Hey BrBa-dders! I don’t have much of an intro to this week’s episode. Thought it was solid, moderately paced, and REALLY character-driven. Which is great. But other than the Gus-murders-Victor scene back in the premier, that’s been most of Season 4 so far, and I could use some variety.
But there’s still a lot of good stuff this week, so let’s get into it.
The episode opens at the lab, right before the work day has begun. Walt appears outside the entrance. The fight with Mike last week has left him with a black eye. He unlocks the door and comes inside—I guess Gus has given him key privileges again. Maybe things are getting back to normal. Maybe Walt’s starting to relax a little bit.
Walt goes downstairs and pours himself coffee from Gale’s miracle brewing contraption, the one he built for a pet project to brew the greatest cup of coffee known to man. This is the last visible trace of Gale in the lab. Walt sips his coffee and smiles, like he’s remembering Gale with fondness…and then his face darkens. “Oh, right…I had that guy killed.” Just a little moment that still manages to remind you of your sins.
Rather than linger, Walt gets down to work. But as he moves across the lab he hears a mechanical whirring sound. There’s a wall-mounted surveillance camera, swiveling back and forth to track his every move.
Walt curses. He might have his keys back, but he’s more trapped than ever. And all he can do is scowl and flip it the bird.
There was a great moment back in the pilot, when Walt quit the carwash job. He made a huge scene culminating with grabbing his crotch, and of course it was way more embarrassing to Walt than it was to Bogdan. This scene kinda reminded me of that.
WALT’S SWINGIN’ BACHELOR PAD
Some time later. Skyler’s outside Walt’s place, ringing the doorbell. No answer, but she knows he’s in there. She yells through the door for him to open up. Still no response. She pulls out her cell and calls his number. His phone rings inside, and he’s forced to open up.
Sky’s come to talk about the car wash situation. Why hasn’t he returned any of her calls? Walt tells her it’s not a good time. Walt is shielding his black eye from Skyler with the door. Like last week, when he tried to hide his gun from Tyrus and only managed to look incredibly obvious, it’s not too effective.
Do they have slyness lessons he could take, maybe?
Sky notices the odd behavior and edges the door open. She gasps at his face, but he tells her it’s nothing, that he just bumped it on something. She won’t let him off the hook that easy, so she comes inside.
Sky’s witnessed Walt transform into a different person over the course of the series, but it’s still a shock to see him with a black eye. Is he in any danger? Walt scoffs, but she’s serious. She needs to know.
Walt tries to change the subject. He’s got a lot on his mind and doesn’t need to be bothered about the car wash.
Sky starts to lose it. If Walt’s in danger, maybe they should go to the police. They’ll just explain Walt is a drug dealer, and he’s afraid for his family, and worried about his own safety. Yeah, that’ll do it!
Walt accuses her of being passive-aggressive. According to Walt, since he went a couple days without returning her calls, this is Sky retaliating, by flying off the handle and threatening the police on him.
Doesn’t it seem like Walt’s gone a week without talking to another person? He’s so nuts right now
But no. Skyler really just wants to know how he got his black eye. So he tells her, in deliberately vague terms: he had an “argument with a coworker”. (Which happens all the time when you’re making crystal meth for a living). He was in a bar, things got testy, and the coworker punched him. The only reason Walt didn’t retaliate was because the coworker was an older guy. (Which, other than the fact it took place in the bar, is the only part of this story that’s true).
Sky seems maybe a little impressed that her Walter was in a bar fight, then goes back to being concerned. She checks his freezer for some frozen peas to put on his eye, but he has no peas, nor does he have ice
Walt shrugs, like he’s trying to find a moment of levity to hang onto and ride this conversation out. “Peas and ice. I’m writing it down.”
But Sky has one last thing to say: she needs Walt to promise her that he’ll take care of himself if he ever is in danger. You might say Skyler is acting purely out of her own self-interests—if Walt dies, no more meth, and no more money for Hank’s medical bills—but if you ask me it’s more complicated than that. Is this out of genuine concern for the guy? Are they slowly gravitating back towards each other? I wouldn’t be surprised. (Plus, it’s a serial drama show…characters have to drift together and apart a few times over the years. What else would they do stories about?)
