'Breaking Bad' Season 4, Episode 9 Recap - 'Bug'
Most weeks, "Breaking Bad" is a slow-played, paced-out affair that usually culminates in a single, quick moment of action, emotion or violence, be it a Chilean chemist getting shot by a pool or Hank cracking a new piece of the case.
This week, though, things were anything but slow, and there were moments of tension and confrontation throughout. It felt like three "Breaking Bad" episodes rolled into one, somehow. It was like an entirely different show. But it wasn't necessarily a bad thing, either.
For the second week in a row, we were provided with a good old-fashioned tease for the cold open: a pair of broken glasses and a pair of shoes, with drops of blood landing on them, and a hand scooping up the frames and busted lens.
For a moment, we're left to wonder if this is Gus, Walt or maybe even Mike, but the first shot after the title shows Walt's shoes, which match those of the open. So it's a good old-fashioned "Walt's in trouble" tease. Nice.
For a while it looks like Hank has hit a dead end, as he and Walt recover the GPS "bug" from Gus' car (nice version of "Eye of the Tiger" by Hank, complete with muddled lyrics...he would do that, wouldn't he?) but find that Gus has only gone to and from the restaurant all week. This would deter any ordinary cop, but for Hank it's a red flag: "Any guy this clean has to be dirty," he muses. We're really getting constant reminders this season that, despite Hank's douchiness (see: "Eye of the Tiger" singing), he's really a pretty good detective.
Walt finds Victor II (not his name, but he's Victor's replacement in the goon squad) staking out Hank's house, and has the gall to call the cops about it. This is, of course, right before he heads home and gets a call from Hank asking him to take him out for another investigation...this time, of the Los Pollos Hermanos distribution center, aka the place where they take the meth out of the buckets of batter. So Walt has to make another call, this time to Mike, who curtly hangs up to start cleaning the place top to bottom, with Jesse's help.
Jesse, meanwhile, still seems to be on Walt's side for now, as he actually sticks up for Hank during the cleaning and argues on the side of not killing him to Mike. But the game is about to change: as Jesse and the crew are cleaning up, one of the goons gets his head blown open by a sniper bullet, courtesy of the Cartel. Mike drags a stunned Jesse to cover to hold out...that is, until Gus does what might be the single most badass thing we've seen on this show yet. He walks, with purpose and without flinching, out into the open with sniper bullets zinging by him, and taunts the sniper. You can't help but think of his moment in Los Pollos with Walt: "Do it."
After last week and this week, I think you might be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn't consider Gus to be their favorite character of this season. Wow. And we're left to hate Walt even more as Mike and Jesse bring the body down to the lab to be disposed of, and Walt blames the death on Gus. Mike gives him an earful on our behalf, and a warning on his own: "If you ever plan on calling the cops on one of my guys again, you go ahead and get two barrels."
Meanwhile, Skyler is finding that, like Walt, she's maybe not as in control as she thought she was. Things are going great with the car wash...well enough that she thinks Walt could quit his "second job" (yeah, right). But a visit from Ted Beneke makes her spirits sink: Ted is being audited by the criminal division of the IRS for the unreported income that Skyler herself helped to cover up. Skyler is understandably worried: if someone starts auditing the car wash, she could be in real trouble. Luckily for them both, Skyler has gotten pretty darned good at this criminal thing. As Ted is dealing with the IRS auditor, she walks in all dolled up and acting the part of the bimbo, leading the auditor to believe that this wasn't a criminal act, just a really stupid one.
Unfortunately, Ted is still going to have to pay the $300,000-plus in fees and back taxes to avoid re-opening the investigation and endangering them both. But when we get a look at the car he's now driving, it's clear that he doesn't have the assets to do so. Will Skyler's stash in the crawl space be coming into play? Signs point to yes, but how can she explain it to Ted, and how could Ted then explain it to the IRS?
But all of this is moot if the Cartel comes in and kills everyone, so it's back to Gus, who is now meeting with Jesse to answer some of his questions. But the conversation turns when Gus asks Jesse a question that we've heard him ask before: "Can you cook Walter's formula?"
This time, though, it seems that Gus isn't asking for Jesse to replace Walt once he's murdered...or, at least not yet. As Jesse reveals later to Walt, Gus wants Jesse to go to Mexico as part of Gus' deal with the Cartel to teach their chemists how to cook Walt's formula. Jesse doesn't trust himself to do it, so he asks for Walt's help, but the problem is this: Walt had bugged Jesse's car and found out that he went to Gus' house the night before, which Jesse lied to his face about.
That leads us to the reveal of the tease: Jesse and Walt got into an all-out brawl, the likes of which we haven't seen before in this show. It's three and a half seasons of built-up tensions being released in an outburst of rage (see why they've been having Jesse play the video game "Rage," which is also featured prominently in this scene? Okay, so it's mostly product placement, but that was a pretty cool payoff).
But one more note about that scene, before the fight: it's really a testament to Aaron Paul's abilities as an actor that he could play this scene in a way that, although he's telling the truth, it sounds like he's lying. There was a level of detail here that's easy to overlook because it fit the scene so well...and that's why this guy deserves just about every award they give out this year.