Breaking Bad: Walt, Inc. or Mike, Inc.?

Walt and Jesse (and Mike and Saul) are back in business.

The dynamic meth chef duo get back to doing what they do best -- cooking highly potent meth -- while Mike and Saul fill in on the business and "legal" side of the operation.

Based on what we saw in "Hazard Pay," this is not a venture that is going to go well, and it is all because of Walt vs. Mike. Walt is too arrogant while Mike is all business and won't put up with Walt's nonsense. Mike is literally all business, because he declares himself in charge of business activities related to the new meth cooking venture. This includes handling the money, and handling paying people, which is where things turn bad.

After we follow the meth quartet's quest for a new place to cook, they settle on a moving lab of sorts (after Saul tips the gang to an unscrupulous exterminators). Walt decides they will go into houses to be fumigated and cook before setting off the bug bombs. Jesse suggests they use plastic to keep the meth smell from sticking around. Mike vets and intimidates the exterminators. Even piano aficionado Skinny Pete and guitar enthusiast Badger get to help. So far, so good.

When they divvy up the cash after the first cook, Mike starts talking about expenses, and takes portions of money from all of them, much to Walt's chagrin. When Mike tries to take a big chunk of cash to pay off all of Gus' guys who lost their Cayman Islands "hazard pay" funds, Walt puts his foot down. Eventually he relents, but clearly not happily. At the end of the episode, while Jesse is trying to reason with Walt, Walt brings up Victor -- who you may remember from that time he got his throat slit with a box cutter -- and posits that the reason Gus did that was because Victor "flew too close to the sun." He seems to be intimating that is what he feels about Mike.

So right now it seems that if anybody is going to be Walt's antagonist this season, or this half of Breaking Bad's final season, it is Mike. Walt wants to be Gus, but as Mike tells him, he isn't Gus. He doesn't have the infrastructure or the clout or, most importantly, the humility. Plus, it seems Walt needs somebody to bump up against. If he isn't fighting somebody, what is he doing? What will drive him? However, killing Mike, if that is what Walt wants, won't be easy, and would pretty much ruin his meth trade. That being said, he does have that ricin tablet...

Overall, Walt was being his usual awful self in this episode. He moved himself back into the White house, much to Skyler's dismay. When doing so, he finds a copy of Leaves of Grass, which of course reminds him of Gale. He chuckles, and puts the book away non-chalantly. This is what he does after being reminded of Gale, the (reasonably) innocent guy he had killed.

Then there was his meeting with Brock. When Andrea and Brock show up at Jesse's house, Walt is so very friendly to the boy and her mother, and says that Brock was "very brave" for overcoming his poisoning. A poisoning that of couse Walt is responsible for. It was Walt at his most audacious. At least we know now Walt and Brock have never met. So how did Walt get him those berries? We may never know.

Additonally, Walt blamed a Skyler breakdown on Ted's accident, and tells Marie about her affair with Ted. Skyler is not doing well. When having lunch with Marie, hearing about Gus' death again, and then being reminded of Walt's birthday (the one coming a year before the cold open of the season opener) she freaks out, starts smoking, and then yells for Marie to shut up over and over. Something big is going to go down with Skyler, I think, and it won't be good for her.

Vince Gilligan has repeatedly said that Breaking Bad is about turning Mr. Chips into Scarface. Well, in this episode we see Walt and Walter Jr. watching the end of Scarface, what with the whole gunfight and the "Say hello to my little friend" stuff. It made me laug, because it was so on the nose and because it is currently Mob Week on AMC, and Scarface is one of the movies they are showing. Nice cross-promotion, guys.

Additionally, Skyler, who has stumbled out in a stupor, is struck by all the people getting shot down. It wasn't the show at its best. It was a bit clunky for a series that is usually so deft with its touch. However, I will note that Walter Jr. says something like "Doesn't everybody die in this?" which strikes me as notable. Foreshadowing? Also, when Walt and Jesse are taking a break and having a beer while cooking, they watch a Three Stooges where a grotesque gorilla shoots them with a gun. FORESHADOWING!?

Thus far this season I have been left wanting, if ever so slightly. That being said, I am expecting things to pick up. Walt and Jesse cooking is always a recipe for intrigue. Hank is back at work. Mike and Walt are going to butt heads. I think by the end of this half of a season, Mike or Saul will no longer be with us. Early on, when Saul seemed so out of his depths, I was thinking he was the one who was going to go down. However, Saul is a slippery fellow who has managed to keep his head above water so far. He may escape such a fate. We'll find out eventually. Hopefully with no more scenes from mobster movies.

By Chris Morgan

About the author

Chris Morgan has written for an abundance of websites. He once cowrote a show for The Second City in Detroit. It was closed soon after. He has a podcast: http://cheers.libsyn.com/rss He wrote a novel: http://www.amazon.com/Smoke-Gets-Your-Eyes-ebook/dp/B00961KJNW/

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