We begin our journey this week in a seedy motel room, complete with fingerprints all over the mirror because Breaking Bad is just that detail-oriented. Walter is test-driving a bevy of illegal weapons supplied by an associate of Saul’s. He’s the Walt Witman of gun runners, waxing poetic over .38 Specials “if stealth is what yore aspiring to” and hollow point bullets.
He sees in an instant that Walt couldn’t be farther removed from his regular clientele. He helpfully gives Walt the most basic advice on how to conceal a weapon and when to cross-draw (why yes, I did learn everything I know about guns from American television, thank you for asking). He’s clearly mystified as to why a man who doesn’t even know how to wear a holster would want an illegal weapon when he could just as easily, and more safely and cheaply, buy a licensed weapon. He wonders aloud if Walt is indeed buying it for defense as Walt claims. Walt looks at himself in the mirror and repeats, nay, insists, that it’s only for defense. Defense, dammit! Because he’s still on the side of righteousness and good, and every bad thing he’s done has merely been in reaction to events playing out against him. It’s all been self-defense, even. SIGH. Oh, Walt. Do even you believe that? Take a look at yourself and make that change.
We move on to Mike my TV boyfriend, who is at his favourite drinking hole. Mike is clearly a man with a lot on his mind, but even still, he’s sticking to coffee because that’s the kind of professional he is. He reaches for his mug when he notices a dried drop of blood on the sleeve of his jacket. Shaving accident? Nose bleed? Close – his boss slit the throat of Mike’s coworker without warning and held him there until he died as the blood geysered out of his neck. Mike licks a napkin and wipes the blood spot away. The sight of red set against the white napkin only deepens his uneasiness. Mike is definitely second-guessing everything he thought to be true just a few short hours ago. As with everyone on this show, actor Jonathan Banks is able to say so much without saying anything at all.
Mike isn’t the only one with a world of trouble on his mind. We find Jesse staring into the abyss his new and most excellent stereo system. It’s got flashing lights and an overabundance of woofers and tweeters. Also parametric equalization, and who doesn’t want that in their speakers, am I right? Other than that, his place (his childhood home, you may recall) has nothing in it but a scant few pieces of furniture. You might even say it’s more like a prison than a home, one he can’t escape from even though there aren’t any bars on the door. But you don’t have to say it, because that’s what I’m here for, to point out the all the imagery and symbolism and shit for you. You’re welcome. He also has a Roomba scooting around, of course, because he’s Jesse freaking Pinkman.
I have to interrupt myself for a moment to ask, when the heck did Tom Felton of Draco Malfoy fame start to look so much like Aaron Paul? I submit for your consideration:
Skinny and Badger come a-callin’, and love the new stereo more than anyone but my neighbours could. Let me say right now that the three boys rocking out in front of the speakers is probably the most adorable thing you’ll ever witness short of them turning into Breaking Bad chibis. Jesse gladly shows off his sound system, and it’s no coincidence that the song he’s playing is Money Money Money by Lil Wayne. Jesse is paid extremely well to cook meth, and the last thing he wants to dwell on is the price that he’s paid in return. Speaking of meth, what goes better with a thumping beat than a snort or two? Jesse can afford all they might ever want, and even though Skinny declines at first, citing the 12 step program, it’s not long before he decides to bump it up after all, yo. Skinny and Badger proceed to have a highly heated debate on the respective superiority of Left for Dead zombies vs Resident Evil 4 zombies but, no, wait! What about the Call of Duty Nazi zombies?! This continues until Badger snorts one line too many, collapses, and can only say, “Did that just happen?” when the Roomba zips by his head. I LOL’d. Jesse isn’t having quite as good a time as his bros, and is possibly even starting to freak the hell out. What else is there to do but invite a whole slew of folks over and have the house party to end all house parties. It’s much easier to silence the voices in your head when you’re surrounded by a cacophony of chaos. That’s what I find, anyway.
Cue Walt’s condo, which is compulsively clean and quiet – and no more a home than Jesse’s place is. Walt’s obviously been practicing his quick draw, and it shows. He can now yank out his .38 snub nose and shoot into the empty chair facing him in one fluid movement. For defensive purposes only, mind you. In case anyone attacks him unexpectedly while sitting across from him. Like Han Solo, perhaps.
