I’d like to start this week by plugging a couple movies. If you consider yourself a true Cranston-ficionado, you need to see the two (two!) Cranston movies out RIGHT NOW. Contagion is pretty good, has one huge laugh, and while it goes easy on the Cranston is still decent if other movies you want to see are sold out. Drive is unbelievable, is one huge laugh, and does not skimp on the Cranston one bit. Treat yourself to a Cranston double feature why don’t you, you asshole?
Now then. When we last left our anti-heroes, they were in a pretty big jam. Gus’s coup to kill off the entire leadership of the Juarez Cartel in one fell swoop has succeeded, but now he’s full of poison, Mike’s been shot, and Jesse has to calm down long enough to drive them out of hostile territory and find a hospital. Did I mention all of this is taking place in MEXICO? Because it is. And it doesn’t look like their car has GPS.
I was expecting this week’s episode to start with something involving their daring escape. Instead…
…we start in an emergency room somewhere. The doctors are speaking Spanish. OK. Fair enough. Maybe the show is skipping most of the escape scenario and cutting straight to the hospital.
Then the lead doctor gets a phone call and motions for the others to follow him. They prepare a gurney and run out…and we realize that we aren’t in an actual emergency room but a tent, and we’re not in a hospital but an abandoned warehouse somewhere.
Meaning, Gus arranged for this all to be here.
Or it could be that this is just what Breaking Bad thinks Mexican hospitals look like. (Still better than ours, though)
You didn’t think Gus would just walk into Don Eladio’s house to kill everyone without an exit strategy, did you? Actually, that’s exactly what I thought. I somehow still underestimate him.
Outside, nothing. Then off in the distance a car horn starts blaring. Jesse pulls up in the Cartel Cadillac. Jesse stops and hollers for the doctors to help. He opens the front door for them to tend to Mike, but when the head doctor sees who the patient is, he moves on and opens the back door, where he finds Gus.
The first thing the doctor does is give Gus an injection. In his tongue.
Or it could be that the doctor doesn’t know how to give shots and is just pouring the medicine into Gus’s mouth
Jesse watches the doctors load Gus onto the stretcher and take him inside—and, more importantly, ignore fucking Mike.
“Hey! He’s bleeding to death! And you’re breaking the Hippocratic Oath, I might add!”
So Jesse instead has to take Mike under his arm and carry him into the makeshift ER, where Gus is strapped to the table and the doctors are trying to restart his heart. He dumps Mike on the second operating table, yelling for them to help. And the head doctor only looks up long enough to tell Jesse that Mike isn’t the one paying his salary.
I think Gus is actually too badass now. They should have a full episode of just Gus bloopers. That’s the only way they could even all this out.
It’s another work day for Walt. He and Tyrus are weighing the weekly meth batch. Walt’s getting antsy because he hasn’t heard any updates on Gus and Jesse’s Mexico trip, but Tyrus just rolls his eyes.
Walt finishes weighing the meth. He’s getting fed up, with being kept in the dark and with being forced to cook with no assistance, and he threatens to quit if something doesn’t change soon. And in response Tyrus puts the meth container back on the scale to double-check Walt’s work. Walt HATES being second-guessed, especially by someone who isn’t even a scientist, but sure enough Tyrus finds that Walt’s measurement was off by .02 oz.
Tyrus wheels the meth over to the freight elevator, but Walt’s got one other matter to discuss: Hank. He can’t delay Hank any longer; Hank knows about the Los Pollos factory farm and is going to check it out any day now. What should Walt do? Should he really give Hank a ride ?
Walt isn’t doing a very good job at keeping Hank off the scene, like he promised Gus he would, and Tyrus isn’t ready with any suggestions.
So Walt DOES take Hank on a stakeout of the Los Pollos farm, where the wait for something incriminating to happen. Walt is completely out of ideas to deter his brother-in-law. All he can do is feign impatience and pester Hank to leave. Hank ignores him.
While they wait Walt figures he can kill two birds with one stone and see if Hank’s heard anything about the Juarez Cartel. (I guess technically Walt is only killing one bird with the one stone, because the first bird, getting Hank to forget Gus, is alive and well).
