Better Call Saul: Why Nacho Varga is the Best Breaking Bad Character

This article contains MAJOR SPOILERS for BETTER CALL SAUL season 6 episode 3.

At the end of Citizen Kane, the nameless reporter, who has pursued the mystery of Charles Foster Kane’s last word “Rosebud,” stands with his colleagues amid piles of the great man’s possessions and admits he hasn’t been able to figure out what it meant. “What have you been doing all this time?” they ask.

“Playing with a jigsaw puzzle.”

Better Call Saul: Why Nacho Varga is the Best Breaking Bad Character

The sixth and final season of Better Call Saul begins with homage to that famous ending, only instead of executors taking inventory of a mogul’s estate, it’s the government seizing the property of fugitive lawyer Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk). Like Breaking Bad, the show it serves as a prequel to, it’s the story of how a fairly normal guy becomes an epic villain. Only in the case of Better Call Saul, we’ve always known where this is going. It’s like Titanic — we know the ship is going to sink; it’s all about the missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle of how it happened.

Better Call Saul's Nacho Varga's Best Moment

Better Call Saul Season 6 Episode 3 brought Nacho Varga’s character arc to a close, giving him a devastating send-off that felt inevitable after getting wrapped up with the Salamancas and Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito).

Nacho takes the fall for the hit on Lalo (Tony Dalton), clearing Gus’ name in exchange for his father’s protection. But even as he does the Chicken Man’s bidding, he goes out on his own terms.

Nacho Varga's Jigsaw Puzzle in Better Call Saul

Nacho tells the Salamancas precisely how he feels about them, even confessing his role in Hector’s (Mark Margolis) heart attack. Then, rather than allowing them to kill him, he wrestles a gun from Juan Bolsa (Javier Grajeda) and ends his life himself. His final moments are tragic, but they’re also powerful.

Through six seasons of Better Call Saul, Nacho was consistently crafty, resourceful, intelligent, discerning, and even athletic. Seemingly every new season provided a new opportunity for the show to execute Nacho (one of the few main characters it actually could kill since so many other characters fates’ were wrapped up in Breaking Bad), and yet every season he somehow got through until now.

Why Nacho Varga's Jigsaw Puzzle is the Best Better Call Saul Moment

Nacho's character was a puzzling one. Nacho was a “good” cartel member. He had love for his family, was gentle with the people in his life, and abhorred violence. As early as the show’s second season, Nacho clearly wanted out of the life that he had chosen for himself. The problem was that he already chose it. His father would routinely beg him to go to the police, confess, and leave this whole life behind. But obviously Nacho could do no such thing. There is no cell or safe house on Earth that could keep him from the Salamancas vengeance forever. Nacho’s fate was sealed before the first moments of Better Call Saul season 1 even began.

That’s what makes the circumstances of Nacho’s demise so tragic, yet dramatically satisfying. He did it all right. He trudged through dirt, mud, blood, and oil. And yet the math finally started to work against him. Luck ran out. There is no world in which Nacho can survive both Gus Fring and the Salamanca family wanting him dead. Rather than insulting the audience’s intelligence and insisting otherwise, Better Call Saul has Nacho accept his fate. 

In Season 5 Episode 6 titled Wexler v. Goodman, it was a really telling scene when Nacho is at home with his girlfriend and her friend. The friend who was disassembling the Rubik's cube and dismantling the remote with scissors to "clean it" was clearly high and suffering with acute OCD. But instead of snapping at her, Nacho goes and gets a jigsaw puzzle so she can keep her hands busy. It is notable the way he just shrugs it off when she changes the channel, and how he has a crate of stuff to keep her busy - almost like a box of pet toys. It makes Nacho seem incredibly empathetic and patient making him the best character in Better Call Saul. 

Better Call Saul Season 5, Episode 6 recap: Jigsaw puzzle

Nacho was loyal right to the end, even giving up his own life to save his father and ensure he would be protected and remain unharmed. While he struggled with being loyal to Hector and the Salamancas, he could not bring himself to continue doing the heinous things he had been doing for so long.

It's one clever and detailed jigsaw puzzle: a Twitter fan spotted an amazingly well-hidden hint that Nacho was set to meet a brutal end. The domino piece shows a 6 and a 3. 

Despite what he did, Nacho had a strong moral compass, and fans who value family above all else will relate to Nacho. He loved his father and was willing to do anything for him. Nacho's ending on Better Call Saul was perfect in many ways.

We cannot wait to watch more of Netflix to add a few more pieces of the Better Call Saul jigsaw puzzle on how the show gets ever-closer to connection with Breaking Bad. But until then, we will be solving our own jigsaw puzzles and hoping Nacho is puzzling too in heaven. Rest In Pieces Nacho Varga.


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