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Hey BrBa readers. Welcome to Episode 9. This week we’ve got a little more of the Hank-investigating Gus story, an UNEXPECTED VISITOR (!) from Skyler’s past, and we a lot of questions about what’s up with Gus and the Juarez Cartel are answered.
I HAVE NO IDEA!
We start with a closeup. Of glasses!
Walt’s glasses! On a floor somewhere!
The lenses have popped out and blood is dripping onto Walt’s shoes. Walt’s blood. Presumably!
His hand pops into frame and he picks the glasses up.
And that’s it. Shortest cold open ever.
OUTSIDE HANK AND MARIE’S
Walt steps out of the Aztek in Hank and Marie’s driveway. He looks around, suspiciously surveying his surroundings like you only do when you’re leading a criminal double-life. Behind him, the front door opens and Hank comes out, Marie in tow.
Hank asks Walt if he’s ready to “get his rocks on”, meaning, “are you ready to go to another mineral show,” and Marie teases them about that being some kind of guy code for “strip club” or something.
No, Marie, it’s code for “bathhouse”
Walt doesn’t respond, (he does a lot of “not responding to social cues because he’s emotionally fried” this week), as she helps Hank into the car, and soon they’re on their way to Los Pollos to retrieve the tracking device they put on Gus’s car last week. Hank’s full of excited energy, and, sensing that Walt is tense, reassures him. “This ain’t no spy movie!” he jokes.
Walt looks out the rearview and notices that, just like in a spy movie, Tyrus is tailing them. Hank starts singing “Eye of the Tiger”, totally oblivious.
When they arrive at Los Pollos, (with Tyrus right behind them), Walt parks, gets out, and walks over to Gus’s car, repeating the routine from last week…he kneels by the front-left tire, pretends to tie his shoes, and retrieves the bug. But unlike last time, he doesn’t even bother going into the restaurant to buy a drink and thus avoid looking suspicious. He just walks back to the car, to Hank’s protests.
HANK AND MARIE’S
They head straight back to Hank and Marie’s, where Hank eagerly plugs in the tracker. Using Google Earth, he pulls up a map of all of Gus’s travel routes over the past week…and it only displays two locations, Los Pollos and Gus’s home. Meaning, Gus has only gone to two places all this time. (Officially, anyway).
Hank can’t believe it. Gus is good—he must be so above the dirty work of drug dealing that he really does only go to two places a week. Walt suggests that maybe Gus isn’t Heisenberg, but Hank is undeterred. Just has to figure out his next move. Luckily, Walt just can play dumb and not arouse too much suspicion with Hank. It looks like Hank’s hit a dead end and Walt won’t have to actively derail the investigation any more, like he promised to Gus’s cameras in the lab.
Walt gets into the Aztek to leave and takes a moment to collect himself before turning the key in the ignition and looking over his shoulder to back out. But when he does, he spots Tyrus’s car across the cul-de-sac. His face darkens and he peels out of the drive.
He pulls up next to Tyrus. Both men stare at each other. After a long moment Walt rolls down his window. He says nothing. Instead, he takes out his phone and dials 911. He tells the operator about a “suspicious man” in the area who’s been watching a particular house. The cops agree to send a car over to check it out. Satisfied, Walt drives off, and Tyrus, annoyed, does too.
AT THE SUPERLAB
Jesse leans against his car before the workday begins when Walt pulls up. He gets out and tells Jesse it’s time to get started, but Jesse’s already begun the work downstairs, so Walt can dawdle a bit.
He walks over to Jesse and, uncharacteristically, asks to bum a smoke. Jesse immediately gets what Walt’s driving at—Walt wants an update on the plan to poison Gus—and mutters that he still hasn’t had a shot at Gus yet.
Walt coolly pretends there’s no subtext to his question and repeats the request, all to look natural under the watchful eye of Gus’s cameras, and Jesse finally gives him a smoke. Walt lights it and coughs, not used to it. He tries to make a little small talk. What has Jesse been up to? Jesse says he’s been watching Ice Road Truckers a lot these days, then turns away from the security camera and promises, annoyed, that he will kill Gus when he gets the chance.
