If you're into looking for episode themes, this one's not hard to find -- everyone's feeling like a powerless bag of shit, whether they were witness to last week's, er, throaty events or not. Hank, looking like hell, continues to treat his rocks…er, minerals far better than he treats his wife, and despite the fact that he reaches a big milestone in his physio, he eventually refuses even to suffer her presence, although he is willing to have her check the dozens of boxes of geodes he keeps ordering for damage. With such an attitude directed her way, you can hardly be surprised at Marie for raising an interested eyebrow toward her husband's hot new PT.
Skyler calls Walt to try to get his ass in gear about the car wash, not realizing that both he and Saul (absent from the episode except for one of his TV spots, heh) have far more pressing things on their minds. Undeterred, she observes customers and does research on the place before going to make the owner an offer -- the owner who just so happens to be the dude Walt worked for at the beginning of the series. Heh. The guy does not share my amusement, however, as he quotes Skyler a ridiculous price out of spite for the way Walt quit on him. I believe the theme of the episode called for Skyler to leave impotently, but I think next week she'll return to bash him over the head with her baby's car seat.
Jesse has Skinny Pete and Badger over, and after some lip service to the Steps and mention of Andrea (sister, as you'll remember, of the late young, Combo-killing Tomas), the three of them are snorting up, and soon they're having a kicking bash. The next day, the place looks like Jonestown, but Jesse tells his boys to keep the party rocking while he goes to cook, and they oblige. Eventually, with her name having been dropped in the first act, Andrea turns up, and we learn that she's been calling Jesse because she figured out that he left her a ton of cash anonymously. He encourages her to take it and get her and her son out of their horrible neighborhood, and although she doesn't make any promises, we can hope for the best on that front. In less uplifting news, however, when the party stops due to people's limited tolerance for drugs, alcohol, and massive amounts of bass, Jesse's face does that thing where it cracks into a million pieces under the weight of his life. Still gets me every time, of course.
Finally, Walt, with protection understandably on the brain, seeks advice from a gun expert and settles on a thirty-eight snub, complete with holster (and excised serial number), as the best option to conceal a deadly weapon from a trained eye. The expert warns him about the responsibilities and possible consequences attendant to the use of such a piece, but Walt heeds this advice as much as he heeds any other advice, which is to say not at all. Well, that's not fair -- he does take the guy's suggestion that he practice his drawing skills to heart. His newfound prowess, however, does him no good when Mike informs him he's never going to be laying eyes on Gus again. Despite acting like his usual steely self in front of Walt, though, Mike is not doing so well in the wake of the unexpected and brutal murder we all witnessed last week -- at least so it seems from the fact that Mike is spending daylight hours sitting pensively and morosely in a bar. For his part, once he learns that he won't have a shot at him at work, Walt takes his new weapon straight to Gus's house, Heisenberg hat and deadly grimace in tow -- only, yards from the door, to get a call from Mike telling him to go home. You saw it coming in light of the fact that this is only Episode Two, but still: CREEPY. Walt then goes to see Mike and tries to win him over to his side, and it says something about how shaken Mike was by the Victor murder that he doesn't laugh at how obvious Walt is being -- although he does call him out for the new piece he's sporting. However, when Walt explicitly presses Mike to get him in a room with Gus so he can kill him, Mike replies with a little physical violence. Honestly, though, Mike's demeanor through that whole scene (and the fact that he didn't rough Walt up worse) seemed more than anything like a message for Walt to toughen up and play this smarter. Whatever may have been going on there, anyway, it seems pretty clear, as Joe R said last week, that a big ball is in Mike's court this season. I cannot wait to see how he plays it.
Hi there! Joe R is on vacation this week, and since he took a Mad Men for me last season when the situation was reversed, I am doing him the extreme favor of subbing in for him in return. I mean, it's not like I just did a series rewatch in anticipation of the new season, or that I still look back on Aaron Paul's Emmy win with unmitigated hands-rubbing-together glee. It's not at all like that.
Anyway, we get an uncharacteristic cold open in that it (a) appears not to be screwing with the episode's timeline and (b) actually involves our protagonist, as Walt is asking a grizzled man whom we've never met before, "Can you see it?" Considering the guy seems to be training his eyes on Walt's pants, you can be forgiven for wondering what new directions this scene may be exploring, but it turns out that Walt is modeling concealed weapons, so apparently the idea is not for a bulge to be visible. Unfortunately, the guy opines that "any lawman worth his salt" would spot his piece through his jacket, and goes on that if stealth is something Walt is after, he'd be wise to pick something more compact, such as the small black job he sticks in Walt's hand. ".38 special, snub nose. Got a concealed hammer so it doesn't catch on your belt when you draw." That does sound like a selling feature. After we learn that Walt will only have five shots before he has to reload, the guy gives him a stylish leather holster and tells him the snub will conceal nicely in his waistband, and while it may be a bit harder to draw, it's the best option for "foolin' a vigilant eye." After a bit of discussion over the possibility of drawing the thing across his body (dude is against it except when the shooter is seated, for the record), the guy counsels Walt to spend significant time practicing his draw before explaining that the high price of this particular ware of his is attributable to the fact that the serial number has been filed off, making the weapon untraceable. I assume there's more to this removal process than just scraping metal on metal, but then again it might take a really long time. Walt supposes that the obvious conclusion is that he doesn't want to be caught with this particular weapon on his person, and after the guy most assuredly agrees and lets us know that he's come to Walt through Saul, he asks if Walt is "strictly talking defense" as far as his intentions with the gun go, and Walt assures him the yes, absolutely that's the case, and why would he even ask? But even though the guy isn't quite familiar with Walt's slightly-higher pitched, too-casual voice of LIES LIES LIES, he does point out that if the issue is merely personal protection, Walt might want to opt for a legal weapon (i.e., one with a legible serial number), given that in matters of self-defense, New Mexico law is very liberal in allowing the use of handguns, so why risk a "felony two-spot"? In response, Walt takes a long moment before simply reiterating that it's for defense. He zips up his jacket and repeats, "Defense," and given how much he sounds like he's trying to convince himself I'm surprised the guy doesn't ask if he wants to be alone. Walt then tells the guy, "I'll take it," and of all the questions I might have thought were in doubt in that scene, that was not one of them. Credits.