Breaking Bad 4.03 – Open House

Yeah, I mean Walt told me that you took a run at this Bogdan character and he wrestled you into submission with his eyebrows.”

You think your job as an under-appreciated Old Navy retail monkey is bad? Boo hoo, at least you don’t have to work in the place where your boss killed your co-worker before your eyes and wished it was you. And next time it will be you. No wonder Walt looks frazzled when he unlocks the door to the lab first thing in the morning. He pours himself a coffee, taking a moment to admire the workmanship of the elaborate coffee maker. He even smiles a little wee bit, until he remembers that, oh yeah, he helped murder the guy who made the coffee maker, another dead co-worker. If I were Walt I’d be starting my days with Ativan washed down with vodka, but maybe that’s just me.

He’s wearing a purple shirt that matches perfectly with the black eye that he got from yet another co-worker who kicked the ever living crap out of him. Seriously, Valium washed down with scotch. Walt is about to start up the machines when he hears a noise. What is it? Only a security system that Gus had installed so someone can keep an eye on Walt and Jesse every single moment they’re there. Walt is outraged, and it doesn’t take him long to figure out there’s nowhere the camera can’t follow him, and even worse, it tracks him. It’s like Eagle Eye without all the running and jumping. Walt can only give the camera the finger because he’s impotent to do anything else about it – although I’m sure the flipped bird was emotionally devastating to whoever was working the camera.

As the opening credits roll, I can’t help but wonder if the production team worries about one day hiring an actor whose name doesn’t show up anywhere on the periodic table. On the other hand, they’d probably explode if they ever got to use Uuq (Ununquadium), maybe if one of the guest stars was Inuit. It could happen!

Anyway, we find Skyler ringing and ringing Walt’s doorbell, refusing to leave – anyone with a crazy ex will, I’m sure, cringe with empathy. She phones his cell phone, which of course rings inside the condo. Oh, snap. He finally opens the door and peeks one eye out. Ah, that’s the problem: he doesn’t want Skyler to see the black eye Mike gave him. And with good reason; the second she gets a look at the eye, she barges in and freaks out. “Are you in danger?” she asks fearfully. To which I can only reply, “Well DUH.” Really, writers? Skyler never reads in the news about Mexican drug trade mass graves and beheadings? She never even watched GoodFellas the seven thousand times it’s been on TV? Yes, Skyler, cooking meth is dangerous. As difficult as she finds that to believe, it’s even harder for her to swallow that Walt got beat up in a bar fight. Hee. That’s right, he confesses, he got hit by a co-worker…once…and Walt didn’t retaliate because he’s a much older man. Snort! To give her the benefit of the doubt, in her view Walt is still the disappointing milquetoast high school teacher she married. She has no idea of the seismic shift that’s occurred in his morality. She makes him promise that if things do get dangerous, he’ll either get out or get help. Little does she know that Walt is more endangered than the Arakan Forest Turtle. Walt promises from the bottom of his festering heart – then quickly changes the subject to the car wash.

Marie is spending her afternoon looking at open houses. Nothing wrong with that…except she’s not Marie anymore. As she tells the realtor, she’s Tori Kostner, single mom who plans to home-school her little boy Eli, and would use the guest house for making pottery. Wait, what? Unable to cope with her real life, it’s only too easy for Marie to slip into a fantasy world where there’s no such thing as bedpans and incision drainage and, most especially, there’s no Hank.

Speaking of Hank and fantasies, when Marie gets home Hank is watching a little girl-on-girl action which, because this is AMC and not HBO, everyone is clothed and drinking wine. You can bet Tony Soprano never had to watch pornless porn. Hank has to scramble for his reacher to get the remote off the floor, but turns it off in plenty of time to avoid Marie’s disappointment or anger or whatever he guesses her reaction might be. As far as Hank’s concerned, she’s home from a trip to the store, where she bought him Fritos instead of Cheetos, and a fantasy football magazine that he hates. She, conveniently, says she’ll go get him his damn Cheetos, and is able to escape again almost immediately from that ungrateful albatross she calls a husband.

Walt and Jesse are clocking out at the lab for the day, and Walter’s still galled that the camera gets to see his tighty-whities as he changes into his street clothes. Jesse is philosophical about the the whole thing, and by “philosophical” I mean “utterly wasted”. He twitchily asks Walt if he wants to go ride some go-karts after work. Walt, understandably, looks at Jesse like he’s suggesting camel rides. As Walt realizes just how out of it Jesse is, Walt asks how he is and if there’s anything he’d like to talk about. Yes, well, Jesse would probably be a lot better if he wasn’t the one to shoot hapless Gale in the head, but that’s neither here nor there. He may be stoned, but he’s not stupid. He asks Walt how his eye is, and if there’s anything he wants to talk about. Point taken. There is no talking of feelings, regrets and/or what their tenuous future holds. There is only go-karts and car washes. Jesse does take the time to assure Walter that after a while, a person gets used to getting the shit kicked out of him. Which is the saddest thing I’ve ever heard him say. ::reaches through the TV and hugs him::

So Walt goes to his meeting with Skyler and Saul to discuss strategies for acquiring the car wash. Saul tries to steer them toward a nail salon instead – with a lifetime supply of french manicures and enzyme peels (“go ahead and pinch yourself”). But Skyler won’t be swayed. She wants the car wash, and that is that. Saul pats her on the head and suggests she leaves the thinking to the professionals – just as we see his bodyguard lurching past the window like he’s Snorlax on his way to a Biggest Loser weigh-in. He has to use the bathroom – he didn’t go before because he didn’t have to go then. Back to the car wash, all Skyler has to do is tell Walt how Bogdan belittled him to get him on board with wanting this car wash and no other. Skyler definitely wants to give Bogdan an attitude adjustment. But if she doesn’t want him roughed up, or even threated with a tax audit or immigration looky-loo – then what does she want to do? The silence is deafening…which lets us hear the bodyguard flush the toilet in the other room.

