Breaking Bad Recap: Nickelodeon’s CRAWL THAT

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Before we get into Episode 11 of Breaking Bad Season 4 entitled “Crawl Space,” AMC gives us a sneak preview of the hot new ABC show about hot doctors hottin’ it up:

“Looks ADDICTIVE.” – Another local tv dude desperately trying to get his pull quote used.

Turns out, we’ve got way bigger problems this week than just Gus’ little poisoning — let’s BREAK it down after the jump (by which I mean dance really well):

The episode opens on Gus’ secret Mexican mob-hospital, where doctors rush to treat Gus for his poisoning but remain completely indifferent towards Mike’s bulletwound and Jesse’s injury from the Pollos vs. KFC company softball game:

Jesse frantically tries to get aid for his new chum Mike, but the doctors tell him Gus “pays our salary” and Mike “is literally invincible.” Mike has to stay in the hospital for another week to recover — I realize Gus is all biz, but he seemed awfully indifferent towards Mike’s fate, didn’t he? — and Gus and Jesse embark on a seven-mile walk towards Texas to rendezvous with Gus’ ride (Planned that too, eh? This dude’s got more plans than a, uh, what’s got a lot of plans? A Chinese…plan…book.)

Gus makes the seven-mile walk awkward about 10 feet into it when he finally lays this bombshell on Jesse:

Despite Gus’ best efforts to drive a big ol’ Wedge Antilles between Walt and Jesse, and Jesse’s ongoing legit animosity towards Walt up to and including the fight, Jesse still tells Gus “you can’t kill him,” pleading with Gus to let him go or pay him off, to which Gus replies “you know that won’t work.” Is Jesse’s loyalty borne out of genuine care and concern for Walt, or is he just gut-reacting to Gus’ weighty suggestion and doesn’t want his mentor’s blood on his hands? For the time being, Gus’ desire to kill Walt will have to get the f[silence] out of here.

Meanwhile, Ted “The Walking Problem” tells Skyler that he’s feeling guilty about taking her money, and they sit down for another chat where Skyler lays out a bunch of very logical explanations for things and Ted is like “durrr I want another DURRRcedes!!!!”

The entire time, Sklyer and I had the same thing running through our heads:

Although, just when you were about to call Ted a rare poorly-drawn Breaking Bad character, Skyler begins to realize that Ted is very subtlely blackmailing her, with Ted implying that he’ll need more than just the 600k to make the problem go away and to get that spoiler made out of magic beans for his Mercedes.

Skyler takes the problem to Saul, who sends his “A-Team” (comedian Bill Burr and a really giant dude) over to Ted’s house to get him to write the check to the IRS. Right after he signs the paperwork, Ted makes a run for the door and trips over his bunched-up rug — rug callback!!! — and slides into a table and F***KING DIES:

I said last week that I hoped Breaking Bad wouldn’t have Ted shoot himself, because that’s clearly the Twist 101 that your average show would’ve taken (even though it would’ve been totally out of character for the ego-driven new Mercedes owner). Instead, they took an absolutely ridiculous 90 degree turn that in a way was much more rewarding, with a twist that was stranger and more darkly comic than even Breaking Bad’s high standards for both.

I admittedly go to great lengths to defend the crazier twists on this show, but I do genuinely believe that Breaking Bad’s constant ultra-realism in the writing, dialogue, and characters in the face of absurd circumstances gives them enough leeway to earn a crazy ‘Ted falling’ scene every now and then. Farewell, Ted – you’re appropriating your cloud money stupidly up in Heaven now.

Walt continues to accompany Hank on his stakeouts, but after another unsuccessful trip to Gus’ chicken farm, Hank decides mid-ride to scope out the industrial laundry owned by the shady German corporation that sold the meth lab air filter to Gale. Walt is completely frazzled, and desperately tries to tell Hank that it’s not worth going to, but when Hank keeps insisting, Walt continues his streak of incredibly rash decisions and jerks the car into oncoming traffic:

In one of the episode’s more subtlely intriguing scenes, Walt comes to visit re-injured Hank after the accident and apologizes for not seeing that car “coming out of nowhere.” Hank replies, “He didn’t come out of nowhere, I saw him all the way…” but calls it a “brainfart” and laughs it off. Between Walt’s visible disturbedness (disturbitude? Disturbed The Band?) when Hank mentioned the laundry and Walt deliberately missing the turn for the laundry then crashing into a car that they both saw, Hank has to suspect that Walt isn’t being truthful with him, right? Not that he’d instantly conclude that Walt is Heisenberg, but Walt has clearly acted weirdly enough towards Hank’s investigation enough times for Hank to pick up on it with his super-enhanced post-hospital detective powers (he’s like Rookie Of The Year with investigative ability.)

