4.04 “Bulletpoints” – The Cartel gain the upper hand; Walt and Skyler share a secret with the family; Jesse’s activities draw unwanted attention.
4.05 “Shotgun” – When Jesse goes missing, Walt fears the worst. Skyler has an unlikely reunion. Hank shares some bad news with Detective Tim Roberts.
Breaking Bad airs Sunday nights at 10PM EST on AMC.
In its fourth season, Breaking Bad has focused largely on the way that Walter White has dealt with the juxtaposition of being more powerful than ever from a financial standpoint but more powerless than ever from the standpoint of his life. Over the course of the season, Walt has become increasingly more unbearable; an egomaniac, pushing away everyone who’s close to him under the pretense that he’s protecting them when really he just wants to control everything around him.
“Bullet Points,” the fourth episode of the season, framed this development in terms of Walt’s two most important relationships, with Skyler and Jesse, his wife and surrogate son of sorts. Invited to Hank and Marie’s for dinner, Skyler decides it’s in the family’s best interest to follow a script she’s written about Walt’s struggles with gambling in an effort to “appear to come clean.” But Walt doesn’t take direction well and revolts against Skyler’s attempts at fictionalizing their newly criminal life.
Jesse knows exactly what Skyler is going through as he spends episode four avoiding reality as much as possible, though his methods are much different. In a druggy haze, Jesse has allowed his home to turn into a mess of methheads and opportunists, all happy to aid Jesse in his downward spiral.
Worse, Walt continues to damage Jesse by demanding that he relive the experience that brought him to this hell. To Walt, Jesse is just being obstinate and unreasonable, like a stubborn student who needs to be prodded a few times before he gets on the right track.
But luckily, Jesse’s path isn’t quite ended. Episode five, “Shotgun,” unveils a whole new potential route for Jesse: one free of Walt’s influence. And while not exactly redemptive, it is at least more focused. In Mike, Jesse has found a figure to aspire to, a man with a complicated take on morality who nonetheless has his own kind of honor.
Walt of course takes the ridealong a different way, frantically trying to track Jesse down and convincing himself in the process that Jesse needs his method of salvation once more. But when Jesse pops a hole in that particular argument, Walt is set adrift again, realizing that this is yet another situation he has nowhere near as much control of as he thought.
Jesse isn’t stupid, no matter how much he acts the part, and he has proven himself to be a keen observer. What Jesse observes in Walt is that he doesn’t want Jesse to succeed, that their entire relationship is built on Jesse’s inferiority to Walt and without that inferiority, Walt has nothing. Jesse glimpsed that before, when he began making the blue meth on his own and to a level of quality that was remarkably near Walt’s, only to have Walt chastise him for it.
Which is of course what brings us to the biggest development of the season thus far.
At dinner with Hank and Marie, Walt listens in as Hank discusses Gale in more detail. Hank had seen the case as closed, believing that Gale was his Heisenberg and admitting as much both to Walt and his former colleague Tim. It was a bittersweet moment for Hank, an unsatisfactory cap on his career even though it in many ways proved the suspicions he’d voiced to the DEA.
We the viewers have always known Hank would be the one to bring Walter in, one way or another, and it’s always been a matter of when. And now it seems that Walt has given Hank the impetus and motivation to move towards that goal. Like any number of arch-nemeses comic book fans are familiar with, Walt is as much motivated by his need for recognition as his need for power, and it looks like we’re moving towards that inevitable downfall.
When he’s not writing about the cape and spandex set, Nick Hanover is a book, film and music critic for Spectrum Culture and a staff writer for No Tofu Magazine. He also translates for “Partytime” Lukash’s Panel Panopticon.