's second episode of season four, "Thirty-Eight Snub,"
looks at how the main characters deal with what happened last episode. After all, it's been a wild time for Walt and Jesse. Walt killed some of Gus's dealers, Gus figured it was time to get rid of him, Mike was ready to kill Walt, Jesse offed Gale, and the whole gang got to see Gus brutally murder Victor. (They've all had it bad, but Victor had the worst week easily.) So now all, or at least most, of the cards are on the table. Walt knows Gus will kill them as soon as it makes business sense. What to do?
We start in an hotel room, where Walt is buying an unidentifiable weapon from a philosophical gun dealer. Hence the title, though Vince Gilligan is too smart to let it be used the same was the titular box cutter was last season. Walt met the guy through Saul, and Walt promises he's buying it for self-defense, but no one believes him. If that's all it were for, why not buy it legally?
Walt feels--correctly--he can't leave things hanging with Gus. His solution is to shoot him. Walt is smart, but he's not street smart--not yet, anyway. Since he started cooking, he's been killing, but he barely knows how to use a gun. Still, we've come pretty far from the first season where the whole idea of a gun sent Jesse and Walt into a tizzy.
Meanwhile, Mike is decompressing in his favorite bar. What has his life come to? He's a former cop and a grandfather. He's gone over to the shady side and he's made peace with that, but looking at the blood still literally on his hands, he has to wonder, what next? His job sure hasn't been easy of late. And will Gus off him has to be at least one question on his mind.
Jesse, at home, sees a future with no future. He's starting to fill his new home with junk--he's even got a Roomba (we later get a Roomba pov shot)--which he can easily afford, but his life may not be worth much. His old pals Badger and Skinny Pete drop by. They're both still in 12-step, but it doesn't take much of an offer from Jesse to be partying like there's no tomorrow (which may be right). For that matter, if we were wondering whether or not Jesse will stay clean, that question is now settled. Not that Jesse can ever rejoin his friends' world. They're just small-time gangsters who think life is high school. Jesse has a serious job, is worth millions, has killed, and could be killed any second.
They also note that Andrea, his old girl, is asking about him. She's the one who's kid brother was killed by Gus's dealers, which led the Jesse stepping up and Walt killing them, which led to everything else. No wonder she wants to know about him, though Jesse is ignoring her. What he does do is become a 24-hour party person, as he spreads his money around and invites all the old gang and then some to his place. The festivities are to be kept going even while he cooks. Meanwhile, naive Walt practices pulling out his hidden gun and shooting Gus.
Over at Hank's place, he's doing research with minerals--blue corundum. Can this have something to do with Heisenberg's blue meth? He's also quite nasty to Marie. He's always had troubles, and been uncommunicative, but for the first time I'm feeling sorry for Marie. (Has Hank asked where all the money is coming from for his therapy, or does he assume insurance for heroic cops takes care of it all.)
At Walt's place, Skyler calls asking about buying the car wash. He's horrified she'd leave such a message, but the whole point of money laundering is to make things look legal, and buying a car wash is the first step. Nothing to fear in talking about it, since that's the story they'll have to tell if the authorities ever ask. (Though Skyler talking last week to Saul about meth labs was a bit much.) Skyler gets this business better than the naive Walt, who still thinks he's gonna shoot someone. In fact, I've always been annoyed that Walt and Saul are so resistant to bookkeeper Skyler's excellent car wash plan.
The party continues at Jesse's, but he's gotta wake up early and go to work making meth. A man has responsbilities. Jesse goes through the motions at work while Walt is packing. Someone comes in. Who could it be? It sure ain't Victor. Could it be Gus? Walt is ready. It's a new guy, ready for the pick-up. (Some people asked why Gus had so little muscle, as if Victor and Mike were his only guys. He's got as many people as he needs. Except when it comes to chemists.) Mike comes in and notes they check the weigh each time now--new policy. In the old days, they might look the other way if Jesse took a half-pound, but no longer.
