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Summer in a Meth Lab: The Breaking Bad Season Four Diaries

Alex Casey has never watched a second of Breaking Bad, nor read anything about it. Going in completely blind, she has committed to watching the whole series over summer in the lead up to spin off series Better Call Saul‘s arrival to Lightbox in February. Contains spoilers, obviously.

Day Fifteen, Monday 12 January 9pm

Watched: Episode one

This is the hideous aftermath of Gale’s murder. With a batch of meth due, Jesse and Walt are stuck at gunpoint in the lab – so Henchman Victor gets cooking for them. He has learnt all the tricks just from silently observing them over the weeks! Must be a great visual learner. Mike was very confused by it.

wtf

Poor old Hank has started buying crystals on the internet whilst holed up in hospital. “I’m bidding on a new mineral – it’s a nice one.” Amazing that this is the same man from season one who threw a gun to Walt at his birthday party and then laughed at him for being scared of it. Come to think of it, it’s hard to believe Walt was ever scared of a gun. Oh, how far we’ve come.

Gus enters the lab, and puts on a plastic suit without saying a word. He walks over to Walt and Jesse, grabbing Victor and slitting his throat with a boxcutter. We all knew it, but this is the first time we have seen Gus himself be stone cold insane. His half bloody face like Patrick Bateman in American Psycho. Very surpised they didn’t start playing Huey Lewis and the News at this point.

psycho

After cleaning up the remnants of Victor, the lads find themselves dining at Denny’s through an excellent blood-to-ketchup transition shot. They are decked out in blood-free matching Kenny Rogers tees – awesome.

denny

But we aren’t out of the woods yet. As the camera zooms out, we see Gale’s lab notes sitting nearby his corpse as the damn police ferret around the crime scene. Dammit Gale.

Day Sixteen, Tuesday 13 January 7.30pm

Watched: Episode two

Both Jesse and Walt splurge out after their horrific ordeal with Gus and the boxcutter. Walt buys a gun. Jesse buys a subwoofer. Walt uses his purchase to practice shooting Gus in a Travis Bickle-inspired montage. Jesse uses his purchase to throw a massive, endless party to distract himself from the trauma.

Best Roomba POV Shot On Television:

roomba

Hank is still chasing a very different kind of crystal to the Hank of yesteryear, ordering 100s of boxes of minerals to the house. Skyler is trying to buy the carwash off Mr Eyebrows to no avail. Everyone is trying to buy everything in this episode.

We end with Walt proposing to Mike that he gets him alone with Gus to shoot him. Mike doesn’t like idea (beats the shit out of Walt). It’s sort of cute and funny how Walt put his Heisenberg hat on for this, Mike doesn’t need that sort of pageantry.

PS Tonight I also went to see the excellent comedy film Horrible Bosses 2 which starred Mike as a detective. Breaking Bad is everywhere I go. In a way, Breaking Bad is the ultimate Horrible Bosses plot. Makes you think.

Day 17, Friday 16 January 9am

Watched: Episode three

Marie goes absolutely crazy in this episode. I guess it’s that old chestnut of when your husband gets shot in the butt and can’t walk anymore, he starts buying crystals and you start going to open homes and stealing spoons.

Huel, Saul’s security guard, is a fine addition to the team. His little penguin walk when he needed to use the bathroom was one of the best comedy moments of the season. It’s sort of welcome at this point, we are starting to launch into the business side of things with the carwash and the money laundering. Good to have some light relief.

huel

Uh oh, Gale’s lab notes have made it into Hank’s hot little hands. If he harnesses the powers of those minerals, I feel like he’ll work it out in no time.

Day 18, Saturday 17 January 12pm

Watched: Episodes 4 & 5

We open with a random attack on a Los Pollos truck. Mike finds himself getting a little bit of his ear shot off and doesn’t seem to mind at all. Mike has got to be the coolest guy on the show right?

ear

Walt’s involvement in Gale’s murder case is getting ridiculous. Hank has never been closer to discovering the truth and Walt has never been closer to blowing it. Watch this weird video of Gale doing kareoke btw:

As Saul says, Jesse and Walt sure have “a little shit creek action happening”. In his squalid house of hell, Jesse’s giant bag of money goes missing. Trust old 7/8’s of an ear Mike to track down the culprit and throw him down in front of Jesse. I thought it was just a nice gesture, but turns of Mike is sort of kidnapping Jesse?

Episode five explains what Mike wants with Jesse, sort of. They are doing money pick-ups all through the desert, and Mike needs Jesse to guard the car. Or at least he wants him to think that he needs him – I think.

Walt and Skyler seal the deal on the carwash, and then have sex! Their blissful bubble is quickly burst after Walt gets drunk as hell at a dinner party and starts mouthing off about how Gale was not even that skilled. Unbelievable that he would risk getting caught just to take some of the credit for the good meth. You can see how desperately his ego wants to push aside all rationality.

vino

Episode six opens with another wild attack on a Pollos truck – this time Mike doesn’t get his ear severed but we lose a few henchmen in the process. Walt and Skyler continue to fight, as Skyler remains concerned about Walt being in danger. Which leads to this, what I’m assuming has got to be one of the essential Breaking Bad lines:

Walt is on a huge power trip at the moment. After gaining power over the carwash boss from his past job (and, incidentally, past life), Walt gets this huge burst of confidence in the lab. He refuses to clean up without Jesse, instead paying the Spanish laundromat workers to do his dirty work.

Buzzy Shovel POV Shot of the Episode:

buzzy

Still riding his “I am the one who knocks” high, Walt buys Walt Jr a pimp-mobile. Skyler makes him return it – she is thinking far more rationally than Walt at this point. She reminds him “I must protect this family from the man that protects this family”.

