Breaking Bad 4.12 – End Times

“Why didn’t you people just put him in the car?”

“Uh, because it’s not Nazi Germany, all right?”

 Oh, pfft, Nazi Germany! If I had a dollar for every time I heard that.”

Leave it to Marie to save everyone’s life. Due to her overzealous paranoia, she insists that Skyler’s family stay with them under the watchful eyes of several testosterone-laden DEA agents. Hank thinks she’s overreacting, but he’s too tired to argue with her. Little do they both know that the White family is even more in the thick of it than Hank is. It’s a great plan to keep everyone safe, right up until Walt refuses to go. He feels like the bleeder who’s attracting the shark, and he knows there’s very little hope of him getting out of this alive. He’ll surely feel better if he dies knowing his family is protected. Skyler tearfully begs him to change his mind, and you know she’s frazzled because her hair looks so bad.  “There’s got to be another way,” she tells him. “There isn’t. There was…but now there isn’t.” But at least Ted’s estate won’t have to worry about back taxes, so there’s still that silver lining. Skyler wants to know how long it’ll be until Walt can work out his problems, and when Walt just shakes his head, she finally understands that there is no working this out – Walt is almost certainly going to be killed before this is over. At long last, Walt takes full responsibility for the decisions he’s made, and is prepared to face the consequences head-on. Unfortunately, his thoughtless and selfish decisions are no longer contained to just his life. He might have thought about all this before everything went to hell.  Walt says good-bye to a fittingly distraught baby Holly, likely for the last time.

With his wife and kids out of immediate danger, Walt goes and sits by the swimming pool where so many important events have taken place for him. He waits for trouble to come to him, morosely spinning his handgun on the glass table beside him. He spins it once, twice, and both times the gun stops, pointing directly at him. A bad omen indeed. I’m not sure how many times it took them to get that shot, but it was a nice touch. He spins the gun again and it ends up pointed away from him. Maybe there’s hope for him after all? He’s doubtful in the extreme.

Tension is running a mile high over at Hank and Marie’s, where everyone stands in front of all the plate glass windows and stares outside to see if the hitmen are coming yet. Heh. Walter Jr. is furious his father stayed behind, doubly so at his mom for allowing it. Marie can’t believe the DEA agents didn’t just force him to come, and tries to call Walt herself, but he doesn’t pick up.

Hank tells them all to calm down, that they’re welcome to stay as long as they want, but he doesn’t think any of them are in danger. He thinks the anonymous call is a smokescreen to distract him from his extra-curricular project of snooping on Gus, which makes him even more certain he was on the right track (and Walt did warn Gus that would be the result if he tried to kill Hank. Of course, Gus would have probably been a little bit more subtle getting rid of Hank than Saul’s tattletale phone call would have had them believe). Hank cajoles Steve Gomez to look further into the laundry facility, but Steve says he needs more proof than Hank’s gut feeling. “Isn’t that what they pay you to go get?” Hank prods him. They both know a judge would never give them a search warrant, but that doesn’t preclude Steve from doing a good old fashioned knock and talk, right? Oh, that’s right. Steve never was very good at those, was he? Hank knows exactly what to say to goad Steve into doing exactly what Hank wants.

Next stop for Steve is, of course, the laundry. He gives the assistant manager a cock and bull story about busting a senator’s kid for heroin possession, and that the kid claimed someone from the laundry must have put it in his work uniform. The senator is insisting they check it out, even though they all know they won’t find anything, isn’t that right? It’s just Steve and his partner taking a look around, no big deal. Oops, plus the drug-sniffing dog hiding in the back seat. Surprise! They search the joint and take a swack of photos, but don’t find anything, and most especially don’t find Jesse and Tyrus hiding with held breaths in the underground lab. They’ve been apprised of the situation above ground, and have no choice but to wait for the all-clear before continuing with the day’s cook. Jesse gets a call from Gus, telling him this is all Walt’s fault, and can Jesse see now how Walt is a liability that can no longer be ignored. Jesse understands this on an intellectual level, but emotionally can’t bear to be the one to order Walt’s murder. He refuses to give his okay, and asks Gus what he’s going to do. “There will be an appropriate response,” is the reply. Now, Walt understands what that means when Gus says that to you, but Jesse, not so much.

