Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould and Bob Odenkirk are making this really hard for me.
I’m a writer. I have a decent grasp of English vocabulary. But there are only so many ways you can write, week in and week out, about the continued, consistent excellence of Better Call Saul.
And the hardest part is realizing that it’s only getting better.
When we last left Jimmy McGill, he was stuck in a pretty bad position. In order to save himself and his idiot accomplices from Tuco’s wrath, he gave up information about the embezzling city treasurer he’d been trying to land as a client. Of course, the thought of an easy seven figures caught Nacho’s attention, and at the end of “Mijo,” he made it pretty clear to Jimmy that he was going to get that money one way or another.
So, in “Nacho,” Jimmy panics. And being that he’s still trying to be a good man and not a Goodman, he tries to do the right thing. He tries to warn Kim (whose firm actually does represent the Kettlemans). He tries to warn the family directly. He does everything he can think of to save them from the fate he’s brought upon them.
When the Kettlemans disappear, and Nacho’s arrested soon after, he thinks they’re in pretty serious trouble. And he knows he’s in pretty serious trouble, until the last person he ever expected to help him actually helps him.
I’ve left out a few details, but that’s more or less the entire plot. “Nacho” continues Better Call Saul‘s run of slow-burn episodes. A lot happens, but it happens at its own pace, allowing for some fantastic character moments.
The opening scene (the kind of flashback Breaking Bad used to such great effect) reveals so much about Jimmy and his relationship to Chuck. We learn that Jimmy was once in a much worse place, until Chuck (some years before his breakdown) literally and figuratively bailed him out. We don’t know what he asked of his brother in return, but I’m looking forward to finding out.
In the present, Jimmy still needs bailing out. This time, it’s Kim who plays the role of exasperated friend or reluctant supporter or whatever she really is to him. It’s still a complicated, vague relationship to us, and Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn make the most of it. There’s an uneasy chemistry between them that just feels right.
Nacho gets a little less to do, but it’s all Michael Mando needs. His character is as smart and as sharp and as scary as anyone in the Breaking Bad rogues gallery not named Fring or White. I loathe him, I like him, I fear him, and I can’t stop watching him.
And then there’s Mike, finally stepping out of his booth to offer the kind of exasperated pragmatism he’s refined into an art form. There’s an ease about Jonathan Banks’s performance, the sense of having lived in Mike for so long that it no longer feels like acting, but just showing up and being. Of course, that’s been true for his entire career, and it’s a big part of why I always love watching Banks at work.
After Mike offers his insight (and why does he do that? Pity? Annoyance at the cops who can’t seem to do their jobs right? Or does it even matter?), Jimmy solves the mystery of the Kettlemans. But in the process, he’s left at another moral road fork, and we’re left guessing which path he’ll take. There’s still a long road between Jimmy and Saul.
But it’s so worth the ride.
Thanks once again for following along. Until next time…