If the season premiere of Breaking Bad laid the groundwork for what's ahead - Jesse and Walt are back in the lab, working for a cold-hearted, vengeful Gus - "Thirty-Eight Snub" simply left these two on the ground.
That's how episode two concluded, with our main characters physically and mentally beaten down. The hour didn't advance the plot very much, but it did take us inside the minds of Jesse and Walt, providing viewers with a picture of how they're reacting to an environment that is growing bleaker by the day.
Each took a different approach, but each ended in the same hopeless position.
It's disheartening enough to watch Jesse back on drugs, but it's downright depressing to see him drag his previously-clean friends down with him. Like his mentor, Jesse isn't simply effing up his life by being involved in the meth distribution world. He's negatively affecting everyone around him, as well. Willingly.Elsewhere, what a fantastic opening scene with Walt and the gun dealer.
It was reminiscent of season one, when the show took the slow, fascinating steps that no other program would touch, dedicating an entire episode, for example, to Walt and Jesse figuring out how to dispose of a body. Remember: these two aren't professionals, no matter how much Walt likes to pretend he is.
The mere act of purchasing a gun is a challenge for Walt, just as it would be for any chemistry teacher turned meth maker. Just great camera work all around here, and great realistic details when it had to be explained to Walt on which side one carries a holster.
Another terrific touch: Walt's morning routine, packing both bullets and an apple. He's still trying to straddle two worlds, even though we all know how fully and how dangerous he's immersed in the one with the bullets.
When Gus eerily tells him to go home, it's not hard to imagine what Walt is thinking: to where? To what? That cold, lifeless apartment? Notice how Walt didn't have his hat on for the closing scene with Mike. He tried to be Heisenberg earlier. It failed. And now he's left just pleading and trying to use reason, as he did in the lab last week. We all saw how that turned out.
Walt may not have been the one to get his throat slit, but viewers and the man himself are left wondering how long until Gus does take that action. And, until then, how should Walt and Jesse act?
Should they accept their fate, like Jesse tried to do through a week-long bender? Or fight against it, a la Walt? Neither move worked out very well in this case.