Remember how I opened last week’s blog by saying, “This, my friends, was one hell of an episode, offering up multiple moments which will almost certainly inspire me to say the same of future episodes”? I couldn’t have been more right: not only was this the best episode of Season 3, but it was one of the best installments of “Breaking Bad” to date, serving up moments that were nailbiting to the Nth degree and an ending which left me screaming at the TV, demanding that next week’s episode start right now, dammit!

Well, it’s about time the Cousins got legitimately threatening again. They’ve just kind of been hovering in the background lately, glowering but not really doing anything specific to match their completely bad-ass look. Now, to be fair, it’s not like they haven’t wanted to seriously fuck some people’s shit up…specifically, Walt’s shit…but they’ve been held at bay by their attempts to maintain some semblance of civility within the organization. That whole pre-credits sequence was nice and nerve-jangling, but its conclusion, with the seamless sonic blending of one cousin biting into a piece of fruit and the other dropping his axe into the officer’s skull, was just another example of the show’s ability to get a laugh out of some seriously dark shit. The next time we saw them, they were sitting in Gus’s fine, upstanding establishment, back to their usual all-you-have-to-do-is-look-at-us-to-know-that-you-shouldn’t-fuck-with-us schtick, but, hey, if it works, why change it? It was instantly obvious that they had no intention of going anywhere until Gus gave them what they wanted…which, of course, is why he eventually did just that.

Sort of.

After several weeks with lots of Skyler-related drama, it was nice to have an episode which barely featured her, if only for the change of pace. I love the small touches that this show offers with Walt’s character, like the moment where he pulled the phone away from his ear while Skyler was sarcastically snapping at him about her “completely out of the clear blue sky unhappiness” that has led them down the path to divorce. It’s just another bit of proof – as if we needed any more – that he immediately tunes out when anyone dares to suggest that he might be at fault for…well, anything, really. I also liked the way that Skyler tried to take the moral high ground on the money issue, only to plummet back down to reality with Walt’s reminded that meth money had already been paying their bills for the last six months. Between that discussion and his comment to the realtor (“Name one thing in this world that is not negotiable”), Walt’s lucky that he can even get his head through the door of his new place.

Jesse, meanwhile, has an ego of similar size. He’s looking more and more confident with each episode as a result of the confidence he’s receiving from the meth he’s making, and it’s that confidence that’s keeping him from indulging in the product even when Badger’s taking a hit right in front of him. I’ve said elsewhere that, as much as I love Badger, a little of the guy goes a long way, and once again they used him just enough to get laughs (“Bow before me! I am Lord of the Dance!”) but not so much that you got tired of his dumbassery. It was amazing to see Jesse serving out a business plan and watching Badger and Skinny fall into line. Not that they’re so tough to sway, but, still, you’ve got to admire the fact that Jesse’s trying and seemingly succeeding with his plans for a new business endeavor. Too bad he doesn’t realize that he’s being watched…

That’s right: Hank’s scoping out the joint…and using more restraint than I expected, frankly. Given how he was acting last episode, I thought sure he’d rush in without any forethought, but even at his most anxious, he’s still a cop, and he knows what’s got to be done to get a conviction. So he sits and waits…and waits and waits and waits, leaving a compost heap’s worth of fast food wrappers sitting in the passenger seat of his vehicle and a wife at home getting progressively pissier. But it was when Marie checked in, however, that things started to get reeeeeeeally good…and by that, I mean that we were fully off the established Awesome-Meter several times during the course of the episode. It was an edge-of-your-seat ride from the moment she hesitantly suggested to Hank that he might do well to check in with Walt and see if he had any recollection about whether his former student was in possession of an RV.

And to think I’d thought near the halfway point of the episode that the introduction of Walt’s new assistant Gale, played by “Damages” alumnus David Costabile, was going to be the most intriguing thing we’d see this week. Not that it wasn’t a highlight – I really loved the quiet intellectual and philosophical discussion between Walt and Gale, nicely punctuated by the Walt Whitman recitation – but it couldn’t hold a candle to what followed.

It was staggering to watch the chain of events unfold tonight. First, you had Hank calling Walt, resulting in a priceless expression of pure horror as he realized the implications of Hank’s call, followed by Walt’s head almost exploding as he tried to figure out if it was really worth it to try and tell Jesse what was going on or if he should should bypass him altogether. The subsequent call to Saul resulted in possibly my favorite exchange of the night:

Walt: Where do I go to make an RV disappear? I’m not David Copperfield
Saul: Who do I look like, the RV disposal people? Did you not plan for this contingency?
Walt: No!
Saul: Well, next time, plan for it, would ya? The starship Enterprise had a self-destruct button. I’m just saying.

Then Walt roaring up, scaring the shit out of Badger and his boy, resulting in Badger calling Jesse, sending him into a full-fledged shit fit and causing him to roar off to confront Walt…with Hank in hot pursuit. I liked the oddly sentimental moment of Walt reminiscing inside the RV, but all that went out the window when Jesse burst in. I’m not going to lie to you: my heart was beating pretty darned hard for the next several minutes. With this show, you never know what’s going to happen, and I honestly had no idea what to expect as an outcome. The real star of this scene was Larry Hankin, who played the junkyard manager. He’s a character actor who’s been around for years (he’s even an Oscar nominee for a short film he did back in 1980), but I generally think of his most high-profile role as being Mr. Heckles, the eccentric guy who lived in the building with Monica, Rachel, Joey, and Chandler during the first season of “Friends.” Anyway, his brilliant legal maneuvering came out of left field for me, ’cause I had no idea how the hell Walt and Jesse were going to get out of their situation. (“This is my own private domicile and I will not be harassed…bitch!” Awesome.) When it became evident that Hank wouldn’t be going anywhere until the warrant showed up, I was trying to work out how they might possibly escape, and I considered the roof, since I didn’t think Hank could see it from where he was parked, but I couldn’t believe the solution Walt came up with. Talk about a new low. I mean, you know it’s bad when even Saul looks like he’s going to be sick.

And how about that conclusion, with Gus throwing Hank to the wolves…? And by “wolves,” of course, I mean the Cousins. “May his death satisfy you,” Gus said. Somehow, I have this suspicion that it’s the Cousins who might end up being the ones on the receiving end of the Grim Reaper. Hank is pissed, and heaven help anyone who gets in his way…