Spoiler Warning for Season 3, Episode 2 of “Better Call Saul.”
The man, the myth, the legend that is Gustavo Fring has finally returned to television in what just may be the best episode of “Better Call Saul” yet. On par with “Breaking Bad,” this episode shines and delivers some truly great character moments as the intensity level is raised to new heights. Saul Goodman seems to be creeping closer and closer, but Jimmy McGill isn’t totally gone just yet.
I have to jump right into the most intense and best part of the episode where Mike continues his quest to track down the person(s) that have been following him. In what seems to be a series of money drops, Mike is forced to tail a mysterious man all night through Albuquerque. In the morning, the man leads Mike to a very familiar location, but using clever camera angels, the location is only shown is small bits. Mike watches as the man he is following enters a restaurant before coming back out and driving away. Complimenting tense music, the camera slowly pulls away to reveal the famous sign of Los Pollos Hermanos. This single shot is so simple, but is enough to give any loyal fan goosebumps.
Realizing that he can’t just wander into the restaurant himself, Mike enlists the help of Jimmy, who follows the cash drop man in and orders a meal. This is another case of the series being far more intense than it has been thus far; the first two seasons were rather tame, focusing more on the character dynamics and law drama. As Jimmy sits down to eat his meal and watch the suspect, a man appears in the background to clean up some tables and sweep the floor. Eagle-eyed fans know who this is, but he disappears for a few moments, only to appear again and surprise Jimmy, who has his head in a trashcan, searching for clues. Gustavo Fring has made his highly-anticipated return after his explosive exit in “Breaking Bad.” Jimmy obviously doesn’t know what he has stepped into just yet, but seeing the first interaction between these two iconic characters is thrilling. Jimmy returns to Mike, disappointed that this reconnaissance mission didn’t have any results. Mike isn’t giving up though and decides to keep following the man until he comes across the gas cap sitting in the middle of a road in the desert; he has been made and the Fring empire seems to know exactly what Mike is up to. There is a cell phone left on the gas cap, which abruptly rings and Mike answers it, but who is calling?
On the Kim and Jimmy side of things, they are on the lookout for a secretary for their office; with Kim tackling the Mesa Verde case by herself and Jimmy overrun with elderly clients, they need some assistance and none other than “Breaking Bad” alumnus Francesca (Tina Parker) steps in help out. If you remember, Saul had a feisty and irritated secretary whom he, Walt and Jesse frequently clashed with. In “Better Call Saul,” however, Francesca is almost a completely different person; she is a ray of light and filled with optimism and spirit, unlike her presence after working for Jimmy/Saul for years. Being that Francesca is the first applicant that they interview, Kim is hesitant to hire her, but Jimmy is ready for her to begin working right away. They put her to the test answering phones and scheduling clients; Jimmy provides some helpful advice by telling her to act “folksy” and mention Cracker Barrel regularly, because everyone knows that old people love Cracker Barrel.
The Chuck storyline also heats up this episode as Ernesto pays a visit to the law office to speak with Kim. He nervously tells her about the recording that Chuck made; this sends Kim into a bit of a panic as she interrupts Jimmy’s meeting with a client to relay this worrisome information. Kim calms herself down when she thinks through the many different defense strategies that could be used should Jimmy be brought to court. There is clear devastation on Jimmy’s face as he realizes what has happened; his brother has betrayed him and Jimmy is seeming with anger. Over at Chuck’s house, Howard makes his way inside after climbing through several neighbor’s yards to avoid being seen; also present at the house is a private detective that Chuck has hired. A furious Jimmy barges into Chuck’s house and throws a fit as he searches for the recording, only to find it and destroy it while lashing out at Chuck for breaking his confidence, completely unaware that they aren’t alone in the house. Howard and the detective step into the room and Chuck asks if they witnessed what Jimmy just did; they both say yes, showing the meticulous plot that Chuck has come up with to hold Jimmy accountable for his actions. The tape wouldn’t stand on its own, but a confession in the presence of witnesses just might do Jimmy in.
I greatly enjoyed the first two seasons of “Better Call Saul,” specifically because of the radically different tone and focus from its predecessor. Although, the time has come for the narrative to further transition into “Breaking Bad” territory and the reintroduction of Gus Fring proves that. Only a show like this could make scenes so intense even though the viewer is aware of how things ultimately play out. The comedic aspect is also enjoyable and I hope that the character of Francesca is utilized more in the series. Once again, Chuck proves himself to be the absolute worst and I really hope that Jimmy gets his revenge. Will Jimmy be arrested or will he find a way out of this mess? Be sure to tune into “Better Call Saul” next Monday at 10 p.m. on AMC.