We had an episode for the ages tonight on Better Call Saul season 6 episode 3 for Michael Mando as Nacho Varga. Unfortunately, it’s also the one that ended up killing the character. “Rock and Hard Place” was excruciatingly unpleasant, but it served as a reminder of who the guy was at his core: he didn’t want to be a villain. As a result, he chose to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to save his father.
Did we believe Nacho would pass away during the final season? Sure, but we had no way of predicting how soon that would happen.
Rather than being killed by the Cousins or Hector Salamanca (or even Mike), Nacho chose to commit himself — but only after a great monologue in which he ripped against Hector. It was a fantastic way for the character to leave the show, and Mando tells TVLine that he knew it would happen before he ever arrived on set:
Vince [Gilligan] and Peter [Gould] called me that winter before we started shooting [Season 6], with Melissa Bernstein on the line, and they told me they have this larger-than-life, operatic ending for Nacho and that they couldn’t wait for me to read it. They said it was going to be very heroic, and it was going to break the internet, and I just felt an immediate sense of gratitude. We exchanged a lot of nice words because we knew it was all coming to an end, and it was a season of endings. I just was really excited and very grateful.
TVLINE | The scene with Nacho on the phone with his dad: It’s like they both know what’s about to happen, but they can’t really say it. What kind of emotions was Nacho going through in that scene?
Nacho was free at that time. He was looking at the sunset, and he looked back, almost like the tale of Orpheus descending, and said to his father: “Come with me.” Nacho knew in that moment that it was either he escapes and his father gets killed, or he comes back into hell, faces these demons in the eyes and sacrifices himself for his father. And that’s how he makes that decision in that moment.
TVLINE | Nacho has that great final speech and gets a chance to tell off Hector Salamanca in his final moments.
It looked very satisfying for him. Was it satisfying for you to deliver? That moment, to me, had a lot of subtext to it. I think Nacho was really, in a way, standing up for his community, and he felt that his community was more the integrity and virtue of his father. He was swearing allegiance to that and standing up to the cartel. That, to me, was such a noble moment full of integrity, where so much was being said in the subtext of it, and I thought it was just beautifully written by [executive producer] Gordon Smith.
We’ll miss this guy a lot. he was one of the most complex characters on the show, and we can’t believe how much he changed after season one. We’re going to miss him terribly, and we’re confident of it.