But Hank’s heard nothing aside from secondhand rumors about a power-play down in Mexico involving a bunch of bodies. Unless the Juarez Cartel is REALLY busy that’s exactly what Gus and Jesse are mixed up in, but Hank doesn’t have any details. Just enough information to let Walt’s imagination run wild.
Hank changes the subject. He wants to know why Walt has the bruises on his face. Walt tries to deflect, saying it’s nothing, but Hank won’t let him off the hook, saying he’s genuinely concerned. When walt still says nothing, Hank tells him a story about an old friend of his who got into playing scratch-off lotto games.
“And he was addicted to caffeine. We are talking DARK.”
In other words, Hank doesn’t judge and is available if Walt wants to talk. And in response, Walt’s alter-ego Heisenberg shows up. Walt says he’s done explaining himself, to Hank or to anyone else. And that’s that.
GUS’S FIELD HOSPITAL
We’re back at Gus’s hospital. Since the scene from the cold open the doctors have finally gotten around to treating Mike. Things are somewhat stabilized. Jesse points out that Mike probably needs a blood transfusion, so the head doctor points him to a supply cabinet
There, Jesse discovers three shelves, each with a placard bearing one of their names. And on each shelf are packets of blood, all matching their blood types.
That’s how you know you’re a member of the Fring Crime Family, when Gus brings spare blood for you. Also: Mike’s last name!
The doctor asks if they have the right type for him, A negative. And Jesse admits he doesn’t know for sure. The doctor rattles off all of Jesse’s medical information they’ve somehow obtained: he’s a twenty-five-year-old disease-free drinker, smoker, and drug user, (although the doctor indicates this by miming a joint, so maybe they’re not as thorough as I thought). Other than an allergy to erethromycin, Jesse’s healthy.
So that’s pretty amazing. Jesse realizes once again how talented Gus is.
Then Gus appears in the hospital’s entryway. He might have been close to death earlier today but now he’s on his feet and ready to hit the road. Only Gus and Jesse are leaving, though. With Mike’s injury he’ll have to stay behind for a while.
Gus finds Mike’s coat and retrieves the medallion they took off Don Eladio’s body. The doctor wishes him well and they hug, indicating a familiarity that suggests they have some kind of backstory together. But we don’t get anything more than that.
Jesse and Gus have to walk back to the States. There won’t be a plane this time. As Gus puts it, there are many ways to travel south but only one way to go north. Ahead of them is a six-mile walk to Texas, which Gus is confident he’s healthy enough to make.
As they get to walking, Gus tells Jesse that he’s finally proven himself. So much so that he thinks Jesse can run the lab on his own.
Jesse stops. He knows what that means for Walt. And even after the shitstorm two episodes ago, when Jesse basically told Walt he’s dead to him, Jesse still doesn’t want Walt killed. He asks Gus to spare Walt, to just buy him off and move on.
Gus refuses. And for Jesse that’s a problem.
THE WHITES’ HOUSE
Skyler comes in the door, a load of groceries in one arm and Holly in the other. She sees a message on the answering machine and hits “play”. It’s Ted. He’s left a bombshell of a message: he’s decided not to take the money she gave him last week. Shit.
The doorbell rings and Ted walks over to answer it. On the way he stumbles on the carpet, then answers the door. It’s Skyler. She’s come to hash things out. They have a seat.
To start the conversation, like a total asshole Ted tells her he’s sympathetic about what she and Walt are going through. Gambling is a terrible, terrible vice, and so forth. (So she told Ted the blackjack cover story).
You only say preface things that way when you’re about to ruin a person’s day. Or if you went to law school.
Ted gets up and walks over to an end table where he starts writing a check, which Skyler still hopes is to the IRS. But when he hands it over, she sees that it’s written out to herself. Not good.
Ted explains why he can’t take the money…it doesn’t “feel right”.
