July 22, 2024

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Better Call Saul “Witness”

Season Three, Episode Two.

So, there are capable criminals, clumsy wannabes, and the guys who come somewhere in-between.  This episode gives an example of all three.

To be clear, Jimmy is the clumsy wannabe.  Chuck did, of course, deliberately let Ernesto hear the recording to get Jimmy caught doing something else.  That works, but not the way Chuck thinks it will.  Even with Kim as his attorney, Jimmy does the stupid thing.  Sure, Chuck thought it would be a nocturnal break-in.  Instead, it’s Jimmy storming in, shouting, and destroying a tape if not the tape…in front of Chuck, Howard, and a private investigator.

Factor in as well how obvious Jimmy was doing a favor for Mike, and Jimmy clearly is not a good criminal when it comes to anything aside from his usual cons.  He’s a petty crook, not someone much more dangerous than that.

In-between is Mike, who managed to track down the guy who put the tracker on his car, and then followed him back to a fast food chicken restaurant.

Yes, Breaking Bad fans, that one.

Mike”s recruitment of Jimmy was one of necessity.  I don’t think for a moment that Mike likes Jimmy or anything, but he knows he can more or less rely on the guy to do what he needs.  Heck, if Jimmy wasn’t looking around so obviously, it might not have been that bad a call to send him in.  Mike’s patience when sitting on stakeout make for a nice contrast to his general lack-of-patience when dealing with anyone else.  Aside from maybe selecting Jimmy as his go-between–not like he has anyone else he can ask, but still–Mike does everything right.

And then he finds out someone was on to him the whole time.

That leads to the capable criminal, someone whose presence might not have been picked up too easily for people who haven’t seen Breaking Bad.

Yup: it’s Gus Fring.

Gus Motherlovin’ Fring.

A man literally hanging around in the background while Jimmy is looking around Los Pollos Hermanos.  A cool customer who clearly didn’t fall for Jimmy’s lost watch lie.  A man who gives a knowing look when Mike and JImmy drive off.

So, I get an origin story for Jimmy, Mike, and now maybe Gus?

Look, Gus is Gus.  He’s probably the character fans were anticipating the most before he showed up, and the character has that cool-as-a-cucumber chill going the whole time, someone who can come across as friendly and helpful but then slit a longtime associate’s throat.  I mean, that guy Mike was following did get his throat slit in Breaking Bad by Gus, so setting up that Gus is that good, while something the Breaking Bad fans already knew, helps to remind the audience who this guy is while teaching newcomers (if such things exist) a thing or two about him before he even gets a chance to talk to Mike.

At least on camera.  Mike got that phone call from someone…