Jesse wants to talk business, which naturally makes Skinny and Badger nervous, what with Badger getting popped by Detective DJ Qualls last season, and Combo getting iced by Dora the Explorer and all. Jesse promises it's "not gonna be like it was." They're gonna sell it safe and smart. "We don't get greedy like before." I'm uneasy seeing Jesse operate purely from a position of sticking it to Walt, but the truth is, Walt did get greedy, and he did push things past where it was safe. Which meant Combo got popped, Jesse got depressed and turned to drugs, Jane got back on the heroin, chocked in her sleep, leaving her dad distraught and unable to keep two airplanes from colliding. On and on we go. "Still," Badger philosophizes, "a man's gotta make his money." He and Skinny eventually talk themselves into it. Step 1, says Jesse, is to build up inventory. He sends Badger off to retrieve the RV from Clovis and make sure it's in tip-top shape. Oil change, brake lights, and whatnot. Cops always pull you over for broken taillights. Also, get a "buzzer thing" for when you leave your keys in the ignition by accident. Heh. I love how Jesse's concerns come from a mixture of his own real-life screwups and every movie he's ever seen.
Jesse commissions Skinny to get supplies, then adjourns this meeting of the minds. As Badger and Skinny walk out, we've switch to the POV of someone outside. Down the street, even. Of course, it's Hank, following up on the lead he got from Combo's mom. Now, okay, Hank may need to be institutionalized and studied by optometrists of the future. Because not only did he recognize Jesse in that photo with the strippers last week, but he now pegs a be-hatted Brendan Mahew (i.e. Badger) through the rearview mirror from about 50 yards away. Skill.
After the break, Walt wakes up at 6AM to happily go through his morning routine, all to the tune of peppy '50s music. He makes himself a PB&J (no crusts), wraps it up in a paper bag, and writes "WALT" on it in Sharpie. And then he sits and waits 'til it's time to pick up Flynn.
The car ride with Flynn is no picnic. In a bit of a departure from what Walt had been used to (and was hoping would continue, no doubt), Flynn doesn't seem to be seeing Walt as entirely the beleaguered victim anymore. When Walt promises to take Flynn to and from school every day, Flynn smarts back about how he won't get to drive with his friends just because his dad's feeling guilty. Take a taste of equal treatment, Walt. "I am the man that I am, son," Walt says, by way of some cryptic apology. "There's plenty that I would change about that but...here we are. And this is just what it is." Okay, then! Good, non-specific talk! Walt expresses some more completely unearned optimism about the future.
Gus shows up for work at El Pollo and sees that the Cousins have already staked out their same table from yesterday. When he gets to the front counter, one of his teen employees ruefully drones "They're baaaack." Gus puts on the happy face and tells her they're fine and not doing anything wrong. But he eyes them warily nonetheless.
Walt shows up for work at the laundry facility looking unsettlingly like my dad. He gets one of the employees to pull the secret lever that allows him access behind one of the large machines, and he descends into his own personal circle of hell. Below, he looks admiringly across his industrial strength cook's paradise. America's Meth Kitchen.
Below Walt's feet, he hears a cheerful "Hello there!" This would be Gale, Walt's lab assistant. Gale is played by David Costabile, and the fact that I'm not incredibly freaked out by him despite him having played the creepiest, scariest, murderiest guy on Damages for two seasons (in fact, I think I dubbed him "Creepico" in one of those recaps) is a testament to either the power of his acting or the fact that shaving one's beard off works wonders. Gale could not seem more like a harmless, sweet, eager to please guy. Who will apparently be helping Walt cook massive amounts of methamphetamine. Gale endears himself to Walt by showing him his bunson-burner-y method of making coffee. It's actually a really clever scene that makes it look like he's showing Walt some meth-making procedure until he pours Walt a cup of the most perfect coffee he's ever tasted. He says so, and while Gale shares credit with the beans and the grind, he thanks him. "Why the hell are we making meth?" Walt muses as he takes another sip. Why indeed!
What follows is a rather delightful montage set to music that definitely sounds Peanuts-inspired, though I can't place it. Like Walt's getting-ready-for-work montage, the cheerfulness of the soundtrack makes no mistake: Walt is happy-go-lucky to be working again. And clearly he and Gale have a perfect working relationship. It's not hard to guess that this is the kind of workaday life Walt had planned for when he was in college with Gretchen and Elliott. Complete with the millions in compensation.
