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Better Call Saul Stars on What It Was Like Making Gus Fring's Return

Breaking down "Witness" with the cast of Better Call Saul

Liam Mathews

Monday's second episode of Season 3 of Better Call Saul, "Witness," contained the long-awaited arrival of iconic Breaking Bad villain Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito).

Viewers know from Breaking Bad what the connection is between Fring, Jimmy "Saul Goodman" McGill (Bob Odenkirk) and Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), and Better Call Saul shows how these criminals came together. "Witness" contains the first-ever meeting between future associates Fring and McGill/Goodman.

In keeping with Better Call Saul's methodical M.O., it's a quiet, underplayed meeting. Mike is trailing a mysterious operative who stops at Fring's fast-food restaurant Los Pollos Hermanos every morning and does...something. Mike can't follow the guy in himself or else he'd give away that he's watching the watchers, so he enlists Jimmy to report on what's going on inside. Jimmy doesn't see anything, but while he's in the restaurant, he encounters Fring, who's in his guise as a humble legitimate businessman.

​Giancarlo Esposito and Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul

Giancarlo Esposito and Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul

Michele K. Short/AMC/Sony Pictures Television, Michele K.Short/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Jimmy dives headfirst into a garbage can, looking to see if the guy threw away any evidence. Fring, who's sweeping up, comes over to see what the problem is. Jimmy says he accidentally dropped his watch in the trash, and Fring helps him fish it out. It's a perfectly cordial exchange, and Jimmy has absolutely no idea who he's dealing with.

"I particularly like being in Los Pollos Hermanos because you see a Gus who is the guy who's hiding in plain sight," Giancarlo Esposito tells TVGuide.com. "But there is this very shrewd side to him that he sees Jimmy coming from a mile away."

Fring, of course, knows that Mike is on to him, and Mike finds the gas-cap tracker he planted and a ringing burner cellphone left in the middle of the road by Gus' henchman Victor (Jeremiah Bitsui) for him at the end of the episode (we know what eventually happens to Victor, too).

The episode also contained Jimmy breaking in to his brother Chuck's (Michael McKean) house and destroying Chuck's tape of him confessing to tampering with evidence. Chuck has tricked Jimmy into committing a crime, and there are two witnesses -- Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) and the security guard Chuck has hired for this very moment.

Better Call Saul's Michael McKean warns "don't get too attached" to Chuck McGill

Jimmy getting caught and Mike's phone call might be the first active steps into them become their Breaking Bad versions.

"I think Episode 2 is the best episode that I've seen of the whole show," says Michael Mando, who plays Nacho and who isn't even in the episode. Mando is particularly enamored with the long crane shot that reveals the Los Pollos Hermanos sign.

Creator Vince Gilligan directed the episode (as well as the season premiere), and it should not surprise you to learn that Gilligan is a perfectionist.

"I'll bust his chops for it sometimes," says Banks, who spends about 20 minutes in the two episodes silently and meticulously fiddling with electronics and waiting in his car. "When we're doing 14 takes with a gas cap, I'll go 'Jesus Christ, Vince, will you ever...," trailing off into cranky babbling.

That perfectionism pays off in masterful episodes like "Witness," though, so they're not actually complaining.

Better Call Saul airs Mondays at 10/9c on AMC.