But Walt just kind of laughs and tosses the cigarette. It doesn’t matter. They’re both dead men anyway! Probably trying to light a fire under Jesse’s butt, I’d imagine.
THE CAR WASH/WALT’S APARTMENT
That night, Skyler is tallying up their daily income when she gets a promising result. She calls Walt at home to give him the news. He’s in bed, having a beer.
But before the news she has to ask him about Junior’s upcoming birthday party. Junior is turning 16 and doesn’t want a big to-do, instead preferring a low-key dinner and hanging out with his buddies. Also, they should probably get Junior a car. Sounds good to Walt. He’s as detached as ever.
Then, the big news. The car wash is doing so well that Walt might not have to cook any more. (Sky isn’t dumb enough to literally say “you don’t have to cook meth for Gus Fring any more, honey!” on the phone, but that’s what she’s driving at). It’s time to start thinking about an exit strategy.
Hah. Fat chance, Skyler. Do you really think Walt would walk away even if he could? But for the moment, Walt tells her he is working on something. He looks over at his nightstand…
Well, at least Walt’s got a subscription to Leaving Your Double Life Quarterly
Actually that’s a tracking bug, not a magazine, but I could only tell after I bought this episode on iTunes and paused on this frame. Two times I watched it on my TV and couldn’t see what that was. So: tracking bug. Kinda important! They named the episode this week “Bug”.
The next morning, Walt is awoken by his phone ringing. He rouses himself out of sleep and picks up. It’s Hank.
Hank hasn’t given up on the Gus investigation quite yet. He’s made a breakthrough and needs another favor. As Walt blinks the sleep from his eyes, Hank tells him the latest…
It didn’t make much sense to Hank that Gus owns fourteen Los Pollos franchises yet only visited the one all last week. If Gus were really the Southwest’s biggest meth dealer, he probably couldn’t hide it all in his restaurants anyway. So, Hank’s done a little digging, and he’s found a possible base of operations: an enormous Los Pollos distribution center just outside Albuquerque.
Yup. The one on top of the superlab. Walt’s wide awake now. Maybe you should have pointed Hank in the wrong direction instead of just standing there, ya dummy! Hank wants to know if Walt’s feeling like going on another field trip to case the distribution place.
Walt scrambles. He needs to come up with an excuse. He stammers a bit and says he’s “indisposed”.
Hank asks, does that mean, like, taking a dump?
Uh…sure! Walt rolls with it. Diarrhea, actually. Explosive diarrhea.
Taking a page from the It’s Always Sunny playbook, I see
Crestfallen, Hank says it’s fine, that Walt doesn’t have to drive him. He’ll just find another ride.
On second thought, Walt may be feeling a little better. He can’t let Hank go to the distribution center without him. So he has to pretend he’s not feeling too sick, and that he’s really been enjoying his extracurricular espionage with Hank. Does Hank mind waiting a couple days for him to “recover”? Hank agrees to it, reluctantly, and Walt’s bought himself a little time.
Hank hangs up, and immediately Walt dials up Mike. (The first thing he says to Mike is, “Don’t be mad!”…Morning Walt’s a little less fierce, I suppose). Walt lays out the situation. Hank’s coming. When he’s finished, he waits for an answer but only gets silence.
THE LOS POLLOS DISTRIBUTION CENTER
Jesse’s at work at the distribution center. He and some henchmen are busy retrieving bags of meth from Los Pollos buckets and rinsing the batter off—which is odd to Jesse, because the distribution center is where they pack the meth into the buckets and ship it, not where they unpack it. He asks Mike where the meth is going and Mike doesn’t fill him in. Gus observes all this from the doorway open to the outside, backlit by the sunlight.
Meanwhile, Skyler is ringing up a customer at the car wash. After the transaction is finished, Skyler waits for the customer to leave, then starts talking to herself, pantomiming out a second transaction, with an imaginary customer. Laundering a little bit of the drug money.
Then, she has an unexpected visitor: Ted Beneke.
