Let’s play a little game to start things off.
Half this recap I wrote sober, half I wrote high. See if you can guess which one! Post your vote in the comments section.
OK. Ready? Set? Go!
It’s always worth remembering that in four seasons of Breaking Bad chronology, only about a year has passed in the characters’ lives. Because with the sheer volume of personal tragedies they’ve endured it’s pretty incredible they’re even alive. That amount of grief would kill a normal person.
Especially in Jesse’s case. And here’s one more to throw on the pile.
(Here’s a quick run-down of where we left off last week: Gus has finally decided to kill Hank for snooping into his meth business, and he warned Walt not to interfere or else he’d kill Walt’s whole family. It was your garden-variety doomsday scenario, but Walt had contingency plan—earlier this season Saul told him about a guy who specializes in making people disappear. Walt decided it was time to give that guy a call and try to save Hank while he’s at it, by having Saul anonymously tip off the DEA. For an added wrinkle, Walt had Saul tell the DEA it was the Mexican cartel after Hank, not Gus, because officially Gus and the DEA are still friendly.
With that taken care of Walt ran home to collect the money to pay the disappearer. That’s when he discovered Skyler gave Beneke most of their savings to pay his IRS fines. Walt’s contingency plan is kaput, and he’s broken Gus’s commandment not to get in the way).
(Also Beneke died last week, but he doesn’t even get a mention this week. I thought someone should remember him).
Luckily, The DEA took Saul’s anonymous threat seriously, and now Hank and Marie are in protective custody; about a dozen heavily armed DEA agents are guarding their house.
And now that disappearing is off the table, Walt’s only option to protect Skyler, Junior, and Holly is join Hank and Marie in protective custody. At least it’s something. Only Walt has decided he’s not going with them.
Skyler’s pretty distraught about it. Walt tries to explain. He’s the reason the family is in danger. He figures that if Gus is about to kill him, he’d better be as far away from everyone as possible. It seems pretty altruistic. When push comes to shove, Walt is going to put himself in harm’s way so no one else has to suffer for his actions.
Which is good he’s doing that, because nobody’s had to suffer because of him yet (note: I did not have time to make an ironic photo collage of the thousands of ways people have suffered because of Walt)
Plus, Walt admits he’s sick and tired of living under the constant threat of death like he has for a year, so it might not be so bad to take a bullet any more.
Walt figures that declining protective custody won’t draw much attention because as far as Hank and the DEA know Walt’s still just a meek car wash owner so why would the Mexican cartel want to hurt him?
Skyler isn’t convinced, and she knows the rest of the family won’t be, either. She doesn’t think she can come up with anything plausible enough to satisfy them. Walt predicts that Hank won’t take this threat so seriously that he’d think Walt needed protection…but Skyler points out the obvious, that it is a serious threat. So Walt agrees to give Hank a call.
Skyler…looks like The Joker! After twelve episodes, that’s the best Skyler material I got
Outside, DEA SUV’s pulls into the driveway. It’s time to go. Walt, as usual, is in a tough spot. This could easily be the last time he ever sees his family alive, but he to act unconcerned in order to maintain his secret. Their last moments together are going to be a complete lie.
First he calls Hank to give him the news he won’t be accompanying Skyler and the kids. Hank thinks this whole situation is overblown. Walt has to pretend he agrees. He wishes Hank good luck, trying not to let any actual worry into his voice.
Then Walt helps Skyler pack Holly into the SUV. Walt and Skyler have so much to say to each other that they don’t say anything. The only person Walt can be kinda honest with is Holly, whom he gives one last kiss before the DEA takes them away.
After the first break, Walt sits outside by the pool. He’s got his .38 on the table beside him and he spins it in a circle. When it stops the barrel lands right on him. He does it again, with the same result. All in one take, too. It must have taken 1,000 tries.
But all’s not lost. Some cool Sergio Leone-ey music starts playing and he spins the gun one more time. (And the show finally cuts away). This time the gun points away.
So one of two outcomes: either Walt is about to die or this flowerpot it
HANK AND MARIE’S
Tons of DEA agents keep watch over the place—gotta be at least six, maybe ten. One sits on the roof with a shotgun.