And finally, probably just for the sake of changing the subject again, Walt’s ready to talk carwash.
A FANCY HOUSE SOMEWHERE
Now we’re at an open-house. Marie and Hank do not need a new house, but here she is anyway, chilling out and enjoying a glass of the complimentary white wine. A Wilford Brimley-looking realtor shows up and introduces himself. She introduces herself in turn. As “Tori Costner”. Uh-oh.
Marie has concocted an elaborate biography for Tori Costner—divorced mother of a four-year-old boy named Eli, whom she plans to home-school because she wants to make sure Eli gets enough attention. Even the fictitious-son-who’s-not-at-all-Hank has a backstory—he’s a Gemini and a very bright kid who “tests very high” (96th percentile!). Even though she’ll homeschool him, Marie/Tori still plans to give him a rich social life, full of summer camp and play dates. You don’t want him to be socially awkward. But you also want to make sure you develop his left- and right-brain equally.
Boy, she’s really put a lot of thought into how she’s going to raise her imaginary kid!
It’s like LARPing, only sadder. Which I didn’t think was possible.
Or she could be talking about Hank here. Either way, it’s totally healthy. Brimley-Realtor just nods politely.
He points out a casita on the back side of the property and Marie asks if it’s got running water—she’s going to be setting up a pottery studio. It does. The house looks perfect!
HANK & MARIE’S
Meanwhile Hank’s watching porn. But not the trope-y kind, with like a dude with a cheesy mustache and terrible acting delivering a pizza to a slumber party or some shit. Here, it’s a couple chicks drinking white whine and discussing some “doctor” or other…it’s vague. Then the bow-chicka-wow music kicks in.
It’s Breaking Bad. Even the porn is nuanced.
Offscreen, Marie comes in the door and Hank scrambles to turn off the TV. Marie enters the bedroom and sets down a couple shopping bags. To cover up her long afternoon of fake house-hunting, she tells him she had to go to three stores to find the “moisturizer” he likes. (Verrrry funny, BrBa. That’s what you masturbate with!)
Marie also unloads beer, snacks, and a fantasy football magazine for him. The snacks she got are the wrong ones and Hank berates her for it. Guess things haven’t moved much on this front. She asks him not to be such a dick, but then heads back out to get the right ones for him. And on her way out, Hank points out that since the fantasy draft isn’t for another two months, the magazine is useless.
And finally, we end our first act of Spousal Deception with a close-up shot of a Hummel-type figuring of a boy riding on a pig.
THE SUPER LAB
Walt and Jesse are cleaning themselves up to head home for the day. Walt grouses about the video camera, but apparently Jesse hasn’t noticed it for the entire shift. Annoyed, Walt points it out to him and Jesse shrugs. Walt was always paranoid the lab was bugged anyway. What’s the big deal?
Walt calls it a “violation of the workspace”. Like the murder two episodes ago. That was another violation!
Jesse changes the subject. Does Walt want to do something after work? Like…go-karting? (Did you ever think you’d see Jesse so desperate?)
Walt declines. He has a meeting to go to. Jesse shrugs.
Walt seems to sense something is off, though, and asks Jesse if everything’s all right, if there’s anything he needs to talk about. Jesse retorts by asking Walt the same question—care to explain the black eye? Walt doesn’t. Neither of them is going to open up.
But before they call it a day, Jesse offers Walt some wisdom: “I’m not saying you get used to getting the shit kicked out of you, but you do kinda get used to it.”
Words to live by.
Turns out Walt really did have a meeting—with Saul!
Walt and Sky are listening to Saul give a sales pitch. Saul’s tried this out on Jesse before, so we know the drill…if the Whites want to launder money properly, they need to buy a nail salon. How about a lifetime supply of French manicures and enzyme peals?!
Sky isn’t amused, and frankly is barely holding back her contempt for Saul. They’re buying the car wash. That’s it. It’s the path of most resistance.
Sky haters out there, this scene is for you!
