Breaking Bad 4.09 – Bug

Ice Road Truckers. What happens on that one?”     

“Guys drive on ice.”

Ooh, that Vince Gilligan is the king of the tease. This week’s episode opens with drops of blood falling to the floor next to Walt’s broken glasses. Someone’s finally put him in his place (although not in the ground) – but who was it?? There are so many people who want to hurt him, you’d have to make a cross-referenced chart to keep track of them all. 

But before we get to that, let’s go back and watch the unfortunate chain of events that led to the violence. Marie is so pleased that Walt and Hank are not!rock buddies now, going on another gem adventure together, getting Hank out of the house and her hair besides. Of course, we know better. Hank has asked Walt (or maybe Walt has volunteered, to keep a thisclose eye on his BIL) to help with his continuing investigation of Gus. It’s back to the Los Pollos Hermanos parking lot for them, with Hank enthusiastically singing Eye of the Tiger in the key of sickly foghorn. Walt needs to pick up the bug he left underneath Gus’s car (on Gus’s orders). He does so, not even bothering to go into the restaurant afterward to buy something so as to appear natural and normal. There’s no point, since everyone in a mile radius except Hank knows exactly why Walt’s there.

Hank excitedly checks the tracking device back at home, only to discover “the chicken slingin’ son of a bitch” did nothing all week but drive from his house to work and back again. Hank doesn’t buy it, and who can blame him (what, not even a trip out for gas or milk?), but Walt still tries to talk him out of the whole endeavour, to no avail. When Walt dejectedly gets into his car to leave, he finds one of Gus’s men parked outside of Hank’s house, watching it. Walt pulls up beside him and rolls down the window, but doesn’t speak to him. He calls the cops instead and reports a suspicious-looking guy lurking in the neighbourhood, and the henchman has no choice but to go. Effective, but not the smartest plan.

Walt goes to work and finds Jesse smoking beside his car. Jesse’s an early bird and has already worked long enough to take a break, which gives Walt an opportunity to bum a smoke from Jesse, all the better to have a talk while staying in the parking lot away from the security camera in the lab with its microphone. Jesse thinks the whole pretending-to-smoke-while-engaging-in-innocent-smalltalk is ludicrous and maybe even insulting. He changes the subject to Walt’s attempt at smoking. “Wow, man – don’t you have enough cancer already?” Hee! Jesse finally assures him that he’s still going to kill Gus. To which Walt replies as he heads for the lab, “Well, what does it matter? We’re both dead men anyway.” Um, not so much with the hee this time.

Back on planet Not Gonna Happen, Skyler is crunching the numbers for the car wash, and is pleased to see they’re doing very well financially. So well in fact that she phones Walt, urging him to make an exit plan from the meth biz so they can live happily ever after amongst the soapy bubbles. Walt takes this under advisement in a drunken stupor as he meditates on his inevitable gory death at the hands of his masters. Sorry, Skyler. Walt took the red pill, and there’s no going back from that. Oh, and she’s buying Walter Jr. a reliable used car. Yay? Walt gets off the phone and stares despondently at the tracking device still in its packaging on his bedside table. There’s still some fight left in this old dog yet, but who’s he going to bite?

8:17 the next morning, Walt is awoken from the start of his hangover by a phone call. It’s Hank, up and at ‘em and roaring to get started. He’s discovered Los Pollos Hermanos’s distribution centre, and wants Walt to go with him to do a little Scooby-Dooing. Walt concocts a shitty story (get it?) involving Tex Mex and regret, trying to get Hank to lay off the scent until he can think of what to do. Unfortunately, instead of indefinitely postponing the field trip, Hank says he’ll get someone else to take him. His pal Gil Grissom or something. Walt backpedals and says pleeeease wait until he feels better, because he really wants to go, because he cherishes their bromance so much. Hank, who doesn’t have many bros, yo, reluctantly agrees to wait a couple days. Walt’s dodged THAT bullet, but not so much when he calls Mike and breaks the news to him. Mike wastes no time hanging up on him, the quicker to take all that meth out of all those chicken batter buckets and scrub the entire distribution centre clean of evidence. Fun! They shouldn’t have been so quick to deport those cleaning women, should’ve they?

