Better Call Saul: Rock and Hard Place
April 25, 2022 10:54 PM - Season 6, Episode 3 - Subscribe

Still on the run, Nacho is forced to choose where his loyalties lie. Jimmy must decide whether he wants to remain a "friend of the cartel" after his reputation is called into question. Gus and Mike ready the team for a meeting.

holy shit.
posted by Rhaomi (47 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
If Michael Mando doesn’t get an Emmy for this, then just close down the Emmys.
posted by azpenguin at 11:16 PM on April 25 [19 favorites]


This one gutted me.

My heart caught when the white van drove up behind those little stone monoliths from the cold open. I don't remember seeing them before, although it looked like Mike was in the same spot he used in Klick.

Does anyone know what that blue flower was in the cold open? I've been getting into desert wildflowers and that one was really striking (even without the added weight of the episode).
posted by Fish, fish, are you doing your duty? at 8:34 AM on April 26


This interview with Michael Mando is poetry. Here is but a snippet (sentence carefully edited to avoid Ep 3 spoilers, the whole interview is amazing):

...the trial of a man’s heart, like when the ancient Egyptians would weigh your heart against the weight of a feather and figure out what is it you stood for.


Fish, I've read elsewhere that the flower is a desert bluebell, symbolizing gratitude, humility, and enduring love.
posted by marguerite at 9:47 AM on April 26 [6 favorites]


Holy hell. Nacho, man. Gave his life to keep his father safe. And given what we know about Mike and Gus into the future, it's safe to say that Gus held up his end of the bargain. Although once Nacho is gone you'd imagine there's not much need for protection, but I guess you never know what the cartel suspects he knows or has access to.

But man, the shape of this damn episode. Fucking hell.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:10 AM on April 26 [1 favorite]


Man, what an episode. I think Mando (in that interview) is right - this is going to be one of those episodes we think of a lot in the future when considering the show.
posted by destructive cactus at 11:14 AM on April 26 [1 favorite]


I assume I’m not the only one to hold my breath the entire time he was in that oil.
posted by chill at 11:54 AM on April 26 [9 favorites]


Amazing episode.

When Mike is watching with the sniper rifle, saying "Do it" when Nacho has Bolsa at gunpoint, is he saying "Kill Bolsa" or "Kill yourself like we talked about earlier instead of pretending to run away"?
posted by neustile at 12:04 PM on April 26


I'm pretty sure Mike wanted Nacho to kill Bolsa. (I presume Mike would have been okay killing every person in his field of vision, including Nacho, albeit not very happily in the case of Nacho. But Mike only seems to be happy when he's at home anyway.)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:08 PM on April 26 [1 favorite]


Why was Mike there? Can anyone explain this? What was the original plan and how did Nacho's action change what the outcome was to be? How does Nacho's dad fit in?

I was confused and the scene felt rushed. Did thet write themselves into a corner with Nacho? A little disappointed I'm not going to lie. Hoping there is more to come that flows from this episode a bit neater.
posted by tiny frying pan at 12:14 PM on April 26


Why was Mike there?

Because Mike wanted to be there. I presume to make sure nobody tortured Nacho.
posted by Pendragon at 12:30 PM on April 26 [3 favorites]


That doesn't answer my question...so he was there to kill Nacho, specifically, if he was to be tortured?
posted by tiny frying pan at 12:41 PM on April 26


Ah damn. I cried. What a performance from Michael Mando.

I wonder what'll happen when Saul and Kim find out Lalo is still alive.
posted by essexjan at 12:42 PM on April 26


I don't know what the rules are in New Mexico, but in North Carolina an attorney is not allowed to post bond for a client. Saul absolutely was representing Lalo, and he absolutely posted bond for him. I assume that must be allowed in New Mexico.

