Hey, everybody, Gale’s okay! Gee, I guess Jesse’s bullet missed him after all, so…
Oh. Never mind. It’s a flashback. But, hey, at least now we know how the superlab first came into being. And we also know the sad irony that Gale is directly responsible for Gus bringing Walt into the business in the first place. So obsessive was he with his concern about the quality of the meth he was making – more concerned, even, than Gus himself – that he simply couldn’t comprehend that Gus wouldn’t want to work with someone like that, even risking the possibility of talking himself out of a job by saying of Walt, “If he’s not (a professional), I don’t know what that makes me.”
Well, as it turns out, Gale, what is makes you is dead. But, then, I think we all pretty much knew that when Season 3 faded to black. Some of us just didn’t want to admit it.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that, no matter what happens in the season finale, this week’s installment of “Breaking Bad” will still go down as the best episode of Season 3. With that said, we’ve got plenty to discuss, but let’s start things off with a song, shall we?
I don’t know about you, but, personally, I’m never going to be able to hear The Association’s “Windy” in the same way again. Here we go with another example of what I referenced last week, paying off longtime viewers by revisiting a long-dormant storyline. We haven’t seen Wendy since the early days of Season 2, but she’s back and, as we (and Jesse) can clearly see, business is still booming for this industrious young lady.
Despite Jesse’s assurances to Walt that Wendy had the necessary emotional stamina to help him with his plan, I knew she was acting way too hesitant about assisting him for things to go smoothly. Frankly, given the ominous green light in her room and the way she was gazing longingly at the blue meth, I figured we were looking at the very real possibility of an O.D. before her part in the proceedings ever came to pass. That’s not what happened, of course…but, then, given the way she shambled off after her dismissal, who knows what her eventual fate will be?
(Actually, it’s probably kinda like Lucy Lawless’s comment on “The Simpsons,” where, whenever you notice a continuity error on “Xena: Warrior Princess,” the explanation is that a wizard did it…except that anytime a character on “Breaking Bad” vanishes and is never seen again, you can presume that they either O.D.’ed on meth or were killed by a dealer. I mean, c’mon, if you do the stats, the law of averages speaks for itself on this matter.)
It was nice that Walt, Jr. got a chance behind the wheel, and it was even nicer that they kept it real and directly addressed how his medical condition would affect his driving. While Walt and son were bonding, however, Skyler was online, doing her research on money laundering so that she’d be properly prepared to pounce on Walt the second he arrived. That was a great scene, with the back-and-forth between them, each certain that the next words out of their mouths would give them the upper hand in the discussion, and even though Walt seemed to be bowing to her superior position, he ended triumphantly. (“…and THAT is how we’ll sell your little fiction!”)
There were a lot of intense discussions this week, with the one between Walt and Skyler quickly followed by one between Walt and Jesse. This one, however, took place over the course of a couple of cold ones. (“No, seriously, get a beer with me.”) Looks like my concerns were correct: the dealers were some of Gus’s boys. Not that Jesse gives a rat’s ass about the possible end result of taking them out, since he’s angry about the situation on at least two levels, but Walt tries to talk some sense into him, anyway. (“Murder is not part of your 12-step program!”) Walt was making some pretty harsh statements, most notably underlining the fact that if Jesse had really been interested in revenge, he would’ve done something about the dealers weeks ago instead of just getting doped up, but surely he knew that his arguments were falling on deaf ears.
Jesse’s record for making rational decisions isn’t exactly unblemished, however, so not only was there never any way he was going to change his mind, but, frankly, I can’t believe Walt ever really expected Jesse to show up for the meeting at Saul’s office, either. Not that I’m really complaining: any scene with Saul is a good scene, and this one was no exception, thanks to his clarification to Walt about wearing orange jumpsuits and picking up trash along the highway (“That’s jail”) and his musing on the chancy bathrooms at Springer. What I found most enjoyable about the scene, though, was the way Bryan Cranston so effectively captured the feeling that Walt was just kinda spitballing ideas, with no real idea what to do about the situation.
I said this on Facebook this morning after watching my screener of this week’s episode, and I’m saying it again now for all of the readers of this blog: not only is “Breaking Bad” the best show on AMC (which is a hell of an accomplishment, given how much I enjoy “Mad Men”), but it is now officially my favorite show on television, period. Not even having to blog it every week can kill my love for it…and that’s saying something. Watching this week’s episode, though, really served as a turning point for me. I’m someone who, when faced with a plot development which involves a ridiculous amount of coincidence, often finds himself whispering under his breath, “Oh, give me a break…” Tonight’s episode effectively tied new characters from this season into events from last season in a way that, on another show, might have left me feeling the same way. Instead, I was left in awe.
Let us begin, however, at the beginning, with a flashback that allowed Krysten Ritter to return from the dead and play Jane once again. That Jesse was left less than impressed by a trip to an art gallery is hardly surprising, but being reintroduced to Jane after so long served to remind me of a question that occurred to me a few times last season: why is a girl as deep as this involved with a tool like Jesse? Her rap about how “sometimes you get fixated on something and you might not even get why” struck me as a suspiciously on-the-nose callback to Walt’s obsession with the fly, but I could watch Ritter recite from the phone book, so I have no real complaints about that. Besides, if nothing else, the scene provided us with the origin of the lipstick-encrusted cigarette in the car’s ashtray.
Hank didn’t have a huge amount of screen time this week, but his brief appearances in the episode nonetheless served to underline how much he’s struggling with his recovery…and by “struggling,” I mean that he’s kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place: he refuses to leave the hospital until he can do so on his own two feet, but he’s barely willing to participate in the physical therapy that’s being provided. I loved his back and forth with Marie on the matter of pain (“Pain is weakness leaving your body.” “Pain is my foot in your ass, Marie!”), but it shows the depths of his anger about his situation that he should be giving shit to Walt, Jr., a kid who has to use his own crutches to walk out of the room. Gee, you don’t suppose his nephew’s condition serves as a constant reminder about his own physical limitations, do you? Nahhhhhhh…
There is a theorem within the entertainment industry which states that there is no television series or motion picture, no matter how good it may be, which cannot be made at least a little bit better by the additional presence of Danny Trejo, and the accuracy of this theory was once again proven with tonight’s episode of “Breaking Bad.” You may recall Mr. Trejo rearing his head…pun totally intended…during Season 2, but tonight we got a bit more insight into his character…including, most importantly, why he’s called Tortuga. Never has someone who works in the criminal underworld ever suggested that you “come around back” and seen it result in something good happening, and, unsurprisingly, this was no exception to that rule, particularly since it was a flashback, but now we know how far back the Cousins have been involved in Walt’s affairs.
But let’s be honest: although they may have played a key part, tonight’s episode wasn’t really about the Cousins. It was about the power struggle within the White house. We’d seen this coming, with Skyler demanding that Walt stay not only out of the house but, indeed, out of her life altogether, while Walt was refusing to accept this position and offering dipping sticks as a peace offering. It wasn’t until good ol’ Saul Goodman’s pep talk last week, though, that the little light bulb above Walt’s head suddenly went off, leading him to decide that she was bluffing in her claims that she’d call the police on him. So what does he do? Well, first, he gets the pizza off the roof, then he ensconces himself inside and declares that he’s not leaving. It’s an intense war of wills between the two of them, and it’s rough going for us viewers, too, because, hell, who knows where the hell this is going? They’ll do any damned thing on this show!
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.