This code works fine most of the time:
var link = $('<a>').text(this.model.get('name'));
.text(), when used as a setter, returns a reference to the link and you can continue chaining to your heart's content.
That is, until
undefined. When that happens, jQuery thinks you're
.text() as a getter instead of a setter and
link is set to an empty string instead of a jQueryified element -- which breaks subsequent code.