Let’s get down to business, Bad-ers. This week’s all about daddy issues. We get our typical three stories, w/ Walt and Jesse involved in big A and B plots, and Hank involved in a smaller C plot that ties into the main ones. And we get Walter Jr. back, which I’m always in favor of. Because he’s a great character, but partly because he looks like Jimmy on South Park. It’s uncanny.
Here’s where we were last week: Jesse’s going off the deep end has put everyone in the Blue Meth family at risk, and Gus was forced to take extreme measures. But we don’t know what those are exactly. When we last left them, Mike had picked up Jesse and was driving him into the desert somewhere. Possibly to murder him.
And now, Walt is frantically looking for his missing partner. He’s gunning his shitty Aztek down a two-lane road, weaving through traffic, without a seatbelt, and he’s surprisingly adroit about it. But he’s also on the phone with Saul. We can’t really hear what he’s saying, but it sounds like he’s barking out instructions to his lawyer. Walt may be a good driver, but he can’t multitask, and he nearly rams into a car in front of him.
Finally, his call with Saul, whatever it was about, has ended, and he tosses the phone on the seat next to him. A moment later he remembers another call he has to make, and now he’s calling Skyler—and somehow, in the middle of this craziness, he manages to make the call purely personal. He’s called to tell her just that he’s thinking about her. Walt’s clear of the traffic now and free of distractions, but he still can’t put his feelings into words, so he leaves his message at that.
But soon it’s back to business. He reaches under the seat, retrieves the .38, skids through a turn, and burns rubber.
LOS POLLOS PARKING LOT
After the credits, Walt tears into the Los Pollos parking lot. But before charging out of the car, he pauses for a moment and double-checks his ammo in the .38. Satisfied, he gets out, puts the .38 in his coat pocket.
Inside, a cheerful, pudgy Los Pollos employee greets him and tries up-sell their new breakfast chalupa, (somehow that doesn’t play as funny as it should), but Walt is all business. He’s Walter White, he tells her, and he’s come to see Gus Fring—using full names, no less. Bursting into Gus’s cover business like a maniac, with a visible bulge in his coat pocket, and asking for the boss, is about as brash a move Walt could make, and he looks like he means it.
The employee claims Gus isn’t there, but Walt knows she’s lying. He saw Gus’s car in the parking lot. Walt’s not leaving until Gus comes out of his office, and to prove it, he plops down in a booth.
The employee eyes him for a moment and decides he really is serious, then disappears into the kitchen. Walt watches her go. But then his eyes drift over to a video camera aimed right at the cash register. Walt’s already been spotted. Any hope he had of having the element of surprise is gone. Walt glances over to the opposite wall and spots a second camera trained directly on him now. His focused rage looks like it’s starting to dissipate, like he’s realizing Gus is out maneuvering him before the confrontation’s even happened.
The Los Pollos employee returns from the kitchen without Gus. She approaches one of her coworkers, a girl manning the drive-thru window. They exchange a few words and then both look over at Walt.
Walt starts to lose his composure. He scans the Los Pollos patrons one-by-one. Is anyone a potential threat? Maybe an undercover henchman, working for Gus?
Outside, he hears an SUV pull up. Three young, solidly built guys get out and come inside. Is this some kind of rapid-response team Gus has on call 24/7? But the guys just walk past him and up to the counter to order some food.
Walt’s phone buzzes. He answers. It’s Mike. Just like the time Walt tried to confront Gus at Gus’s home and Tyrus stopped him in the nick of time with a phone call, Mike’s call here is almost omniscient. Spooky.
Mike doesn’t sound pleased to have to deal with Walt right now, but Walt, frantic, only wants to know where Jesse is. Jesse’s fine, Mike tells him. He’s with him right now, in fact. Mike hands the phone over to Jesse and Jesse’s voice comes through. He sounds OK. Even bored.
Walt’s starting to look bewildered—why does nobody else seem to notice the severity of the friggin’ situation. He asks Jesse where Mike is taking him, and Jesse says he has no idea. And still he doesn’t sound concerned for his safety.
Walt sputters. Jesse hands the phone back over to Mike, who curtly tells him to just go back to the lab, make the day’s batch alone, and not worry about what’s going on with his partner.
But there’s still a very good chance Jesse will be harmed soon. Based on Walt’s recent behavior in that kind of situation, we know he won’t just go on with his day.
