Say what you will about the band America, but hearing the strains of their song “A Horse With No Name” kick off this week’s episode of “Breaking Bad” was a perfect way to remind us that, although Walter White may have begun his transition from Mr. Chips to Scarface, when it comes to his taste in music, he’s still got a looooooong way to go. Given everything he’s done since the beginning of this series, it’s no wonder that he’s looking more than a little twitchy when the cop pulls him over, but how typically Walt to try and use the plane crash as an excuse to get out of a ticket, then getting huffy when the cop doesn’t accept it as valid. I’m sure I wasn’t the only person who groaned audibly when he got out of the car to approach the officer. Seriously, who does that? Apparently, the man who’s expressing his First Amendment rights does that, which is why he quite deservedly got pepper-sprayed for his belligerence.
Once Walt found himself being thrown into the back of the squad car, it was only inevitable that Hank would find his way into the proceedings, and so he did, though his first appearance finds him in mid-discussion about the investigation of Olive Oil and his brethren, who went up in smoke at the end of last week’s episodes. Gomez’s less-than-casual comment about Hank’s “famous blue meth” having not been seen in 29 days leads me to suspect that we won’t go much beyond 30 before there’s a change on that front. After Walt rescues Hank from his clink (kids, remember: no matter how legitimate it may sound when you’re delivering it, nothing makes an apology seem less sincere than staring at your feet the entire time you’re delivering it), the two have some approximation of a heart-to-heart talk, and I feel certain that Hank’s uncertainty about Skyler’s refusal to let Walt see the kids is going to resurface again, especially since she shut Hank down the moment he tried to bring it up at dinner.
By the way, having Hank once again underline his belief that Walt is a textbook underachiever only serves to make me anxious…and not necessarily in a good way…about how he’ll react when he inevitably finds out that his brother-in-law is Heisenberg. I’m reminded of how one of Lex Luthor’s computers took all the facts available to it and deduced that Superman’s secret identity was Clark Kent, but Luthor declared it to be an impossibility because the computer didn’t know Superman the way he did, and he couldn’t accept that Superman would ever deign to take on such a lowly persona. Mark my words: Marie’s going to be in on it before Hank is.
It was an awesome week for Jesse, but it sure as hell didn’t start out that way, thanks to the incredibly awkward conversation that he had with his father. Here I am, in awe of how amazing it is to see him all cool, calm, and collected, and yet even though his father observes the difference in his son since the last time they met, Jesse’s suggestion of coming by for dinner gets a half-hearted (at best) response of, “Yeah, sometime.” That’s got to be depressing. Even if they’ve seen him at his worst (and there’s little question that they have), you’d think the fact that he’s been through rehab for real would count for something. You can’t blame Jesse for wanting to get some emotional revenge on them, so…
“You don’t write, you don’t call?”
Talk about the perfect opening line for an Irish lawyer who’s pretending to be Jewish. Of course, when we first see the return of the legendary Saul Goodman, it’s when he greets his ol’ pal Walt, who writes off the loss of Skyler and the kids as “a calamity” before shrugging and saying, “We live to fight another day,” then suggests that there are plenty of other fish in the sea…specifically, those from Thailand and the Czech Republic. Hilarious stuff.
Walt’s not laughing, though. “I can’t be the bad guy,” he says. (So who is, then?) Saul’s closing line was a classic – “Promise me you won’t hang yourself in the closet” – but you could tell from his sigh when he got into his car that he wasn’t happy with Walt’s change in mood. Well, if you can’t call Saul, then I guess you have no choice but to call Mike. Always good to see Jonathan Banks again…
But back to Jesse. He’s obviously not going to be of any help to Saul, either, but that doesn’t mean that Saul isn’t willing to take his money in connection with a different matter. The scene with Saul and Jesse’s parents was brilliant, with Saul giving them the legal smackdown and reminding us that, for as sleazy as he may be, there’s a reason he’s been able to practice law for as long as he has: he’s an evil genius who knows how to work in, around, and occasionally outside the system. It might’ve been a shady maneuver to bring up the meth lab, but it was a means to an end, and after the way Jesse’s dad treated him, he deserved to get schooled. The look on their faces when he walked into the house and shut the door was priceless.
We got a bit more Walt Jr. this week, getting further clarification of the level of his annoyance with his mother. He can’t be bothered to even turn off his music to feign paying attention to her, he throws a fit with his mother and accuses her of not wanting to call him Walt Jr. and threatening his father against picking him up from school. (I liked the unintentionally funny comment from Junior about how Walt’s eyes were red and looked like he’d been crying. Yep, pepper spray will do that to you…) The next thing you know, Junior’s sitting outside his dad’s new pad, but he’s left completely discombobulated when Walt takes him home. Similarly, Walt himself can’t wrap his head around Skyler refusing to accept his peace offering of pizza and, more importantly, dipping sticks. I’m wondering how long it’ll be before Walt finally breaks down and tells Junior what’s been going on…and, also, how long that pizza is going to stay on the roof.
The last few minutes of the episode were about as tension-racked as “Breaking Bad” gets, with the veering back and forth between Mike almost getting busted by Walt, Walt sneaking into the house, and the Cousins arriving with an axe to grind while Walt was trying to shower away some of his guilt. I’m sure no one really thought the episode was going to end with Walt taking an axe to the chest, but the whole sequence was still enough to get the blood pressure rising nonetheless. So the message said, “Pollos.” Chickens…? As in “fly the coop,” presumably, which they did just in time…for Walt.
A few random things I liked:
* Walt passing by the pool and taking the time to remove a floating band-aid.
* The Cousins using the Ouija Board to get information out of Tuco’s uncle. Like Ouija Boards weren’t creepy enough already…
* Looks like we’re in for more of a storyline at Skyler’s workplace again, possibly leading up to a “you’re no better than I am” speech from Walt if he finds out about all the book-cooking going on there.
* The return of the eyeball.
* And, of course, these nine magic words: “I’ve got your restraining order right here. RESTRAIN THIS!“