So, while I am aware the people behind Better Call Saul did their best to make the prequel series accessible to anyone who tuned in without first seeing Breaking Bad, I do have to wonder how that hypothetical viewer took the opening few minutes of this episode. I just suspect it would work much better for anyone who knows who Tuco is.
Then again, the pilot episode showed him and suggested he was dangerous enough.
Tuco, of course, didn’t last long in Breaking Bad, from what I suspect was actor availability. But what little was seen of him showed he was a highly volatile man given to violence and extreme anger. He wasn’t all that rational. That makes him dangerous, but ultimately, it could be argued a more rational individual in Tuco’s position could be even more dangerous. Tuco is the sort who is dangerous in the short term and when he’s close by. That rational fellow, he or she might be more dangerous as a long term enemy.
More on that last thought at the end of the write-up.
So, really, cutting back a few minutes in the opening scene of episode two to show Tuco’s reaction to the idiot skater twins’ coming into his house and demanding compensation because they pulled their scam on the exact wrong person (Tuco’s seemingly unknowing grandmother) is just an exercise in tension. The audience knows, especially if they recognize Tuco, that it is not going to go well for these idiots even as they themselves don’t. Jimmy’s arrival a few minutes later doesn’t help either. All the audience saw in the pilot was Jimmy have a gun pushed into his face and then Tuco’s angry face looking out.
So, really, the tension as Tuco clearly waited until his grandmother was out of earshot before he beat the two morons with her walking stick was well-done. Those guys really should not have called Abuelita a bee-otch. The comedy of the scene works well too as Tuco’s Abuelita seems to have no idea what’s really happening downstairs.
So, really, can Jimmy talk Tuco out of killing the three or them, particularly when the twins don’t always help their own case?
It’s really a great way to see what Jimmy can do when his back is against the wall. He doesn’t have any physical skills. All he has is his mouth and his mind, and as a lawyer, particularly one who works as a public defender just to make ends meet even when he doesn’t always have enough stickers for parking attendant Mike, he is quite good at plea bargains. So, while the twins might disagree, he did talk Tuco down from capital punishment to a single leg break to each of the twins to keep them off their boards for six months. He really is a fantastic lawyer.
Too bad this whole thing leaves him guilt-ridden and with what could be PTSD. Enough that he’d pass out on Chuck’s couch after a bender.
But that leads me to the rational fellow, Nacho. Nacho is played by Michael Mando, and I saw that guy in a few episodes of Orphan Black, and he was really good in those, but this is clearly a much different character: he’s the smart one. Nacho actually listens to Jimmy, decides the lawyer is speaking the truth the first time when Jimmy legitimately tries honesty, and then shows up at Jimmy’s less-than-impressive office to see if Jimmy is ready to “get into the game”.
Yeah, that seems rather ominous. Nacho doesn’t seem particularly threatening in the grand scheme of things, but that’s all the more reason to be wary of the guy. After all, he did track Jimmy down to ask about the Kettlemans and how to rob them. That’s a show of ambition at the very least, and he does seem to recognize that Jimmy may not be the most honest of men.
But Breaking Bad fans already knew that. The thing is…Jimmy doesn’t know it yet himself. And this show seems to be set up to show how he eventually realizes that for himself.