Breaking Bad 3.8 – It’s All, Like, Shiny Up In Here

Last week’s episode so wreaked havoc on my theory on how the next few episodes would play out, thanks to Hank’s parking-lot battle with the Cousins (I was sure they’d stalk him for awhile before going after him), that I walked into this week’s “Breaking Bad” with absolutely no clue about what to expect. I even said as much to Dean Norris when I talked to him, but he assured me that the show would stay intense and action-packed right through to the end of the season, adding that, despite the status of the Cousins, “There are plenty more bad guys where they came from.” I wouldn’t say that this week’s installment was entirely action-packed, but it certainly had some moments of intensity, that’s for sure.

Things kicked off with a battered and bruised (and, lest we forget, tattooed) Jesse preparing to leave the hospital, but as he’s waiting at the curb for his ride to show, he happens to see Hank rolled in on a gurney, looking decidedly worse for wear. The initial look on Jesse’s face was horror, and one wonders if maybe he thought that his own life might be in danger as well, which is a pretty reasonable consideration if you’re thinking in terms of, “If they can take down a DEA agent, they can take down anybody.” It doesn’t take long, however, for the horror to turn into bliss at the realization that the man who kicked his ass nine ways to Sunday has been taken down a peg himself.

Poor Gale. He thought that he and Walt were simpatico, but, uh, not so much. And, no, it’s not about his screw-up in setting the temperature that set Walt off last week. It’s apparently more to do with rhythms…or, at least, that’s the story that Walt’s trying to spin. Classical vs. jazz? Yeah, that explanation lasted about as long as it took for Jesse to open his dumb-ass white trash mouth. I don’t believe we’ve seen the last of Gale.

We have, however, seen the last of Walt at the SuperLab for this episode. Turns out that the lack of cell phone reception in the facility means that Jesse actually knew about Hank’s condition before Walt did. Once he finds out, however, he’s off to the hospital, where he meets up with Skyler, Walt, Jr., and, of course, Marie, along with quite a few of Hank’s fellow DEA agents. In addition to finding out that one of the Cousins survived, albeit in critical condition, we also discover that Marie had no idea that Walt’s weapon had been confiscated from him. Cue a royal ass-tearing from Mrs. Schrader, one which finds Hank’s ex-partner, Steve, getting reamed. Unfortunately, Walt finds himself on the receiving end of her venom, too, thanks to the very reasonable suggestion that none of this would’ve happened if it hadn’t been for Walt’s connection to Jesse. You can see in Walt’s eyes that he did indeed feel some guilt over the situation (though it’s likely less because of his former student and more for his own disgraceful actions a few episodes back), and the next thing you know, he’s turned into Super Family Man. You can see him actively struggling with his desire to be elsewhere and to just be doing something other than sitting around, but he’s trying his best to be there for a change…even at the expense of the deal he’s made with Gus.

Meanwhile, Jesse’s being about as loud, obnoxious, and useless as any human being can be. He’s really been all up and down the emotional spectrum over the course of this season, and I have to admit that it was good fun to see him acting so utterly irresponsible as he giddily explored the SuperLab to the strains of Prince Fatty’s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya,” but it struck me as being a little ridiculous. Yes, he’s been through a lot of the past few days, and he’s more earned himself the chance to blow off a little steam, but after he kicked so much ass as a meth maker on his own, it still rang untrue to me that he wouldn’t at least be trying to figure out the lab on his own. But it was a typical dumb-ass move for Jesse to call Walt at the hospital, and it was a cruel but character-appropriate closing comment that Jesse made: “Tell your douchebag brother-in-law to head to the light.” Nice. The guy’s a complete dumbass, but you can’t help but love him. Well, we can’t, anyway. Victor – Gus’s right-hand man – doesn’t appear to feel the same way…at all.

Gus got a lot of play this episode, starting with the phone call from Juan Bolsa, who wants to know the story on the Cousins and why they attacked Hank. Gus, of course, feigns ignorance on the matter, but we can see his nervousness at the idea of the surviving Cousin being quizzed in order to find out who gave the go-ahead. The Cousin in question, meanwhile, gave the episode its first full-fledged “oh, SHIT!” moment, as we watched as he saw “Heisenberg” standing at his door, then promptly leapt out of bed, ignoring the minor setback of having had his feet amputated, and dragged himself – sliding his bloody stumps behind him – toward the door in an attempt to extract his revenge.

There were some nice family moments at the hospital, including Walt trying to bond with his son, only to have him produce a copy of “Killing Pablo,” and Marie’s sudden germophobia in the hospital cafeteria, which resulted in Walt’s strange speech that ultimately came to a sweet conclusion. It all came tumbling down for Walt, though, when Gus called to check in on the status of the meth order, leaving Walt to scramble and make ridiculous assurances about how quickly he’d be able to get the requested product to completion. As such, it’s no wonder that Gus decided to turn up at the hospital in person, no doubt giving Hank a near heart attack in the process. I loved the short conversation between Walt and Gus in the lobby, with Gus shrugging and explaining that he, too, hides in plain sight, then assuaging Walt’s fears for his family by saying, “I’m told that the assassin who survived is gravely injured. It’s doubtful he will live.” And the next thing you know, the Cousin’s dead. It’s not even worth pretending that this might’ve been a coincidence, especially not after we saw Juan get taken down while in mid-call to Gus. Who would’ve imagined that Gus would prove to be an even bigger threat than the Cousins this season?

It all ends with the family huddled around Hank’s bedside. I’d tell you that I expect it won’t be too long before ol’ Hank is up and at ’em again…but, then, I expected the Cousins would wait awhile before trying to take down Hank, so it’s clear that my expectations aren’t worth Jack.

  

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