Breaking Bad 4.9 – Eye of the Tiger

Oh, man, not another intense-violence warning! Which of Gus’s friends, acquaintances, and/or employees is getting killed this week?

I don’t mean that as a spoiler. Indeed, when I wrote that sentence, I didn’t know whether I was being facetious or not. I was just playing the odds, baby…and when the first thing we saw this week after the aforementioned warning was a broken pair of glasses and droplets of blood falling onto a hardwood floor and the toe of a shoe, you’ll forgive me if I felt relatively confident that those odds were in my favor. As it turned out, I was right: someone in Gus’s camp did bite the dust. It just wasn’t anyone we particularly cared about. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

Hank is positively giddy at the thought of heading over to Los Pollos Hermanos to pick up the tracking device and see where Gus has been driving for the past week…so giddy, in fact, that he’s crooning Survivor’s signature hit pretty much all the way to the restaurant. Walt, however, is more than a little bit antsy about being on the premises, refusing even to step inside the establishment, telling Hank, “We’ll grab something from the drive-thru.” When they get back to the house and check the device’s history, however, Hank is pissed at the “chicken-slinging son of a bitch,” dismissing Walt’s suggestion that maybe he might be innocent, declaring, “A guy this clean’s got to be dirty.”

Leaving Hank’s house, Walt runs into Gus’s right-hand man and makes the remarkably ballsy decision to call the cops on him right in front of him. Anyone think this is going to come back to bite Walt in the ass? Yeah, me, too. Then when Walt pulls up outside the SuperLab and gets into conversation with Jesse, he endeavors to make small talk, smoking cigarettes and talking “Ice Road Truckers,” though it’s clear the only thing he really wants to know is the status of Operation Fringdown. “Don’t you have enough cancer already?” snaps Jesse. “Look, I said I’d do it. I’ll do it.” “What does it matter?” asks Walt. “We’re both dead men, anyway.”

Skyler’s at the car wash late, doing the books and smiling at the realization that the business is actually on the verge of turning a profit. Calling Walt under the auspices of suggesting that they buy Junior a car for his birthday (this time one that fits more realistic into their present financial scenario), she suggests that maybe he might want to consider an “exit strategy” from his second job. “I’m working on it,” he says. End of conversation. Cue the glance at the tracking device sitting on his bedside table, which, come the morning, is out of its packaging and…well, we’ll get to that. For the moment, let’s just focus on the freakout Walt has when Hank calls him up and asks him to give him a ride over to Los Pollos Hermanos’ distribution center, a.k.a. the home of the SuperLab. It’s a testament to how thrown Walt is that the best excuse he can come up is to follow Hank’s theory and say that, yes, in fact, he is taking a dump. Explosive upset stomach, courtesy of Tex-Mex cuisine. “I get it, you don’t have to paint me a picture,” says Hank, with a cringe in his voice. Panicked, Walt nonetheless manages to talk Hank down from getting another ride, convincing him to wait until his stomach is in better shape, then calls Mike to warn him. He gets hung up on. So that’s how that relationship is going…

Jesse’s found himself on a new task: washing the chicken batter off bags of meth. “Where’s all this going?” he asks, uncertainly. “Elsewhere,” replies the ever-talkative Mike. Fair enough, then. But “elsewhere” is clearly “to the cartel.” Just sayin’.

Meanwhile, Skyler’s continuing to keep up the actual business as well as running through the payment of fake car washes, all the while providing the requisite dialogue as if there were actually customers coming through the line. Whether she’s doing it to make herself feel better or because she thinks she might be bugged, the end result is the same: her ass is more or less covered. But…who’s this walking in the door? Why, as I live and breathe: it’s Ted Beneke! Is this a social call? Far from it: dude’s being audited. Tomorrow. It’s a criminal affair, and he’s looking for help, so who better to ask than the woman whose signature is all over the cooked books? The way she handles the situation is – let’s face it – a little bit sitcom-y, but you can’t argue with success….or the way her breasts were popping out of that top. Where things started to get dodgy, though, was when she learned that Ted couldn’t possibly pay the money he owed the government. Yes, it might keep her out of court to give Ted her ill-begotten funds from the crawlspace, but it’s opening a whole other mess of potential problems.

Jesse’s trying to chat with Mike about whether or not Hank’s going to get whacked, but Jesse won’t shut his mouth and Mike’s just staring blankly at him from the shadows. It honestly sounds like Jesse wants to defend Walt, but in the end, he says, “Who really cares what I think?” As they step outside to start loading up the truck, shit suddenly starts to go down. Time stands still as Jesse realizes that one of his fellow employees has just been shot right in front of him, and he’s literally half a second away from getting shot himself when Mike saves his life with a hard and fast tackle. But just as Mike says, “Get comfortable, kid, we might be here awhile,” Fring steps into the fray, and with bullets zinging by him, he stands fast, staring down the sniper, his eyes ablaze and his arms outstretched, offering a look which can only be described as saying, “You gonna shoot me, motherfucker?” The answer to that question is “no.” The answer to the question that had been asked of Gus by the cartel, however, is “yes.” And what was the question? Well, I wasn’t 100% accurate when I thought that the cartel was after Walt. That was a bit too specific. All they want is the recipe to the meth…and Walt isn’t the only one who has it.

After the nasty incident outside, Mike and Jesse wheel in the body of their deceased co-worker. Walt sneers, “So, what, is this going to be a regular thing now? Meth cooking and corpse disposal?” Mike tells Walt to get a barrel for disposal purposes, adding, “If you ever plan on calling the cops of one of my men again, you go ahead and get two barrels.” D’oh! And Mike’s not done with dispensing advice: to Jesse, he suggests that the next time he’s under fire, he should “move your feet, run and so forth,” and when Jesse asks about Gus’s “Terminator shit” earlier and wants to know if there’s going to be further target practice, Mike’s straightforward response is, “You got questions? Ask ’em yourself.” So he does, heading over to Gus’s house for dinner, fully prepared with his cigarette of doom. It’s a scene that’s knowingly reminiscent of Walt’s dinner with Gus not so very long ago, except that there is precious little cheer in Gus’s tone tonight. There’s really only one question that Gus has for Jesse: “Can you cook Walter’s formula?” Jesse’s initial claim is that he can’t do it without Walter, and that if he’s going to kill Walt, he’s going to have to kill him, too. That, however, wasn’t exactly what Gus was asking…

As usual, the last few minutes of the episode proved to be wracked with tension. Walt’s been tracking Jesse, so he knows that Jesse’s been to see Gus, and when Jesse calls and asks for a meeting, Walt’s clearly chomping at the bit to nail Jesse for his transgressions. As it happens, however, Jesse’s totally freaking out about this whole cartel situation, now that he’s learned that Gus wants him to go south of the border, down Mexico way, and teach the cartel how to make the meth. Why not send Walt? If you were Gus, would you send Walt? I didn’t think so. As Jesse begs Walt for some sort of assistance, Walt has no concern or remorse, instead just throwing it in Jesse’s face that he knows he’s been to see Gus and has unabashedly chosen not to kill him. Jesse gets pissed that Walt’s been tracking him. Tempers flare. Punches are thrown. It’s an epic battle, one that’s been shaping up all season, but tonight was the night that it finally went down.

“Can you walk?”
“Then get the fuck out of here and never come back.”

Is this really the end of the Walt / Jesse partnership? Hard to say with those guys. But the future isn’t exactly looking bright, that’s for sure.


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