After a couple bridge episodes, as I called them in my “Thirty-Eight Snub” and “Open House” reviews, Breaking Bad charges back to full form this week with a stellar episode packed full of action, surprises and comedy.
A lot happened in episode four of season four titled “Bullet Points”. The Cartel has begun to disrupt Gus’s operation by intercepting his distribution vehicles, or would have if not for the Crouching Chicken, Hidden Mike that presumably comes free with every truck-sized shipment of meth-laced chicken. We now know exactly what’s in Gale’s lab notes. Skyler has stepped up her royal bitch game yet again and Jesse is being escorted to an unknown location in the desert by Gus’s hitman.
This episode didn’t do any favors for Skyler in my mind. Sure, the dinner with Hank and Marie and Walt Jr. went off without a hitch for the most part but of course her planned responses couldn’t take into account the reality of a conversation. Hank wasn’t sticking to Skyler’s script; he was approaching Walt in the hall to inquire about his situation and invite him to talk in the future. Walt Jr. wasn’t sticking to Skyler’s ridiculous script; he was hoping to get a car out of the deal. I understand getting your stories straight but Skyler has gone overboard. And again, she does it all in her bitchy, “I’m right and you’re wrong no matter what” attitude.
Take for example when they’re sitting at the table going over basic strategy and card counting for Walt’s blackjack scheme. Even though Walt was doing exactly what she wanted, she was STILL bitchy, argumentative and controlling. She actually gets angry at Walt for not winning the hands! For an accountant, she sure has a tenuous grasp on the most basic of statistical concepts.
And if that weren’t bad enough, she continues to exert an uncomfortable amount of control over Walt as they review her novella, or bullet points, rather. While she does point out a decision of Walt’s (not taking the money from Elliot and Gretchen) that led them to where they are, she fails to see that making the same decision again doesn’t make it right, it simply makes both decisions equally dumb.
However, Skyler does win a couple sympathy points from me in that scene as well. She kept her mouth shut after finding out what Walt was up to even though it made her look like the villain to her son and the rest of their family. She points that out and I’m glad she gets an apology from Walter on that point.
Walt is very obviously playing a different game than Skyler now. He doesn’t care about the carwash or the story they’re going to tell Hank or anything else in his old life. He’s completely wrapped up in his new drug dealer life. And after the last few episodes, who can really blame him? He absolutely has “bigger things to worry about” now. Especially since Jesse has completely stopped worrying about anything. Walt now has to worry for the both of them.
I also noticed that Walt is growing ever less patient with Skyler’s detail obsession and nagging anymore. He sticks her a few good times during their bullet points conversation before getting shut down but at least he’s fighting back. A.Ron has a theory that Walt won’t truly shine until he takes charge of his family by refusing to be controlled by Skyler once and for all and I think I agree. We get a glimpse of it here but he still has a ways to go.
He also has a ways to go in the responsibility department. Yet again, he refuses to acknowledge that his actions are what brought him to this point even when it’s thrown directly in his face by Skyler. Instead he whines to Saul, asking “How did everything get so screwed up?”
Hank put on a good show when we first saw him in this episode. He was chipper, cracking jokes about Marie’s cooking and explaining the details of his mineral collection to Walt Jr. But that’s exactly what it was; a show. That was most noticeable to me when Walt stole his thunder on the explanation of his pink mineral. Hank used to have a physical advantage over Walter. He was stronger and more capable. But now he’s literally and figuratively half a man. His work has been his defining trait since the pilot episode. It’s all he ever really talked about. Now that he no longer has that, he had poured himself into this mineral collection. Walt shows up and knows more about them, of course, and it effectively takes that away from Hank as well. It’s brutal to watch. I do think he’s on the way out of his funk but it’s still a long road.
Not too much movement on the Jesse front. I’ll say that I think having his money stolen was probably the absolute best thing they could have done to show that he cares about absolutely nothing anymore. Lots of people do drugs, drink, smoke, party and drive their health into the ground for lots of different reasons. But money is nearly the only thing that people care about universally. The other is their own life. So for Jesse to not even bat an eye when the money is stolen or even when it’s returned and for him to not care enough to ask where Mike is taking him really drives the point home.
After bagging on the previous episode for not really advancing Jesse’s plot, I have to say that I think it was paced perfectly. I wouldn’t have believed that Jesse didn’t care about the money or even his own life last episode. Tonight I believed it. Now if they could only pull the same u-turn on my feelings about Skyler…
I don’t have too much to say about Mike except that he seems to be very tired and/or sick. When he’s at Gus’s office, his eyes are bloodshot as if he’s been awake for too long.
That’s all I have to say about the high-level stuff going on in this episode. I’ll have more on that and some random bullet points to touch on in the podcast tomorrow so check it out if you haven’t been listening to Breaking Good, our Breaking Bad podcast! I always enjoy feedback so send me some! Or follow me on Twitter and shoot me a tweet. We’ll try to get your feedback on the show tomorrow if there’s time. See you next week with another Breaking Bad Instant Review.