He’s a man in touch with his feelings. And those feelings happen to make him a selfish asshat
Skyler, asks Ted how morality can be a priority now when he got them into this in the first place by committing tax fraud, but Ted is unmoved. Maybe it was wrong for him to underreport his earnings, but paying the fine with illicit gambling money would make ANOTHER wrong. And as we all know, two wrongs don’t make a right.
Skyler carefully explains the situation. He needs to take the money. If he doesn’t, he goes to jail. Then the Whites will get audited, their cover will be blown, (she says for their untaxed gambling money but really for the whole meth thing), and they’ll join him in jail. You know, the same stuff she was saying last week.
Ted still thinks this talk is an overreaction on Skyler’s part. (Understandably I’d say, since he has no idea about the meth). Nobody’s going to prison. Besides, even if he took the money it wouldn’t solve anything. Ted’s still bankrupt and still owes the bank a ton of money. He’s still screwed.
Skyler interprets this to mean that Ted is trying to blackmail her. Ted is flabbergasted but Skyler sticks to that line of reasoning. She also notices that the amount on Ted’s check is for less than she gave him initially, which Ted explains is because he’s already leased his Mercedes and can’t return it because leases are pretty ironclad. (Ha!)
Skyler, because she’s being played by an actress on television, rips Ted’s check up and throws the pieces at him. She implores him to write another check, this time to the IRS. And Ted says no.
After that debacle Skyler returns to the car and takes out the phone. It’s time for some more direct measures. She dials Saul’s number.
Jesse and Gus make a detour on their way back to Albuquerque. They’ve come to visit Hector Salamanca, aka Tio.
It’s a pretty standard Tio visit for Gus. He’s come to update Tio on all the Cartel members he’s killed since they last saw each other—including the entire Cartel leadership, they even bumped off Tio’s own grandson, Joaquin. That’s who Jesse shot down as they were fleeing, and Gus points out Jesse standing in the doorway just to twist the knife a little more.
As the last act of resistance available to him Tio still won’t look Gus in the eye, but he’s been defeated and they both know it. For a cherry on top of this little revenge sundae Gus drops Don Eladio’s medallion in Tio’s breast pocket.
Jesse seems a bit freaked out by all this. Wouldn’t you be freaked out if you saw that your boss was keeping his nemesis alive just to fuck with him periodically? I’d probably feel a bit uneasy myself.
Walt drives onto Hank’s street to collect him for another surveillance trip. Tyrus is already parked across the street watching the whole thing, like always.
Soon Walt and Hank are on their way. Once again Walt asks Hank for news about the Juarez Cartel, but Hank still doesn’t have anything to tell him.
On the way to the chicken farm Hank tells Walt to make a detour. He’s taking them somewhere else today. Walt perks up. Where are they going?
Hank wants to check out a new location: an industrial laundry facility owned by the same German conglomerate that supplies Gus’s restaurants. In other words, Hank is about to find the Superlab.
Walt tries to dissuade him. Doesn’t checking out a laundry center only tangentially related Gus seem like a long shot? Hank lays out everything he’s figured out…the German conglomerate ALSO manufactures the same industrial air filtration system Gale bought a few months before his death. And since Gus has been placed at Gale’s apartment, the relationship is more than tangential.
So Walt isn’t talking him out of this. What’s he gonna do?
Walt’s drives past the turn-off to get to the laundry, feigning absent-mindedness. Hank yells for him to turn around. Walt has to think of something. Anything! And here’s what he comes up with:
Big deal. I get into car accidents just to get out of calling my parents.
And my premium is $14,000 a month.
HANK AND MARIE’S HOUSE
And once again, Walt’s decisions have resulted in bodily injury to Hank. Now he’s in a neck brace eating frozen yogurt with Skyler and Junior. They make small talk about the difference in taste between froyo and ice cream. It’s almost strange to see anyone making small talk on this show any more.
Then Marie and Walt enter. Being that Hank’s side of the car took the brunt of the impact Walt’s only got a bandage on his nose. He apologizes for the accident and tries to claim the other driver came out of nowhere, but Hank disagrees—he could see the other driver coming from a mile away. He chalks it up to a brain fart on Walt’s part. Marie’s decided that the accident marks the end of Hank and Walt’s surveillance trips. Walt did it! He finally managed to get Hank off the case!
