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How Better Call Saul's Michael Mando Feels About Nacho Dropping That Truth Bomb On Hector Salamanca

Michael Mando as Nacho Varga on Better Call Saul.
(Image credit: AMC)

This story contains major spoilers for Better Call Saul’s Season 6 episode, “Rock and Hard Place.”

Has everyone recovered from Nacho’s big stand in the latest episode of Better Call Saul? Has anyone? Fans certainly didn’t have to wait long into the AMC hit’s final season to learn why some characters aren’t seen in Breaking Bad. “Rock and Hard Place” revealed the fate of Nacho Varga, as he died in a heroic sacrifice, but not before taking the opportunity to reveal to Hector Salamanca who was responsible for the stroke that left him wheelchair-bound. Michael Mando gave a beautiful performance, and he has strong feelings about what that moment meant for his character.

As Nacho faced the decision to give himself up in exchange for the safety of his father, he told the Salamancas that he had acted under Alvarez’s orders, not Fring’s, before looking Hector Salamanca in the eye and revealing that he had switched Hector’s medication with sugar pills, causing the stroke that should have killed him, had Fring not intervened. Nacho then — having freed himself of his restraints with a shard of glass (an item foreshadowed in the excruciating slow-burn of a cold open) — grabbed Bolsa’s gun, and ended his life on his own terms. Michael Mando told TVLine how meaningful that scene was for his character:

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.

Nacho got to speak his truth to Hector Salamanca, and he died knowing he was doing the right thing. Nacho’s final words — “So when you are sitting in your shitty nursing home, and you're sucking down on your Jell-o night after night, for the rest of your life, you think of me. You twisted fuck.” — almost ensure that fans never watch Breaking Bad the same way again. Hector and his bell made for consistently disturbing scenes on the original series and, now with every terrifying ding, we’ll be reminded of the sacrifice Nacho Varga made. 

The scenes leading up to Nacho’s tragic death were filled with beauty and symbolism. From the good samaritan who let Nacho clean up and use his phone, to his final moments with Mike — a last meal and sharing a drink — the character’s arc came to a fitting, though heartbreaking, end. Michael Mando believes Nacho finally had a clear image of himself and knew who he was. He also thankful for the way Varga's story concluded:

I think you couldn’t ask for a better ending. You know, this character ended up being a dream role for me. Such a heroic and symbolic figure of sacrifice and courage. I wouldn’t change an iota. I’m just so eternally grateful for it.

Nacho is the first major casualty of Better Call Saul Season 6, and I'm sure he won't be the last. The next new episode drops next Monday, May 2, at 9 p.m. ET on AMC. As many shows are reaching the end of their seasons, check out our spring finale schedule, and don’t forget to take a look at our 2022 TV Schedule to see what shows are premiering soon.

Heidi Venable
Heidi Venable

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.