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.
When I saw this episode for the first time, I wondered if there was a little Season Two action going on, because here we have a teaser that starts almost identical to the one a few episodes back, and they have a specific color palette, starting with the blue breath, just like the ones in Season Two had their black and white and pink bear palette. But these aren’t flashforwards, and there’s no hidden message in these episode names. It’s just the cartel, amping up their aggression towards Gus’s operation. There’s something very artistic about these openings, the cool blue of the inside of the refrigerated truck, the way the light comes in through the bullet holes. Always an eye for that sort of thing on this show, how to play with light and color to make scenes not only dramatic but visually interesting and artful.
It’s been established in the past that Walt should probably not make speeches or take any sort of pain or pre-op meds, and this week we add two more items to the list of things Walter White should not do: drink heavily after his ego’s been insulted and drive a forklift.
The onslaught to Walt’s pride just keeps coming. Has Walt been successful at anything this season other than staying alive? It seems that every attempt at moving in any direction since then has been thwarted and put down in one way or another. He gets nowhere trying to save Jesse, and it turns out Jesse doesn’t even really need saving, he storms in to see Gus who turns out not to be there; he hooks up with Skyler then she decides, without checking with him, that he will move back in and when; then after all Walt goes through trying to save Jesse, Jesse comes back and sorta bosses Walt around; and then Jr drinks out of a Beneke mug and that just does Walt in. But if all that isn’t enough, Hank has to go on and on about what a genius meth chef Gale was.
“You won, Walter,” Mike says. “You got the job. Learn to take yes for an answer.” These quotes will resonate, one at the end of this season, one in the next.
In the season premiere, Marie mentions to Hank that she really likes the new PT guy, and it’s easy to see why. The guy is encouraging but not overly so. He seems to really be helping not just with Hank’s body but also with his emotional state. Hank puts on a good face around the guy. So much so that Marie wants him to move in. Marie is really overdoing the cheeriness here, which understandably irritates Hank. Both of their dispositions–Marie’s over-the-top optimism (bordering on patronizing at times) and Hank’s gruffness and grouchiness–have amped up since the premiere. I still really feel for both of them.
They have a strong marriage, despite little blips here and there, but now Hank is in a place Marie has never seen him, that we the viewers have never seen him. His PT is going, but it’s so slow and he’s in so much pain and he has this new mineral obsession and there’s no DEA or detective work to speak of. He takes some of it out on Marie but he also tries to pull back some. I think that neither of them know what to do with this new Hank, with the fear that the old Hank, in body and in mind, may not return.
Jesse’s going off the rails and Walt’s getting his Heisenberg mojo back. And Jesse’s sobriety is over.
There is so much going on here it’s hard to know where to start. Guess I’ll mention a few visual details first. The neon green in some of the scenes with Wendy inside the Crystal Palace is ominous and haunting and beautiful. I like how the teaser ends with Jesse in a car and the first act opens on Walt in a car, and they’re in such different situations. During Mike’s “half measures” speech I couldn’t stop looking at how his ears are backlit.
Jesse is using the RV to cook again. The teaser for this episode is a perfect example of Jesse taking the “I’m the bad guy” and his no-nonsense acceptance of that fact too far. Jesse has never been a pusher before, using his charm to get a girl to trade him free gas for a baggie of meth. Maybe he’s resigned to the bad guy role. Maybe he believes that’s who he is. It seriously makes me question the philosophy at that rehab place with those amazing plush green robes and shirts. Jesse’s not using anymore but something’s off and Jesse’s actually more of a bad guy since accepting this “fact” about himself than he ever was before.
Walt is, as Mike puts it, a disaster over this thing with his wife. Man, Mike is sooo deadpan. When Saul asks is this a good thing or a bad thing, Mike plays a bit more of the recording and then says, “It’s a bad thing.” It’s kind of hilarious. Gotta love Mike. He’s just as good later when he tells Walt the reasons he’s definitely removing all the bugs from Walt’s house.
Wow. Can’t believe there’s only one more to go. What will I do without my weekly fix?
