Breaking Bad, 1-4: “Cancer Man”
Hank, detailing “Operation Icebreaker” for his team, says that Krazy-8, a DEA informant, ratted out his cousin Emilio, then went missing. In his car was two grams of the purest meth the agents that found it have ever seen. A gas mask discovered at the scene has been sent to Quantico to be analyzed. “We have some new players in town with an extremely high skill-set; Albuquerque just may have a new kingpin.”
Scene 1: the White backyard
Pieces of barbecued chicken are burning on a grill, though at first we don’t know what this bloody, burning mass, seen close-up, is. Hank shouts, “Jesus, Walt, you’re burning the shit out of them!”
A bit later, with everyone in the family but Walt seated at the patio table, Walt solicitously asks Skyler if she needs anything. Things seem good between them. Hank, giving Junior advice on how to be successful in his dating efforts, says he asked Marie for a date “fifty times. Walt, tell Junior how you met Skyler.”
Junior: “Mom was a waitress at Los Alamos.”
Walt recounts the story in a relaxed, fond way. “It was just a summer job. She was a hostess and cash register attendant at a place close enough to the lab for me to ride my bike. It got so I would only go when I knew she was working. When it was slow, she’d be doing crossword puzzles. Once I caught onto that, I started doing the crossword, too, while I ate my grilled cheese sandwich. Eventually, I saw her looking over at me, and started asking her for clues. Boy, I tell you – I was terrible at those puzzles. But your mother would do them in ink.”
Skyler is starting to cry. Marie gets up and goes to her. “Hey, what’s the matter?”
Skyler: “Ask him.” She gets up and goes inside.
Marie: “What’s she talking about? Walt?”
Walt: “I have cancer. Lung cancer. It’s bad.” We focus on Junior’s subtly shocked face, then see Hank’s and Marie’s reactions.
Scene 2: nighttime inside Casa Blanca
Junior’s in his room listening to music on big earphones. At first we think he doesn’t care, but he’s trying to soothe himself – we catch him wiping tears from the far side of his face. The rest of the family’s in the living room. Hank asks, “How long have you known?”
“A month maybe.”
“Why didn’t you tell anybody?”
Skyler: “See? We’re family. We go through these things together.”
Hank: “I don’t get it. Lung cancer? How can that happen? You don’t even smoke.”
Skyler tries to blame it on Walt’s long-ago work at Los Alamos, but Walt says, “It wasn’t that.”
Marie’s says the “next step” should be to get a second opinion. “I’ll talk to my radiologists. We’ll find you the oncology dream team.”
“Good – sounds good,” Skyler says. “Yeah!”
Walt agrees, and they kiss, Skyler still crying. Then she says, “I’m going to check on Walt, Jr. See if he’ll join us.” Marie goes with her.
Hank says, “Walt, whatever happens, I’ll take care of your family.”
Walt nods slightly, not saying anything. He looks grim, and we can tell he doesn’t want it to come to that, doesn’t want Hank to be the hero he couldn’t be.
Scene 3: Jesse’s house, the same night
We see a young man, whom we later come to know as Combo, a buddy of Jesse’s, in the hallway, looking up at the blood-rimmed hole in the ceiling where the tub fell through. He goes into the living room, where Jesse and another friend, Skinny Pete, are having snacks around a messy table.
“Hey,” Combo says. “What happened to the ceiling in the hallway?”
“I think the house is just settling,” Jesse answers. He seems nervous, having trouble getting back to his normal routine after the experiences he’s just had with Walt. Since he has to live where a lot of it happened, his memories are more vivid.
Combo: “Say, uh, Jesse. Still cookin’ a little crystal?”
Jesse: “Could be. Yeah. From time to time.”
Skinny Pete: “I heard you lost your partner. Emilio. Didn’t he get locked up?”
Combo: “No, man, he’s out. His cousin bailed him out. I think he skipped town or somethin.'”
Jesse: “I don’t know about any of that. I’ve just been kinda doing my own thing these days, so…”
Combo: “But you got some crystal? ‘Cause I could seriously go for a bowl right now.”
