If you thought this would be the week that Walt begins walking back the damage he did with his little drunken proclamation to Hank last week, you should probably think for a little while longer about what kind of a person Walter White is. This episode slathers on the reminders that Walt is a petty, egotistical, short-tempered man who is not nearly as smart as he believes himself to be. So we get an ordinary argument with Skyler where he pretty much tells her that he IS the meth business in New Mexico, and he's a killer who should be feared. Skyler naturally freaks out, takes a road trip to Four Corners, flips a coin, seemingly to let fate decide where she should go from here, but ultimately she decides to nudge fate along so she'll stay exactly where she is.
We also get Walt acting like a pissy dick with (an equally pissy) Bogdon, though he seems to pick up on Bogdon's taunts about Walt not being management material. Walt's attempts to "manage" Jesse are ultimately felled by Walt's chronic inability to not be a complete asshole on an interpersonal level. See, he's actually figured out that the robbery plot last week was devised by Gus and Mike in order to bring Jesse into their fold and undermine Walt. But since Walt phrases this all as, "It's all about me!" Jesse rightly calls him an asshole and goes back to hanging out with Mike, who is still terse and gruff but also kind of a little nurturing to our boy. (Meanwhile, Walt is left back at the lab and needs to bribe the laundry gals with mucho dinero to clean the equipment for him.)
Is Walt also a terrible father and husband? You bet! He knows Junior is determined to side with Dad any time he and Skyler are fighting (like now), and yet he still feels the need to buy Junior's love with a car. Junior, to his credit, is wise to it, so he decides to lean on his dad's guilt and go for the brass ring: a brand new sports car. Of course, when Skyler gets him, she and Walt argue about how the car runs absolutely counter to the cover story and will obviously have to go back. Walt, the complete and total heel, is all, "I'm worried that Junior's going to blame you for this." And she's like, "Oh obviously, jackass."
Meanwhile, Jesse and Mike are on a stakeout in front of some small-time meth dealers' shack. Seems these guys bought some of the blue stuff that the cartel heisted from a Pollos truck in the cold open. Mike tries to teach Jesse the value of patience -- guess how that goes. Jesse instead uses his vast experience lording over meth-heads to busy one of them digging a hole in the front yard (I need to learn how to better exploit the meth-heads in my own life this way!), while he heads inside to get the other one to come outside and face Mike's menacing glare. The other guy isn't so easily bamboozled, though, and he shoves a shotgun in Jesse's face. Jesse thinks fast, knocking Crankhead No. 2 out with a bong, while Mike enters and sees how Jesse manages to back up his recklessness with some degree of self-sufficiency. Not the ideal outcome, sure, but these two seem to be meeting in the middle -- and forging a much closer bond that Walt and Jesse currently share. Which should lead is to some dark places.
Previously, Mike had to shoot his way out of a Pollos truck hijacking, then later babysat Jesse and took part in a ruse that ultimately left Jesse feeling like he was a vital cog in the Gus Fring meth empire (and not just Walter White's lab boy). Walt and Skyler toasted to their new car-wash venture, but then Walt went and ran his mouth at Hank's house, causing Hank to re-think his theory that Heisenberg has been killed.
Another week, another cold-open inside a Pollos truck. Only this time, instead of Mike, it's two random yahoos, which means of course they're going to end up dead. This time, when the truck is stopped, they don't have the foresight that Mike had to crouch down for cover. And as dumb as these two are, their cartel counterparts are that much more clever. Instead of barraging the truck with bullets, they hook up the exhaust pipe to a tube and pump it right back into the cabin. A truck this size, you can imagine how much carbon monoxide that is. The cartel guys wait, snack on some fruit, while the Pollos guys wheeze. When they get desperate, they try to shoot out some oxygen holes, but it's too late. Pollos 1, Cartel 1. After the Pollos guys are dead, the cartel folk open up the back of the truck, search the buckets of fry batter for the one with the blacklight-sensitive star marking, and abscond with it. This is definitely not just another blunt message sent to Gus; it's next-level shit.
White house. Skyler is researching Gale on the computer and listening back to Walt's frantic voice-mail message from last week, over and over. Walt is passed out in bed, still in his clothes from the party. Skyler brings him coffee and waits for him to rouse himself. The mark of a true liar, he begins with the tried and (opposite of) true, "I don't even remember what I said last night, I was so drunk!" Skyler slowly starts in on Gale -- was he involved in Walt's business? After scoffing ineffectively a few times, Skyler repeats herself, and Walt assents by his silence. Who killed him? The people Walt works for? "Definitely not." People who, at some point, might want to do the same to Walt? "I seriously doubt it." Hmm. How telling, the different in word choice there. Walt "definitely" doesn't work for Jesse. But there's less absolutism in his sense that Jesse would never do the same to him.
Obviously, something has changed in Skyler's mind, about this whole drug-dealing operation she thought she'd made her peace with. And as usual, she's trying to put together the few puzzle pieces she has in any way she can, and she doesn't always connect them right. She thinks Walt's loose lips last night were a "cry for help"; he wants Hank to catch him. Walt openly mocks this train of though. "You're like Dr. Joyce Brothers, here," he scoffs. Oooh, nice topical reference, GRANDPA WALT. Skyler's serious, though. If he is in danger, they will go to the police. She means it. If it's between that and him getting killed, there is no choice. "You are no hardened criminal," she says. She then makes the Season 1 case for Walt -- schoolteacher, cancer, in over his head. The case we all wanted to make for Walt when this first started. She doesn't know that it's far too late for that. And the only way Walt can get her to stop talking about turning themselves in is to tell her himself. Of course, it's Walt, so he deliberately says it in the worst way possible. "Admit you're in danger," Skyler says. "Who is it you think you see?" he glowers. "Do you know how much I make? What would happen if I suddenly stopped going in to work?" Typical, self-aggrandizing Walt says the whole billion-dollar operation would come crumbling down without him. (Oh, Walt, do you even believe that one anymore?) "You think I'm in danger?" he asks, scowling and menacing and mean. "I am the danger. A guy opens his door and gets shot, and you think that of me? No. I am the one who knocks!" Naturally, this has all completely scared the shit out of Skyler.