The purpose of bond is to assure someone's appearance in court. The money gets returned once the case has been disposed. There was no sort of bond forfeiture proceeding in this case when Lalo fled. The DA found out he had left the country when they found out he died. As such, that 7 million dollars needs to be returned now that the case has been disposed (it will be dismissed because Lalo is dead). Bond is returned to the person who posted the bond. Saul posted the bond. He should be getting 7 million dollars in cash.

I wonder if that issue/situation will be explored in future episodes.
posted by flarbuse at 1:15 PM on April 26 [2 favorites]


Dude went out like a mensch. Vaya con Dios.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:45 PM on April 26


"That doesn't answer my question...so he was there to kill Nacho, specifically, if he was to be tortured"

Nacho agreed to pretend he was working for a rival gang, then to be killed, so that his father's safety is assured. The plan seemed to be for Nacho to run, and for Victor to kill him. Mike wanted to be there, because he felt responsible for Nacho. He made the reasonable point that lots of things could go wrong, so Fring let him watch with a sniper rifle. There are lots of different ways a man with a sniper rifle could help out.

I am reasonably sure that Mike wanted Nacho to run.. sure he is not a fan of the Cartel, but his fate is tied to Gus; the financial future of his granddaughter is attached to it. At this point, despite a few qualms of conscience I think his famipy is really the only thing he cares about.

It seems that my questions from last week are answered, if not completely satisfactorily. Gus intended for the Salamancas to find Nacho dead at the hotel. But why not kill him earlier? I guess the idea was for him to be taken out shortly before the Salamancas arrive, so the police cant get jn the way. Still seems like a slightly fraught plan to me.

Quibbling aside, this was a great episode. Nacho's plot has been pretty sad. Ever since Fring got his claws in him, Nacho has basically been without agency, trapped completely. Mike warned him of consequences, but this final fate is very cruel. It was absolutely electric to see Nacho take down Hector verbally, and him getting the opportunity to reveal the medicine swap was great.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 2:31 PM on April 26 [8 favorites]


I've read elsewhere that the flower is a desert bluebell, symbolizing gratitude, humility, and enduring love.

Agree. Also lots of angelic symbolism in the lighting on Nacho in this and previous episodes. Directed white light from above casting a halo. In the oil tank, in the drain pipe, as he confronts Gus’ spy opposite the hotel, the sunlight leaking into the van en route to his final rendezvous.

Pete Peppers analysis of Episode 3.
posted by rongorongo at 3:20 PM on April 26 [2 favorites]


Whoa if they're gonna do Nacho like that in Episode 3 . . .
posted by whuppy at 5:01 PM on April 26


is he saying "Kill Bolsa" or "Kill yourself like we talked about earlier instead of pretending to run away"?

Not the latter, I don't think. I don't believe anyone but Nacho knew what his plan was. The show gave him complete agency, finally and for once, when it came to choosing how he was going to go out. There was no indication that he had told Mike what he intended to do.

Minor note, the plan was not for Nacho to pretend to run away. He was supposed to run at Victor (one of Gus's guys)--I guess to cement the idea that he and Gus's team were at odds.

I don't think we can know for sure what Mike meant. "Kill Bolsa" might have been kind of dumb strategically--like conveying a message opposite to the one they had planned. But Mike might have been angry enough at the Salamancas and about Nacho's self-sacrifice to want to see Bolsa taken out anyway--for revenge if nothing else? I guess that's probably how I would interpret it. "Do it" doesn't make a ton of sense in the moment, if Mike intended "Drop the gun and carry out the plan." If that's what Mike meant, he would have said "Don't do it."

RIP Nacho! What a tragic guy. Amazing character and actor.
posted by torticat at 5:57 PM on April 26


the plan was not for Nacho to pretend to run away. He was supposed to run at Victor

(quoting self) I'm wrong! Just rewatched that part, and yeah he was supposed to be pretending to run away. Not sure why he was supposed to "run at Victor" at first. I guess it was just so he would be in a predictable location when Victor was meant to shoot him?
posted by torticat at 6:25 PM on April 26


Gus intended for the Salamancas to find Nacho dead at the hotel. But why not kill him earlier? I guess the idea was for him to be taken out shortly before the Salamancas arrive, so the police cant get jn the way. Still seems like a slightly fraught plan to me.