And what are Hank and Marie doing this night? Hank is studying his latest mineral (not a rock!), and Marie is trying to sleep. Even though they have one of those cool Craftmatic dual adjustable beds, she wakes up. This is likely not the first time he’s suffered from insomnia, and she’s obviously worried he’s in a downward spiral. He can barely look at her, and definitely can’t speak civilly to her, and it only takes a few scathing words of contempt before she pulls her sleep mask back on and retreats for her life.
The next morning, Walt is busy packing his bag lunch to take to the meth lab – who else but he? – and putting the the hollow point bullets in his shiny new gun. Skyler phones him but he screens the call, at least until she mentions the car wash that they’re planning to buy to launder the drug money. That makes him pick up PDQ. Someone should tell her that prudence is a virtue. The woman simply cannot shut her yapper. She brushes off his concerns of felony convictions and threatens to go to Saul herself if Walt can’t “pull the trigger on this”. Get it? Can he pull the trigger? Can he?? Their son Walt Jr. makes the briefest of appearances, just as he did last episode. He’s practically JD Salinger this season, maybe because he now looks old enough to be a Glee cast member. Yes, that old. Walt assures Skyler that it’s all under control, hangs up, and tucks his little wee gun holster into his pants. Honestly, I was half expecting him to shoot a ball off, but he manages to depart in one piece.
Back at Jesse’s, the Roomba Cam is showing us the ugly next morning of the best house party evah. Passed out partiers litter the floor, except for Jesse, who has to go to work or get stabbed in the neck. He wakes up Badger who wakes up Skinny (“Ow! Damn, you’re way too sensitive about your zone, bro”), but instead of making them clean up, he tosses them a wad of cash and orders them to keep the party going as he turns on the damnable stereo again. Anything to keep the shrieking voices in his head at bay, is what I’m thinking.
After a long day of cooking meth in the lab, Walter comes this close to pulling out his gun when he thinks Gus is coming down the stairs, but it’s only Victor’s replacement. As an aside, who would take that job after what happened to the last guy? It’s like working for Darth Vader…why?? Anyway, Walt is the world’s worst assassin, clumsily hiding the gun with his hands at the last second like he has to go pee. They’re weighing the day’s product when Mike comes in. Walt asks if can speak to Gus to clear the air after their unfortunate last meeting, but Mike can only smile. “Walter, you’re never going to see him again.” And he slams the door both literally and figuratively behind him as he goes.
Skyler and the sweetest pink-hatted baby in the world are spending their day in front of the car wash she wants to buy, making notes on how much business it’s doing. She’s not always smart…but sometimes she really is.
Hank, meanwhile, is whiling away the afternoon dragging his useless legs across the floor, making them work by sheer force of will. He and his PT celebrate the milestone of his making it from the kitchen to the bedroom, but his high-five to a jubilant Marie is decidedly reluctant. Marie walks the PT to the door, praising the great job he’s doing with Hank, who is actually nice to him. She jokingly asks him if he want to go full time and live with them, ha ha ha! I’m sure for a moment she dreamt of what it would be like to not have the burden of Hank’s care on her shoulders, but it’s only for a moment, and as another door slams in the BBverse, she trudges back to her fate. She manages only a few desperately cheerful chirps before Hank says without looking at her, “Marie…get out.” Trying not to bawl, she does. Hank can’t stand how much he needs her, and so he drives her away. Hank sure needs something to pull him out of this funk, but what? Maybe, I don’t know, a drug case he could work on *cough*Heisenberg*cough*? Heh, I’m making that up, but if I’m right you owe me five bucks. Yes, all of you.
Back at the Pinkman residence, the pizza has arrived. They’re about to cut it up with scissors – and god knows where those scissors have been – when the doorbell rings. It’s Andrea, the girl Jesse dated, and whose brother’s murder started the whole chain reaction of mayhem that followed. She’s so out of place at the party it hurts; she’s obviously clean and sober. She and Jesse talk outside on the lawn. She found a stack of cash in her mailbox after her brother died and his killers were run down (by a Pontiac Aztek). She doesn’t even want to know what happened, she just wants to know if someone with a box cutter is going to come looking for it. He reassures her that’s not the case and she leaves with her little boy, who still loves Jesse. As they drive away Jesse waves goodbye to his lost chance at a normal life before he turns and goes back to the party.
