Carrot and Stick
Mike and his associates go to Nacho’s house at the start of episode 2 of Better Call Saul Season 6, planting a clue for Don Eladio’s men. Gustavo has decided to give up Nacho and has directed Mike to leave an envelope in Nacho’s locker in the house with the number of the motel where he’s staying.
Saul and Kim hatch another tactic to further the cocaine narrative around Howard. Saul plans to pay a visit to a familiar foe. Gus is still unconvinced about Lalo’s death when he sees the evidence the Federales have. He phones Eladio to visit Hector. Gus’ suspicions are confirmed when Hector gives him an undecipherable look that only Gus can dismantle. He informs Mike and the men.
Saul visits the Kettleman couple (remember the treasurer who stole money and went camping with his family in the woods to show that they have run away?), now operating out of a kitschy office. He gives them hope to reclaim Kettleman’s good name by suggesting that they had improper legal counsel in their fraud case. Guess who was the lawyer? Howard. Saul explains Howard’s cocaine habit and strikes an agreement. The couple then visit several legal offices, including Clifford Main’s but to no avail. Howard Hamlin’s repute won’t budge.
Eladio’s men find the envelope and Nacho’s location. Nacho is already tense about the arrangement and when he notices a strange man (whom he noticed wandering around the campus at the start of the episode) peeking through a small hut towards his room, he knows he is being watched. He escapes through the AC vent, flanks the man, and backtracks him.
Nacho suspects Gus’ involvement and calls Tyrus in a feigned panic state to lure him into then calling the man. Tyrus does and Nacho knocks him down unconscious. Just as he is about to start the vehicle, Bolsa’s men show up; so do the cousins. They look for him all around and finally discover him, but on command by the cousins, who want him alive, they do not shoot. Nacho is eventually able to escape for the time being.
At Gus’ makeshift office, Mike confronts him when Gus asks him to fetch Nacho’s father. Mike is adamant, despite Victor holding a gun to his face for defying orders. Nacho calls him in the moment and requests to speak with Gus (although, we do not know, yet, that the person is Nacho). The final sequence takes place at the Kettleman’s. Kim accompanies Saul and they decide to play the situation in a “carrots and sticks” method. The Kettleman couple is furious with Saul. They threaten to reveal to Howard his attempts to defame him. Kim finally decides to take charge.
She phones a friend in the tax department and threatens to reveal the Kettleman tax scam that they operate from that place. The Kettleman couple reluctantly agrees and Kim and Saul drive away, only to be followed by another car, unbeknownst to them.
The Episode Review
It was expected that Gilligan and co would get the ball rolling sooner rather than later. Episode two was like a mini-movie in how much content came about together. There are multiple plotlines that threaten to converge soon but also have a life of their own. Gustavo’s unpopular decision and Mike’s vehement opposition came as big surprises. Gustavo’s image from the Breaking Bad days has been that of an honest and fair man. Mike has been a man of few words.
But both things changed here. Mike’s special connection with Werner was not without any foundation. His efforts to prevent the deja vu with another friend was heartening to see. It remains to be seen what Nacho’s fate will be because right now, it is squarely in hands of Gustavo. I almost thought Mike would not keep the envelope in the locker. He is a man of order and discipline, though, and that was merely wishful thinking. What about those Kettlemans, huh! Saul and Kim are smart lawyers.
The way they used the pair to their advantage and brought out their scam to the audience was a bit cheesy. Gilligan’s attempts to give it a redemptive overcoating was probably not the wisest of moves. But all is forgiven when such powerful performers come on screen. Watching Saul’s charm being outdone by Kim’s in the final scene was a joy beyond bounds. Seehorn has been outside awards the whole time Better Call Saul has been on air but this episode proves how she has gained equal footing with Odenkirk.