Episode 'Breaking Bad' Season 4, Episode 1 - 'Box Cutter' Recap
The season three finale of "Breaking Bad" left us with a lot of questions: did Jesse go through with the hit on Gayle? How is Gus going to react? Will Walt ever get his laser tag front up and running?
But we had to wait a few more minutes once season four started, as we watched a flashback of Gayle unpacking the equipment (using a prominently-featured green box cutter) for the lab before Walt was even hired. The sad truth of this scene is that it was Gayle's own insistence that caused Gus to pursue Walt when he was still iffy on trusting him. Gayle gushes effusively over the quality of Walt's work, to the point where he touts Walt's formula over his own.
But we won't be hearing Gayle gush over Walt any more...it turns out that Jesse finished the job. Poor Gayle.
Jesse is taken in by Victor, to sit in silence with Walt and Mike as they await the arrival of Gus. But more on that later.
Skyler, meanwhile, is getting pretty good at this crime thing. Or, she's at least turning into an awfully good liar: she's still handling Hank's medical bills with ease, and moves Walt's car in the morning when he doesn't turn up in order to avoid questions from Walter Jr.
But Skyler is showing serious concern over Walt's disappearance. A call to Saul doesn't make her feel any better (though it made me chuckle...you gotta love Bob Odenkirk) and in fact it looks like Saul might be getting ready to leave the country. Skyler even manages to con a locksmith into letting her into Walt's apartment with some excellent acting. Of course, the investigation doesn't reveal any clues...though she does come across that eyeball from the teddy bear.
We also check in with Hank and Marie, who aren't doing all that well. They're really tugging at our heartstrings now with these two, after spending two and a half seasons making us think they were both jerks. But seeing Hank desperately bidding on crystals on eBay and Marie helping him with his bedpan with forced optimism is absolutely hearbreaking.
Now then, back to the lab.
Walt tries to convince Victor and Mike to let them cook, but the two thugs aren't having any of it. In fact, Victor steps up to cook himself...he claims that, after watching Walt and Jesse cook for weeks, he knows the entire process step by step. Sure enough, he seems to be getting everything right.
And that's not a good sign when Gus shows up. In one of the greatest and most stress-inducing scenes yet in the series, Walt pleads his case to Gus with increasing desperation as Gus silently and methodically removed his coat, shirt, tie and shoes and puts on one of the lab's hazard suits. He picks up the aforementioned green box cutter and, silently as before, slices Victor across the throat, right within spraying distance of Walt and Jesse. As Gus cleans off and dresses, he finally speaks before heading out the door: "Get to work."
An absolutely breathtaking scene, and a reminder of why this is one of the best dramas on television. And it's followed by some of BB's trademark dark humor, as Mike, Walt and Jesse dispose of the body by dissolving with with hydrofluoric acid...the same stuff they used in season one (still can't get the image of that bathtub falling through the ceiling out of my head). "Are you sure this stuff with do the job?" Mike asks. "Trust us," Jesse replies.
But my favorite detail of this one was the transition to the diner after that point, with the glob of ketchup on the plate. Notice how much red is in the restaurant, too? That's not an accident. That's well-made television.
So far, we haven't seen the "trouble" that Walt was supposed to be causing, as promised by the season trailer...it seems like he's still just in trouble. But there's still a while to go, and it looks like Walt is planning on fighting back. Just wait until the Heisenberg hat comes back. That means it's on.
But for now, there's one little problem that Walt, Jesse and Gus will all have to deal with...Gayle's lab notes, left in his apartment at the crime scene.