Breaking Bad, 4-4: “Bullet Points”
We see blue smoke being exhaled. It’s Mike’s frosty breath, as he sits, bundled up, in a Pollos refrigerator truck he’s guarding en route. Suddenly the truck lurches to a stop, and Mike hears the driver talking to some men in Spanish. Pop! The driver’s shot. Mike makes a barricade of boxes, as light comes through a bullet hole in the door.
Two men, one in a black knit hat, the other bald, spray the truck with machine guns, and buckets explode and pour liquid inside. The doors open, and the two men start to get in the truck. Then they fly out, killed by Mike’s three shots. Outside, Mike unzips his jacket. As he lifts up the ear flap of his hat, he realizes, and we see, that the top of his right ear, still attached, has been shot off.
Scene 1: Casa Blanca
Skyler wakes in the early hours of the morning, and jots notes on a yellow legal pad. Then we see her in the living room, printing out information about blackjack from the internet. Later that day, she and Walt attend a Gamblers Anonymous meeting, and we see her calling Marie, saying “We’ll bring everything.”
Finally, in the White living room, Skyler gives Walt the bullet points of what they’ll need to say at the family dinner that night as they reveal his supposed gambling problem. Walt drags his heels a bit. “Are we supposed to memorize this?”
And Skyler insists that Hank not be told that his insurance isn’t paying for his therapy. “You’d rather sell drugs than accept help, remember?”
They’re going to tell Hank, Marie, and Junior that they’re buying the car wash with Walt’s one-time illegal gambling earnings. Skyler will describe how the gambling affected their marriage. Walt objects to saying how “terribly ashamed” he is of his actions. “Why am I so ashamed? I was and am providing for our family. Where’s the ‘I slept with my boss’ bullet point?”
Skyler responds by reminding Walt of how all of this has affected her relationship with their son. “At least you won at gambling. I’m just the bitch mom who wouldn’t cut you any slack.”
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I put you through all of this.” At first, we think Walt’s really apologizing, but then he adds, “How’s that sound? Two sorry’s.”
Skyler says, “I say I’m proud of you for joining a 12-step program, then you look down at the floor with remorse…Just stare at your feet, okay? And what a relief it is to tell them…Lucky we have a strong family and can support each other…Maybe I’ll tear up a little.”
Walt asks sarcastically, “Will that be one tear or two?” Then: “Are you through?”
“Yes, I’m through. Maybe lying doesn’t come as easily to me as it does to you.”
Scene 2: the Schraders’
Hank, in a wheelchair, greets his family jovially, and takes Walt and Junior back to the master bedroom to see his mineral collection. Walt, wittingly or unwittingly, steals Hank’s thunder, at least in Hank’s eyes, by displaying his superior knowledge on the subject.
Hank then says he’s helping the APD with a case, and shows them a video of Gale doing an unselfconscious and more than somewhat ridiculous karaoke version of “Major Tom” with Thai subtitles. Hank and Junior laugh, as Hank says, “Albuquerque’s public enemy #1.” Walt, somewhat shocked, is silent.
Later, we see Skyler concluding the gambling reveal around the family dinner table. “Jesus,” Hank says. “Holy shit! Walter H. White, man of hidden talents.”
Skyler’s dabbing her eyes and Walt’s silent, as Junior says, “Such a stud! How much did you win exactly?”
“Enough to buy the car wash and maybe two college educations,” Skyler replies.
“Why’d you quit? I can totally get a car for my birthday now, right?”
Finally, Walt speaks up: “Son, I’m terribly ashamed of my actions…” He excuses himself to go to the bathroom, but goes back to the master bedroom and starts looking into Hank’s manila folder of evidence on the drug case. He’s looking through Gale’s lab notes, as Hank calls his name, and they collide in the hall.
“Hey, man,” Hank says, “that was some big stuff back there. It couldn’t have been easy to talk about. I just want you to know that I’m here, if you need to talk.” Hank’s sincere, and we feel bad that his caring is so misplaced. He adds with a self-mocking smile, “I’m not goin’ anywhere.”
“Thanks,” Walt says, “same goes for me. Maybe I can help you with your case work.” They end up looking at Gale’s lab notes together, Walt asking, “So, who is this person? What do you know about him?”
Hank says he thinks it’s the semi-mythical drug kingpin Heisenberg he’s been looking for – “same name as one of Hitler’s guys – a physicist. Some sort of egghead.” There are two blood spots on the page of lab notes Walt’s looking at. “I just want to see if I’m not barking up the wrong tree, chemically speaking. As far as I can make out, he’s writing about a phenyl acetone cook, right?”
“That’s pretty rare these days, but it does jibe with the blue stuff I’ve been tracking…There’s a recipe for vegan s’mores, and all kinds of crazy stuff in there…the top ten recumbent bicycles, indoor composting tips – all of it next to the mother of methamphetamine synthesis. He was a real character!”
“Yeah, he seems unique.”
“Hey, lemme show you somethin’.” Hank grabs the lab notes and reads, “‘To W.W: my star, my perfect silence.’ W.W. – who do you figure that is? Woodrow Wilson? Willy Wonka? Walter White?”
Walt puts up his hands, and jokes, “Ya got me!” Then: “Wait a minute! Let me see this.” There’s a large, detailed pen and ink drawing of Walt Whitman on the page. He reads, “‘When I heard the learned astronomer…and looked up in perfect silence at the stars.’ Walt Whitman’s your W.W.”
“You frickin’ brainiac! I must’ve skipped that day of school or somethin’.”
“So, you think this Gale person is your Heisenberg?”
