It’s deja vu all over again as we start this week’s episode once more in the back of a Los Pollos Hermanos van. Just because Mike took down the last dudes who tried to hijack a shipment, don’t think that’s scared off the cartel: they’ve gotten smarter, gassing out Gus’s guys and taking what they came for. The container of meth-laded chicken batter makes a return appearance later in the episode. First, though, it’s time to pop back in and see how our man Walt is doing after his drunken escapades at the end of last week’s episode.
After Walt’s wine-fueled eruption at dinner the night before, Skyler’s reflecting on Walt’s “I love you” message on the answering machine and realizing that the words were uttered more out of fear than anything else. He’s got a well-deserved hangover and claims limited recall on the previous evening’s goings-on, but she’s not going to let that stop her from getting some answers about the whole Gale situation. Moreover, she wonders if perhaps his outburst to Hank might not be some sort of subconscious cry for help. The mere idea that she sees him as unable to handle the situation infuriates him. “I am not in danger, Skyler,” he growls. “I am the danger.”
After he takes a quick shower to relax and, apparently, shave his head, Walt finds emerges to find Skyler gone, so he decides to head over to the car wash to take care of the final transition of ownership. The discussion between Walt and Bogdan felt a little heavy-handed, what with the unabashed parallel between being a boss at the car wash and being a boss in the meth operation (or, for that matter, in his own marriage), but the scene was worth it for two things: the nasty little comment by Bogdan to Walt about how “if you can’t be tough, you can always call your wife,” and the way Walt got his revenge by playing the hard-ass and not only refusing to let Bogdan keep the first dollar he ever earned from the car wash but, indeed, spitefully using it to buy a coke. That sucked…yet it was kind of awesome, too.
This week’s scenes with Mike and Jesse would seem to imply that Mike’s finally starting to come around a little bit when it comes to Jesse, seemingly almost like a surrogate father to the kid in their dinner together, asking Jesse if he was okay and then making him eat something. There’s still very much no semblance of equality between them, though, as Mike quickly left after receiving a phone call, telling Jesse that he didn’t need any help. As such, Jesse headed on to work at the SuperLab, where he was met by Walt, demanding clarification about the trips Jesse’s been taking with Mike. Jesse can’t offer much in the way of detail except to say that he’s kinda sorta serving as something between backup and protection, which annoys Walt to the point of asking rhetorical questions like, “Are you a Navy SEAL? Are your hands registered as lethal weapons?” Similarly, Jesse gets pissed when Walt dares to suggest that Jesse’s whole saving-the-day situation may have just been a set-up designed to put a wedge between the two of them. Still, it’s nothing compared to how pissed off Walt gets when Jesse steps out on cleanup duty after getting a call to duty from Mike…but we’ll get to that in a minute.
Let’s talk about the awesome scene with Mike and Jesse trying to get back some ill-begotten product…specifically, the stuff swiped off the truck at the beginning of the episode. Mike assures Jesse that waiting is 99% of the job, but Jesse ain’t having any of it, and he promptly pops up to the front door. The encounter with one of the resident meth heads of the house, a dude named Tucker, goes poorly, leading a smirking Mike to say, “Guess we’ll go with Plan A, then.” Nope, Jesse promptly reveals that when it comes to meth heads, he’s got way more first-hand knowledge of how their minds work, resulting in Jesse using the shovel in the trunk of Mike’s car in a manner I never expected: to dig. The whole bit with Tucker just continuing to dig and dig and dig was hysterical, but the scene inside the house was as intense as all get-out. Not that I really expected Jesse to be taken down by a shotgun blast, but I wouldn’t have put it past this show for him to get shot in some manner. But, no, he saved the day and helped Mike get the message left for them on the Los Pollos Hermanos container by the cartel.
Okay, back to Walt. Skyler’s still nowhere to be found, leaving Walt and Walt, Jr. to enjoy a leisurely meal while Junior once again launches into an attack about what an incredibly bitch his mother is, this time because she’s showing no compassion whatsoever for Walt’s “disease.” Somewhat surprisingly, Walt kinda sorta takes a bit of the blame for the situation, explaining that his situation was less about addiction than about choices. Unfortunately, he then follows this discussion by making a very, very poor choice: buying a car for Junior that’s absolutely, positively not in their income bracket. This may well be the stupidest thing we’ve seen Walt do without being under the influence of alcohol, and it will come back to bite him in the ass, mark my words. So, for that matter, will his decision to draft some of the women from the laundry to do the dirty work in the SuperLab that he usually delegates to Jesse. I have to say, I laughed out loud as he passed out big bills, saying, “Presidente Grant, very important man…” Still, maybe Skyler’s onto something with her suspicions that Walt’s subconscious is crying out for help. Why else would he do something stupid? Surely the desire to feel like he’s a boss to someone doesn’t equate to a death wish, does it?
All that’s clear is that Gus is watching everything that Walt does and keeping score, and based on the meeting between Gus, Mike, and, to a lesser extent, Jesse, it’s clear that, if we’re talking about who’s got the most brownie points, Jesse’s starting to catch up to Walt. Mike offers Gus a suggestion for how they might want to handle the situation with the cartel, but rather than instigating an attack, Gus would rather talk. Hey, it’s worked for him so far. Why mess with a good thing? On the way out the door, Gus tells Jesse, “I hear you can handle yourself,” then assures him, “I like to think I see things in people.” If he’s seen anything in Jesse, it has to have been way back when they had their close encounter about Gus’s guys using kids in their drug dealing. Maybe his work with Mike is showing him that he has more potential than he thought.
Lastly, let’s look at this Skyler situation. I didn’t quite get the whole Four Corners thing. Are we supposed to infer that she’s going to be taking the baby and heading to Colorado if things don’t work out? Either way, she’s pissed at Walt, and the only reason she didn’t tear him a new one in front of Junior about the car is that she didn’t want him to think of her as being an even bigger bitch than he already perceives her to be. She’s not trying to be a bitch, though. In her words, “Someone has to protect this family from the man who protects this family.” Ouch. But she’s right. Walt’s letting his emotions get the best of him, and not only is he putting himself in harm’s way, he’s endangering his family as well…and that ain’t cool.