[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for “Better Call Saul” Season 3, Episode 2, “Witness.”]
On the surface, things initially look good for fledging law practice Wexler-McGill — at the very least, they’ve got a pip of a new assistant and fancy new wall art. However, there’s danger lurking thanks to a tip-off from Ernie about Chuck’s recording of Jimmy’s confession. Kim has a legal strategy mapped out to take care of things, but when Jimmy loses his temper and decides to take matters into his own hands, the results are explosive.
Meanwhile, Mike’s efforts to figure out who’s been tracking him lead to everyone’s favorite chicken joint: Los Pollos Hermanos, where some very familiar faces lie in wait. The episode ends with Mike getting a call — a call which seems likely to change his life.
Achievements in Cinematography
The kinetic energy of Jimmy’s attack on Chuck’s desk is the sort of choice this show makes so well; when “Saul” makes a stylistic move like this, it’s always well earned.
Also a shout-out is warranted for the shot revealing the Los Pollos Hermanos sign — we knew it was coming, yet the subtle way it snuck onto the screen kept it surprising.
The Least Legal Move
The ramifications of Jimmy’s destruction of Chuck’s tape will likely wait for next week, though given the presence of multiple witnesses, it’s certainly not looking good for Jimmy. (And Kim, who worked so hard to handle a legal strategy, is undoubtedly going to be pissed.)
Remembering What Hasn’t Happened Yet (The “Breaking Bad” Tie-In)
Oh man, not only do we finally get our first real encounter with Gus, but Victor and Francesca make their first appearances in the “Saul”-niverse. While Victor is very recognizably himself, a terrifying force on screen, Saul’s loyal secretary Francesca has a great deal more charm and innocence to her — proof that long-term exposure to Jimmy can have a negative impact on a person’s soul.
Oh, That’s Right, It’s a Period Piece
So many paper games — not to mention real playing cards — serve as a reminder that even in the early 2000s, we weren’t nearly as device-crazed as we are now. (Howard does have an era-appropriate Blackberry, but otherwise this is a time period of flip phones and actual phone communication.)
Our first real introduction to Gustavo Fring is pretty fascinating, lurking as he does at the edges of the frame, hiding in plain sight during Jimmy’s stakeout. Later, when we see Gus on his own, his true nature emerges in a chilling way, with just the look on Giancarlo Esposito’s face, proving that our memories of “Breaking Bad” didn’t fail us: Gus remains the scariest.
On The Journey From Jimmy to Saul
If things weren’t done between Jimmy and Chuck before, they sure are now, with Jimmy literally screaming at his brother “you destroyed our family for this.”
One thing about Saul Goodman, we remember, is that he was a very isolated man, lacking much in the way of human connection. (Same goes for Gene, all those years in the future.) And we’re seeing that destiny begin to come alive around him, as his relationships crumble. Not that Jimmy and Chuck were ever particularly close, but now we understand just why they’re gone from each others’ lives.
Also, an interesting detail: Chuck’s wife Rebecca (who we first saw in flashbacks last season) left him, as opposed to meeting some sort of other tragic fate.
“You’re a little crooked.”
Maybe not the show at its most subtle, but the tenderness with which Francesca delivers that line makes it work. In general, it’s delightful to see another element of the “Breaking Bad” universe come to pass, making this journey all the more poignant.
In Conclusion, Your Honor
“Witness” serves primarily as a follow-up to the dangers set up in last week’s episode, with the tape on the Wexler-McGill office walls offering up a painful payoff from Jimmy and Chuck’s last (ever?) friendly conversation. So much of this episode is paced so deliberately that when things become chaotic at the close, it’s a genuine shock to the system, one that has us desperate to see what comes next.