Episode 3 Recap, Theories, and Thoughts

This is a safe space, Saul fans. So, let it out. Apparently, our beloved Nacho is dead. Boom. Just like that. Not three episodes into the final season and we have our first casualty. Was anyone as shocked as I was? I mean, looking back on the episode it’s clear as mud this is Michael Mando’s last hour as the popular character, but on my initial viewing I kept thinking, “No way he dies this early in the season.”

Nacho, for the kids keeping score at home, has played a fairly major role throughout the series. While he had a tendency to vanish for several episodes, his persona of him felt integral to the story. In a lot of ways, he was Better Call Saul’s Jesse Pinkman, a man caught between two worlds — the one he knows he should live (with his father) and the other crime-driven universe he can’t seem to escape.

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Still, that’s quite the shocking twist this early in the game. I’m still not over it. I guess there was a part of me that actually believed Saul when he told Walt and Jesse, “It wasn’t me, it was Ignacio! He’s the one!” This occurred way back in the second season of breaking bad. Saul lies over a ditch and believes the masked men with guns work with Lalo Salamanca, and name drops Nacho in a manner that suggests the pair worked on a big deal together.

Well, apparently that wasn’t the case. Perhaps Saul used Nacho’s name from him knowing full well he was dead at this point. Or, maybe his was just the first name that popped into the lawyer’s head right before the end of his life. Although, you’d think, “Tell Kim I love her,” or, “Save Martha!” would’ve been more appropriate.

Anyways, Nacho is dead. Now what?

That’s fair to ask considering the first three episodes spent a great deal of time on this subplot. In fact, Episode 3, titled “Rock and Hard Place,” kicks off immediately after Nacho’s shootout with the Salamanca twins. Well, our first official scene is the extended look at the glass shard Nacho uses to cut himself loose from the zip-ties right before his death of him, but we immediately cut to the man chugging along in the same beat-up truck he was last seen in.

I was confused at this point because I assumed he crashed at the end of the last episode, but maybe I missed something. No matter, after briefly considering a standoff, Nacho fleas the broken vehicle and runs to… the one obstacle in the vicinity—an abandoned oil tank. Despite the nearby foliage, Nacho decides to hop in the rotting piece of metal and submerge himself in the oil at the bottom. Considering the twins looked around the area for roughly fifteen seconds, I’d of guessed he would’ve been better off hiding in the grass.

No matter, because — shockingly — his hiding spot works! The twins drive away and Nacho, for whatever reason, lingers in the tank for the rest of the day before heading out on foot. (By the way, that time-lapse of the tank was pretty cool!) The next day he hoses off at an auto shop and then calls his father, who is still stinging after their last conversation. “You know what you have to do. Go to the police,” his dad says.

Even at this point, I didn’t consider this Nacho’s final conversation with his pop. Even though it’s totally shot like Nacho’s final conversation with his pop.

Following that tender moment, Nacho gets down to business. He calls Mike and negotiates with Gus Fring — “I will give you my life, for his life from him,” he essentially says, referring to his dad from him. Once Mike promises to keep him safe via one of those convenient breaking bad explanations — “Your dad’s gonna be okay, because anyone who goes after him is going to have to go through me.” Sure.

But, also, Mike doesn’t die in breaking bad? (Cut to Walt shooting Mike immediately followed by a henchman killing Nacho’s father.)

Mike hides Nacho on a truck and roughs him up to make his “capture” look convincing. Nacho basically sold his life from him to save his father from him and willingly agrees to a meeting with the Salamancas to clear Gus’ name from him. During this gathering, Nacho will pretend to escape before dying by a bullet from Mike’s sniper rifle. The next morning, the gang is greeted by Juan Bolsa, Hector, and the twins in some abandoned desert locale. All goes mostly according to plan, except, Nacho cuts through his bonds with a glass shard and takes Bolsa hostage with his own gun. He reveals it was Alvarez working for Los Odios out of Peru who set up the Lalo hit. Then, in a scene reminiscent of the phone rant Walt used to clear Skyler’s name in breaking badNacho makes it clear how much he hates Gus, thus absolving him of the crime.

