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Breaking Bad 4.2 – “Go Home, Walter.”

Tonight’s episode begins with a lesson for all casting directors: if you’re on the lookout for a grizzled-looking good ol’ boy who’s filled to the gills with folksy wisdom, you need look no further than Jim Beaver. You’ve seen him on “Deadwood” and “John from Cincinnati,” you’ve seen him on “Supernatural” and “Harper’s Island.” Accept no substitutes: Jim Beaver’s got what you need, and he delivers every time…and, yes, that includes tonight, when he played Lawson, an :::cough, cough::: independent businessman helping Walt to procure a handgun.

It’s pretty clear that most of what Walt knows about guns came from watching TV westerns, because every time he draws his weapon, he looks desperately like he’s trying to be the fastest gun in the west. Lawson offers up a lot of helpful advice, including a beautifully delivered line explaining why Walt should stick with a .38 special over an automatic: “If you can’t get it done with five, then you’re into spray-and-pray, in which case I wouldn’t count on another six sealing the deal.” Lawson tries to be the gun dealer with the heart of gold, recognizing Walt’s handicap as a marksman (“You’re gonna want to practice your draw…a lot“) even pointing out the merits of buying legally over illegally, but when Walt refuses to concede that the gun will be used for anything other than defense, he has little choice but to shrug and say, “I’m happy to take your money.” The next time we see Walt, it’s clear that he’s taken Lawson’s advice about practicing his draw to heart…as well he should’ve. You know, I think you have to wonder just how much of Lawson was on the pages of George Mastras’s script and how much was turned into gold simply by Beaver’s pitch-perfect delivery, but either way, Lawson = awesome.

Last week, Mike looked legitimately shocked and horrified at Gus’s actions. This week, it’s clear that he hasn’t moved terribly far away from that emotional state. Seeing him sitting at the bar, quietly having a cup of coffee and reading the paper, it first looks as though he’s just kind of winding down, but if that’s the case, then the discovery of flecks of Victor’s blood clearly wind him right back up again. He’s very much giving off an “I didn’t sign up for this shit” vibe. Can’t say as I blame him for that.

Hey, everybody, it’s Badger and Skinny Pete! God bless Vince Gilligan for knowing just how much of those guys is enough without ever veering into the territory of too much. Jesse’s into showing off his new kick-ass sound system – complete with flashing colored lights! – and getting back on drugs in a big, big way, but in regards to the latter, you have to admit that Badger’s kind of on the money with his assessment of the stereo: “It totally makes me want to crank old Sabbath and blaze one.” Listening to Jesse ramble on about the technical specifications of the system made me realize once again just how a smart a guy he can be if he wants to be, but after the events of the Season Three finale and last week’s Season Four premiere, it’s no wonder that he’s following his worst possible instincts and deciding to start doping it up again. The back-and-forth between Badger and So-Much-for-12-Steps Pete was hysterical (“They’re not just zombies, they’re Nazi zombies”), but Jesse’s atypical silence was suspicious – not coincidentally, it more or less started right about the time Pete brought up Andrea – and when it was finally broken by his suggestion that a party was in order, there was little question that the party would prove to be a poor decision indeed. And yet the havoc it wreaks the first night isn’t enough for Jesse: even as he leaves for another hard day’s work at the old meth factory, he’s whipping out a wad of cash and telling the boys to not only keep the party going in his absence but, indeed, to make sure the joint’s still jumpin’ when he gets home.

If Jesse still more or less in denial about everything that’s happened over the past couple of days, Walt’s nerves are jangling worse than ever, which is precisely the wrong time for him to be wanting to be whipping out a .38. He needn’t worry, though: the man he’s looking to shoot – Gus, of course – is nowhere to be seen. Nor, according to Mike, is Walter ever going to see him again. But…who’s this new guy? Any relation to Gus? Surely not…and, yet, is it just me, or does he look a little bit like him?

The scene with Jesse and Andrea was pretty rough going, not only with her uncertainty about his attempt to be charitable to her and Brock, but with his going out of his way to point out that she could spend all the money he’s given her on drugs. When Brock waved goodbye to Jesse…? Broke my heart a little bit, it did…and Jesse’s, too, I suspect. Meanwhile, Walt’s staking out Gus’s place, trying to muster up the courage to make a move. You’ve got to love the way the strength courses through his veins the second he puts on his porkpie hat: the action of setting it upon his head quite literally transforms him…not that it gets him anywhere. Hat or no hat, if I got a call from the man I wanted to kill, saying, “Go home,” I’d damned well go home, too. Especially given the way we’ve seen him wield a box cutter.

At a loss, Walt decides to meet up with Mike and try to talk with him man to man about what’s gone down recently, why he did it, and so forth. The problem, unfortunately, is that Walt has completely misread the relationship between himself and Mike. True, Mike’s pretty upset about the events of the other night. We could see that earlier in the episode. But there’s a big difference between “I didn’t sign on for this shit” and “I’m going to kill my employer,” and although Walt might have made that jump, Mike’s not there yet…and based on the punching and kicking that Walt receives, it may be awhile before he is.

Hank’s still more or less bedridden when we first see him this episode, and even though it’s the middle of the night, he’s studying his minerals for all he’s worth. This leads to a nice sight gag of Marie slowly raising her bed up to match where Hank’s is, but it’s arguably the only funny moment in this otherwise sad scene, as Hank is being seriously shitty to Marie when all she’s trying to do is be as considerate as possible. His reminder about the number of bedrooms in the house was awful, but for what it’s worth, he seemed momentarily aware that maybe he’d gone a bit too far. Later, though, when his trainer’s cheering him on and she’s doing the same, he can only just barely stand to meet Marie’s high-five, and when he tells her to get out, it’s pretty clear that she’s at an emotional tipping point. When Hank starts bitching at her from the bedroom about his precious rocks, she’s at another one. At some point, her concern for his well-being is going to be outweighed by being sick of his shit. It’s all a matter of when that’s going to happen.

Skyler continues to not really have a clue about how to be a criminal, mentioning the impending purchase of the car wash during her phone message, although for my money, the funniest thing about the scene when she called him was Walt’s constant waving around of the gun while he was talking to her. Unwilling to put up with his refusal to discuss the car wash, she decided to do a little reconnaissance work and learn about the business herself. When she goes to pitch the idea of purchasing the place, though, she finds that Mr. Bogdan – the current owner of the establishment – is still so pissed off at how Walt left the place that he refuses to sell for anything less than $10 million…which is ridiculous, of course, which is why Skyler counters with an incredibly detailed explanation of her counteroffer. His response? “$20 million.” I don’t get the impression that Skyler’s gonna be giving up, but she’s clearly got a fight on her hands.

Damn, Jesse’s place got trashed. Watching everyone bail out of the party…yes, even the omnipresent Badger and Skinny Pete…it was clear that we were building toward the horrible moment when Jesse was left alone with his thoughts. Man, there sure are a lot of people at an emotional tipping point this week…

Random closing comments:

* The vacuum-cam thing at Jesse’s pad was funny, I guess, but it didn’t really do much for me except for when the one stoner grabbed it and started to try and dismantle it.

* Lots of fantastic Badger quotes tonight, but my favorites…? “I could so use a brain transplant right now” is great, but I’ve got to give it to the moment when he says that he feels like a Sleestak.

* As ever, the music was great this week, but I think this number during Jesse’s non-stop party was my personal favorite:


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