“Hazard Pay” starts to give us a better idea of where the new season of Breaking Bad is headed as our boys work out a new lab situation and Walt spies his next hurdle to be done away with. The episode opens with Mike going to county lock-up as a “paralegal” for a lawyer so he can talk to one of the people on the legacy list. He assures Dennis that he will be paid his full amount, the Cayman account seizure be damned, and also lets it be known that no one else on the list will rat. Then Mike tells the lawyer that yes, they will be paying everyone else on the list a visit that day to lock this shit down – cut to opening credits.
We learn that Saul is against bringing Mike on board but, what can you do, Mike has the connections and Saul, crafty as he is, is only so helpful. So Saul takes the three of them around town in search of a place to set up another super lab, a box factory, a tortilla bakery, and (of course) a laser tag arcade all shot down quickly. On his last suggestion of a pest control shop Walt comes up with the idea of having a mobile lab, one that they’d set up every time the pest control biz has a house that’s suitable. The guys who run the shop are “second story men” and reliable (even according to Mike’s dreaded “vetting process,” apparently) and nobody’s gonna question smells coming off a fumigation tent and no cop is gonna duck his head in to find out what’s cracking.
We get a nice scene of Skinny Pete and Badger buying up the necessary equipment to easily move the lab (from a guitar center!) followed by them being rejected by a hard look from Mike when they inquire about opportunities in the future. (Hopefully we’ll at least get to see Jesse hanging out with the boys later in the season – I could always use some more Pete and Badger.) The scene where they’re loading up the lab into the chosen house with the homeowner going down the list of things he should have taken care of in addition to the quick-thinking Todd’s disabling of a nanny-cam lead me to believe that the boys being busted by a homeowner seems unlikely, but then again it could be really heavy foreshadowing for just such a happening.
The cook goes well and we get a big, arty montage with all kinds of trippy chemical-change imagery followed by the guys on a break watching The Three Stooges and having a beer when Walt asks how much Jesse’s lady knows about what he does. He says she knows something but doesn’t *know* know. Walt, the master-manipulator, says he should be honest with her about everything, that secrets kill. The prospect of letting her know about Gale and, maybe just in the back of his mind but certainly a factor, his worries about Walt’s paranoia and control issues lead to him breaking it off with her by the end of the episode.
At the end of the episode Mike gives the guys a very visual breakdown of just how much their pie is carved up, a major piece of it going to Mike’s legacy people. Walt scoffs at just what his responsibility is to those people but ultimately stands down on refusing to pay them when Jesse offers to pay them out of his cut instead. Mike springing this tax on the boys is a bit of a stupid power-play thing that he should have established well before then and it sours Walt even further on Mike, the episode closing with Walt talking about Victor’s death at the hands of Gus from the beginning of season four. He says that it initially looked like a way for Gus to get in his head (something we all assumed at the time, I think) but now wonders if maybe Victor hadn’t flown too close to the sun, the implication being, maybe it’s time Mike got a boxcutter dragged across his throat too…
Mike is too important to the operation at this point for Walt’s liking, as he controls almost all the business side while Jesse and Walt merely have to handle manufacture. As Mike does a whole bunch of shit and only takes a third of the overall take, Walt should really just shut the fuck up and cook. But because he’s a power mad egotist now it looks like he’s gonna find a way to cut Mike out. Getting rid of Mike is not a practical thing to do at this point, though, because he’s too important to the operation (season four parallels anyone?) so Walt’s gonna have to start finding a way to either get new partners or usurp Mike’s resources if he wants to be able to kill Mike by the end of season five part I. (You guys think that’s the finale too or am I flying too close to the sun on this one?)
Oh! Before you go we haven’t talked about the home life situation yet. Walt’s moving his shit back in and Walter Junior couldn’t be happier. (Jesus, I would hate to watch a movie with a mook like Walt – the guy can’t shut the fuck up!) So Skyler has no say in this and is still depressed (though back at work) and has a break down at work where she tells Marie to shut up (something every viewer of the show has thought every time she appears on screen) in a rather embarrassingly over-the-top scene for both actresses. This leads to Marie confronting Walt and Walt showing off his gift for lying and manipulating, flipping the guilt from himself over to Skyler, saying that she’s distraught because her lover Ted broke his neck. He asks her to keep it quiet, but we all know how good Marie is at, you know, shutting up.