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



Much of network and cable television drama is filmed with a variety of close-ups, medium shots and medium close-ups. The third hour of Better Call Saul eschews the standard approach, often shooting the rumpled protagonist from a distance, low angles and overhead shots. As the diverse cinematography hints, we’re still trying to get a grasp of who Jimmy McGill is from a variety of angles. One thing remains true though: he is proving to be just as captivating a protagonist as Breaking Bad fans could have hoped.

At the end of last week’s “Mijo,” Jimmy desperately tried to evade Nacho’s plan, a coup to scam the embezzling Kettlemans out of the more than $1.5 million they allegedly stole, with this handy one-liner: “I’m a lawyer, not a criminal.” As the first scene from “Nacho” depicts, Slippin’ Jimmy was closer to the latter than the former.

In a flashback – indicated by both Michael McKean’s wig and his character handing over his keys and phone – Jimmy is in an orange jumpsuit and Chuck is in a grey mood visiting his brother in lock-up. Chuck looks stony, unimpressed with a younger brother he hasn’t seen in years and who only gets in contact when he gets “in a bit of a pickle.” On the other side of the table, Jimmy is animated, trying to convince his brother to reduce the severity of a situation, getting his assault and sex offender charge thrown out.

If that scene is the smooth open for side one of “Nacho,” then side two begins with the positions reversed, the song remaining the same. Jimmy visits Nacho in a holding area in the courthouse, now playing the responsible attorney. He tries to use his detecting skills to figure out whether his ally is, in fact, responsible for the Kettlemans’ disappearance. Nacho’s car had been watching the household for the two nights before the couple and their two children vanished.

Jimmy walks in with confidence, pretty certain he can talk his ally into confessing, but Nacho won’t have the lawyer put him up so easy. He claims that he didn’t take the Kettlemans and the blood the authorities found at the back of his van belongs to those twins from the prior episode. “You get me out of here today or you’re a dead man,” Nacho threatens. Jimmy gulps down his pride and tries to figure out how to clear Nacho’s name. In both scenes – with Chuck and Nacho – Jimmy does not show the backbone he would later flaunt in Walter White’s presence. He is still trying to figure out how to manage something as simple as parking tickets.

While the first two hours of Better Call Saul showed the future Saul Goodman trying to get ahead in the world of law, “Nacho” shows him on his own, searching for a way to get people to work with him. Whether it’s the troll named Mike Ehrmantraut in the tollbooth, the estranged brother, or lawyer and presumed ex-love interest Kim (Rhea Seehorn), Jimmy McGill is slowly starting to use the people closest to him to his advantage.

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