Saul smirks. Walt told him all about her failed negotiation with Bogdan, how Bogdan “wrestled her into submission” with his eyebrows. Condescendingly, he tells her it’s no big deal, that negotiators bomb all the time, even the professionals.
Outside, Saul’s enormous, non-speaking personal bodyguard lumbers across the lawn and knocks at the door. Saul excuses himself and answers. They argue out of earshot for a second, and Saul reluctantly asks Walt if “Hewell” can use the bathroom.
“Sorry, it’s a stomach thing”, Saul says.
Back to the meeting. Saul reiterates that he thinks the car wash is a dead end. If Bogdan won’t sell, he won’t sell.
Skyler doesn’t agree. What proceeds is a brainstorming session, where the gang tries to figure out a way to muscle a guy away from his own business, but not do anything too unsavory to get it done.
Saul loves Sky’s thinking. He starts spitballing…he has an accountant friend who could look into Bogdan’s books. Sky points out that involving fraud investigators to a place where they plan to launder money probably isn’t a bad idea.
How about INS? Bogdan has to have illegals working for him. Saul could get INS to conduct a raid. But Sky doesn’t want any innocent people’s livelihoods to be affected. (Plus, Saul reminds her, they’ll probably work for her once she takes over).
How about terrorism! Saul could make up some bullshit about al Qaeda people showing up in vans at the car wash. This time Walt rings in. Bogdan is Romanian. It doesn’t make sense.
Finally, Saul suggests the violence route. “Attitude adjustment”, as he calls it. But that’s not their style, either. They’re out of ideas.
Walt tries to move Sky away from Bogdan’s car wash. Why not buy a different car wash? There are a million of them.
Sky says no. She finally explains why she’s being so stubborn. It’s personal. And not only was Bogdan being rude to her, he insulted Walt.
Walt perks up. How did Bogdan insult him? Sky tells him. Bogdan said Walt didn’t have the sack to negotiate himself, so he sent his woman.
Sure enough, Walt’s pissed off and now wants to burn Bogdan as badly as Skyler does.
Saul can’t believe it. But he’s not the boss, so he lets them have their way. I feel pretty bad for him. But for now, all they need is a plan to get Bogdan to change his mind. It has to be non-violent, unsuspicious, and it can’t harm the innocent, AND it can’t cost twenty-million dollars.
And with that, the toilet upstairs flushes. Hewell has done his business.
Man, did you think Skyler was anything but totally in control of that scene? She had to have been keeping that tidbit about Walt in her back pocket for some handy leverage.
ANOTHER OPEN HOUSE
Marie’s at it again. This time it’s a one-story ranch house. Marie notices a rack of collectible spoons. The realtor comes over and they make small talk about the them. The realtor points out that each spoon is designed for a US state, and Marie corrects her—Puerto Rico is a territory, not a state.
Man, next time I want to get my rocks off, all I’ll need to do is find a realtor.
“PUERTO RICO IS A MINERAL, NOT A ROCK, YOU FUCKING IDIOT!”
Marie’s already in character. This time, her name is “Charlotte Bladner”. She has a brother in the Peace Corps and needs space in her new house to store his things until he returns to the States in eighteen months.
In the kitchen, Marie/Charlotte goes into her home life. She’s a hand model and her husband is a former NASA employee. (Probably an astronaut, I would imagine). Charlotte’s imaginary husband’s job was very stressful, so she urged him to retire, and now they live happily off his pension.
I bet this has nothing whatsoever to do with that time Marie pushed Hank towards the El Paso job, only to watch him almost get blown up from the turtle bomb. Toooootally unrelated
The realtor asks Charlotte/Marie if she has any kids, and Marie laughs. God, no. She doesn’t want kids. Is that horrible? That’s totally Charlotte asking, too. Not Marie at all.
That night, when all the prospective buyers have left, the realtor is vacuuming the property to prepare for the next day. She notices something is off. She checks out the spoon rack. One of them is missing.
I can’t see for sure, but I think I know which state this is. Oops, I mean territory.