Skinny Pete: “Yeah – Sunday night bowl, yo.”
Jesse: “Well, it just so happens that I recently cooked the best batch ever.”
Skinny Pete: “Yeah?”
Jesse: “Oh, yeah! Came up with this whole new recipe. It’s just the bomb! But I don’t know. I’ve been thinking I’d just lay off of it for a while. ‘Cause lately it’s been making me paranoid, so…I got plenty of pot.” Jesse’s obviously invited his friends over to try to comfort himself and resume his life as it was. But they’re more interested in a certain kind of high than in his company. Making their excuses, they get up to leave.
Jesse, desperately: “Hey, homes! I’m joking! I’m totally joking…with you. You kidding? Sit down.” He pulls the bag of meth out of his jacket pocket.
Scene 4: next day, Jesse’s house
Two older women go by on their exercise walk. Jesse’s alone, looking fearfully out the window, though it’s just a nice, normal, sunny, New Mexican day. He smokes some more meth in his glass pipe, weird music playing. Then we see two big, scary bikers on motorcycles, one with a hand grenade, the other wielding a big knife. Bam, bam, bam! They knock on Jesse’s door. He hides the meth bag in one of his stereo speakers, and runs outside. He crawls under the RV, then jumps over the fence. Now we get that in reality the two door-knockers are Mormon missionaries in white shirts and black pants. Daypacks slung on their shoulders, they return to and get on their bicycles.
Scene 5: the Whites’ bathroom
Replacing a big bandage on his leg, Walt sees a dot of blood on his tan pants. Frustrated and in a hurry, he takes them off and starts scrubbing at the spot with a toothbrush.
Skyler knocks on the door. “Do you need some help?”
“I’m right outside.”
Walt tries to stifle his coughing.
In the living room, Skyler’s making a doctor’s appointment for Walt. “Can I put that on a credit card?”
Walt comes in, and she tells him the appointment – on Friday – is with, “Honey, the best oncologist – Dr. Delcavoli. Marie really came through for us. From here on…”
Walt: “Credit card?” Then, when he finds out they’ll be charged a $5,000 deposit: “What’s that? Just a start? To tell me what I already know?”
Skyler: “Come on – don’t get hung up on money. We can always borrow from Hank.”
“Absolutely not. We’re not gonna do that.”
“Well, maybe we could ask your mom. Have you even called her yet?” Walt shakes his head. “You’re gonna have to tell her.”
“I’ll call her.” But he never does – in fact, we never hear of Walt’s mom again.
“Money is not the issue here,” Skyler says, hugging her husband.
“I’ll take care of the deposit,” Walt says. “I’ll borrow it from my pension.”
In the nursery, Walt gets cash out of the space behind the heater vent. Bills start to blow around as the heat comes on. Then Junior comes in. “What’s up?”
Walt: “I thought I heard mice.”
“What the hell’s wrong with you?”
“You’re acting all…Why are you acting so weird?”
“Son – ”
“You’re acting like nothing is going on.” He shakes his head, turns, and hobbles away on his forearm crutches. Walt’s upset, but goes back to the vent.
Scene 6: the bank
Walt, driving on a suburban, almost rural highway, realizes a highway patrol car is coming up behind him, siren on and lights flashing. Horrified, because of all the cash he has on him, he pulls over. The cop, to his great relief, speeds on by. In the bank parking lot, a man in a red sports car zips into the parking spot Walt’s been waiting for. He’s angry, but finds another spot.
Inside, the same man, talking on his cell phone (via Bluetooth earpiece) is in the bank line. He’s making sexist comments about the female bank tellers. Walt’s completely distracted by this when one of the tellers calls him. “Sir?” He gives her the cash, asking for a cashier’s check made out to Oncology Associates.