This episode left us with some burning thoughts and questions. First, would you rather eat bacon banana cookies or cake pops? And would you dare to dip either in some Franch?
Okay, that’s just gross, but seriously that shit looked pretty tasty in this episode. Is it me or has there been more focus on food this season than most? The dressings at Madrigal, the bacon in 501 and 504, the whole thing about green beans and frozen scabby lasagna, Hank’s thing about Miracle Whip, Skyler’s whipped potatoes and double chocolate cake, and now Dan’s treats for the bank lady.
Also, what’s up with Saul’s outfits in the last two eps not being as awesomely colorful and eye-catching as usual? I mean really, give him a psychedelic tie next time or I’m out yo.
Speaking of time, the last week was real light on posts–I had an out of town guest for several days–but will now resume the regular schedule. Lots of catching up to do with comments and with adding links.
In other news, I’m taking on writing spec scripts for existing TV series and of course I’m doing Breaking Bad so my head is all full of episode ideas (as of now, planning to do one that would fit between episodes 3 and 4 of this season) and thoughts on the most recent ep.
What a powerful teaser. Wow, that was so well done. It set up the perfect emotional impact by being very understated. They start with the bike, dismantling it with such surgical precision, putting it, piece by piece, into the barrel. There’s something slow and sad and beautiful about that sequence, and the music that went with it. And the lack of dialogue. It doesn’t let up, the bike seems to have endless parts to be disassembled. Jesse’s absence is so present. Then Todd uncovers just the kid’s hand in the dirt and you see they’ve readied another barrel. It’s enough to let the viewers know exactly what’s going to happen to the kid’s body, even though it’s never shown, which is just so, so powerful. Difficult to watch, but that speaks to its power.
And then the first line of the episode is Todd to Jesse, “You guys didn’t tell me the stuff (hydrofluoric acid) smells like cat piss.” You can read everything on Jesse’s face. Todd can’t. “Shit happens, huh?” And then Jesse hauls off and punches him in the face. I don’t know about anyone else, but I found that really satisfying as a viewer.
And why I’m worried about Jesse. But that will come later.
I don’t know about anyone else, but this episode made me really, really, really want a Breaking Bad movie. More than I ever have before. It’s been said so many times how cinematic this show is, but this week’s episode just took that to a new level. That opening scene with the boy riding his dirt bike through the desert, all those shots of the train and from the train–it all felt like a movie to me and made me want to write some sort of open letter to Vince Gilligan asking him to please seriously consider making a movie. It was just a gorgeous episode, breathtakingly so. And what an amazing use of color. If last week’s episode was blue, this week’s was orange and red.
Another comment about the episode overall: It was a little hard to calm down afterwards. It was such an adrenaline rush followed by such a chilling ending that it left me all riled up. I’m also having a much harder time than ever resisting spoilers. Usually I don’t even watch the previews because I don’t want to know anything and they’re often misleading, but these last two days, I’ve been seeking them out.
I think this episode could unofficially be titled, “Walt’s Ego is Bigger Than Jupiter.”
On Breaking Bad, there is always so much attention paid to visuals, colors and sound, and all of this seemed especially true in this episode, starting with the sound of the metal detector wand thingy in the first shot of the teaser.
The teaser for this episode was the most straightforward we’ve seen this season. It was pretty great to see Mike dressed as a paralegal. And we meet another one of the guys on Mike’s list, Dennis, who was mentioned in last week’s episode during the conversation between Mike and Lydia–he’s the manager of the laundry. That lawyer, Dan, seems pretty nervous, what with the way he taps his fingers and the way he’s looking down and not making eye contact when he says he has his paralegal with him.
All of Dennis’ money was taken by the feds, just like the money Mike had set aside for his granddaughter Kaylee. Like I mentioned last week, a lot of this happened because of the magnet vs. laptop heist that Walt, Jesse and Mike pulled off in 501 that broke the frame, revealing the account info that gave the DEA the money trail. But that’s in the past, no way to get that money back, so Mike wants to move forward, and as for his guys, he’s promising to “make ’em whole.” Love that phrase!