As Skyler predicted, the rest of the family is none too happy with Walt’s decision. Junior’s particularly pissed and accuses Skyler of not doing enough to bring Walt with them, until Hank tells him to knock it off.
But Junior’s outburst sets Marie off and running. Why isn’t Walt with them? She decides to give him a call to implore him to come, but she gets the answering machine.
By the way, Gomez has been standing there the whole time and now Hank changes the subject. He wants to know if the anonymous tip is enough to get Gomez to finally look into Gus’s affairs. Gomez was done hearing Hank’s conspiracy theories at least four episodes ago—and furthermore, they know it’s the Cartel coming for Hank. (Meanwhile, Skyler, Marie, and Junior are astounded to hear that nice old Mr. Fring might be ABQ’s biggest drug lord).
But Hank knows which buttons to push on his former partner. Gomez tries hiding behind the “we don’t have a warrant” routine, so Hank needles him for never having a knack for the “knock and talk”.
That did the trick. Soon Gomez and a small DEA contingent pull up outside the laundry laundry center. It’s the closest any outsider’s ever made it to the Superlab.
Gomez is met by a guy named Dennis. Apparently Dennis manages all non meth-related business here. We’ve never seen him before.
And I really hope Dennis doesn’t know there’s a huge meth lab in the basement
Gomez, probably spurred by the dis Hank just gave him, launches into an elaborate fiction about what the DEA is doing here. Recently they collared a chef, (the food kind, not the meth kind), who had some heroin on him. The guy claimed he didn’t know where the heroin came from, and while Gomez didn’t believe him, the guy’s father is a senator so Gomez has to close the case by other means. The heroin was found in the guy’s work uniform, which, wouldn’t you know it, gets laundered at this very facility.
Dennis smiles and nods, because he manages a laundry center that sits on top of a meth lab. When Gomez asks him for permission to look around, Dennis claims he doesn’t have that authority, and the boss is out of town. Gomez gently threatens to come back with a warrant, and Dennis caves.
One of Gomez’s DEA guys brings a drug-sniffing dog out of their SUV and they begin scouring the laundry center.
We already know how meticulous Gus is about getting rid of the evidence, since we saw Mike and Jesse scrubbing the floor of the chicken farm back when they had to reroute their meth shipments a few weeks back, so Gomez and the drug-sniffing dog don’t find much. Still, when Gomez comes upon the industrial washing machine that sits on top of the Superlab entrance, he lingers for a moment, like he senses something is important here.
“People sensing stuff” is a pretty big theme this week
Down in the lab, Jesse and Tyrus have been forced to stop their cook until the DEA goes away. Jesse, whispering, goes on record with his unhappiness over the situation. Tyrus just scowls.
Then the phone rings. Tyrus picks up. It’s Gus, for Jesse. Tyrus is so aloof he doesn’t even hand the phone over to Jesse; he makes Jesse take it out of his hand. Here:
Still, Tyrus should probably put the damn phone on silent if he doesn’t want to get caught
Gus is watching the security cam feed at the Superlab, so he already knows about the DEA showing up at the lab, and he’s already got a scheme in mind. Last week, Gus offered to give Jesse control of the Superlab, but Jesse refused to let Gus harm Walt. Not to be deterred, Gus is now calling Jesse to pin the blame for the DEA visit on Walt.
Jesse still won’t budge. He reiterates his position: if Walt dies, Jesse stops cooking. But when he challenges Gus, asking what the next move is going to be, all Gus says is that “there will be an appropriate response”.
Up top, Gomez and his team pack up and leave. They haven’t found anything. The laundry was squeaky clean. Dennis sees them off, and once they get out of sight he calls Tyrus to tell him the coast is clear, allowing Jesse to get back to work.
Jesse’s car sits on a desolate road. A truck from the laundry center pulls up next to it, where the storage container opens and Jesse hops out—unlike Walt, he doesn’t have to get smuggled into work wrapped in dirty sheets.
As the truck pulls away, Jesse sits in his car for a minute thinking about what to do. The stress of protecting Walt from Gus is getting to him, and he has to do something. He takes out his cell and calls Walt, but like Marie did earlier, Jesse only gets Walt’s voicemail.
