I LOVE this episode. Maybe my favorite of the season actually. As with so many, so much happens. This is an episode where certain storylines, like Gus trying to pit Jesse and Walt against each other, come to a climax, and other storylines, like Ted and the IRS trouble, are just beginning.
We haven’t seen Ted in a long while, not since he came to visit Skyler in Season Three after Hank got shot. Tio came back in the last episode, Ted in this one. No one ever goes away for long on this show. But Ted’s not back for a romantic rendez-vous as Skyler first suspects. Oh no, he’s got much bigger troubles. The IRS. An audit. With Skyler’s name on record. Meaning she could get investigated as she’s laundering Walt’s drug money through the carwash. Bad news bears for sure.
There are a lot of smart, savvy characters on this show. But Ted? Not one of them. He’s bumbling and dense when it comes to the seriousness of what’s going on here. He asks Skyler to uncook the books and seems surprised when she says it doesn’t work that way.
And thus we get one of Skyler’s funniest scenes ever, probably the funniest. Like Walt, we’ve seen time and again that she can be a pretty good manipulator and liar when she needs to be. Ain’t they a pair, Skyler and Walt. And this is just hilarious; Skyler really assumes her new persona without flinching. I think that Ted and the IRS dude both have a moment of of being distracted by or at least checking out her pink push-up bra. One of my favorite lines has to be when Skyler says she got lost because the building has so many doors. And then there’s “I’m a real paper person,” and “input into The Quicken.” She just totally inhabits this dumb blonde kinda slutty character for this meeting, and turns it off the moment the IRS dude leaves.
And her plan worked with the IRS guy, but not for Ted. It seems ridiculous that he can’t grasp the seriousness of the audit, or what will happen if he doesn’t pay. The crazy thing is, I think we all know people like that in real life, people who would do exactly what Ted is doing, who would just see that they’re off the hook in the here and now and wouldn’t pay the back taxes and would scramble to find some other fix or get-out-of-jail-free-card when the shitstorm hits. I know that I know people like that in real life. So in the end, Skyler bought herself some time, but the issue of the IRS audit doesn’t seem to be going away.
What’s Skyler doing, looking at all Walt’s money in the bags in the crawl space? What’s she thinking?
Hank is HOT on the trail. The last time he was this close, he tracked Walt and Jesse to the RV. The gunshot and Hank’s recovery took him out for awhile, but he’s so on it now. And, just like last time with the RV search, Hank is going off the DEA protocol and acting on his own. Not a great combination for Gus, Mike, Walt, Jesse, or even Hank himself if he wants to live.
Gus, Mike and Tyrus seem pissed at Walter for driving Hank around, but that’s also their saving grace. If they didn’t have Walt telling them what Hank was up to, they’d be caught. Gus might not have known about the bug, and definitely wouldn’t have known about Hank’s intentions to come out to the factory farm. In a way, they are extremely lucky to have Walt as a line to Hank’s doings, because really, it would look suspicious if Hank wound up dead after pursuing this when everyone else thinks Gus and co. are innocent. It could bring a lot more DEA attention to Gus if suddenly the one man who suspects him and is investigating him ends up dead.
Still, it looks from Mike’s question to Jesse that killing Hank may be on the menu. And Jesse, he tries to make an argument for Hank alive. It’s a nice touch because Jesse hates Hank. He even says that thing to Walt about mixing one plus douchebag with one minus douchebag and getting zero douchebags, which was his Jesse-ism way of saying let Gus and Hank kill each other. But when it’s more real, he makes that argument and also says that if they kill Hank, Mr. White will stop cooking for Gus. I don’t think Jesse particularly cares about Hank, he probably still hates him, but he’s saying this for Walt, and because of the importance of family.
Jesse does a lot for Walt in this episode, which is important for setting up what he says later. At Gus’s house, when Gus asks if he can cook Mr. White’s crystal, Jesse has that great line, “You wanna talk like men? Let’s talk like men. You kill Mr. White, you’re going to have to kill me too.” Such powerful stuff.
But that’s not the only loyalty going on. Mike saves Jesse after that guy’s head gets shot right in front of Jesse and Jesse stands frozen. Jesse and Mike have developed a sort of, well friendship might be too strong a word now but some sort of bond. And that makes Jesse’s predicament more complicated.
“Next time, move your feet. Run and so forth.”
Mike is once removed from Gus, who Jesse’s supposed to kill. He keeps telling Walt he’ll do it, but every episode this seems less likely to actually happen. And yes, Jesse and Gus ate out of one pot but they had separate bowls. I think if Jesse truly wanted to slip Gus some ricin, he would’ve found a way.
Ice Road Truckers, yo. “What’s that one about?” Walt asks. “Guys drive on ice.” So, I got a new TV last summer, and cable, both of which I’d found ways around for years with iTunes and Netflix and Hulu and some networks posting their shows online, but for the final season of Breaking Bad, I had to get a TV and cable. I got it all set up the Thursday before the premiere last summer. And the first thing I watched? Ice Road Truckers. Guys driving on ice. It was kinda cool, and one of these days, I’ve got to see the season when they’re in India, because I was there a few years ago and those roads and the driving there, it’s really different, and I heard the Ice Road Truckers struggled with that.
Now let’s get to the crux of this episode, the epic fight. I actually think the lead up to the fight is the more dramatic scene. Such tension. Jesse is scared out of his mind, stuttering, pacing, breathing hard, delivering the details of the plan, the real reason, or at least the ostensible one, that Gus asked Jesse if he can cook Walt’s formula. Jesse needs to go to Mexico and cook Walt’s formula so that there’s not an all-out war with the cartel. And Hank’s investigation is putting some of the extra pressure on Gus that caused him to cave in to these cartel demands. But he doesn’t know the actual chemistry, and he’s afraid it’s a death mission for him without some coaching from Walt.
And Walt, all episode he’s kinda clueless. He assumes Gus had the guy killed when Mike and Jesse bring the body to the superlab. He has that great line about “meth cooking and corpse disposal” like it’s the new company slogan. Walt doesn’t know anything about Skyler and Ted and the audit. He has no idea about what’s going on with the cartel, or what might happen to all of them if Jesse doesn’t go to Mexico and give the cartel the formula. Walt is, as always, self-absorbed with his own drama.
Walt has been pretty callous to Jesse all season, and that’s part of why Gus and Mike have had some marginal success in severing the strong, unbreakable ties between these two. Walt’s been insensitive about Jesse’s inner torture over shooting Gale, another huge thing Jesse did for Walt. And now he’s not concerned at all about this death mission Jesse is being sent on. All he can see is that if Jesse can cook his crystal, Gus won’t need him. He doesn’t realize that just like when Jesse was a little disposable in the first episode of the season and Walt told Gus that if he killed Jesse, he wouldn’t have Walt, Jesse said essentially the same thing to Gus now that Walt is the one Gus would like to dispose of. He sees that Jesse didn’t kill Gus and is lying about it.
This part actually reminds me of a lover’s quarrel, when Jese’s all, I didn’t tell you I saw Gus because I knew you’d react like this, knew you’d freak out, etc. I guess it also could feel like a parent-child argument but it also feels like a couple that’s been married for centuries. Sort of an unusual but nice touch somehow.
Walt tells Jesse he hopes he goes to Mexico and winds up in a barrel, and yes, after everything that Jesse has done for him. Brutal, brutal stuff. Then comes this epic, amazing, brutal fight, and Jesse’s last words to Walt:
“Can you walk? Then get the fuck out of here and never come back.” Holy shit.
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