Ted’ s kinda the Roger Sterling of the show, if Roger Sterling were a dipshit instead of being charming
Backstory: If you’re not familiar with ol’ Ted, here’s the scoop. Ted and Sky go way back. When Junior was a kid she used to work for Ted as the bookkeeper at his company, where they make widgets or whatever. This experience is actually what makes Skyler so adept at laundering the meth money.
But that’s not the fun part. Skyler and Ted were also fucking for a while last season, when Skyler found out about Walt’s double life and had no other way to rebel. (Which also led to one of the greatest moments on the show ever, when Walt tried to kick Ted’s ass but Ted locked himself into his office and Walt hurled a potted plant ineffectually at Ted’s wired-glass window). Sky eventually broke things off when she decided she couldn’t officially leave Walt for fear of blowing Walt’s cover to Junior.
They haven’t seen each other since then, so it’s a surprise for him to show up now just to say “hi” as he puts it. Sky’s unnerved. She doesn’t think they have anything to talk about.
But actually, they do.
“SURPRISE! I’m pregnant, Skyler!”
Some more backstory: one other thing…back when Sky was doing Ted’s accounting, she noticed that he was hiding huge amounts of income from the IRS. Oops! And he asked her to look the other way. He claimed to have a reason for stealing other than just greed but I don’t feel like looking up, and it probably isn’t more important to Skyler than his perfectly symmetrical features are.
Well, it turns out, as these things do on serialized drama shows, (or at least the good ones), that this incident has come back to bite them both in the ass. Hard.
Ted’s brought a letter with him from the IRS’s Criminal Investigation Division. They’re auditing him. Tomorrow. Ted doesn’t know what to do. He asks Skyler, (hilariously), if she can “uncook” his books for him. But you can’t un-defraud the government, Ted.
Skyler’s upset on Ted’s behalf. She warns him that if the IRS takes this to trial, they have an 80% conviction rate. (Pretty badass she knows that off the top of her head). But then she realizes something…her signatures are all over Ted’s books. Since the IRS is allowed to investigate anyone involved with tax fraud like this…you get the idea.
After peeing his pants, Ted promises he’ll figure something out and hurries away.
THE DISTRIBUTION CENTER
Back at Los Pollos HQ, Mike is scanning the warehouse floor with the blue-light, looking for tiny meth crystals. Whenever he spots some, Jesse cleans the area off, getting rid of the evidence from the earlier unpacking session.
As he scrubs, Jesse asks Mike a simple question: “Is he gonna kill him?” Meaning, is Gus going to kill Hank? Mike says nothing, just keeps scanning the floor, giving Jesse enough rope to hang himself. Is Jesse trying to smooth-talk Mike, or does Jesse really just want to know?
Jesse considers the situation. It’d make sense for Gus to want to get rid of Hank—DEA agent looking into your business. On the other hand, if something happened to Hank it would spoil the relationship between Gus and Walt.
Jesse seems to think it’s a bad idea, and he finishes scrubbing and gets up. Mike cuts right to the chase…he’s not interested in what Jesse thinks, strategically; he wants to know if Jesse would have a problem with something happening to Hank.
Jesse, probably realizing this is a bad line of questioning, dodges. Who cares what he thinks?
OUTSIDE THE DISTRIBUTION CENTER
Outside, Jesse and a henchman carry a loading ramp up to a waiting Los Pollos truck.
And then the henchman’s head explodes.
Want a gory, unnecessary screen grab? No? Too bad!
Jesse freezes in his tracks as a couple more shots ring out in slow-motion. Through the sniper’s scope, we see the crosshairs line up on Jesse’s face, but at the last second Mike hustles him out of the way and behind a metal outbuilding. More shots hit nearby. They’re pinned.
But then, Gus emerges from the warehouse, wearing dressed in Meaningful Black. In horror, Jesse watches Gus stride right past them, uncovered. Even Mike barks out for Gus to get down.
Gus knows full well what’s going on, though. He walks toward the sniper’s position, bullets hitting the ground by his feet.
Finally he stops. Throws his hands up in the air. Dares the sniper to fire. We see the sniper’s face. It’s that fixer from the Juarez Cartel from a couple episodes ago, the one who’s been hijacking trucks.
