How does so much happen in one episode? The Earth has moved in the world of the show. So many storylines intertwine and evolve.
And we learn some key things in this one. Like, Combo stole a baby Jesus statue from a Knights of Columbus display. That might be my favorite detail of the whole episode. Also, Walt’s storing his drug phone in a plastic baggie in the toilet tank, another favorite detail.
There is also a lot–probably in part for time, because so many stories are being told at once–that we don’t see. We don’t see Jesse waking up, or the moment he discovers Jane’s body. Or when he calls her death in to the police. We actually don’t even see or hear anything Jesse says to Walt when he first calls him. All of these things can be inferred and don’t need to be shown on screen.
How did Aaron Paul not win an Emmy for this episode? His acting here blows me away. He’s playing crushing grief, detoxing, guilt, drugged out stupor, and numbness, sometimes several of these at once, and he’s so, so raw. Just like he was in “Grilled” but for much longer stretches. Just breaks my heart.
This is a huge episode. So much happens. Birth and Death, coupled. It’s so emotional. Watching it again, even though I already knew what would happen, it still made me cry. Powerful stuff.
I was thinking about how this episode starts out all fast and loud, and ends in slowness, quiet. And yet it’s the end that’s full of drama. It’s almost the opposite of the norm. Usually tension builds as events heat up and speed up towards the most dramatic moment. In this episode, it’s the opposite arc, the tension rises as the pace slows and the volume lowers from a scream to a whisper.
Walt made his choice, drug deal over being there for the birth. When Walt gets to the hospital, he discovers that Ted was there when he wasn’t. But Walt, I believe, loves his new baby. There has been a lot of love this season between this family, despite all the deceit and lies and the people in positions that oppose each other. As bad as Walt can be, and his heartless side has shown a bit this season, I don’t think that his love for his family, in his own mind anyway, has wavered. Just morphed in ways.
The whole season has felt like a gathering storm. Like every episode, Walter and Jesse are doing things that are bound to come back in some way and just wreak havoc. Those weird black-and-white flashforwards showing all kinds of destruction and a floating eyeball and a creepy awesome burnt bear in a plastic bag help with the growing sense of dread. And up until this episode, Walt and Jesse have experienced some crappy things, some strong winds but nothing they can’t handle.
But now, the storm is here. And it’s gathering speed. Combo is dead. Jesse’s on heroin. Walt’s missing the birth of his baby for a drug deal. No good can come of this.
This episode is a little slower and quieter than most this season, and this fits the storyline perfectly. It’s a great place to pause in, almost an uncomfortable place. Limbo. Walter White has gotten this borderline miraculous news–he’s in remission and going to live for the time being against all odds–but isn’t feeling the relief and exaltation that he should.
I think it’s a few things. One, as discussed in the post for the previous episode, he’s felt that remorse in the desert for all his deception and lies and now he has to live with it. But I think it goes beyond that. He’s created this whole new identity for himself as Heisenberg. He thinks of himself as this total badass, even though this view of himself is a bit inflated. Sure, he’s tough when calling the shots on territory and revenge on the Spooges and raising the product price, but it’s all behind the scenes. Still, he has this new picture of himself as this criminal mastermind, not to be messed with. And I think he doesn’t want to let that go.
I know I say this about a lot of episodes, but “4 Days Out” is one of my all-time favorites, like for real. Definitely top five. Some of the funniest lines in the whole history of the show are in this episode. I still to this day can’t go get clumps of copper for fractional distillation (organic chem lab) without thinking to myself, “Ahhh wire.” And does anything really beat, “A robot?” Jesse’s failed chem tests are showing through.
One thing I love about this episode is that it fits into the arc of the season (I mean, talk about Walt pushing for more, and about consequences) and it also works really well on its own. It has a complete story arc within these 47 or so minutes, and could almost be a mini-movie. If someone came to this episode first, I think they’d be able to follow most of what’s going on. It advances the larger story, sets up a LOT (Walt’s going to live, they have a shitload of meth they need to sell) while still being a full story unto itself.
Oh Badger, Badger, Badger. You shoulda listened to your gut on this one. You knew that guy was a cop and you sold to him anyway. Smooth move.
In the previous episode, Walt pushed for expanding their territory, and a price hike, and in this one, there are some consequences. Actually, there have been a lot of consequences all season, but it’s funny how Walt doesn’t see it. Or sees it and wants to just push on anyway. He’s not exactly proceeding with caution. Skinny Pete got held up and in response Walt pushes Jesse to get into the whole mess deeper. Gretchen called Walt on his bullshit and he gets all Heisenberg and says “Fuck you.” Walt and Jesse got kidnapped by Tuco and Walt gets naked in a convenience store to make his cover-up of his disappearance more believable and talks to Jesse, while still at the hospital, about starting up cooking again. Jesse got all depressed after his dealings with The Spooges and Walt sees it as an opportunity to exploit their newfound power and expand the business. Walt’s family life is all a mess and he just keeps on lying and disappearing.
I guess my point is that at any point where it seems a person might decide to proceed with caution and dial things back, Walt does the opposite. He is a man on a mission and doesn’t see any of these things as warning signs. He wants that money counting thing to be going around the clock.
But Badger getting busted could be really bad. Jesse says he’s too loyal to roll, but how long will that last?
This episode is all about new territory, literally and figuratively, on so many levels.
The previous episode, “Peekaboo” gave a much needed glimpse into the real dark and depressing and yeah, swanky, underworld that’s on the other other side of Walt and Jesse and their cooking endeavors. But it also did something else important. It set Walt and Jesse up in a position of power that they didn’t have before. As long as everyone thinks that Jesse crushed a dude’s head with an ATM machine, our dynamic duo have a new license to take new risks.
Or really, it’s just Walt who wants to. He’s kind of a greedy bastard this season. He wants to expand into other dealers’ turfs. He immediately senses the business potential inherent in people thinking Jesse killed a guy who jacked him. He knows they can feed on fear. As always, he’s real academic about it, all exponential growth and levels of distribution and initiative and nice colored maps. Walt would have made a good business shark in some ways.
But I’m not sure he knows the criminal world as well as he thinks he does. Jesse seems much more in touch with the realities of the drug dealers on the streets, and with the unspoken rules about territory and turf.