I’m sure that realtors run into people like Marie all the time in real life. If anyone has any crazy realty stories, please post
AT THE GO-KART TRACK
Next the show heads over to the go-kart track, where Jesse has gone by himself after Walt turned him down. He drives around the track, alone.
Real self-destructive when you’re wearing a helmet
Did anyone else laugh out loud when he screamed? I did. Also, I really wish Walt would have taken him up on the invitation. Walt & Jesse, out on the town, tearing up the track. Too bad.
BACK AT JESSE’S HOUSE
Unnerving, pulsing music is playing as Jesse pulls into his driveway. The kind of music they play when someone’s on his way to murder someone. Jesse gets out and a guy comes out of his house carrying Jesse’s microwave. The guy smiles affably and Jesse doesn’t appear to notice.
The music, turns out, is emanating from Jesse’s tricked-out stereo inside. There’s another party going on and this is the grungy, unsettling stuff they’re listening to. The partygoers are somewhere between dancing and moshing.
It doesn’t look like Jesse really knows any of them. To complete the tableau, around the moshers are: a guy and a girl fucking on the living room floor, someone graffiti’ing the walls, a guy punching an unconscious guy, and various people just tweaking out. Jesse sits down on the couch, lights a cigarette, and kicks back.
A THRID OPEN HOUSE
Marie’s doing it yet again. The homeowners are at this open house. She looks over some family photos sitting on an end table.
She walks over to the middle-aged couple in the photos and compliments them on their home. They thank her, calling her “Mimi”, and Marie remarks that the home has a very “European” feel. (Good lord…) And she should know, because she used to live in London, see.
The husband smiles and asks her where she lived. He was stationed in England in the sixties. Marie backpedals a bit. They lived in London, but they traveled a lot because her husband was an illustrator. They lived all over Europe, actually. As she’s saying this, the realtor from the previous open house walks into the room, her ears pricked.
“Mimi” did all this traveling before she and her fake husband had kids. And then her daughter “Lucy” developed endocarditis, she tells them, unprompted. Maybe she had a disease picked out for her fake kid in case of an emergency. Endocarditis is a bacterial infection of the heart, Marie explains.
The couple, oblivious, are sympathetic. But then Marie notices the suspicious realtor. It throws her off for a second, and the couple asks her how “Lucy” is doing. Marie steps back into character and tells them Lucy is fine, that the doctors implanted a prosthetic heart valve. She researched the cure, too!
Marie hastily makes her exit, but the realtor follows and flags her down outside. She confronts Marie for stealing the spoon and tells her she called the police.
Marie, a veteran grifter, goes on offense. “What the hell is the matter with you?” she asks. Then she plays the “my husband is a DEA agent” card. And lucky for the realtor, Marie’s late for an appointment, otherwise there’d be a real shit-storm.
Marie pulls her car keys out of her purse, but the realtor won’t let her run off. She grabs Marie’s purse and the two of them tug it back and forth. Marie snarls at the realtor to let it go with a scary intensity.
The handle pops off the bag and its contents spill out. There is the photo of the middle-aged couple Marie was looking at earlier. Busted. But even now, caught red-handed, Marie won’t give up the lie. “You are in big trouble!” she yells.
MARIE AND HANK’S HOUSE
So the phone rings. This can’t be good. Hank answers.
You know what? Maybe this will be good. Maybe now that Hank will have to bail Marie out it’ll make him realize what a bad state she’s in. It might even nudge them towards their happier selves.
But Marie’s had trouble with shoplifting compulsions before, and Hank’s not in a state to think about someone else, so that’s not gonna happen.
Marie starts crying. Hank’s attitude softens a little and he asks her where they’re holding her.
Marie is sitting on a bench in a police station. A detective comes out to meet her and has some good news. The homeowners aren’t pressing charges.
Good, Marie says. She won’t either. Still keeping it up.
The detective tells her she’s free to go, but she doesn’t get up. Her lip starts to quiver. He sighs and sits down next to her. Then she starts to sob.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Over at the Whites’, Skyler is washing out one of Holly’s bottles at the kitchen sink. She watches the soapy water go down the drain. And suddenly, an idea!
