Before I give my thoughts on the premiere of Season 4 of Breaking Bad, I'd like to thank Sony for providing Hank with one of their Vaio laptops, without which we would have been subjected to a full-on view of his junk.
Now here's my scatter-brained first impression of the episode:
This episode really seemed to be setting a tone for season 4. The brutality has been cranked to 11 and there's blood everywhere. The way in which Gus murders Victor along with the previews from the next episode make me think that each episode titled with a weapon name will involve someone being murdered with that weapon. They're certainly trying to make it seem as though Walt will murder Gus with the titular "Thirty-Eight Snub" next week but I'm not buying it. It seems too straightforward and I think Walt still needs Gus just as much as Gus needs Walt. I'll think more about who Walt might kill so I can speculate on Tuesday's podcast.
My favorite episodes of Breaking Bad have been ones that mark a change in Walt. While we didn't get any of that in this episodes, we did get an epic scene in the lab and a marked change in Jesse. The act of killing Gale has really taken its toll on him and, despite (or, more accurately, because of) his nearly episode-length silence, it shows. Jesse has been Vince Gilligan's whipping boy throughout this series. When you combine his state of shock after killing Gale with his caution-to-the-wind attitude in the diner, things don't look good for his mental state. I think this could be the last straw for Jesse Pinkman.
I really liked the tension in this episode. The obvious points of tension between Walt and Gus were delicious but the more subtle tones coming from Mike when he sees Victor murdered are just as good. After this episode, I'm certain Mike wants out of his relationship with Gus and he'll eventually flip on him, teaming up with Walt, as I said in our predictions podcast last week.
While the Schraders didn't get too much screentime this episode, they certainly used what time they did get to full effect. Hank is headed down a very dark path and Marie is having a difficult time dealing with it. She's supporting both of them emotionally and it's beginning to take its toll. I'm not sure she'll be able to keep it up long enough for Hank to recover. This could go to very bad places for Hank if he ends up paralyzed and alone, having driven Marie off during his failed therapy. I hope that doesn't happen but I wouldn't put it past a show where the consequences are as real as they are on Breaking Bad.
Speaking of consequences, lets talk about one of the most intense scenes of Breaking Bad to date. When Gus arrives, Walter begs for his life in his usual fashion; pretending none of it was actually his fault and pointing the finger elsewhere. That tells me that Walt hasn't yet learned that his actions have consequences. He cannot take responsibility for them, even after withholding Jesse's $400k in cash while simultaneously lecturing him on his poor decision-making. With consequence being the driving force behind Breaking Bad, that will have to change before the end of the series.
A.Ron has posted his thoughts on the episode as well and we'll have a TON more discussion on this episode on our podcast on Tuesday so check that out. And send in your feedback (firstname.lastname@example.org) so we can include it in the show!