He draws a bead on Gus’s face. And he can’t pull the trigger. The assassin smirks and backs away.
This might seem like a stupid “Gus is so badass!” scene, but there’s more to it than that. Thank god.
THE DISTRIBUTION CENTER
Later, Gus sits in his office in silence, alone. The phone starts to ring but he ignores it for five rings or so before he picks up. Without waiting to hear who it is, he tells the caller to tell the cartel that the answer is “yes”—reversing his answer two weeks ago.
Turns out that while all the carnage has been going on upstairs, Walt’s been busy at work down in the lab. But not any more. A buzzer rings and he goes over to the freight elevator and opens the huge doors. It’s Jesse and Mike. They are pushing a laundry cart, and inside is the henchman who formerly had an intact head.
Walt doesn’t like this, regarding it as an intrusion. He probably also doesn’t like how they’re not telling him anything that’s going on.
Mike tells him to shut up and grab them a barrel so they can get rid of the body, but Walt, not wanting to take orders, won’t let it go. Angrily, he wonders what this poor bastard did to piss off Gus—or, if Gus just killed the guy for no reason other than to freak Walt out.
Mike snarls for Walt to get the barrel. He means it this time, threatening to kick Walt’s ass. And while he’s at it, he warns Walt not to call the cops on one of his guys ever again, or else he might as well get two barrels. Oooooooh! Snap!
And Walt caves.
OUTSIDE THE DISTRIBUTION CENTER
Topside, Mike loads this week’s plastic barrel full of horrific corpse goo onto another truck for it to be carted away when Jesse approaches. He wants to thank Mike for saving his life earlier during the sniper attack. Mike just tells Jesse not to stand around like an idiot next time.
But Jesse isn’t just here to thank him. He needs to talk. What the hell was up with Gus earlier, just walking out into the line of fire like that? Is Gus losing it? Or is he just fucking badass?
Nope. The truth is way more practical than that. The cartel can’t kill Gus. He’s their distributor.
But Jesse’s still mystified. If they weren’t trying to kill Gus, what was the sniper attack all about? And what are he and the other henchmen supposed to do, just wait around ‘til they get shot?
If Jesse really wants to know, Mike replies, he should just ask Gus himself.
THE ALBUQUERQUE IRS BUILDING
Ted and an IRS agent sit in a conference room. The audit has begun—actually, it’s been going on for a while now and the agent has found unreported income twenty YEARS in a row. And Ted literally has no response. What an ass.
Thankfully, for Ted’s sake, Skyler comes in to the rescue. Only it’s not the Skyler we normally see…
“Hi, I’m Skyler Tits-Trainwreck. Pleased to meet you!”
As you can see, she’s floozing it up. In addition to the outfit, Sky’s making herself come off like a total ditz—she’s late because the building was so confusing! (I know, right?…I hate buildings).
So it’s pretty clear what’s up…Skyler’s feigning incompetence to make the IRS agent less inclined to prosecute her or Ted. Why don’t I just list off all the ways she makes herself look like a total moron?
-Skyler claims she didn’t enter all the unreported income because that particular income was deposited into Ted’s account electronically, not with a paper check. Meaning, she didn’t think you had to report income you received electronically. You read that right. Remember, she’s trying to look like the dumbest person of all time.
-She marvels at the word “special” in the agent’s title.
-She pulls up a chair right next to the agent, giving him a clear shot at her boobs. At a fucking audit.
-When the agent asks her if she’s familiar with a particular law, she doesn’t even know what that means…i.e., what that sentence means. Not the law in question…the words he used to convey the question itself.
-She used Quicken to keep the records of a huge company. (Apparently that’s really dumb, but I had no idea prior to this).
-She likens Quicken to “having a calculator on your computer!” (That’s also really dumb, and I did know that)
-Quicken didn’t “flash red” when she used it, which is why she assumed nothing was wrong
-She didn’t have any experience with accounting prior to getting this job; she’s just “naturally good with numbers”
-In the middle of all this, she grasps Ted by the thigh and calls him “Teddy”
-Oh, it took the IRS agent that long to figure out what was up with Skyler and Ted. He’s no genius either, I guess.
