Breaking Bad S04E01: Work Sucks, I Know

Breaking Bad is back! Breaking Bad is back! Breaking Bad is back! And it has arrived not a moment too soon, because I was really running low on things to worry and be really stressed out about. Walter, Jesse, Gus, and The Baby — all invited back into our living rooms to toy with our emotions, make us feel terrible for an hour, and have us all love it so much because it is absolutely the best. It is well known that Breaking Bad is one of the greatest hours of television on television (it has won each Emmy multiple times and also all of the Oscars), but did you know that it is also one of the worst? Haha, that’s a fun fact. It makes you want to die but also you love it so much because it is smart and “gripping” and dark and intense and knows exactly what it is doing 100% of the time and it looks so good and my goodness can we just get to talking about the episode already I can hardly wait.

Last season’s finale ended — as Walt was about to be murdered by Victor and Mike — with Jesse shooting Gale, Walter’s old lab assistant, in a way that was kind of ambiguous. Basically, to give a quick recap of how season three’s finale ended, Walt was about to be murdered because he had become expendable after Gale learned his meth recipe, so Walt planned to murder Gale to save his own life, but then before he could do that, Victor tricked him into stopping by the lab where Mike was waiting to kill him. So he called Jesse and said “please murder Gale” basically, and Jesse did that — OR DID HE? He showed up to his house and it pretty much seemed like he definitely shot him right in the face, but also you didn’t see the body, so there could have been some wiggle room there with Gale’s death I feel like. Anyway, so:

This episode opens with Gale in the early stages of the Superlab. And it’s a little confusing for a second, at least if you’re me. Maybe everyone else was there right away, but for a moment it seems to me like maybe Gale is still alive? But then no, you realize that this is a flashback. It turns out Gale was originally hired by Gus for the position that would soon be Walt’s, and Gus has given him some of Walt’s meth to replicate. But it is too good! “This is very good meth,” says Gale, (I’m paraphrasing) and then, “But I don’t know how to make it blue? Maybe you should just get the guy who knows how to make it blue.” And we’re all thinking, “Why don’t you throw some blue food dye in there?” But then there’s also the problem of how he can only get it to be 96% pure, while the sample he’s attempting to replicate is 99% pure “or maybe a little more than that.” So he talks himself out of the job. And then we move forward in time, back where we were left in the season three finale.

Jesse did kill Gale, it turns out. Shot him right in the face. Poor Gale! Victor, after Walter reveals that Gale will be killed, rushes to Gale’s house and makes sure EVERYONE sees him. “Hey, I’m Victor, nice to meet you,” he says. “Do you want my phone number and the address of the meth lab where I work?” What I’m trying to say is that he doesn’t hide his face and he also interacts with a guy at the crime scene. What a dummy! Is this your first rodeo, Victor? Please let me know if this is your first rodeo because if so we can go home and do a quick tutorial.

Victor finds Jesse looking freaked in his car outside of Gale’s house and takes him back to the lab, where Mike and Walt are waiting. “Did anyone see you?” Mike asks. “Yes, everyone,” Victor replies. “D’oh!” says Mike. But Victor tells him that no one saw Jesse, which seems kind of crazy to me, since Jesse just shot Gale on his doorstep in the daytime, but whatever. No one saw him, we’ll say, for the sake of this TV show.

Now Walt begins to address how, with Gale gone, they are left with no other cook than he and Jesse. Victor then declares that he can be the cook, since he has been watching Walt and Jesse, and starts making a batch. “Come on, genuis. Watch me. We ain’t missin’ no cook,” he says. Uh-oh! (But, you know, of course not uh-oh.)

Then we see Skyler! Ahh! Hi, Skyler! After a visit from Marie (Hi, Marie!), she is alerted to the fact that Walt’s car is in her driveway and begins to worry about his whereabouts. She calls Saul (Hi, Saul!) and he has no idea where Walt is and he has gone crazier.

So Skyler heads to Walt’s condo to try and get an idea about where he might be. She calls a locksmith because his door is locked. The baby is appropriately worried.

But the locksmith won’t let her into the condo because she can’t prove that she lives there. [Which, as an aside, I’d like to ask a question about. Is this how it works with locksmiths? I used a locksmith once when I lived in Chicago and I was outside of my apartment in my pajamas with no proof of anything, but they opened the door anyway. Was that locksmith just bad at his job? I feel like most of the time people wouldn’t be able to prove that they lived in a place if they’ve locked themselves out of it. What’s the deal with locksmiths?] So she fakes a panic attack and the baby is screaming and crying and jesus christ it is such a jarringly loud moment in such a remarkably quiet show that I just want to jump into the TV and kick down the door for her, but instead the locksmith opens it because SHUT THAT BABY UP PLEASE.