Hang on. Hank’s agreed to stop involving family members, but he’s not giving up. He’s just ordered himself a Tahoe with hand controls, and soon he’ll be able to drive himself around.
Oops. Looks like Walt didn’t Hank off Gus’s trail. Uh-oh.
Then Skyler gets a phone call, so she steps away. It’s Saul. He quickly gives her a rundown of Ted’s home security: doesn’t own a gun and has no panic button on the security system. Skyler reiterates that she doesn’t want anyone hurt. She just wants Ted to write a check. Saul promises her he’s got his “A Team” on it.
And by “A Team”, Saul meant Hewell and Bill Burr. They show up on Ted’s doorstep and take Ted’s guarded “Can I help you?” greeting as an invitation inside. It wasn’t.
I would definitely watch a show that was just Bill Burr and Hewell harassing people in the suburbs
Bill Burr launches into a “good thug, bad thug” routine. Ted’s job is to keep Hewell happy, Bill Burr explains. To do that, Ted will have to do exactly as he’s told.
They order Ted to write them a check for $617,226.31. He claims not to have that kind of money but Bill Burr knows exactly how much Ted has in his checking account. He’s trapped. Hewell picks up a home decorating magazine while he waits.
Bill Burr tells Ted to make the check payable to the IRS, making Ted realize that this isn’t a robbery but a Skyler-orchestrated shakedown. Maybe there’s a way out of this! Ted still thinks this could be a misunderstanding and offers to call Skyler to clear things up, but Hewell blocks his path.
So finally Ted writes the check and makes Hewell. Now Bill Burr is going to take Ted’s payment down to UPS while Hewell babysits, then all three of them will hang out in Ted’s house until the check clears.
That’s too much for Ted. He makes a break for it. He runs past Hewell. But that darn rug is still sticking up from earlier. Ted trips over it and flies head-first into the kitchen counter.
And now, the punchline: I hate to think how the B Team would have handled this!
That was fun, huh?
Thankfully the show switches to a little levity to help with how horrified you’re feeling. A worker delivers a laundry cart to Tyrus. Tyrus gives the cart a kick and Walt emerges from under a pile of filthy sheet. Now that Hank is watching the place Walt is forced to smuggle himself in to work. Walt’s pissed and asks Tyrus if the laundry has to be dirty, and Tyrus gleefully replies that it doesn’t.
Down in the lab as Walt gets to work he smells something off. He inspects one of his tanks. It has some residue on it. Someone has been here, cooking.
He confronts Tyrus about it, and Tyrus only shrugs. Walt’s been out of commission from the accident. Did he expect operations to shut down just for him?
For the guy who’s supposedly irreplaceable, this is not good news.
But things are going really well for Jesse. He’s having Brock and Andrea over for an evening of video games and popcorn. It’s about the happiest we’ve seen Jesse since the show began.
Then there’s a knock. Jesse excuses himself and answers the door. It’s Walt. For Walt, day after day of anxiety about Jesse’s safety is relieved the instant he sees Jesse is alive. But for Jesse, day after day of percolating resentment boils over when he sees Walt on his doorstep. When he told Walt never to come to his house again, apparently he meant it. He tells Walt to fuck off, but Walt sticks his foot in the door. Jesse shoves him roughly off his porch and onto the yard.
A lot has changed since they saw each other last. The trip to Mexico has emboldened Jesse, and Walt’s plans to murder Gus are set aside by concerns for his survival. He tells Jesse he knows he’s been cooking without him, but since he has no leverage he can’t get angry. Instead, he pleads for Jesse to intervene with Gus. If Jesse doesn’t, Walt’s dead.
Jesse is unmoved. He’s not happy that Walt let Hank come to the laundry. Walt begs Jesse to help him somehow, but Jesse remembers back to when the shoe was on the other foot, when he asked Walt for help just before the trip to Mexico. Walt told him he hoped he’d wind up buried in a barrel in the Mexican desert.
