Breaking Bad 4.13 – Lily of the Valley

In last week’s blog, I wrote of Walt sitting poolside, “We see a man who’s spinning both his firearm and his wheels, waiting to figure out how little future he has left. When the pistol spins toward one of the potted plants, however, it’s clear that Walt has gotten an idea.” If only I’d recognized that plant as a Lily of the Valley, I could’ve been a hero among my peers. Damn my insufficient knowledge of botany! Damn it all to hell!


When we first see Walt this evening, he’s making a mad dash through the parking garage to remove the bomb from the underside of Gus’s car, which he promptly carries into the hospital and up to the waiting area. It’s an unabashedly slapstick moment when the magnet on the bomb sticks to the elevator door, followed by a hilarious back-and-forth between Walt and Jesse about the decision to bring the bomb with him (“What, was I supposed to leave it on his car?”), but things get serious immediately thereafter, with the ABQ police showing up and requesting an audience with Jesse about his statement. As the boys with badges walk away with Mr. Pinkman, Walt looks positively pale. Is it just from being in close proximity to the cops?

The conversation between Jesse and his new friends is predictably tense. “We’re just talking.” “So if I get tired of talking, I can get up and leave?” Sure, that’s how it always works. Jesse’s being seriously grilled over the fact that he offered up a very specific poison as what was causing Brock’s illness. His explanation? “I musta seen it on ‘House’ or something.” Awesome. Time to call Saul, but there’s so much shredding going on that his secretary can’t hear the phone when he calls…or when Walt calls, for that matter, as we discover when he busts through the bottom pane of the front door in a desperate effort to find Saul. It’s an unexpectedly hilarious scene between Walt and H.T. (as Saul dubbed her last week), particularly when Walt is initially completely oblivious to the fact that the $20K pricetag for the repairs ain’t nothing to do with repairs. Okay, so it was a little slapstick-y when Walt left the office the same way he came in, but that didn’t keep me from laughing, anyway.

Walt heads home to find the $20K, but he approaches slowly and cautiously (as one might when they think there’s a good chance that they’re being watched), checking out the joint with spyglasses first. I didn’t recognize the name Becky Simmons – is this the first time we’ve ever heard her name mentioned? – but once I realized she was his neighbor, I all but laughed out loud at his plan. As I’m watching, I was thinking, “Why do I feel like we’re going to see a gun go off from a distance? Or see the house blow up when she walks in the door?” But, no, it’s just a couple of goons who slip out the side door when Becky comes in. It was a potentially cruel tactic, but you can’t deny its effectiveness. Still, things go awry when Walt slips in to retrieve the money and the goons pop back in. (Nice shot of their feet gliding past the window, btw.) Thank God the crawl space offers an escape route, eh?

Jumping back to Jesse, our Mr. Pinkman still has nothing to say about his poison suggestion except that he was “trying to be helpful.” Amazingly, Saul comes through for his client, swooping in to save the day, and in their discussion, Saul tells Jesse about Walt’s near-miss, and in turn Jesse steers Walt toward Casa Tranquila, where Hector resides. “They’re enemies, not friends,” muses Walt, and, man, you can just hear the wheels turning…

Walt blows into Bingo to see Hector and offers him the opportunity for revenge. I’ve got to say, it’s a brilliant plan, and damned if Walt isn’t right: the odds are looking good that Hector hates Gus more than him…until, following Hector’s laborious process of getting a message through to his nurse, he offers up two words that I didn’t see coming: “Need DEA.” Seriously? Is he really going to play the narc? I don’t believe it…but with this show, you just never fucking know.

Time for the obligatory check-in call from the family, with Junior demanding to know when Walt’s going to join them and Marie continuing to pile on the guilt, but Hank’s oblivious to it all, and when Gomez pops by the safe house, we find out it’s because he’s been focusing on the excess electrical units at the laundry. But Hank’s mind goes elsewhere as soon as he learns that Hector’s suddenly of a mind to talk to him, and although Marie unsurprisingly views it as a ploy to get Hank out in the open, you knew damned well that as soon as she said, “There’s no way you’re going to do it, end of story,” there’d be a quick cut to Hank in the office…and so there was. What I didn’t expect was that Hector’s only reason to take a trip to the DEA was to ultimately lure Gus to Casa Tranquila…well, and perhaps to offer one final “fuck you” to Hank in the process.

