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.
All right yo, things are starting to move and get more dramatic here. Every season it takes a few episodes to start moving forward more quickly after the huge dramas at the season change, and now is the time to bring in new twists and turn up the heat.
Walt and Skyler go public with the family and come clean, errr appear to come clean about Walt’s gambling winnings and about buying the carwash. Some people say that Walt is a careful man. Gus wouldn’t agree and neither would I, not really. Walt has a giant genius brain and is very good at getting out of situations, and he’s a master manipulator, but he doesn’t usually think too far ahead. Even Saul has chastised Walt in the past for not having plans for certain eventualities (RV). Sure, he likes a clean lab, but that’s not the same as being a careful man. I discussed this more in the post for 508 “Gliding Over All” because Walt does something that Mike might call “uncautious,” and I argued that though Walt is a meticulous chemist, he is not, at his core, terribly careful and has often left loose ends. Thinking far ahead is not Walter White’s strong points.
One thing that really strikes me about “Open House” is that in a way, nothing moves forward. Nothing changes. Everything just deepens, but putting it that way sounds too pretty. Everything goes deeper into a dark morass. The only plot point that moves forward here is the buying of the carwash. And that’s big, but it also feels more like sinking deeper than moving forward. Other than that, everyone’s situation is just getting worse.
A lot of things in this episode resonate later this season, especially this bit of Skyler and Walt’s fight about whether or not he’s in danger. And then several of Saul’s suggestions for how to inspire some “motivation” in Bogdan and Skyler’s objections to them come back later. So funny when she says, “We do not do that, that’s not who we are, right?” re: violence.
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.
So, I think there may be something seriously wrong with me because after finishing this episode, which is brutal and hopeless, I went about my day but couldn’t shake it. And I didn’t want to; I almost wanted to just live in this world and not my own a little longer, stay in that superlab with our guys. Disturbing, huh? I mean, of all episodes to feel this way about, this one’s a little…traumatic.
This episode may break some records for characters going the longest time without speaking. These long stretches without dialogue allow for other sounds, especially the creaking of the chairs in the superlab, Gus’s footsteps, Gus changing clothes, putting on his glasses, but mostly it’s the chairs.
So Saul got himself a bodyguard, Huell. He’s always glided over things before but not now. He’s terrified, looking around his office for bugs (hilarious detail that the columns move), speaking on a payphone, asking Huell if he has a passport. And I gotta say, I usually love Saul’s ridiculous outfits, usually find something aesthetically redeeming about his crazy color combinations, but this time? No way. Worst Saul get-up ever. Gross.
I love when Skyler says to Saul, “He carpools…to his job…at a meth lab?”