While all that’s going on, Skyler is taking care of customers at the car wash, making sure everyone buys at least one more expensive service after they’ve left. Money laundering, yer doin’ it right. She’s shocked when her ex-lover Ted drops by. He doesn’t want to have adulterous sex with her again, he wants to beg for her help because his badly cooked books are being audited. Woe! And…and…Skyler’s signature is all over those financial statements. If the CID tries to build a case against Ted’s company, she’s going to be smack dab in the middle of it. Woe²! You can literally watching the ulcers forming in her stomach lining if you squint a little.

Mike gets Jesse to spot-clean the blood droplets from god knows how many murders in the warehouse, and while Jesse does, he talks to Mike about whether Gus is going to kill Hank or not. At first it seems like maybe he’s just trying to talk Mike out of it like Walt did, but it quickly becomes apparent that he’s thinking it through, mulling it over, weighing the pros and cons. When Mike comes out and asks if Jesse would have a problem with it, Jesse doesn’t even try to have an opinion: “Who really cares what I think?” Mike just doesn’t know what to make of the ex-junkie loser who’s turning into quite the excellent little minion.

Jesse leaves to help one of his co-minions carry some incriminating hunk of evidence out of the building, when the dude is shot through the head right in front of Jesse, his blood spattering artfully against the holding container. Everything goes slo-mo (which always makes everything better) as Jesse freezes in…what? Terror? Longing? He’s in the cross-hairs when Mike shoves him aside, saving his life. Gus bursts out of his office and stalks toward the sniper, not even flinching as the bullets ping into the dust in front of him. He stands defiantly, arms raised. Daring him to shoot. The sniper declines, but he looks impressed by the size of Gus’s balls, even at that distance. The cartel has other plans for Gus, it seems.

Gus isn’t quite so brash when next we see him, alone in his dark office. When he takes a phone call, all he says is, “Tell them the answer is yes.” Gus has lost the battle with the cartel. Time will tell if he loses the war.

Even so, there are still drugs to be made, and that’s what Walt is doing when Jesse and Mike show up with the dead minion. Walt incorrectly assumes that it’s Gus’s doing, which Mike doesn’t take kindly to. Not only does he threaten to shut Walt’s mouth for him, he goes so far as to say that if Walt ever calls the cops on one of his men again, Walt’s going to end up in a barrel, too. Walt doesn’t say anything to Jesse, but his desperate look is clear: You have to kill Gus. Now.

Bald------------------------------Bald---------------------------Also bald

Outside, Jesse thanks Mike for saving him earlier. Mike says,  “You’re welcome, son.”  “Next time don’t stand there like an idiot. Move your feet. Run and so forth.” Good advice for anyone subjected to sniper fire. Jesse has questions for him about what the hell is happening with the Mexican cartel, but Mike tells him to take it up with Gus.

The next day, the hell demon from CID is going through Ted’s soul…I mean, financial records, and he is mightily unhappy with what he’s seeing. Ted’s floundering to come up with a reasonable excuse as to why he didn’t claim a million bucks in income, when in sashays Skyler, cleavage at full attention (it certainly held my full attention). She explains that she’s late because the building has so many doors. Bwah! When he asks if she’s read Section 61 of the IRC, she responds, “I…did not follow what you just said.” I love Skyler as an airhead! It’s nice to see Anna Gunn doing comedy, because her character is usually pretty grumpy and controlling. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Unless you’re married to her, am I right? High five. She just has to give “Teddy’s” thigh a squeeze, and a light bulb goes off over the CID guy’s head. Boom, they get off with a warning. Well, a warning and $617,000 in fines and back taxes.

