Monday, August 8, 2011

Review - Breaking Bad Season 4 Episode 4 Bullet Points

"Bullet Points" is an odd episode, split almost perfectly in half between Walt's family and Walt's work, with a perfectly logically reason for the transition. There is great turmoil in both parts, and at the center of it is Walt, who realizes he may be in too deep a hole to dig out of.

The episode begins with a lengthy conversation between Skyler and Walt, discussing how to explain Walt's gambling habit which provided the money for the car wash. It's mostly used for humor, as Skyler's script and Walt's reactions are rife with the funny charms Breaking Bad has. We've seen Walt plan before, but definitely not like that.

There is a kernel of impending doom, however, with Walt agreeing follow the script after Skyler's long-winded explanations. He realizes that he has to look like the Walter White everyone has always known, the meek, docile Walt who should be apologetic and ashamed. He can't take pride in what he does, not in front of Marie and Hank, nor with Skyler, who Walt needs to keep calm. Walt is back where he's always been, hiding the truth from everyone, except this time there are different lies for different people. Interestingly, the only person he can talk to is Saul, who functions both as a problem-solver and someone to get things off the chest.

For Skyler, it isn't easy either, though the humor of the way she went about planning the lie did take the edge off. She makes some good points when Walt tries to counter her, and we can sympathize with her predicament. She notes that unlike Walt she isn't as practiced at lying, defending her over-preparation and cutting at Walt a little. When Walt says that he doesn't want Walt Jr. to think any less of him, Skyler reminds him that her reputation has already suffered greatly, and Anna Gunn really brings out the hurt in Skyler.

Up until this point, the nothing much has happened in the episode yet, about a third of the way through. But Walt talks to Hank and wheels start moving. Hank shows them a DVD--a silly music video featuring Gale that leaves Walt Jr. and Hank laughing but Walt mortified. Later, Walt weasels his way into the investigation, offering to listen to Hank, and ends up reading Gale's notebook, which is filled with the whimsy that makes his death feel worse. Walt deftly knocks away the WW reference, and manages to gain lots of useful information, despite the precariousness of the situation. With Hank investigating and Walt leeching information, Walt is walking on a tightrope and one slip-up could mean the end.

The central plot point of the second half of the episode is whether anything will happen to Jesse. Walt and Saul both know who is first to go, if someone has to be killed, the surveillance camera is constantly following him, and Mike shows up to warn him and kick everyone out of the house. The thing is, Jesse doesn't give a fuck and lets everyone know. People come and go, someone even steals his cash, but nothing, not even Walt, can snap him out of it. Now, Mike is driving Jesse somewhere, possibly to be killed, and he still doesn't care. Breaking Bad has not killed a main character yet, after three seasons and countless close encounters. Is this the time it happens? All the pieces sure seem in place.

Another ongoing plot is the cartel moving in on Gus. The cold open is a scintillating scene in which cartel goons shoot up a Los Pollos Hermanos truck with Mike inside. Mike doesn't die and he sends a clear message to the cartel, killing the two with ease. He isn't unscathed, however, as we see his ear later in the episode. Things are messy now and it only gets downhill from here.

Score: 9.3/10
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