Jesse and Gus return to the ‘States and pay a quick visit to their favorite crippled bell guy, Hector. Gus relishes the opportunity to inform Hector that the entire cartel is dead, including Hector’s grandson (the gunman who Jesse shot), and gleefully dangles the Don’s chain in his face to make him angry that he can no longer do his cat impression:

Once again, even in spite of their “you can’t kill Walt” awkward moment from earlier, the bond between Gus and Jesse continues to strengthen. They just need a hilarious “dissolving the bathroom floor” moment to seal the bond.

Back at the lab, Walt realizes that someone has been cooking when he wasn’t there — was it Skinny Pete??? — and, fearing Gale-ja vu all over again, Walt comes to Jesse’s house to confront him. Jesse pushes Walt out of his house and angrily responds that he can’t believe Walt brought his brother-in-law to the laundry — clearly, Gus specifically told this half-true fact to Jesse to continue building that rift — and Jesse turns away to leave Walt behind in a state of un-Walt-like visible desperation.

And! Right after Jesse leaves, Walt gets bonus-tasered and kidnapped by Gus’ goons. He’s brought out into the middle of the desert where Gus unmasks him and informs him of a change in his duties:

Walt, squeezing out his last ounce of Walt power, tells Gus that if Gus could kill him, he’d already be dead. Gus replies that Jesse will eventually get to the point where he doesn’t care, and while he’s on the subject, Gus also mentions that Walt’s brother in law must be taken care of and he’ll kill Walt’s family if he tries to intervene. Well then! Looks like all the cards are on the table, and the word “KILL” is written all over those cards. They’re limited edition playing cards that came out to promote Saw IV.

Walt frantically runs to Saul and tells him he needs to get in touch with Saul’s “disappear” guy, and asks Saul to call in an anonymous tip to the police that Hank’s life is in danger (“from the cartel,” so as not to arouse Gus suspicion and endanger Saul). Walt flies home and goes into the CRAWL SPACE to collect the cash to pay the disappear guy (to escape, as it were, into a nonliteral CRAWL SPACE), but he quickly realizes that a ton of the cash is missing. Skyler returns just in time to tell Walt “As you would’ve probably expected, I have the money to that Ted guy who I slept with a couple seasons ago,” and Walt flies into a full-on Emmy caliber freakout:

While Walt is screaming, Skyler gets the call from Marie that Hank’s life is in danger again, and WHOOPS! Everyone is super dooper screwed. After weeks of Walt insisting that he wasn’t helping Hank with his investigation, Gus then threatens Hank and specifically threatens Walt not to intervene, then Walt completely does intervene, and now Walt doesn’t have the means to disappear and he endangered his family and basically confirmed that he was actually collaborating with Hank (which wasn’t even the case.)

In times like this, all you can do is LAUGH LIKE A DAMN PSYCHOPATH:

Sooooo, that was an episode.

I will say, while I could rant on forever about why I love this show, one reason that’s stood out in particular in Season 4 is that whenever the show raises the stakes incredibly — as it has several times this season including each of the last three weeks — the next episode continues to operate believably and logically but with those stakes still raised. Often times, “cliffhanger” shows like 24 or True Blood or even the “go-to-commercial” cliffhangers in Star Trek: The Next Generation would turn out to only seem like cliffhangers, then the next episode would begin, quickly show you that Jack Bauer didn’t die in that explosion, and you’d be right back to a normal midseason episode.

With Breaking Bad, Jesse and Walt have a total falling out that threatens Walt’s life, and when the next episode picks up, Walt’s life is still just as much in danger. The next episode, Gus destroys the cartel and fully embraces Jesse as his protege, and the next week, the stakes are still that high. Now with the season coming to a close, Walt has completely endangered himself and his family, Hank is in danger, Gus has no use for Walt anymore, the cartel is back after Gus, Walt still may have cancer, Skyler is implicated on multiple levels, and Walter Jr. is driving a slightly worse car. There was never a moment where Gus was like “You got it, Walt – TRUCE.” and Walt goes “Fuuhhhh-yewwww!!! that was close!” and the tension temporarily resolves. Every week’s crazy plot heightening is continued the following week, and I legitimately have no idea how this is going to resolve.

Have I mentioned that this show is the best? Oh, nine times per recap? Cool. Well, it is.

Crawl Space episode thoughts? Favorite parts? Theories? Predictions? Ted Eulogies? Leave ‘em in the comments.