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.
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.
Tonight’s episode opened with a major shoot-‘em-up sequence, offering further proof that what other gunmen need a hail of gunfire to accomplish, Mike only requires one or two well-placed bullets. What can you say? Dude’s a badass, and now being in possession of a slightly damaged right ear doesn’t change that one bit. The only question left by this scene was, who was doing the shooting? Or am I already supposed to know that?
It’s 3:01 AM, and Skyler’s having a restless night’s sleep. Why? Is it because her mind is filled with ideas on how to take advantage of this new business situation in which she’s found herself? No, it’s because she’s so concerned about the web of lies that she’s involved in spinning and wants to be damned sure she can cover her ass at every turn. Take, for instance, the story she told Marie about how Walt made all of these ill-begotten gains through gambling: time to back that up with making Walt attend Gamblers Anonymous meetings and display a mastery of Blackjack. Unfortunately, in addition to his consistent refusal to concede that he’s wrong about anything ever, Walt seems to be getting a trifle annoyed with Skyler’s continual attempts to maintain the reigns of command…though in fairness, it’s hard to imagine anyone not getting annoyed with Skyler, giving how anal she’s being about following the incredible in-depth script she’s composed for the impending fake admission to Hank about Walt’s gambling and the buying of the car wash. Great scene in principle, but it went on so long, with Skyler getting so increasingly specific with her plan, that it’s hard to imagine anyone making it to the end without thinking at least once, “There’s no way everything’s going to go according to plan.” And it didn’t…though it wasn’t because of the script. (Again, a classic case of “Breaking Bad” zigging when any other show would’ve zagged.)
Tonight’s episode begins with a lesson for all casting directors: if you’re on the lookout for a grizzled-looking good ol’ boy who’s filled to the gills with folksy wisdom, you need look no further than Jim Beaver. You’ve seen him on “Deadwood” and “John from Cincinnati,” you’ve seen him on “Supernatural” and “Harper’s Island.” Accept no substitutes: Jim Beaver’s got what you need, and he delivers every time…and, yes, that includes tonight, when he played Lawson, an :::cough, cough::: independent businessman helping Walt to procure a handgun.
It’s pretty clear that most of what Walt knows about guns came from watching TV westerns, because every time he draws his weapon, he looks desperately like he’s trying to be the fastest gun in the west. Lawson offers up a lot of helpful advice, including a beautifully delivered line explaining why Walt should stick with a .38 special over an automatic: “If you can’t get it done with five, then you’re into spray-and-pray, in which case I wouldn’t count on another six sealing the deal.” Lawson tries to be the gun dealer with the heart of gold, recognizing Walt’s handicap as a marksman (“You’re gonna want to practice your draw…a lot“) even pointing out the merits of buying legally over illegally, but when Walt refuses to concede that the gun will be used for anything other than defense, he has little choice but to shrug and say, “I’m happy to take your money.” The next time we see Walt, it’s clear that he’s taken Lawson’s advice about practicing his draw to heart…as well he should’ve. You know, I think you have to wonder just how much of Lawson was on the pages of George Mastras’s script and how much was turned into gold simply by Beaver’s pitch-perfect delivery, but either way, Lawson = awesome.
Hey, everybody, Gale’s okay! Gee, I guess Jesse’s bullet missed him after all, so…
Oh. Never mind. It’s a flashback. But, hey, at least now we know how the superlab first came into being. And we also know the sad irony that Gale is directly responsible for Gus bringing Walt into the business in the first place. So obsessive was he with his concern about the quality of the meth he was making – more concerned, even, than Gus himself – that he simply couldn’t comprehend that Gus wouldn’t want to work with someone like that, even risking the possibility of talking himself out of a job by saying of Walt, “If he’s not (a professional), I don’t know what that makes me.”
Well, as it turns out, Gale, what is makes you is dead. But, then, I think we all pretty much knew that when Season 3 faded to black. Some of us just didn’t want to admit it.