If the first four seasons of Breaking Bad were about going down the rabbit hole of meth, then this season is turning out to be in reverse fashion. Up we go, past the point of Walt’s blue-collar insertion, and into the upstream where the money flows into big-budgeted corporations funded by Gus’ criminal empire (or is it the other way around?)
When we begin the episode, we’re greeted to the suicide of an executive in Germany who is seemingly responsible for funding/sponsoring the Los Pollos Hermanos empire, and thus, Gus’ meth-dealing business. We know he has something to do with the dirty business because when he sees police in his office, he quickly assesses the situation and, without pause, proceeds to off himself with a defibrillator. This is the furthest up the ladder we have gone in the meth-drenched world of Walt White. This is the 1% peddling the bane of society to the underlings for profit.
Walt and Jesse discover the missing poison cigarette, inside the Roomba — and Jesse believes, to Walt’s pleasure, that he made a mistake in mistrusting Walt and almost siding with Gus. Walt’s plan has fully come to a successful fruition, but his campaign to enlist Mike in his and Jesse’s attempt to rebuild their business isn’t as successful.
“You are trouble … a time bomb. I have no intention in staying around for the boom,” Mike says.
Creator Vince Gilligan continues to hammer the idea that nothing is what it seems, and trust may be the weakest quality of any human. As Hank’s boss relays his disgust with himself for trusting and even breaking bread with a drug-dealing king like Gus, the camera is focused on Hank as he stares at the floor, no doubt contemplating the likeliness his brother-in-law is “Heisenberg.”
As we dig further up the tunnel, we meet Lydia, a neurotic mess of a chemical supplier who has a bit of power in the realm of meth chemical wholesale, but not much potency in the realm of the deadly world of drug manufacturing and all its nuances. Such is the case when she confronts Mike to dispose of all of Gus’ associates — including Jesse, Walt, and anyone else Mike hired and trained to support Gus’ business — which results disastrously for her when a man is sent to kill Mike for his role in the meth ring. Mike kills his would-be assassin and turns his attention, and gun, to Lydia, who pleads for her ability to be seen in an open casket for her daughter’s sake. Mike not only obliges, but holsters his death-dealer in return for a favor: get the chemicals she once supplied for Gus, so Jesse and Walt can restart their drug trade.
Hank is doggishly tearing into every thread of the Gus meth ring, and Mike is no exception. Hank knows he was Gus’ enforcer and tells him so in a pseudo-interrogation. For the first time, we see Mike sweat.
Just as in the previous episode, much like many episodes in this series, we end with Walt and Skyler; quiet, alone in their bedroom together. Only this time, Skyler is bed-ridden. The stress of Walt’s new career has beaten her, broken her.
“It gets easier,” he says, her lifeless vessel strewn across the bed. “It’ll pass.”
With Walt’s sentiments, you get the feeling that he’s more than reassuring his wife of the future, but reassuring himself that the choices he’s made thus far have been for the best, and at the worst, passable elements to be forgotten, forgiven, and ultimately justified.