I don't think that Gus intended for the Salamancas to find Nacho dead. I think he just wanted them to find him, for Nacho to take the fall for the Lalo raid, and for the Salamancas to kill him. It was Nacho himself who pointed out to Gus that if he fell into the Salamancas' hands, they would probably make him talk, and that would not be good for Gus. That is the bargaining chip Nacho used with Gus.

Gus left a gun (along with the money) for Nacho on the hotel bed. Pretty sure he expected Nacho to die in a firefight and didn't realize the brothers would allow him to get away sooner than kill him, since Lalo wanted him alive. The only dumb thing is that Gus, who is always two steps ahead, would certainly have thought of the possibility of the Salamancas' taking Nacho alive and torturing him. But it was clear in the Mike/Nacho/Gus phone call that Nacho was the one who made that rather obvious point, thus getting the upper hand (however briefly) in order to protect his father.

Completely agree that whatever the actual plan for Nacho was, it was a slightly fraught one! I think BCS takes some narrative liberties but the writers and actors sell it SO hard that we (or I at least) don't generally notice.
posted by torticat at 6:54 PM on April 26 [1 favorite]


That ending totally caught me off guard because I (mistakenly) thought nacho appeared in BB.
posted by fizzix at 7:11 PM on April 26 [2 favorites]


That was a great ending for Nacho. The writing was superb - giving us a moment of hope and letting Nacho strike a blow against the Salamancas before giving his inevitable ending. And I am glad he brought up his betrayal of Hector and remember he had betrayed Tuco before. Like everyone on this show we spend more than two minutes with he was a rich, well rounded character. He broke bad, did terrible things from the standpoint of both the civilian world and from within the rules of The Game. Trying to move two of your bosses off the board either ends with you on top or in a ditch in the BB/BCS drug world. He also clearly let his life spiral out of control and just wanted to protect his father at the end. I was listening to a podcast today which said that having a family is a weakness in this universe - Nacho could have run if he didn’t have to worry about his father.

i am not sure 100% that his father is safe. The cartel has a reputation for going after families and they are probably pretty pissed at Nacho
posted by shothotbot at 8:37 PM on April 26 [2 favorites]


Man, this was one of those times when my viewing of Breaking Bad really affected how I view this show.

I knew Nacho was doomed as soon as the scene opened. Nacho was there with Hector, the Cousins, Bolsa, Victor, Titus, and Gus Fring, and Mike watching over the hill. With the exception of Nacho, every single character in the scene would survive to appear later in Breaking Bad. So things looked very bad indeed for Nacho.

Why was Mike there? Can anyone explain this? What was the original plan and how did Nacho's action change what the outcome was to be?

To Gus, Mike was there to put a bullet in Nacho if he managed to escape everyone else.

To Mike, he was there because he was responsible for Nacho's situation and he had a duty to be there at the end, and he might be able to show some mercy e.g. by shooting Nacho if the Cousins decided to torture him. I think he would have been happy to see Nacho take out Bolsa on his way out.

The plan was for Nacho to "confess" that he was working for a rival gang, then make a run for it so Victor could shoot him. Nacho's actions only changed one thing: He told the Salamancas he was responsible for Tuco's imprisonment and Hector's stroke, then took away their satisfying revenge by shooting himself. But he still fulfilled his promise to Gus to give the false confession and then get killed.

Incidentally, we now know exactly what Saul was talking about in Breaking Bad when Walter and Jesse threaten him in the desert and he says "Did Lalo send you? It wasn't me, it was Ignacio."

Bravo for Michael Mando's amazing performance. Rest In Peace Nacho.
posted by mmoncur at 8:55 PM on April 26 [9 favorites]


Does anyone know what that blue flower was in the cold open? I've been getting into desert wildflowers and that one was really striking (even without the added weight of the episode).

