You guys! I had just gotten to the point where I was remembering Victor's name without having to look it up! But let's not get ahead...
So Jesse definitely killed Gale -- shot him right underneath the eye -- but he doesn't so much flee the scene, so when Victor gets there, he hauls Jesse into the lab, with Walter and Mike. And there the four of them sit, waiting for Gus, who everybody expects is going to be fucking PISSED. When Walter starts spouting off about how Gus is going to have to keep him alive because now he's the only one who knows how to cook the blue stuff, Victor springs into action, starting up the next batch. Seems someone was paying attention while he lurked around for half of Season 3.
Meanwhile, Skyler discovers Walt's Aztec in the driveway the next morning (she drives it three blocks away so
Flynn Junior doesn't notice), which sets her on a snooping mission. She scams a locksmith in order to gain access to Walt's condo, where she's properly creeped out by that glass eyeball.
Saul's about as paranoid as you can get, and that's before he finds out that Walt didn't come home last night.
And while Hank goes through the hellish and unbearably slow recovery process, he's becoming angrier, more insular, and kind of obsessed with Ebaying mineral rocks. Marie's playing the brave little toaster for now, but how long can her enthusiasm last?
Back in the lab, though, Walt (and an unresponsive to the point of catatonia Jesse) are less than pleased to see how successfully Victor's been able to follow the meth recipe, but things really ratchet up when Gus arrives. Without saying a word, he removes his suit and dons a hazmat parka -- preparing for wetwork. While Walt gets louder and more frantic about how Gus NEEDS him, Gus just silently brandishes the titular box-cutter ... and slashes Victor's throat wide open. (Sending a message? Just plain crazy? Gus's motivations are murky.) Walt, Jesse, and even Mike are totally gobsmacked, and Gus finally breaks his silence with one command: get back to work. Victor's body gets disposed of, and Walt and Jesse (who, surprise, is acting like his soul's been removed from his body) talk about this new world order: Jesse feels like they've all displayed their murderous bona fides and are thus on equal footing, But Walt seems to realize that on a long enough timeline, it's going to end up being Gus's life or their own.
Previously on Breaking Bad: Oh God, it just all went to hell, didn't it? Skyler found out Walt dealt drugs, kicked him out of the house, softened, then invented an elaborate cover story and decided to help him launder his money through a car wash. Meanwhile, Jesse Pinkman downward spiraled like you wouldn't believe, but Walt bailed him out of a firefight with two dealers by killing said dealers with his Aztec of Destruction. By then, drug/fast-food kingpin Gus had quite enough with Walt's drama and was planning on killing him and replacing him with fellow chemistry whiz Gale. Walt caught on and the plan was to murder Gale, but he got waylaid by Gus's men (Mike the fixer and Victor the silent) and so it fell upon Jesse -- poor, (occasionally) sweet Jesse -- to save their lives by knocking on Gale's door and shooting him in the face. Also, at some point, Hank got shot and paralyzed. Holy shit.
Season 4 opens up with the traditional pre-credits short film, this time taking us back several months, maybe a year or so, to when Gus, Victor, and Gale were first assembling the industrial-strength meth lab that I've come to know as America's Meth Kitchen. Gale is opening the box of one of the big-ass meth vats by cutting the binding straps with a box cutter that not only is getting like six loving close-ups but also serves as the title of the episode. So, you know, file that one away. The look on Gale's face, by the way, is the unrestrained glee of a boy on Christmas morning (he even says as much to Gus). As was established last season, Gale isn't in this for the power or the money or -- God forbid -- the meth. He's in this for the science of it all. For the chance to cook the best he can cook. He produces a baggie of the blue meth for Gus -- a sample that Gus had asked him to get analyzed -- and declared that it's "quite good," at least in terms of sheer chemical purity. Gus tells him he can discard it, but Gale, in his own meek way, prods for more information. This is their competition, yes? Gus, ever the information hoarder, says as far as he's concerned, they don't have any competition. "After all," he smiles vacantly, "how pure can pure be?" As he walks away, Gale does maybe the bravest thing he's ever done and says, "...Pretty pure." He explains to Gus that what he can do, through diligent and hard work, is get their meth to about 96% purity. Which is great. But this blue meth that he just analyzed is 99% pure, maybe even a smidge more than that. And in that 3% lays a great bit of difference. Gus is still resistant to the idea, mostly because he has no respect for the man who produced it. "He's not a professional," he declares. Gale wonders aloud that if this man isn't a professional, he's not sure what that makes him. He says he's not trying to talk himself out of a job or anything, but he sees the lab Gus is assembling here, and he knows Gus wants the very best. So shouldn't he go after a man who can deliver that very best? It's no big secret what the show is doing with this scene. In the last microseconds of Gale's life, we're flashing back to a moment in time when he expressly advocated for the man who would ultimately be responsible for ending it. The irony is simple and it's cruel, and as Gale picks up Chekhov's Box Cutter and gets to work unpacking the next piece of equipment, we cut back to Gus's face. Also simple and cruel.