Breaking Bad S4 Ep 10 – Salud

“I’m the guy your boss sent here to show you how it’s done. And if this is how you run your lab, no wonder. You’re lucky he hasn’t fired your ass. Now, if you don’t want that to happen, I suggest you stop whining like a little bitch and Do. What. I. Say.”

Before we get into this week’s episode, did anyone see Jesse deliver a package to Creed at The Office during last night’s Emmy awards? When he sees the “documentary” cameras he gets all twitchy about the delivery, and Creed holds up the brown paper bag and announces “My crystal meth got here, guys!” I LOL’d. In other news, Aaron Paul is so small! He’s just like James Marsters (aka vampire Spike), another small-boned cutie who’s addicted to something that’s bad for him and is always on the verge of getting killed by somebody who doesn’t like him. 

Anyway, back to the serious business. Our episode begins with one of those gorgeous sprawling shots of the New Mexico skyline that this show does so well. Jesse, Mike, and Gus are waiting for the plane that’s going to take them to Mexico. To say they’re nervous is putting it lightly. The plane lands and on they get, Gus taking care with the beribboned present he’s carrying. Jesse takes one last look around him, then gets on so Mike can close the door. There’s no going back now. As the plane heads south, Jesse looks about ready to hurl he’s so scared of what’s to come. Gus tells him evenly, “You can do this.” Whether any of them believe that is another story.

What’s Walt been doing since Jesse beat the tar out of him the night before? Skyler sure doesn’t know, because she’s left three unanswered messages on his machine, which is presently sitting next to his broken glasses and a bloody napkin on the kitchen counter. Skyler wanted Walt to be there when she gave Walter Jr. the new car for his sixteenth birthday, but when your ex-husband’s in the business Walt’s in, you just can’t depend on him. It’s like being married to Voldemort — he’s always late for supper due to unforeseen world domination hiccups. Skyler’s decided on a PT Cruiser for Walter Jr., which is, like, one of the bottom three car choices ever for a teenager, right behind a Smart Car. He’s underwhelmed, and barely tries to be enthusiastic or grateful in that annoying way teenagers have; he doesn’t even want to take it for a spin. Skyler deflates like a two week old birthday party balloon.

What, one of those pink Mary Kay Cadillacs wasn't available?

That’s not the only one of Skyler’s ideas that’s being met with resistance, either. Across town, Saul the lawyer is reluctantly meeting (on her orders) with Ted, her ex-boss/revenge-sex choice, whose six figure unpaid back taxes are going to land Skyler and Walt in prison for fifteen to life. Saul slings some fairly ripe BS Ted’s way, saying his great aunt Birgid of Luxembourg passed away, completely coincidentally leaving him just enough money to pay the back taxes plus have a nice meal out. Not surprisingly, Ted doesn’t question his turn of luck whatsoever. Would you?

Back in Mexico, the cartel thugs bring Jesse, Mike, and Gus to their meth lab. Their head chemist is less than impressed with Jesse, especially when Jesse admits he doesn’t know how to synthesize one of the most basic ingredients in the recipe. Jesse is teetering on a precipice, his every fear about to come true if he screws this up – just like Walt told him he would. And in response, Jesse…well, Jesse proceeds to kick ass like a boss. He puts their chemist in his place, berating him for the state of the lab and suggesting he accept the help they so obviously need. The chemist backs down (because it’s true!), and Gus and Mike practically burst with pride. Although nobody but us can tell because they’ve got professional poker faces, yo.

Walter Jr. goes to Walt’s condo that evening and lays on the door buzzer, then phones his answering machine and threatens to call 911, until Walt finally wakes up from his drugged stupor. As someone who once took three milligrams of Ativan instead of the suggested two and lost eight hours of memory, I feel for him. He staggers outside to talk to his son. He’s a total mess, with dried blood on his shirt and no pants. His face is hamburger. He asks Walter Jr. not to call Skyler, because he, Walt tells him, has been gambling and he doesn’t want Skyler to know. When Walter Jr. asks who he fought with, Walt pretty much falls apart. His carefully manufactured facade of arrogance and self-justification slips away as he starts to cry. He blames himself entirely for what happened with Jesse, and admits he deserved the beating. He apologizes, even as he knows it’s much too late for that. Walter Jr. gets over the shock of seeing his father this way, and to his credit puts his dad to bed and makes sure he’s okay. He even takes it in stride when Walt calls him Jesse. It took everything going straight to hell, but Walt finally acknowledges how important Jesse is to him, and how badly he let him down. A long time coming indeed, and gratifying to hear at last!

Jesse, meanwhile, has finished cooking a batch of meth using Walt’s formula, and everyone waits with held breaths as their chemist tests it for purity. Will it be good enough? Will Jesse end up in a barrel after all? Hurrah, it is good enough and there will be no barrels today! Congratulations, Jesse! Oh, and by the way – you belong to the cartel now and you’re going to live here and cook for us until the day you die. Yay…wait, what?! Jesse looks to Gus for some kind of explanation, but Gus’s face remains blank. That Gus, if he held his cards any closer to his chest, they’d be embedded in his ribcage.

