Yet again, Breaking Bad zigs when you’re counting on it to zag. After last week’s intense final moments, I could have sworn that this week was going to be a very cousins-centric episode, another suspense-filled piece of nasty. Instead we got a fantastic character-based episode, with Jesse, Walt, Hank, and especially Skyler giving us glimpses into their fried and frayed psyches.
Shit got kicked off with a badass cold open, a flashback to the last moments of Tortuga (Danny Fucking Trejo), revealing that it was Tuco’s cousins who took a machete to rat bastard’s neck. This scene introduced us to the cartel guy who shows up later in Gustavo’s meeting with the cousins and Don Salamanca (Best gag of the night was far and away the theft of the handicap van from the sweet old lady coming out of the bingo hall). Whereas last week I predicted that Gus would be paying the guys off, he instead simply says that they have to stay away from Walt until some business between Walt and himself is concluded. The cartel guy warns Gus that the cousins might not be able to wait that long…
Jesse agrees to start up production again after some gentle nudging from Saul (who is pretty much the devil at this point), but otherwise just sits in his furniture-less house (Saul jokes when he stops by Jesse’s that the place is subtle, but he’s not really into the while “minimalism thing”) listening to Jane’s outgoing message over and over. He listens to it so much that he’s actually listening to the message the moment that the number is finally disconnected. With no Jane, no family, and no drug-free friends, Jesse has nothing better to do than cook. Question is, will he be able to make a good go of it in the camper without Walt?
Hank gets a call offering him the El Paso position once again, but is fearing that he may have lost his sand with his infrequent panic attacks (the reference back to the panic attacks and Hank’s El Paso run is no doubt the other reason – besides the cartel guy’s intro – that we got a Tortuga flashback this episode). To make sure he’s still got the edge, Hank starts a fight with some small-fry dealers in a shithole bar (“We can still go to Outback Steakhouse – get a blooming onion,” his partner insists), bouncing one guy’s skull off the floor a few million more times than necessary (between this scene and the very graphic beheading in the first minutes, this is one of the more disturbingly violent episodes of Bad since Walt’s first murder). This is easily one of Hank’s darkest moments so far in the series. Up until now he’s been in a lot of ways the least-flawed of our main characters, but this was a major step toward the gray zone for him.
But the star of the hour in the hidden nastiness department was undoubtedly Skyler, but you can’t say she doesn’t have some damn good reasons.
Walt’s decision to straight-up move back in without warning last week turns out to be a better one than we might have first expected. We learn that legally Walt can stay there, after all they’re not exes, he’s never harmed her and his name is still on the deed. Skyler could make her previous threat of being granted a divorce or else she’ll tattle a legally binding matter with her attorney, but she doesn’t want her kids to know that their dad was a criminal (besides, nature might take its course soon enough, she reasons, making such matters moot-as-fuck). Interesting also to note that Skyler’s lawyer does not point out how fucked she’d be if she actually turned Walt in (what Saul delightfully calls the “blow-back”). Does that make her lawyer particularly naive or Saul just extra jaded?
So basically Skyler is just stuck with Walt for the time being, essentially trapped. So what does she do to get back some power? Fucks her boss Ted and then tells Walt about it (this week’s title “I.F.T.” no doubt referring to her line to Walt, “I Fucked Ted”). This is an extra brutal blow to Walt because just that morning he told Skyler a great deal of the truth about what he’s been up to the last few months. It’s heart-breaking watching him in the moments before she lays it on him, how hopeful he is for the future, how he’s feeling just like, “hey, maybe the truth really can set you free…” and then bam, Skyler cuts his balls off with three words.
So next week no doubt we’ll get back into the gangster action for sure, with Jesse back in the game and Gus most likely putting pressure on Walt to do the same. But then again, I was dead wrong about the focus of this week’s episode last week, so who fucking knows? It’s exciting when TV’s genuinely unpredictable, ain’t it, dear reader?