Now that Marie is out and about again, she goes straight to another open house. This time she has a lovely conversation with the realtor about her husband the astronaut retiring from NASA, and how they make a little extra money with her job as a hand model. Ha! The realtor can tell she’s an odd duck, but the point is hammered home when she finds a spoon (New Mexico’s, perhaps?) missing from the owner’s collection. Curse you, NASA wife!

Next we meet up with Jesse at the go-kart track, screaming literally and figuratively around the track, stoned and all tragic like. And as anyone who has ever gone go-karting will tell you, if you want noise to drown out your inner voices – those damn mufflerless go-karts will get the job done. Jesse eventually goes home, where the party has warped into a tweaked version of Dante’s Inferno, complete with the lowest of humanity copulating on the floor, beating each other, freaking out, and dancing; in other words, like they’re in a Guillermo del Toro movie. At last, Jesse’s external life is just as anguished and obscene as his internal life. Mission accomplished.

Marie is back in another open house, where she’s Mimi this time, the European illustrator’s wife. Marie is an accomplished liar, but not even she can talk herself out of the situation in which she finds herself when the realtor turns out to be the realtor from the last place with the spoon. Dang the unlikely coincidence bad luck! She tries to escape, but the realtor follows her into the parking lot and grabs her purse. Out falls a frame she’s stolen, with the owners’ photo still inside. Oops. She tries to talk her way out (“My husband is a DEA agent!” – which is true, but she’s the klepto who cried wolf, and it does her no good.

Which leads us to Hank, who gets a call from Marie, sobbing and begging for help. “Are you seriously doing this to me again?” he grinds out. Yes she is, you big jerk. Deal with it. And deal with it he does, calling a work buddy who goes and smooths things over, telling Marie that she’s free to go home. That’s all it takes for Marie to dissolve right into the ugly cry. The first step is admitting there’s a problem, Marie. Good for you.

Skyler thinks of a brilliant way to get Bogden to sell the car wash, in which they get a fake city employee (who miraculously can repeat back word for word without hesitation what Skyler is saying to him in his Bluetooth) to tell him that his water runoff is contaminated and he’s going to have to replace the entire system. If only he could sell it to an unsuspecting buyer. But who??

Marie’s back at home, where she’s her cheerful self again as per usual. Hank’s given up on porn and has switched to bowling, so you know he’s feeling low. He refuses to eat his supper, so Marie takes it away, except for the rice pudding. He yells at her that he’s not hungry, and lo and behold if she doesn’t snap back, “Then don’t eat it!” That’s actually probably what Hank needs from her all the time. She’s taught him how to treat her, and her masochistic kindness I think is a kind of water torture he must endure. The work buddy who bailed out Marie comes for a visit, probably because of Marie’s obvious distressing home life. He goes into the bedroom, where Hank is eating his rice pudding. Heh. He has a case he wants Hank to look at – the murder of Gale Boetticher. Which will undoubtedly lead to Heisenberg which means that, as per the last recap, you all owe me five bucks! Pay up, bitches! But Hank isn’t interested because he feels he’s all gimpy and useless now. The friend leaves Gale’s Lab Notes behind anyway, in case Hank changes his mind.

Meanwhile Walter is comforting Skyler because Bogdan hasn’t called, and Walt thinks they should chalk it up as a learning…the phone rings. It’s Bogdan, and he wants to sell, but Skyler lowers the offer by eighty grand because “you’re an unpleasant person”. She hangs up, much to Walt’s dismay. Now she’s ruined it, and there’s no way he’s going to call back, and Walt thinks they should chalk it up to a learning…the phone rings again. Bogdan accepts the offer. Never underestimate a determined accountant!

Back at Jesse’s Inferno, Jesse is passing the time crumpling money into balls and trying to throw them into the open mouth of a junkie passed out on the floor. He’s excited when he succeeds, but you know who’s really excited? The other junkie who’s gathering the money that missed and hit the floor instead. When Jesse notices this, he has a brainstorm and yells, “Hey. Hey. MONEY!” and tosses the whole roll into the air. The vermin fight and scramble for it, and what a delightful distraction that is for Jesse. Poor, royally screwed up Jesse.

Skyler and Walt are celebrating their car wash victory with a bottle of champagne. They make rather fabulous partners in crime, and they’re so happy that in my opinion they’re this close to having sex on the kitchen island – until Skyler finds out how much he paid for the champagne. She berates him for spending money on something he theoretically shouldn’t be able to afford. How would he explain a four hundred dollar bottle of champagne if he were ever investigated by the DEA? Finally, she’s the one who’s being logical and prudent, although it is sort of a buzz-kill. Regardless, they still have more to worry about than the cops, because dead Victor’s replacement is sitting in a car outside the house, watching every move they make. Dun dun DUN.

And finally Walt is in bed, still unable to sleep, sunk to such depths that he’s watching a city council meeting on TV. He decides to look at the Lab Notes book. He scans the first page, then turns it. Then another, then another. Hooked! Hank is back, baby. You’re on notice, Heisenberg.

You owe me five dollars. Yes, YOU.