Saul pays a little visit to Skyler at the car wash (which isn’t suspicious-looking at all, because “celebrities have to get their cars washed just like everybody else”). He’s there to tell her that within three hours of getting the cheque from Saul, Ted leased a loaded Mercedes SL550. Bwah! No good deed goes unpunished, Skyler. Saul isn’t petty enough to say he told her so…except he totally is. And he’s right! People should listen to Saul. There’s a reason why the cockroaches are still going to be around long after everything else is gone.

The next morning, Walt finally wakes up for the second time. His glasses, repaired by Walter Jr., are waiting for him on his bedside table. And Walter Jr. is waiting for him as well, asleep on the sofa. Walt wakes him up like parents do with much younger kids, by gently brushing his bangs off his face. Walter Jr. immediately assures Walt he didn’t tell on him to Skyler, but that’s not what’s worrying Walt. He tells Walter Jr. how sorry he is that his own son saw him in such a pathetic state last night, and how important it is to him that Walter Jr. can look up to him. Walt tells him about his own dad, and how Walt’s only clear memory of him is when he was dying in the hospital, frail and only too fallible. Walt doesn’t want his son to have a similar memory of him. In a moment of perfect clarity, Walter Jr. says it wouldn’t be so bad to remember him the way he was the night before. What would be bad would be to remember Walt as he’s been for the last year. “At least last night you were real.” Everything Walt has strived to become, everything he’s forsaken in his quest to be more than meek Walter White, and this is what came from it. Breaking bad has cost Walt a terrible price. He sends Walter Jr. off in his new car, only to have Victor 2.0 pull up directly after to help Walt find his way back to the lab to cook, reminding Walt again just how little control he has over what’s going to happen to him now, or ever again.

Not so much with Ted, who thinks he’s a Master of the Universe once more, now that he inherited all that dough. He’s delighted when Skyler comes for an unexpected visit at his office, at least until she starts asking him hard questions about his new car and his business and his taxes. She starts off kitten-gentle, but quickly turns into a tiger when he tells her that it’s none of her business and asks her to leave. She breaks it to him that she’s great aunt Birgid, much to his dopey surprise. I have a feeling the Mercedes is going back to the car dealership, no doubt where it will make friends with Walter Jr.’s Challenger.

In Mexico, Gus is looking into the very pool where his best friend was brutally murdered by Don Eladio all those years ago. For all that’s changed since then, Gus’s heart is still filled with hate because of it. He takes out a small pill box and swallows one of the pills inside. Jesse doesn’t notice or care – he’s too busy freaking out about being the newest human trafficking victim thanks to the cartel. He wants to know what Mike and Gus plan to do about it. To which Mike replies, “I promise you this: either we’re all going home, or none of us are.” Um, that doesn’t sound good at all. Don Eladio arrives with all his capos, and it’s ever so slightly awkward when he demands a hug from Gus. He then meets Jesse, whom he looks forward to chaining up in his lab forever. But enough talk about work! He notices the present Gus has brought him, a rare and irresistible bottle of booze. Don Eladio orders the waiters to bring glasses for everyone. He hands Jesse a glass, but Gus is quick to point out he’s an addict who does better work sober. Fair enough, none for Jesse. Don Eladio is not a stupid man, however, and makes sure Gus drinks first, just to be sure there’s been no funny business. Salud, says Gus. Salud. He gulps it down, and they all follow suit (except for Mike, but nobody notices or cares about the old guy). And now, bring on the girls!

While the party gets underway, Gus sits silently by himself. Don Eladio tries to cheer him up by telling him that what happened between them wasn’t personal, it was just business. Strangely, Gus doesn’t feel better knowing that. He excuses himself to go to the bathroom, and Don Eladio makes sure one of his capos escorts him to keep an eye on him. Once in the bathroom, Gus turns the taps on full blast and kneels in front of the toilet where he makes himself throw up. Gus, you sneaky bastard.

He doesn't stand a chance.

Back outside, the (other) bad guys are dropping like flies. When Don Eladio goes down, his right hand man rushes to help him. He’s so concerned about his boss that he doesn’t notice Mike sneaking right up behind him, until the garrote is already around his throat. I <3 you, Mike. ::blows kisses:: Jesse is as WTF as WTF can be at this most unexpected turn of events. Gus leaves the bathroom, steps over the dead capo, and goes outside to find Mike killing the guy, everyone else dead or dying, and screaming hookers running everywhere. Don Eladio lives just long enough to realize that Gus has done this to him, then into the pool he falls. Sweet revenge! But not so fast, because Gus has taken the poison, too (ironically, since Walt’s been trying to poison him for weeks). No matter what he’s done to inure himself, Gus still might very well die. He shouts out to anyone still alive that Don Eladio is dead, and they better get the hell out of the way if they don’t want to end up the same. He collapses into Mike and Jesse’s arms and they drag him to the parking lot to escape. Jesse finds a car with keys, and they’re close, so very close to getting away when Mike is shot. Jesse shoots the shooter, and this time (unlike with Gale) his hands are steady and his eyes are clear. “Get us out of here, kid,” Mike gasps, and it’s up to Jesse to save them as he speeds away. Jesse has truly gone to the dark side now, fully turning his back on Walt and deciding in the end that Gus and Mike are worthy of his loyalty.

Now is the time to brace ourselves, children. We all know this isn’t a sitcom, but the going might be getting even darker from here on in. We may start losing characters, and that’s going to be very tough no matter who it is. If Mike dies, I’m getting drunk and loudly cursing Vince Gilligan’s name. I warn you now. Salud.