Breaking Bad 4.11- Crawl Space

“Hule, are you happy?”

“Reasonably.”

“What would make you unhappy?”

“This little mofo not doing what he’s told.”

Gus Fring didn’t last this long in the meth industry by being sloppy. That’s why we shouldn’t be surprised to learn that he meticulously organized an exit strategy no matter what happened at Don Eladio’s. As it turns out, he has a fully portable crack (no pun intended) medical team at his beck and call for just such life-threatening occasions. They’re fully stocked and ready to roll when they get the call that poisoned Gus, shot Mike, and freaked-out Jesse are about the arrive. Unfortunately, the doctors and nurses only care about  the man who signs their paycheques (or gives them wads of unmarked bills, whatever), so even when Jesse drags Mike in, bleeding everywhere, they’re not going to help Mike until Gus is back playing squash or whatever drug lords do for cardio workouts these days. Mike is, in a word, expendable. It’s a simple matter of economics – hey, just like the US healthcare system! Heh.

Walt, of course, has no idea what’s occurred in Mexico. He’s cooking all by himself, that is if you don’t count Tyrus, who presides over his every move with a narrow, disapproving gaze. Walt asks him if the others are back yet; Tyrus doesn’t even bother to answer. Walt wonders if Tyrus could ask someone up the chain of command if he can go with Hank to spy on the chicken house. Tyrus looks at him like he’s something Tyrus scraped off the bottom of his shoe. Walt has no friends left now that he’s driven Jesse into the arms of another father figure.

Except of course Hank, who totally wants Walt to be the Dr. Watson to his Sherlock Holmes. That’s why he drags him back to the chicken farm to do some more spying with him. Walt attempts to steer him away from this madness, but Hank’s having none of it. The only good to come of the whole mess is that Hank keeps him abreast of the massacre in Mexico, where a spectacular number of cartel members were killed and Walt realizes that Gus must now be the only game in town. Hank tries to talk to Walt about his still-battered face from when Jesse cut him down to size, but Walt refuses. As he says, “I don’t want to talk about it – to you or to anyone else. I’m done explaining myself.” Well, his walls were down for almost an entire minute when he tearfully and groggily confessed his stupidity to Walter Jr., but that minute is over. It’s back to the same old Walt now, and don’t think I said that like it’s a good thing.

Back in the Mexican MASH unit, Jesse is anxiously watching over Mike, who’s unconscious (but alive!). Mike’s bag o’ blood is almost drained, and when Jesse asks if there’s more, he finds out that not only do these fellows have a refrigerated store of blood for the three of them, they also have a medical history for them; the doctor knows more about Jesse’s health than Jesse does. Gus really did think of everything. Speaking of Gus, here he comes now, walking as gingerly as if he just ate a box of staples, but still way better than everyone else who took that poison. He tells Jesse it’s time to go home. Jesse’s first thought is of Mike, but the doctor says he has to stay put for the time being because of his gunshot wound. Mike had pulled off Don Eladio’s necklace pendant as he lay dead in his own pool, and now Gus takes it out of Mike’s jacket pocket and puts it in his own. It’s the cartel’s symbol: an evil eye under a skull. It’s supposed to protect the wearer, although it obviously didn’t work for Don Eladio. Gus and Jesse start the six mile walk to the border; as Gus says, “There are many good ways south, but unfortunately only one good way back.” Gus compliments Jesse’s performance on their Mexican Murder Adventure, going so far as to proclaim that Jesse is now ready to run the lab by himself. If Gus thought the bruises on Jesse’s face indicated that Jesse would be glad to get rid of Walt now, he’s sadly mistaken. Even after their terrible falling out, Jesse is still loyal to Walt, even if he maybe doesn’t deserve it. Jesse orders Gus to fire Walt all he wants, but if Gus kills Walt…then Gus has a problem. Poor Gus just can’t catch a break, can he? Just killed all his enemies and now the union’s threatening to strike.

