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Breaking Bad Season 4: "Open House" and "Bullet Points"

Written by Royal Nonesuch on Monday, August 08 2011 and posted in Reviews

The Outhouse makes up for lost time by reviewing the two latest episodes of the AMC drama, as we look at how these characters try, or don't try, to escape from their lot in life.

We missed out on last week's episode of Breaking Bad due to a busted Verizon FiOs box.   Here, we recap both "Open House" and "Bullet Points."

Breaking Bad is as much about snapping out of situations as getting out of them.  Some people work like hell to get out; others withdraw, or live in denial. 

We start, as we usually do, with Walt.  He discovers a new feature in the cooking lab: a surveillance camera, the very presence of which he responds to with an emphatic middle finger.  Although killing Gale was his idea to avoid getting killed himself, it's brought on some blowback in the fact that Gus is really only keeping him alive temporarily.  Gus has no choice but to keep Walt alive, but how long is that going to last?  This started out as a working relationship, but now has turned into a tense, we-can-get-killed-at-anytime model of dysfunction.  His attempt to kill Gus, and to recruit Mike the Cleaner to do the same, was unsuccessful, and now he's scared to death of what might happen next.  He's so frustrated that he ends up in a great scene using Saul's office as a therapist's:  "When did this stop being a business?  Why am I the only one capable of behaving like a professional?" 

This new deal with Gus has kept Walt alive, but he is not free anymore (Saul's offer to put Walt in contact with a "Disappearer," someone who can make Walt and his family vanish without a trace, witness protection-style, will probably come up again before this season is out).  On the other hand, he does have Skyler, whom one wonders if Walt should have brought into the business from day one.  She seems to be figuring out everything Walt needs to say and do in order to keep himself out of jail.  Buying the car wash (and how to wrest control of it from the current owner at a bargain, no less) and coming up with the gambling addict story are all her ideas.   She's more than just an ideas person, though.  She makes Walt go through a detailed script – sorry, bullet points ("It's like a novella," growls Walt) – andEpisode-3-Walt-Skyler goes on and on about being "thorough" in order to sell the story.  In addition, she gets on Walt's case about buying a $300 bottle of champagne, since how would an unemployed high school teacher afford such an extravagance?  Without Skyler, where would Walt be?  Skyler hates that Walt has her in this situation, but she's still working with him, and the two of them are together in a way they really haven't been since the very beginning of the series.

Hank seems to have gotten out of his funk.  After reaching the depths of self-pity, he seems reenergized when Tim Roberts, his contact in the Albuquerque police department, brings him a copy of a case file: the murder of Gale Boddicker.  Hank believes he has his Heisenberg, but that he's been killed.  Although he laments the fact that he wasn't able to arrest Gale, comparing himself to Gene Hackman's Popeye Doyle character from The French Connection, he's far more awake and extroverted than he has been since his shooting.   He's positively alive as he shows Walt Gale's notebook, full of methamphetamine cooking recipes, floor plans of the cooking lab, and recipes for vegan S'mores.  It's nice to get a post-mortem look at TV's best eccentric, Libertarian, kooky karaoke video-making creator of narcotics. 

About that case file: Detective Roberts is only able to get Hank's help because he feels Hank owes him a favor for letting Marie off for her act of escape: going to open houses and stealing small artifacts from houses while pretending to be an interested buyer.  Her situation with Hank has gotten so untenable that she needs to revert to her old bad behavior.

episode-4-jesseIt also leads Walt to a whole new panic.  Hank lets on that the police have found some fingerprints in Gale's apartment that might belong to the shooter.  When Walt confronts Jesse about the shooting, trying to get every detail about that night out of him, Jesse is stonefaced and evasive.  He doesn't want to talk about that night or relive it in any way.  He's completely checked out.  Jesse continues to bury himself in booze, drugs, sex, video games, partying, and loud music (which is basically what goes on at an Outhouse writers' meeting as well) in order to avoid reality.  Except his despondence has gotten to an extreme depth.  Not only does Walt note that he "doesn't care whether he lives or dies," but Mike the Cleaner has noticed the same thing.  In fact, he barely shrugs when he discovers that his bag full of money has gone missing.   Nothing matters anymore, and he withdraws from his feelings by denying them.  It's a life of numbness for Jesse now.  When Mike the Cleaner finds the thief and confronts Jesse about what has happened, Jesse is nonplussed and just goes back to bed.  Mike talks to Gus about the fact that Jesse has gotten "incautious," and that "something needs to be done."  He ends "Bullet Points" by kidnapping Jesse and hauling him off to some mysterious location.  Does he have orders to kill Jesse?  Find out next week!

For all the escape that goes on in this show, it doesn't seem to apply to Mike.  Although he was obviously shocked at Gus killing Victor, he's still working for him and being a professional.  He goes to work, completes his task, and that's it.  Even when he gets a portion of his ear shot off, he rolls his eyes, puts a bandage on the wound, and goes about his day.  In "Thirty-Eight Snub" he rebuffs Walt's offer for an alliance against Gus.  Whatever he thinks about what's going on in his life, he's not going to upset the apple cart.  He'll just continue on with his work. 

Written or Contributed by: Royal Nonesuch

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About the Author - Royal Nonesuch

As Senior Media Correspondent (which may be a made-up title), Royal Nonesuch tends to spearhead a lot of film and television content on The Outhouse. He's still a very active participant in the comic book section of the site, though. Nonesuch writes reviews of film, television, and comics, and conducts interviews for the site as well.  You can reach out to him on Twitter or with Email.


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