After a hard day's work, Gale pours some wine and talks some more shop. Walt's more interested in how a bright guy like Gale ended up cooking meth. In a rare moment of self-awareness, Walt acknowledges that he often wonders the same about himself. After all, neither of them appear outwardly like the criminal type. "There's crime and then there's crime," says Gale, displaying the kind of libertarian moral relativism that answers half of Walt's question right there. Gale also talks of his frustrations with academia, the hoop-jumping and "ass-kissing." Sometimes known as the part where you interact with other human beings. Gale "loves the lab," said with a giant goofy grin on his face that says he also loves porn magazines and waking up alone. Walt definitely shares Gale's contention that chemistry is "magic," at its essence. Gale quotes a Whitman poem, "When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer." The gist of which is: "Enough of yer fancy-talkin'. Lemme do it fer myself!" After reciting the poem in full, Gale faux-pridefully says, "Yes! I am a nerd!" I like how Costabile is playing Gale. Like he should be the lovable lab geek that every procedural show has, only there's a little something that's not sitting quite right. As with everyone in Gus's organization, you can't quite embrace him at face value.
Hank is still parked down the road from Jesse's house, waiting for him to do something that gives Hank an opening. By the looks of the mountain of food wrappers and associated debris on his passenger seat, he's been here a while. And in fact, a phone call from Marie reveals that he hasn't been home in quite some time. And Marie, for being a super-intense and single-minded busybody, is actually pretty admirable in her restraint here. She wonders if, given that it's "the Pinkman kid" we're talking about, Hank might want to talk to "someone" they know who "might know something." See, I think even if Marie doesn't know she's knows, there's some part of her, deep in her bone marrow, that knows what Walt's up to. It's too bad her bone marrow ain't talking to her brain, because what she just suggested is about to lead Hank down a path right to Walt.
Hank does place the call. Walt's in his fancy new apartment reading a book. Hank lays it out for Walt: Remember that student of yours, Jesse Pinkman, who we tracked down when you went off the reservation last year? I totally don't care if he was selling you weed, but I think he's moved on to selling meth, and I'm trying to track down the RV he's using as a movable lab. Would you happen to know anything about Jesse and an RV? Walt perks up at the mention of the RV, and at the mention of Jesse graduating to meth. He goes white as a sheet and deadly silent. From the other end of the line, Hank can only ask, "...Walt?" Yeah, PROBLEM.
After the break, Walt places a frantic phone call to Jesse that he just as frantically hangs up on -- before even saying a word -- because he realizes if Hank's investigating Jesse, maybe Jesse's land line isn't the safest haven for conversation. I should mention, because I didn't before, that I'm happy to see Jesse got himself a futon for his otherwise barren house. One piece at a time! The call goes to Saul, who is busy lying on the floor of his office, his legs on a massaging apparatus. What happened to his Asian chiropractor/hand-job artist? Anyway, Saul laughs off Walt's paranoia about needing a secure line, but he hops to attention when Walt says the DEA is closing in their RV."The one that contains a meth lab!" Saul says Walt needs to get rid of it. Better yet, have Jesse get rid of it (boy, Saul sure did turn on the kid, huh?). Walt explains that Hank is surveilling Jesse's house as we speak, so Saul says Walt will have to take care of it. Walt's at a bit of a loss as to what that means, exactly. How does he just "get rid of" something that big. "Where do I go to make an RV disappear?" he freaks. "I'm not David Copperfield!" Heh. We haven't seen Walt this flustered in a minute. Not altogether unpleasant. Saul is equally baffled. "Did you not plan for this contingency?" Saul asks. Walt did not. Saul says next time he should have one. "The Starship Enterprise had a self-destruct button!" That's about enough for Walt, who angrily dumps the call and rushes out.
Meanwhile, the RV in question is being worked on by Clovis, who has to also deal with whatever inanity Badger is currently going on about (in this case: water-powered cars). Clovis is busy barely tolerating his cousin when Walt comes screaming into the lot in his Aztec. He starts ranting at them about having the RV out in the open like this, and Badger has to tell Clovis that this is Heisenberg. Walt tells Clovis to finish changing the oil, then they'll take it out to the desert and "wipe it clean." Clovis wants to know just what the fuck is going on, and Walt tersely tells them the DEA knows