Breaking Bad – Season 4, Episode 2: Thirty-Eight Snub

4 Aug

My brother’s one major complaint about Breaking Bad (he still loves the show) is its occasional slow pacing and inconsequential scenes.  While I prefer to describe the pace as deliberate rather than slow, he’s not entirely wrong.  What I always tell him,though, is that the genius of Breaking Bad is that some scenes transcend the plot and the episodes in which they’re found.  Even by themselves, as scenes, or vignettes, or whatever you’d like to call them, they stand out as brilliant and compelling. The scene with Mike and Walter at the bar was one of these scenes.  The plot implications of the scene were certainly important, but even without, the scene was wonderful.

Stepping back, we have two main plotlines in this episode, and two minor ones.  Walt and Jesse are both reacting to their new lease on life differently.  Walt is paranoid that if he doesn’t take out Gus, somehow, Gus will be taking him out soon enough.  He shows off some of Walt’s classic characteristics such as naiveté, impulsiveness, and thinking that he’s cleverer than he is, when he buys a gun illegally in a great cold open, and then tries first to go right up to Gus’s house with a piece.  After that fails miserably, letting Gus know what Walter had in mind if Gus didn’t already,  Walt, in the above-noted best scene of the week, tries to talk Mike into letting Walt kill Gus.  Walt is smart, and he is bold, and both of these are two attributes are to his credit, but he’s so far out of his league at this point that it makes you wonder how he’s going to avoid getting killed.  At the same time, even though Mike responds to Walt’s request with a well-earned beatdown, Mike must be wondering how long he ought to deal with Gus – even battle-tested Mike appeared shocked when Gus killed Victor violently in the first episode.

Jesse is still dealing with killing Gail, watching Gus kill Victor and with coming close to being killed himself .  His way of dealing is to do a bunch of drugs and try to constantly surround himself with people.  It’s hard not to feel for him when everyone, even Badger and Skinny Pete, go home after a couple of days of partying – even they need to rest.

I also like the short Marie and Hank scenes with the physical therapist and then with the rocks.  The physical therapist scene is the first strong indication of the current problems with the marriage – previously it seemed as if Hank was miserable all the time, with his condition, but he’s totally inspired when the therapist is there, and then comes down again when he leaves.  Marie is only half joking when she asks the physical therapist to move in.  It’s one of the first times we really feel for Marie, who has been one of the less likable characters in the show up to this point – here, she’s doing everything she absolutely can for Hank, and he’s still unappreciative.

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