Jesse shoves him one last time and leaves him there on his lawn. Walt turns to leave only to come face-to-face with Tyrus and another heavy. Tyrus pulls out a Taser and Walt goes down.
After the last break, Walt is kneeling in the desert, cowering, with a black hood over his head. Tyrus and the heavy stand next to him. It’s daylight, so presumably he’s been captive for several hours.
A car slowly pulls up to them and Gus steps out.
That’s the scariest station wagon in the world
Gus yanks the hood off Walt. As Walt’s eyes adjust to the sudden rush of sunlight, Gus delivers a series of proclamations. Walt is fired. He must not go near the laundry again. He must not contact Jesse.
But when Walt is faced with such authority, surprisingly, a little bit of Heisenberg pops up again. Stay away from Jesse or else what? Gus clearly hates Walt’s insubordination, but Walt’s forced his hand. Gus has wanted to kill Walt for months, and if he could have he would have by now. The fact that Gus is only firing Walt means his hands are at least partially tied. Walt spells it out: Jesse’s still keeping him alive.
But not for long, Gus replies. He changes the subject. Gus knows that Walt has failed to stop Hank. Now Gus will be dealing with the Hank problem in a much simpler way. He warns Walt not to interfere. Now Gus has some leverage—if Walt does interfere, Gus will kill his whole family, including Holly.
That’s that. Gus gets in his car and drives off. Hearing those threats causes Walt to drop the Heisenberg schtick and go back to being Walt. Tyrus cuts his bindings loose and he collapses in a heap, blubbering.
Saul has gathered his “A Team” to discuss what happened with Ted. What do they have to say for themselves? Hewell claims Ted’s demise is an act of God. Bill Burr points out that at least the check is in the mail. Only Saul seems upset about it.
He picks up the phone to call Skyler when Walt bursts in. Saul thinks Walt knows what happened with Ted, but he’s relieved to hear that Walt has something else to discuss. Saul shoos Bill Burr and Hewell away.
A while back Saul told Walt about a guy who specializes in disappearing people. This was to be the last resort for when things got too difficult with Gus. Today is that day. Saul warns Walt it won’t be cheap—it’ll cost half a million to disappear four people—but Walt has no other choice. Saul opens his safe.
He gives Walt a business card for a vacuum cleaner repair company and tells Walt the coded message to leave on the answering machine to get the ball rolling. He reminds Walt that there’s no turning back from this. Walt needs to have his family packed before he calls.
Walt has one last request. He still has to do something about Hank and Marie. Since his wife and kids will presumably be able to avoid Gus’s reach, Walt decides to risk tipping off Hank about the impending assassination. But Walt can’t do it himself; he needs Saul to make the call for him.
Walt begs. Hank doesn’t deserve to die for Walt’s actions. Saul only agrees to do it under the condition that he tell the DEA the Cartel is coming for Hank, not Gus.
THE WHITES’ HOUSE
Walt barrels into the house and heads straight for the crawl space, heaving the trap door aside and lowering himself down. He tears open packages of clothing to retrieve his meth earnings to pay the disappearer. And sure enough, a large chunk is missing thanks to Skyler. He’s short.
The door opens above him and he hears Skyler’s voice calling out to him. She’s asking about the voicemail message he must have left between Saul’s office and here. She sounds shaken. The message must have been pretty blunt about what’s going on.
Walt ignores her and asks where the rest of the money is. When asked point-blank Skyler can only stammer, so Walt screams the question again. We already know the money has gone to Ted, but when Walt hears the news he breaks down in tears.
Upstairs the phone rings. Eventually it goes to voicemail and Marie leaves a frantic message. They’ve been tipped off about the impending assassination. Walt’s crying turns to demented laughing. Skyler manages to tear herself away and pick up the phone for her sister.
But we end the week on Walt, lying on his back and laughing about his impending death.
“You think you have everything planned out and then God throws you a curve ball!” That’s a Hallmark card right there.
