“What about tomorrow, Jimmy?” Kim asks when her husband, under cover of tempting her with a luxurious afternoon of hookey, tries to keep her indoors and out of any potential harm’s way. “What about the next day, and the day after that? Jimmy, what about next week?” Life in the criminal underworld, to quote the great Walter Sobchak, doesn’t stop and start at your convenience. Nacho gets a similar reality check when he tells Don Eladio he doesn’t want to have to look over his shoulder. “You’re in the wrong business, my friend,” the cartel boss replies with a laugh. Actor Michael Mando’s tight, reserved answering smile is almost skull-like.
Nacho’s life is hollow, his every waking moment haunted by anxiety over his father’s safety. He lives in a cold, barren house with unnamed lovers addicted to the drugs he sells. He gets into cars again and again with men who might — without his ever knowing it — have decided that today is the day he has outlived his usefulness. At Lalo’s sprawling compound in Chihuahua his attempts to be good-humored are so tense and restricted that his expression hardly ever changes, as though his facial muscles are permanently locked in place. When he begins to sweat and shake through his assignment to admit Fring’s assassins through the compound’s back gate it’s like watching someone plummet in complete silence from a lethal height.
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Out of the Frying Pan…
The assassination attempt turns sideways almost immediately, placing Nacho, Mike, Jimmy, and Kim in Lalo’s crosshairs, but it’s Kim’s plan to frame Howard for malfeasance in order to rush the Sandpiper case from way back in season one to an early payout that really cements how badly things have gone off the rails. It’s hard not to recall the words of Kim’s cantankerous client, Mr. Acker, who accused her of getting off on doing charity work, using it as a way to feel good about herself while cashing corporate checks. Kim may have moved on from Mesa Verde, but Jimmy’s cartel money is no cleaner than theirs and she’s already daydreaming about all the good she could do with it.
Kim and Jimmy’s coaxing, teasing flirtation, which takes the form of proposing more and more absurd methods of sabotaging Howard’s hair, becomes slowly more intimate until the two are in bed tangled under the sheets, their whispers barely audible. The soft focus shows white linen moving over naked skin. Kim proposes the scam as something they’d never do, but her excitement is tangible. Over the years she’s gone from Jimmy’s confidante to his girlfriend to his wife, but the most important role into which she’s slipped is that of his chief enabler. More than the threat of Lalo’s retribution, it’s the unmasking of the codependence Kim and Jimmy have quietly nurtured with one another that makes this season’s end so gutting.