Better Call Saul: “Witness” Season 3 Episode 2 Review

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Now this was a more effective start to the season. Following last week’s dull, stagnant season premiere, “Witness” squeezes a lot into an hour. Some frustrations remain (the first ten minutes of the episode were more of Mike’s silent journey toward Gus), but now the pieces are in motion for season three to live up to the independently strong legacy this prequel has started to build for itself.

“Witness” may forever be known as the episode that brought Gus back, but it’s the movements in Jimmy’s storyline that made this episode a significant improvement over the premiere. In terms of fan service on this side, we did get to watch Jimmy and Kim interview Francesca (Tina Parker), Saul’s receptionist by the time Breaking Bad starts. Seeing her act so professional was a treat, and was also likely the more effective return of a character from that series.

But when Kim gets word from Ernesto that Chuck has a tape with a recorded confession from Jimmy on it, the episode gets to embody all the things that make Better Call Saul great independent of its predecessor. For this episode, the cracks in the once sweet brotherly relationship just get bigger. Kim plans to represent Jimmy if it comes to that, but Chuck knows his brother better than that. Jimmy’s been sitting on this news all day, and he finally lets his anger boil over.

With Howard over the house, Jimmy kicks Chuck’s door down and starts making threats, unaware just how much trouble he got himself into. Smartly, the episode doesn’t play this event as if Chuck orchestrated the whole thing, even though it works heavily in his favor. Just before it happens, Chuck claims to Howard that he knows his brother, suspecting that Jimmy will come at night to find and destroy the tape. There’s a slight tragedy in Chuck’s knowledge of his brother being at least slightly invalidated, which is just part of what makes the brotherly dynamic so special on this series. Now Jimmy looks to be pretty screwed. We of course know he’ll survive this event to become Saul Goodman, but how instrumental his brother’s revenge will be in that should be exciting to see.

Now, let’s talk about Gus. Earlier in the episode, Mike hires Jimmy to sit and keep watch in Los Pollos Hermanos for a very specific bag. But Jimmy isn’t very subtle, and Gus, so dutifully placed in the background, calls the exchange off. This leaves Mike stumped until he’s lured by his tracker to a cell phone sitting on top of the tagged gas cap. Cue cliffhanger.

As of now, it’s unclear how Gus will factor into season three, but his presence is definitely exciting, so long as the writers don’t overuse him. “Witness” was ultimately successful for continuing the high drama in Better Call Saul, not just bringing in some Breaking Bad characters. Hopefully season three can continue down that path. Grade: B+

By Matt Dougherty

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