Outside, Ted and Sky walk towards their cars. Skyler puts on a sweater and buttons up, dropping back into her regular self. They’ve won.
Ted is baffled. He had no idea Skyler was capable of such slick deception like that. But Skyler doesn’t revel in the moment. Ted needs to pay the back taxes and be done with it. He claims that won’t be easy, but she reiterates. He needs to figure something out.
But even with that ultimatum, Ted resists. He really, really, really can’t find the $600K or whatever that he owes. So maybe this isn’t over quite yet.
Jesse sits in his car that evening. He takes out a pack of smokes, then finds the ricin cigarette and adds it to the pack. He gets out and looks across the road to Gus’s house. Time to go.
Jesse rings the doorbell and Gus answers, invites him in. They’re going to have supper together, and Gus is going to cook for him, like he did for Walt previously.
Inside, Gus chops garlic. He says, “I hope you brought your appetite,” somehow making it sound menacing.
He has his back to Jesse, leaving Jesse with a clean opportunity to drop the ricin into the bubbling stew on the stove next to him. He takes out the poison. But as he does, Gus, making small talk, mentions that Mike said Jesse has some questions. He promises that after the meal he will explain everything. Hearing that, Jesse puts the ricin away.
Later, they sit down to eat. Gus starts to smooth Jesse over. He knows Jesse has concerns over the sniper attack yesterday, and Jesse cuts him off. No shit, Jesse says.
Gus, with his Old World-ish love of etiquette, doesn’t appreciate Jesse behaving this way after he’s invited Jesse into his home and prepared food for him. But he keeps his cool and promises to explain everything—if Jesse will answer a question first. Can Jesse cook Walt’s recipe?
Jesse explodes. A month ago, Gus was about to kill Jesse, aka the junkie loser threatening the whole operation. Now it makes sense why Gus has been buttering him up all this time—it’s so Gus can eventually replace Walt with Jesse. Kill Walt, but keep production going. (To be fair, this question is exactly what Gus asked Gale back at the end of Season 3, so it’s not unreasonable). Jesse tells Gus to go to hell. If Gus kills Walt, he’ll have to kill Jesse, too. United we stand!
It’s no small thing to talk this way to Gus Fring, but Gus, as usual, barely registers this. Instead he simply says that Jesse’s wrong. He’s not asking if Jesse would replace Walt. He’s asking literally if Jesse can cook Walt’s recipe. Because he needs Jesse to prevent a war with the Cartel…
THE WHITES’ HOUSE
Real quick, before we wrap up the amazing Jesse-Walt-Gus storyline, Skyler’s about to do something really really dumb. She’s lying awake in bed at night, clearly thinking over Ted’s predicament…i.e., the one he got HIMSELF into…and she opens up the trapdoor to the crawlspace where the meth money is kept.
So she’s going to use unlaundered drug money to help a friend pay the motherfucking IRS his back taxes.
And later, she will be trying to cure Walt’s cancer by giving him AIDS.
Walt and Jesse are winding down another work week. Tyrus weighs the weekly meth take while Mike watches. But Walt ducks out early and begins changing out of his Hazmat suit. What’s he up to?
Topside, it turns out that Walt’s ducking out early so he can have a moment alone with Jesse’s car. Using the subterfuge he learned from Hank, Walt purposely drops his car keys next to Jesse’s car, kneels down to pick them up, and slyly retrieves the tracking bug from Jesse’s front-right wheel-well.
…and when he gets to his computer and plugs the bug in, Walt thinks he’s nailed Jesse. On cue, Jesse calls him up and tells him he needs to talk. All will be revealed.
Jesse invites Walt inside. He offers him a beer but forgets to offer him a seat. Clearly both guys are ill at ease. Jesse has news to get off his chest, while Walt prepares for a confrontation.
