Breaking Bad Recap: The PenWALTimate Showdown

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It’s the second to last episode of Breaking Bad Season 4, entitled “End Times”, and The TIME… for QUESTIONS… is OVER! Actually there are very few questions because this show is very literal and progresses logically and clearly, but I still miss those Lost promos. WHAT’S IN THE HATCH??? Oh yeah, the giant meth lab, never mind. They’ve showed that a bunch of times.

The Season 4 semifinal picks up right after last week’s laughathon, with DEA agents coming to Walt’s house to bring the White family into protective custody after Marie’s shrill urging. Walt knows that he’s the real target (Hank’s death threat smacks of rote copying) and tells Skyler he’s not coming with them, and if Hank asks why, just tell him “I have to go work at the car wash where I will wait to be car wash murdered by a carwashlord who’s trying to kill me.”

Skyler reacts to Walt’s refusal by making a beautiful face:

After a tearful baby-goodbye (where the baby again looked right at the camera – she’s well on her way to being the next Jim Halpert) DEA agents bring Skyler, Walter Jr. and Baby Halpert over to Hank’s house to sit in sanctuary. Walter Jr. and Marie are both frantic that Walt has refused the protection, though Skyler covers it up pretty well (“The former car wash owner’s first dollars ain’t gonna pee on themselves!”)

Hank is convinced that the threat isn’t coming from the cartel, but from someone who doesn’t like his recent activities, to which Walter Jr. responds in the line of the season, “What? Minerals?” Sometimes the dumbass dialogue-bubble Photoshops happen before I even have a chance to make them.

Never fear, though, because Hank convinces his former partner and current DEA bigwig Steve Gomez to jump on the case:

Gomez goes to check out Gus’ laundry and talks his way in without a search warrant with Orbachesque proficiency, but searches the ground floor of the laundromat with a drug-sniffing dog and comes up empty. Or was it just a regular dog and he’s an idiot?

So, are we to assume that Gomez made an honest mistake because the meth lab is, in fact, well hidden (and the dog didn’t pick up any drug traces)? Orrrrrrr, is Gomez paid off or working for someone who’s paid off by Gus? There’s NO way Gus doesn’t have a man inside the DEA — probably that cigarette-offering dude with the giant machine gun — but also, Gomez did talk his way into the laundry expertly even when no one (besides us) was watching, so it might not be him. He might just be really bad at things (including acting).

Walt, meanwhile, is at home taking a Walt Day:

Walt sits at home silently with gun in hand, awaiting the inevitable, and goes back out to the pool (awww, Season 2 memories!) to amuse himself with a round of Spin The Gun:

During the Gomez lab-search, Gus calls Jesse to tell him “Look what your former partner has done” in his ongoing attempt to get Jesse to sign his Walt-murder permission slip (which would also allow him to take that field trip to the Science Center). Jesse still isn’t buying it and asks Gus what he’s going to do, and Gus says “There will be an appropriate response.” Probably something super-light, right? Knowing Gus, it’ll likely be a slap on the wrist, maybe a small fine or a possible ban from BCS play for a couple years. Nothing involving child-poisoning, we hope. Why did I even SAY that? Of course it won’t be that.

Changing the subject entirely, Jesse gets a frantic phone call from Andrea that Brock is in the hospital with a mysterious flu-like illness that happened out of nowhere and keeps getting worse. Aww crap, what a BAD BREAK. First Gus gives an ominous warning about an “appropriate response,” and now unrelatedly Jesse has to deal with this!

Sometimes a guy just needs a cigarette to clear his head. (Wait…Brock didn’t…no…):

THE RICIN CIGARETTE IS GONE! For a brief second, we again stupidly doubt Breaking Bad and think “oh come on, Jesse was so careless he let Brock get into his cigarettes and he happened to smoke the poison one? Why would Brock even do that? This show SUCKS now and I bet they never explain this.”

Suddenly, it hits Jesse: The only other person who knew about the cigarette was Walt, so Walt MUST have poisoned Brock! Good thinkin’ Jesse! Even though your psychotic boss has an “I KILL CHILDREN” bumper sticker and has been trying to drive a wedge between you and Walt since Day 1 but it makes total sense that Walt could and would poison this kid because he saw him yesterday and he’s a big bald meanie!