Then Jesse checks his messages, and he’s got six. They’re all from Saul, begging Jesse to come by the office.
Jesse rolls in. Hewell’s, who’s still on the job even though he messed up the Beneke thing pretty badly, insists on frisking Jesse, but Jesse won’t have it and yells for Saul to call him off. Saul hurries Jesse into his office, where he and his assistant are busy shredding files. (Saul refers to her as “HT”, or “Honey Tits”, which she doesn’t appreciate).
Jesse asks what the commotion is all about as Saul opens the safe and starts pulling out Jesse’s money, which he packs into a duffel bag.
Saul’s skipping town, and he realizes Jesse is clueless about the latest developments between Walt and Gus. Jesse thinks Walt is making his move by calling the DEA on the Superlab, but Saul knows otherwise—that Gus threatened Walt’s family. Saul’s getting out of Dodge just in case that threat extends to him as well.
Of all the horrible things Gus has done, forcing Odenkirk to flee is the worst
But the point is, Jesse didn’t know Gus is the aggressor, not Walt, and that changes things.
HANK AND MARIE’S
Back at the Schrader’s, Hank is going over some photos Gomez took of the Superlab. Nothing incriminating, but he combs through them anyway.
Skyler wanders in to take a look. She looks like she needs someone to talk to, but she can’t. Instead, she wanders out to the porch, where another DEA agent is sitting with what looks like an AR-15. She bums a smoke off him and leans against the wall for a Thoughtful Look.
Jesse is also Thinking Thoughtful Thoughts as he lies on his couch flicking his lighter open and closed.
Then, his cell rings. It’s Andrea. He’s glad to hear from her, like she’s the one person in the world he actually wants to talk to…but something bad is going down.
Jesse hurries over to a hospital. Andrea is there, looking distraught. Uh-oh.
Something is wrong with Brock, she tells him. The doctors don’t know what. It started out looking like the flu but it’s gotten steadily worse. A nurse yanks Andrea into the ICU, leaving Jesse in the waiting room.
He goes outside for a smoke. That’s when he realizes the ricin cigarette is missing from his pack.
I hate to say it, but the kid got ricin poisoning from eating a cigarette. Not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer
The moment after making that terrible, horrible, even life-shattering realization, Jesse’s moving. He sprints back into the hospital, through the waiting room into the ICU, and…grabs Andrea and drags her out of earshot so he can tell her about the poison.
“What if I took a ton of time to drag Andrea across the hospital so I can tell her about the ricin in private? Sure, those precious seconds might have saved Brock’s life, but I gotta save my skin, too!”
Just TELL her, dipshit!
He tries to keep it vague…don’t ask him how, but he knows Brock’s been poisoned with ricin. Then he tears off. Could this really be the second kid in his life he’s indirectly killed? (The first being Andrea’s little brother). He’s got business to take care of.
Andrea does what pretty much any Mom would do after her boyfriend tells her he happens to know the exact mystery poison that’s killing her son. She freaks.
Walt’s been holed up in the house all day waiting for the assassins. In the meantime he’s constructed barricades for the doors and windows, but now he’s sitting and waiting with his gun.
Walt still doesn’t realize this, but that gun was carved out of soap.
There’s a knock at the door and Walt is startled. It’s Jesse. Walt doesn’t want to open the door, thinking maybe Jesse is here on Gus’s behalf, but Jesse promises he’s alone and begs to be let in.
Why is Jesse here? Is the power dynamic shifting again? Earlier Walt was begging Jesse to intervene with Gus on his behalf. Is Jesse now coming to Walt to beg him to do something about the poison?
But Walt doesn’t notice at first. The moment he realizes Jesse comes in peace, he starts unburdening himself of all his troubles, how his life is officially unraveled and he can’t do anything about it, how the constant danger to his family is tearing him apart. Jesse, eerily, doesn’t interrupt him.
Walt hears tires screeching outside and gets startled again. Putting the gun down, he runs to each window to see if any danger is near. And while he’s distracted, Jesse picks up the gun and aims it at Walt.
What the hell is going on?!
Jesse simply asks Walt “Why?” Walt, thinking Jesse is referring to the previous DEA raid on Gus’s laundry facility, claims he had no choice. He didn’t mean to get the DEA involved but he had to protect his family.