Walt glares. He looks at the security camera, steels himself, grips his gun in his pocket, and storms past the cash register and the Los Pollos employee to Gus’s office. And Gus isn’t there
MIKE’S CAR, IN THE DESERT
Jesse and Mike continue to ride along like before, but Jesse starts to look a little worried. It could be that hearing Walt’s worrying has awoken Jesse to the possibility that he actually COULD be up shit creek right now. (Although if Mike picks you up and drives you to the desert, I don’t know how else you’d be feeling. He asks, half-joking, if Mike is planning on leaving him in a ditch somewhere, and Mike doesn’t offer anything concrete in the way of an answer. Jesse surreptitiously makes a fist with his car keys between his fingers, so he can key-punch Mike if necessary, and warns Mike flat-out that he’d better shoot straight if he really is planning to whack him.
SOMEWHERE IN THE DESERT
But Mike says nothing, and instead stops at a deserted farmhouse somewhere, with an animal pen, a windmill, and not much else. Mike gets out, pops the trunk and disappears behind the car. Jesse starts to freak and jumps out of the car so he can defend himself. Mike appears with a shovel over his shoulder. But he walks right on past Jesse, not even looking at him.
Mike walks about a hundred yards away and sticks his shovel in the ground. Soon, he’s unearthed a wooden trap door covering a hole. In the hole is some kind of canvas bag. Mike found it on the first try, so clearly he’s been to this place before.
Jessse watches him walk back to the car and unzip the bag. Inside is a wad of cash. Mike takes out a stack of bills, throws the bag and the shovel in the trunk, and walks back to the driver’s side.
Finally, he looks back at Jesse. Is he coming along? They’re doing this six more times today and Mike wants to finish before dark.
So I guess Jesse is safe for a while.
And I hope there was a fresh pair of underpants in that hole, also
HANK AND MARIE’S
Later, Tim, the Albuquerque PD homicide detective, sits down with Hank to hear his take on Gale’s lab notebook.
Hank has concluded that Gale is Heisenberg. That actually flies contrary to conventional wisdom, which holds that a guy they interrogated back in Season 3, a burnout named Jimmy who was found with a tiny amount of blue meth, was the culprit—because the APD believes a little too devoutly in Occam’s Razor, apparently.
So that’s that. Hank agrees with Tim’s theory, that Gale’s murder was likely committed by a rival gang trying to take out the mastermind. Beyond that, Hank can’t offer up much in the way of a suspect. He only knows of two people connected to blue meth. One is Badger. He’s barely even involved in the drug trade, so he’s out. The other is Jesse. Even though he and Jesse have a history, Hank still doesn’t think Jesse could have killed Gale.
Hank apologizes for not being more helpful, but Tim presses him a little further. A sketch artist has made a composite of the “person of interest” seen at Gale’s apartment the night of the murder. He shows it to Hank. Doesn’t look like Jesse. It could be Victor with a head of hair and a goatee.
Hank doesn’t feel like helping out. Tim asks him to hang onto the drawing and mull it over, but Hank resists. Finding Heisenberg dead feels like closure. He’s done. And Tim can’t convince him otherwise. Hank watches Tim pack up the case files and leave.
A BOMBED-OUT WAREHOUSE
Mike and Jesse are at their second stop, where Mike is climbing into an air vent to retrieve another bag.
Outside, Jesse waits by the car, standing guard, trying to be useful. Mike returns and sourly remarks that Jesse’s help isn’t necessary.
Jesse gets annoyed. If he’s not out here to get murdered, then surely he’s been brought along as Mike’s backup. Right? Since that’s the case, Jesse, surmises, he needs a gun if he’s going to be a proper guard. Mike rolls his eyes, still says nothing. Inside the car Jesse pulls out a smoke, but Mike’s look tells him to think better of it.
The guys continue on with their day. Time-lapse shots of Jesse and Mike driving all over creation, with Jesse killing the time by dicking around…suddenly turning on the radio, shoving his face up against the passenger window, drumming on the dashboard…just getting on Mike’s nerves.
Much later, as they drive along, Jesse mentions that, for Mike’s information, he knows exactly what this driving around and money collecting is all about. It’s dead-drops. He and Mike are retrieving the drug revenue from Gus’s empire. They’re not collecting it directly from Gus’s dealers in order to reduce the risk of exposure.
He’s right, but Mike says nothing. Jesse whines again about the lack of communication. It seems silly, if Jesse’s been brought along to be “the guy” to help Mike, to not give Jesse any information. And finally Mike’s had enough. He pulls over.
