(Spoiler alert: Don’t read this if you haven’t seen the Season 3 premiere of “Better Call Saul.”)
Whether in “Breaking Bad” or “Better Call Saul,” one of Vince Gilligan’s signature traits as a storyteller is his ability to slowly build to a big reveal through patient scenes that leave us guessing. We saw this in action again Monday night on the season 3 premiere of “Better Call Saul,” which was largely devoted to showing us how Mike Ehrmantraut hatched an elaborate scheme.
After fleeing from a failed attempt to kill Hector Salamanca in last year’s finale — and discovering a note on his car with the word “Don’t” written on it — Mike’s signature paranoia kicked into high gear. He raced to a junk yard where he completely dismantled his car in search of a tracking device. After all, it’s the only way anyone could have known he was out there trying to kill Hector.
Through this entire process, Mike doesn’t say a word: The show illustrates Mike’s search through Gilligan’s signature montage scenes, and leaves the audience to fill in the blanks. After searching through every possible square inch of every component in the car, Mike finally found what he was looking for: a tracker concealed in the cap of the gas tank.
That’s when Mike came up with a brilliant plan: run out the battery on the tracker by hooking it up to a handheld radio, and replace it in the gas tank with a tracker of his own. This way, when the person who planted the original tracker showed up to replace it, Mike could switch on his own bug and use it to track whoever sent the note.
The person behind the tracker has yet to be revealed — though all signs point ultimately to infamous chicken magnate Gus Fring, whose return to Albuquerque was heavily promoted in the run-up to this week’s premiere. Whateve Mike learns, “Better Call Saul” showed the trademark slow pacing and willingness to keep cards close to the chest that Gilligan and his team have become known for, respecting the audience’s ability to read between the lines and trusting them to know that something big is coming at the end of the slow burn.