Mike, in "Gloves Off" (Better Call Saul S2E4), represents himself as a random retiree -- but if only from the beating he took, not to mention Hector apparently finding out that Mike was an ex-cop, Hector must have wondered whether the event was purely accidental or planned.

Hector must have in fact strongly suspected that something was up and Mike's subsequent extremely hard-edged negotiating would have really made Hector suspicious -- Mike is more than even an normal retired cop.

Hector then would have begun to suspect Nacho for the same reasons he would have suspected him had Tuco been shot and this would have completely ruined Mike's plan.

I have watched the entire season but I can't recall Hector even discussing the incident with, let alone accusing Nacho of being behind it.


As I replied to an answerer: Mike grabbing Tuco and asking, Is that all you got? is very counter to the retiree he originally represented himself as.

Tuco telling his uncle, This guy apparently ran into my car by accident, wanted to pay with insurance but then grabs me even as I am slugging him as the cops show up at the perfect time.

Hector has to conclude Mike is not an ordinary old man and the "accident" was almost certainly no accident.

I further add that Hector, as the head of a highly illegal enterprise that generates 100s of millions per annum would be more paranoid that a normal businessman in a competitive but legit business and normal CEOs worry all the time.

It is therefore to me extremely unlikely that Hector, even if never told all the details of the events that put Tuco in jail (and I doubt Tuco did not explain everything -- Lalo has shown himself to be a serious questioner, why wouldn't Hector, his mentor not also be?) would have, upon discovering that Mike is an ex-cop simply shrugged and said to himself, wow, my nephew got into a scrape with an ex-cop, what a coincidence.

Frankly, I think the writers either had Mike making a big miscalculation -- he was very concerned about all the ramifications while discussing things with Nacho but then got very sloppy when actually dealing with Tuco or the writers simply made a mistake in having Mike, so concerned about anything that would endanger him and by extension his family, do something like Nacho asked in broad daylight.

At least for Mike, shooting Tuco from a distance would have been safest but Mike's weakness is clearly that he is at heart someone who is concerned about others, Nacho in this case. Because he could have just taken the 50k, killed Tuco (and Mike will kill far less bad people, like Werner Z. for money essentially) and let Nacho worry about the consequences.

2 Answers 2


In Better Call Saul, we're in the world of the con. Gus is conning people that he's a mild-mannered chicken restaurant owner, Chuck is conning himself that he's sensitive to electro-magnetic fields, and Nacho is conning the cartel that he's loyal.

Like magic tricks, cons don't actually rely on being impeccably convincing. Like Kim says about the Howard job, it doesn't need to stand up in court. Although Mike isn't the doddering geezer he initially pretended to be in front of Tuco, so what?

Putting on that kind of front would have been a reasonable de-escalation strategy if this had been an accident, and standing up to both Tuco's fists and Hector's initial intimidation fits just fine with an ex-cop who's new in town and too prideful to be pushed around by people he's mistaken for local hoodlums without cartel connections.

It helps that in reality, that's all Mike actually is at this point. Although he has considerable skills, he's done nothing more in terms of underground work than the pretty simple bodyguard job for Pryce — and we know Hector doesn't know about that, because it involved Nacho dealing independently. Although we later see him both ambushing and protecting trucks carrying meth, and taking out kidnappers with balloons and sandals, he's not actually that guy yet in Gloves Off.

Cons work because the idea that someone put in enough effort to engineer them is less believable than the idea that stuff just happens sometimes. Even if it seems a little unusual that some ex-cop got into a fight with Tuco, why would Hector think that Nacho somehow found this guy and hired him for an elaborate scheme to try to get Tuco jailed? Hector has no other reason to suspect Nacho of anything, and Nacho didn't actually come up with this scheme — it's only Mike's code that pushes him toward taking this half-measure.

It is a weird plan, weird enough that Hector doesn't imagine it actually being a plan, let alone one involving Nacho. Hector shoots meth cooks in the head, and teaches his nephews lessons by nearly drowning one of them — this kind of indirect thinking isn't really something he has time for, until his retirement years anyway.

Tuco getting shot would have been a clear and unequivocal attack. Someone would have had to pay for it: sangre por sangre. Tuco getting into a fight is a Tuesday, and getting arrested for it is believable bad luck.

  • 1
    And Mike being a belligerent old gringo and refusing Hector's bribe because he's subconsciously racist against Hispanics is believable because there's a lot of belligerent old gringos who are racist against Hispanics in the South West of the US. Commented Aug 30, 2022 at 17:39
  • Whether he specifically suspected Nacho or not, I think that the event that caused Tuco to be imprisoned is an unusual one -- the cops showed up just in time -- and Mike is an unusual person and he behaved unusually: How many retirees would actually grab Tuco and ask, Is that all you got? Mike dropped the old man disguise fast and Tuco must have told his uncle about this.
    – releseabe
    Commented Aug 30, 2022 at 18:29
  • @releseabe “Mike dropped the old man disguise fast and Tuco must have told his uncle about this” — maybe, maybe not. Tuco isn’t the most stable guy. But even if he did, I don’t think Hector would conceive of this as an act against the cartel. Ripping off a truck, sure. Hiring an old gringo to provoke and take a beating in order to get a guy arrested? I don’t think it would even occur to Hector than anyone, let alone Nacho, would try something so indirect. Commented Aug 30, 2022 at 22:46
  • @PaulD.Waite: If Tuco did give Hector all details, it is pretty clear that the whole thing was staged -- no retiree would have behaved as Mike did. But even if Tuco inexplicably said nothing, Mike's subsequent interactions with Hector also make the incident suspicious. The fact that Tuco is in jail AND Mike turns out to be an ex-cop is suspicious and of course, arch-criminals are extremely suspicious, untrusting guys, Hector has shown this. Hector is a man who extremely illegal biz generates hundreds of millions a year -- even legit biz men are paranoid.
    – releseabe
    Commented Aug 30, 2022 at 22:54
  • "no retiree would have behaved as Mike did" — I mean, Mike is a retiree. Are you prejudiced against old people? I think the ex-cop thing makes Mike's subsequent interactions with Hector less suspicious, in that an ex-cop might be less prone to intimidation from criminals. And as far as Hector knows, once the cousins get in the mix, the old geezer start playing ball, and takes no further anti-cartel action. Commented Aug 30, 2022 at 23:07

Hector has no reason to suspect foul play just because Mike is an ex-cop. This is a world where cops are corrupt as hell, and sometimes, stuff just happens.

As for whether Tuco actually explained the situation to Hector, I'm willing to go benefit of doubt and say that maybe Hector only heard Tuco is in jail for beating up some old guy. Maybe he didn't actually meet Tuco and decided to just go ahead and handle the situation himself by forcing Mike to alter his confession and say that the gun on the scene was his.

If he did meet Tuco, then I dunno, Tuco is not exactly as smart as say, Lalo, who would definitely smell a rat in this situation. I doubt that his account of the story would go any further than,"Tio, this old asshole guy ran into my car and I just had to beat him up."

Tuco is not perceptive enough to sense something wrong with Mike's, "That all you got?". If you watch the scene, he literally just smiles and punches Mike. I think he took that sentence on a very surface level, as a taunt.

  • "This is a world where cops are corrupt as hell" — thank goodness the real world isn't like that! Commented Sep 6, 2022 at 19:15

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