Jesse’s not “the guy”, Mike says. Mike had a guy and he’s gone. He has no idea why Jesse’s been brought along. It wasn’t his call.
Over at the lab, Walt is going about his solo shift. The job definitely was meant for two people, as right now Walt is straining under the exertion. Finally he reaches a good spot to break, and sits down to rest. But then his watch beeps at him. Oh, shit! He forgot…something. He thinks for a minute, then remembers.
WALT AND SKYLER’S HOUSE
It’s signing day, i.e. the day the sale of the car wash becomes official. Walt and Skyler sit at their kitchen table with a friendly looking guy, whoever it is that you go to when you want to make your car wash purchase official…maybe he’s a notary, or a lawyer, or a realtor, I have no idea.
Skyler pauses before signing and admits to the guy she has second thoughts about the deal. He reassures her. In his opinion, Sky and Walt have a solid business plan. But what Skyler really needs is Walt’s reassurance. Does he think this is a good idea?
Walt’s not really listening—really, I don’t think he has much energy for anything more than base-level mental functioning these days—but he says he does think it’s a good idea. The contract is stamped, and they’re done. They are now the owners of a car wash.
The guys leaves. Sky and Walt take in the moment. She asks him how he feels. Walt appears to think about it for a minute, but demurs, asking her how she feels.
Skyler, being a WOMAN and therefore all emotional, is honest. She’s nervous and scared. And Walt, like most men, can fake strength well enough to be supportive in the moment. He tells her it will all work out. She believes him. But she needs to hear it a couple times. So he takes her hand and repeats the sentiment.
Skyler still looks wary. If they’re going to do this, they have to promise no more secrets. Complete honesty
And Walt agrees. So they decide to have a drink. They tease each other about not drinking anything too expensive, in a call back to a couple episodes ago when Walt bought the $300 bottle of champagne. Skyler walks to the cupboard to grab two glasses, and on the way she nonchalantly hits the playback button on the answering machine.
Walt’s message from earlier plays. We hear him say he’s thinking about her and the kids. Then we wear the pause. And then we hear something I missed the first time I watched th episode—he tells her he loves her. Skyler tries to take this in. And then…yup:
We’re back in Skyler and Walt’s bed after they’ve done the deed. The moment starts small. Walt notices Skyler’s been using a new fabric softener on the sheets, and she teases him for NOT noticing her new haircut. Oh, men!
But it’s all part of a broader issue, which is, a hell of a lot has changed. What the hell to do now?
Skyler doesn’t seem to miss a beat. Is Walt free for dinner tomorrow night with Hank and Marie? It looks like she’s ready to just go on being a family again. Sounds great, Walt replies. Baby steps.
Then they hear Walter Junior announce his arrival home from school. He calls out for Skyler. Where is she? Walt and Sky scramble for their clothes, but Walt decides to go ahead and play their hand—he calls back to Junior from the bedroom. The jig is up.
Skyler looks momentarily surprised, but again, not too bothered. Maybe buying the car wash was all she needed to bring the relationship back together. So she pops the question—does Walt want to move back in?
…and Walt hesitates. Uh-oh. What’s that about?
Before he can answer, his watch beeps again. Time to go back to work.
Walt returns to the Superlab for the second part of his shift. Now he’s driving a forklift. But it looks unfamiliar and shaky to him, and sure enough he flubs it and drops the barrel he’s carrying.
Walt’s had enough. He storms over to the security camera—his only mode of communication with his bosses now—and shouts that he’s not doing any more work until Jesse returns to him.
Afternoon turns to evening. Walt is lying on the small couch in the Superlab’s tiny office.
He hears footsteps. Thinking it’s Jesse, Walt comes out to meet him and sees that it’s actually Tyrus. He lights into Tyrus, complaining about the work conditions. He reiterates his position, that the job can’t be done with only one person—especially forklift work.
And without even acknowledging Walt, Tyrus walks right on past him, climbs onto the forklift, and uses it expertly to pick up the barrel Walt dropped.
It’s Jesse and Mike’s last stop. Jesse sarcastically asks if he’s supposed to sit tight. Mike doesn’t respond, just gets out of the car and goes inside.
Still more waiting for Jesse. He drums his hands on the dashboard, pops open the glove compartment and drums his hands on the glove compartment door, too.
Over his shoulder, a man appears. We see him but Jesse doesn’t.
Jesse’s eyes drift up to the rearview. The man comes into focus. He has a shotgun. It’s a stickup!
