BREAKING BAD 4.09 ‘Bug’

Gus caves to the cartel as Walt and Jesse come to blows over their trust issues.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Episode Title: "Bug"

Writers: Moira Walley-Beckett & Thomas Schnauz

Director: Terry McDonough

Previously on "Breaking Bad":

Fearing for his life, Walter White (Bryan Cranston) enlisted his partner Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) to poison their boss, Gus (Giancarlo Esposito) at the next opportunity. However, Jesse was legitimately grateful for the second chance provided by Gus and Mike (Jonathan Banks) in addition to having a healthy dose of fear if he was caught in the act. Jesse also witnessed Gus turn down the cartel's "request" when it began encroaching on his territory. Meanwhile, Walt had problems of his own with his DEA Agent brother-in-law, Hank Schrader (Dean Norris), who correctly surmised that Gus was the real power behind "Heisenberg."

Hank forced Walt to place a tracker on Gus' car, which Walt nervously approached him about. To his surprise, Gus told him to do it and he took off the device at will to cover his tracks from Hank's illegal investigation. This incident only furthered Walt's paranoia and he insisted that Jesse move up their timetable for killing Gus. Jesse lied and said that he hadn't seen Gus recently, but Walt checked Jesse's phone while he was out of the room and discovered that his partner was holding out… and possibly turning against him.

Story:

In the future, we see a bleeding man who appears to be Walt struggling to pick up his glasses. Back in the present, Walt and Hank once again drive to the Los Pollos Hermanos restaurant to collect the bug beneath Gus' car. But Walt is more unnerved by Gus' man, Tyrus Kitt (Ray Campbell) watching their every move. Walt grabs the bug and then refuses to enter the restaurant against Hank's wishes. At Hank's home, he runs the bug through his software and learns that Gus seemingly only traveled from his home to just the single restaurant of the thirteen that he owns. However, this only further convinces Hank that Gus is hiding something.

Outside of Hank's home, Walt pulls up besides Tyrus and calls the police on him, forcing Tyrus to drive off. Outside the Superlab, Walt encounters Jesse and bums a cigarette as a way of checking if Jesse still has the cigarette with the poison meant to kill Gus. Quickly picking up on the subtext of Walt's small talk, Jesse assures him that he will still kill Gus the next chance that he gets. Hours later, Walt's wife, Skyler White (Anna Gunn) calls and tells him that business is so good that he can start looking for a way out of the drug trade. Walt half-heartedly agrees knowing full well that there is no escape for him now.

Early the next morning, Hank calls Walt and tells him about a property owned by Gus that may be his drug distribution center. Realizing that Hank has found the Superlab, Walt sheepishly calls Mike and informs him of the development after convincing Hank to hold off for a few days. At the industrial area near the Superlab, Mike, Jesse and other men working for Gus begin scrubbing the place of any traces of their criminal enterprise. Outside, one of the men is shot dead by a cartel sniper and Jesse's life is saved by a diving Mike. Angered, Gus comes out himself to face the shooter knowing full well that the cartel needs him alive.

Although Gus seemed defiant earlier, he eventually caves into the demands of the cartel. Meanwhile, Skyler learns that her former employer and ex-lover, Ted Beneke (Christopher Cousins) is facing an audit for serious fraud which she helped cover up through falsified records. Realizing that her name on the investigation could lead to unwanted scrutiny from the government, Skyler pretends to be an ignorant airhead to get the CID Special Agent (Rob Brownstein) to drop the outright fraud charges. However, even with the penalty reduced to paying what he owes, Ted insists that his money is gone.

Later, Jesse and Mike bring the body of the man killed by the cartel to the Superlab, where Walt immediately assumes that Gus killed the man as an example and he harasses Mike about it. Angered, Mike tells him to shut up and threatens him against calling the cops on his men again. Outside, Jesse asks why Gus went "Terminator" on the sniper and what's going on. Mike tells him to ask Gus himself. Later at Gus' home, Jesse is surprised to find Gus preparing a meal for both of them. He has the opportunity to drop the poison in the stew, but he refrains since he would probably have to eat it too.

After dinner, Gus asks Jesse if he can cook Walt's formula. Assuming that Gus wants him to keeping cooking so he can kill Walt, Jesse responds angrily. But Gus remains calm and tells Jesse that he needs his help to prevent an all out war with the cartel. The next day at the Superlab, Walt retrieves a bug from underneath Jesse's car and learns that he was at Gus' home for over two hours. Hours later, Jesse calls Walt over to his home and tells him that the cartel wants Gus to send him to Mexico to teach them how to replicate Walt's blue meth. Frightened for his life due to his incomplete knowledge, he asks Walt for his help.

Instead, Walt scoffs at Jesse's request and berates him for not poisoning Gus. He then reveals the bug that allowed him to track Jesse's movements. Feeling betrayed by Walt, Jesse throws the bug at him and it hits him in his face. Jesse and Walt then attack each other and brutal punches fly between them. Jesse gets the upper hand and pounds Walt's face mercilessly, breaking his glasses and leaving him a bloody mess. The action catches up with the teaser from the beginning of the show as Walt tries to pick up his glasses. Jesse asks Walt if he can walk and the older man nods weakly. Jesse then tells him to get out of his house and never come back, which Walt does after one last look back at his former friend.

Breakdown:

I think we all knew that some kind of showdown between Walt and Jesse was inevitable, but I didn't expect them to beat the crap out of each other in such a vicious way. Their friendship has been tested before and I'm sure that they will eventually reconcile again. However, it's still a little hard to see how they can come back from this point. There were a few times during the fight where it really seemed like they were trying to kill each other.

Without Jesse, the closest thing that Walt has to a friend is Hank, and he can't afford to take him into his confidence. One of the funniest moments of the episode came when Walt told Hank that he enjoyed his company and he wanted to be there when Hank investigated the Superlab location. Hank is proving again to be a little too competent for Walt's liking, as his suspicions have led him closer and closer to the core of Gus' criminal empire. For Walt's exit strategy, he doesn't seem to have any real plan other than making sure that Gus is dead first. He may share that desire with Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), but Saul would sell Walt out in a heartbeat to save himself.

Gus also seems to be trapped in the face of an enemy even more ruthless than he is. He clearly doesn't want any part of the cartel in his life and he even tried to buy them off a few episodes back. It turns out that the cartel's demands did involve Walt, just not in the way that I expected. They want the blue meth formula and Gus' distribution network, effectively turning Gus from the boss into just another middleman. He's far too proud to fully admit to Jesse just how dire the situation is, but the truth is that Gus' own survival may also depend upon Jesse's skill as a chemist.

Jesse's turn towards Gus and Mike has been very well handled because he asks the right questions and their obvious ulterior motives haven't been ignored. That said, Mike saved Jesse's life during a very real and dangerous situation. Mike wouldn't have done that if he didn't care about Jesse on some level. Even later in the episode, Mike practically told Walt to consider Jesse one his men and not to speak to him.

In her storyline, Skyler is proving to be adept at running a fraudulent business. The car wash is close to turning a prophet but she still rings up fake transactions so she can launder more of Walt's drug money. Her airhead act for the CID agent was pretty funny and an impressive way to fool him. Although it seems clear that she's going to have to dig into Walt's drug money to pay off Ted's debts… which is just asking for more trouble. Particularly when Ted asks where the money came from…

It's hard to believe how quickly this season has flown by, "Breaking Bad" remains one of the most riveting shows on television and it looks like the series is building towards another epic season finale in just a few weeks.
    
Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.