy shouldn’t underestimate Howard. That’s what I think he shouldn’t do.
Okay. That’s great. And I have to say, I loved the line where Howard says to Jimmy, “You’ve mistaken my kindness for weakness.”
The AMC and the boys, and the brain trust gave me one of the “f*** yous” in the series about two seasons ago. I got to say that to Jimmy. That was memed and a lot. But that line that you’re talking about, “You’re mistaking my kindness for weakness,” I think that could be a character statement for Howard throughout the series.
Jimmy and Kim have been so preoccupied with their scheme and worrying about Lalo, will they see Howard coming for them?
Well, it’s funny from a fan point of view, Jimmy and Kim are stirring pots that maybe don’t need to be stirred, and I guess the phrase, “Actions have unintended consequences,” really comes to mind when it comes to things like that. You think you’re doing one thing and something else ends up happening.
As we near the end of the first half of the season, are we going to see Howard crossover with any of those Breaking Bad characters that have been popping up this season?
That would be fun. Wouldn’t it? Just like Rhea Seehorn [in Episode 604]. How cool was it when the camera finally slid from her face and there’s Mike Ehrmantraut sitting at the diner. Look, I knew that was going to happen because I’d read the script, but I got excited. That’s that definitive crossing of wires, which we should expect in the season. Things are getting much more knit together without a doubt.
Better Call Saul, Season 6, Mondays, 9/8c, AMC and AMC+