How does so much happen in one episode? The Earth has moved in the world of the show. So many storylines intertwine and evolve.
And we learn some key things in this one. Like, Combo stole a baby Jesus statue from a Knights of Columbus display. That might be my favorite detail of the whole episode. Also, Walt’s storing his drug phone in a plastic baggie in the toilet tank, another favorite detail.
There is also a lot–probably in part for time, because so many stories are being told at once–that we don’t see. We don’t see Jesse waking up, or the moment he discovers Jane’s body. Or when he calls her death in to the police. We actually don’t even see or hear anything Jesse says to Walt when he first calls him. All of these things can be inferred and don’t need to be shown on screen.
How did Aaron Paul not win an Emmy for this episode? His acting here blows me away. He’s playing crushing grief, detoxing, guilt, drugged out stupor, and numbness, sometimes several of these at once, and he’s so, so raw. Just like he was in “Grilled” but for much longer stretches. Just breaks my heart.
This is a huge episode. So much happens. Birth and Death, coupled. It’s so emotional. Watching it again, even though I already knew what would happen, it still made me cry. Powerful stuff.
I was thinking about how this episode starts out all fast and loud, and ends in slowness, quiet. And yet it’s the end that’s full of drama. It’s almost the opposite of the norm. Usually tension builds as events heat up and speed up towards the most dramatic moment. In this episode, it’s the opposite arc, the tension rises as the pace slows and the volume lowers from a scream to a whisper.
Walt made his choice, drug deal over being there for the birth. When Walt gets to the hospital, he discovers that Ted was there when he wasn’t. But Walt, I believe, loves his new baby. There has been a lot of love this season between this family, despite all the deceit and lies and the people in positions that oppose each other. As bad as Walt can be, and his heartless side has shown a bit this season, I don’t think that his love for his family, in his own mind anyway, has wavered. Just morphed in ways.
The whole season has felt like a gathering storm. Like every episode, Walter and Jesse are doing things that are bound to come back in some way and just wreak havoc. Those weird black-and-white flashforwards showing all kinds of destruction and a floating eyeball and a creepy awesome burnt bear in a plastic bag help with the growing sense of dread. And up until this episode, Walt and Jesse have experienced some crappy things, some strong winds but nothing they can’t handle.
But now, the storm is here. And it’s gathering speed. Combo is dead. Jesse’s on heroin. Walt’s missing the birth of his baby for a drug deal. No good can come of this.
This episode is a little slower and quieter than most this season, and this fits the storyline perfectly. It’s a great place to pause in, almost an uncomfortable place. Limbo. Walter White has gotten this borderline miraculous news–he’s in remission and going to live for the time being against all odds–but isn’t feeling the relief and exaltation that he should.
I think it’s a few things. One, as discussed in the post for the previous episode, he’s felt that remorse in the desert for all his deception and lies and now he has to live with it. But I think it goes beyond that. He’s created this whole new identity for himself as Heisenberg. He thinks of himself as this total badass, even though this view of himself is a bit inflated. Sure, he’s tough when calling the shots on territory and revenge on the Spooges and raising the product price, but it’s all behind the scenes. Still, he has this new picture of himself as this criminal mastermind, not to be messed with. And I think he doesn’t want to let that go.
I know I say this about a lot of episodes, but “4 Days Out” is one of my all-time favorites, like for real. Definitely top five. Some of the funniest lines in the whole history of the show are in this episode. I still to this day can’t go get clumps of copper for fractional distillation (organic chem lab) without thinking to myself, “Ahhh wire.” And does anything really beat, “A robot?” Jesse’s failed chem tests are showing through.
One thing I love about this episode is that it fits into the arc of the season (I mean, talk about Walt pushing for more, and about consequences) and it also works really well on its own. It has a complete story arc within these 47 or so minutes, and could almost be a mini-movie. If someone came to this episode first, I think they’d be able to follow most of what’s going on. It advances the larger story, sets up a LOT (Walt’s going to live, they have a shitload of meth they need to sell) while still being a full story unto itself.
Oh Badger, Badger, Badger. You shoulda listened to your gut on this one. You knew that guy was a cop and you sold to him anyway. Smooth move.
In the previous episode, Walt pushed for expanding their territory, and a price hike, and in this one, there are some consequences. Actually, there have been a lot of consequences all season, but it’s funny how Walt doesn’t see it. Or sees it and wants to just push on anyway. He’s not exactly proceeding with caution. Skinny Pete got held up and in response Walt pushes Jesse to get into the whole mess deeper. Gretchen called Walt on his bullshit and he gets all Heisenberg and says “Fuck you.” Walt and Jesse got kidnapped by Tuco and Walt gets naked in a convenience store to make his cover-up of his disappearance more believable and talks to Jesse, while still at the hospital, about starting up cooking again. Jesse got all depressed after his dealings with The Spooges and Walt sees it as an opportunity to exploit their newfound power and expand the business. Walt’s family life is all a mess and he just keeps on lying and disappearing.
