Saturday, August 04, 2012

Breaking Bad Recap - "Hazard Pay" (Season 5, Episode 3)



First, a correction.  In the last recap I mentioned that Walt hid hid newly created fake ricin cigarette behind the wall outlet.  A quick trip around the internet informed me that he was hiding the actual ricin from the original cig, and what he flushed was the now empty cigarette.  Important to know that the ricin is still in play, as I'm sure it will make an appearance at some point.  On to the recap.

Previously on Breaking Bad, the boys needed Saul to find a place for them to cook again, asked Mike to get on board (he scoffed), Mike had a secret meeting with a jittery Madrigal employee named Lydia, Skyler remained scared of her husband, some important information was uncovered behind one of Gus' photos, Hank and Gomie grilled Mike and found his soft sport in the form of granddaughter Kaylee, which led to him not offing Lydia as planned since she could provide the precursor which led him to reluctantly join Walt's new cooking crew.

Prison.  A man gets buzzed in, and he looks very lawyer-y.  He's here to see a Dennis Markowski, and he casually mentions that he brought one of his paralegals with him to sit in.  The paralegal? Mike, who is looking dapper in a fine suit.  Once inside, Dennis arrives in the meeting room, lays eyes on Mike, and is understandably nervous and confused.  Lawyer man pops in the ear buds so he has no idea what will be talked about, while Mike lets him know that Chow is gone but that it wasn't anyone sending a message, nor was it payback.  It was a mistake, and Mike has it under control.  Turns out Dennis is one of his "guys" - he ran the laundry where the Super Lab once was.  Mike lets him know that the deal he had with Gus is still in effect, and Dennis affirms that, even though he's looking at eight years in the joint, he still isn't gonna sing.  However, he has no money for his family since the feds took all the dough (which he refers to as his hazard pay).  Mike gives him his word that his family will be taken care of, thanks to the new venture, and asks if he needs to hear anything more.  Dennis seems relieved and shakes Mike's hand.  Lawyerman and his new paralegal exposit that they'll be visiting all of the remaining guys.  Today.  Mike yells at the surveillance camera as we splash to the titles....

Moving day.  Walt's back home, bringing in boxes, shirts, etc. when Skyler happens upon him.  She asks if he's moving back in, and he cheerily responds that he is.  She manages to stammer out if he thinks that's such a great idea, and he replies "yeah".  Her life just keeps getting better and better, doesn't it?

Mike's working a crossword in Saul's waiting room while bodyguard Huell is asleep, standing up, outside the door.  Saul's a little freaked that Mike is in the building, recalling the leg breaking threat from last season, while Walt implores him to grow a pair since Mike threatens everyone, all the time.  Saul, under duress, allows Mike in.  Now it's time for some rules:  Mike is in charge of the business, Walt is responsible for the manufacturing.  Capice?  Walt manages to keep his rapidly inflating ego in check and agrees, and it's time for Saul's Tour of The Meth Friendly Local Businesses.  Saul asks Walt if he's okay with Mike's division of labor, and he responds that while Mike does in fact "handle the business", Walt "handles him".  So, the ego is still pretty much there.

First stop is a box factory.  No good, too steamy and salty, which will ruin the product.  Next, a tortilla factory.  Problems: random government inspections since it's food related.  Jesse steals one for the road anyway.  Next stop is the arcade, which is met with two resounding "no's" from Walt and Jesse.  The last stop is a crappy little garage of a pest control operation called, I kid you not, Vamanos Pest.  Immediate concerns from Jesse about the lack of space and ventilation.  Mike indicates a cop shop less than half a mile away.  Walt, of course, looks around and says it's perfect, as he inspects what appears to be a large green and yellow tarp rolled up on a dolly.

We see the beauty of Walt's thinking.  The tarp is a house tent - used to bug bomb infested houses for days at a time.  The cooking will occur in the tented house before the chemicals are unleashed, making this a truly mobile operation.  Since everyone who observes the house expects unusual smells, they can cook without raising any suspicion.  Saul gives the background on the bug crew - they're burglars, so they certainly won't be dropping the dime on the mobile meth factory one their loyalty is purchased.  Mike's on board, and suggest a vote.  Walter: "Why?"  Jesus, he's really   just one big ol' bag o' hubris now, isn't he?

