AMC’s Better Call Saul
6×03: “Rock and Hard Place”
Directed & Written
by Gordon Smith
* For a recap & review of 6×02, click here.
* For a recap & review of 6×04, click here.
We open on a blue flower in the desert, as well as a shard of glass being rained on. What could be the meaning? Well, blue in the world of Breaking Bad is always closely connected to the meth and Walter White. But what about this shard of glass? Surely there’ll be meaning attached to it by the time this episode is over. Elsewhere on a stretch road, Nacho pulls over the truck he’s driving and waits with a gun. He soon decides to make a run for it into a nearby field as he hears a vehicle coming. He makes it to an abandoned oil truck and decides to take refuge inside. The vehicle eventually stops by the truck and Nacho watches as the Salamanca twins step out, looking over the truck and surveying the field.
Soon, Marco and Leonel make their way towards the nearly empty oil truck. What does Nacho do? He wades into the deep end, disappearing beneath the oil. He holds his breath while one of the Salamanca brothers looks inside. Then the brothers head off someplace else, before Nacho suffocates in the oil. Doesn’t mean Nacho’s leaving any time soon.
When night comes Nacho finally crawls free of the oil truck, desperately coughing and trying to suck in some fresh air. Quite the nasty hiding place. Didn’t do his cellphone any favours, either. And so, once more, Nacho goes into the wilderness on his own with nothing but a pistol. He finds a place along the roads to wash up as best he can, where a nice mechanic offers him a cloth to use. The mechanic lets Nacho hang around a bit, and use the telephone, too. Nacho calls his father, simply wanting to hear Manuel’s voice. But dad can tell something’s not right, and his son’s reluctant to say anything about what’s really going on. When they hang up, Nacho’s nearly reduced to tears. After that he calls Mike, who’s at the end of Gus’s gun, and he confronts the older man about what was known before he went to Mexico. Then, he asks to speak with Mr. Fring. He tells Gus: “You‘re screwed.” Nacho knows he’s a dead man; hell, he’s supposed to be dead already. So he wants to make a deal: Manuel’s kept safe if Nacho does/says the right things so that Gus isn’t held accountable for the shit show. Mike promises that Manuel will be fine. And so… Nacho’s a man of his word, right?
Saul and Kim are trying to keep on track with their latest scheme. Because it isn’t easy having shitty morals! It’s difficult work. At the moment, Saul’s looking to be “audacious” in his planning, seeking to use the services of Mr. Huell Babineaux again for a “valet scam.” Foolproof, no doubt. Kim offers up a rival attorney, Suzanne Ericsen, some info, supposedly found on discovery, which prompts a further conversation.
Suzanne asks her about Jorge de Guzman, one of Saul’s clients, who looks exactly like Eduardo ‘Lalo’ Salamanca. Oh, my. Kim plays it off like she’s never heard of any of it. Suzanne mentions the apparent death of Lalo. She then lays out Saul’s connections from Nacho right up to Lalo. People are sniffing around about those connections. Suzanne wants to believe Saul—still referred to as Jimmy by his more respectable colleagues, though Kim corrects that, too—didn’t do any of this purposefully, that he was a pawn.
One thing’s for sure: the beginning of the end has, most definitely, begun. This is the final season, so the unravelling of Saul/Jimmy’s carefully crafted identities was coming eventually.
Nacho’s smuggled back over the border beneath the floor of a transport truck. He’s brought back topside by Mike and given a meal. Gus sends word that Nacho “looks too pretty” and that means Mike has to do a bit of work on his younger pal. Before any punches are thrown, Mike and Nacho share a drink together.
Howard drops his car off with a valet, who parks it and then runs into Huell on his way back. Huell lifts the valet’s keys and has a friend in a van close by cut a new, identical key. Brilliant stuff! The key’s ready by the time the young valet returns and the original key is left on the ground for the valet to find again. Now, Saul has a replica key with a keypad attached. Perfect for doing nasty business to fuck with Howard. Huell asks Saul why the lawyer’s up to all this scamming, and Saul only replies that it’s “the Lord‘s work.” Even guys who do criminal things regularly don’t understand Saul. Later on when Saul gets home he finds a shaken Kim with news about the whole Lalo situation. They discuss what’s best to do now. Kim asks whether he wants to be “a friend of the cartel” or “a rat.” Tough decision.
Mike and Gus meet out at the trailer, where the boss gets a look at Nacho’s beaten and bruised face. They’re preparing to meet with Juan Bolsa and the Salamanca twins. Gus wants to get Nacho’s story straight, the latter repeating all the correct words. Mike runs through what Nacho should do, before Nacho’s put down like a rabid dog. Outside, Mike says he wants to be around when everything goes down and Gus agrees. Inside, Nacho psychologically prepares himself for what comes next.
The following day, Mike, Gus, and Nacho, along with some muscle, head off in a van. They stop to let Mike out, somewhere close to keep an eye on things, and he has a silent goodbye with Nacho beforehand; the relationship between them is a great precursor to Mike and Jesse, showing why Mike tried his best to help Jesse later in the Breaking Bad timeline. Then the van continues on towards the meeting destination in a valley below. Hector’s there waiting with Bolsa and the twins as Mike perches off in the distance with a sniper rifle. Nacho’s pulled out of the van, zip tied, and presented to the cartel.
Bolsa talks of “good deaths” and “bad deaths” before asking Nacho about who orchestrated everything. Nacho blames it on the right people, according to Gus’s plan, but immediately Hector calls bullshit with his bell, pointing at “the Chicken Man” as if to accuse him. He refuses to blame Fring, like the cartel wants, and even admits to Hector he’s the one who put the old man in that chair. Suddenly, Nacho cuts free his ties and takes Bolsa with a gun to the head. He then shoots himself in the head, rather than shoot Bolsa, stunning everybody.
That piece of glass from the opening is the one Nacho used to free himself.