I guess my point is that at any point where it seems a person might decide to proceed with caution and dial things back, Walt does the opposite. He is a man on a mission and doesn’t see any of these things as warning signs. He wants that money counting thing to be going around the clock.
But Badger getting busted could be really bad. Jesse says he’s too loyal to roll, but how long will that last?
This episode is all about new territory, literally and figuratively, on so many levels.
The previous episode, “Peekaboo” gave a much needed glimpse into the real dark and depressing and yeah, swanky, underworld that’s on the other other side of Walt and Jesse and their cooking endeavors. But it also did something else important. It set Walt and Jesse up in a position of power that they didn’t have before. As long as everyone thinks that Jesse crushed a dude’s head with an ATM machine, our dynamic duo have a new license to take new risks.
Or really, it’s just Walt who wants to. He’s kind of a greedy bastard this season. He wants to expand into other dealers’ turfs. He immediately senses the business potential inherent in people thinking Jesse killed a guy who jacked him. He knows they can feed on fear. As always, he’s real academic about it, all exponential growth and levels of distribution and initiative and nice colored maps. Walt would have made a good business shark in some ways.
But I’m not sure he knows the criminal world as well as he thinks he does. Jesse seems much more in touch with the realities of the drug dealers on the streets, and with the unspoken rules about territory and turf.
This is a really important episode. And no, I’m not just saying that because I love Jesse and this is a very Jesse-centric episode. I do like that his character gets to develop here, but the real reason I think this episode is important is that we get a rare glimpse into the lives of Walt and Jesse’s customers. Aside from Wendy, we haven’t really seen this side, the reality of what they’re doing, the methheads.
In all of the criminal fun and drama and fighting and danger Walt and Jesse are having, it’s easy to almost detach from what they are doing, from the real dark side of meth. And in a way, that fits the show really well, because Walt is detached from it himself. He’s lost in the chemistry, in the bad-assery, in what he wants to do for his family, in the lab and the ego. Other than short dealings with Tuco and Krazy-8, he has no interactions with actual meth users. He talks about everything in academic, business terms. Totally dissociated from the actual long-range effects of what he’s doing.
So this episode, even though Walt is still oblivious of the actual lives of meth addicts, allows us as viewers to really see the kind of people Walt is cooking for, to not lose sight of that. And I think it’s important because it adds some heaviness, some desperation, to Walt’s endeavors. Because oh my god, the Spooges. What squalor. That apartment is such a shithole, there is no other way to say it. Stuff strewn everywhere, a little kid left there while the junkie parents are out, the parents hiding heroin and meth up their asses. Gross, yo. And such stark contrast to the chemistry and the cooking.
So this is essentially their third go of it. Walt and Jesse are in a pattern here. They cook up some shards, as Jesse would say, try to sell it, go to a distributor who inevitably threatens their lives–first Krazy-8, then Tuco–and then have to spend a lot of time cleaning up whatever mess their nemesis made, or the mess they made in defeating him. Their stint with Tuco lasted a bit longer than Krazy-8 so overall, they may be on an upswing. After all, Walt’s time is ticking away, their last mess is behind them, and they are ready to cook.
But other things are bubbling up from under the surface in other parts of their world. Hank is having some pretty serious PTSD after his shootout with Tuco. And this is sorta what I mean when I say Walt doesn’t seem to be affected to the same degree as the others, after going through violence and trauma and murder. Of course, Walt also really believes that this time will be different, just like he did back in Season One before they started working with Tuco. With Jesse, it’s a little hard to tell. He was definitely shocked when Walt said he wanted to start up again. But they’re moving forward.
I think this episode can be summed up by something Skyler says: “Obvious, desperate breakfasts” just about does it. This is actually one of my favorite episodes of Season Two.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge Jesse fan (freakin’ <3 that dude, totally Team Jesse) and whenever I think of this episode, and how much I love it, I think of my friend Lissa. When we were like thirteen or fourteen and first starting to hang out, she was telling me about TV shows she used to be really into, and how she was an “Evil Lucas Fan.” Now I don’t know what show it was, or who the fuck is Lucas (maybe Lissa can come by and clarify), but I remember her telling me that being an evil fan had something to do with loving the episodes where your favorite character is in peril, or as it applies to this case, having the shittiest (literally) day you can imagine. I’m kind of an Evil Jesse Fan here, not because I want bad things to happen to Jesse (not at all) but because I really love this episode. I think it has to do with how freakin’ brilliant Aaron Paul is at making the character of Jesse so compelling, especially when he’s crying into a gas mask in a methmobile RV and covered in blue porta-potty goo.