She picks up the phone and dials Saul’s office. She needs to speak with him immediately.
OUTSIDE BOGDAN’S CAR WASH
And then we’re over at the car wash. Bogdan is standing outside on a small patch of grass on the property. Bill Burr is with him.
Someone who listened to the BrBa podcast this week want to tell me why they cast Bill Burr for this role?
Bill Burr is playing some kind of water department official. He’s just taken a sample of the groundwater on Bogdan’s property. He doesn’t look happy, and he’s ust threatened Bogdan with a shutdown.
Bogdan demands to know where the normal water guy, Gary, is. Gary has checked Bogdan’s property many times before and everything’s been fine, so what’s the deal now? His soap is up to regulations.
Bill Burr replies that it isn’t the soap but the filtration systems. They aren’t up to snuff. He lists off a bunch of scary-sounding chemicals leaching into the groundwater. They’ll have to retrofit
Bogdan is looking more and more worried, so he turns on the charm. He promises he’ll be really careful from now on and there won’t be any problems. Bill Burr is unmoved.
Bogdan asks where Gary went, and Bill Burr tells him Gary got transferred to Las Cruces. He starts telling Bogdan how to file an appeal, but Bogdan cuts him off—what laws are he breaking, he asks. Bill Burr must tell him right now or he won’t shut down.
Bill Burr stammers. He doesn’t know them. And then, the show cuts to Skyler, sitting in the car with the phone at her ear. She’s connected to Bill Burr’s Bluetooth and is feeding him the information.
Skyler has a binder open on her lap and scrambles to find the right laws…or maybe any plausible-sounding ones. Finally, she comes across a couple and lists them off for Bill Burr to parrot. He recites the laws, verbatim, as if people who work at the water department could do that.
How the shit did this ever work?
I bet Bogdan really hates America right now.
By the way, if you watch this again and know the whole thing is bullshit, this scene is about four times funnier.
HANK & MARIE’S
Hank is watching bowling on TV, looking despondent. Marie comes in to collect his lunch tray and notices he hasn’t eaten much, and they squabble about it. She leaves him his rice pudding, even if he says he doesn’t want it.
Out in the kitchen, Marie puts Hank’s dishes in the dishwasher and gazes out the window, looking helpless. Then, the doorbell rings. It’s the detective who bailed her out back at the police station.
Not to worry, he says, he isn’t here to see her. He’s here to see Hank. Marie brightens. She looks genuinely glad Hank has a visitor.
She shows the detective, whose name is Tim, in. Hank’s picking at the rice pudding. He perks up when Tim enters. Putting on a brave face. When Tim tells him he looks good, Hank even manages one of his jokes. “Handsome was never the hard part!”
Tim sits down. Hank thanks him for bailing Marie out. He owes him one. Then Tim notices Hank’s rock collection. Hank corrects him, minerals, but is a little more circumspect about it than he is with Marie. He actually catalogues all the minerals, which is actually a lot of work, he points out unconvincingly. Tim nods politely.
Tim comes to the purpose of his visit. He needs Hank’s help with something police-related. “What am I, Ironside?” Hank jokes.
Tim is serious. He could use Hank’s expertise with the local drug trade. He’s working on a homicide, and has Hank ever heard of a guy named Gale Boetticher? (!)
Hank hasn’t. Tim explains the situation—Gale’s a chemist, someone shot him in the face, likely related to drugs. Tim pulls out a copy of Gale’s notebook—i.e. the one he was using to analyze Walt’s blue meth back in the Season 4 premier—and tells Hank the notebook references a possible drug superlab.
Hank doesn’t seem too interested, or confident he can help. Tim should take it to Gomez.
But Tim doesn’t want to take it to Gomez because that would make it a federal case. Hank could give him some advice off the record.
Hank shrugs. Tim can leave the notebook if he wants. Tim heads out, and thus the first step on Hank’s road back to his best self is taken. But for now, he turns bowling back on.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Walt is holding Holly while Skyler sits at the kitchen counter. It’s been five hours since the Bogdan scheme. Walt doesn’t think it worked, and he tells Skyler, but she’s determined to hold out and wait for a phone call.
