As with all the thirteen-episode seasons, episode eleven is the point when everything starts to boil, situations become untenable and all the cards get stacked for what follows. All the makings of the storms are in play. This is true as ever here in Season Four.
As mentioned in the previous episode post, despite all the terrible things that Walt and Jesse have done, they have also learned to stand up in the face of fear. In this season, they each get a moment where a younger Walt or Jesse would have crumbled and this time they don’t. Jesse got his moment in the last episode and Walt gets his here.
It’s one of the most powerful (and beautifully shot) scenes in the season. Walt gets tasered outside Jesse’s house and brought to the desert. On his knees. Hooded. With Gus and company, and he knows Gus wants him dead and has seen Gus kill. Gus threatens him, and it’s clear he expects Walt to crumble and submit. Meanwhile, twice, clouds pass over and cast Walt and Gus in shadows. That was natural, not added in later, just a happy little accident that is so, so beautiful and adds to the iconic nature of the scene. A lot of the shots are looking up at Gus (with some amazing blue in the background), and the angle emphasizes Gus’s position of power.
But Walt doesn’t cave or crumble. He calls Gus’s bluff. He tells Gus he knows he can’t kill him, that Jesse won’t cook for Gus if Gus kills him. I find that moment so, so powerful because this is so different from the scared Walt we once knew. And I don’t know how to explain it, because Walt’s lack of fear (among other things) has led him to make some very bad decisions and do some horrible, horrible things. But he’s also talked a lot of inflated smack this season, about being in control when he isn’t. But here, when he stands up to Gus despite everything, it makes me almost proud of Walt and feel like he has somehow grown and gained something that might be considered positive from all this. And Jesse has too. They’ve learned not to be intimidated by scary, murderous, drug dealer dudes in power, and that’s something.
The loyalty between Jesse and Walt is interesting in this episode. In the beginning, Walt’s pretty worried about Jesse. He keeps asking Hank about cartel news, and he tells Tyrus that if Jesse’s gone, he’s done. Jesse pleads with Gus not to kill Walt. When Gus says that won’t work, Jesse says they have a problem then. They’re both still loyal.
But then Walt figures out Jesse’s alive and has been cooking without him, and then look at how they fight! All acting like they don’t care if the other lives or dies. Notice that Walt sees Brock and Andrea at first. When Walt and Jesse start to fight, Andrea and Brock turn and stare at them before Jesse takes it outside. By the way, the little scene between Jesse and Brock was adorable.
And still, despite all the fighting, Jesse still won’t let Gus kill Mr. White. For now. How long can it last? Jesse also has loyalty to Mike, which is displayed a few times in this episode. They’ve bonded.
“Oh my God, how are you not following me here?”
The first time I watched this episode, I wasn’t sure that Ted was actually trying to blackmail Skyler like she thought he was. But after rewatching it, yeah, he totally was. He’s a slimy manipulator himself. First he leaves that message for Skyler, at home, saying he’s not going to pay the IRS. Now, he doesn’t even really have to tell her that. He could just not pay the IRS and use her money to buy more cars or get the company up and running some more or who knows what. But he wants her to come back in. Then he slyly asks her if Walt knows about her giving him the money, and she says no and that she wants it to stay that way.
And Ted knows (or thinks he does) that Walt and Skyler bought the carwash with illegal gambling winnings. He has leverage. So then he starts talking about how even after he pays the IRS, his life will still be a mess because of his debts, his kids’ private school, his failing business. He’s basically saying exactly what she intuits, that the money she gave him through Saul wasn’t enough. He tries to play it off, but yeah.
Tio, Tio, Tio. Gus visits him again, with Jesse, and taunts him about how all his family members are now dead, show’s him Don Eladio’s necklace. But Tio still won’t look at Gus. Or ring his bell. What, oh what will it take?
Gus and Jesse are so upset with Walt for bringing Hank to the laundry, but come on, if Walt weren’t in the car, and willing to get in a crash rather than keep going, Hank would have been poking around the laundry. Yeah he’s a problem, but he would’ve been a much bigger problem if he had been going by himself or with anyone else. Poor Hank though, first he gets shot an dis still recovering from that and now he’s in a neck brace.
Love the scene where Huell and Kuby visit Ted. Saul’s A Team. Of course, this scene is set up earlier when Ted trips on the rug on his way to answer the door for Skyler. Ted figures out that Skyler sent these guys and tries to plead that they’re good friends. Ted being the genius he’s been about this IRS debacle all along, tries to run away. Rookie move. Oranges. Is he dead?
“Does the laundry have to be dirty?” Walt asks.
Tyrus waits. “No.”
In general Tyrus doesn’t speak to Walt at all unless he has to. And when he has to, he always waits a few beats first, and says as little as possible. Shutting Walt out in so many ways.
And then, the ending of the episode is just amazing. Walt freaking out, asking for the disappearer, crying, and Saul tells him if he does this, there’s no coming back, and Walt is willing. He has no choice. Also, as the first line in this post suggests, he’s making sure to do what he can to protect Hank. It’s interesting because Walt’s gotten pretty bad now, but he’s still looking out for Hank, who is in some ways his antagonist. And then he goes home and realizes he doesn’t have the money for the disappearer, and Skyler admits she gave it to Ted.
We expect him to scream, and he does, but then…the hysterical laughter. So unexpected. He just can’t stop laughing and laughing at this most desperate moment of his life up to this point. It’s almost absurd, so much more impactful then if he screamed his head off. The laughing underscores the desperation. And then it’s layered with Marie’s call that the cartel is after Hank.
So let’s just recap where everything stands at this point. Ted may be dead but at least he’s paid the IRS. Gus has threatened to kill Skyler, Jr and Baby Holly if Walt interferes in Gus’s plans to kill Hank, and Walt has interfered in these plans. Hank and Marie know there’s a hit out on Hank. Jesse has survived the cartel but Gus thinks he can turn him against Walt. Walt is a wanted man, with Jesse’s loyalty, which seems to be flagging, as the only thing keeping him alive. Walt wants to get himself and his family out of town but can’t because Skyler gave so much of his money to Ted. If it’s possible, Tio hates Gus more than before. If looks could kill and all that. Oh yeah, and Hank has connected the laundry to the Fring meth Pollos Hermanos empire.
Not good. What will Walt do to get himself out of this little pickle?
- Breaking Bad Episode 410 “Salud”
- Breaking Bad Episode 409 “Bug”
- Breaking Bad Episode 408 “Hermanos”
- Breaking Bad Episode 407 “Problem Dog”
- Breaking Bad Episode 406 “Cornered”
- Breaking Bad Episode 405 “Shotgun”
- Breaking Bad Episode 404 “Bullet Points”
- Breaking Bad Episode 403 “Open House”
- Breaking Bad Episode 402 “Thirty-Eight Snub”
- Breaking Bad Episode 401 “Box Cutter”
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- Breaking Bad Season 1 Episode Posts
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