Skyler gets a message from Ted the Village Idiot telling her that he’s real sorry about that, but he just can’t pay his taxes with that 600 large she gave him. She hustles her butt over to his house and gives him the old “Walt’s a gambling addict” story, and won’t he please help a girl out? He offers to give her the money back, because even if he pays off his taxes the rest of his financial picture is still in tatters anyway. Now, I can’t say for sure if I think Ted is trying to shake her down or is truly a desperate guy still trying to do the right thing, but Skyler definitely takes it the wrong way. Is he trying to blackmail her?! No, he swears. He’s just not gonna do what she wants. The angrier she gets, the more he digs in his heels. Also, he takes a moment to wonder why they broke up. LOL! I actually think a lot of Ted’s passive-aggressive stance is punishment for his unrequited love for Skyler. He seems like a man who’d be eager to be p-whipped. Skyler goes back to her car, shaking with anger. She didn’t get her way…but you know that’s not going to last. She puts in a call to Saul, which I’m sure will end well.

Gus pays one more visit to Tio Hector in the retirement home. As he pulls up a chair, you can hear the train whistle on the TV show Hector is “watching”; the train is coming, Hector, and there’s no possibility you can get out of the way in time. Gus gleefully shows him Don Eladio’s pendant. As it turns out, Gus wasn’t talking about Tio’s lingering death when he asked him, “Will it be today?” He was talking about the day he would wipe out Tio’s every friend and family member – and that day has come. Tio murdered Gus’s best friend, and Gus has paid him back one hundred fold. Cold justice, my friends. Ice cold.

Walt takes Hank on another stakeout, the better to keep him on the path to nowhere. Hank, however, has other plans – he wants to go take a look at an industrial laundry owned by the conglomerate that also owns Los Pollos Hermanos. That’s right, he’s talking about the meth lab laundry! Walt stammers out some lame reasons why they shouldn’t go there, but Hank wants to go and that’s that. Walt drives right past it in a sweaty panic, and Hank yells at him to turn around and go back. Walt has to do something! He has to stop Hank from finding out about the meth lab! He has to protect Hank from his own nosiness! So Walt does a U-turn right into the path of an oncoming car that crashes into them. Well…it works. And once again, Walt’s Pontiac Aztec takes the brunt of Walt’s bad decisions.

Luckily Walt hasn’t killed Hank his own damn self, he’s just given Hank a bit of whiplash that requires a neck brace (“It’s like one of those cones they put on dogs so they don’t lick their own balls.”) and himself a gash on his nose – I swear, Walt’s face is starting to look like his sins are starting to show on the outside. It was a painful plan but it paid off, as Marie orders them to lay off the stakeouts permanently. Walt doesn’t have to worry anymore yay! This excitement lasts almost five seconds before Hank announces he’s going to get a modified handicap car so he can drive himself to his own freaking stakeouts. Oh oh. While Walt cringes, Skyler gets a call from Saul, which she takes in Marie’s freakishly purple living room. He tells her their plan is a go, that he’s going to send his A-Team (not Mr. T) to handle the Ted problem. All she wants is to make sure nobody gets hurt. She isn’t Tony Soprano, after all. Saul assures her this will go off without a hitch. Riiight.

Next thing you know, Ted is opening his door to the guy who scammed the old car wash owner and Saul’s huge bodyguard, Hule. They’re so funny they need their own spinoff TV show. When Ted realizes they want a cheque to the IRS, he can’t believe that Skyler would do this to him. Has he ever met Skyler? She would, she could, and she did. They tell him they’re going to have a sleepover at his place until the cheque clears, to which Ted reacts by leaping off his sofa and running for it. He almost makes it to the front door (Hule looking on with bemusement, not even trying to chase him) before he trips on his own rug and falls head-first into a solid wood table, accidentally killing himself. I’m sorry, but bwahahaha! Oh, Ted. Well, at least now all of Skyler’s problems have come to an end, right? <– FORESHADOWING

If Walt wasn’t humiliated enough at work, now he has to sneak into the laundry building hiding in a bin of dirty sheets just in case Hank is lurking around the parking lot. He goes to start his cook, and immediately realizes that someone else made a batch of meth while he was out of commission due to the car accident. Of course they did, Tyrus says. They weren’t going to shut things down just for Walt. Walt demands to know who the cook was. When Tyrus just grins triumphantly, Walt knows exactly who it was.

