Written by Thomas Schnauz
Directed by Vince Gilligan
This week’s Better Call Saul saw the return of several Breaking Bad alums. We all knew Gus Fring was coming, so no surprise there. However, I’m happy to report that Francesca is back, along with Gus’s employee, Victor. I’ve been wanting Francesca to appear on the show since Season 1 (and I even wrote a post about it) so I was pretty stoked to see her.
“Witness” episode opens with Chuck obsessively checking all the locks in his house. He seems to be on the lookout for Jimmy, and now he’s now got some sort of bodyguard to stay with him overnight. This seems like overkill and we’re led to believe that Chuck’s paranoia is spiraling out of control, until we learn later on what purpose this mystery man is meant to serve.
Meanwhile, Mike is still on the hunt for whoever has been keeping tabs on him. He has followed the guys who came to change out his tracker and sees them hand it over to their boss. Mike follows the new guy all night long as he takes care of a series of pick-ups that immediately reminded me of the pick-ups Mike did with Jesse during the Breaking Bad episode “Shotgun.” The guy’s final stop is at Los Pollos Hermanos in the early morning. They really make you wait for the reveal of the Pollos sign but let’s be real—Breaking Bad fans immediately recognized the exterior of that building and the blue Volvo in the parking lot. We didn’t need the sign to know we were in Gus Fring territory.
Francesca (finally!) arrives at Kim and Jimmy’s office for a job interview. Jimmy is working on painting the WM logo on the wall and, when he asks Francesca for her opinion, she tells him the M is a little crooked—a not-so-subtle reference to Jimmy, himself, being a little crooked. That line was a little on the nose for me but I’ll allow it because I’m just so pleased to see Francesca that I literally do not care about anything else.
After the world’s easiest and shortest job interview, in which Jimmy lobs a bunch of softball questions at Francesca and Kim tries to actually interview her for the position, Jimmy offers her the job on the spot. Kim and Jimmy are not on the same page re: hiring Francesca, who is the first person to even interview. Kim would prefer someone with law experience (Francesca worked at the DMV – or MVD, as they apparently call it in New Mexico) whereas Jimmy just wants help ASAP. He’s got a commercial about to air and anticipates a high call volume and she seems A-OK to him, so he pulls the trigger without consulting Kim. She handles it much better than I would have, that’s for sure.
Jimmy puts Francesca to work at reception right away and gives her a little advice on how to deal with his elderly clients. He wants her to be folksy on the phone and try to mention Cracker Barrel whenever possible. When the first client calls Francesca nails it with a little coaching from Jimmy.
Her second call doesn’t go quite as smoothly because she’s talking to the least folksy of all old folks: Mike Ehrmantraut.
Mike enlists Jimmy’s help on a recon mission at Pollos, which is funny because Jimmy isn’t exactly the most qualified person for that particular job. All he has to do is go in, grab a coffee, and wait for the pick-ups guy to come in. Mike wants to know what the guy does with the backpack (specifically, the contents of the backpack) and he directs Jimmy to keep an eye on it. Jimmy’s spy skills are Not Great and when the guy is at the counter ordering Jimmy gets up and lurks nearby, putting an excessive amount of sugar in his coffee like a totally normal person who is definitely not eavesdropping at all.
We got a regular 007 on our hands over here.
Jimmy switches seats to get a better view of the guy, who sits down in a booth by the front windows. Soon we get our first look at Gus Fring, who even out of focus in the background is totally recognizable in his yellow shirt, tie, and khakis. The guy finishes and leaves without noticeably doing anything with the backpack, at which point Jimmy decides—for the second time in the series—to jump into the trash can. A familiar voice asks, “Can I help you?” and we see Gus, cheerful as ever, offering to help Jimmy find his watch in the trash.
Jimmy leaves without any helpful information and meets Mike back at his car. He tells him exactly how it all went down, and for some reason he expects Mike to want to continue their little spy adventure together but Mike is done with him. He basically kicks him out of the car but before he leaves, Jimmy assures Mike that he’s got his back.
Mike is, per usual, unimpressed. He continues his stake out of Pollos (does he ever sleep?) and there’s a shot of Gus outside the store cleaning up that suggests he might know Mike is watching. Maybe this whole thing is one long test to see if Mike is the right guy for the job he will ultimately get.