-With all the deaths I’ve seen on TV and in movies, Ted’s ranks pretty high on my Most Sickening list. I think that’s intentional, too…the whole show is about the horrible consequences of Walt’s fateful decision and how it affects people only tangentially related to Walt. Ted has so little to do with Walt’s crimes and didn’t deserve to die at all, and yet there he went. It didn’t help that earlier in the episode Ted was talking about his two daughters. Ugh. As shitty as he was, I never wanted the dude to die.
(Assuming he really is dead. He could be in a coma I guess. But still).
-And to make things even worse was when Hewell reported back to Saul and didn’t even care that a man just died. I had to lie down for an hour after that scene.
-I was originally surprised they didn’t spend any time showing how Jesse gets himself, Gus, and Mike out of Mexico, but now I’m thinking it makes total sense. Vince Gilligan and Aaron Paul did a Fresh Air interview right before Season 4 began. (You should check it out if you dig the show). One of the things Gilligan talks about is, when they were working out the concept for Breaking Bad, they decided that the show wouldn’t just be done in a “problem of the week” format, where they put the characters in a jam and see how they get out of it. Instead, they decided the show would be waaaaay more character-driven, and the stories would focus on how Walt’s decision affects him and everyone else.
Not showing Jesse get Gus and Mike from Don Eladio’s to the field hospital fits that style. They could have started the week with five minutes of Jesse frantically driving around the Mexican desert trying to get directions from Gus and Mike as they’re both drifting in and out of consciousness, but they skipped right to the stuff to get to the point of this week’s episode, which was Jesse seeing example after example of how Gus is both thorough and a psycho.
-With the double-checking the meth batch, don’t you love how Tyrus seems to know the exact button to push with Walt? Is Tyrus perceptive or does Walt just project insecurity to everyone he meets? Also, Walt’s killed a lot of people out of necessity, but I think Tyrus might be the first person he wastes out of sheer annoyance.
-Jesse has no diseases? Puh-leeze.
-I’m pretty sure the medallion they took off Don Eladio was some kind of evil eye charm. It’s identifiable to Tio as belonging to Eladio, but the doctor also seemed to recognize it as some kind of general talisman thingy. Anyone know what it is?
-Did you notice in the scene when Skyler came over to Ted’s house to talk about the money that Ted stumbled on the carpet on the way to answer the door? Foreshadowing!
-First time through I was sure Ted really was trying to extort Skyler for more money…but watching it again I get the sense that maybe Ted really did just want to go straight and didn’t want to take the gambling money. Maybe circumstances have made Skyler go so crazy that she thinks everyone else in her life is morally warped, too. Even an honest person seems disingenuous. What do you think, was Ted blackmailing her or was he being real?
-I loved how during the Gus-Tio scene Tio was watching bridge explosion scene in Bridge on the River Kwai. Subtle, guys.
-A while ago one of y’all commented that the Los Pollos chicken farm where Gus holds his meetings and the laundry center where the Superlab is located are in two separate locations. Good eyes!
-When Skyler heard the circumstances of Walt’s car accident, did it seem like she figured out Walt crashed on purpose? The editors put in a “knowing look” kind of reaction shot right then but maybe I’m over-analyzing it.
-Did you notice the nasty red stains on the sheets covering Walt? That can only be menstrual blood.
-There’s another parallel theme in the storylines this week…Skyler decided to resort to more direct measures when Ted wouldn’t listen and take her money, and Gus did the same when he decided Walt had failed to divert Hank.
-I’m an idiot and don’t realize that EVERY TIME a product is featured on a show it’s product placement. Jesse was playing Rage on the Xbox a few weeks ago, and now AMC is running ads for it. Durrrrrrr. (Still looks like an awesome game, though).
-One unrelated thing. I had an actual day off Sunday so I got to watch some football for the first time in forever, and unfortunately that meant having to sit through all the Fox commercials. Have you seen the new ad for The New Girl? Basically, the pilot got pretty good ratings so now they’re super cocky about it. The ad literally said, “If you’re not watching The New Girl, you must be dead inside.” That’s the most hostile ad for a sitcom I’ve ever seen. Why not:
Don’t be a cunt. Watch The New Girl.
So much anger. So much anger.
Love in the time of Meth,