September 5th, 2011
11:38 AM ET
Like a family sized bucket from Los Pollos Hermanos, there was lots to digest in the latest episode of “Breaking Bad.”
Flashbacks, the reappearance of cancer talk, the return of Jesse’s girlfriend and her adorable son, and some incredibly tense scenes were just some of the meaty bits served up.
After the open, we were presented with the now uncommon sight of Walter White wearing a hospital gown.
A newly diagnosed cancer patient tried to allay some of his worries by talking it out with Walt, seasoned cancer patient, but Walt could hardly hold back his irritation. In a salty moment, he told the guy (in what must have sounded incredibly poignant and manly to Walt himself) that the key to living with cancer was to never relinquish control.
“Who’s in charge? Me,” Walt declared. Yeah, not so much.
Earlier this season, Walter White was running in place, but he has devolved to the point where he’s now flailing and stumbling and wheezing in place. Sure, he’s expended lots of energy boisterously complaining and scheming and throwing others under the bus, so it always SEEMS like he’s the busy puppet master. But he’s pulling strings with nothing on the other end.
If he really were in charge, would Jesse keep lying to him with no repercussions? (Speaking of Jesse: How amazing/awful was his shirt, which was apparently vomited on by a unicorn? Even The Situation would probably think twice before touching that bit of sartorial afterbirth.)
If Walt were in charge, would he so meekly have to take orders from Hank and Gus? Would he have to grovel into a security camera? And of course there was his bumbling display in the car with Hank. A man in control holds it together under that kind of pressure.
It’s exactly the kind of pressure a drug kingpin might face while being interrogated by the DEA. Gus has always been the smooth operator, the anti-Walt, and during last night’s interrogation he swatted away questions like Bill Russell to the point where Hank even admitted (momentary) defeat.
But we learned Gus wasn’t always so unflappable. In a lengthy flashback, we saw a younger, nervous Gus fidgeting before his big meeting with the Mexican cartel’s don (Manny from “Scarface,” where have you been all these years!).
In addition to revealing how much of a crusty bastard Hector is, the scene showed us the bad blood between Gus and the cartel began after they capped Gus’ longtime partner. But we still didn’t find out who Gustavo Fring was back in Chile and why the DEA mustn’t find out.
In that pressure cooker of a scene, the grand question was asked: If the other guy’s the cook, and the product sells itself, who needs the businessman? Especially when said businessman strays from his impeccable business sense, as Gus is doing now. He knows the perfect storm is approaching (think Hurricane Irene, but the opposite), but he still took the time to gloat in the face of his nemesis Hector.
Rather than throw the cartel a bone, Gus will risk life and loot in the name of vengeance. Apparently he has more in common with Heisenberg than just that menacing face he flashed in the elevator.
And so it appears Gus is content to play the violin as his Titanic sinks, while Walt is the jerk pushing women and children out of the way to save his own hide.
Early in last night’s episode Walt said, “Every life comes with a death sentence.” Will it be the cartel, Hank or Jesse’s lucky cigarette that puts a period at the end of Gus' life? And as Bogdan asked a few weeks ago, does Walt have what it takes to step in as boss?
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