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Breaking Bad – Season 4, Episode 5: Shotgun

4 Sep

(A few weeks ago, I started these Breaking Bad recaps, and then fell a bit behind.  Not one to give up without a fight, they’re still coming, just a tiny bit late.  I’m going to dump a few of them today, so read them if you wish, and if you don’t watch Breaking Bad, turn off your computer and start it today)

The episode begins with Walt, realizing Jesse’s not in the lab, becoming immediately concerned that Jesse has been harmed, or is about to be.  Honestly, I can’t blame Walt for that reaction. In his position, I would think the exact same thing.  However, he goes about it in a naïve, impulsive and foolishly headstrong Walt fashion, driving right to Los Pollos Hermanos to confront Gus, with the thoroughly unrealistic expectation he would just walk in unharmed and kill Gus.  Before he can do anything even dumber, Mike calls and lets him know that Jesse’s all right.

Jesse’s a passenger as Mike picks up cash at a bunch of different drop spots throughout the state.  He can’t figure out why he’s here, and even though Mike knows what the plan is, he really doesn’t understand it either.  Eventually, at the last drop, while Jesse’s in the car, a couple of armed gunmen come down towards Mike’s car, and Jesse is moved from his malaise to back the car into one of them and make a clean get away, realizing that maybe he’s not quite ready to die after all.  When Mike meets Gus later in the episode, we learn what I had suspected right away, that the attack was part of a plan to make Jesse feel like a hero and stop fucking up, and even better, that it seems to have worked so far.

Walt and Skyler are getting along again, and after a heated bout of love-making, Skyler suggests Walt move in again.  Walter Jr. seems pretty excited about that prospect, but Walt, not as much.  While right after he was kicked out all he wanted to do was come back home, Walt has changed in the past couple of months.  After a family dinner, Walt finds himself drinking a glass of wine by himself before rejoining the party.  I at first thought Walt is now bored by this sedentary suburban life that he was apart of for so many years before his cancer, but I think it’s more at least that he’s so terrified of Gus and Mike harming him or his family but doesn’t want to let his family know about it.

Hank notes at the dinner table that it looks like Gale was Heisenberg after all, and notes what a true and real genius Gale must have been.  Walt’s ego is shattered, and Walt feels like he must pipe up, no matter the fact that it would have been awfully convenient for his criminal enterprise for Heisenberg to have been thought dead.  Walt suggests Gale’s work shows he was a mere student, and that the teacher, the true genius must still be out there.  Walt’s desire to speak up is obviously partly a product of ego, but it might be of boredom as well.  Too much stress may be frustrating, but Walt may need a little bit to get excited anymore.

Breaking Bad – Season 4, Episode 4: Bullet Points

4 Sep

(A few weeks ago, I started these Breaking Bad recaps, and then fell a bit behind.  Not one to give up without a fight, they’re still coming, just a tiny bit late.  I’m going to dump a few of them today, so read them if you wish, and if you don’t watch Breaking Bad, turn off your computer and start it today)

First, a couple of notes about the cold open, in which Mike holes up in a truck and then kills a couple of guys who have machine guns.   I said in an earlier recap that Breaking Bad so often has great scenes, even aside from the context of the show.  I can’t see the actual reason this scene adds to the plot, as we had the scene we needed to show how insanely superhumanly badass Mike is when he took down that asian warehouse last season.  The only thing I can think of is if the ear injury gets referred to again.  Either way, though, bravo, great scene.

The scenes of Walt and Skyler working on the story they’re going to tell Marie and Hank about Walt’s gambling addiction highlight both the differences and the strengths and flaws in their two personalities (something we dealt with in last episode as well).  Skyler is detail-oriented (her resume would read) and well-prepared – she wants to be practiced down to the word, and down to the exact emotion.  That said, lying doesn’t come easy to her.  Walt is impatient and impulsive, but he also has a point in realizing that to some extent the story is just going to have to flow naturally.  They can plan a general guide for the story, but there’s something stiff about trying to actually write a script to the letter.  The story seems to go over pretty well when the Walt and Skyler go over to Marie and Hank’s for dinner.  Walt actually made money at cards, so his son doesn’t exactly understand why this addiction is a bad thing.

