Lots of game-changing shit in tonight’s undeniably awesome episode, but decidedly not in the way many of us had been expecting: Hank lives, and fucking brilliantly so. And you better believe they wanted you to think otherwise, dear reader, giving Hank some of those painful dramatic irony I’ve-got-my-shit-together-now-and-it’s-all-gonna-be-okay scenes before the damn near fatal last “One Minute” of the title. But for all the action and season-arc-moving-forward shit in “One Minute,” it also featured some of the most revealing character moments of the season as well.
While I thought Hank would just sort of implode after last week’s show, instead he immediately goes from the hospital to Jesse’s place and soundly beats the living piss out of him. It’s a nasty scene, and Hank’s rock bottom moment after a string of nearly as bad moves from the man ever since El Paso. But the event changes him, makes him realize that he’s not been himself lately. He takes full responsibility for his actions and even talks to Marie about what he’s going through. Yeah, it looks for a while like he’s gonna lose his job, but he seems genuinely with it, like he’s finally figured his shit out. Of course until the results of the final shootout were in I was figuring that the writers were just trying to make his inevitable death all the more brutal and pathetic, but I was wrong and now it looks like there may be some hope for the guy, a chance that the show’s moral center keeps his shit in alignment.
Jesse also went through some emotional shit after getting the, well, physical shit knocked out of him. First he promises Walt that a) Hank is on his permanent shit list and that b) he’s going to get a new RV and start cooking again despite Hank’s most likely unflagging interest in him, and if Hank catches him Jesse says he’ll strike a deal with them in exchange for giving up “Heisenberg.” When Walt comes to Jesse with the cure-all of making him an equal partner in his deal with Gus, Jesse just gets fucking pissed, tells Walt that he’s got nothing and that everything in his life went to shit when he and Walt teamed up. It’s a powerful moment and all his charges are completely legit, but Walt manages to save Jesse from being stupid with a some fatherly acceptance, telling Jesse that his meth was just as good as Walt’s own. It appears the hint of such a relationship, one where Walt acts vaguely paternal but looks upon Jesse as an equal from now on, was just what Jesse needed.
But does Walt really get any internal shit satisfied this episode? I’d argue strongly on the side of no. He’s getting blackmailed by Jesse and who knows what Skyler might pull if Walt can’t talk Jesse out of testifying against Hank, so he rolls with the punches like never before. He gets Gale – the greatest lab assistant in the history of science – fired and gives Jesse Gale’s job, though apparently Gus makes Jesse’s fee come out of Walt’s end completely. Walt giving Jesse a genuine equal partnership is pretty noble, and many of the sentiments said in his confrontation with Jesse seem quite genuine, but I still think it’s just crafty self preservation. Does he truly care for Jesse in any real sort of way? I honestly don’t know anymore.
As far as general awesomeness in “One Minute,” you had the opening flashback with the cousins learning about the importance of family in a delightfully perverse way from a much younger Don Salamanca, a scene that gives some hints as to Gus’ background (“Chicken Man,” “Generalissimo,” and “dirty South American” being the key phrases in the one-sided phone conversation). The scene begs the question: Does that scene play as a bit of an elegy for the storyline of the cousins or will we see more of them? What there’s no question about (I’m a fucking segue savant, I know) is the greatness of the arms dealer character, a fast-talking slickster motherfucker who insists on polluting ears with his hilarious discussion of what type of girls like to get pissed on. But the highlight of the episode was obviously the final shootout, an expertly choreographed piece of suspense filled with some great ideas and perfect pay-offs for both “the bullet” and “the ax.” With the RV scene last episode and the parking lot scene in this one, the show’s been busting out some fantastic episode climaxes lately. Speaking of climaxes (I’ll be here all week, folks!), how about the money shot on the camera when the one brother takes one to to the face? One of the better uses of their “camera lens is physically part of the universe of the show” perspectives in a while.
Lots of questions for next week, chief amongst them being “Who the fuck called Hank?” Saul got his cell number from Walt last week, but who stands to gain from Hank being left alive? Also, Hank’s going to have that question and a few others to puzzle over once he’s recovered, issues like “Why did Jesse drop the charges?” and his one from early in the episode, “Where’d you get my fucking cell phone number?” Plus, seeing how Jesse’s obviously going to have a lot of eyes on him (hell, Hank might even suspect that Jesse set up the hit once he connects the cousins to Tuco), how the fuck is he going to get to work every day? But the question we’re all no doubt asking is, with Jesse working for Gus now, will we ever see Badger again?