But Jesse isn’t aiming a gun at him because of a spat with Gus. No. Jesse has come to believe that Walt poisoned Brock. Which is, in fact, nuts, but Jesse can’t face the alternative.
Problem is, Walt has no idea who Brock is, aside from a brief glimpse of him the night before when he went to Jesse’s house to ask for help. Why would Walt poison a kid he doesn’t know?
Jesse lays out his case: he and Walt were the only two people who knew about the ricin. It certainy wasn’t Jesse, so it has to be Walt.
Walt points out the flaw in that logic—couldn’t it be that Brock just went into Jesse’s pocket and got it? Jesse doesn’t even let him finish the sentence. As he goes on it gets more and more implausible. He had the ricin in his possession all night and left the house with it this morning, so Brock couldn’t have gotten it from his jacket. So Walt…must have stolen it from Jesse during the day. But Walt didn’t see Jesse today! No matter! Walt had Saul get the ricin, by having Hewell pickpocket him during the frisking.
The only problem is there’s no “why”, so Jesse provides one: Walt is doing this as one last little twist of the knife before Gus kills him. He’s ripping Jesse’s heart out before he goes.
Walt steadfastly denies it. Jesse screams for him to admit it and throws him to the floor, gun in Walt’s face. Walt pleads. He can’t even fathom killing a child for no reason and can’t imagine why anyone would have a reason to do that…which makes him think of Gus. Walt resumes his insane, hopeless laughter from last week.
Jesse asks him what’s so funny and Walt, amazingly, lays out his own whacked-out theory. Walt’s been waiting all day for one of Gus’s men to kill him…and it’s Jesse. Only Jesse is just a pawn in the game. So GUS had Brock poisoned with the hope that Jesse would blame Walt and kill him for revenge. The only thing preventing Gus from killing Walt was Jesse’s refusal, so how better than to have Jesse kill Walt himself? It’s kinda genius Walt thought that up on the spot.
Walt is so convinced that this textbook conspiracy is the truth that he fully believes he’s about to die. And so, he dares Jesse to shoot him, grabbing the gun and pulling the barrel to his forehead. He’s worked this out, too! Tyrus must have pickpocketed Jesse at the lab today! Gus has always been ten steps ahead and this is his coup de grace!
Jesse can’t pull the trigger. Walt escapes death once again. The moment is over. And since Jesse can’t accept the simplest explanation, that Brock’s death was just an awful accident, he swaps out his conspiracy for Walt’s. Maybe Gus is behind it! Jesse decides to kill Gus just to be sure. Walt begs Jesse to reconsider. And when Jesse won’t, Walt offers to help.
Jesse returns to the hospital that night, after hours. A nurse stops him. They’ve already told Jesse he isn’t allowed in there because he’s not family. He can only be in the ICU if Andrea wants him there.
Inside Brock’s room, Andrea and her mother hear the confrontation and look over at Jesse. Both of them have an opportunity to invite him in. And they don’t.
Jesse gets the message and leaves the ICU.
HOSPITAL, NEXT MORNING
But doesn’t leave the hospital. Ever loyal, Jesse has spent the night sleeping in the hallway outside the ICU.
That’s where Tyrus finds him the next morning. He shoves Jesse awake. Even today, Jesse is required to be at work. Harsh.
Jesse refuses. If Gus wants him to come to work he can ask Jesse in person, not send his errand boy. That pisses Tyrus off. He yanks Jesse out of the chair and they scuffle. Jesse calls for security and Tyrus has to leave. He calls Gus to apprise him of the situation.
…and Jesse takes out his phone, too. He sends a text message.
THE WHITES’ HOUSE
Which is received by Walt. Walt’s in the kitchen. He’s clearly been working through the night on some kind of chemistry project and now he’s got a huge bubbling vat of goo on the stove. He reads the text. It’s from Jesse and says “Think I got his attention”. Sheeit, Walt’s expression says.
On the kitchen island are some mechanical parts that look like they could be bomb fuses. Using a walkie-talkie as a remote detonator, Walt tests one it. It works.