Phacelia campanularia, or Desert Bellflower.. It's range does not include Mexico or New Mexico though.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:39 PM on April 26 [3 favorites]


I realised what Nacho was going to do even before the episode started when (Netflix UK) there was a warning that the episode contained scenes of violence, bad language and suicide. Way to go, Netflix, spoiling your own show. Still, the impact of the scene was gut-wrenching. Throughout BCS Nacho and Mike have been the only bad guys who also both have a strong moral compass, even though they have had to betray their own ideals multiple times to survive.
posted by essexjan at 3:21 AM on April 27 [2 favorites]


I enjoyed this, but if Gus was suspected and then he delivered a prisoner who had a weapon and was able to escape his bonds, that would seem pretty suspicious. It is plausible that Nacho was able to get the glass shard while being imprisoned and beaten and then use it to cut the zip tie. A simpler explanation would be that they gave Nacho the shard and maybe even pre-cut the zip tie part way so he looked bound, but could easily break free. At the very least, Gus is responsible for some very shoddy prisoner management.
posted by snofoam at 4:08 AM on April 27


Phacelia campanularia, or Desert Bellflower.. It's range does not include Mexico or New Mexico though.

One of the great things about BCS is that the makers include shots like this with cryptic symbolism. The other great thing is that people find them and offer explanations: Better Call Saul Season 6's Blue Flower Secretly Connects To Kim & Walt - in the BCS/BB world blue symbolises innocence in death. It is also one of Kim's favourite colours - and that of Walt's crystal meth, of course. We can also speculate about when the blue flower shot lies in the timeline: clearly after Nacho's death but potentially long afterwards - maybe in the same colour timeline as the episode 1 cold open.
posted by rongorongo at 4:16 AM on April 27 [1 favorite]


i am not sure 100% that his father is safe. The cartel has a reputation for going after families and they are probably pretty pissed at Nacho

Yep. It's their only revenge, and you know Hector and the twins very much want revenge. All I could think when Nacho was riling up Hector (admittedly great to watch) was, "noooo what are you doing to your father."
posted by mediareport at 4:27 AM on April 27 [2 favorites]


. . . that means Gene and Kim are truly fucked. I'm only making this prediction because all of my predictions have been wrong.
posted by whuppy at 7:24 AM on April 27 [2 favorites]


Am I misremembering or did Kim make a switch this season and is now wearing all black and only black?
posted by the webmistress at 8:33 AM on April 27


It is plausible that Nacho was able to get the glass shard while being imprisoned and beaten and then use it to cut the zip tie. A simpler explanation would be that they gave Nacho the shard and maybe even pre-cut the zip tie part way so he looked bound, but could easily break free.

I thought Nacho made the shard himself after he'd had the drink with Mike and was then left in the room by himself before they zip-tied him. Didn't he look into a drawer and see a glass or mirror?
posted by essexjan at 9:42 AM on April 27 [1 favorite]


It was the glass in the garbage bin from Gus breaking a glass in the previous episode.
posted by neustile at 9:57 AM on April 27 [9 favorites]


To clarify, my previous comment was not about trying to understand what happened in the show, which as neustile notes, includes getting a piece from the glass that Gus broke and put in the trash (which itself is a callback to the early Breaking Bad plate scene). I was suggesting that Don Julio and the Salamancas would have a couple ways to interpret what happened in the desert, one of which is incompetent prisoner management, and the other is intentional sabotage.
posted by snofoam at 10:28 AM on April 27


Last night, I watched the first two episodes of Season 1 of Better Call Saul on Netflix, and man ... what a reminder of Nacho's journey. He was in such a different place at the start of the show.
posted by destructive cactus at 11:19 AM on April 27


Does anyone know what that blue flower was in the cold open? I've been getting into desert wildflowers and that one was really striking (even without the added weight of the episode).

Phacelia campanularia, or Desert Bellflower.. It's range does not include Mexico or New Mexico though.