It’s sad that Walt Jr will hate Skyler for this, I actually think Skyler is the smartest person in the game.

Day 19, Sunday 18 January 11am

Watched: Episodes 7 & 8

Walt takes Walt Jr’s flash car on a bender, doing donuts for Africa until he gets bored and blows it up. This episode also sees the return of the ricin – Walt’s poison of choice. It’s weird how much he loves the ricin – hasn’t he realised that a gun works pretty well at this stage? Jesse has the chance to slip it onto Gus’ Vegetable Platter of Dreams during a meeting but it doesn’t work out for him. Things never work out for Jesse.

Meanwhile, Hank is absolutely slaying the case to pieces. He has found the air ventilation system code on the Pollos bag. He is onto Gus Fring. OH MY GOD HE’S ONTO GUS FRING?!

pollos

In episode eight we get a little insight into Gus and Hector Salamanca’s backstory. We see Hector as a younger man, taking a massive slash in the pool before shooting Gus’ business partner right in front of him. Sidenote: is Gus supposed to gay? Is his partner his actual partner? These questions remain unanswered forever more.

pool

Hank interrogates Gus and the slick bastard holds up surprisingly well. He’s got to be the calmest, coldest, smartest guy in the business. We only see a fleeting moment of panic when asked what his real name is. It’s enough for Hank to stay interested. Next thing you know he’s got Walt sticking tracking devices on Gus’ car.

As Walt explains frantically to Jesse, “Hank catching Gus equals Hank catching us!” He might as well be at the goddamn honey fair, because this is a sticky situation.

Day 20, Monday 19 January 9pm

Watched: Episode 9 & 10

Hank is so psyched to be tracking Gus’ movements he belts out ‘Eye of the Tiger’ louder than anything I’ve ever heard before. He’s shit outta luck, Gus obviously just drives back and forth to work everyday and nothing else because he is definitely a chicken merchant and not the head honcho of a giant methamphetamine operation.

We see the return of Ted in this episode, I knew that Beneke plotline would have to resurface soon! Turns out he is in major trouble with IRS and could be convicted of fraud. Because she is implicated in the fraud, Skyler takes to feigning total ignorance in front of the investigator. Ignorance = getting your boobs out and ditz-ing out big time. It worked a charm.

ditz

At the drug factory, there’s a huge shootout. Gus don’t give a shit, taking the bullets quite literally in his stride. The cartels are after Jesse, and Gus wants to send him to Mexico to teach them the meth methods. “What if the equipment is all in Mexican?!” Jesse worries, and rightly so. Walt is mad at Jesse for not ricin-ing Gus yet, and they have a huge fist fight on the floor. Walt rages out and tells Jesse to go to Mexico and get shot. So mean Walt! Could this be the end of our dynamic duo?

Because of the fight, Walt sleeps through Walt Jr’s birthday in the next episode. It’s a rough birthday for WJ – first he gets a gumby-ass car and next thing his Dad’s weeping at his feet. “I made a mistake,” Walt yells through his tears. But we all know he’s really apologising to Jesse, his much more troublesome spiritual son. The Mexico methamphetamine trade is no place for a kid who didn’t even pass high school chemistry.

mexican

Turns out Jesse is doing alright. One amazing thing Breaking Bad does is demonstrate how quickly people adapt to varying positions of power. One minute you can be Charles in Charge, and the next minute sweeping blood and guts into a barrel. Jesse is embracing this powerful position, and barely flinches when Gus proceeds to poison almost everyone in Mexico.

Day 21, Tuesday 20 January 6am

Watched: Episodes 11-13

Yep, I need to finish this despite it being 6am. The body count is rising and I need to know what is going to happen to my best friends, I mean Walt and Jesse.

Things start to get bonkers again in episode 11, after what felt like a semi-arduous build up. Skyler and Ted’s money debacle comes to a head when she sends Saul’s henchmen (Huel and another guy) to force him to sign a cheque to the IRS. He does it, and then does a comedy pratfall on a rug and STRAIGHT UP DIES.

With yet another threat made against Hank by the cartels, the family is heading to the safe house. Except Walt. Walt has gone crazy. Rolling around under the house, he realises that Skyler has spent an enormous chunk of their money. He starts to laugh like a hyena. He can’t even afford his escape plan now. Everything is truly up the wazoo.

Amazing High As Hell Shot of the Episode Where Walt is Literally and Metaphorically Framed:

high

In episode 12, Gomez and his trusty dog storm the laundromat based on Hank’s hot tip. Meanwhile Hank and co. are hiding out in the purple prison that is their home, and Walt has barricaded up his own house and presumably wrapped his head in tinfoil.

Also, baby Brock has been poisoned!! Jesse thinks it could be the ricin cigarette! Jesse goes to try and shoot Walt! Walt tries to blow up Gus’ car! Argh!

Finally, the last episode. Oh my god. Get away from me everyone. After liasing with old man Hector, Walt has finally got Gus alone. KABOOM! The bomb goes off and we farewell 50% of Gus. To be honest, I genuinely thought he might make it. Thought he still had a decent amount of face left, Two Face styles.

Baby Brock survives the poisoning. It wasn’t ricin, it was a cheeky fatal flower called Lily of the Valley. In the final shot of season four, we see that same damn flower growing in Walt’s garden. It was Walt. He poisoned Brock and then blamed it on Gus to get Jesse back onside.

Holy shit. Ho-ly shit. Walt really is the shadowy half-face of pure evil.

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