Walter White is Hazardous to your Health

Written by  //  July 30, 2012  //  Televised Entertainment in Review, The Theatre  //  8 Comments

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.

About the Author

Alistair Blake Arabella

“Alistair Blake Arabella” is the brainchild of entertainment writer and managing editor Vanessa “2 Fingers” Berben . If you’re missing the latest refill of your Dexedrine prescription, there’s a good a chance Alistair’s in your bathroom and has already crushed it up and snorted it. Now be a good little kitten and fetch her drink. If you’d like to receive the hallowed word of Alistair drop a line to AskAlistair@gmail.com – you just may be in the next episode of “Ask Alistar” if you’re very, very lucky.

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8 Comments on "Walter White is Hazardous to your Health"

  1. Mark in Omaha July 30, 2012 at 6:10 pm · Reply

    Thanks for the recap, I was in and out of the kitchen while it was on and missed a few scenes.

    As to Walt’s age, the birthday at Denny’s he was 52, this one coming up should be his 51′st. Makes sense he would need more than a little time to grow his hair out. Still wondering how he ended up back east, why he came back, and why he needed all that firepower?

    Mike is my also my new favorite bad ass. If Walt would get over himself and just listen to the man, things would be smoother. Number one reason crooks get caught, they get greedy. I’m going to write up Breaking Bad as a case study in how not to conduct a criminal enterprise, rule # 6, share the wealth. Letting Badger and Skinny Pete in on where their new hangout is, also a very bad idea, rule # 3, the fewer people who know, the better.

    That last scene had me wondering what exactly Walt was trying to get at, seemed a little obscure. Gus killed Victor because he had been seen at the crime scene. Not sure how Icarus fits as a metaphor. So Walt’s Daedalus and Jesse is Icarus, or Gus was Daedalus and Victor was Icarus? How is cooking meth an analogy to flying too close to the sun? Am I being too literal and literary?

    How many episodes in this batch? They have already gone through 3 out of 8?

    • Alistair Blake Arabella
      Alistair Blake Arabella August 2, 2012 at 2:53 pm · Reply

      Ha! I love the idea of a case study! It’s so true – as much as I love this show, and I totally think it’s one of the best shows to ever air on television – there are some hiccups. Thanks for making the bday thing clear – I wasn’t sure how old he was when he was diagnosed. I love how slow time is in this show!
      I want to keep loving Walt, I really do, but he’s making it very difficult.
      Man – as far as the season – so they’re doing this one final season but get this: they’re calling it an “extended” season because it’s 16 episodes… but… they’re only showing 8 THIS YEAR! The next 8 will come out in 2013!!! WTF??

    • Alistair Blake Arabella
      Alistair Blake Arabella August 2, 2012 at 2:57 pm · Reply

      Oh – and I forgot to address Walt’s comments at the end – I really think that he was hinting to Jesse that he believes Mike is going to need to be “dealt with” in the same manner as Victor. He thinks Mike is overstepping himself, and he’s greedy and doesn’t like that Mike’s trying to do right by his old crew, something I find commendable and very necessary to ensure they don’t spill to the police.
      So he was saying that Mike’s overstepping himself and that he’s thinking of taking him out – to which a shocked Jesse just looks on, trying to comprehend the monster his friend is becoming.
      Do you think that’s the reason Walt runs? He kills Mike and his friends come after him?

  2. Mark in Omaha August 6, 2012 at 9:35 am · Reply

    We will just have to watch the remaining episodes and find out. I don’t think Walt has the ability to kill Mike. I could see Mike and Jesse “voting Walt out” and Walt coming back to wreak vengeance.

    Believe it or not, I woke up recently and had a lecture about stories going on in my head. All stories have the basic elements, a Protagonist, an Antagonist, conflict, and resolution. Walt has ceased being the Protagonist and is becoming the Antogonist, Jesse is becoming the Protagonist. You aren’t supposed to like Walt anymore.

    More when you post the review of last nights episode.

    • Mark in Omaha August 14, 2012 at 2:10 pm · Reply

      Where have you gone little Alistair? You on vacation during the middle of the Breaking Bad season? You are now two episodes down two episodes. Hope we hear from you soon.

      I want to amend my statement, I think Walt and Hank are going to be the ultimate source of conflict. Hank will have to take down his own brother-in-law.

      • Alistair Blake Arabella
        Alistair Blake Arabella August 14, 2012 at 5:54 pm · Reply

        Hello my love! I’m so sorry – in real life, it’s been a crazy past couple of weeks, and I did actually go on vacation! The nerve! But I’ve got my latest take posted – I went with a different approach this week – instead of a play by play I went a little more reactionary, since I’m a couple days late – would love to get your thoughts on it.

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