Night falls, and Walter finds himself parked outside Gus’s house (in his Pontiac Aztek). He steels himself and puts on his fedora much like Spiderman puts on his mask – to turn him into The Amazing Heisenberg. He gets out of the car and purposefully walks toward the house, .38 at the ready, all murky intentions of “defense” long, long gone. The music quickens, the tension rises, he’s almost there…and his cell phone rings. He answers it. It’s a recorded voice saying he’s paying too much in credit card fees. Ahem. I mean, it’s Gus, who tells him to go home. After failing to find anyone but himself in the quiet street, he does. I’m not sure about his defense, but Walt’s offense definitely needs some work.
Across town, Skyler is meeting with the car wash owner, Walt’s old boss from a lifetime ago. She tells him she wants to buy his business. He’s a condescending jerkwad, and when she asks him to name a price, he tells her ten million dollars. She counters with $879,000. He wonders from which part of her anatomy she’s pulled this number, but that’s only because he doesn’t know Skyler White, number crunching goddess. She has a duotang full of facts and figures detailing the fair market value of the car wash. She’s taken everything into account – except the fact that the owner knows who she was married to. That would be the ex-employee who quit without notice and broke his air fresheners (the gall!) and grabbed himself, Mr. Walter White. Oops. He raises his asking price to twenty million dollars, and asks her to leave. She kills him with her death ray eyes zips her satchel and stalks out. I have a feeling this battle isn’t over.
Mike is back at his favourite bar, but this time he’s switched to the hard stuff, and by the looks of it, it’s not his first drink of the day. Walter comes in and sits down on the stool beside him. At first it seems like Walt is trying to apologize and also forgive. (Mike: “There’s a load off my mind.”) But after getting that out of the way, Walt gets down to what he really has to say, that Gus is a loose cannon and maybe they should work together to do something about it; I pause to squee! But Mike is grimly unconvinced. “You won, Walter. You got the job. Do yourself a favor and take yes for an answer.” But Walt doesn’t hear the rattlesnake’s tail. He wants Mike to set up a meeting between Walt and Gus so he can kill Gus. I mean, does Walt even hear himself talk? Does he really think he’s Gus’s peer, a worthy adversary who just needs his one good day? OMG, Walter, you’re Greedo! You did not shoot first, ya feel me? No, really, you didn’t shoot first. Give it up. Mike is thinking the same thing (maybe not exactly the same thing) and nobody but Walter is surprised when Mike replies with a punch to Walt’s head, followed by a couple of well-placed kicks to the ribs. Mike is many things, but disloyal is not one of them. At least, not yet. We’ll see as the story unfolds.
The next morning, a delivery guy brings a new batch of not!rocks to the house, interrupting Marie’s chore of cleaning Hank’s bedpan. Marie’s lugging the shipment in when Hank bellows from the bedroom, ordering her to check for damage to any of the boxes. Hank has well and truly turned into a petulant, selfish child. The only problem is that children grow up, but Hank might be this way forever. Just how far can Marie be pushed before she pushes back? We don’t know yet, but I have a feeling she’s teetering on the edge.
Lastly we’re back at Jesse’s, where it’s been proven beyond a doubt that there indeed such a thing as too much of a good thing. The exhausted partiers are deserting the USS Hedonistic in droves, and even Badger and Skinny have had enough. Badger thinks he has, like, a cat, and he thinks he’s supposed to, like, feed it? It’s time to go home. Jesse has no choice but to accept this, and one last door is shut in this episode. Too bad the things Jesse wants to hide from are already in there with him. He turns up the music to 11, slumps in front of his speaker, and fights to keep the demons from ripping him apart from the inside out.
PS For those who are keeping track, in this episode we learned about unregistered weapons, high-end stereos, blue corundum, and negotiating the sale of a business. Who says TV isn’t educational?