Walt shows up at Jesse’s house, where Jesse is finally living the life he wanted all along, spending time with Andrea and her son Brock. The first person shooter game (which admittedly served him well when he had to shoot Tio’s grandson to death at Don Eladio’s) is gone, replaced by Sonic the Hedgehog. Jesse is so not happy to see Walt, although Walt is obviously thrilled and relieved to see Jesse alive after the Mexico debacle. Regardless, Jesse shoves him right off his property, right to the sidewalk. Walt reminds him that if Jesse replaces him as Gus’s meth cook, Gus will surely kill him. He begs for Jesse to help him. That’s when Jesse reminds him that the last time Jesse asked for Walt’s help, Walt told him he hoped he’d end up buried in a barrel in the Mexican desert. Well, when you say it that way. Jesse stomps back into the house, leaving Walt alone with his regrets…and with Tyrus and a friend, who are now standing behind Walt. Tyrus tasers Walt twice without a word, and all of Walt’s fears are realized in 50,000 volts.

They take him to the middle of nowhere in the desert, bound and hooded, and there he waits until Gus comes and yanks the hood off him. Gus tells him he’s fired (no shit!) and he better stay away from the lab and Jesse or else. Walt, however, has had time to think while his muscle spasms slowly subsided. Or else what, Walt demands to know. He points out that if Gus could kill him he already would have, and that means Jesse has forbidden it. On cue, a cloud casts a shadow over them — very cool indeed. Gus says confidently that Jesse’s reluctance is a temporary situation. Gus tells Walt that he’s going to take care of Hank since Walt obviously can’t, and if Walt interferes with that, Gus will kill Walt’s family, right down to his new baby girl. Any facade of humanity Gus once had has fallen away now that he’s back on top. They leave Walt there, weak and terrified, letting him think about the bed he’s made.

Back at Saul’s office, his A-Team is trying to explain how they killed Ted without even touching him. Saul’s about to call Skyler and break the bad news to her when Walt bursts in. Saul thinks he’s there about Ted, but no, it’s much worse than that. Walt is pretty much hysterical. He tells Saul that he wants to use the guy Saul knows that can make people disappear. “Saul, Gus is going to murder my whole family.” Saul gives him the business card of a vacuum salesman and instructs Walt to phone and ask for a new dust filter for a Hoover Max Extract Model 60 Pressure Pro, which is so sublimely ridiculous there’s nothing to add to it. Saul tells Walt that because he’s such a high risk client it’s going to cost at least half a million dollars, cash up front and paid in full. Walt assures him he has it. Which…um. Saul tells him he has one hour to gather his family and get out of Dodge. Walt has one more favour to ask: could Saul call the DEA and tell them that Hank is about to be assassinated? After much begging and gnashing of teeth, Saul agrees to anonymously call and say the Mexican cartel is coming to finish the job they started when they shot Hank the first time. Walt tells him to give him an hour to go get his wife and kids, then make the call.

Walt’s life is officially coming to an end one way or another. He bursts through the door of Skyler’s house and heads straight for the crawl space where he has almost a million dollars waiting to save him. Or, at least he thinks he has it, which is not the same thing at all. He jumps into the crawl space and races to find the money, pawing through the remaining vacuum sealed bags more and more frantically as he realizes almost all the money is gone. Skyler looks down into the crawl space and asks him in a small voice what his phone call meant. He shouts at her to tell him where the money is, and she starts to cry, trying to think of a good way to frame the fact that she secretly gave $620,000 to her ex-lover whom she slept with to get back at Walt. In her defense, she thought Walt was going to make that and more every month. Who could have predicted Walt would get fired, even in this economy? Walt screams and curls up in a ball, holding his head in his hands. And then he, well, then he laughs and laughs and laughs. Because what else can he do? What a perfect ending to Walt’s deluded plan to be in complete control of everything right until the day he dies.

Skyler steps back from the crawl space, more frightened by his cackles than his shouts. The phone rings, and she knows it’s not going to be telemarketing. The answering machine picks up and it’s Marie, sobbing that Hank is going to be killed by the cartel and the DEA is sending agents over to guard them. Now that Saul made the call, Gus will know Walt tipped off the DEA and will come after Walt’s family as promised. The wheels have been set in motion and there’s no going back. Skyler snatches up the phone and orders Marie to tell her exactly what happened, Walt’s manic laughter rising behind her. The camera shoots from above the crawl space, pulling back as Walter’s laughter finally dies off and there he is, already lying six feet under the earth, trapped, with nowhere to go as his fate rushes down to meet him.

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