Scene 7: Jesse’s family’s house (Jesse’s run all the way there)
Jesse’s parents and younger brother, a 12-year-old boy named “Jay,” are eating in the dining room and talking about which instrument Jay will play in the school band. Apparently, he’s a gifted child who can play at least two instruments. Suddenly, Mr. Pinkman hears someone in the back yard. “Who’s there?” he calls, running outside. Seeing that it’s Jesse, limping with a hurt leg, he demands, “What the hell are you doing here?”
Jesse: “Hi, Dad – Mom – Jay…Got some patio furniture – right on!”
Inside Jesse’s bedroom, we see a framed drawing of his, dated 1991, on the wall. The camera then pans over a school picture of Jesse at 5 or 6: blond, innocent, and hopeful. We see another picture, taken at Jay’s age, in a frame on the bedside table: Jesse with an adorable smile. Jesse gets on the bed, fully clothed, and his body starts to let go of its high tension level. We see time passing – he sleeps for 24 hours.
Downstairs, Mom and Dad confer. “What do you think it could be?” Mrs. Pinkman asks anxiously.
“I’m no expert – uppers, downers – your guess is as good as mine.”
“I think we should check his arms for needle marks.”
“Do we let him stay?”
“They have some kind of meetings for drug users at the church. If he would attend those as a condition of staying…I just don’t know what to tell Jake.”
Jesse comes into the kitchen, saying, “Hey – ”
“Good evening,” Mr. P. says.
Mrs. P.: “Sleep well?”
“Yeah. What time’s dinner?
“In about an hour. You know, I could wash those clothes if you’d like. They look a little lived in.”
“Maybe later.” Jesse leaves.
“We are not doing this again,” his father says. “We said we’d lay down the law – we’ll lay down the law. We just have to be consistent about it.”
Jesse is carefully and a bit wistfully setting the dining room table. His parents come into the doorway and watch him for a moment, then withdraw back into the kitchen.
Scene 8: Walt’s classroom
Junior’s waiting for Walt, who’s at his desk finishing some paperwork. Walt says, “You know, I think that things have a way of working themselves out.” Junior looks dubious.
Scene 9: Jacob Pinkman’s bedroom
Jay is at his desk, doing something on his computer; Jesse’s marveling at the awards on his wall. “Just remember,” he says, “not all learning comes out of books…Look at you!” he adds, looking at his brother’s trophies. He sits down on the bed. “We should hang out more often…Just kick back and chill…I mean, if you ever need any advice. ‘Cause, you know, I’ve been through it all, for real…Hey, man, you play the flute?”
“It’s a piccolo, actually.”
“Play some Jethro Tull!”
Mrs. Pinkman appears in the doorway. “Hey, guys! How’re we doin’ in here?”
“We’re good,” Jesse answers.
“That’s great.” She leaves.
Jesse looks upset. “What the hell? You see this? Am I some criminal or something?”
“Whatever? Why? You think that’s okay? Like, oh, we can’t let that scumbag warp the mind of our favorite son.”
“You’re the favorite.”
“I’m the favorite? Yeah, right!”
“You’re all they ever talk about.”
Jesse looks surprised. We see him outside the house, smoking a cigarette in the dark, then in bed, trying to sleep. Getting up and opening the wooden chest at the foot of his bed, he pulls out a toy spider, then a headless superhero figure. Finally, he gets to some old drawings of his. He laughs at a caricature he drew of Mr. White. “Awesome!” But when he turns the paper over, it’s a failed chemistry test with Walt’s comment: “Ridiculous! Apply yourself!” written on it in red. Jesse’s cell phone rings. “Yeah?” We half expect it to be Walt, but it’s Combo, asking if Jesse has “any more of that product.” Jesse says he’s not giving out any more “charity,” and Combo says, “No, man. These dudes are in town. They want to par-tay. You up to making some fast stacks? ‘Cause I’ll buy everything you got.” Jesse sighs.
Scene 10: Casa Blanca, daytime
Walt’s at the vent space again when the doorbell rings. He goes to the door, looks through the peephole, and says, “Oh, you can’t be serious.”
It’s Jesse. They go into the back yard.
Jesse: “Yo – I waited till the ballbuster left. No offense.”