Steve Gomez doesn’t find a darn thing in the laundry, and buggers off, no doubt to rub it in to Hank. Jesse’s finally able to finish his batch of meth, and afterwards is snuck out of the laundry in a company truck and driven to his car out of town. And you thought your commute was bad. He suffers greatly as he decides whether he should phone Walt and confront him, but when he screws up the courage to do so, nobody answers. His loyalty to Walt is obviously crumbling in the face of yet another betrayal, and it’s tearing him up. He checks his voice mail to see if Walt has by some miracle called him, but all there are are six increasingly panicked messages from Saul telling him to get to Saul’s office ASAP, if not sooner.

Jesse goes, only to be patted down for weapons  at the front door by Hule the bodyguard, aka “Frisky.” Saul breaks it to Jesse that it’s end times, and he’s skipping town for good (nooooo!). Like the upstanding lawyer he is, he wants to give Jesse the cash he’s been keeping for him, which begs the question: why didn’t Walt leave all his money in Saul’s safe? Hmm. Anyway, Jesse has no idea what’s going on, except that Walt didn’t show up for work that day and pretty obviously sicced the DEA on the lab. Saul doesn’t know about any of that – he just knows that Gus threatened to murder Walt’s entire family, and that’s enough to make him am-scray, since “what am I if not family?” Jesse is shocked and a little disbelieving that Gus could be so cold, but Saul doesn’t know or care if any of it is true. He just wants to live to oil up another day.

Back at Hank’s, he’s poring over the photos that Gomez took of the laundry. Skyler come in and asks if they found anything. “Clean as a whistle,” Hank replies, “or so he says.” I may be wrong, but that sound an awful lot like a foreshadowy clue to me. Gomez, good guy or bad? Time will tell. Skyler leaves him to his brooding and goes out onto the balcony with the strapping DEA agents with their long, enormous rifles. She asks if it’s okay if she hangs out with them for a minute, and they say sure, because if you’re expecting sniper fire, you want the person you’re protecting out in the open so you can keep a better eye on them. Heh, in their defense I don’t think they’re taking the whole life-threatening thing too seriously. You know she’s stressed because she bums a smoke off one of them, and she hasn’t done that since she was pregnant and falling apart. She stares out into the New Mexico sunset and contemplates the folly of men.

Jesse is at his house doing the very same thing when his cell phone rings. It’s Andrea phoning to tell him that her son Brock is in the hospital, at death’s door. He hastens to the hospital, where Andrea tells him the doctors can’t figure out why he’s so sick. “He was fine this morning,” she sobs into his shoulder. She’s needed in the ICU, so Jesse takes the opportunity to go outside and smoke a cigarette. He’s horrified to notice that the cigarette in which he hid the ricin poison capsule is missing. He tears up all the cigarettes looking for it, but that sucker is missing. He rushes back into the hospital to tell Andrea to tell the doctors that Brock might be poisoned. Then he boots it out of the hospital speedy quick. But where is he going?

I have to admit (and I may be wrong again, shocking though that may be) that it seems the obvious explanation is that Gus had the boy poisoned to let Jesse know that even his cook isn’t untouchable. But that is not yet established, so I can’t completely think Jesse is an idiot when he heads right to Walt’s house instead of Gus’s. Walt and his gun have moved indoors, and he’s relieved in the extreme when it’s Jesse who bangs on the door instead of Tyrus. He lets him in and tells him what’s happened, but Jesse doesn’t even seem to be listening. Walt is tearful and fatalistic, and it turns out with good reason when Jesse takes Walt’s own gun and points it at him. “Why did you do it? Why?!” Walt thinks he means calling the DEA, which only enrages Jesse. Walt doesn’t even know who Brock is at first, but Jesse fills him in in a big fat hurry. Jesse accuses him of poisoning Brock, and when Walt tries to confuse him with such things as “logic” and “facts”, Jesse springs a sanity leak. It’s too much for him to bear that Gus might have done this even after Jesse saved his life, that he’s just another disposable cog in Gus’s machine, that nobody really loves him. But it does make sense that if Gus wanted Jesse to want Walt dead, poisoning Brock would be the perfect way to do it. Was that indeed Gus’s plan? I don’t believe Walt could poison an innocent child (despite the name of the show), but Brock might have taken the cigarette himself. No wonder Jesse’s confuzzled.