Cut to someone playing a keyboard, very well.  It's Skinny Pete!  Wow, with such talent one wonders why he never cashed it in.  I guess Meth is a hell of a drug. Hey, it's Badger!  Good to have you guys back.  They're in a music store, and are looking to buy some roadie cases, the biggest ones they can find.  They pick up four of 'em, and bring them back to Jesse.   Sensing that Jesse is on to something big, they ask to be part of the crew.  He gently brushes them off as Mike shows up.  Time to brief the bug guys, and Mike gives them the straight dope: don't even look at these two guys (Walt and Jesse), speak only when spoken to, etc. and, most important of all, NO STEALING.

Back at Jesse's house, he and Walt are going over the plans on just how they can easily mobilize all the gear.  Jesse comes up with a handy solution to a problem, and Walt seems proud and impressed.  Jesse also has the idea of using an internal plastic tent, similar to what he saw at the Mexican Tent Hospital, to keep the smell out of the house.  Another score for Pinkman!   Before Walt can give him more kudos, there's a knock at the door.  It's Andrea and Brock, and Jesse performs the introductions.  Walt greets Brock, the kid he poisoned, with a handshake and a "oh have brave you are" speech which makes my stomach churn.  He's so far gone, you guys, and he ain't coming back.  Andrea offers to cook dinner and Jesse asks Walt to stick around for a beer, which he chooses to do, setting up a supremely awkward moment where Brock and Walt are alone on the couch together.  They exchange glances, and you can almost hear the gears cranking in Walt's head at what to do next.

Commercials.  Did you know it's Mob Week on AMC?  Hmmm...

Cooking time.  The pest boys pull up to the next house and start the process, getting signatures, etc. as the crew begins to tent the place and move in the gear.  Once the place is covered and the family leaves, Walt and Jesse arrive and move in.  One of the Bug guys, Todd,  stops them, calls Walt "Sir", and indicates that there was a nanny cam in place which he helpfully disabled.  An awesome cooking montage, set to a jazzy version of "On a Clear Day", ensues.  Thy setup in what looks like a mini version of Dexter's kill room, and successfully produce a batch of the Blue Gold. Once finished, they kick back with a cold brew and some Three Stooges (an episode which shows a gorilla with a machine gun.  Machine guns are going to be a recurring thin this season, aren't they?). Walt reflects that seeing Jesse with Andrea and the boy was nice, and hints that she looks at him with some serious googly eyes.  Where's it going, Walt asks?  Then he plants the seed: asking him what his plan is on being honest going forward with her, since she has no idea how Jesse gets his money, and he has no plans on telling her.  The subtext is evident as he is clearly as concerned with her as he was with Jane, and we all know what happened to her.  Poor Jesse, kid can't catch a break.  Walt lets him know that he is confident that Jesse has earned the right to make this his decision, and is certain he will do the right thing to avoid creating the kind of issues Walt has with his own spouse.

Marie is back, making her first appearance of the season, and she's in mid-season form, complaining about the piss poor job the guys at the car wash are doing on her vehicle.  Oh, Marie, we've missed you.  Skyler is clearly in no mood to deal with Marie's crap as they eat lunch together.  Marie relays that Hank is back at work, and even though it makes him happy, she's still pretty cheesed about the way they treated him, especially when his Gus theory turned out to be correct.  She thanks Skyler for helping out with the therapy, then shifts gears to ask what is planned for the next big event - Walt's birthday.  Skyer, who has clearly forgotten this, stammers that they won't be doing anything this year.  Marie is confused and goes on about how it's been a whole year and with the cancer, etc., we need to mark the milestone.  (This makes this Walt's 51st birthday, so we're only one calendar year from the pilot).    She goes on and on as Skyler nervously pulls out a cigarette and Marie loses her shit. She goes on and on about the baby, building regulations, etc, when Skyler shuts her down briefly with a "Marie. Shut up."  Taken slightly aback but still undeterred, Marie continues, or tries to, when Skyler absolutely unloads on her. She tells her to shut up THIRTEEN times (I counted), each one louder than the last, until she breaks down and weeps at her desk.

Back at the cook site, the output is packaged and weighed, and they agree it was a good yield.  On their way out they activate the bug bomb chemicals. Mission accomplished.

