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"Rock and Hard Place" is the third episode of the sixth season of Better Call Saul and the fifty-third episode of the series altogether.

Summary

Teaser

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In the desert, we see a close panning shot that closely examines the natural foliage. The camera focuses on a blue flower as it begins to rain. Tracking to the ground, we see broken plastic zip-ties and a piece of glass half-buried in the mud as it is pelted by rainwater.

Act I

After the shootout at the motel, Nacho parks the wrecked pickup truck on a dirt road and prepares for a confrontation with Leonel and Marco Salamanca. However, he takes a different option when he notices an abandoned tanker trailer in a nearby field. Nacho rushes to the trailer and climbs inside. Through a hole, he sees the Cousins and several Cartel henchmen park next to the pickup and begin searching the area. When Leonel approaches the trailer, Nacho is forced to hide by submerging himself in a pool of oily substance at the trailer's far end. Leonel pokes his head in the trailer but does not see Nacho. Once he leaves, Nacho emerges from the pool and sees the Cartel party driving away. He waits until after dark before climbing out of the trailer and unsuccessfully attempts to use his cell phone. He runs away from the scene.

The following morning, Nacho washes himself off with a hose at an auto repair shop. A mechanic approaches Nacho and offers a rag with which to dry himself, which he accepts. Later, the mechanic allows him to use a phone in his garage. Nacho first places a call to his father Manuel at his upholstery business in Albuquerque. He struggles to contain his emotions as he talks to his father, telling him that he just wanted to check in and hear his voice. Manuel senses that something is wrong, and urges his son to turn himself in to the police. The two say goodbye. Afterwards, Nacho cries.

After collecting himself, Nacho places a call to Mike, who is being held at gunpoint by Tyrus at the Los Pollos Hermanos chicken farm. Nacho confronts Mike for knowingly sending him on a suicide mission to Mexico, but Mike replies that it was not his call. Speaking with Gus, Nacho threatens to betray him to the Cartel. Knowing that the only way that Gus survives the present situation is if Nacho dies, he agrees to let it happen on one condition: that his father remains safe. Gus and Mike give Nacho their assurances, with Mike pledging that anyone who tries to go after Manuel "will have to come through me." Satisfied, Nacho departs from the auto repair shop and leaves behind his money for the mechanic in gratitude.

Act II

At Kim's apartment, Jimmy is overlooking a group of post-it notes attached to the back of a picture frame, each detailing a different detail of his and Kim's ongoing scheme against Howard. Their next phase involves finding a mint-condition car of the same make and model as Howard's Jaguar. Kim suggests somehow commandeering the real Jaguar, but Jimmy is initially skeptical as the idea carries too many risks. However, he comes up with a way that the car could be procured: through a "valet scam" using Huell as their covert operative. Exhilarated by the scheming, Kim pulls in Jimmy for a passionate kiss.

At the courthouse, ADA Suzanne Ericsen sees Jimmy and Kim in the lobby. Perturbed, Ericsen brings Kim to her office. She shows Kim the arrest report for "Jorge de Guzman", a.k.a. Lalo Salamanca, a Mexican drug trafficker who secured $7 million with Jimmy's help, jumped bail, and died in a gunfight at his compound. Mentioning Jimmy's past associations with both Nacho Varga and Tuco Salamanca, Ericsen outlines ADA Gina Khalil's suspicion that he knew Lalo's true identity and is working as a "cartel lawyer". Ericsen believes that Jimmy was deceived into representing Lalo, which would nullify their attorney-client privilege and allow her to question him about the Salamanca operation in Albuquerque. Kim pointedly refers to Jimmy as "Saul" and recalls how Ericsen once referred to him as a "scumbag". Ericsen states that, while they had their differences in the past, she still believes that Jimmy wants to do what is right.

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Meanwhile, at the chicken farm, Mike recovers Nacho from a hidden compartment in the back of a Los Pollos Hermanos truck. After Nacho is given a meal, he asks, "When?" "Tomorrow", Mike replies. The two are approached by Victor, who says that Gus thinks that Nacho is "too pretty". Victor suggests that he take care of Nacho—meaning to beat him up—but Mike insists that he will handle it himself and tells Victor to leave. Mike retrieves a bottle of whiskey and two glasses from a nearby locker, and shares a solemn drink with Nacho.

Act III

At the Forque Kitchen and Bar, Howard hands his Jaguar to a valet driver named Tony, who proceeds to drive it to a nearby parking garage. As Tony runs back to the restaurant he bumps into Huell, who manages to pickpocket Howard's car keys. Huell and a criminal associate then proceed to make a duplicate of the keys in the back of a van, operating within a very short time before Tony realizes the keys are missing and returns. They manage to create the duplicate keys and leave the scene; the original keys are left beneath the Jaguar for Tony to find. At the top level of the parking garage, in Jimmy's rental car, Huell shows him an electronic device attached to the duplicate keys that will be able to remotely lock and unlock the Jaguar. He asks why Jimmy and Kim, being "legit lawyers", are going through the trouble of this scheme. Jimmy tells him that what they are doing will help people down the road. Huell expresses skepticism and leaves.

That night, Jimmy returns home to find Kim, who is uneasy from her conversation with Ericsen. Kim tells Jimmy that Lalo is dead; Jimmy, having been told of the assassination ahead of time by Mike, feigns surprise by this news. She also tells him about Ericsen's request to talk about what he knows about Lalo. Conflicted, Jimmy asks what he should do. Kim replies that he can do whatever he wants since Ericsen is engaging in a fishing expedition, but says that his next move boils down to one question: "Do you want to be a friend of the Cartel, or do you want to be a rat?"

