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Lou Bloom is a sociopath who is trying to establish a video news company. He hires Rick, a kid from the streets, as his assistant and 2nd cameraman. At first Lou intends to pay Rick nothing, instead offering an 'internship'. But after Rick argues that he needs the money even to make it to work, Lou grudgingly offers him $30 per day.

Time goes on and the financial situation of Lou's company improves. Some time after upgrading from Lou's Toyota Tercel to a Dodge Challenger, the matter of money is raised again, and Lou asks Rick what he thinks is a fair rate. Rick equivocates, obviously unsure of how much he should ask for, and ends up asking for $75 a day, to which Lou 'seals it with a hand shake'.

Soon after this, Rick suggests to Lou that he could have asked for more, and asks Lou to confirm. Given Lou is a sociopath (who like to retain tight control of the people around them) I expected him to say something like:

No, the company is struggling at the moment, and we really can't afford more.

Or..

Not until you can tell me with confidence that you are worth more, and prove it with your film footage.

Instead, he just says:

Yep.

Leaving Rick somewhat out of sorts. This made me go 'huh?'..

Another aspect of their news gathering had changed as well. Lou has managed to capture a crime scene, complete with images of the criminals and their car. Instead of giving the information to the police and risk them arresting the assailants 'off camera' (and in a boring way), Lou opts to track them down, follow them, and call the police when things are 'more interesting'.

Apparently a large reward has been offered for the capture of the men, and this comes up while Lou and Rick are waiting for one of the bad guys to show up at his car. Rick is deeply offended that Lou is paying him $75 a day while keeping the $50,000 reward, and demands half of it in order to keep him 'on board' with Lou's questionable morals and tactics.

After a very short argument, Lou agrees to that! This had me thinking: What the..?!?

The reason that Lou caved in so fast to offering Rick half the reward was because..

..he never intended to pay it. Instead setting up Rick to be murdered that night on camera.

But it made me wonder: when had Lou decided to set that up?

He claims to Rick later, that he was upset with Rick making a deal then asking for more, but his actions seemed driven to force a confrontation between them from the moment he told Rick (so flippantly) that Rick had cheated himself out of more money. This would suggest that he might have been working on a plan to get a 'killer close' for his report, ever since capturing the footage of the criminals.

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Just asking, Analysis tag would also fit your question, right? –  chaitanya89 Apr 21 at 7:24
    
@chaitanya89 I had not been aware of that tag, and ..yes, it seems to fit. Added. Thanks for the heads-up. :) –  Andrew Thompson Apr 21 at 7:32
    
Hmm, it seems at first he wanted to encourage Rick to more and to motivate him and expect him to aspire to more. Since, as sociopathic as he was, he was first and foremost a businessman. This is also why I think he told him he could have asked for more, but the deal was sealed and Rick missed it. It is only after Rick disregards the chance that Lou had supposedly given to him and blackmailed him into half the reward that makes Lou cut their business relationship. Yet it's still unclear if he already planned something serious then. –  Napoleon Wilson Apr 21 at 11:16

3 Answers 3

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Given the kind of person that Lou's character was, he never gave a damn about his partner. Whether or not Rick had asked him for a raise, Lou would have sacrificed Rick anytime if a situation ever came up where Lou could benefit from his death. Such kind of person, was Lou.

Secondly, what really infuriated Lou was not Rick asking for a raise or asking for a share in reward. It was Rick trying to cross Lou or Rick trying to question Lou, that infuriated him. You've rightly mentioned that being a sociopath Lou could not withstand the feeling of 'losing control'.

Now to answer your question specifically, I think, Lou did not have a concrete plan on how he would remove Rick from his way. He just went in with the flow of events. However he was clear in his intentions that he would remove Rick from his path, somehow. First seed was sowed on that very same day that you've mentioned "Rick asking for $75"

The gangster's car crash was a random event, but when it indeed occurred, Lou could not miss that opportunity to get Rick executed.

I personally believe that even if the gangster had not shot Rick, Lou would definitely have killed him later on, before getting the reward and setting up a story. What we can't tell is "how?", I think he could have done anything. Remember, Lou screwed up his rival Loder's (played by Bill Paxton) vehicle which resulted in his accident.

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Note: loosing-> losing. Common mistake. (I'd edit, but is is not 6 chars.) Can you explain why Lou was so ..flippant when telling Rick he could have earned more money? That seemed odd for a sociopath that wanted to continue working with his assistant and it clearly upset Rick. –  Andrew Thompson Apr 21 at 20:18
    
@AndrewThompson I guess it was to encourage him to aspire for more and also to scold him for not doing so. In Lou' eyes Rick probably was to a large degree a "slacker" who didn't have the conviction and motivation that Lou had. So it was no wonder he didn't have the guts to demand more money and it was natural for Lou to point that out to him. –  Napoleon Wilson Apr 21 at 21:14
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@AndrewThompson :You're right. Even I found that a bit odd. It wasn't as expected from Lou. What seemed more likely was - Lou contradicting Rick and telling him that even $75 is more than he deserves. But that particular exchange of dialogues served as a light moment in the movie. I remember ,everyone laughing at that dialogue in the theater (when I saw it). So may be the director intentionally leave the scene like that. –  Ankit Apr 22 at 2:43

IMO, Lou seemed to flip when Rick asked for half the reward. Up until that point, Lou was making lots of money and enjoying having a partner with no scruples. What Rick basically did at that moment was held Lou's livelihood at ransom. Lou knew he needed a second cameraman for the job, but so did Rick. Rick knew that whatever he asked for, Lou would have to pay him. That's when the entire operation flipped; it was at that point that Rick held all the cards. From that moment on, Lou was just trying to figure out how to get Rick killed. First by making him film in an unprotected area (hoping he'd get hit with a stray bullet), and then finally the execution setup.

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Exactly, it was the violation of and lack of respect for the trust and effort that Lou had put into his employee. –  Napoleon Wilson Apr 21 at 11:33

I think he had made up his mind when he spoke these words to Rick:

What if my problem wasn't that I don't understand people but that I don't like them? What if I was the kind of person who was obliged to hurt you for this? I mean physically. I think you'd have to believe afterward, if you could, that agreeing to participate and then backing out at the critical moment was a mistake. Because that's what I'm telling you, as clearly as I can.

After that, he was just waiting for an opportunity as Johnny Bones said.

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