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BETTER CALL SAUL Review – Episode 3: ‘Nacho’

BETTER CALL SAUL Review – Episode 3: ‘Nacho’

“No good deed goes unpunished,” is a nasty little phrase that people like to throw around when things don’t go their way, and while it’s certainly true in some cases, it really seems to apply to guys like Jimmy McGill. Here’s a desperate upstart attorney who seems to have a real gift for duplicity and sneakiness, but he only seems to get into the nastiest sorts of trouble when he tries to do something decent. With characters this colorful and writing this sharp, it’s just a whole lot of fun to watch Bob Odenkirk trek from cocky to desperate to terrified to (slightly, temporarily) triumphant — but knowing what we know about this guy’s late-era Breaking Bad M.O., well, that just adds an extra layer of enjoyment.

When we left Jimmy at the end of episode 2, he’d passed on a lucrative and highly illegal proposition from the soft-spoken bad-ass known simply as Nacho: help me steal a big pile of cash from the white-collar Kettleman crooks, and you get a piece of the action. By the time we get to episode 3, Jimmy is not only not reconsidering Nacho’s offer; he’s actually working his ass off to get an anonymous warning to the Kettleman clan. To borrow another frequently used phrase, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions,” and for all his desperation, Jimmy simply doesn’t want to see the suburbanite embezzlers get hacked to pieces. And thus the madness of this story just keeps spiraling out of control. Slowly, gradually, fascinatingly out of control.

Prior to the continuation of the Nacho v. Kettlemans thread, we get something new! A flashback in which an even younger Jimmy has been arrested and must rely on his estranged (but not yet super-strange) big brother Chuck for some legal assistance. This our only “Jimmy and Chuck” sequence for the whole episode, and it promises some interesting stuff down the road, as in “Specifically, what the hell did Jimmy do to get arrested?” Plus it’s cool to see Chuck in this earlier and much more commanding position.

More good news: we finally get to know a little more about “opposing” counsel Kim (Rhea Seehorn) and glean a bit more insight into her relationship with Jimmy. (Seems like they were pretty close at one point!) The bulk of the episode focuses on how the Kettleman family goes missing, how Nacho is the prime suspect, and how Jimmy knows the truth but (obviously) cannot explain it without implicating himself in all sorts of unflattering ways. That being said, we still get some great character beats, such as a quick bathroom scene in which Jimmy nails his courtroom nemesis on basic ineptitude.

For those who enjoy Better Call Saul as Breaking Bad history (and who doesn’t?), episode 3 gives us a great moment indeed: after numerous spats, arguments, and volleys of verbal abuse, we finally get to see Jimmy join forces (kinda) with the soft-spoken and very intimidating Mike Ehrmantraut (the great Jonathan Banks). It felt a little bit like watching Sherlock Holmes and Watson team up for the first time, only this is the seedier side of Albuquerque circa 2002 and not Victorian London. You get what I mean. Moving on.

As in the first two episodes, the most satisfying aspect of this tale is simply how clever Jimmy is. This time around, he has less than a day to figure out what happened to those darn Kettlemans, or he’ll face the brutal wrath of Nacho’s colleagues. It goes without saying that Jimmy will save his skin somehow, but the fun is in watching his brain kick into high gear when even the smallest of opportunities pops up. The irony is that for every small victory, Jimmy takes one more step towards becoming Saul Goodman, and while Saul is a blast, it’s sort of endearing to see Jimmy work so damn hard to do the right thing while stuck in very dire situations.

“No good deed goes unpunished” might not be true in all cases, but it does frequently make for very entertaining television. “Nacho” gives us a few new story wrinkles, some very welcome contributions from Kim and Mike, and a couple of juicy little clues about what’s going on with Chuck, Nacho, and those sneaky little Kettlemans.

But mainly I want to know what Jimmy got arrested for. It sounded pretty bad.

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