Entertainment Magazine

Review #3006: Breaking Bad 4.9: “Bug”

Posted on the 13 September 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Henry T.

Written by Moira Walley-Beckett and Thomas Schnauz
Directed by Terry McDonough

At the heart of this episode, this was about the increasing amount of holes and weaknesses in two respective operations: The Fring organization and the money laundering car wash run by Skyler. Gus seems to have a plan to effectively stop the war between his network and the cartel. Skyler, on the other hand, is meddling with forces beyond her grasp. Getting herself into an elaborate lie with an FBI agent isn’t smart, and it seems unlikely she’ll be able to outfox the feds the way she fibbed her way into acquiring the car wash from Bogdan. Gus is resorting to ruthless measures to ensure his organization keeps going. Both operations affect Walt in different ways and the episode takes its time to explore that.

Review #3006: Breaking Bad 4.9: “Bug”

I liked that the episode spent some time fleshing out Skyler, a character that many of the show’s fans have not particularly warmed up to. “Breaking Bad” is such a Walt-centric show that it doesn’t spend much time working on the actions of peripheral characters. Skyler shows in this episode that she has a talent for lying on multiple levels. She tells Walt that the car wash is doing well. In reality, she is cooking the profits of the car wash, faking receipts for non-existent customers. The fact that she found out that Walt made more money than she could possibly imagine or cover up for has made her resort to these measures. She bends the stern rules on a car for Walter, Jr. (note that she firmly insists on a used car instead of a dream muscle car). It looks on the outside like everything is on the up-and-up. Then Ted comes back into her life.

Predictably, he is facing financial ruin after he asked Skyler to cook his company’s books. I thought it was a surprising, albeit unsubtle, parallel between Skyler’s past and her present situations. They are now colliding. It could very well be Walt sitting in Ted’s place when/if other law enforcement agencies decide to look at the car wash’s books. So Skyler puts on a temporary solution: Claim ignorance. That is something she’s not going to be able to do if the car wash is being scrutinized. I think also that both Ted and Skyler got off too easy from the cursory investigation by the FBI. I don’t think this will go away soon. Skyler did mention the car wash and the feds may well look at it to see if something fishy is going on there.

Walt, however, has other priorities. We see that other characters around Walt are in a bit of panic mode. Cool, calm, collected Gus makes the puzzling gesture of walking into the middle of sniper fire. It initially looked like Gus was daring the Cartel to go to war with him. In the end, he caves to their demands, showing that perhaps the “Chicken Man” doesn’t really have a plan. His employees are in the midst of some major in-fighting and we can’t forget that Hank is also snooping around, getting closer to busting the operation.

Hank is seemingly the least of Gus’ worries. Jesse gets an explanation from Gus as to what he’s doing. First thing Jesse does is tell Walt what is going on. What has been building all season long — the splintering of Walt and Jesse’s partnership — leads to a fight in Jesse’s living room. I’d argue this has even been building up since the beginning of the series. It looks like Jesse has convincingly thrown his lot in with Gus and his operation. Walt is now alone. How will Walt continue to manufacture meth alone? This would affect, among other things, Skyler’s car wash business. Can he kill Gus himself before he ends up dead? Does he cut his losses and run? Jesse may not come back to his side. Walt used to have Jesse as leverage against Gus. He may be speeding up his death now that that is gone. It may not be as clear-cut in the future as it is now, but that’s where they all stand at the moment.

We’re coming down the stretch to the end of the season and it looks like there will be chaos coming in the near future. The Cartel has its hands in Gus’ business, which means they essentially control Walt now. Walt is being cornered, and usually that means someone will die. He doesn’t particularly think rationally when his life is on the line. Walt and everyone who’s involved with him may not be able to handle the consequences if more death occurs down the line. I’m enjoying the heck out of it, to be truthful.

This episode was working on more levels than the last few episodes. It showed that past actions have repercussions into current events. Skyler is under pressure after engaging in that petty affair with Ted to spite Walt. Walt is losing one of his key allies, even if he hasn’t been particularly nice and nurturing towards Jesse in a while. His cycle of self-destruction continues to bring him downward. I think Jesse is still torn between loyalties to Gus and Mike or Walt, despite the fact that he just physically assaulted Walt in his home. The ricin cigarette is still presumably in Jesse’s pack and may yet factor into what he does with Gus. Hank is still out there, hunting Gus’ operation. All of this promises to come to a head at the end of the season.

Grade: 9/10

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