With Pollos in his rear view, Mike makes note of the cars that come and go. Finally, he sees an SUV quickly pull in around the back of the restaurant and then leave about a minute later. And who happens to be driving said SUV? It’s Victor, Gus’s man tasked with watching over Walt and Jesse in the Superlab.
Ernie goes to Jimmy and Kim’s office, still reeling from his experience with Chuck and the tape recorder. He’s too nervous to go inside so he calls Kim and makes her come meet him in the parking lot. Ernie is beyond freaked out and tells Kim what happened. He doesn’t fully understand where he stands, legally speaking, and he doesn’t want to get in trouble but he wants o warn Jimmy what Chuck is up to.
After Ernie spills the beans to Kim she hurries inside and pulls Jimmy into his office, and then she pulls a move that had all the Breaking Bad fans freaking out.
That’s right: one of Saul’s first moves in Breaking Bad when Walt and Jesse took him out into the desert was to ask for a dollar. Guess we know where he learned that one from…
Kim tells Jimmy that there’s a tape recording of his confession to Chuck and it completely guts him. She’s concerned for herself, obviously, because this could be very, very bad for her, but she’s also heartbroken for Jimmy, who has just learned the extent that his brother will go to jam him up. Kim isn’t about to sit around idly while Chuck goes through with whatever plan he’s got cooking so she tells Jimmy that she’s going to do some research into the legality of the whole thing so they know what they are up against. Because there’s no way around it at this point: they are in this thing together.
Instead of working on the Mesa Verde case which she is singly handedly responsible for, Kim is yet again stuck cleaning up Jimmy’s mess. She enlists the help of an old law professor for some case law about audio recording as evidence. New Mexico’s one-party consent law makes it legal for Chuck to have recorded Jimmy but because Jimmy went to him worried for his mental health, mitigates his admission of guilt. She goes through some basic options for getting the evidence thrown out but the fact remains that there’s nothing she knows that Chuck hasn’t already thought of. Since he hasn’t already played the tape for the Mesa Verde people, and Howard would never allow it to happen, she can’t figure out what his endgame is.
All the while, Jimmy is rolling the painter’s tape off the wall with his thumbs—just like Chuck taught him. The WM logo is finally up and painted and he’s more concerned with whether Kim likes it than he is with the Chuck situation. She seems to truly like it and she’s very concerned with Jimmy’s mental state. He says he’s fine but she knows that’s bullshit. He ends up ripping the last piece of tape off the Jimmy McGill way, totally screwing up the paint on the M side in the process, and storming out of the office.
Mike is still on the hunt with his remote tracker and he ends up following to the middle of nowhere. There’s no cars and no one around and he gets out to take a look through his binoculars when he spots something a ways down the road. It’s the gas cap with a ringing cell phone on top. Could it be his future boss calling?
Even though Jimmy’s trash adventure is endlessly amusing, the funniest part of this episode is Howard’s attempt to stealthily approach Chuck’s house so he isn’t seen. He’s in his billion-dollar Hamlin suit and fancy shoes, running through people’s backyards and jumping over walls and it’s just so ridiculous. I can never get enough Hamlin, honestly. Just look at this:
Turns out, Hamlin is paying Chuck a surprise visit to chew him out for wasting company resources on his mystery man—who we now learn is a private investigator paid for by HHM to stay at Chuck’s house in case Jimmy breaks in to steal the tape. Hamlin has had it with Chuck’s increasingly crazy behavior and he doesn’t think that his approach is going to work. Hamlin wants Chuck to start considering other options but Chuck knows his brother, and as soon as the words pass his lips we hear Jimmy screaming at the front door.
Jimmy kicks the door in and completely loses it on Chuck, getting in a sick burn about his wife leaving him (so now we know what happened to Rebecca). Jimmy breaks open Chuck’s desk and gets the tape, which he destroys right in Chuck’s face, screaming at him that he destroyed their family. Little does Jimmy know that Hamlin and the investigator are right around the corner, listening to every word, bearing witness to Jimmy’s guilt.
Chuck’s plan worked perfectly, exactly how he said it would and with the cherry on top that Howard himself was there to witness the whole thing. Even with Kim’s help, my boy Jimmy is running seriously low on options. How will he weasel his way out of this one? And will he screw Kim over in the process? These are the questions that keep me up at night, and if the previews for the next episode are any indication, things are gonna get way worse before they get better.