Jesse drives over to Walt’s house for the best scene in tv history (like the 7th one this season):

Walt lets Jesse in, casually turns his back, and Jesse turns Walt’s own gun against him and demands to know “why he did it.” Walt’s like, “Kiss that Principal Lady? I don’t know, I was in a weird place and it was kind of a midseason lull…” Jesse angrily brings up Brock’s poisoning and swears he’ll shoot, but Walt quickly figures out what’s going on and can’t hold back another psychotic “I have nothing to live for” laugh.

Jesse and Walt each present their cases:

Walt’s Evidence: Gus surveils everything and clearly knew about the cigarette, Tyrus had easy access to the cigarette, and a dramatic act like poisoning Brock would be the only way to finally turn Jesse against Walt, and use him as an unknowing assassin to boot.

Jesse’s Evidence: Walt knew about the ricin cigarette and saw Brock once.

VERDICT: Even blinded with rage (and probably a deep-down base desire to finally get Walt out of his life), Jesse knows Walt is right. Walt forces the gun against his own head and dares Jesse to shoot him if he really wants to, and Jesse gives up.

Walt and Jesse instead decide to team up against Gus, knowing that they only have a limited amount of time before Gus finds out that Jesse didn’t shoot Walt and they lose Gus’ trust of Jesse as a possible advantage. Walt cooks up some gooey pipe bomb juice in his old bombin’ cauldron, tests out a detonator, and takes his place across the street from the hospital parking lot.

Gus meets face to face with Jesse to convince him to come back to work — “It is in both of our best interests. I get money, you get notmurdered.” — but Jesse says he won’t leave Brock’s side for a minute, though he slips up and mentions that Brock was “poisoned.” The murderous gears in Gus’ head start turning, and he presumably connects the three dots: Jesse knows that Brock has been poisoned, Jesse hasn’t killed Walt yet, and Gus’ car is sitting vulnerably on an empty floor of the hospital parking garage.

As Gus walks back to his car, Walt watches from the roof of a nearby building with his detonator in hand, knowing this is probably his only shot as Gus. COME IN, WALT: The eagle is approaching the exploding eagle cage…

When Gus is just feet from his car, all the information clicks in his head and he stops suddenly, then takes a second to pose for the cover of his late-night R&B compilation cd:

Walt sees Gus looking off into the distance and knows he’s in trouble (when is anyone on this show ever not in trouble? F***ing BROCK just got poisoned):

Gus and his goons leave the car behind and exit the parking lot, and now Gus knows Jesse is trying to kill him and Walt’s one teeny tiny advantage over Gus is super dooper gone. Jesse now joins Walt and Hank on Gus’ ever-growing “People To Kill” list, and the Season 4 finale is basically shaping up to just be the Shining elevator-blood pouring out of the screen for sixty minutes.

Can Gus kill both Walt AND Jesse and risk not having someone to run the lab, or does Gus’ blow to the cartel buy him enough time to find a new labrunner if he chooses to do away with both of them? Who does Gus own on the DEA force, and what will that mean for Hank’s life and his investigation? Surely if Hank gets killed mid Gus-investigation, it only furthers everyone’s suspicions, unless Gus knows that he’s got the DEA on his side and they’ll pin it on the cartel. Also, we already figured last week that Hank was on to Walt in some form, and Hank’s instant acceptance of Walt’s refusal to come to his house seemed like another indication that he knows Walt is unnaturally involved in this — how will that dynamic play out?

The “Scenes From Next Week’s Episode” seemed to show Jesse and Walt coming clean with the DEA, though whether they’re voluntarily there and just how much they’re planning to admit isn’t clear (can Jesse act as an informant against Gus and come away mostly free without ever mentioning Walt?) I’ve given up attempting to predict or even want to predict what happens on this show, though, as I prefer to just bend over and take it every week. In a pleasurable way. I’m taking the drama and great dialogue while bent over. It’s just how I sit.

All I do know is that the final swordfight between Tyrus and Skinny Pete is gonna be the stuff of tv LEGEND.

Breaking Bad second-to-last episode thoughts? Finale Predictions? Any good gravestone-website recommendations? Leave ‘em all in the comments. Just ONE MORE WEEK in the possible greatest Season in tv history!