Gus’s station wagon pulls into the hospital parking garage. He gets out along with Tyrus and another bodyguard.
Inside the hospital Tyrus finds Jesse leaning against the door to the pediatric ICU. Gus is waiting downstairs for a chat.
THE HOSPITAL’S CHAPEL
I am not shitting you, this is where Gus has chosen to meet Jesse. Gus reiterates what Tyrus told Jesse earlier—he understands there’s a sick kid involved, but business is business.
Now, Jesse could very well still believe that Gus had Brock killed, so he might not be too excited to see Gus. When the first thing Gus says is that he disregards Brock for the sake of business, that can’t make him too happy.
Jesse reiterates, too. He isn’t leaving.
Gus, surprisingly, tries a softer tactic. He’s on the board of the hospital so he could get Brock whatever medical treatment he needs.
That’s almost too much for Jesse to hear. He tells Gus that Brock was poisoned, not that he’s sick. He couches it like it’s simple information, but it’s about as close to an accusation as he can get.
Gus pauses. He asks Jesse how Brock was poisoned, and when Jesse says he the doctors don’t know, suddenly things change. Gus gets the message. He reverses course and gives Jesse all the time off he needs.
THE HOSPITAL PARKING GARAGE
Gus, Tyrus, and the heavy walk back to the car. They’re being observed through binoculars. By Walt. Who’s perched on the rooftop of a nearby building. He picks up his detonator and urges Gus and his men to keep on walking to the car.
Gus looks like something is bugging him, like he senses something is off. And he stops. Walt watches, flabbergasted. Nothing at Gus’s car looks out of place so WHY THE HELL DID HE STOP?
Instead, Gus walks over to the railing so he can look out over the skyline and survey the nearby rooftops. Walt has to duck down out of sight.
Then he sneaks a peek back at the parking garage. Gus doesn’t appear to see him. Maybe he’ll still get in the car!
Goddamn. Terminator. Robot.
-Even though it makes sense because he’s a cop, I like that even Gomez uses cover stories to get things done. It’s kinda funny that the last guy to use one on the show is also the guy who has the most cause.
-The DEA didn’t force Walt to come with them because “it’s not Nazi Germany”. I loved Marie’s reaction to that: “If I had a dollar for every time someone told me we don’t live in Nazi Germany…” So, Marie compares everything to Nazis in her daily life. I am not surprised.
-I’ve been rereading my descriptions of Tyrus this season and I’m thinking I haven’t really portrayed what he does on the show. Even though I normally just say something like “Tyrus stands there”, it’s clear the wheels are always turning in his mind. He’s always aware of the situation, always alert for surprises, always anticipating Walt, so much so that he’s basically a physical extension of Gus. I normally skimp on Tyrus because so much of what he does is unspoken, so I hope I don’t make him sound like a lunkhead. He’s not.
-Although, as much as I like Tyrus, I LOOOOOOVED last season and before when the show let us see Mike hanging out with his granddaughter. That’s some of my favorite stuff they’ve ever done. I want to know more about who Tyrus is!
-Another Tyrus thought: if I had to guess about his backstory, I would say Tyrus is some kind of ex-military type. Only proof I have is that he was the one operating the Barret .50 sniper rifle back when the Juarez Cartel came to Albuquerque for the meeting. That rifle’s what the SEALs use. Maybe Tyrus is even an ex-SEAL himself. Hiring ex-military types IS something drug lords do, too…the Zetas do…but I’m not an expert in real-life cartels, though.
-How about that third act, huh? That might be my favorite individual act they’ve ever done. The whole point of concocting an elaborate story, like Walt and Jesse both did, is to help yourself from having to avoid confronting something horrible. (For Jesse, it’s that he got another kid killed; for Walt, it’s that he’s about to be murdered himself). So the idea that Walt and Jesse are so fucked up emotionally right now that they’d BOTH co-opt the accidental poisoning of a child into their conspiracy theories? Amazing writing.
-Again: NOBODY NOTICED TED’S DEATH!
-In the last scene, I didn’t think Gus actually SAW Walt and only sensed him, but when I watched it again it looked like Walt might have been partially visible. Thoughts?
Thanks for reading. Season finale next week!
Yours in meth and possibly other illegal substances,