Walter White is Hazardous to your Health
Skyler’s not the only one scared shitless…
We open with an attorney arriving at a prison to see his client, Dennis, the manager of Gus’ industrial laundry, except this time he has his “paralegal” (Mike) with him… when they get Dennis into the interview room the attorney promptly tunes them both out with headphones while Mike talks to him about Gus and all of their money being taken away by the DEA.
Mike’s going to each of the incarcerated people on Gus’ payroll and reminding them not to say a word, sweetening the incentive to just do their time and be quiet with the promise of getting them what they lost when their hazard pay (also the title of this week’s episode) was taken from them.
Walt’s moving back in to the family home whether Skyler likes it or not. He sets about unpacking and Skyler’s obviously freaked the fuck out. As much as I love Anna Gunn’s (Emmy nominated) portrayal, the whole “Skyler’s scared” plotline is starting to wear thin. I get it, she’s scared – now do something about it already – kick him out, file for divorce, or swallow the fear down and get back to living your life – but come the fuck on already and make a decision! The blank stares and wide eyes are getting old.
Now that he’s officially part of the most badass triad ever, Mike goes with Walt and Jesse to Saul’s to come up with a business plan. After some convincing Saul agrees to cut Mike in on the partnership. Mike comes in guns blazing with the assertion that he will be the one to run the business side while Walt and Jesse handle the cooking. Saul balks a little but Walt shrugs it off and they all leave to go look at possible new cook sites.
He takes them to several unsuitable places until they end up in the back of a pest control company. Despite being near a police station, or “cop shop” as Mike calls it, and having a garage door that could easily expose them, Walt thinks it’s perfect. He looks pointedly at some folded up tarps when the others look at him incredulously.
After the break Walt reveals his master plan: using the shady Vamonos Pest guys they’ll go in after the crew tents a house that’s going to be treated. Over the next 3 days while the owners and neighbors are staying away from the fumes Walt and Jesse will move in with a mobile lab, complete the cook, and then set off the pesticide chemicals themselves so the crew’s still technically doing their job. This sounds as good a plan as any to the others and Saul assures them the guys are solid since they’re not angels either; their pest control work is really just a front for a breaking and entering racket.
Jesse’s stupid friends help him get big roadie cases for the mobile lab. Since they buy so many the guy throws in stenciling so they have “Vamonos Pest” placed on the sides. Oh – and Skinny Pete has mad piano skills, yo! They try to convince Jesse to let them back in on the game but we all know they’re shady mother fuckers and Jesse’s smart to blow them off with a couple hundred.
Mike walks the Vamonos guys (one of them looking eerily like a short, chubby Judd Nelson) through the new way they’re going to do business – the houses they choose for cook sites are now off limits for break-ins – not even in the future. They’re not to speak at all to Jesse or Walt unless spoken to first, they’re to only deal with Mike. This makes Walt and Jesse chuckle a little, seeing Mike’s bulldog face in action.
Back at Jesse’s he and Walt are going over specifics. The filters & finishing tanks need some tweaking so they can fit inside the cases. Joe and his crew at the junkyard are going to handle those adjustments. As far as the smell, Jesse’s telling him about how in Mexico they used medical tents to keep the odor contained when Andrea walks in with groceries and Brock. They convince Walt to stay for dinner and head into the kitchen, leaving him in awkward silence with the kid.
The next day they’re ready to try their first cook. The real guys come in and go through the shpiel with the customer as they’re bringing in the portable lab. The homeowner gets a little freaked out by the size of the cases but they assure him it’s nothing to worry about. As soon as the family leaves Walt and Gus arrive to get to work. Todd from Vamonos breaks protocol and lets them know he disabled a nanny cam he found. Cue the setting up montage set to deceptively happy music.
