Okay, so after a particularly oblique cold-open where a little kid finds a tarantula in the desert and we're left to wonder how many of the principal characters will be murdered by that spider by the end of the series, we get back to the matters of the day: dealing with Lydia's methylamine trackers. Walt first takes advantage of Hank's friendship to plant bugs in Hank's office, and then the Trio kidnaps Lydia and forces her to make a call reporting the bug to Hank, so that when he follows up the phone call, they can know for sure that the police didn't plant the tracker. Which at first seems to be the case -- the D.E.A. didn't plant the trackers. The F.B.I. did. So Lydia's life is spared, but they're still out of methylamine. It's Lydia who actually presents a solution: rob the freight train with a tanker full of the stuff. This would prove to be exceedingly difficult and dangerous, not to mention they'd have to kill the two conductors in order to have no witnesses.
So Jesse comes up with his second masterstroke idea of the season: stop the train with a disabled vehicle, then drain the methylamine tanker from below while replacing what they take with water, so that when the tank is weighed, it won't show any signs of trouble and thus no one will know there was even a heist. The three men enlist the help of Landry from the exterminator business, and Jesse stresses how serious it would be if they got caught for lifting this much methylamine.
The heist itself is predictably tense, and there's a close scrape at the end, but Walt, Jesse, and Landry manage to pull it off. And there is much rejoicing ... until the kid with the tarantula from the cold open is suddenly watching them. How much has he seen? We'll never know, as Landry impulsively pulls out his gun and shoots the kid down. No witnesses. Holy shit.
This is probably the most elliptical cold open we've had in quite a while. At least the tater-tot dipping scene (ahhh, memories of "Franch") ended up including the federal agents and the Pollos logo by the end. This scene, beginning to end, has seemingly nothing to do with the Breaking Bad plot as we've seen it so far. Which, if you're me, means you watched it all the more intently. There's not much to it. Young teenager (kid's maaaybe 14 at best, likely younger) rides his motorbike around the desert, stops when he spots a tarantula, picks it up. Does the tarantula have blood on it from a Mexican cartel massacre? Is the tarantula the reincarnated spirit of Gustavo Fring? Is the boy a very young Hank Schrader, learning a valuable lesson about not keeping dangerous creatures too close to you? ...No, not really. This is just a kid, finding a spider in the desert and putting him in a glass jar for the journey home. There's one thing, though. Off in the distance, you can hear a train whistle. Not loudly enough to startle the child or even indicate he hears it, but it's there. Gathering steam.
Smoke! Elements! Vince Gilligan!
Walt pays Hank a visit in his fancy new office and asks Gomez for some alone time with his bro-in-law. He compliments Hank on his new job and his fancy new watch ("Good for you"). [Note: Anyone else think that this watch will eventually incriminate Walt and be the final clue that leads Hank to figure out he's Heisenberg? No, just me? -- Rachel.]
Ostensibly, this meeting is a State of Skyler report. Today, she went to work, which is a good start. Hank wonders about that therapist idea they floated last week. Remember? Marie's "rock star" shrink Dave? Walt lies that Skyler is already seeing someone, a Peter Something in Rio Rancho. Walt gets emotional, or at least pretends to, and he thanks Hank and Marie for taking the kids and asks if he can come visit, to which Hank is like, "Of course!" Walt gets quiet for a moment after that, and Hank prods for what's wrong. Finally, Walt takes the dramatics up another level: "Skyler doesn't love me anymore," he says, through tears. How much real is in those tears? Maybe more than we'd like to give Walt credit for? Anyway, the breakdown does have a purpose: "She says I'm a bad influence on the kids," he says. Hank assures him he's a great dad. Is that what this visit was for? Absolution from Hank? Turning Skyler's family against her? Hank gets up and closes the blinds so no one will see a grown man cry. And since he's uncomfortable with male emotion like this, Hank scurries out to grab Walt a cup of coffee.