How Better Call Saul's Gus Fring Really Feels About Nacho, According To Giancarlo Esposito

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Spoiler warning for anyone who hasn't yet completed the Better Call Saul episode "Talk."

On Better Call Saul, characters can usually keep their safety intact if they steer clear of two things: trusting Jimmy too much, and pissing off the enigmatic Gus Fring. Unfortunately for Nacho Vargas, he's currently on Gus' shit list for trying to take out Hector Salamanca via doctored meds. But wouldn't Gus be interested in teaming up with Nacho over their shared hatred for Don Hector? I asked that to star Giancarlo Esposito during our recent interview, and he told me that's not how Gus sees it at all. In his words:

You'd think he would. Nacho would be a prime candidate for Gus to take under his wing. But Gus realizes the intentions of Nacho are not in line with is. He certainly is trying to protect his father. He certainly is very afraid of Hector Salamanca, and wants to be able to protect his family, but I don't think that Gus would ever feel that Nacho could work for him. Because Nacho doesn't have the discipline that Gus would require of him. But we are in a position now where Gus can own him because of his actions. You know, Gus doesn't miss anything. He has eyes and ears everywhere, and Nacho takes that for granted, and that is an unfortunate slip, and a flaw in his personality.

Leave it to the guy playing the drug kingpin mastermind to have the best explanations. Of course Gus hasn't dropped his outer shell to embrace Nacho, even beyond the obvious reason that Gus doesn't drop his outer shell for anyone. Just because Nacho's end goal fell in line with Gus' revenge plans for the eldest Salamanca, that doesn't mean Gus would also approve of how Nacho went about taking Hector out (especially since it failed) or anything else the character stands for.

Breaking Bad showed viewers a more evolved and vicious Gus Fring who ran his ship as tight as the albatross around Jimmy's neck, with Walter White being the biggest kink in the chain. Walt was the exception to the "no one who gets in Gus' way lives to tell about it" rule, since no one else dared make the kind of demands he did, with his unparalleled meth-cooking skills serving as his insurance policy. (What with Gale getting murdered and all.) Nacho, who thought that killing off Don Hector would serve as his own ticket to freedom, sadly doesn't have any guarantees keeping him in Gus' good-enough graces.

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All that isn't to say that Gus doesn't still need Nacho in some ways, however. I asked Giancarlo Esposito if Gus was proving a bigger point to Nacho by personally getting his hands dirty when murdering Arturo. And the actor agreed that was the case, saying:

He recognizes that Nacho and Arturo had their own plan, and certainly he had to nip that plan in the bud. So I think it was really appropriate for him to bag Arturo in front of Nacho. He does need someone to enforce for him, and someone to be forced to be loyal at this period of time in the operation. There's also a lot of information that Gus can get from Nacho as we play out the season, because he's been one of the closest people to Hector Salamanca, and knows how the operation works. So he really paints Nacho into a corner, not only to be able to control him and break him, but also to have as much information as he can about what Hector and the Salamanca family's plans may have been. Because look, Gus can do it better. He recognizes the way the operation has been working has not been completely as fruitful as it could be. And Gus knows he could have it be bulletproof, no pun intended.

Nacho certainly isn't bulletproof. The character spent Episode 3 in a dazed fever while getting treated for gunshot wounds, and then begrudgingly went all Injured John McClane in "Talk" when The Twins appeared to be in danger during their shootout. Gus was almost certainly encouraged to learn about Nacho voluntarily putting himself through further physical endangerment for the cause, and he'll definitely be taking advantage of Nacho's turbulent situation in the near future. But since Nacho is nowhere to be seen when Breaking Bad happens, I guess there's only a finite amount of information that he can provide to Gus before becoming entirely expendable. Let's hope he can at least survive until Season 5.

Find out where Gus and Nacho's relationship goes next when Better Call Saul airs Monday nights on AMC at 9:00 p.m. ET. To see what other awesome and addictive shows will be starting up soon, head to our fall TV premiere schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.