Nice family portrait in Hector’s room, huh? Boy, those Cousins sure were cute once upon a time. It looked for a moment like Tyrus was going to do the dirty work and take out Hector himself, but, no, he’s only here to check the place for anything suspicious…and there isn’t, unless you count Walt, who’s hovering right outside the window and beats a hasty retreat.

Hey, what do you know? Brock wasn’t poisoned with Ricin. Jesse claims he isn’t surprised, but he clearly is. He’s even more surprised, however, when he walks out of the police station and is promptly tasered by a couple of Gus’s goons…as if anyone else’s goons would be quite so brazen. (Gus really gets off on his goons tasering people on his behalf, doesn’t he?) Whether Gus knows for a fact that Jesse is involved in this whole Hector mess or not, he’s clearly not taking any chances.

Tyrus gives Gus the go-ahead to come down to Casa Tranquila, and although he offers to take care of Hector himself, Gus unsurprisingly declines this kind offer (“I do this”) and gets all spiffed up to head over and take care of business. After one more sweep by Tyrus for good measure, Mr. Fring allows himself the tiniest bit of excitement that the time has finally come to extract his final revenge Hector…but will he even make it in the door? I really wasn’t sure. But, yes, he makes his way into Hector’s room, shuts the door, and immediately gets dramatic, asking, “What kind of man talks to the DEA? No man. No man at all.” Suddenly, it’s starting to look worse for Hector than it is for Gus, but we know something’s going to happen…and when Hector can no longer resist making final eye contact with Gus, we realize that the end has come for Gustavo Fring. Or has it? Damned if it didn’t look like he’d managed to survive for a second…until we saw the other side of his face. Biggest “holy shit” moment in “Breaking Bad” history? Certainly the most bad-ass, anyway. Leave it to the Chicken Man to spend his final moments of existence straightening his tie. Goodbye, Gus…

Walt, of course, cannot resist the opportunity to look smug when he hears the news on the radio. But there’s still five minutes left. What’s going to happen? Well, first of all, we’ve got to check in on Jesse, who’s back to making meth – someone’s got to do it, right? – and not looking at all happy about it. Fortunately, he’s moments away from being out of that line of work. Walt blows in, blows away Gus’s underling, and tells Jesse, “Gus is dead. We’ve got work to do.” So long, SuperLab. You’ll be missed.

I was convinced they were going to walk out of the laundry and right into Hank and/or Gomez, but, no, they got away scott free. It seemed like too happy an ending when Jesse found out that Brock was going to make it, but I admit that I was still convinced that the poison wasn’t Walt’s doing. The look on his face sold me as well as it did Jesse, as it implied to me that he wasn’t 100% certain that Gus actually did have to go. I was wrong wrong wrong. I admit it. But how long will it take Jesse to figure it out?

It’s always an excruciating wait between seasons of “Breaking Bad,” but while Season 4 doesn’t end with the sort of scream-inducing cliffhanger that we’ve been handed in the past, it does close with tremendous possibilities for what Season 5 might bring. As ever, Vince Gilligan delivered a fantastic 13-episode run this go-round. Only a few episodes ago, I was complaining about how the whole Mr.-Chips-to-Scarface transition seemed to have fallen apart, with Walt having become a pathetic mess, but damned if things didn’t turn around…as I should’ve suspected they would all along, obviously. So what can we expect from Season 5? For one, I have to believe that Gus’s Chilean connections will turn up to avenge his death. I don’t believe the destruction of the SuperLab is so complete as to negate the possibility of the DEA finding their way back to Walt…and if even if it is, then there’s certainly still his office at Los Pollos Hermanos to explore. And what of poor Mike, last seen recovering in Mexico? Bet on Jonathan Banks’ name in the credits of Season 5.

Damn, that was a good season. Hope you folks agree. See you back here next year, okay?