I LOVE this episode. Maybe my favorite of the season actually. As with so many, so much happens. This is an episode where certain storylines, like Gus trying to pit Jesse and Walt against each other, come to a climax, and other storylines, like Ted and the IRS trouble, are just beginning.
We haven’t seen Ted in a long while, not since he came to visit Skyler in Season Three after Hank got shot. Tio came back in the last episode, Ted in this one. No one ever goes away for long on this show. But Ted’s not back for a romantic rendez-vous as Skyler first suspects. Oh no, he’s got much bigger troubles. The IRS. An audit. With Skyler’s name on record. Meaning she could get investigated as she’s laundering Walt’s drug money through the carwash. Bad news bears for sure.
When I saw this episode for the first time, I wondered if there was a little Season Two action going on, because here we have a teaser that starts almost identical to the one a few episodes back, and they have a specific color palette, starting with the blue breath, just like the ones in Season Two had their black and white and pink bear palette. But these aren’t flashforwards, and there’s no hidden message in these episode names. It’s just the cartel, amping up their aggression towards Gus’s operation. There’s something very artistic about these openings, the cool blue of the inside of the refrigerated truck, the way the light comes in through the bullet holes. Always an eye for that sort of thing on this show, how to play with light and color to make scenes not only dramatic but visually interesting and artful.
It’s been established in the past that Walt should probably not make speeches or take any sort of pain or pre-op meds, and this week we add two more items to the list of things Walter White should not do: drink heavily after his ego’s been insulted and drive a forklift.
The onslaught to Walt’s pride just keeps coming. Has Walt been successful at anything this season other than staying alive? It seems that every attempt at moving in any direction since then has been thwarted and put down in one way or another. He gets nowhere trying to save Jesse, and it turns out Jesse doesn’t even really need saving, he storms in to see Gus who turns out not to be there; he hooks up with Skyler then she decides, without checking with him, that he will move back in and when; then after all Walt goes through trying to save Jesse, Jesse comes back and sorta bosses Walt around; and then Jr drinks out of a Beneke mug and that just does Walt in. But if all that isn’t enough, Hank has to go on and on about what a genius meth chef Gale was.
“You won, Walter,” Mike says. “You got the job. Learn to take yes for an answer.” These quotes will resonate, one at the end of this season, one in the next.
In the season premiere, Marie mentions to Hank that she really likes the new PT guy, and it’s easy to see why. The guy is encouraging but not overly so. He seems to really be helping not just with Hank’s body but also with his emotional state. Hank puts on a good face around the guy. So much so that Marie wants him to move in. Marie is really overdoing the cheeriness here, which understandably irritates Hank. Both of their dispositions–Marie’s over-the-top optimism (bordering on patronizing at times) and Hank’s gruffness and grouchiness–have amped up since the premiere. I still really feel for both of them.
They have a strong marriage, despite little blips here and there, but now Hank is in a place Marie has never seen him, that we the viewers have never seen him. His PT is going, but it’s so slow and he’s in so much pain and he has this new mineral obsession and there’s no DEA or detective work to speak of. He takes some of it out on Marie but he also tries to pull back some. I think that neither of them know what to do with this new Hank, with the fear that the old Hank, in body and in mind, may not return.
Jesse’s going off the rails and Walt’s getting his Heisenberg mojo back. And Jesse’s sobriety is over.
There is so much going on here it’s hard to know where to start. Guess I’ll mention a few visual details first. The neon green in some of the scenes with Wendy inside the Crystal Palace is ominous and haunting and beautiful. I like how the teaser ends with Jesse in a car and the first act opens on Walt in a car, and they’re in such different situations. During Mike’s “half measures” speech I couldn’t stop looking at how his ears are backlit.
Jesse is using the RV to cook again. The teaser for this episode is a perfect example of Jesse taking the “I’m the bad guy” and his no-nonsense acceptance of that fact too far. Jesse has never been a pusher before, using his charm to get a girl to trade him free gas for a baggie of meth. Maybe he’s resigned to the bad guy role. Maybe he believes that’s who he is. It seriously makes me question the philosophy at that rehab place with those amazing plush green robes and shirts. Jesse’s not using anymore but something’s off and Jesse’s actually more of a bad guy since accepting this “fact” about himself than he ever was before.
Walt is, as Mike puts it, a disaster over this thing with his wife. Man, Mike is sooo deadpan. When Saul asks is this a good thing or a bad thing, Mike plays a bit more of the recording and then says, “It’s a bad thing.” It’s kind of hilarious. Gotta love Mike. He’s just as good later when he tells Walt the reasons he’s definitely removing all the bugs from Walt’s house.
Wow. Can’t believe there’s only one more to go. What will I do without my weekly fix?
This episode left us with some burning thoughts and questions. First, would you rather eat bacon banana cookies or cake pops? And would you dare to dip either in some Franch?
Okay, that’s just gross, but seriously that shit looked pretty tasty in this episode. Is it me or has there been more focus on food this season than most? The dressings at Madrigal, the bacon in 501 and 504, the whole thing about green beans and frozen scabby lasagna, Hank’s thing about Miracle Whip, Skyler’s whipped potatoes and double chocolate cake, and now Dan’s treats for the bank lady.
Also, what’s up with Saul’s outfits in the last two eps not being as awesomely colorful and eye-catching as usual? I mean really, give him a psychedelic tie next time or I’m out yo.