Previously on Breaking Bad: Couch Baron did a fantastic job filling in for me and managed not to throw himself at Jesse Pinkman as shamelessly as I've been. Kudos! Also, Mike told Walt he'd likely never see Gus again, before punching him in the face to emphasize his point. Jesse began the process of bottoming out by turning his house into a 24/7 meth free-for-all. Skyler tried and failed to purchase the car wash from Walt's (justifiably) bitter ex-employer. And Hank's miserable excuse for an existence has really been doing a number on Marie's quality of life.
Walt shows up for work at America's Meth Kitchen and pours himself a cup of coffee from Gale's super elaborate laboratory coffee-maker. I'm smiling at the thought of Gale's nerdy pride in this contraption, and I like that the show lets Walter do the same without drawing a whole lot of lines to what's behind it. If we've been watching all this time, we probably know. We watch as Walt's face reflects the mental journey from Gale's invention to Gale's ultimate end. Moment of mirth: over. But as Walt heads over to flip some switches and begins today's cooking process, he notes a heretofore unheard buzzing sound. No, this isn't going to be another overpraised fly-hunting episode. What Walt hears, he discovers, is the sound of the security camera following him around the lab. This can't possibly be a surprise to him, but it enrages him nonetheless. Not least of which because it's the latest reminder of Gus being possibly permanently out of Walt's reach. He growls and grumbles and walks right up under the camera, then shoots it a very angry, very impotent middle finger. Which kind of sums up the entirety of Walt's post-diagnosis life.
Speaking of fingers, the next one we see is Skyler's as it insistently rings Walt's doorbell. She knows he's there and proves it by ringing his phone, but when Walt finally does answer the door, it's only a crack, and he tries to keep the left side of his face -- the one with the black eye, courtesy of Mike -- hidden. Skyler wants to talk about the car wash, and Walt's been avoiding her. Of course, once she gets a look at the rest of Walt's face, she wants to talk about THAT. And of course stubborn ol' Walter makes things worse for himself by digging his heels in on principle, rather than just making up a quick lie. Skyler wants Walt to tell her if he's not safe -- she suggests going to the police as an option if his life is truly in danger. Here's a good example of the show reminding us that while Skyler may know the "truth" about Walt's chosen method of making a living, she is by no means fully informed. Walt, of course, wants no part of any deal with the cops, and he high-hats the hell out of Skyler about it. Just give her an explanation for the black eye, you stubborn asshole! He eventually does -- a half-truth involving a scuffle with a "much-older" co-worker -- but not before calling her "passive aggressive," which is both true and hilariously pot-kettle-ish. The explanation calms her down enough that she starts scouring his freezer for frozen peas to put on his face, but he doesn't even have ice in there. In a moment of honest concern, unadorned with the ulterior motives these two seem to be swimming in lately, Skyler just asks him to promise to tell her if he's in any real danger. He does, which is of course a lie, but a well-intentioned one, which is what passes for virtue when it comes to Walt. Finally, they get to talking about the car wash.