Jesse goes first. Like Gus told Jesse earlier, a war is brewing between Gus and the Cartel. That’s what the sniper attack was about earlier, just a reminder that the Cartel is on the doorstep about to make it rain bullets. It’s also why the Cartel has been hijacking Gus’s trucks. All to send the message.
Gus, realizing he’s cornered, has accepted the Cartel’s offer in order avoid a war. What does the Cartel want? Half of Gus’s profits AND Walt’s recipe. “Word has come down”, as Jesse puts it, that he is needed to go to Mexico—Gus wants Jesse to go, that is, to teach the Cartel how to make it.
Would Walt let his recipe fall into anyone else’s hands and give up his sole value like that? Or more importantly, would Jesse be able to faithfully recreate the blue meth? Jesse doubts himself and wants Walt to reassure him…
…but Walt confronts him instead. Has Jesse seen Gus recently, he asks? Is that what Jesse meant when he said “word has come down”? Jesse tries to deny it but isn’t convincing. Walt has him dead to rights: he’s been with Gus. For two hours and 18 minutes, in fact. (So the tracker bug told Walt where Jesse was the night before…) When he’s claimed he hasn’t had a shot to poison Gus.
Walt gets up and throws Jesse against the wall. He reaches into Jesse’s pocket and retrieves the ricin cigareete. Proof Jesse didn’t get the job done. He throws the cigarette at Jesse and stalks away in disgust.
Jesse, confronted with the proof, stops lying. He explains that, once again, he never had a shot at Gus and he didn’t even bring it up because he didn’t think Walt would believe him.
But wait…Jesse recalls that Walt knew the exact time he was at Gus’s house. How? Walt takes the tracker bug out of his pocket and throws it at Jesse’s chest.
Jesse is devastated and can barely speak…after all he’s done for Walt, (like, for example, standing up to Gus to the point that he offered up his own life if Gus ever tried to kill Walt), Walt’s bugged his fucking car?
Walt shoots back. All Jesse’s done for him is sign his death warrant. The only exit strategy Walt had was to get rid of Gus, and that option’s gone now. Enraged, Walt sarcastically tells Jesse to go ahead and go to Mexico, screw up like he knows he will, and wind up dead in a barrel.
That does it. Jesse hurls the tracker at Walt’s face, opening a gash over his eye and breaking his glasses—that’d be the origin of the Cold Open.
Walt rushes him and throws him into a speaker. Then he manages to throw Jesse to the ground and kick him in the face. They wrestle a bit, get up again, and Walt throws him into some bookshelves. Jesse tries to hit him with a lamp but misses.
Walt’s pretty much kicking is ass. But, well, Jesse’s not in his fifties and doesn’t have cancer, so he eventually takes control. He gets Walt onto his back and punches him over and over. Finally he decides Walt’s had enough and shoves him away.
Slowly they each get up. Jesse asks Walt if he can walk. Walt thinks he can. And Jesse tells him to get the fuck out and don’t come back.
-Now that Hank’s only using the mineral stuff as a cover story for him to keep illicitly investigating Gus, does that mean every character on this show has a secret double life?
-I was really glad to hear there was a practical reason for the assassin not to shoot Gus. First time through I thought the show was trying to show us how much of a freaking BADASS Gus is. I hate that shit. That’s Boondocks Saints territory. I like there to be reasons for things.
-I stand by my depiction of Ted as a dipshit. You know why? He didn’t even come to Skyler until a day before the audit, giving her no time to even prepare. Total dipshit behavior.
-Who called it that the cartel wants Walt’s secret recipe? That’s right. Me. BOOM!
-I loved the IRS agent’s sense of triumph when he finally figured out that Ted and Skyler were fucking…as if she hadn’t given him eleven cues before that.
-I noticed a kind of “mutual mistrust” parallel this week. When Jesse asked Mike what was going to happen with Hank, Mike assumed Jesse was asking on Walt’s behalf, when Jesse was really just trying to figure out what the hell was going on. Then, when Gus asked Jesse if he knew Walt’s recipe, Jesse assumed it was because Gus was plotting to kill Walt, but really Gus was working his bigger angle.
All right, I’m up against my deadline so I better get going. Thanks for reading!