After last week’s heavy movement forward and set-up, we get a more stationary episode filled with personal conflicts and the continuing rise/fall (really depends on your viewpoint!) of Walter White. Still basking in the glow of his win and return to action, Walt is starting to truly mirror his son’s age in actions. He’s moody, capricious, and foolhardy. Oh and he’s obsessed with his new car.
After a quick viewing of Fast and Furious: White House Drift featuring Walt and Walt Jr.’s new cars, we’re off to Madrigal to check in on skittish Lydia. The walking fashion faux pas (2 different shoes!), receives a call from Mike that she will be getting a visit shortly. And right on cue Hank and the DEA crew show up. Lydia brings them to the foreman who gets cuffed and hauled off. This, in turn, causes her to freak out because he was heavily involved in the scheme. Mike assures her he’ll send someone else to take care of delivery. How did Mike know that the DEA was coming?
Back at the White House, the Walts discuss who’d win in a race of their new cars. And Walt deftly plays loving father, and deferent husband at dinner. Walt rambles about car leases and upholding the fabric of their cover and that he’s back cooking. And here we get to the major crux of the episode; Skyler wants the children to grow up in a safer environment and wants them out of the house. Here’s where Walt’s teenager-like foolhardiness shows its true colors as he assures Skyler that “Life is good”, but she’s not comforted. He truly thinks that since Gus is gone, no one will pop up in his place. It’s almost sad how inflated his ego is, the bacon on his birthday breakfast plate reads 51, but it could just as easily say 15. Thank God Walt, Jr. is there because at least he brings the smiles on occasion.
Hank and Gomez are spitballing ideas about the Fring case, noting that there is certainly a missing link- someone to run between the warehouse and Gus. Gomez and Hank reveal that the blue meth is back on the streets. The real interesting thing is that Hank is offered the ASAC position for Albuquerque. That means he’ll be off the streets and since he’s seemingly the only smart enough to find Walt out while simultaneously being oblivious to Walt, it probably buys Walt some time as king.
Walt returns slaving over a hot meth stove all day, to find that his birthday party is more like a small dinner party with Hank and Marie. As Hank and Marie travel over for the party, but before they get there Marie spills the beans about Skyler’s affair. Should be a pretty normal dinner with no closeted skeletons or tensions, just a normal old dinner. After dinner, someone turned the crickets up to 11 to highlight the painfully awkward conversation. Luckily, Skyler being the hostess she is, spices things up with a slow, quiet descent into the pool as Walt monologues about all that’s happened in the past year (ONLY 1 YEAR!). So Walt saves her OBVIOUSLY. So Hank and Marie tell Walt they think Skyler should seek professional health and that maybe they need some time alone…Walt smells a rat and questions Marie’s motives. She tells him it was Skyler’s idea. Hmmm. Not the kind of guy you want to make mad. The conflict is afoot! And now just another loving scene in the White bedroom, like so many before.
Skyler admits to suggesting Marie and Hank take the kids because she feels it’s dangerous and she doesn’t want her kids growing up in a drug den. She says she’ll do whatever it takes to keep the kids safe- going so far as to injure herself. Walt’s reaction is pretty awful and he’s becoming a genuine monster (oh right, he poisoned a kid). Walt picks at any of her ideas to keep the kids safe. Skyler says all she can do is wait and bide her time…until the cancer returns. Ouch. Pretty brutal.
Lydia is back to being the least functional criminal ever, trying to shut down security cameras and eventually gets it right. She opens a door to reveal Jesse, whom Mike sent to pick up the precursor. When they pull the barrel, Lydia notes there’s something stuck to the bottom- A GPS transmitter. Jesse shows the picture to Mike and Walt. Mike notes that the cops would’ve just thrown it in the barrel and Lydia was most likely to have planted the device. Therefore, he aims to kill her, but Jesse pleads with him until Walt steps in and says that they need the precursor more than they need her dead. The meth train can’t stop moving. As they leave the shop, Jesse gives Walt a birthday present- a slick new watch. Something he uses to show Skyler that she’ll come back to him: Jesse had a gun to his head not too long ago and now he’s buying him watches. Frankly, Skyler seems unimpressed.
A couple of things of note here, I really feel like Walt is teenager in an adult’s body. I can’t underscore that enough. He’s mad with power and his fall is going to be pretty interesting and rewarding to see. I really liked some of the direction in this episode, then I found out it was directed by Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom, Looper) and duh. There were several shots that reminded me of the Dexter opening credits, i.e. the close-up on Walt shaving his head, Skyler cutting off circulation with dental floss. And I can’t shake the eeriness of Skyler’s plunge into the pool, the incredible serenity of those shots was gripping. So while this episode was packed with a TON of plot movement, it was a testament to Vince Gilligan and crew with the character movement. There’s definitely a lot of capital A Acting in this episode from Anna Gunn and Bryan Cranston.
What did you think of the episode? I can’t believe this season is already half over. Unreal. Here’s next week’s teaser: