I just started watching this show a short while ago, and I was unable to stop once I started. When I finished season 3 I was thinking to myself that there was no chance season 4 would be able to live up to it. However, as season 4 has progressed I have had to reconsider many times, and this week more or less confirmed that this season is at the very least on the same level as the previous one. If you are one of the unfortunate people who have not yet watched this show, stop reading, go get a hold of the first season and watch it! If you have watched it, first of all, good for you! Second of all, I apologize because I’m sure I’ll forget a lot of important things and don’t do justice to some of the things I do remember. If so, I blame it on the effects this episode had on my brain, because this episode was intense. I’ll try to break this down into main plot points.
Skyler and Ted: Ted, having received the money he needs to pay off the IRS, thereby keeping both himself and Skyler from being audited, decides to turn it down and pay it back to Skyler instead of paying the IRS. As a result, Skyler asks for Saul’s assistance. By enlisting his ‘A-team’, ha sends them to meet with Ted who is forced to sign the check and send it to the IRS. When he foolishly attempts to escape, he trips on the carpet and pummels head first into a shelf, leaving us to suspect that he is either dead or in a coma based on the conversation between the ‘A-team’ and Saul in the end of the episode.
This storyline was the least interesting in this episode, but also brought some comic relief in the form of Saul’s incompetent A-team. While not the most exciting piece of storytelling, Skyler’s choice to take care of this without telling Walter ended up having huge consequences later on. Also, in an episode with this much intensity it was nice to have some slower parts that allowed you to breathe and have a laugh.
Jesse, Gus and Mike after the Cartel massacre: After having just barely escaped the last of the Cartel alive in the last episode, Jesse drives a poisoned Gus and a severely injured Mike to a hangar ‘hospital’ arranged by Gus, where they both get treated. Mike needs to stay under care, but Jesse and Gus makes their way back to ABQ. Gus intends to replace Walter with Jesse as cook, but Jesse won’t accept the role without the promise of Walter’s safety.
I loved how the episode started off so action packed. It threw you into the story in the first few seconds, and set the tone for the entire forty-something minutes. I was pretty much on the edge of my seat throughout the hospital sequence, and was genuinely scared that Mike was going to bleed out on the table. Aaron Paul did an amazing job making me feel the fear and anger Jesse felt at that moment.
I was not surprised when Gus said that Jesse would be replacing Walter as his cook, but I was relieved to hear that Jesse wouldn’t let him kill Walter. After the deterioration of Walter and Jesse’s relationship in the last few episodes it was nice to see that there is still a loyalty there that won’t easily go away, if at all. Also, I don’t really know what to think about Gus. On the one hand, I think he is brilliant at what he does and that Walter creates a lot of his own troubles, but on the other hand Gus is a monster at times. However, this is what seems to be the common thread in the show. You never know whose side you should take at any given time, because everyone has some logic supporting their choices most of the time.
Jesse and Walter’s deteriorating relationship: Walter seeks out Jesse after having found out that he has been cooking without Walt, but Jesse who has their last meeting fresh in his mind, is not interested in hearing from Walter. He throws him out and makes it clear that he is not interested in talking to him again.
The fight in episode 9 was a long time coming, but very painful to watch, and this was no better. We know Walter is feeling regretful about what he said when they last met, but on the other hand, Jesse’s feelings are completely understandable. I felt myself getting frustrated when Walter was mad at Jesse, and it’s clearly what the writers want you to feel. We know Jesse still is protecting Walter, and seeing him complain makes his character seem unsympathetic until we remember that. It was a great but incredibly sad moment when Jesse points out that in their last meeting Walter told him that he hoped he’d end up dead in a barrel in the Mexican desert.
Walter gets fired and his family threatened: Walter, having been defended by Jesse without his knowledge, is brought to the desert where Gus fires him and tells him to stay away from the lab and Jesse. In return he refuses to obey the last request, and Gus fires back by telling him he’ll kill his family if he doesn’t. In a panic, Walter goes to Saul to get the number of someone who can wipe his family off the earth and give them new identities, and runs home to get things ready. He finds that the money is gone, and reaches a breaking point when Skyler tells him she gave them to Ted.
First of all, I was ready to scream at my computer screen when he once again had to provoke Gus in the desert. I loved that his deal breaker was not being able to contact Jesse, but why couldn’t he just have kept quiet and not been so damn cocky and entitled!? However, as the episode drew to a close, I felt his fear when he was panicking over Gus’ threat, and was thoroughly creeped out when he was lying in the crawl space laughing hysterically. The phone call from Marie telling Skyler that Hank was in danger, coupled with Walter’s insane laughter, created the most chilling ending to an episode so far, and I was on edge when the screen turned black.
All in all, this is probably the best episode to date. Every actor delivered perfect performances, and the stakes got so high. I have no idea where this season will end, but with only two episodes left I’m sure the intensity won’t decrease much, and it pains me that I have to wait 7 days for the next episode. I can’t wait for next Sunday!