They’re enjoying a beer by the TV waiting for this batch to dry when Walt wants to talk about how nice it is to see Jesse with a family. He asks if Jesse plans to tell Andrea about what he does but Jesse nips that in the bud and says he’s not telling her anything. Walt reflects on whether it’s better to tell your partner or not and the pros and cons to either decision. If he’s going to spend his life with her he’s going to have to decide on his own how much he wants to reveal. Jesse doesn’t see himself telling her everything – like killing Gayle, and Walt tells him it’s up to him: it’s got to be his decision and he trusts Jesse to make the one that’s best for him. Effectively he’s giving Jesse permission to let Andrea in on their secret the way he’s let Skyler into it, but if Jesse’s smart I wouldn’t, there’s no way Andrea would be cool with something like that given that she’s lost family and occasionally herself to drugs.
At the car wash Marie is micromanaging Skyler’s employees when she excitedly tells her that Hank’s back at work. She thanks Skyler for the support they’ve given them and wants to ask her what they’re going to do for Walt’s birthday coming up. First thought is that if this is the same one he’s celebrating at Denny’s at the beginning of the season then we know that the future we saw could be closer than we initially assumed. Skyler’s hesitant to talk about it and would rather not do much for his bday and this of course sets Marie off into another session of annoying browbeating to get an answer until Skyler snaps and screams at her over and over to shut up. Thank you! I was hoping she’d keep that backbone of steel but instead she breaks down into sobs in front of a totally confused Marie.
Walt and Jesse finish the cook and get a decent yield. They set the chemicals off in the house but leave the portable lab behind – hoping that means the other guys will come back and clean it up? When Walt gets back home Marie’s waiting for him. Skyler’s lying down and Marie tells him about her breakdown. She insists she has to know what he’s up to. Is it gambling? Cancer? What?
Walt tells her he thinks she’s so upset because of what happened to Beneke. It takes her a second to fully realize what Walt’s admitting to her – he acts as if he thought she knew about the affair and begs her not to tell Sklyer he blabbed. Marie gives him a consolatory hug before leaving. When Walt walks over and casual bites an apple he seems so satisfied with himself. He’s just getting way too cocky, I keep waiting for things to start falling apart on him again.
Jesse’s trying to play a game at home with Brock and Andrea but he’s obviously upset about something. She asks him what’s wrong but he won’t say anything. Also troubled, Skyler can’t sleep at the White’s because of the TV being so loud – she gets up to see both the Walt’s enjoying Scarface, the movie we’ve all been saying reminds us of Walt this season. Of course Skyler’s downward spiral continues building up.
At the Vamonos offices Mike’s splitting up their cuts. Both Jesse and Walt blanch at how much their cuts dwindle as Mike takes away all the expenses. When Mike finally moves to grab the missing hazard pay for the nine surviving members of Gus’ crew Walter gets pissed and tries to stop him. Jesse offers to have it come out of his share but Walt pulls it back and tells Mike to go ahead with the split. Mike tells him this isn’t a onetime thing – they’ll be paying for these guys to keep quiet for awhile. Walter smirks that they’re making less than they did when they worked for Gus to which Mike awesomely retorts: “Listen Walter, just because you shot Jesse James, don’t make you Jesse James.”
After Mike leaves, Walt asks Jesse how he feels. Mistakenly thinking Walt actually cares, Jesse tells him he broke it off with Andrea. He didn’t want to keep lying to her (but will continue to help support her son). Walt interjects that he was talking about the money and Jesse reminds him that while they made more with Gus it was because they were forced to work all the time and produce at a faster rate. Now they’re making less product but keeping more profits.
Walter muses that he believes when Gus sliced Victor’s throat open at the start of last season, it wasn’t just to teach Walt a lesson – it was to teach Victor one as well. When Victor tried to make his own batch of meth Gus had to put him back in his place. Victor “flew too close to the sun and had his throat cut” – implying that perhaps Mike’s also taking liberties with his power. He walks away, trying to shrug the idea off nonchalantly, but the look on Jesse’s face eerily resembles Skyler’s – he looks shocked at what Walt’s becoming and fearful of the outcome.