Howard Hamlin Can Even Dick Over A Subordinate In Silence
Well, Jimmy can hear him. But this great moment from the latest Better Call Saul proves Patrick Fabian's dick chops without any audible dialogue.
If you read this site and watch Better Call Saul, the cold open of the latest episode might lead you to believe we timed our current Dick Week extravaganza to line up with the architect of Jimmy's flashback of disappointment. But that's not the case: it's just that every week is Dick Week for Howard Hamlin.
As we visit this installment of Jimmy's earlier life, we see a man who's really, sincerely trying to erase his "Slippin' Jimmy" past and make a fresh start for himself doing honest, respectable work: in the mailroom at his brother's firm. But on this particular day, Jimmy's path is about to fork off in a new direction, because there's a piece of mail for himself, and it's informing him that he's passed the bar in New Mexico. He shyly goes to tell Chuck, who's amazed to find out that Jimmy's been beavering away on a correspondence-school law degree, for years, completely in secret; when Jimmy asks him if he can be considered for a new job, it takes Chuck a minute to realize Jimmy means he wants to start work at the firm as a lawyer, but he recovers quickly, saying he'll have to bring it up with Howard and the other partners: "But how could they say no? So much drive! Jimmy! Look what you've done here!"
Well, either Howard and the other partners found a way to say no more readily than Chuck's imagination could fathom, or Chuck, offscreen, brought the request to Howard along with his own request that Howard be the bad guy and spare Chuck's relationship with Jimmy, or both? However it happens, Howard crashes a little mailroom party celebrating Jimmy's victory -- I mean, my god, there are even decorations, plural, and several different kinds of pop! -- and as the camera pulls back so all we can hear is the copier chugging away (a copier that will become very important in the show's present!), we watch Howard drop the hammer.
We know Howard by now, so we can be pretty sure whatever Jimmy hears is an elegantly worded neg with extremely loud subtext, probably to the effect of 'Your dreams are dumb and no short-sleeved dress shirt-wearing putz is ever going to represent clients at my namesake firm.' But not actually hearing it means we can project our own versions of the kind of thing Howard MIGHT say to (a) let Jimmy down in a way Howard himself thinks is both gentle and generous, and (b) provide an extremely important thread for the origin story of how Jimmy McGill turned into his supervillain alter ego, Saul Goodman. So, kudos on the style choice, Better Call Saul. Whatever audible dialogue Patrick Fabian might actually be delivering can't possibly stand up to the classic dickish silent movie we might each be writing for him in our heads. (I like to call mine Shitty Lights.)