The next day (that day?) Walt pulls into the laundro-meth parking lot and makes note of the car next to him, which has, standing upright in the roof, some queer-ass pennyfarthing-meets-gokart looking bicycle contraption. Now, first of all, Walt is one to make a face when he's carrying her nerdly little sack lunch, but also, he knows what this means. Gale's back as his assistant. Down in America's Meth Kitchen, Walt finds that his key no longer works, and that Victor's going to be acting as the new doorman/babysitter of the lab. Walt's peeved, but you kinda can't blame Gus for that one. Down the stairs, Walt greets Gale, and it's tough to get a read on him. He's polite but not as effusive as he once was. He greets Walt with a handshake and then suits up for work.
Elsewhere, Mike is being really quite adorable with his little granddaughter as he drops her off after an afternoon out. This effort at humanization obviously makes me think he's getting killed in this episode, proving I have watched too much Sopranos and that the Breaking Bad producers are officially fucking with me personally. He gives her a hug and a handful of balloons to take with her, though she notes that he's keeping quite a few balloons in the back seat of the car for himself. Oh, sweetie, you know grandpas. They love their balloons. Though most of them probably don't use them to -- as Mike does here, as we're suddenly under cover of night -- float them up into power lines as a low-budge method of cutting off the power to this tiny little factory we see in the distance. Balloons go up, spark-spark-CRACK-sizzle, the lights go out. While I contemplate what Mike would have done if a stiff breeze had kicked in just then, we see what could very well be a backdoor pilot for Mike: Cranky Old Man Spy. He takes out two armed thugs at the door; he comes upon an Asian woman babbling and petrified at her desk and takes her shoe, tosses it down the hallway, waits for the impetuous gunman there to come out shooting, and then plugs him in the back; and for his final trick, he creeps down the hallway to find a trembling Asian guy at a desk with his hands in the air. Mike knows there's another gunman there, on the other side of the wall. He points his gun at said wall as asks Asian guy if he's got it right. Asian guy, bless him, raises his hands higher, so Mike raises his gun higher and fires. Got him. What follows is a lot of inside-baseball talk that exists to let us know that Gus's subsidiary businesses (of which this is one) are being preyed upon by a rival cartel. Mike just cleaned those guys out, but he also shoots Asian guy in the hand and has the trembling secretary woman drive him to the hospital, I guess to teach the lesson that you don't just let other cartels come in and take your shit. Regardless, Gus's grasp on his territory clearly isn't what it once was.
Back at Gus's office, Mike presents the four gunmen's IDs and confirms they're cartel. "Probing for weakness," Gus mutters, as concerned as we've ever seen him. Mike says they didn't find any. And as for Jesse Pinkman? Well, Mike is making inquiries.
America's Meth Kitchen. Walt and Gale are closing up a vat and then ... something. DAMN IT! Thirteen whole episodes recapped with painstaking precision and I'm still a few steps short of being able to cook my own meth. Way to let me down, Vince Gilligan. Walt calls up to Victor, boredly leaning against the railing, reading a paper, and tells him he can take his gas mask off now. Gale wonders what his deal is, and Walt evades/explains by saying there was "a little drama with the guy you replaced." Seeing his opening to address their awkward situation, Gale stiffly states his intention to be perfect from here on out. Ahh, so this isn't resentment I'm getting off of Gale, it's the rigidity of the tarnished teacher's pet trying to regain most favored status. How do I love and hate Gale so intensely at the same time? Because I really do. To Walt's credit, he's not being a dick like he used to be, and even though Gale is begging for it, he's not even being all that patronizing. I mean ... "However you like things to be done is exactly how we're going to do them." Gale says this. With a smile. How do you not punch someone this ingratiating? Walt manages to restrain himself (the saint!). Of course, when Gale ends his sniveling run-on sentence with "please teach me," followed by a knowing cut to Victor eavesdropping, I start to gain respect for Gale as a schemer. Don't worry, it won't last.
Because our next scene is at Gale's house, where Italian big-band music blares and we take a tour of the nerdly tchotchkes he owns, including a telescope and potato-batter alarm clock, just like at the junior high science fair. Gale sings along in Italian (including the falsetto), waters his plants, and generally makes the audience hope that he's a serial killer to compensate for the sadness, when there's a knock on his door. It's Gus, of course, and Gale greets him with slightly flustered cheer.
Gus sits down on the couch and says he needs to discuss something "rather pressing." Gale wheels his desk chair over across Gus, and the fact that Gus allows this conversation to take place with Gale sitting a good half a foot taller than Gus tells me a lot about the guy. This is a confident man. He doesn't care if you're looking down at him; metaphors don't matter and it's better to seem meek anyway. Only Gus knows just how much he towers over everyone else for real. Anyway, Gus asks Gale's expectant little face whether, "if push came to shove," he'd be able to resume Walt's cooking procedures on his own. "Why would push come to shove?" Gale asks, and yeah this is the point I realized Gale wasn't masterminding shit. Gus then tells Gale the tale of Walter's cancer, only embellishing it to say that Walt is "dying" and will soon need a replacement. Amid the B.S., we get a kernel of truth from Gus: business is too lucrative and competition is too vicious for Gus to survive even a one-week shutdown in production. But, you know, Walter's "dying." Obviously, this means Gus is going to kill Walt, then install Gale as his replacement. Which is why it's important that Gale know Walt's procedure for cooking the blue meth. How soon could Gale be ready to step up like that? Gale stammers, then offers that he would need "at least a few more cooks together." Gus, ever the velvet-gloved hardass, asks, "You don't think you're ready now?" Gale stammers some more, about what a master cook Walt is, before returning with "one or two more cooks." Gus this time is stone silent and just stares back at Gale. "One more I guess would do it," Gale says. It's fun to watch Gus strongarm such a lightweight as Gale, though I wonder if he's not risking Gale saying he's ready to fly solo without actually being ready. But maybe Gus is just an awesome motivator. All those Pollos employees and customers can't be wrong, after all. Gus smiles at his protégé and says "I know that when the time comes, you'll be ready." Though as of right now, it's Walt who's on the clock.
The next day at work, Gale could not look more squirrelly if he tried. He and Walt are scrubbing out one of the vats, Gale's eyes darting all around. Gale begins to ask what sounds like an inquiry into Walt's health, but Victor sidles up and makes his presence known, spooking Gale into asking some inane procedural question. Walt rolls his eyes at Victor being all up in their business, but you wonder if that's not all he noticed.
Saul's in his office, lying on the floor and employing one of those mechanical foot relaxers. In case you were worried this show had run out of ways to show Saul being lazy and indulgent. His secretary buzzes in, and while Saul tells her to blow off whoever it is, his office door opens within seconds. It's Mike, of course. And Saul is the last person on this show to know how much of a threat Mike is to him. Mike calmly asks Saul for the whereabouts of one Jesse Pinkman, and Saul gets pissy as a stonewalling tactic. Mike, again calmly, asks Sa