Due to a move this past week I was unable to cover S4E2 “Thirty-Eight Snub”. In this recap I will discuss both S4E2 and S4E3 “Open House”
After Season 4 shot out of the gates with the episode “Boxcutter”, fans were treated with a suspenseful 2nd episode in “Thirty-Eight Snub”. The title is immediately explained as Walt is trying to decide which gun he wants to buy from an illegal arms dealer. While he claims that his new piece is only for protection, we all know that he is looking to bust a cap in Gus the first chance he gets. After seeing Gus murder a man right before his eyes, Walt feels his days are numbered (and it’s not the cancer that is going to get him).
Only 2 episodes into the season and it seems as if Breaking Bad is going in a new direction as far as character development goes. In Seasons 1-3 it was almost all about Walt, a lot about Jessie and a little bit of the ancillary characters Skyler, Walter Jr, Hank and Marie. While the title of the episode may lead you to think it’s all about Walt, “Thirty-Eight Snub” spends significant time developing Hank and Marie’s characters. The frustration on Hank’s face as he recovers from the multiple gun shot wounds makes you really feel for the guy. His obsession with the minerals (don’t call them rocks) is strange and his patience for his caring wife is non-existent. While Marie is bending over backwards to accommodate Hank, he fails to see how much she is doing for him and returns the favors with salty remarks. Marie’s gonna blow up real soon, you can count on it.
Meanwhile Skyler’s character is also going through major developments. In Season 3 she wanted nothing to do with Walt. Now she’s starting to get involved in the new “family business”. In order to launder Walt’s meth money, their attorney Saul Goodman instructs them to purchase a cash-only business. Skyler immediately shoots down the original laser tag idea and adamantly pushes Walt to buy the car wash that he used to work at. She goes as far as crunching the numbers and presenting the current owner with an offer, only to receive misogynistic remarks and a ludicrous counter offer. It’s in this episode that you can sense Skyler’s role in both the business and the series expanding.
Walt’s partner Jessie isn’t taking the events of Episode 1 too well. He gets his friends Skinny and Badger to throw a raging party in his house that lasts for more than 3 days as he just vegges on the couch with an empty stare. Jessie’s breaking down as a person and definitely needs help, but where is he going to get it from? I wouldn’t haven been surprised if Walt had stopped by his house at some point in the episode, but it never happens.
Jessie’s well being is the last thing that would be on Walt’s mind. All he’s thinking about is killing Gus. At the lab, he thinks the man coming down the stairs is Gus, but it’s Victor’s (the man whose throat Gus slit) replacement. Mike, one of Gus’s goons (and also an acquaintance of Saul) tells Walt that he’s never going to see Gus again. Walt even goes to Gus’s house only to get a phone call telling him to go home. It seems like he’s not going to get a chance to confront his boss on his own.
Walt and Mike meet at a bar, where Mike confronts Walt about the gun he’s been holstering for the past few days. Walt tries to convince Mike that they are both expendable to Gus, and that all he wants is for Mike to “get me in a room with him” and he’ll do the rest. You can see Mike mull it over for a split second before he punches Walt in the face and kicks him while he’s down. Mike is old school. He’s not going to narc on his boss like that. Walt’s ambition to kill his boss will have to be put on hold for now
This leads us to Episode 3 of Season 4, “Open House”. While I thought that Marie was going to blow up on Hank at some point, she decides to take out her frustrations in another way: stealing. The kleptomaniac goes on a spree of thievery in this episode as she hits up several open houses taking with her anything from decorative spoons to picture frames. At each place she makes up an elaborate story about her life (at one place she claims her husband is a retired astronaut) as she ads to her purse full of stolen goods, only to be confronted by a realtor who calls the cops on her. When she calls Hank from the police station, he surprisingly doesn’t completely explode and uses his connections to get her off the hook.
Skyler absolutely dominates the action in this episode. She and Walt have a meeting with Saul where she expresses her desires for someone to put a little pressure on the owner of the car wash. She even tells Walt a few of the things the guy said, including how Walt wasn’t “man enough to go himself and sent his woman”. Walt isn’t amused, and you’d think that he’d channel his inner Heisenberg and straighten the car wash owner out himself, but no. Skyler’s got this.
She devises an elaborate plan to get the car wash not only for much less than the man’s insane offer, but below her initial proposal as well. As she sits in her car on a cell phone, a man posing as a government employee with a blue tooth headset recites Skyler’s every word, explaining that the car wash is in violation of many regulations and is going to have to shut down operation for several weeks and be renovated to the tune of $200,000 or more. She’s got piles of books and binders in her car as she provides the guy with enough information to convince the owner that his only option is to sell the place. A few scenes later, the frantic car wash owner calls Skyler accepting her initial offer. With confidence she says her offer is now $70,000 less than before, and hangs up the phone. A couple of minutes later, the phone rings again. Got ‘em.
As for Walt and Jessie in this episode, the only thing worth mentioning is Walt’s frustration with the newly installed video cameras in the lab. He’s being watched and he doesn’t like it. After pacing back and forth with the camera following his every step, Walt walks up to it and holds up a stern, angry middle finger. This one’s for you, Gus. Meanwhile Jessie’s still vegging out in his house along with all the dopers and weirdos left over from the 3 day party. The kid needs help and hopefully gets it soon.
Just when you thought Skyler’s increased role in the business was going to be the highlight of the episode, a new potential plot twist really stirs things up. The detective that got Marie out of trouble has been assigned to Gail’s murder case. Knowing Hank’s experience with the task force, he stops by and brings in a copy of Gail’s lab notebook for him to look over. What’s in the book? Is Walt implicated in any way? Hank’s reading it, and we’ll just have to wait for the next episode to find out.