Rather than cap Bolsa, the twins, and Hector right there on the spot, Nacho remembers this is only a prequel and shoots himself more out of plot convenience than necessity. And so ends the days of Nacho. Are they worth it? Absolutely.

Kim and Saul

Meanwhile, Kim and Saul continue their assault on poor Howard. They’ve got a batch of sticky notes on board in their living room, each representing a stage in their complex plan. Saul looks over his timeline whilst getting ready for work, Kim joins him and the pair go over their dastardly plan — just another day in the Goodman household.

At this point, everything they say is nonsense. “What if you use the real car? His car,” Kim asks. We know what they’re doing, but not how they’re doing it and these slight teases only amplify the tension.

Later, Kim has a friendly chat with Suzanne Ericsen from the DA’s office, who lets her know that Saul might be able to usurp lawyer/client privileges with Lalo in the event he didn’t know it was Lalo he was defending. Kim listens to Suzanne’s offer from her, which boils down to Saul snitching on Lalo to the DA.

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That’s the safe route. At this point, Kim and safe don’t exactly walk hand in hand. Instead, she reminds Suzanne how poorly she treated Jimmy/Saul in the past. She even instructs her to call him Saul. O Kim.

We cut to a fun bit with Saul and his favorite sticky-fingered associate, Huell. The latter does his patented life move and steals the keys to Howard’s car from an irresponsible teen and patiently waits while the “key maker” copies the keys. What are you doing Saul?

After concluding his day’s worth of deception, Saul heads home and finds Kim deep in thought. She reveals the DA’s deal. “You think I should do it,” Saul asks. “That depends,” she responds. “Do you want to be a friend to the cartel or do you want to be a rat?”

Well, when you put it that way.

Kim has come so far, it’s hard to remember her as the straightforward lawyer who smoked with Jimmy in the parking garage of Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill. At this juncture, I feel like Kim believes there’s no going back. They’ve made their choices and she has fully embraced this novel new path, for better or worse. Saul has two choices. Both are dangerous. Except, one leads to fortune (and probably death). The other leads to ruin (and probably death).

Choose the form of your destroyer wisely, Saul.

Overall, this was another solid episode. Nacho’s death felt a tad anti-climatic, but only because I brought to the episode my own preconceived expectations of the character. Really, it was time for the man to bow out so we could focus on the main storylines of the show. In that regard, I suppose it’s fair that Nacho received a decent death applied by his own hand from him. He died his way from him and protected his father from him, which was his only mission from him.

Godspeed, Nacho. We’ll miss you, bud.

Other Notes:

  • Last week I admitted I hated Mike on breaking bad and got called out in some of the comments. Let me clarify: everything about the character is perfect. I hated Mike for the way he got in Walt’s way. And, to be fair, I hated anyone who got in Walt’s way, including Jesse. So, no, I didn’t hate the character as written. They were essential to the plot of the show, but I saw anyone who posed a threat to Walt’s swift dive into the abyss as an annoyance.
  • I wonder if real drug peddlers would put up as convincing a performance as Nacho did during the climax of the episode. He had to make Hector, Juan, and the twins believe his lie about him; and do so while Gus eyes him with one of those knowing looks you’d think the other characters would pick up on.
  • In a badass farewell, Nacho tells Hector it was he who put him in that wheelchair. watching breaking bad after learning these details will be fun.
  • Huell gets an interesting character beat when he asks Saul why he does what he does. “You’re a lawyer and you make good money,” he says. “You’re wife is a lawyer and she makes good money.” So, why does Saul put himself through the wringer? Why, indeed, Huell.
  • Kim has so far played an enormous part in creating Saul. We see her tell Suzanne that Jimmy has changed his name from him to Saul, which feels like a significant detail. How far will this woman fall? How much of Saul is actually Jimmy? How much of Saul is Kim?

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