Walt asks Mike about Gus. He wants to "speak" to him. Mike makes it clear Walt won't see Gus again. Good. I'd hate Gus to be stupid. Walt knows Gus will kill him at the first opportunity. Gus knows Walt knows this, so the last thing he wants to do is be close. Gus has always been skittish. He didn't even meet with Walt the first time when he didn't like his looks. (In fact, I had some trouble with Gus, who'd always been hard to reach, stepped in to deal with the Jesse situation last season. The only excuse was he was keeping Walt happy, and meanwhile cultivating Gale to take over soon.)
Skyler, tired of being shut out by Walt (and Saul) is clocking the cars at the car wash. At Hanks place, he's making progress, if slowly. He even seems positive when the physical therapist is around, and maybe Hank is getting a little more positive. But as soon at the guy goes (Marie wonders if he could move in), Hank turns surly again.
Over at the permanent party at Jesse's (haven't the neighbors complained?), Andrea drops by. Her son Brock, who likes Jesse, is waiting in the car. Jesse goes out on the lawn to have a talk. She's in the Program, but doesn't comment on the party as she's got bigger fish to fry. She couldn't help but notice that the dealers who killed her kid brother have been murdered. Jesse, of course, won't talk about that, but she assumes he had something to do with it and it's fine with her. But what about the thousands of dollars she received in an unmarked envelope--was that from Jesse? She has to know if holding that money will get her in trouble. He promises no one will come looking. Thank goodness the show didn't do the stupid cliche of her not wanting the money. Who gives back the money in real life? Certainly not ex-junkie unwed mothers living in poverty. (Does this couple have a future? I'd like to see Jesse have some happiness, but his relationships tend not to work out.)
At night, Walt decides to visit Gus. Wasn't so long ago Gus invited him, and they had a nice dinner. Gus told Walt (not in so many words) to dump Jesse. Probably a good idea. But they're long past that now. Walt puts on his Heisenberg hat and steels himself. As he slowly walks to the house, his phone rings. It's Gus, who was probably expecting him. Last week this was the entirety of what Gus said: "Well? Get back to work." He has 3/5ths as many words this week. "Go home, Walter."
Yet another scene with Marie and Hank, though I think two would have been enough. She gets a delivery of Hanks "minerals" and he screams from the next room to make sure the boxes weren't damaged. They're rocks, Hank. Nope, he insists, they're geodes.
Skyler won't wait for Walt or Saul's permission. She goes in as a businesswoman to the car wash and makes the owner a generous offer. She has all the figures, knowing how much he makes, what the real estate is worth, etc. But what she didn't count on was he remembers former employee Walt, who walked out cursing him and knocking fresheners off the wall. As far as he's concerned, if Walt wants to buy the business, the price is $20 million. Oddly, Skyler doesn't mention Walt did what he did after learning he had terminal cancer. Anyway, she leaves, but I don't think this is over. Will Saul go do it, like how he bought Jesse's place out from under Jesse's parents? Will Skyler, who's all in now, figure out a way to lean on the owner? Or will the cancer story end up making a difference?
Back at Mike's hangout, he watches one of Saul's TVads. (No other Saul this week. I know you're spooked, Saul, but show yourself.) Walt comes in. Mike knows he was tailed, and also knew Walt was packing. Even street smart guys can't fool Mike, so Walt sure can't.
Walt buys him a drink. ("Why not? You make a hell of a lot more than I do." I know that feeling.) Walt tries to explain his actions, and how he understands why Mike tried to kill him. But it's all prelude. He tells Mike what Mike already knows--is anyone safe? Why not help him get in a room with Gus--Walt will do the rest. Mike doesn't want to hear it. He slaps Walt around, leaving him on the floor. I don't think it's that Mike is feeling loyal to Gus, so much as you don't go up against the toughest guy around to back a guy who can't even pack heat without giving himself away. Even being known you talked to such a guy about this could get you killed. Anyway, thanks for the drink.
Jesse's party is finally breaking up as his wimpy friends can't take any more. This did lead to one of the funniest mistakeen closed captions I've ever seen. Skinny Pete, trying to explain why he and Badger have to leave, says "You know we got mad love for you." In CC, this read "You know we got man love for you." Jesse sits down by his new speakers, in anguish. He's wondering how he's going to fill the emptiness mixed with terror that's become his life.
So we leave our heroes, in pain, trying to figure out where and how to take their next step. And we have to wait another six days and 23 hours to find out.