'Breaking Bad' Recap: The Walt vs. Jesse Showdown Begins
'Breaking Bad' Recap: The Walt vs. Jesse Showdown Begins
Ted Kindig
Ted Kindig
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
Last week's final scene caused a bit a of a debate on the utility of flash-forwards: the episode closed with Jesse maniacally dousing the White house with gasoline, but there was never any threat of him igniting it because we've already seen the house still standing in the future. For my money, I love Breaking Bad's flash-forwards: they establish tone magnificently, they add more suspense than they subtract, and in my opinion, finding out how the plot unfolds is significantly more exciting than revealing the story in linear time.

Wherever one stands on flash-forwards, however, we all know that Jesse doesn't light the fire. Instead, Walt arrives at his home with a gun in his hand, finds the gas tank abandoned, concocts an excuse to get his family out of the house, and hopes that Jesse changed his mind.

Once he has his family safely stowed in an ritzy hotel, Walt meets with Saul to discuss their options. While he did show up to the potential showdown fully armed, Walt isn't the least bit receptive to the idea of "putting Jesse down" outright, Old Yeller-style. He gives the order that Saul and his crew keep searching, and goes back to faking normalcy for his family.

But even as Walt tries to deceive Skyler, she's having none of it. She spies Walt talking with Saul, and wrangles most of the truth out of him. Walt tries his best to spin Jesse's near-arson in the best possible light, but Skyler goes full-on Lady Macbeth, instructing him outright: "You need to deal with this."

Hank and Marie

We switch gears halfway through the hour, going back in time to check out what Jesse's really been up to. Turns out he already had his lighter out and was about to burn the house down, but Hank followed him and caught him just in time. Sharing a desire to see Walt answer for his crimes, they agree to team up. 

Even as the plot keeps barreling on, one of the most interesting scenes of the night seems at first to be a complete non-sequitur, courtesy of Marie. She explains to her shrink that after a recent betrayal -- she opts not to specify -- she's been researching untraceable poisons. The irony of course is that she probably googled right past ricin in her pursuit, but the scene also winks pretty hard at the show's entire premise: when her doctor tells her that violence will only make things worse, she agrees but says that it feels good to think about. On some level, I suppose we all must feel the same way.

Old Friends

Without much else to do, Hank and his freshly briefed partner Gomez get Jesse to confess on camera, cinematographically mirroring Walt's earlier fake confession, of course. Because they don't have hard proof, however, Hank and Gomy suggest that Jesse wear a wire to one last confrontation with Walt. It's at this point that Hank takes an interesting tactic: he correctly reads that Walt really cares about Jesse, and tries to draw on that fondness to reassure Jesse. Hank isn't quite as confident of this as he seems, of course -- he'd be just as happy videotaping Jesse's murder.

I don't know what it says about me that I hoped this stroll down memory lane would repair Walt and Jesse's friendship, but quite the opposite occurs: when Jesse goes to meet Walt, he sees the show's 500th ominous bald guy and wins a prize. No, he sees an ominous bald guy and comes to the paranoid conclusion that it's all a setup; he calls Walt, announces that he's coming for him where he really lives, and takes off. The bald guy's ominousness is purely coincidental, as it happens, but the exchange certainly seems like it will lead to a very real showdown; Walt's immediate reaction is to call Todd with another job for his uncle.

I have to say, I'm really starting to fear for Jesse's safety. I read last week's creepy embrace in the desert as a Godfather II-like death gesture, and while I was pleasantly surprised to hear Walt flat-out nix the idea of murdering Jesse, it seems he only did so to heighten the reverse of his position. We know that whatever happens, Walter White will live to his 52nd birthday, but that knowledge makes it all the more poignant when we consider all the supporting characters we haven't seen in the future.

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(Image courtesy of AMC)