In the parking lot, Skyler yells at Ted to pay what he owes and feel lucky he’s not going to jail. But Ted can’t pay it. He’s sold everything he can; he’s driving a Corolla for Pete’s sake! He’s not going to pay, and Skyler knows that means they’ll reopen the investigation. Oh noes! If only she had access to a large sum of cash in unmarked bills to give to him! But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Across town, Jesse is ringing the doorbell of Gus Fring. Gus is making him dinner like he’s a real live business associate or something. Jesse wants to kill Gus, he really does. He knows Walt is especially vulnerable as long as Gus is alive, and although his loyalties have been split as of late, he still feels like he’s on Team White. But dammit, Gus is cooking some stew in a big pot, and Jesse can’t very well poison himself, too, can he? Also, unless Gus ate the entire potful in one sitting, he wouldn’t consume enough poison to die — just saying. Gus, who knows a thing or two about living on the knife’s edge, takes the time to savour his wine before they get down to business. He wants to know if Jesse can cook Walt’s meth formula by himself. OMG! Jesse knew it! Gus is going to kill Walt and use Jesse like he used Gale! Jesse goes so far as to say that if Gus kills Walt, he’ll have to kill Jesse, too. Gus is all, WTF, that’s not what I meant. Gus confesses that he’s given in to the cartel to keep the peace, and he needs Jesse’s help to prevent an all-out war. Suddenly Jesse is the most vital member of the organization. Whaaaat.

Back at home, Skyler can’t sleep. She gets up and gazes thoughtfully at the nifty $750,000 in fifties she has hidden in her crawl space. She can’t spend the money, she can’t keep it hidden there forever. What else could she do with it? Hmm. Let us think upon it.

At the lab the next day, Walt leaves a little early. You can tell Jesse feels torn and guilty that he squandered yet another chance to kill Gus. Walt drops his car keys in the parking lot and, now a pro at this kind of subterfuge, reaches down and pulls a tracking device off the wheel well of Jesse’s car. He scurries home to look at the results, which are of course that Jesse went to Gus’s house the night before. Lo and behold, Jesse calls and asks Walt to come over so they can talk. I can’t wait to hear this!

Now at Jesse’s place, Jesse tells Walt that word has come down that they want him to go to Mexico and teach them Walt’s formula, that the cartel is getting half of Gus’s drug empire and the meth formula in exchange for Gus’s continued independence. Jesse is freaking out that he’ll do a bad job (or the equipment will be in Mexican instead of English, heh) and they’ll kill him. He’s desperate for Walt’s help and guidance. But Walt doesn’t give the first fuck about any of that. All he cares about is that Jesse was at Gus’s house and lied to him about it. Walt shouts at him that he knows Jesse was there for two hours and seventeen minutes – he should have been able to kill him if he wasn’t so gutless. Jesse is cringing with guilt and shame…until he realizes what Walt just said. How does he know that exactly? Walt arrogantly tosses him the tracking device. “After everything I’ve done for you, you put a bug on my car?” Jesse says in disbelieve. Walt retorts that he’s the one who’s done so much for Jesse. That’s a sticky one, because Jesse murdered Gale for Walt. But Walt saved Jesse’s life that night. Bottom-lining it, the way I figure it is that if it weren’t for Walt, Jesse would have never been in that position in the first place. This entire nightmare is Walt’s fault, not Jesse’s. But Walt doesn’t figure it that way, I guess. His advice for Jesse? Go to Mexico and screw up “like I know you will” and wind up in a barrel. Jesse explodes and wings the tracking bug right into Walter’s face. First blood, man. They hurl themselves at each other like it’s Clash of the Titans, and fight like they’re unevolved Pokemon.

Magikarp, I choose you!

They roll and slap and kick at each other ineffectually until Jesse pulls Walt’s legs out from under him and he slams his face into the glass coffee table. Jesse doesn’t stop there, though. He sits on Walt and punches him in the face over and over. At long last, it’s Jesse who’s doing the beating instead of getting beaten. That must feel good. When Jesse finally lets him go, Walt staggers to his feet. Jesse asks him if he can walk, and when Walt nods, Jesse says, “Then get the fuck out of here and never come back.” Walt picks up his broken glasses and, dripping blood everywhere as predicted in the teaser at the beginning of the episode, leaves, their partnership irrevocably damaged.

And thus ends the Fellowship of the Fring.