This episode might’ve been called “Open House,” but when it first began, it seemed as though it should’ve been called “Dead Man Walking,” so dour was Walt’s expression when he first entered the SuperLab. But then he poured himself a cup of coffee and found a smile…which, within moments, had turned into something between a frown and a snarl. Yep, Walt’s going through some emotional turmoil at the moment, unable to enjoy his “victory” over Gale because he’s convinced that a final battle between himself and Gus is inevitable, and the addition of security cameras which literally follow him wherever he goes in the lab…well, that’s just the cherry of on top of his seething sundae of hatred for his employer.
But that’s not what this episode is about. Not really, anyway. It’s much more about the two husband-and-wife relationships of the series – Walt & Skyler and Hank & Marie – and, to a lesser extent, poor Jesse, who’s never seemed quite so alone and adrift as he does this week.
Skyler wants to talk about the car wash. Walt doesn’t. Given her persistence to get him to come to the door in the first place, it’s fair to suspect that she would’ve shoved her way past him in annoyance eventually, but once she spotted his bruised eye, it’s notable that her first reaction was concern…not for what it might mean to her and the kids, but simply for Walt. Further confirmation that no matter what kind of ass Walt might be, she still loves and cares for him. Unfortunately, as far as Walt’s concerned, she cares a little too much, dismissing her suggestions to go to the police, then getting grouchy and accusing her of undue passive-aggression. Even when she makes him swear that he’ll go to the police if things get really, really bad, his response of “absolutely!” is utterly devoid of any ring of truth.
Marie’s looking for a new place…? Well, why not? It’s not as if Hank hasn’t put her in a position where she ought to be. But…oh, hell, she’s just making up shit again. It’s like Season One all over again. It’s so sad to see her shift back into her lying ways, yet at the same time, they’re so elaborate that you can’t help but be in awe of her creativity. Meanwhile, however, Hank’s just sitting in bed watching porn. The second she walked into the room, though, he once again ripped her to shreds. That final comment about how the fantasy football catalog was useless was downright awful, making it no surprise that she promptly went out and started on another round of lying to real-estate agents, this time seriously upping the level of unbelievability. Peace Corps? NASA? Hand modeling? Good lord.
The height of brazenness, however, came when she swiped the spoon, which was so incredibly obvious that you have to feel like her subconscious was trying to get her arrested. Cue the phone call to Hank, who proved once again that, despite his surface nastiness toward his wife, he still can’t help but be moved by her tears. But when she’s told that no one’s going to be pressing charges and that she’s free to go home, the horror at the mere thought of returning to Hank causes her to burst into tears again,
Of course, she still goes home, anyway, and the next time we see her, it seems at first as if nothing’s changed. When she retrieves Hank’s virtually uneaten dinner, however, the reacts to his annoyance at the fact that she wants to leave the rice pudding for him to eat later by snapping, “Don’t eat it, then.” Funny thing, though: the next time we see Hank, he’s eating it. If she notices, though, any excitement at the moment is killed stone dead when he reacts to the arrival of his cop buddy – who, thankfully, is there to see Hank rather than her – by saying, “What happened, did she rob a bank?” Ouch. As I suggested at the end of my season-premiere blog, Gale’s lab notes have indeed fallen into Hank’s hands…but he doesn’t want them. Or so he said. I knew full well that his curiosity would get the best of him by the end of the episode, and so it did.
Let’s check in on Jesse for a minute, shall we? His desperation to keep himself occupied has reached the point where he’s actually asking Walt to hang out. Wow, that’s really sad. Walt begs off, but when he spots Jesse’s disappointment, he offers a rain check and asks, “Is there anything we should talk about?” Unsurprisingly, Jesse immediately deflects the question and asks about Walt’s eye, then turns Walt’s question right back at him and follows it with a great (if sad) line: “For what it’s worth, getting the shit kicked out of you…? Not to say you get used to it, but…you do kind of get used to it.” The next time we see him, he’s enjoying a little primal-scream therapy on wheels, then heads home, where we see that his place has turned into a debauchery-filled haven for addicts and drunks, full of fucking, fighting, stealing, and, oddly enough, painting. By the end of the episode, we truly see how far he’s come when he throws a not-insubstantial wad of cash into the air. Hard to believe it was only last season when Jesse looked aghast at Walt and asked, “What’s more important than money?”
Okay, to finish up, let’s look back in on Walt and Skyler, who are meeting with Saul Goodman – though not in his office, notably, underlining that he’s clearly still paranoid about being listened in on – about their continued lack of a money-laundering facility. Saul’s still trying to sell them on the nail salon, but, nope, Skyler’s not backing down on the car wash, despite the fact that she was “wrestled into submission by (Bodgan’s) eyebrows.” (Nice one, Saul.) To defend her position, Skyler offers the surprisingly dark observation that Bogdan “lacks the appropriate motivation,” clarifying that she’s looking to give him not so much an offer he can’t refuse as an “attitude adjustment.” Boy, she’s really getting the hang of this stuff quickly, ain’t she? Saul, as ever, goes sleazy, considering first painting him as a terrorist, then suggesting violence, but Skyler’s not having anything Saul has to say…or that Walt has to say, for that matter. She’s unabashedly making a power play against Walt, basically saying, “I don’t like him, and that’s why I want his car wash.” Daaaaaammmmmmnnnnnn…
Seeing soap bubbles slide slowly down the drain gives Skyler a sudden brainstorm on how to get Bogdan to sell the carwash. I wasn’t quite sure what was going on at first – did she really turn him in to the authorities? – but after the cut to her feeding lines to the guy, I obviously realized that the call to Saul was to find someone to help her perpetuate this premise. I can’t believe Skyler was that devious. I think I’m in love. Walt, however, is still a little sketchy on the whole thing and finds it incredibly easy to say, “Well, he’s obviously not calling.” Except he does call…at which point, Skyler grows an even bigger pair of balls than she’d already been sporting, refusing to let him take her previous offer. You can all but see the steam coming out of Walt’s ears…but damned if he doesn’t call back and say, “Okay.” And how awesome is it that she lets it ring four times before she answers it?
The last time we see Walt and Skyler in the episode, they’re battling over Walt’s seemingly-frivolous decision to buy a really expensive bottle of champagne to celebrate Skyler’s deal. She’s got a really good point – how can he explain being able to buy it, given that they’re supposedly as broke as broke can be? – but he poo-poos her paranoia. Why do I think we’re soon going to see this come back to bite him in the ass?
Just a quick pair of closing comments:
* “I didn’t retaliate because he’s a much older man.” HA! Nice spin on getting clocked by Mike, Walt.
* Every time they showed Saul’s tie hanging out of the bottom of his jacket, I laughed out loud.
Tags: Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, Betsy Brandt, Bob Odenkirk, Breaking Bad blog, Breaking Bad fourth season, Breaking Bad Season 4, Bryan Cranston, Dean Norris, Hank Schrader, Jesse Pinkman, Jonathan Banks, Marie Schrader, Saul Goodman, Skyler White, Walter White