Walt tries again to tell her the plan didn’t work, but before he can, the phone rings. Skyler picks up. It’s Bogdan. He’s called to ask if her offer stills stands.
And Sky decides to twist the knife. While Walt watches in horror, Skyler drops the offer from $879K down to $800K, then TELLS Bogdan it’s because he’s an unpleasant asshole.
Bogdan refuses, and Skyler, just like that, hangs up. Walt can’t believe she just did that. How could she have an offer on the table and turn it down?
Because, she says with a straight face, she’s “negotiating”. Remind me not to cross her ever.
There’s a logical component, too…it makes sense to pay as little as possible to lessen the chance the IRS will notice the Whites.
Walt understands that. But, he says, Bogdan won’t be calling back. He leaves to find his cell so he can call Saul. Alone, Sky starts to look a little worried herself.
And once again, the phone rings. Walt reaches for it but Sky won’t let him answer until it rings four times. She finally picks up. They have a deal!
An undetermined amount of time has passed since we last saw Jesse. It’s daytime now and all the partygoers have passed out save for a couple guys having an incoherent conversation about their fears of being trampled to death.
Another man is passed out, face-up. Jesse has a wad of cash and is crumpling up bills and tossing them at the guy’s mouth. One lands in it, but the guy doesn’t stir.
Jesse notices a bum snatching up the crumpled dollars as they come, and he gets an idea. He wakes everyone up and he makes it rain. He watches everyone scramble for the loose dollars.
Actually, outside Walt’s apartment first. Tyrus is sitting in his car keeping an eye on things through the rearview mirror. It’s not clear what he’s up to, so we’ll have to find out later.
Inside, Walt and Skyler are popping open a bottle of champagne to celebrate. The cork comes off and champagne fizzes out, and both of them laugh. It’s kinda playful. Is this going where I think it is?
Walt thanks Skyler for all her awesome work. He seems genuine. She seems touched.
She takes another drink and really likes the champagne. Walt says she ought to, at $320 a bottle. He starts giving her the champagne’s backstory, how it used to be Winston Churchill’s favorite so they named it after him, but Skyler’s alarmed. How did Walt pay for it?
Cash, he reassures her. Not with a card.
That isn’t what she means. How does an unemployed school teacher buy a $320 bottle of champagne? It doesn’t follow. Even if he paid cash, the guy at the liquor store saw him.
Walt’s temper starts to flare. She’s blowing this out of proportion, he says.
I just noticed Walt’s apartment came with picture frames with stock photos in them…how depressing
But Sky really isn’t. Small details, like the champagne, are what bring criminals down. He has to be smarter. After all, one piece of duct tape blew the doors off Watergate.
Walt throws up his hands. Fine, he’ll be more careful. But it looks like he thinks the mood is ruined. To save the moment, Sky picks up his glass and offers it to him with a smile.
HANK AND MARIE’S HOUSE
It’s night. Marie is asleep—in the bedroom—while Hank sits up watching a city council meeting on local access. He literally couldn’t find anything more boring.
He’s had enough. There’s nothing else to do. So he picks up the copy of Gale’s notebook. Starts reading.
AND WE END THERE!
I’ve watched this episode twice now, and here’s what I’m thinking…both times, when Skyler was insisting they pursue the carwash angle against all reason, I found myself thinking (angrily), “What the hell is wrong with you! Just walk away! You’re just manufacturing problems for yourself!” We all get this kind of feeling sometimes when watching TV shows or movies, that there’s no way in hell anybody in their right mind would act like the character is acting. Probably it’s something off with the script.
Which is what I thought this time, at first. But this is a story about Skyler becoming as corrupt as Walt has. Wouldn’t it make sense if, along the way to becoming that corrupt person, Skyler was actively participating in the process? If she were forced into the Bogdan where she had to come up with a way to maneuver Bogdan, we might be more sympathetic. But she isn’t. She’s choosing to go the most devious route. To me, that route is what will make her most thoroughly corrupt.
That’s it for me this week. Thanks for reading!