Meanwhile, Gus drives to the chicken farm in his Volvo and enters the office trailer, where Mike and Nacho are waiting. Nacho's face has been bloodied by Mike as part of the setup the three men have arranged: Nacho is to tell Juan Bolsa that he was working for a Peruvian cartel in the plot against Lalo and then stage an escape attempt, at which point he will be shot by Victor as he is running away. Mike assures him that, "It will be over quick." Outside the trailer, Mike asks that he be present when Nacho is killed, saying that he is needed in case the plan goes south. Gus reluctantly nods his approval. Inside the trailer, Nacho notices something reflective in the trash can.

Act IV

Nacho is transported in the back of a windowless van with Mike and Tyrus, while Gus and Victor are in the front cab. Mike is deposited on a ridge near the planned meeting spot, where he will monitor the proceedings from a sniper's nest. As Nacho's hands are bound by Tyrus, we get a glimpse of something hidden in his fist. At the meeting spot—a small, remote shack—Gus's party is met by Bolsa, the Cousins, and Hector. Nacho is taken out of the van and presented before Bolsa, who tells him that he will have a "good death" if he tells them who put him up to betraying Lalo. Nacho contemplates turning on Gus but ultimately sticks to the story, telling Bolsa that he was on the payroll of the Peruvian cartel and that Gus had nothing to do with the plot. Hector, knowing the truth, angrily rings his bell and tries to point at Gus.

Nacho launches into a vicious tirade against the Salamancas, stating that he despises every one of them and gleefully admitting to his betrayal of Lalo. Nacho also confesses to causing Hector's stroke by switching his pills, saying that he hopes Hector will think of him for the rest of his life as he wastes away in his nursing home. Having cut through his zip ties with a piece of glass—the same glass seen in the teaser—Nacho stabs Bolsa in the leg before stealing his gun and taking him hostage. Gus and Hector's men both train their weapons on Nacho. Mike, watching the standoff through his sniper scope, quietly whispers, "Do it." Deciding to die on his own terms, Nacho points the gun at his own head and pulls the trigger. Everyone present watches as Nacho's lifeless body falls to the ground. Gus and his men drive away while an enraged Hector impotently fires Marco's gun into Nacho's body. Mike, moved from witnessing Nacho's last stand, leaves the scene.

Official Photos

Trivia

  • Nacho Varga is the second main character to die. Like Chuck McGill, he also died by suicide.
    • Nacho commits suicide after placing the blame for the assassination attempt on Lalo on a rival cartel from Peru, and gleefully confessing to his attempted murder of Hector Salamanca that had led to his stroke.
    • On Michael Mando's final day of shooting, the crew wore shirts depicting Nacho and drew teardrops on their faces, similar to the tattoos prison inmates get after dealing with some form of death. A similar act was done on the set of Breaking Bad, with the crew wearing black armbands during the filming of Jonathan Banks' last scene.
  • The episode is the second to not use the traditional end credit theme composed by Dave Porter, opting to use another dramatic piece of music by him to accompany the somber tone of the ending. The first episode to use this device was "Lantern", which also followed the death of a main character (Chuck).
  • The Valet Tag Number on Howard’s car is 618; which corresponds to June 18th, the same day Jimmy/Kim decided early in the episode when their scheme must go down by (D-Day). Furthermore, this day would later correspond to when Howard dies.
  • Nacho appeared in the series for a total of 33 episodes, which corresponds to his age when he dies.
  • Michael Mando called Nacho's death scene "ominous... these are all dead men walking, watching the first man die", referring to the fact that each of the other characters who appeared in the scene (Gus, Tyrus, Victor, Hector, Leonel and Marco Salamanca, Bolsa, and Mike) would all eventually meet their own fates on Breaking Bad.
  • Suzanne Ericsen states that Fred Whalen was 22 even though his driver's license gave his age as 26.
  • During the intro of this episode, we can see a beautiful blue flower near which there is a piece of glass on the ground. This is actually a flash-forward: the flower is growing in the place where Nacho died, the piece of glass being the one he used to wound Bolsa and take his gun, before killing himself.
  • In the shot where Mike is dropped off from the van in the desert, a person dressed in blue can be seen moving in the bushes near the top-left corner of the screen. It is unknown who this person is.

Production

Credits

Featured Music

TBA

Memorable Quotes

"Why do you do all this?"
―Huell Babineaux to Jimmy McGill.

"There are good deaths, and there are bad deaths."
―Juan Bolsa to Nacho Varga.

"Him? You think the... Chicken Man? What a joke. Alvarez has been paying me for years -- years. But you know what? I would've done it for free, because I hate every last one of you psycho sacks of shit. I opened Lalo's gate. And I would do it again. And I'm glad what they did to him. He's a soulless pig. And I wish I'd killed him with my own hands. And you know what else, Hector? I put you in that chair. Oh, yeah. Your heart meds? I switched them for sugar pills. You were dead and buried, and I had to watch this asshole bring you back. So when you are sitting in your shitty nursing home, and you're suckin' down on your Jell-O night after night for the rest of your life, you think of me, you twisted fuck!"
―Nacho's gleeful confession before his suicide.


Videos

TBA

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