Marie waits in the White living room as Walt comes home and manages to hide his surprise at her presence.  When he asks about Skyler, she says she's in the bedroom, and we cut to the two of them having a hushed conversation in the living room.  Marie is demanding an answer as to what is causing Skyler's breakdown: is he gambling again?  has the cancer returned?  Thinking quickly on his feet, Walt relays the story of Ted Beneke, and how he suddenly became incapacitated recently.  He lets Marie figure out about the affair, which works perfectly for Walt's purposes as it will keep Marie quiet and put her off his trail.  Satisfied with this explanation, she hugs Walt and leaves.  Having put out another fire, he moves toward the kitchen and takes a noisy bite from an apple.

Back to Jesse's house, where Brock and Andrea are engaged in a fierce video game battle as Jesse stares off into space from the couch.  She asks if he's okay, and he replies quietly that he's "good".  "Really?" she replies, and he says he is but it's pretty clear there's more going on in Jesse's head than he's letting on right now.

Skyler's lying on her bed post-meltdown, and we hear what sounds like a jackhammer being operated   nearby.  Nope, we see that it is the final scene from Scarface (it;s Mob Week on AMC, dontcha know).  Walt, Walter Junior, and Baby Holly are all enjoying this fine family film as Skyler comes out, just as Pacino utters the "Say hello to my lil frien'" line, which the Walters both say right along with him.  What a moment.  Walt asks her to join them, and as we see Pacino mow down thug after thug, Walt offhandedly remarks that "everybody dies in this move".  Skyler looks horrified, and should've stayed in bed a little longer.  Like, three months longer.

Money is being counted, as the fruits of the labor have arrived for the new partnership.  Mike divvies up the cash between the three, and everybody seems happy - $367,000 each.  Walt, however, seems to think this is a bit short.  Mike informs him that the mules get 20%, which Walt thinks is outrageous.  What did Gus' mules get, he asks.  Nada - he had those trucks because of the chicken restaurant front, remember?  Mike's not done yet - he pays back Jesse for the money he fronted them, takes more to pay off the bug guys, Saul's cut, and the "legacy cost" (or, as we've come to know it, the "hazard pay").  Walt is incredulous - this is bullshit - why do we have to pay these guys to honor some old deal from Gus.  "It's what you do", says Mike, and nothing more.  Walt cries blackmail, and Mike tells him to shut it, as the business is his end.  Jesse, who hates it whne the parents fight, offers to provide the money just to keep the peace, but Walt passive aggressively stops him and offers up his share.  Mike tells Walt to get used to this, as this is the way it has to be.  Looking at what he's left with - $137,000 - Walt remarks that this is less than what they got under Gus.  Mike reminds him that just because he shot Jesse James, doesn't make him Jesse James.  I don;t think this new partnership is getting off on the right foot here.

As Mike leaves, he reminds them that they'll cook again tomorrow.  When Walt asks Jesse how he's feeling Jesse spills that he broke it off with Andrea, and he's pretty bummed about the whole thing.  Walt shows zero interest in that topic and asks about this, the money.  Jesse smartly says that it was less this time due to the size of the cook, etc. and that they'll still end up making out better long term.  Walt then invokes the name of Victor.  You remember Victor, he of the famous box cutter to the throat from the Season 4 opener.  Walt was sure that Gus killed Victor to send Walt a message, but now he thinks maybe there was something else in play - Victor's attempt to cook meth in that episode, which Walt compares to flying too close to the sun.  Jesse gives him a quizzical look as Walt walks away.  Credits.

Observations:

  • Walt, are you really going to try killing Mike?  Already?
  • loved Jesse stealing the tortilla, which turned out to be piping hot.  Vince Gilligan said on the podcast that was improvised by Aaron Paul.
  • someone mentioned that it would be awesome if Hank ended up having a bug problem, and his house became a cook site. Would they do it?
  • Something tells me this Todd kid is going to play a bigger role at some point.  The nanny cam reveal showed he was paying attention, and that he could prove to be useful going forward.
  • Since we're only one year into the show's chronological timeline, I have to think that the flash forward from the premiere is setting up the series finale, and not the end of season 5. 
  • Previews for next week show the return of the Heisenberg Hat, and Lydia getting paid a visit by none other than Hank and thirty of his close friends.  Only 5 more episodes to go.
  • What do you guys think?
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