Little by little, week by week, Walter White is getting smaller and smaller.
On "Cornered," he was once again phased out of the business while, perhaps even more damaging, even if the Heisenberg side of him doesn't want to admit it, he was outed by his wife as the dangerous, prideful, power hungry meth manufacturer that he is.
Someone has to protect this family from the man who protects this family. Not much Walt can say to that, is there?
Is Walt tough enough to be boss? Of course... according to his world view
There's nowhere for Walt to hide at this point. His relationship with Jesse scarcely exists, his wife finally sees him for who he has truly become and even his son can't be fooled by a phony, supposedly fatherly gesture.
Walt is simply a poor mentor to Jesse, an irresponsible husband and business partner to Skyler and an ATM to his son. He's also a major jerk to Bogdan.
I can only imagine what sort of reckless move Walt attempts next in order to exert the dominance he believes he has at home, work or both.
This was as self-aware an episode of Breaking Bad as I can recall. Over and over, Walt verbalized what viewers have known for years: he thinks everything is about him, he seems himself as the key to a Nasdaq-level business, he is the hardened criminal the police (and Hank, specifically) are after. Turn himself in?!? He'd rather out himself, present Heisenberg to the world and laugh in the face of all who believe he's some spineless chemistry teacher.
Elsewhere, Jesse continued to get a lesson in Gus and Mike's world. And he taught Mike a thing or two about meth heads in the process.
Perhaps this partnership wasn't merely created to build a wedge between Walt and Jesse. Yes, Gus set up that robbery and, yes, there are ulterior motives at work here. But Gus Fring is a business man before all else. He's a calm and reasonable man and there's no reason not to believe that he really does see something in Jesse and is grooming him to be the next Mike.
But will Mike even be around in the near future? Will Gus? Might Walt have a new, even more dangerous set of dealers to square off against next season? Someone actually outsmarted Gus in that (awesomely filmed) opening scene, reminding us how there's an entire drug world beyond New Mexico and the few people with whom Walt has crossed paths. And these cartel members make Gus' season premiere execution seem almost tame by comparison.
It also raises the question of whether or not there's a mole in the operation. It's hard to see how the cartel could have known about the men in the truck otherwise, isn't it? They also knew how to locate the bucket with the drugs.
Also worth noting from yet another stellar hour of television:
- Has Walt Jr. ever not been eating in an episode?
- Skyler going to the Four Corners and flipping a coin to determine where she'd live felt a little heavy-handed. She's a very smart woman and, of course, she's scared. But that seemed a bit random and hard to believe.
- Such great attention to detail in so many areas: Mike still has his ear bandaged, Walt still brings a bag lunch everyday, we see Walt's cancer scar in the shower.
- More than any show on TV, Breaking Bad acknowledges every step that goes into a plan. This goes back to the multiple episodes it took on season one to dispose of a body. Here, we don't simply see Walt quickly talk to the cleaning woman and then a cut to the lab. We actually witness the struggle of this exchange, which makes their later bus ride back to Honduras that much more poignant.
And was that actual regret on Walt's face when he talked to Tyrus? In an instant, Heisenberg - the coffee toasting moron who never realizes the domino effect of his actions until it's too late... and then reasons them away anyhow - was replaced by a man who seemed to grasp just how bad he is at being the boss. Just how out of his depth he is in all of this.
But that's unlikely to last. Gus blames him for that action, Skyler blames him for endangering the family, Jesse blames him for not showing any respect. Will Walt ever blame himself for anything? No, meth head Tucker will hit China before that happens.