I’m going to be talking about Season Four of AMC’s excellent crime drama, Breaking Bad. Therefore, if you’ve not seen the show, you should not read this post.
My lovely wife and I were not wise enough to be watching Breaking Bad from the beginning. Starting late last year, we viewed seasons One, Two, and Three. And now we’ve finished Season Four.
Like my previous Breaking Bad posts where I write about a season, I’ll present a brief recap with some pertinent observations, but save my character analysis, theme discussion, and other commentary for the part two posting.
- At the end of Season Three, Gus Fring had decided that Walter had outlived his usefulness. Walt’s current lab partner, Gale Boetticher, had observed enough of Walt’s process to take over.
- Until the start of this season, when Jesse shoots Gale in the face.
- Thanks to a flashback, we discover that Gus had built the super-lab under the laundry for Gale. Gale though, was fascinated with the quality of Walter’s meth and really wanted to work with him. (Perhaps both Gale and Gus should have been content with the 2% less pure meth they knew how to produce.)
- Walt and Jesse are waiting Gus’ judgment under the watchful eyes of Mike and Victor. The parnters assume that Gus will kill one, possibly both of them. Gus kills Victor. Maybe because Victor was seen at the scene of Gale’s shooting when he was looking for Jesse, maybe because he just wants to send a message to Walter and Jesse. They will continue to cook for Gus.
- Mike manages to keep both Walt and Jesse on track. When Jesse descends into a hell of nihilistic partying to numb his feelings of guilt about Gale, Mike forces him to ride along with him as his backup. When Walt buys a handgun and toys with the idea of taking Gus out proactively, Mike corrects Walt with a black eye.
- Skyler is committed to paying Hank’s physical therapy bills, and is committed to buying the car wash as a money-laundering front. She makes an offer to the owner, Bogdan Wolynetz. The spectacularly-eyebrowed Romanian holds a grudge against Walter and is not willing to seriously play ball. With Saul’s help, Skyler fakes an EPA inspection at the carwash which helps get Bogdan to agree to sell.
- Marie has not been having a good time with Hank at home, who is an outrageously crappy patient. In response, she begins to attend open-houses where she tells in-depth and detailed lies about her life. And steals a souvenir from each house. Eventually, she gets caught, but Hank’s connection with APD gets all charges dropped. In return, Hank looks over the Gale Boetticher file for the police, since the murder might have been drug related.
- Skyler has coached Walt on a gambling addiction backstory to explain his erratic behavior and their newfound wealth. Walt is alarmed that Hank is investigating the Gale Boetticher case and in a moment of drunken pride, makes things worse by convincing Hank that Gale was probably not the genius Heisenberg. Hank begins to suspect Gustavo Fring is involved.
- As well as Hank having him on the radar, Gus is having cartel problems. Attacks from the cartel escalate, leading Gus to agree to their demands.
- Walt takes possession of the carwash from Bogdan, who implies that Walt might not be mean enough, to be bad enough, to be the boss. Clearly Bogdan hasn’t been watching the show. Skyler is worried that Walt might be in danger, she confronts him about this.
- Walt explains it differently. Skyler contemplates where she will flee to if she has to leave. While Skyler is away, Walt buys Walt Jr. a sports car. That doesn’t go over well with Skyler.
- She forces Walt to take the car back. Instead, he disposes of it himself. (Walt Jr. ends up having to drive a mom car, picked out by his mom. Ugh.)
- With a money-laundering setup and lots of cash, Walt begins to think of an exit plan from Gus. He decides that Jesse has the best chance of access to Gus, and gives Jesse ricin and orders to slip it into Gus’ food or drink. Jesse is very worried about this, but takes the ricin, hiding it into one of his cigarettes. (He turns it upside down so he won’t accidentally smoke it.)
- In a flashback, we see a younger Gus Fring and his partner in the Mexican restaurant Pollos Hermanos, trying to make a deal with Don Eladio, a cocaine smuggler. It does not end well, with Hector Salamanca shooting Gus’ chemist partner and meth cook. Years later, Gus would sponsor a chemistry scholarship named after his partner, to prepare a new meth cook (Gale Boetticher.)
- Walt is more and more worried that the noose of Hank’s investigation is drawing tight. He insists that Jesse poison Gus and learns that Jesse has visited Gus for several hours during an evening. (It was dinner, where Jesse reasserted that if any harm befell Walter, there would be no meth cooking.)
- Gus wants Jesse to come to Mexico to demonstrate the cook process to the Cartel. Jesse wants Walt to provide guideline but Walt angrily refuses (since he assumes this is a ploy to replace him.) Walt attacks Jesse, and gets a beating.
- Skyler has her own problems. Ted Baneke is being audited and will no doubt go to jail for his shoddy bookkeeping. (Which might bring Federal heat on her. Which would not be good.) She puts on a show for the auditor to make it seem like the odd bookkeeping was merely ignorance and not fraud-related. Skyler gives Ted cash from the stash she’s managing but instead of settling with the IRS, he decides to start his business back up and not worry about the IRS.
- On Skyler’s insistence, Saul sends over some of his associates to force Ted to write a check and to sit on him until the mailed check clears. Ted tries to escape, trips, smacks his head, and dies. Oops.
- Jesse manages a successful cook operation in Mexico, but is terrified to discover that now the Cartel owns him. He is not going to be leaving. But Gus has other plans and poisons the cartel head Don Eladio and his entourage (and himself in the process.) With Gus poisoned and Mike wounded, Jesse drives them to a secret hospital facility Gus had set up. Gus recovers, Mike will remain for a week.
- Walt is nervous about reports from Hank on Cartel murders across the border. He tries to talk to Jesse (who again demanded Walt’s safety as a condition of his cooking for Gus) but Walt is abducted by Gus. He’s been fired and will remain alive as long as Jesse wants him to live.
- Walt decides to take Saul’s expensive suggestion of the underworld equivalent of witness protection. He asks Saul to make an anonymous call to the DEA that Hank is in danger. But when Walt comes to the house to get the cash, he discovers that the majority was given to Ted by Skyler. The White family and the Shraders are now under DEA protection at Hank’s. Walt remains on the outside, needing to take care of his situation with Gus.
- In a dramatic turn, Brock, the son of Jesse’s girlfriend Andrea, falls gravelly ill. Jesse discovers that his ricin cigarette is missing. He tells Andrea to tell the doctors to look for ricin poisoning, then goes to kill Walter whom he assumes poisoned Brock as revenge on Jesse.
- Walter makes a case that he has no interest in poisoning children, but Gus has shown no qualms in taking children’s lives as a means to an end. And Gus would be looking for a way to turn Jesse against Walt.
- Walt attempts to kill Gus with a car bomb after Jesse lures Gus to the hospital, but that does not work out. Walt adapts the plan and gets Hector Salamanca to lure Gus to the old folk’s home, where Tuco’s uncle suicide bombs himself and Gus.
- Jesse is relieved that Brock appears to be doing okay, and that it wasn’t ricin poisoning. The doctors suspect Brock ate Lilly of the Valley, which has poisonous berries. Walt reassures Skyler that the family is safe, and “he won.”
Well that recap was more detailed than I wanted, sorry. On my next post, I’ll tersely discuss some observations about the season. (Spoiler Alert: the season was great.)
Images are obviously from AMC’s Breaking Bad.
I make no claim to any of the artwork obviously, but I do make some claim to the text of this posting. So there.
© Patrick Sponaugle 2014 Some Rights Reserved