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Breaking Bad Season 4: Thirty-Eight Snub

Written by Royal Nonesuch on Monday, July 25 2011 and posted in Reviews

The fallout from the gruesome ending to last week's episode starts here!  See how Walt and Jesse deal with witnessing what Gus is really capable of.

At the end of last week's season premiére, after watching their boss Gus kill one of his own trusted employees, it was obvious that Walt and Jesse were dealing with what they had just seen very differently.   Over breakfast, a not-that-hungry Walt tries to reason with Jesse, and tries to get through to him that the two of them could be in grave danger.  Gus could turn on them at any time, and they need to be prepared for that.  Jesse, on the other hand, doesn't seem too concerned.  He understands exactly what he's dealing with, and he accepts it.  He resigns himself to the fact that shit could go down at any time.  It's simply the way of things, and all he can do is go with the flow. 

Now, the next day, how are the two characters dealing with things?  Look no further thanEpisode-2-Walt-Dealer the one scene they happen to share this week in this week's episode, "Thirty-Eight Snub."  The title refers to the gun Walt illicitly purchases "for defense."  He's paranoid and doesn't know what could happen next.  "I've got the job, but for how long?"  He carries the gun into the cooking lab with him and is about to draw down on Victor's replacement, who ominously walks in looking to collect that week's 200 pounds.  Later, Walt tries to appeal to Mike the Cleaner, saying that any of them could be next to be killed, and wants to get into a room with Gus to talk things out.  Mike responds by kicking Walt's ass.  However, it definitely seems that he's thinking the same things Walt is.  He was visibly as shocked by what ocurred in last week's episode as Walt and Jesse, and he's seen early in this episode contemplating the whole thing (while still finding drops of dried blood on his clothes).

Jesse, on the other hand, continues to seem to have no problems.  He's just in the lab, cooking along with headphones in his ears and his music turned up as loud as it will go.  Meanwhile, back at home, he's filling his life with not only music, but more drugs, more partying, and is simply avoiding being alone.  He's reaching for as much stimulation and interaction as he can get (the partying is interrupted by a visit from Andrea wondering why Jesse left her with so much money, and if someone will pay her a visit looking for it).  By the way, all the festivities are catered by a pizza joint whose gimmick is that they don't slice the pies.  What is it with this show and pizza-related wackiness? 

When all the partying has come to an end, Jesse is trying to convince his tweaker buddies (do these guys even have names) to stick around, but they're way too exhausted after three straight days of debauchery.  Jesse pushes them on it, but they tell him that now that he's back in the party groove, he should pace himself a bit.  The episode ends with Jesse sitting with his back up against the pulsating speaker of his awesome new sound system, turned up as loud as it can go, staring off into space.  Jesse isn't dealing with things as well he's letting on.  He's in shock, and he needs the constant stimulation to keep from being alone with his thoughts. 

Elsewhere in the episode, Skyler pushes forward with the money laundering scheme.  She walks into the car wash looking to buy the place.  The misogynistic wiseass of an owner quotes $10 million dollars, to which Skyler responds by letting the owner in on the due diligence she put into what the place is really worth.  He turns it around by quoting $20 million.  This is the same car wash where Walt used to work, and the owner remembers the scene he caused when he suddenly quit the place.  If Walt White wants to buy the place, he has to pay $20 million.  Skyler defiantly storms out of the place.  It's amazing that she's taking things so personally.  Walt originally did everything he could to keep his family out of his meth-cooking business, but now with Skyler acting as his de facto business partner, it's remarkable to think about how much Walt's life and changed, and how little he was able to plan for.  That fact gets highlighted so much now with the series revisiting so much of the early days of this show (the car wash, the disposing of the body of a slain Mexican drug dealer with hydrofluoric acid last week, which recalls the second episode of the first season). 

Meanwhile, Hank's story continues to get stranger, and sadder.  What once seemed to be anger over his paralysis has turned into outright hostility towards his wife Marie.  He is continually abrasive towards her, contrasted with the positive attitude he shows when with his physical therapist.  Marie is has such a longing for Hank to be that positive guy everyday (the guy who doesn't constantly yell at her when all she's trying to do is support him) that she blurts out an offer to the therapist to come on full time.  It's horrible having to see Marie put through her paces like this, and it's obvious that it's all going to come to a head, probably pretty soon.  In the meantime, what is it with Hank buying all those minerals (don't call them rocks)?

Episode-2-JesseTechnically speaking, this was one of the most visually interesting episodes in quite some time.  There are two distinct motifs used for the Jesse and Walt segments here.  With Walt, it's all about reflections and the relationships between lights and shadows.  He casts all kinds of long shadows in the scene where he's outside Gus' house and he receives the call to "go home."  Also, the way the bar is filled with daylight when Walt opens the door to enter is very powerful.  In the Jesse scenes, the filming takes an otherworldly effect.  He's bathed in the lights from the soundsystem, and the way his little robotic vacuum scampers around the house makes things particularly odd, especially since it's shot from such a low angle (the robot even gets its own POV tracking shot, which is absolutely hilarious).  It's an easy but clever choice by Cinematographer Michael Slovis and Director Michelle MacLaren to externalize and distinguish the headspaces each character is currently occupying.  Last week, Jesse talked of being on "the same page."  This week, it's clear that he and Walt are anywhere but. 

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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