Walt grabs him. “You got a wire on?”
“A wire? You want a wire? I got a wire (grabs his crotch)! Speak into the mike. A wire – Jesus.”
“So, who did you tell about it?”
“Then why are you here?”
“To touch base.”
“Yeah – you know – they call it debriefing. I thought maybe we could debrief.”
“Debrief?” Walt’s almost smiling now.
“Yeah, man. After what happened, it seems like the thing to do. Talk about it. We can’t talk to anybody else. Anyway – that and I wanted to tell you how much everybody digs that meth we cooked. Seriously, I got dudes that would give their left nut for a little more…I’m just sayin,’ if you ever saw your way clear to you and I cookin’ a little more…”
“Wow…Get the hell off my property!”
“What? I’m just sayin’ – ”
“And don’t come back. Now!”
“Fine…fine. Either way, four grand – your share from sellin’ that batch. That’s right. I didn’t smoke it all.” Jesse throws a bunch of loose bills at Walt, and walks away. Walt gets the pool-cleaning net to fish bills out of the water.
Scene 11: Walt’s appointment with the oncologist
Doc: “…spread to your lymph nodes. There’s no denying it’s very serious.
Skyler: “It’s curable?”
Doc: “I prefer to say ‘treatable.'” He says his protocol has “resulted in remission in certain cases…Side effects vary: hair loss, fatigue, weight loss, nausea.”
As Walt has more and more trouble concentrating, a loud noise drowns out the doctor’s voice.
Scene 12: Jesse’s parents’ house
After the cleaning lady finds a joint behind the plant on Jesse’s bedside table, we see Jesse and his parents at the kitchen table. “Got anything to say?” Mr. Pinkman asks. “What do you know about this?” He points to the joint, lying in the middle of the table.
Mom: “We’ve been through this before, more than once. It makes us feel like fools. Enough, Jesse. Enough.”
Dad: “We are not going to have this in our house. We need you to leave.”
Jesse pockets the joint, and goes. His parents seem upset, but firm in their conviction that they’ve done the right thing.
We see Jesse on the sidewalk in front of the house. Jake comes out, wearing the same kind of wide-striped, long-sleeved rugby shirt that Junior White favors. “Thanks for not telling on me,” he says. “You think I can have it back?”
Jesse pretends to hand his brother the joint, then crumbles it between his fingers, drops it on the sidewalk, and grinds it into dust with his foot. “That’s skunkweed anyway,” he says. Having protected and warned his little brother, he gets in the cab he’s called.
Scene 13: Casa Blanca
“This is very helpful,” Skyler says, looking up from a pamphlet on cancer treatment.
Walt and Junior are watching the news on TV, and we hear, “The military says this weapon would be effective in any battle.”
Skyler wants to make an appointment and get started. “What do we have to do first?” she asks.
“Well, there’s the money question,” Walt says. “$90,000 out of pocket. Maybe more.”
Skyler: “There’s always a way. Maybe I could go back to work.” Junior, still in front of the TV, is listening.
“All right, Skyler. Say there is a way, and we spend all that money, and – ” He looks at her. “Am I supposed to leave you with all that debt? I just don’t want emotions ruling us.”
Junior gets up and confronts his dad. “Then why don’t you just die already? Just give up and die?” He doesn’t want to lose his father, and doesn’t understand why Walt isn’t willing to try to live/not abandon him.
Later, we see Walt driving and coughing. He ends up coughing so hard, he has to pull into a gas station lot. There’s blood in the hand he was using to cover his mouth. Then he sees the same obnoxious red-sport-car guy trying to pull in and shouting at an older woman, on foot, blocking his way.
Grimacing, Walt gets out of his car, and grabs the window cleaner squeegee from the gas tank island. Obnoxious guy’s inside, having left his car at the pump. Walt reaches in the car’s open window and releases the hood. Spanning the car’s battery terminals with the squeegee, he starts an explosive fire. Satisfied, he gets back in his car, as the guy runs outside, shouting that he’ll sue the gas station.