From the second Mike announced at the beginning of the episode that he was, in fact, out of the operation, it was obvious that things would not end well for Mr. Erhmantraut. As much as I would've loved to see him live out his days as a proud, crossword-doing grandfather (hey, that sounds a lot like my dad; must investigate), the show could not let Mike get away that easily. Either he would end up back in the business or in jail or in the tall weeds along a river after having been shot by that gangster Walter White.
Also out of the business but not getting away easily is Jesse, who is still all about conscience over cash. Walt tries to talk him into sticking around to train the next guy, like any employee worth his salt would do, but Jesse is just sickened by the whole situation, specifically Walt's bubbly reaction to the death of the bicycle/tarantula kid. Jesse is such a man of principle that he makes a big show of giving up his claim on the $5 million before storming out. Walt is left to cook meth alone. *Tears* *Cue "With or Without You"*
But wait! For Walt, this whole thing is no longer about the money. I mean, yeah, it's about the money, but it's also about the fact that Walt has exactly zero people in his life who will stay in the same room with him for longer than five minutes. His children have been shipped off to Hank and Marie's. Hank is practically begging for any excuse to leave Walt alone in his office at the DEA. Skyler would rather drink her wine alone in the bedroom than eat dinner with Walt. Who can blame her? And now Jesse's abandoning him. Walt needs a new partner, if for no other reason than he needs human companionship.
Enter Landry, whom I had sensed would be climbing aboard the S.S. Heisenberg once Mike jumped ship. Walt sees promise in this kid, even if that promise is based on burglary and kid killing. But those are great assets in the drug world! Landry's practically a star student when it comes to law breaking. He's not so good at chemistry, sure, but that'll come. These things take time, and Landry is willing to learn, notepad in hand.
(It struck me that if Breaking Bad were not ending in 9 episodes, this would be the time in the series where things would start to get shaken up to freshen up. Jesse is moving on. Mike is leaving. Junior is getting older and is just not that cute anymore. Everyone is leaving Walt behind and he needs new friends and new situations. For some reason Facts of Life comes to mind, naturally, after Blair and Jo and everybody graduated but they still had to live at Mrs. Garrett's house and they opened the store and brought in George Clooney and Cloris Leachman and that random little kid to shake things up? Landry is the random kid AND the George Clooney. I'm thinking Lydia is probably the Leachman. It's not a perfect comparison.)
If The Facts of Life ain't your thing, I think we can all agree that whatever is going on with Hank at the DEA feels an awful lot like The Wire. "Come on, Hank, just make some street rips. Stop obsessing over that Gus Fring/Barksdale stuff. Gus is dead/Avon is in prison. We have no money. I don't know why you're so concerned about the blue meth/lack of murders. You're always giving a fuck when it's not your turn to do so, Hank, my friend." I hope that somewhere in the communal Neverland where all TV characters go to hang out when their shows are not airing, Cedric Daniels is buying Hank a cold one.
I'm turning this recap over to the bullet points because it's Sunday night I can no longer think in paragraph form.
- Walt makes a point of saying that his meth is 99.1% legit meth. Did anyone else wonder if he hit the same number in the batch he cooked up with Landry/Todd?
- Walter "Say My Name" "Heisenberg" White is starting to lose his grip at both home and work. Sure, he pulled off the deal with the Arizona guys, but they were morons to begin with. Now he's lost his partner and his muscle/distributor. He's training a new kid to cook. He fails to realize that he can shake Lydia down for information and instead caps Mike right in the gut. And, as I mentioned earlier, I don't think that Landry meth looked anywhere near 99.1% pure.
- What's it going to take for Walt to stop, though? Is someone going to put a 99.3% pure meth product out on the streets? Will it be an appealing lavender color? Will it come with a coupon for a mani/pedi?
- This episode really brought out the high school chemistry teacher in Walt. He treats Jesse like a student when he asks him what he's going to do with his life now that he's walking away from his true meth cooking talent, and for what? "Video games and go-karts." And he praises Landry for "applying himself."
- Bacon chocolate chip cookies. Y'all.
- Is anybody else worried about what happened to Kaylee after Mike left her alone at the park? Does she have other family besides Mike? Did the DEA get to her money as well, or did they only know about the 9 safe deposit boxes that needed to be opened on that specific day? Won't somebody think of the children!?!
- Mike's parting advice for Walter is "just to leave town." Is that what Walt is doing when he's driving around with weapons and fake IDs and scoring free Denny's breakfasts? What do you predict is the catalyst that gets Walt to ditch the ABQ?
- Little things: Saul having a million cell phones. Saul hating on Mike's lawyer guy. Marie's cheesy smile in the picture Hank keeps on his desk. The big smile on Steve's face when he busts Wachsburger in the bank. "Vamanos." "I wish."
What did you think of the episode? Can you believe next week is the finale of Breaking Bad Season 5.1? How do you think the first half of the last season will end next week?