Last week’s “Breaking Bad” ended with Jesse roaring with anger and pouring gasoline all over Walt’s house, a decision which, while rash, isn’t an entirely inappropriate reaction to discovering that Walt was responsible for poisoning Brock. I mean, I’m not saying that I approve, but…I get where he’s coming from, y’know?
Walt gets it, too…but that doesn’t mean he’s not going to confront Jesse without being properly armed. As he sneaks around the back of his house, though, we’re reminded once again that, although he might be a bad-ass as Heisenberg, Walt still doesn’t look all that comfortable when he’s packing heat, and as he walks down the hall, checking every room, he looks less like a professional criminal than a guy who’s learned everything he knows from watching “Starsky & Hutch” reruns. Despite the tension of the scene, it turns out that Walt never had anything to worry about, anyway: Jesse’s nowhere to be found. Any relief he might feel that his house hasn’t been burned to the ground, however, is overwhelmed by concerns of what exactly Jesse is planning to do, so he leaves him a voicemail in the desperate hope that he may yet be able to talk things out.
Unfortunately, the stench and squish of gasoline lingers, necessitating the call-in of a clean-up crew, but the situation’s so bad that even they can’t get rid of the smell before Skyler gets home, no matter how big a bribe Walt offers them. In an act of desperation by a man who – despite making millions as a meth manufacturer – still knows the importance of keeping one’s wife happy, he concocts the best plan he can manage on short notice, claiming that a gas pump malfunctioned while he was filling up the car, soaking him in gasoline. It’s such a shitty lie that neither Skyler nor Walt, Jr. buy into it, but she takes it in stride and waits for the opportunity to call him on it, and although Jr. reasonably presumes that the whole thing is cancer-related, the temptation to stay in an expensive hotel while the house is further cleaned is too great for the young lad to resist.
As Skyler and the kids enjoy the amenities of the hotel, Walt takes a jaunt down to get ice, taking a lengthy detour into the parking garage to meet with Saul and his flunky, Kuby. They haven’t had any luck in finding Jesse yet, although they did manage to get a serious education in “Babylon 5” by monitoring Badger and Skinny Pete’s conversations. Walt’s understandably anxious, but when Saul – who likens Jesse to a bad penny – dares to try steering the conversation again toward permanently removing Jesse from the equation, this time bypassing Belize in favor of an “Old Yeller” reference, he gets the same chilly reaction, along with the downright icy response, “Do not float that idea again.” And with that, the discussion is over…sort of. But we’ll get to that.
When Walt gets back to the room, Skyler calls him out about where he’s been, admitting that, yes, she spied on him, “and I feel just awful about it, too.” Suuuuuure she does. In fact, Skyler’s done listening to Walt’s bullshit, and she tells him as much, demanding to know what’s really going on…and damned if he doesn’t tell her, more or less. But after finding out the real reason their house stinks of gasoline, Walt’s assurances that he can make Jesse see reason fall on deaf ears, and when he argues that it’s still possible to sway Jesse because he changed his mind and didn’t burn their house down, she asks the question that’s apparently obvious to everyone but Walt: “What if he changes it back?” The back and forth between them is intense, but it’s downright heart-stopping when she asks, “We’ve come this far for us. What’s one more?” What makes it so disturbing, though, is her delivery. Walt crossed a line and has been basking in his accomplishments. Skyler just seems resigned to her damnation.
Before jumping back to Jesse, let’s talk briefly about Walt’s poolside chat with Jr., who, yes, continues to be in the dark about his dad’s goings-on. This may be the saddest conversation they’ve had yet, though, since it really seems to highlight just how little this father and son have in common beyond their shared DNA. When Walt’s talking about his cancer, he doesn’t really seem to have his head in the game…not unless you really he’s talking about the disease when he says, “You think I came all this way to let something as silly as lung cancer take me down? Not a chance. I’m not going anywhere.” I don’t think you can argue that Walt loves Jr., but look at their hug: it doesn’t hold anywhere near as much emotional impact as the one between Walt and Jesse. Yes, Walt loves Jr., but he truly cares for Jesse.
And – what luck! – now it’s time to talk about Jesse. Obviously, I was way off track about suspecting that Jesse was responsible for doing the damage to the White house (although we’ve still got a few episodes left, so it could yet happen), but now we know why he didn’t make good on his plans to burn the place to the ground: Hank, who’d been trailing him since he left Saul’s office, stepped in and stopped him from lighting up the joint. Jesse’s just pitiful as Hank pleads with him to stop, screaming about what Walt did to Brock and sobbing, “HE CAN’T KEEP GETTING AWAY WITH IT!” Nor will he, if Hank has his way. The two of them hop into the Hankmobile and drive away just as Walt pulls into view, with Hank taking him back to his house for safe keeping and hoping to convince Marie to head out of town for a bit.
Yeah, that’s not bloody likely to happen. Marie’s therapy session gives us an idea of just how deep into despair she’s fallen about this whole situation, finding herself unable to stop Googling untraceable poisons that she could use to put Walt out of his misery. Her therapist is probably just doing his job by pressing her for more details, but he’s obviously in over his head, given that her previous session was so mundane that the most controversial topic seems to have been her dissatisfaction with the new parking rules at work. In the end, the best advice he can offer her is that there’s no problem that violence won’t make worse, and she assures him that she wouldn’t really hurt anybody, that “it just feels good to think about it.” But if she’s anything like her sister, then if an opportunity presents itself to take Walt down, I can’t imagine she won’t take it. You want proof? When Hank tells her about Jesse, all she asks is if it’s bad for Walt…and when he says it is, she replies, “Good. I’m staying. I’ll heat up a lasagna.”
And so begins Hank’s master plan, which involves bringing Gomez into his trust at last and interviewing Jesse on camera about everything he knows. We don’t need to hear the whole story. We already know it. But just hearing the way Jesse growls the words “he was my teacher” is enough to rip your heart out. Unsurprisingly, Gomez believes Jesse and, in turn, Hank as well, but it’s still just one man’s word, and that’s just not gonna cut it. Thankfully, Hank has a plan, but as plans go, it’s kind of a Hail Mary at best to just send Jesse out to meet Walt and hope he says enough on tape for them to be able to arrest him…oh, and also that Walt doesn’t kill Jesse. Hank lays out to Jesse all the reasons why that’s not likely to happen. ..and then as soon as Jesse leaves the room, Hank shrugs and admits to Gomez that, worst case scenario, they’ll get Jesse’s murder on tape. Proof positive that Hank can be just as ruthless as Walt when the circumstances require it.
Of course, as mentioned, we’ve still got a few episodes yet to go, so naturally things go tits up with Hank’s plan: instead of approaching Walt, Jesse spontaneously dashes to a pay phone, calls Walt’s cell, and says, “Nice try, asshole,” assuring him that he’s coming for him and that “next time I’m gonna get you where you really live.” As expected, Hank’s furious, but Jesse says he’s come up with a better way to get Walt. Here’s hoping that his better way comes to fruition quickly, because Walt’s got a new plan now, too – this one involving Todd’s uncle – and it sounds a whole lot like the ending of “Old Yeller.”