'Breaking Bad' Season 5, Episode 3 Recap - 'Hazard Pay' and the Return of Gale
Starting a small business is hard. Starting a small business when you murdered your former boss is even harder.
Walt is learning that firsthand as he, Jesse, Mike and Saul start their new endeavor in cooking. Things are tough right off the bat as the foursome has to visit all kinds of different spaces in order to find the right location for their lab, which creates a pretty fantastic sequence as they turn down spot after spot.
That includes a box factory (hey, as long as there aren't any box cutters there), a tortilla factory and the return of the lazer tag place (which gets an emphatic no). At least Jesse gets a fresh tortilla out of one of the visits.
Eventually, Walt gets an idea: they start a fumigating business, then use the houses that they're fumigating to cook. It's a classically brilliant Walt plan, seemingly airtight in terms of covering up what they're doing: they move in, set up, cook a batch, move their stuff out, chemically bomb the house, then move on. Nobody will think twice about any chemical smells, and they're mobile and hard to trace.
Mike gets a crew (which includes Todd, played by Jesse Plemons, who will be playing a bigger role as we go), Skinny Pete and Badger get some supplies, they name the company (Vamanos Pest), and we're off.
But problems arise because of Mike's "guys." In fact, the episode opens on Mike visiting one of said guys in prison, where he has to explain that their "hazard pay," the money in the offshore accounts reserved to pay them for taking this kind of fall, is gone... but it will be replaced. A worrying moment as Mike is leaving the prison and snaps about the exit door reveals his state of mind. If Mike is on edge, things are not good.
The Return of Gale
Walt's former partner under Gus comes back in two ways this episode. First, we see Walt pull out his copy of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass, which Gale quoted to Walt. Interestingly, Walt gives the book a small smile and a grunt, as if to say "oh yeah, that guy." Either Walt doesn't associate the book with Gale at all, or he has completely moved past the point where murder bothers him.
Later, Walt ever so casually brings up the subject of Andrea and Brock to Jesse, suggesting that he should be honest with her, if he thinks she can handle it. Jesse asks how much he should open up about: "Like, everything?" he asks. "Like, Gale?" At the end of the episode, we learn that Jesse has broken it off with Andrea, and it seems that Walt still has as much manipulative control over his partner as ever.
Marie Gets Closer
Skylar finally breaks down, and if it weren't such a dangerous breakdown, it would have been pretty satisfying: Marie pushes her a little too far about Walt's birthday party, and Skylar says "SHUT UP" for maybe a good 30 seconds straight.
That prompts Marie to confront Walt, who comes up with an explanation on the spot that keeps him free and clear: he reveals Skylar's affair to Marie and blames the breakdown on Ted's accident. Marie, stunned, leaves in a daze and is so totally not going to keep this a secret.
From Mr. Chips to Scarface
Walt's transformation continues, as "Breaking Bad" creator Vince Gilligan once put it, "from Mr. Chips to Scarface." Tony Montana himself actually makes an appearance in this episode, as Walt and Walter Jr. watch the movie, much to Skylar's horror.
Greed is becoming a major motivating factor for Walt, as we see toward the end: when Mike shows Jesse and Walt the spoils of the first batch, Walt is already disappointed at the mere $367,000 in front of him. So when Mike starts taking away more and more from their piles to cover various costs, Walt gets more and more annoyed... and the piece taken out to cover the hazard pay is the icing on the cake. The moment of tension between him and Mike is only dissolved by Jesse's selflessness, offering his share to cover the costs.
There's something to be said about the way that Walt and Jesse have each turned out as far as money goes. Jesse has hit rock bottom: he has fallen into a port-a-potty and slept with a gas mask on in his impounded RV. Walt, on the other hand, has lived a fairly comfortable life, and doesn't appreciate the things that should really be important to him: a roof over his head, his family, and his health.
Walt's ruminations to Jesse on the way Gus ran things are a sign of bad things to come: he remembers Victor, and how Gus sliced his throat for attempting to cook a batch on his own. "Victor flew too close to the sun," notes Walt, "and he got his throat cut."
It seems that Walt has decided that Mike is flying too close to the sun. Is that what the big gun in the trunk is for? To get rid of Mike? Or does Walt just want his own "little friend?"
Stray Observations and Cool Stuff:
- The transition of the gunfire from "Scarface" to the money counter
- The awesome atomic cooking montage. Fancy!
- Walt's ever-so-slight pause as he meets Brock, the kid he poisoned. Bryan Cranston is a god.
- "Just because you shot Jesse James, doesn't make you Jesse James."
- It's only been one year since Walt's cancer diagnosis. That's one hell of a year.
The Lighter Side:
- "We don't need a fourth amigo"
- "He gave me the dead mackerel eyes." You know what, he kinda does look like a mackerel.
- Huell's breathing. Always Huell's breathing.