“It’s all about me.”
The first half of tonight’s episode seems to believe Walt’s self-important statement. Whether he’s arguing with his wife or hanging out with his son or just taking a shower, the first two acts barely leave Walt’s side. This extra time with the man shows us how he’s still trying desperately to be the bad-ass meth-scarface he considers himself to be. Take, for example, that excellent scene in the car wash when Walt refuses to part with the sentimental “first dollar,” only to nonchalantly destroy the frame and burn the dollar on one of his own coke machines. Or look at the way Walt puffs up his chest and asserts to Skyler that he “is the one who comes knocking.” He’s so comfortable being the criminal mastermind, just so long as there aren’t any other criminals around. It sorta recontextualizes Walt’s previous attempts to take Fring’s life – Walt isn’t desperate to save himself, he’s desperate to prove himself, and he thinks that being a bigger bad-ass does that. But his casual murder plots fall on their face frequently enough that he’s starting to rebel in other ways, like buying his son a fancy new car or bringing outside help into his lab to clean. More on the latter later.
Something I’ve noticed about this season is the tight focus of an individual episode will change abruptly at about the halfway point. Tonight was no exception, as we check in on the continuing adventures of Mike and Jesse. It’s nice to see a show depict a junkie off his meds without putting him in a hooded sweatshirt and covering his face with white make-up. Also fun to see Jesse dealing with other meth heads – it’s not dissimilar to that season episode Peekaboo (where the lady smashes her baby-daddy’s dead with an ATM while their kid was in the house). I love the idea that digging a hole is a mysterious enough activity to draw the good-natured curiosity of Tucker. Hell, I wanted to know what he was doing. But the gambit paid off and Jesse is further ingratiated to the Pollos methempire.
But that was never his goal – it’s Walt’s. The bold move to repurpose the laundry facility’s staff to help him in the lab backfired. Walt thought he was being bold, assertive, when in reality, he was just being dumb. Those poor ladies are getting on a bus bound for (what I can only assume is their home in) Honduras, despite his protestations. “Blame me.” “He does.” Ouch. But then, what does it matter? He already on the outs with his boss and seems to be losing an ally in Jesse, what else does he have in this organization? His essential invulnerability and a hell raiser’s spirit. Obviously, Gus has bigger concerns, and Walt’s belief that everything revolves around him might be true for the moment, but increased cartel activity threatens to rearrange everyone’s priorities. And where does that leave Mr. White?
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Skyler’s scene at the Four Corners. Standing on the New Mexico side, she tosses a coin into the air. The result of the coin toss is irrelevant, she’s looking to see where it lands: Colorado. Skyler looks north and tries again. Same result: Colorado. No. She slides the coin south 3 inches with her foot. She’s not going to let anything drive her from her home, not even the rotten luck to be caught in the Whites’ current situation. When she gets home, she puts her foot down, and again holds the hole thing together.