Walt continues: the one thing he's sure of is that "the cook can't stop." Production cannot halt, it'd be too costly for Gus. "If I'm the only chemist that he's got," Walt reasons, "I've got leverage." He thinks he can even parlay that leverage to keep Jesse safe. "If I'm the only chemist that he's got," Walt stresses. Jesse gets it. He gets it so much he can't even look Walter in the eye. "I...I can't do it," Jesse scratches out. Embarrassed and ashamed that he can't kill an innocent man like he used to think he could. What's become of this celebrated hard-ass? "Like you said, I'm not a..." It hangs in the air, as does the reciprocal implication about Walt. "I can't do it," he repeats. Walt understands. He says he'll do it himself, but he'll need help. He doesn't even know where Gale lives. And he's under constant supervision from Victor at all times. But if he can just shake Victor, even for an hour, "I can make it look like an accident."
Not that I don't appreciate Walt's resolve here, but my issue with this plan is this: so he kills Gale. Gus can't off him because he needs the cook to continue. But Gus is no dummy. What's to stop him from recording the lab sessions, getting a chemist to study the procedure from the tapes and thus be completely unknown to Walt, and THEN killing Walt? At best this is a buy-some-time solution. Killing an innocent man should be worth more than buying yourself a couple months. Jesse more-or-less agrees with me, because he's advocating for another way. He still has yet to look up from the ground since the subject of killing was raised. Walt says he's "all ears" for a better idea (uh, Jesse just told you: witness protection), "but when it comes to you and me versus him, I'm sorry -- I'm truly sorry -- but it's going to be him."
Walt tells Jesse he's the only leverage he's got. No one knows he's in town. He needs Jesse to track Gale, get his address. "I'll do the rest," he pledges. He thinks that keeps Jesse's hands clean. Jesse knows it doesn't. Walt pulls out his trump card: "I saved your life, Jesse. Are you gonna save mine?"
After the break, Skyler sets the table in Walt's perfect home. Sixteen years after it was an empty set of walls he and Skyler toured on a sunny afternoon. Walt sits on the couch, feeding his baby girl as she adorably -- seriously ADORABLY -- grabs at his face. Grabs his glasses off. There's no way this can last, and indeed, Walt's phone rings. He takes it in the bathroom. "6353 Juan Tabo Bloulevard, apartment 6," Jesse croaks out. His voice can barely manage to participate. He tells Walt that nobody's watching the house and asks when he's going to do it. "Tonight," Walt says. Jesse tries once more: "Don't do this, Mr. White," he asks. "Please? Go to the cops." Walt snaps the phone shut.
Later that night. It's about that time. Walt sneaks out the front door and is almost to the Aztek in the driveway when Victor pulls up. "We got a problem," he says. "Some kind of chemical leaking in your lab." Imagine it's your birthday. You return home from running some errands you weren't sure you really needed to run, but your significant other insisted. There's a din coming from behind the house and you're met in the driveway by your s.o. "Honey?" s/he says, "there's a fully grown African elephant in the backyard, can you come with me and check it out?" THAT is how not surprised Walt is going to be when he shows up at America's Meth Kitchen and gets killed. (Moral of the story: do NOT have Victor plan your next surprise party.) Walt offers to drive himself. "They tell me to bring you, I bring you," Victor says. He's blocking the end of the driveway, so even if Walt wanted to bolt into the Aztek and speed away, he couldn't. He waits for perhaps a bolt of lightning to come and save him (or perhaps another Aztek-driving maniac to plow into Victor) before getting into the car. The dread is palpable.
The soundtrack is full of cranked-up ambient rumblings; we're a few clanging flat chords from being an Angelo Badalamenti score. I love it. Victor walks Walt into the laundromat, past the empty work stations, until they come upon Mike, opening the hatch to the lab. Mike tries to sell the prospect of a leak down in the lab with a little more effort than Victor, but not much. Walt looks down the hatch, perhaps mentally mapping out a strategy where he could use the chemicals in the lab to his advantage; likely concluding that stepping down that ladder would seal his fate. "Please don't do this," Walt begs. "Mike," he says, smartly personalizing things, "you don't have to do this." "Yeah, unfortunately I do," says Mike. His regret seems honest, don't you think? He's come to like Walt, improbable as it seems. Walt stammers that he'll cook for free. No dice. He wants to talk to Gus. No. "Just let me please, please, PLEEEEEASE talk to him!" Mike finally tells him to shut up. "I can't do it," Mike says. "I'm sorry." One more shot for Walt, and he takes it: "I'll give you Jesse Pinkman."
Now. I won't lie -- I totally thought this was legit and that Walt had rolled over on Jesse. I especially thought it when Walt says that Jesse never even left town. But even as a ploy, a last-ditch gambit, it seems a bit weak. Walt's a bigger fish than Jesse ever was; no matter how much aggravation Jesse caused Gus, he'll never be a more important kill than Walt is right now. But Mike is intrigued. "I'll take you to him," he promises. "I'll take you right to him." Mike demands a location, but Walt says he's been moving around a lot. Just let him call and set up a meeting. He gingerly pulls out his phone and calls.
Jesse is...still at the later tag, I think? Sitting in the dark and lighting (though not smoking -- not yet) a meth pipe. He's about to put it to his lips when the phone rings. He picks up and asks, "Did you do it?" Before Walt begins speaking, "Mike grabs his arm and pulls the phone closer. He wants to monitor this as best he can. "No, I didn't do it," Walt begins. "I can't now. It's gonna have to be you." Jesse freaks and says he can't. "You're closer than we are," Walt says, which is strange enough that Mike turns his head. "You'll have a 20 minute lead, they've got me at the laundry and they're going to kill me." Mike snatches the phone while Walt screams "Do it, Jesse! Do it now!" Jesse picks up his gun and starts running.