And then we’re in the apartment. And it’s basically empty except for the eyeball from the teddy bear from the plane crash that they found in the pool in season two or whenever:

And then we check in with Hank and Marie. Hi, guys! Hank is still in the early stages of recovery and physical therapy. He is collecting minerals. Marie has to help him go number two. It is very sad.

Meanwhile, back at the lab, Victor continues with his batch. Walter watches and talks to Jesse (who hasn’t said a word yet this episode) about how Victor is going to forget the aluminum. On and on and on about it. “He’s definitely going to forget the aluminum.” And then Victor adds in the aluminum. “D’oh,” again. It was sitting on the table right in front of him in a huge bucket, though. How could he have forgotten that? It was right in front of his face the whole time! Come on, Walter. He’ll probably forget the blue food dye. That’s where I’d place my bet.

And then Gus comes in and is upset:

And Walt and Jesse are upset:

And Victor is totally fine:

Gus silently walks through the lab while Walt talks at him about Gale and about how Gus now needs him and Jesse. Victor debates that idea, as he is still insistent on his cooking abilities because “Everything comes down to following a recipe.” When he says that I think, This makes sense to me. Why do they NEED Walt to make his meth? Isn’t it just a recipe? Can’t anyone make a good batch of meth if they just go to the right meth recipe website and follow the instructions without cutting any corners? But then Walt talks a lot of science at him:

And we’re both like:

So I guess not. I guess there’s a lot more to it and that’s why neither Victor nor I will ever be chefs. We just don’t get it.

While Gus continues to move silently around the lab — getting out of his suit and into an orange lab jumpsuit thing, picking up a box cutter, walking around Jesse and Walt with it — Walt continues to make his case. “You won’t do this. You’re too smart. You can’t afford to do this,” he says. At that point, if I were Gus, I would be like, “DON’T TELL ME WHAT I CAN’T DO AND THAT I’M SMART” and then I would’ve killed him, because I don’t react well to people speaking to me in that manner. But of course the only person in that room who can die in the first episode is Victor. So. Goodbye, Victor!

Gus murders him in one of the most gruesome ways I’ve ever seen on a TV show and I have to cover my eyes for most of it. Jeeeeeeeepers. And I guess he killed him for two reasons, both because he was seen at the scene of Gale’s murder and to set an example. “I will kill you in the grossest way possible, even if you were my assistant for a long time, because money.”

In a lighthearted callback to the first season (lighthearted callback involving dissolving a person who was just brutally murdered in front of you), Walt and Jesse dispose of Victor’s body with that chemical thing in the drum. Mike questions its effectiveness. “Trust us,” Jesse says. Hahah. Because remember in the first season? The thing with the tub? The grossest thing you’ve ever seen? That was the best.


Walt and Jesse sit in Denny’s. Jesse is in a much more relaxed mood than he has been in up until this point, which is troubling. It seems that Jesse has now — for now — lost his last shred of innocence and, like Tyler says in our hands-down all time favorite movie Fight Club, “It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.” And in this case doing anything is making meth, murdering people, and maybe only “looking out for number one,” as they say. Lots of good quotes here! Jesse explains that now they and Gus are “on the same page,” meaning the page of mutual maybe-going-to-murder. A very calm and relaxing page to be on.

Also Walter and Jesse are wearing the same Kenny Rogers t-shirt because I guess they had to change out of their bloody-murder-witness clothes and decided to go to a store with only one kind of t-shirt for sale.

“We’ll take all of them.”

Walter leaves Denny’s and returns to Skyler’s house to pick up his car. And we get to see his full outfit which is EVEN COOLER than just when we could only see the top half.

Skyler takes off Walt’s “LARGE LARGE LARGE LARGE” sticker, thank god. And they leave on a nice enough note. This is a very scary business they are now both in! And then we are taken back to Gale’s crime scene apartment, where his “Lab Notes” notebook is sitting on the table by his couch. Oops! I’m sure that won’t come back ever.

Aaaaaaaand, The End. A great first episode, of course, no duh. It was an incredibly quiet episode, right? The only person who did much talking at all was Walter. Has this show always been so quiet? I forget. In any case, it was wonderful. Wonderfully understated, wonderfully gruesome, wonderfully anxiety-inducing. Great job, Breaking Bad. I’ll see you next week! Byeeee.