AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 4, Episode 9: “Bug”
Directed by Terry McDonough
Written by Moira Walley-Beckett & Thomas Schnauz
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Hermanos” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Salud” – click here
Some blood is in Walt’s (Bryan Cranston) future, as we see by the opening shots. But currently, he’s taking Hank (Dean Norris) to a supposed rock and mineral show. At least that’s the cover story for Marie (Betsy Brandt). They’re actually headed to do more reconnaissance up at Los Pollos Hermanos. In the rear view mirror, Walt notices they’re being trailed by Tyrus (Ray Campbell) while his brother-in-law mangles “Eye of the Tiger” in excited anticipation of possibly getting some kind of GPS dirt on Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). Back at home, the DEA agent discovers nothing special, as the chicken man’s been aware of the device, taking it off whenever he goes any place that isn’t home or the restaurant.
After leaving his brother-in-law’s place, Walt stops next to Tyrus, calling the police to report “a very suspicious man” lurking around the neighbourhood. Shit. That’s not the way to go about this stuff, not when you’re dealing with cartel connected hitmen and drug dealers. Yet Mr. White’s never been one for caution.
At the lab, Walt finds Jesse (Aaron Paul) and decides on having a smoke outside with his partner, chatting him up like they’re actually buddies. He asks what Jesse does after work. They talk about Ice Road Truckers. The younger cook tries to assure the older of the two he’s going to get the job done, as soon as is possible. Walt seems to have adopted an I don’t give a shit attitude, lamenting: “We‘re both dead anyway.”
Business at the car wash is good enough thanks to Skyler (Anna Gunn) fudging the numbers professionally, she wants her husband to begin thinking of an “exit strategy” from his second job. Easier said than done, considering he’s not working a part-time job at Walmart, rather a seriously dangerous meth dealing job. Not like you can give two weeks notice. In the meantime, Hank’s continually pressing Walt about Fring, bouncing his thoughts off him. This is when the DEA agent suggests going up to the big distribution centre— same place as the laundromat. Walt tries putting a trip up there off, claiming explosive shits. If anybody’s going to take his brother-in-law up there he wants it to be him. That way, he controls things. Immediately after, he calls Mike (Jonathan Banks).
At the car wash, Skyler gets a visit from Ted Beneke (Christopher Cousins). He’s got some shitty news. He’s being audited by the Criminal Investigation Division at the IRS, meaning possibly felony convictions. Ted hopes Skyler, in all her bookkeeping experience, could “uncook” his financial books.
And the worst part? Her signatures are all over those very books, which pulls her into the IRS web, and that’s NO GOOD for the car wash, Skyler, or Walt. What a royal fuck up! This forces Skyler to play dumb former secretary for the CID Special Agent investigating at Beneke’s offices, in hopes of making “missing revenue” look negligent instead of criminal. Helps to blame Quicken’s software and play ditsy.
Jesse helps Mike with a drop in a warehouse. They get the meth from the fry batter containers and ship it off elsewhere. Then the two men go around checking with a blacklight for any contaminants. Jesse asks if Gus will kill the “A–hole DEA agent.” He’s not told anything.
Jesse and the men have other worries, such as gunfire. As bullets come down and men die, Jesse stands still, as if waiting to take one. A sniper’s about to blow him away when Mike tackles him to safety. Gus walks right out into the open, sniper fire barely missing his feet. He stands daring someone to shoot him. Gaff (Maurice Compte) is in the distance with a rifle, admiring the balls it takes, so he stands down. Not long later, Mr. Fring agrees to a deal with the cartel after this deadly warning. At the same time, Mike and Jesse have another corpse for a hydrofluoric barrel disposal, which pisses Walt off. But it isn’t like the chemist has a say.
Someone else is invited to dinner with Gus— Mr. Pinkman. The two men talk in the kitchen while Fring cooks. Jesse chats, contemplating using the ricin but not wanting to poison himself in the process, either. They sit and eat, though the meth cook wants to know why he’s even there. Gus wants to talk “like men.” He asks whether Jesse can make Walt’s formula by himself, which the younger man denies. It’s not about killing the chemist, it’s about cartel issues.
At the lab, Walt picks up the GPS tracker he put on Jesse’s car, trying to figure out where he’s been going lately. He also gets a call from his partner wanting to talk. They meet at Jesse’s place. Walt finds out Gus wants Jesse to go to Mexico with him to deal with cartel business, so the young man can teach “a bunch of cartel chemists how to cook a batch of blue.” This has Pinkman terrified about what could happen, given he’s not the legitimate chemist. The only thing Walt does is chastise Jesse for not getting the job done yet by slipping their employer ricin.
All this boils over and the two men fist fight when Jesse realises Walt is keeping track of his whereabouts via GPS. This is where the blood from opening comes in, as Walt soon takes a good beating from his younger friend. Jesse tells him “never come back” to boot.
Lots more cartel stuff coming into play now, which is great! Makes things even more dangerous than it was before. The divide between the cooks continues opening, too, a widening chasm. Their relationship is what ultimately drives the show, so I love that it’s always front and centre. “Salud” is next.