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Review #2918: Breaking Bad 4.2: “Thirty-Eight Snub”

Posted on the 25 July 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Henry T.

Written by George Mastras
Directed by Michelle MacLaren

The overriding theme running throughout this episode that I noticed was the fact that many of the main characters in it are in a prison of their own making. And that they are coping with it in their own different ways. Different scenes within the episode are shot like that: Usually with two characters, in a room, talking, trying to outwit each other in some way, each trying to escape that prison that has come up around them. It is the fallout from last episode’s shocking events within the meth lab and the outlook for many of the characters is trending downward. The episode as a whole feels like a transition episode, moving certain pieces into place for the next new shocking development in the story, yet I never felt bored with it all.

Review #2918: Breaking Bad 4.2: “Thirty-Eight Snub”

It always starts with Walt. He buys a small pistol from a shady, Saul Goodman-recommended arms dealer, and tells the guy that he’s only using the weapon to defend himself. Walt is just lying to himself there. After Gus’ ruthless murder of Victor, Walt is rattled and not really thinking straight. He’s clearly looking to go on the offensive with Gus, which mirrors his plan to take out Gale so that Gus can keep him and Jesse cooking. He wants to have people believe that he has a plan and that he’s always one step ahead of everyone else. With his cancer in remission, he doesn’t possess the hubris he had before.

As everyone else around him proves in this episode, they are one step ahead of Walt. Gus has already found a replacement for Victor, the lab and the actions inside the lab are under more scrutiny, and Mike, ever the experienced former cop/PI/cleaner that he is, immediately spots the new gun Walt now always carries with him. He even tries to walk up to Gus’ house, presumably to assassinate him, and he is stopped in his tracks. Like Gus in the season premiere, Walt tries to reason with Mike. He tries to break free of the current situation that is holding him back. He should be thankful to still be living right now, yet nothing is ever good enough for Walter White. He has to have more. In this instance, he’s left battered and bruised on the ground of a bar. I fear it would be much worse for Walt if he ever gets that confrontation with Gus he so desperately wants.

Elsewhere, we see Jesse take a different tack. He knows that he could be dead at any minute. So he tries to live life to its fullest. He buys a brand-new sound system and invites Skinny Pete and Badger over to his house where they apparently go on a three-day orgy of partying, drugs, women, and uncut pizza. By the end of it, Skinny Pete and Badger have to admit that it’s too much and that they still have lives. If they only knew what Jesse saw at his work, maybe they’d understand why Jesse is going at it so hard. In fact, their discussion of zombies could very well apply to Jesse, who seems to be a dead man walking anyway. But they can’t party forever. The hedonism can’t make Jesse escape the problems and emptiness in his life. All he has left is his work at the lab, which could mean the end of his life at any time. Murdering Gale was supposed to eliminate one problem and set Jesse up to permanently make meth and rake in the large amounts of cash. It has only brought on more hassles and sadness for him.

Here’s what I found interesting about Hank and Marie’s situation: Marie is making the best of it, and for a little while there, it looked like Hank was as well during his grueling physical therapy. He looked happy and joyous for the first time since he was shot. Once the physical therapist leaves and it’s just them in their house, he goes back to berating and putting down Marie. It’s like his DEA job. He puts up a brave and macho front, but behind closed doors, there was first a fear on the job and now a bitterness that’s bubbling just underneath. His bedroom is now his prison and filling it with rocks is not going to bring him or Marie any happiness. It just doesn’t look like any of this will end well and Marie seems to be holding back her anger at Hank. She wanted to use the physical therapist as a buffer and that didn’t work. They need to deal with this soon and not have it linger.

I haven’t mentioned Skyler’s bid for the car wash yet. It’s an amusing scene when she tries to buy off the owner. She tries to prove how smart she is, just like her husband, and it gets her nowhere. The owner sees right through her plan and raises his prices to an unreasonable amount. It’s actually the weakest of the plots presented in the episode because we all know Skyler is going to get that car wash. It’s inevitable so the scene feels like an artificial barrier, but I liked the little detail of Skyler scouting the place before presenting her offer. It’s that kind of scrutiny and stubborn attention to detail that is also present in her husband, who also looked like he had no idea what he was doing when he entered the meth business. I have to wonder how the entire operation will look once everything is settled. If the meth business proves to be so dangerous for Walt, maybe he can join his wife in the car wash business. Though, her plans for the car wash are inextricably tied to the meth business, which is their only source of income right now. Walt could have a plan for escape, but for now, he’s still just stuck in a prison of his own making. That’s true for everyone else on this wonderful show.

Grade: 8/10


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