The keys have been left in the ignition, which is interesting, because at each previous stop, Mike took them out–they even gave us a closeup him doing that once. Jesse spots them, slides over to the wheel, puts the car in reverse, and guns the car straight at the guy. The stickup artist dives out of the way with plenty of time.
Jesse plows into a car parked perpendicular to Mike’s car. In that car is another guy, probably the stickup artist’s partner.
Jesse spins the car around and guns it away from the warehouse, leading the stickup car out of there. Just then, Mike emerges with the last dead-drop bag. He jogs to the spot where the cars collided and looks completely confused.
A MEXICAN RESTAURANT SOMEWHERE
Mike walks down the sidewalk, the dead-drop bag under his arm. He’s on the phone with someone giving them instructions on where to pick him up. But before he hangs up, Jesse pulls up next to him.
Jesse is breathless. He gives Mike a quick rundown of events—guy with a shotgun, had no choice, sped out of there.
Mike smiles. He saw everything. (But he was in the warehouse the whole time, wasn’t he?). He gets behind the wheel. Jesse slides over and catches his breath.
Jesse takes out a smoke, but notices Mike watching and throws it down, irritated. Mike, however, tells him to go ahead and smoke up.
THE WHITES HOUSE
Walt comes out of the bedroom. It’s morning and he’s in his PJ’s. So the man of the house is back, at least in some capacity.
Junior joins him. Doesn’t seem at all put off by the fact that his father has suddenly reappeared in the house without warning. Walt asks him if he wants some juice, and Junior replies that he’d like some coffee instead. Walt’s surprised, and Junior tells him he’s also started tying his own shoelaces now, too. (Yeah!)
I’ve missed Walter Junior a hell of a lot. It’s good to have him back.
Walt tells Junior proudly to grab himself a coffee mug. While Walt prepares he coffee, Junior tells Walt he’s glad to have his dad back in the house. Walt says he’s glad to be back too, and looks like he has more to say, but trails off, once again having trouble finding the words.
Junior asks Walt if he’s planning to move in this Tuesday, like Skyler said he would. This is news to Walt. He never agreed on an official move-in, much less a date.
And then Walt notices the mug Junior’s drinking out of. It’s a Beneke mug. So that’s what’s been bugging him, and most likely what’s caused him to hesitate when given a shot at living in his own house again. And I wonder, does Walt think Skyler giving him a move-in date without consulting him is her attempt to sweep her dalliance under the rug?
At work, Walt arrives to find Jesse, smashing some sheets of meth like on any other workday.
Walt asks Jesse what he’s doing here—Jesse’s car isn’t parked outside—and Jesse tells him Mike dropped him off. Walt’s flummoxed. Why is Jesse acting like nothing happened yesterday? He asks Jesse for an update, and Jesse gives him the condensed version: he helped Mike pick up dead-drops. Actually no, he guarded Mike.
Walt is dubious. Did Jesse really guard Mike? Jesse bristles. He doesn’t appreciate Walt’s insinuation. For Walt’s information, he tells him, when two guys showed up to rob them, he saved the day.
Walt’s confused. What the hell is going on? But Jesse, taking his newfound self-respect, just snaps at Walt to get down to work, because this afternoon he has to meet up with Mike again for more work.
Gus is also back to work this morning. He’s taking a bag of trash out the back entrance to the dumpster. There Mike is waiting in his car. Gus tosses the trash and joins him.
How did yesterday go, Gus wants to know. Other than a sprained ankle, Mike says, everything went like Gus wanted it to. “The kid is a hero”. So the whole day was orchestrated. Mike still has a bunch of questions, but knows better than to ask.
With those skillz, Gus must be the greatest and scariest Los Pollos manager in New Mexico
HANK AND MARIE’S
That night, the Whites sit down with Hank and Marie for a normal family dinner. They make small talk about the car wash. Marie has an idea—they should put Holly on the sign. She’ll be their mascot!
Walt’s focused on his wine, not conversation. He has his family back on the surface, but only there. He drains his glass and pours himself another, draining the bottle, and Marie points him towards another bottle in the kitchen. We follow Walt into the kitchen while everyone else makes small talk. Does Skyler notice he’s drinking a little too much?
Alone, Walt cuts the wax seal off the bottle, pulls out the cork, and pours. He drains a second glass. Pours himself a third.
Did you think that was the episode, just Walt standing alone, unable to truly get his family back in spirit? I did. It’s not.