Sorry, I should amend this: it grows in the Sonoran Desert, so it can be found in Mexico: Baja and the western side of Sonora state. Lalo's house is in Chihuahua.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:59 AM on April 27 [1 favorite]


Am I misremembering or did Kim make a switch this season and is now wearing all black and only black?

I thought I noticed an all black ensemble during this episode and was thinking the same thing, but going back through all 3 episodes I don't think that's correct. Her first suit in episode 1 is a dark teal with a checked shirt. She wears a navy blue shirt when staking out the country club. In ep 2 she wears a black shirt, and then later an oxblood suit and rust/orange/purple striped shirt for the "carrot and stick" scene (this suit actually appears much more dark and muted when I watch the episode). In ep 3 what looks like a black suit in the meeting with the prosecutor appears to be a dark warm brown, though it appears nearly black. Her shirts is either black or very dark navy.

I do think overall she may be wearing darker colors this season- I seam to remember a lot more navy blue and blue in previous seasons but I don't have the time to go back through all those episodes too :)
posted by oneirodynia at 12:30 PM on April 27 [1 favorite]


The Better Call Saul insider podcast has Micheal Mando on this week and you hear a lot from him
posted by shothotbot at 12:41 PM on April 27


Gus left a gun (along with the money) for Nacho on the hotel bed. Pretty sure he expected Nacho to die in a firefight and didn't realize the brothers would allow him to get away sooner than kill him, since Lalo wanted him alive.

I think this makes sense, because the gun and money were left before Gus determined Lalo was not actually dead. Once Gus knew Lalo, that supernaturally intelligent schemer, was most likely alive and intent on finding out who was *really* behind the assassination the stakes got much higher.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:45 PM on April 27 [2 favorites]


But Mike might have been angry enough at the Salamancas and about Nacho's self-sacrifice to want to see Bolsa taken out anyway--for revenge if nothing else?

Mike and Jimmy nearly died in the desert when Bolsa tried to ambush them for the 7 million in bail money.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:02 PM on April 27 [2 favorites]


essexjan: "I realised what Nacho was going to do even before the episode started when (Netflix UK) there was a warning that the episode contained scenes of violence, bad language and suicide. Way to go, Netflix, spoiling your own show."

FWIW, I read on the BCS subreddit that these warnings appear on all episodes and warn about everything that happens season-wide.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:21 PM on April 27 [3 favorites]


That ending totally caught me off guard because I (mistakenly) thought nacho appeared in BB.

Hard same. I attribute this to what a staple Nacho has been in BCS— it feels like he’s been around the BrakingBadiverse since the get-go.
posted by supercres at 8:16 PM on April 27


[T]he episode contained scenes of violence, bad language and suicide. Way to go, Netflix, spoiling your own show.

I would have really appreciated seeing that warning. I watched this episode with my husband who had recently witnessed the aftermath of his nephew's suicide by gunshot. I love the show but I really wish there was a way to consume this sort of media while skipping over the graphic, sudden, shocking depictions of suicide.
posted by zixyer at 9:35 AM on April 28 [3 favorites]




I know I'm a bit late to the thread, but did anyone else think that the thing that Nacho discovered in Gus's meeting shed at around 36 minutes in after the others had left was a tray of blue meth (not Walt's at this point, but maybe Gale's attempt to replicate it)? Before he walks over to it, it looks like a tray, and once he's peering at it it all kinda reflects blue?
posted by nightcoast at 8:57 PM on May 7


Ah, I see a lot of commentary (including here) that it was the broken glass in the trash can from earlier that in turn allowed Nacho to cut himself free - I had thought that him getting loose was part of the plan, but maybe he was still supposed to be ziptied?
posted by nightcoast at 9:13 PM on May 7


I'm pretty sure that the blue meth is still a few years away. I think this is 2003 or '04.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:39 PM on May 9


Wow.

"Tell Cersei Hector I want him to know it was me"
posted by lalochezia at 6:57 PM on May 19


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