Better Call Saul 3.02: Witness
The very nature of a show like Better Call Saul is to slowly reveal storylines across multiple episodes and seasons. Not much happens over an episode, the plot is drip fed and is treacle slow. It's a completely different type of a show like The Walking Dead which has a relatively slow plotted season but clouds itself as fast paced when it truly isn't. Better Call Saul is a much better show as it knows what it is, and it does it well, whereas The Walking Dead is, pun intended, slowly heading towards an early grave.
As tonight's episode opens, entitled Witness directed by series creator Vince Gilligan and written by Thomas Schnauz, we find Chuck in conversation over a cup of tea with a Private Investigator. Clearly, Chuck is starting to play his hand in terms of the recorded conversation he has in his possession with Jimmy.
The best part of Breaking Bad was the character of Mike played so sloth like by Jonathan Banks. Mike is still on the scent of his recent tracker. Mike follows him to the local Los Pollos Hermanos, yes the same one Gus Fring used to manage his drug empire out of in Breaking Bad. This section of the episode is well directed filling the screen with dread as the reveal of the take out sign is shown. The soundtrack building to a John Carpenteresque crescendo. Mike gets Jimmy to tail the courier and watch him as he has his breakfast at the restaurant. Just like the revelation of the sign, here we find another well directed and truly remarkable moment with the reveal of Gus Fring near Jimmy. Presented in an out of focus shot, the uniform, the body language cant be mistaken. Gus is here. Spine chilling.
Over the course of this week's episode, you get the feeling that some of the best writing and best character beats are when Mike and Jimmy are together on screen. As mentioned before, the beats are sparsely spread across the series but when they are together its a sight to behold. The interplay between the two actors is a masterclass in an actor sinking themselves into a character. These actors ARE their characters, you can't imagine anyone else playing these roles.
As the episode reaches its climax, Ernesto, Chuck's assistant, approaches Kim to advise of what he heard when accidently pressing play on Chuck's hidden tape player. Kim confronts Jimmy, Jimmy hides his feelings of anger and betrayal with Kim but can't help it and rushes to Chuck's house where he destroys the tape (and the draw the tape is contained in for good measure) but not before the PI and Hamlin are present with Chuck to watch this latest outburst.
After having some time to reflect on another excellent episode of Better Call Saul it really cannot be stated enough, this is probably one of the best episodes of television seen in a long time. The reveal of Los Pollos Hermanos, the revelation of Gus Fring and the scenes showing Mike tailing the courier at night are utterly spellbinding. Watch the scenes of Mike tailing the courier, see how the scenes look like they are shot on miniature sets, the size of the shots, the geography of the shots are utterly unreal. Some naysayers may look down their noses at genre television but this is fantastic story telling. Roll on next week, it truly is storytelling as art.