So, I haven’t said a whole lot about the Nacho Varga character in this space. That’s not because the Nacho scenes or moments are bad or anything. It’s because I usually skip discussions of the action scenes and the like in favor of the character stuff that usually involves Kim and Jimmy.
Yeah, I am gonna take a good look at Nacho for this one for sure.
It’s not that Jimmy and Kim aren’t doing anything. They’re sliding further down the moral ladder as they try to ruin Howard. It gets to the point where Huell, brought in to help with a scheme, actually has to ask Jimmy what a lawyer, especially a successful one like Kim, needs with more money. When a guy who is basically a professional pickpocket like Huell has to ask a question like that, you should probably realize you are going too far.
By the by, reinventing Huell as a great pickpocket after his less impressive stunts on Breaking Bad was yet another masterstroke for this series.
However, I said I wanted to talk about Nacho this time around, and I do. Simple reason: he dies in this episode. After dodging the Cousins in Mexico and who knows who else, Nacho basically has come to realize Gus set him up to die, and that furthermore, the only way out for Nacho is to die. That said, he can die on his own terms. He’ll call in to cut a deal with Gus, but he’ll only really trust Mike to see things through, namely that Nacho’s father will be safe. That makes sense. Only Gus can make the deal, but only Mike is straightforward enough to be trusted.
Essentially, the scheme involves Nacho admitting to a role in Lola’s attempted assassination while giving in a pre-arranged story to throw suspicion off Gus. He’s to say it to the boss and then make a run for it to be gunned down. Simple enough, I suppose, and Nacho isn’t stupid enough to assume he won’t have to take a beating beforehand to make it look legit.
He’s also smart enough to make the death his own. That involves a piece of glass, holding the cartel head hostage, and then blowing his own brains out. He still honors his end of the deal, but he doesn’t get shot in the back making a run for it. He dies a death he can, I guess, allow him to maintain some machismo.
In a sense, that’s fitting for this series. Much of what happens in Better Call Saul involves cons and getting one over on one’s own terms. Nacho did that for himself while still honoring a deal with Gus, who himself set the whole thing up to try to eliminate Lalo, and even that failed since Lalo lived and Gus knows that. Maybe there’s a Mike Ehrmantraut you can trust, a man who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty but is basically a man of his word who won’t lie to anyone (except maybe himself), but this isn’t the sort of world that rewards much of anything. All that can leave someone is dead with Hector Salamanca plugging the corpse with bullets just because he can.
But dead on his own terms and in a way that put a scare into the Salamancas and Gus Fring ain’t the worst way to go.