Episode Title: "Bullet Points"
Writer: Moira Walley
Director: Colin Bucksey
Previously on "Breaking Bad":
Skyler (Anna Gunn) convinced her estranged husband, Walter White (Bryan Cranston) to buy the carwash business owned by a man named Bogdan (Marius Stan) after Walt learned that the Bogdan insulted him. To get past Bogdan's refusal to sell for a reasonable price, Syler enlisted Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) to produce a fake environmental inspector to convince Bogdan that his business was about to be shut down. Skyler also twisted the knife on Bogdan by refusing to buy the business for the originally offered price. After closing the deal, Skyler scolded Walt for buying an expensive bottle of champagne to celebrate as she worried how they would explain where they got the money.
Skyler's sister, Marie (Betsy Brandt) began visiting open houses and stealing objects as a way to get away from her emotionally abusive husband, Hank Schrader (Dean Norris). After Marie's arrest, one of Hank's cop buddies brought him a notebook from Gale's apartment that contained clues to Walt's infamous blue meth. Elsewhere, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) showed his inability to cope with killing Gale (David Costabile) by turning his house into a non-stop drug party. And Jesse's activities did not go unnoticed by Tyrus Kitt (Ray Campbell), an enforcer for Jesse and Walt's dangerous boss, Gus (Giancarlo Esposito).
In the back of a refrigerated truck carrying chicken (and probably drugs), Mike (Jonathan Banks) waits as the truck stops suddenly and the driver is killed by two gunmen who speak Spanish. Mike takes cover as the gunmen fire multiple rounds into the truck. But as they open the doors, Mike kills both of them and survives with only a wound on his ear caused by a bullet that grazed him. At Skyler's home, she and Walt go over her ridiculously complicated backstory to explain Walt's drug money as winnings from his fictitious illegal gambling activities. Walt is also upset that Skyler's cover story makes him look bad compared to her.
The next night, Walt and Skyler take their son, Walt Jr. (RJ Mitte) to have dinner at Hank and Marie's house. While waiting for dinner to start, Hank shows Walt the notebook from Gale's apartment as he brags about being asked to consult on the case. He also shows off a hilarious video of Gale singing karaoke and he laughingly alludes to his belief that Gale is Heisenberg; Walt's drug dealing alias. Walt hides his alarm fairly well and over dinner, Skyler's cover story has an unintended affect: Hank and Walt Jr. are both impressed by Walt's winnings and Walt Jr. even asks for a car now that they can obviously afford it.
Walt flees the dinner table to pour through the notebook again. Hank almost catches him, but Walt smoothly convinces Hank to let him take a look at the notebook. On the opening page of the notebook, Gale included a shout out to Walter via his initials W.W.; which Walt explains away as a reference to Walt Whitman. But Walt is alarmed to learn that Jesse may have left physical evidence over at Gale's apartment. After dinner, Walt races over to Jesse's house and finds that the drug party has gotten even more seedy. He interrogates Jesse about what happened the night he shot Gale, but Jesse can't deal with reliving it. He pays two of his "guests" to throw Walt out.
Fearing that Jesse could inadvertently lead the law to his door, Walt goes over his next course of action with Saul; who even offers a nuclear option. For an astronomical price, Walt and his family can disappear with new identities, but Walt rejects that idea out of hand. At Jesse's house, one of his sober guests realizes that Jesse has money poorly hidden in his room. When he gets home from the lab, Jesse takes a girl to his room to play video games. He notices that all of his money is gone, but he doesn't react. The next morning, Mike wakes Jesse up and brings him downstairs.
All of Jesse's guests are cleared out except for the man who stole from him. Mike and Tyrus return the money to Jesse and they are incredulous that he doesn't care about their implied threats against him or the fate of the man they obviously intend to kill. Mike is so displeased that he actually sees Gus and tells him that something has to be done about Jesse's increasing lack of caution. The next day, Walt notes that Jesse is missing and he finds that Jesse's house is empty and his cell phone was left behind. He returns to the drug lab and angrily yells at whoever is manning the security camera to let him know where Jesse is.
On the road, Mike drives Jesse somewhere, but Jesse doesn't care if he lives or dies. He doesn't even care to know where he's going.
One of the few failings that "Breaking Bad" has is that there are some sequences that are so amazing that the rest of the episode can't quite live up to them. That was the case in the opening scene with Mike on the refrigerated truck. That was masterfully shot and it smartly kept the focus on Mike inside of the truck until the gunmen opened fire on the back. Aside from Mike's ear injury, the scene seemingly wasn't connected to the rest of the episode. But from a larger story perspective, it suggests that the Cartel is making a move on Gus' territory; which will inevitably mean bad news for Walt.
This week's longest scene was between Walt and Skyler as they went over her convoluted story about where Walt's money came from. It seems like Walt and Skyler both have the need to be in control; which makes me wonder how these two got together in the first place. Walt may not be a teacher anymore, but he can't resist a chance to explain his theory behind counting cards to an uninterested Skyler. Likewise, Walt was clearly frustrated with all of the details that Skyler had cooked up for him to memorize. I think he's only putting up with it because he wants to eventually bridge the gap between them. But their differences appear to be pulling them further apart.
Hank was noticeably less of a dick to Marie this week, but that's probably because he didn't want to be seen treating Marie like crap in front of their extended family. Hank is actually a lot more tolerable when he's dealing with Walt directly. His admiration for Walt's supposed "winnings" also seemed to catch Walt and Skyler off guard. This was also one of the rare opportunities for Walt to question Hank about what he knows about "Heisenberg" and get some perspective into why Hank wants to take him down. It's very telling that Hank had a fantasy about slapping the cuffs on "Heisenberg" in a scene straight out of every cop show ever.
Gale's reappearance was unexpected… and comedy gold. That was a pretty inventive way to bring David Costabile back for a cameo appearance. The look of worry and guilt on Walt's face was also very revealing. Despite his actions, Walt may still softer than he lets on. But he's definitely getting more paranoid.
I haven't been a fan of Jesse's never-ending drug party, but that brought out two great scenes this week. The first was when the audience can practically see Jesse's guest realize where the money is and then plan to steal it just from the way that he moves his eyes. And the second was the ultimate fate of that thief along with Jesse's indifference to both the money and the man's life. Jesse is so far gone at this point that it's hard to see how anything can pull him back. The implication at the end is that Mike is taking Jesse out to kill him, but obviously Jesse's not going to die before the end of this show. So, the fun will come in either seeing Jesse get out of his fate or we'll learn that the journey is a swerve.
Aside from occasional slow scenes, "Breaking Bad" remains solidly entertaining. Now if only AMC would just make the deal for the final season(s) we could just sit back and watch how it all plays out.
Crave Online Rating: 8 out of 10.