Not being a video game aficionado, I actually had to Google “Rage” to see if it was a real game or something that was created for the show, because it seemed like it could go either way. Indeed, it is a real game, and I have to suspect that there are a lot of people over at id Software giddy at its use within an episode of “Breaking Bad.” I also wonder if, in fact, they’ll manage to find a way to slip a facsimile of Gale Boetticher into some future sequel, given how Jesse found himself seeing Gale’s face as he shot at his onscreen targets. “Mission failed. Restart?” Jesse’s answer is a resounding yes. This bodes poorly, methinks…
Yep, Junior’s new car is going back, as was only inevitable once Skyler stepped into the situation, but just because she’s being sensible about the financial goings-on within the White house doesn’t mean that Walt has to like it. The combination of having to pay an $800 restocking fee for the vehicle and his general annoyance at Skyler telling him not to “tangle” with anyone leaves him so pissed off that he decides to take it for a rapid-fire test drive before returning it, but when he manages to fuck up the car in the middle of a goddamned parking lot, he decides to blow the vehicle to kingdom come. A hysterical scene, to be sure, but with some seriously dark undertones: he’s quite literally got money to burn at this point, and he doesn’t care how wasteful he is with his material possessions.
Fortunately, after a quick trip to Saul Goodman’s office, any major charges against Walt for his big bang have been whittled down to “misdemeanor trash burning, but we see a particularly nasty side of Walt at this point, snapping at Saul, “Just tell me it’s done.” Walt remains convinced that Gus wants him dead, even though Jesse’s told Saul that Gus needs him too much to kill him. Saul refuses to help hook Walt up with a hit man, however, explaining that A) anyone he knows also knows Mike, and B) hiring anyone he doesn’t know is risking someone who might not get the job done, and when it comes to Gus, “just winging that guy is not gonna ameliorate your situation. Not by a damned sight.” Saul’s recommendation: talk to Jesse, who’s the only other person besides Mike who’s actually been around Gus recently.
The subsequent conversation between Walt and Jesse was, from an emotional standpoint, about as painful to watch as anything we’ve seen in recent weeks, with Walt unabashedly preying on Jesse’s recent psychological traumas to get him to kill Gus. But then Jesse waved it all away, simply saying, “I’ll do it. I’ll kill him first chance I get.” Maybe it’s because he’s convinced himself he’s got a handle on killing people now, but maybe it’s just to get Walt to shut the hell up. Hard to say.
The short conversation between Skyler and Marie served to show Marie’s excitement about helping Skyler advertise and market her newly-acquired business, but the best line was unquestionably Marie’s description of the car wash’s former owner as “the Eyebrows of Doom.” Best name for a backing band EVER. Marie also confirms that Hank’s suddenly started to get into the swing of getting better, which we saw coming at the end of last week’s episode. After Marie’s departure, Skyler finally gets a feel for just how much money Walt’s pulling in – $7.5 million before expenses – and she’s somewhat horrified about it, as it’s way more than she can explain from the car wash. It’s a double-edged sword of a situation: she says, ‘I never wanted any of this,” but when Walt gives her the opportunity to say, “I want out,” she’s stricken mute.
Walt mixes up a batch of poison in the lab, echoing the way they took down Tuco in Season 2, and hands it off to Jesse, telling him to take out Gus whenever the opportunity presents itself. Jesse promptly slips the poison into one of his cigarettes, and when Walt says, “Whatever you do, don’t smoke it,” there’s a moment when it seems all too likely that Jesse might well consider doing just that.
Junior takes Hank over to Los Pollos Hermanos for a little lunch, giving Junior the opportunity to moan about how his dad bought him an expensive car and had to give it back almost immediately. Typically, Hank rationalizes the situation rather than find it in any way suspicious, but maybe that’s because he’s too busy suspecting Gus’s involvement in Gale’s murder. Between Gus’s efforts to seem excited by Hank’s presence and Hank’s seeming appreciation of said efforts, we’re led to presume that Gus didn’t realize that Hank was less interested in a refill than he was in getting Gus’s prints on his cup. This seems quite possible: people tend to underestimate Hank almost as much as they underestimate Walt.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, Jesse gets an opportunity to take out Gus almost immediately, courtesy of Mike’s decision – presumably endorsed by Gus – to bring him to a meeting between Gus and the Mexican cartel. Although Jesse’s clearly teetering on the precipice of whether or not to put the poison in the coffee, when Mike entrusts him with a loaded weapon and tells him that he’ll be serving as de facto back-up, it would seem that Jesse finds himself uncertain as to whether he’s chosen the right side in this battle…and reasonably so. As for the meeting itself, it would seem that Gus is no longer in the same position of power that he once found himself, as his offer of $50 million to end any further issues with the Mexican cartel is met with a shrug, a request for a “yes” or “no” answer (“You know what the cartel wants”) and the assurance that this is not in any way, shape, or form a negotiation. So what does the cartel want? Walt? That would seem the most likely. Whatever the case, the meeting ends with Gus offering his usual steely expression, and the drive back finds Mike suggesting to Jesse that what Gus sees in him is loyalty, albeit possibly for the wrong person.
It’s good to see Jere Burns turn up again as Jesse’s counselor, but, wow, what a rough scene this turned out to be. In the end, though, it may prove to be a good thing for Jesse, given how much he gets off his chest. First of all, he’s able to have a partial emotional catharsis, telling the group about having killed Gale while pretending his victim was a dog rather than a human, but then when he’s given shit about it by one of the other group members, he breaks down and admits that the biggest reason he joined the group was to sell meth to the members…which isn’t entirely true, but it’s close enough, especially he mostly says it to spit in Burns’s face, anyway.
We bounce back to the lab one last time, to see Walt ask Jesse the status of Operation Fringdown, but Jesse lies and says that he hasn’t seen Gus all week. So is Jesse really in Gus’s camp now, or is just playing it straight down the middle ‘til he figures out where he wants to land?
We close on a scene which, in the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I saw filmed when I went out to the “Breaking Bad” set earlier this year. Lemme tell ya, if you thought it was intense to watch on television, imagine how it was for me, given that I hadn’t seen or known anything about the six episodes leading up to it. The mere fact that Hank was in the office was a spoiler, and it was followed by the confirmation that Gale was, in fact, dead, which wasn’t 100% certain as of when the season opened. This was a fantastic scene for Dean Norris, who once again showed that he thoroughly deserves to pull a Best Supporting Actor nod this year, but it was fantastic for Hank Schrader, too, showing that he’s literally back on his feet and doing some of the best police work of his career. (And to think it all started with the serial number to an air cleaner…) It also leaves us chomping at the bit to find out what’s next…but, then, that’s what “Breaking Bad” does best.
Tags: Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, Betsy Brandt, Breaking Bad blog, Breaking Bad fourth season, Breaking Bad Season 4, Bryan Cranston, Dean Norris, Giancarlo Esposito, Gus Fring, Hank Schrader, Jesse Pinkman, Jonathan Banks, Marie Schrader, R.J. Mitte, Saul Goodman, Skyler White, Walter White, Walter White Jr.