Who is ‘Alvarez’ on ‘Better Call Saul’?

better call saul alvarez

Warning, major spoilers for Season 6, Episode 3 of Better Call Saul ahead.

Better Call Saul gave viewers the explosive final bow of Ignacio “Nacho” Varga on Monday’s new episode “Rock and Hard Place,” the third episode of the sixth and final season. Though Michael Mando’s Nacho was a fan favorite, we knew going into the prequel that the character never makes it to the series of events that transpire in Breaking Bad, so the odds of the cartel lackey surviving were slim, to begin with.

Yet, ultimately, Nacho’s death left fans with more questions than answers, potentially introducing a new character named “Alvarez” with just 10 episodes left to go in the series.

After being blackmailed to help take out Lalo Salamanca and with both the Salamancas and Gustavo Fring looking for him, Nacho quite literally was between a rock and a hard place. The Salamancas wanted vengeance for the attempted hit on Lalo, while Gus wanted Nacho dead before he could spill who had really ordered the hit.

But after realizing that Gus and Mike set him up to be killed at the seedy motel in Mexico, instead of wanting to exact his own revenge, Nacho instead proposed a deal: his father’s safety in turn for confessing to everything and taking the heat off of Gus. And so, he turned himself in so that, in an act of good faith, Gus could personally hand Nacho to the Salamancas.

The plan went down without a hitch — almost — as Mike had previously warned: “Whatever happens next, it’s not gonna go down the way you think it is.”

Nacho had been instructed to confess everything and claim that he had been on the payroll of someone called “Alvarez,” thereby clearing Fring’s name. He was then to attempt to escape so that Tyrus could put a bullet in his head and spare him from the death cousins Leonel and Marco had in store.

However, when it became clear Tio Salamanca didn’t initially buy his story, Nacho delivered the following fiery monologue — before managing to grab a gun and holding it to Juan Bolsa’s head, then ultimately turning the weapon on himself.

“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!”

So the big question left on everyone’s minds is: who is Alvarez? Though we’re finally approaching the timeline in Breaking Bad, unlike Nacho, the character has actually never been mentioned in the context of either series — yet, he must be intimidating enough that the Salamancas wouldn’t question the story.

Could he have just set up a cartel war between the Salamancas and Alvarez so that Gus could continue to grow his meth operation under the radar, or did Nacho just make up a name to get the cartel off of Fring’s scent?

It’s a hell of a time to throw a MacGuffin in at viewers, but after 10-plus combined total seasons of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, it seems like no storyline, no matter how far-fetched, would be off the table at this point.

About the author

Stacey Ritzen

Stacey Ritzen

Stacey Ritzen is a Philadelphia-based reporter with 15 years of experience covering pop culture, entertainment, web culture, and news. She has previously worked for outlets including Uproxx, Pajiba, Daily Dot, and more.