The more Walt thinks about it, the more adamant he gets. He demands that Jesse shoot him if he really believes Walt could kill a little boy and Gus is innocent; he even pushes the barrel of the gun into his own forehead. “Do it!” he screams, but in the end Jesse can’t kill Mr. White – not as long as there’s a shred of doubt in his mind. I hate to say it, but this scene was the first “off” moment of the entire season for me. Illogical, anvil-heavy, melodramatic, a little bit silly…but at least Jesse cried, which I always enjoy. Jesse wants to storm off to find Gus and kill him, and when Walt can’t talk him out of it, he offers to help him do it. Huzzah, the team is together again at last!

It’s much later that night, and Jesse is back at the hospital. For obviously not the first time, he shuffles into the ICU like a zombie, where the nurses have to shoo him out even if they have to call security to do it. He just wants to see Andrea and Brock but you can tell clearly from Andrea’s reaction through the glass partition that she sure as hell doesn’t want to see him, presumably ever again. Poor Jesse, he was so close to his perfect life, and once again meth ruined everything. Well, the meth druglord did, at least. Same difference.

Tyrus roughly wakes Jesse up the next morning from the random hospital chair Jesse slept in. He demands that Jesse go to work at the lab, and Jesse flatly refuses. Jesse says that if Gus has a problem with that, he can come talk to him himself. Oh ho, I see what you did there. Tyrus forcibly yanks Jesse to his feet, and Jesse promptly yells for help. That makes Tyrus scurry away like the rat he is, pulling his phone out to call Gus before he’s even ten steps away. “Yeah, that’s right,” Jesse says to himself as he watches Tyrus dial. Then he does a little texting of his own: Think I got his attention. Walt gets this message in his kitchen, where he’s whipping up a batch of gooey explosives literally on his kitchen stove. OMG they’re going to beat Gus with SCIENCE!

Sure as shootin’, here comes Gus, who parks in the hospital parkade, accompanied by one of his random young thugs. Aw, I miss Mike. He’s missing out on all the excitement, too. I’m curious to know how he’d handle Gus’s (probable but not proven) betrayal of Jesse. Is there anything he’d not do for his line of work? Jesse meets Gus in the chapel of all places, where Gus tries to talk some sense into him in his usual soft-spoken way. He understands Jesse’s need to be here, but he’s also running a business.

Jesse is still on the verge of tears when he refuses to go again, and Gus offers to help Brock in any way he can – he’s on the hospital’s board of directors, after all. Of course he is. “He’s not sick, he was poisoned,” Jesse informs him, trying to keep his rage in check. Gus keeps his perfect pokerface as always, expressing his surprise. Gus sighs and tells Jesse that because the current batch of meth is surely ruined by now, he might as well have the rest of the week off to deal with his personal crisis. Best boss ever, right?
Gus returns to his car in the parkade, but slows as he approaches the car. His spidey senses are tingling even though he’s not sure why, and he goes to the rail and searches the rooftops of the buildings around them. On one of the rooftops, Walt ducks down, clutching his detonating cell phone to his chest. He wills Gus to keep walking, to get into the car so Walt can blow him straight to hell. There’s no logical reason he shouldn’t get into the car, except I guess for the fact that Jesse demanded he come here and Walt is MIA.

Which bring me to my next point: Gus has had Walt followed for months just to keep an eye on him. Now that Walt is no longer in his employ and possibly a real threat to Gus, now he decides not to keep tabs on Walt’s whereabouts? I sprained something on that last leap of logic. Anyway, Gus listens to his gut and walks away from the car. Walt can’t believe it. It’s their only, best chance to kill Gus, and it didn’t work. He crumples to the ground, devastated and truly beaten.

And that leaves one more episode of the season, where hopefully all secrets and motivations will be revealed. Although this episode was a bit shaky, I have faith that next week Jesse and Walt will emerge, if not triumphant, then at least alive. There’s still another round of Emmy’s to win, amiright?