That’s how it would end if this were Mad Men. This show is not Mad Men and never will be. Thank god.
Finally Hank calls out for him to rejoin them. He refers to Walt teasingly as “Nick the Greek”, in reference to Walt’s fictional gambling prowess. Marie admonishes him. Hank shouldn’t be making light of Walt’s self-admitted moral failure.
Junior doesn’t totally agree. He’s still enamored of his dad for bringing in “beaucoup bucks” and still doesn’t see why Walt ever quit. Skyler asks him to change the subject.
So Junior asks Hank about “that crazy singing guy”. Referring to Gale’s karaoke video. Any updates on the case?
It’s always fun when Hank unwittingly confronts Walt with his crimes without realizing it. Walt takes a long drink of wine while Hank runs down the story of Gale, aka Heisenberg. It’s nothing new to us, but it’s news to Skyler. She’s never heard of Gale or Heisenberg, but you have to think the moment she hears the details of his story—chemistry whiz, genius meth cook, unlikely drug mastermind with a non-criminal background—she connects Gale to Walt. She’s getting a look at the actual criminal side of Walt’s behavior, a side whose specifics she’s actually been pretty ignorant of throughout the show.
Hank muses about Gale/Heisenberg…after reading the notebooks, he’s become convinced Gale is a genius. So how could a genius devote himself to something so heinous? Hank wonders at what someone with Gale’s brain, (i.e., Walt’s brain), could do if only set in the right direction. Imagine how much he could help humanity.
Walt drinks throughout all of this, and finally he speaks up. His own goddamn pride is too big, even if it’s not being directly insulted here. Gale wasn’t a genius, he tells Hank. Gale was copying.
Skyler, likely surmising that Heisenberg/Gale is secretly Hank, has to be cringing right now. Her husband is shooting himself in the foot right before her eyes.
Walt gives Hank his take: the real Heisenberg, whom Gale copied off of, is probably still out there.
MARIE AND HANK’S
The next day, Marie comes into the house to find Hank sitting at the kitchen table, poring over case files. He asks for a cup of coffee. He needs to be alert. He’s back!
Hank has reopened the Heisenberg case. He’s looking over the crime scene photos of Gale’s apartment.
And he notices something. Gale was a devout vegan. His lab diary is full of references to it. So why was there a Los Pollos wrapper in Gale’s apartment?
Here’s what I’m thinking about this week…
-So, Mike reminds me of George Carlin.
-I really like the way they portray police work on this show…most cases are pretty straightforward, so when you get one with a really bizarre, flukey variable–like in this case, the meth lord winding up being a high school chemistry teacher–it’s almost impossible for the cops to figure out what’s going on. Walt’s story has “cold case” written all over it. I have no trouble buying that the cops would be stumped and it would take forever for them to figure it out.
-Even though I was pretty confident Mike wasn’t going to murder Jesse, I couldn’t help but think about that story Mike told Walt at the end of last season, about the time when he was a cop and took a wife-beater out to the desert to scare some sense into him, and how the fact that Mike DIDN’T kill the guy has haunted him ever since. We know Mike’s capable of some heinous shit. Even if they didn’t intend for it, that speech foreshadowed the hell out of this episode for me.
-I’ve totally given up trying to predict Walt and Skyler’s relationships status.
-I’m pretty sure that Hank’s covering his ass when he tells Tim he has closure on the Heisenberg case. I think Hank’s felt in his gut for a while that there’s something huge going on, but his self-confidence is so shot he isn’t pursuing it.
-Interesting to me that Gus uses the same name for both of his lives. Walt’s chosen a “stage name” for himself, Heisenberg, but Gus is “Gus Fring” to criminals and to polite society. I’ve thought of Gus as the model double-life-leading criminal Walt will never be, but I have no idea where to start with the naming part of it.
-At first, I thought Walt was being a little petty for holding Skyler’s adultery over her head like this—after all, he committed a way bigger sin by leading a criminal double life that could easily wreck the family, and still can. But I think it’s a little more complicated. Walt’s still got cancer. Skyler’s younger than he is, and still fertile—they just had a kid! Beneke himself is no longer with his wife. The affair’s got to be a pretty stark realization call for Walt…within a year he could be gone, and Skyler would be able move on to a new life. The very next day if she wanted to. Way more threatening than a regular affair.
And last, some housekeeping–going forward I’m going to post Breaking Bad recaps on Tuesday, not Wednesday, so check back then if you feel so inclined.
OK, I’m out. Warm regards and meth,