Breaking Bad, “I.F.T.”: Honesty is good, don’t you think?

A lot was revealed in tonight’s Breaking Bad, in what was probably the show’s most cinematic episode to date. While we saw Walt come about as close as he could to being the Cousins’ next victim, we found this week that even they have a master to serve, although that master isn’t sure exactly how much control he has over them.

It turns out the Cousins are in fact the literal cousins of the late Tucco, who met his end early in season two. It also turns out that Tucco’s uncle Tio is also known as Don Salamanca, who ran one of the Mexican cartels before age and infirmity forced him to retire. Now he and the Cousins are looking for retribution, but have run up against a roadblock in the form of Gus Frings, who’s told the cartel that they’re to keep their hands off of Walt until his business with him is concluded. Two things here. As far as Walt is concerned, he has no business with Gus, so expect him to be approached again sometime in the near future. Also, the fact that Gus is willing to throw Walt to the dogs as soon as he’s done with him tells us that he’s much more cold-blooded than we may have been led to believe. Maybe that should be obvious given the fact that he’s a high-end meth dealer.

So Gus has decreed that Walt is off-limits. El Jefe, the Panama Jack-looking boss who’s running the cartel tells him that he can’t guarantee the Cousins will listen, that they’re “different” from the two of them. I guess several things can be read into “different.” I choose to read that the Cousins are just really f-ed up. In any case, I wouldn’t expect to see them just sitting on the sidelines, twiddling their thumbs over the next few episodes. These guys don’t seem like they’d be incredibly receptive to being told no. Jefe also told Gus that meddling in cartel affairs might affect his good standing with them, so it’s possible that Gus could also find himself on the business end of that shiny axe the Cousins keep in their trunk.

So far this season (doesn’t it seem like we’ve seen more than three episodes?) it’s been interesting to compare where Walt and Jesse are in relation to each other. While Walt is still trying to rationalize his actions, Jesse is coming to terms with who he is, his role as the “bad guy.” When Walt left his big bag of money in the hall for Skyler to see, it seemed for a moment as if he had made a breakthrough. Yes, he got himself into this game with the best of intentions, but like he said, to earn that money he had to do terrible things. He told Skyler that if she didn’t accept the money, everything he had done — the people who had died, their failed marriage — would all have been in done in vain. For a second, I thought Walt might say that if Skyler would take the money, he’d give her the divorce she wanted and leave the family alone. But no, when she got home the next day there he was, making dinner, telling her that he felt really good about the conversation they had had. “Honesty is good,” he said. It’s like now that he’s come clean, there’s nothing left for her to do but forgive him. He still doesn’t get it, and I don’t think Skyler’s confession that she “f**ked Ted” is going to help things.

Jesse, on the other hand, is still torn up over Jane’s death, spending his time alone in the house he bought back from his parents, listening to her voicemail message over and over again. It’s a fitting image, him alone in a big, empty house given his current state of mind. But still, we see him beginning to pick up the pieces. When Saul drops by asks again for Jesse to get in touch with Walt, he says yes. And at the end of episode, we see him in the RV, getting ready to cook. He’s found his path and he’s moving on, where Walt is still running up against a brick wall, trying to travel a road that is now closed to him.

Just a few notes on our other characters. Hank is obviously still suffering from the panic attacks we saw last season. I can only guess that he picked the fight in the bar in an attempt to gain some control over the way he’s feeling. Whether or not this will keep him from going back to El Paso remains to be seen. Skyler looks like she’s ready to throw all caution to the wind. It was only a matter of time before her feelings for Ted bubbled up to the surface, and her conversation with Walt seems to have pushed her over the edge. I’m wondering if the fact that she’s just had hundreds of thousands of dollars thrown at her feet has anything to do with this. If she accepts the money, she’s made in the shade. It might be liberating. If Skyler feels like she no longer has to worry about providing for her family, what else might she feel like she doesn’t have to worry about?

Three episodes in and Breaking Bad has already reached that coveted Sopranos and Mad Men level of brilliance. Can’t wait to see what the rest of the season brings.

Stuff I liked:

  • Saul Goodman. Are there any scenes where he isn’t fantastic?
  • Walt finally cleaned up that pizza. Man, that thing must be gross by now.
  • The return of Tortuga… and the death of Tortuga.
  • What happened to the old lady in the wheelchair?
  • We really got a sense of Jesse’s state of mind tonight. Lots of wide shots. An empty house and empty, dead, landscape.

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