I think that Season Three might be my favorite season overall, so far, but these first few episodes are just a little slow. I’m like Walt or maybe Saul, I just don’t feel quite right if he’s not cooking. The slowness makes sense in the story of the show. Walt has to take that pause, has to consider the consequences, almost burn the money, get out and believe he’s really out for good after everything that’s happened. Anything else wouldn’t serve the story. If he had jumped right back into it, the consequences–Jane’s death, the plane crash, Skyler finding out and her subsequent affair–would be meaningless.
This is Walt’s fourth time making the decision to cook. Each time, the stakes get higher, the run of cooking is longer, the consequences get bigger (Krazy-8 vs Tuco vs all the recent wreckage mentioned above), and so the decision takes longer. It’s like he’s successively being asked, do you really want to do this, and keeps saying yes. And each time, it’s a little bit darker. He knows what could happen, what has happened, the people who’ve died, and he still decides yes.
It sure seems like Heisenberg is back in that conversation with Saul and Jesse. Holy shit is Walt an ass to Jesse or what? Just so mean. It’s hard to believe this is the same Walt who went and rescued Jesse from a crackhouse, who got him into rehab and was going to let him stay with him once he got out. It’s like he doesn’t give a rip what happens to Jesse and he’s just so condescending and borderline cruel. He’s gone back to cooking, he might as well embrace being the bad guy. Or maybe berating Jesse is Walt’s way of dealing with the guilt he likely feels for getting back into making meth. And look how he negotiates with Saul. This is Walt with his ego fed. A little scary. He doesn’t even know that Tuco’s cousins are still somewhere out there, waiting for Gus to let them kill him.
He also doesn’t know that Hank knows about the RV. And Hank knows Jesse is involved. He is a little too hot on the trail. Oh, it was so good to see Combo back! And what an awesome shirt, as always. I miss Combo and his style. I also miss Jesse’s old clothes and beanies. The teaser flashback fills in a little bit from a story we thought we already knew, about Jesse getting the RV, after spending Walt’s life savings at a strip club.
It adds a really interesting element. I mean beyond the (almost) naked girls and champagne and return of Combo and music. It sort of turns the moral compass of Walter and Jesse. Since Jesse’s loss is so fresh (just last episode he was calling Jane’s voicemail over and over) and he’s clean and all that, it’s easy to only feel for Jesse at this point, and not so much for Walt, who’s all in denial about what he may have contributed to that loss or the crash, and then being all ineffectual in all his attempted reactions to Skyler’s affair.
But seeing what Jesse did after getting Walt’s money just tunes that the littlest bit towards Walt. Here’s Jesse, yeah blackmailed and all that, but Walt just gave him his entire life savings, which was sad in the first place, and Jesse’s totally blowing it. It makes you feel a little sorry for Walt, a little like Jesse’s the bad one here. And that was needed a little, for the sake of a tiny bit of balance. It’s too early on in the story for Walt to be all bad, for Jesse to be all good. This is the time for them to wrestle with being the bad guy. But this also strip club scene also allows you to measure how far these two men have come, how they’ve changed. Showing clips of the pilot episode almost begs for some reflection on where things are now compared to where they were then. And Walt has gotten darker. And Jesse–with him it’s a bit more complex with him because there are definitely ways he’s grown up a bit by now, but he is “the bad guy” now as well. This is not a linear road for either of them. Which is so refreshing, and real.
For anyone who’s seen the Season Five DVD and the extra scene “Chicks ‘N’ Guns,” doesn’t it sort of remind you of the strip club scene? It adds another, darker layer of look how things have changed. There is a lot of fun in the strip club scene in this episode, fun partying. The bonus scene, it’s sad. Not like crying sad but just…sad. Almost pathetic sad but more just full of subtle undertones of quiet desperation. And Jesse, Walter and Saul and how they feel and who they are and who they trust is so different now.
Great little moments in this episode:
Hank creeping up on an RV and peeping on the old couple playing cards naked.
Skinny Pete puking.
Jesse backing the RV up and running over the garbage can.
Walt getting up from his closet phone call with Jesse and that tiny chair sticking to his ass for a sec.
Gomie getting the El Paso promotion.
Marie doing the same motions with the sugar packets as she does in 201. Character consistency.
Combo’s room. Sad and perfect.
Skyler also makes a turn in this episode, and it starts fairly early on. At the meal, she’s more open to Walt. She asks him if he wants to get Holly, and up until now, she really tried to keep him from her. She looks at all his money. She then starts to feel uncomfortable at Ted’s place. She is slowly, slowing coming around to see Walt’s perspective. Just like Walt getting back in the game, Skyler’s shift has to be slow and take time to be believable. Maybe the initial shock is wearing off. I think Skyler is very practical on some level, sometimes moreso than Walt, and she’s not going to leave or turn Walt in, she can’t keep him out of the house, he’s started to be more open with her and talk about why he’s doing what he did.
Walt and Gus have a telling conversation, almost a battle of the minds. And Gus wins. Sure, Walt is onto him, and I think this surprises Gus. Walt is smart enough that he can see exactly what Gus was doing in that whole deal in the previous episode about “his half,” Walt knows that Gus was trying to trick him back into cooking and using Jesse to do it, and uses it against Jesse later. So he’s onto Gus’s game…but Gus still wins the game. He shows Walt the gorgeous superlab with the red floors, the thorium oxide, the huge vats and equipment. Says the perfect combination of words that gets Walt at his core, and he agrees to start cooking again. Gus is definitely in control here.
Hank is going a little off the rails on this RV chase. His PTSD is acting up and he has to justify not going to El Paso, but he’s getting a bit rabid. Gomez and Marie are both starting to question what he’s doing.
Walt signs the divorce papers. Gus got to him. He will provide for the family even if he’s not respected or loved. But that’s a little too convenient. Let’s not forget he also gets to work in this amazing superlab, throw it in Jesse’s face, make three million dollars in three months and gets a much better deal out of Saul and gets all the glory. What I’m saying is, I think Walt wanted to start cooking again. Gus just gave him a way to get back to it and rationalize that he’s still the good guy.
Poor Jesse. Or poor Walt’s Aztec’s windshield.
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