Hank brings Walt and Walter Jr. to check out the absolutely amazing video of Gale singing Major Tom karaoke, and Hank asks Walt to examine the notebook.  When Hank points out the initials WW, for the first time I felt as if Hank didn’t believe Walt 100%, but I may just have been reading in deeper to the situation because of what I know as the viewer.

Walt, frustrated with everyone, and stressed out about being captured or killed, fumes at Saul Goodman, using his lawyer session for therapy, but is still unwilling to commit to going into hiding.  He still thinks he can find a way out.

Jesse continues his vicious cycle of nihilism that he began in the first episode of the season, but it seems like something has to give.  Walt is furious at Jesse that he didn’t take proper care at the crime scene, and even more so that that doesn’t even seem to bother Jesse, oblivious to the difficulty Jesse is having when reliving the murder.  After some junkies burglarize Jesse’s funds, Mike gets it back for Jesse, who doesn’t seem to care.  Mike and Gus are clearly concerned about Jesse too, and we’re left wondering exactly how concerned when the episode ends with Mike taking Jesse on a ride.  Maybe it’s to his death, or maybe for ice cream.

Breaking Bad – Season 4, Episode 3: Open House

4 Sep

(A few weeks ago, I started these Breaking Bad recaps, and then fell a bit behind.  Not one to give up without a fight, they’re still coming, just a tiny bit late.  I’m going to dump a few of them today, so read them if you wish, and if you don’t watch Breaking Bad, turn off your computer and start it today)

Plenty to unpack here as usual.  First, the car wash.  This whole situation highlights Walt’s flaws, and that Skyler is everything that Walt’s not.  Where Walt is bold and impetuous, Skyler is patient, shrewd and detail oriented.  It’s almost comical watching Walt decide Skyler’s plan is a failure after waiting five hours without a call, hopping up and down next to the phone like an anxious middle school girl, and then decide even faster that Skyler’s negotiating tactics have failed after she intentionally lowballs the car wash owner.  Walt is unconcerned that his grand gesture of buying a ludicrously expensive bottle of champagne might look out of place for an unemployed school teacher because after all, he paid cash.  Walt has had his fair share of victories in the show due to his willingness to be bold and act quickly and aggressively, but that’s also a path to getting himself arrested or killed.  He would never have come up with as intricate a plan as reporting a false EPA violation.  It’s great to see Saul again as well, mocking Skyler’s stated intentions to buy the car wash, and send a message, but just without hurting anyway, openly, and yet she figures out a way.

Marie gets a big chunk of plot this episode as well – she begins to lose a little bit of the sympathy she was gaining, as she turns back to her own shoplifting ways. She goes to open houses, inventing new lives for herself, and takes personal items each time.  Luckily, she has a DEA husband with connections in law enforcement to get her off.  She’s immature, certainly, and enjoying her flights of fantasy and escape from Hank being, well, simply mean to her.  Getting on her case because she confused Fritos and Cheetos?  Harsh.  Pretty immature of Hank as well.  Maybe she’s back to her shoplifting because she wants to get arrested for attention like a teenager and wants Hank to notice or take care of her.

Jesse wants to go og-carting with Walt after work, but Walt takes a raincheck.  Walt at least does him the courtesy of pretending to consider it, but go-carting is below him.  Jesse is at heart still interested in the simple pleasures of Go-carting; he’s just a kid.  He’s not getting what he wants to out of the go-carting, though. He can’t seem to enjoy it.  Either it’s because he’s still devastated over killing Gale, or was so thrown for a loop by being nearly killed and watching Gus kill Victor, or probably both, but just the like in the last episode, he’s dealing, but with a new strategy.  He tried to hang with friends in a non-stop party last episode but it only worked for so long.  Now he’s at a drug den, giving money away.  Blood money, perhaps?  While Walt has become a master of rationalizing away anything he does,  Jesse can’t even justify the things he did that were actually necessary.  He’s punishing himself. While Walt thinks he’s always the good guy even as he breaks increasingly bad, Jesse always sees himself as the bad guy, even when he’s not.

We get the return of Gale’s notebook in this episode.  Clearly foreshadowed in the first episode, we knew it was only a matter of time until it came into play, continuing the set up of Walt being squeezed by both Gus and the police.  That’s about it for the notebook for now though, as a fellow detective puts it into Hank’s hands, but its importance is unquestioned.