Better Call Saul, Season 1 Episode 3: “Nacho”

The third episode of Better Call Saul is titled “Nacho”, but the titular character doesn’t even make an appearance until after the halfway point of the episode, and he only has two scenes. Back when Saul Goodman was Jimmy McGill, he was scared of criminals. Somewhere along the way he got used to working with them, but then he met Walter White, whose actions led him to become the manager of a Cinnabon in Nebraska who flinches every time he sees someone that looks remotely like a thug. Jimmy McGill has come full circle, but he doesn’t know it yet.

“Nacho” begins with a flashback; Jimmy was arrested for mooning someone in Chicago, and Chuck came back out there from Albuquerque to represent him. It seems like Jimmy managed to avoid prosecution, and his love for legal loopholes made him want to be a lawyer. This is Slippin’ Jimmy after all. Jimmy knows he wouldn’t last in prison, and thanks to his experience with Tuco and Nacho in the desert, he knows these people are willing and capable of killing him if he gets in their way. He also knows that Nacho wants to rip off the Kettlemans, and doesn’t want to be a part of it so he attempts to sabotage Nacho’s plans.

Jimmy does this by doing what he does best: talking. He first calls his sometimes lover, Kim, who works at his brother’s law firm and lets slip that the Kettlemans might be in danger. Then he calls the Kettlemans from a payphone to warn them that someone is after them. What Jimmy doesn’t know is that Nacho has been scouting their house for two nights, and also that the Kettlemans would run if they were threatened. Running is the logical response; they’re guilty people (spoiler alert for the end of the episode), so they make it look as if they’ve been kidnapped, and because this is eight years before Gone Girl was published, they weren’t as good at creating a fake crime scene as Amy Dunne.

So: Nacho is arrested for the kidnapping of the Kettlemans, he threatens to kill Jimmy unless he’s released by the end of the day, and Jimmy McGill works best when he’s under pressure. Kim and the police take Jimmy to the Kettleman house where Jimmy picks up a clue; the Kettlemans haven’t been kidnapped, they ran because their daughter JoJo wouldn’t leave without her favourite doll. The police think this is ridiculous, but it’s not until Mike Ehrmentraut, my personal favourite character on Breaking Bad, nearly presses assault charges against Jimmy, that he has an ally. I’d completely forgotten that Mike was a cop in Philadelphia – the transition from cop to ticket inspector to enforcer is an interesting one – but I’m so glad he’s more active in the show now. Jimmy asks Mike where the Kettlemans could be, and Mike suggests they haven’t left Albuquerque. Mike is right, they were camping out in the desert; Jimmy is also right, about both the faked kidnapping, and also the stolen money that he uncovered when he tried to talk the Kettlemans into going back home.

Other thoughts:

  • I really wonder if they’re going to use an episode naming convention like The Good Wife, which started out with one word episode titles for the first season, and after they made it to season four they started decreasing the number of words in the title.
  • Do the Kettlemans live in the same street as Hank and Marie? I thought I saw their house in the background, so I’m going to assume that this is canon. It’d be really easy to tell if the outside of the Schraeder house was also purple.
  • It took me a while to watch this episode because it’s available on a streaming service, and there’s nothing to tell me when the video has completely buffered, which is annoying.
  • All we saw of Chuck this week was the opening scene, so we don’t know how his illness is progressing.
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