“Yeah…God, I want to get this guy!”
“It kind of looks like you did.”
“No – I wanted to be the one to slap the handcuffs on him and that kinda shit.”
They discuss the movie “The French Connection,” and Walt reminds Hank that Popeye Doyle never actually caught the drug lord. Then Walt asks, “What about the person who killed Gale?”
“That’s APD’s problem, not mine.”
“There are some fingerprints they’re trying to i.d.”
Scene 3: Jesse’s
Walt knocks on Jesse’s door, then forces the door open, moving the body lying in front of it. Trent Reznor sings “Flyentology”: “Keep me in the sky, that’s all that I cry/I’ll become your servant if it’s worth your time/Keep me in the sky, that’s all that I’ll say/I’ll become your soldier, at least for this day.”
“Jesse!” Walt calls.
“S’up?” is the response. Jesse, with newly short buzz-cut hair, is shaving a long-haired guy’s head on the stairs, a cigarette dangling from his lips.
“Would you please stop what you’re doing?”
“I’m not done, yo – and that dude’s next.”
“I have more pressing business.” Walt hustles Jesse to a more private corner, and continues: “Gale’s murder is being investigated, and there are fingerprints. What if they’re yours?”
“They would have picked me up by now.”
“What about the casings? How many times did you shoot him anyway?” Jesse, who resists being dragged back to the memory of shooting Gale, says he didn’t pick up any casings. Walt persists: “We need to go through what happened step by step – everything.” He shakes Jesse. “Did you knock or ring?”
“Knock.” Jesse’s face comes alive in pain as he recalls that night.
“Did he recognize you? Did either of you say anything?”
Unable to take it, Jesse breaks away and shouts, “Who wants to make a hundred bucks?” The next thing we know, Walt’s being thrown out of the house, bodily, by two of Jesse’s male guests.
Scene 4: Saul’s office
“Look, the kid’s probably right,” Saul tells a worried Walt.
“My brother-in-law knows Jesse’s involved with the blue meth. What if he puts two and two together and goes after him for the murder?”
“We’ll sue him for harassment. He has a history with your brother-in-law, who’s probably smart enough not to go down that road.”
“Should I not worry about it? Should I not worry that Gus plans to kill me the first chance he gets? Should I not worry that my drug-addicted partner doesn’t seem to care whether he lives or dies? You should see his house – it’s like skid row. He has actual hoboes living there. How long before Gus decides that he’s too big of a risk? Mike punching me in the face, Gus wielding a box cutter…Western Union, message received. When did this stop being a business? Why am I the only person capable of behaving in a professional manner? Any way you slice it, everyone is in danger. How can I protect anyone – my family, Jesse, myself?”
“My name never comes up with these guys, does it?”
“And meanwhile we’re buying that stupid car wash! Skyler needs to believe that everything is neat and tidy. And she’s telling herself that I work in this nice, quiet, little lab with a white lab coat and a pocket protector, and when my contract is up, I’ll just simply hang it all up and walk away…How did everything get so screwed up?” By you knowing a lot less about yourself and the drug and criminal worlds and reality in general than you think you know, Walter!
“We do have a little shit creek action happening…You know, FYI, you can buy a paddle. This is a last resort kinda thing, but if you really gotta protect yourself, disappear! Poof!”
“There’s a guy that can make it happen. They call him the disappearer. For a substantial fee, and I do mean substantial, you and your loved ones can vanish – untraceable. He sets you up with a whole new life.”
“What, like a witness protection kind of thing?”
“Beyond – an off-the-grid, new identities, everything. No one would ever be able to trace you. Now, be clear – this is an end game, if you get my meaning. There’s no coming back…You want his card?”
“There’s got to be something else I can do. Some way to keep everything from spiraling out of control.” Mr. Control Freak Extraordinaire…it’s already spiraling out of control!
“From what you told me, it sounds like Pinkman is first up in the imminent demise department.”
Walt nods. “Gus won’t risk letting the police find Jesse.”
Scene 5: Jesse’s, the lab
Cigarette in mouth, Jesse puts on his shoes and coat. Only the paranoid tweaker, ranting away, is awake. “Hey, wake up, bitches!” Jesse shouts, turning on the music. “Hey, yo! Yo!” he says to the tweaker.
“Oh – hey!”
“Will you make sure there’s pizza here when I get back? Enough for everybody.”
“Oh, yeah – I can do that.”
Jesse reaches in his pocket for some money, and there is none, so he goes back upstairs, where there’s a naked girl sleeping in his bed. He opens a drawer where there’s an open satchel full of money and grabs some. Downstairs, he gives a handful to the tweaker as another young druggie guy with dark hair looks on. “Hey,” Jesse says, “get some dipping sticks, too, yo.”
At the lab, Walt’s cleaning and Jesse’s wheeling out three boxes of product when Walt realizes that the camera can only watch one person at a time. He may also be figuring out a few spots the camera can’t see into.
When Jesse returns home, there’s pizza, trashedness, and rap music. He tosses some money in the air, and shouts, “Hey, smoke it up, bitches!” The fat guy, still with no pants on, is eating pizza. Jesse grabs the hand of a mini-skirted girl wearing striped knee-highs, and takes her upstairs. He sees the open dresser drawer, satchel gone, and sits on the end of the bed with the somewhat ugly-faced girl and plays a car chase video game with her. His face looks tired and dead. There’s more money where that came from.
Later, he’s sleeping, head on a red-cased pillow, when Mike shakes him and shouts, “Wake up!” twice.
“S’up? What’s up with your ear?”
“Downstairs, now!” Mike tears off Jesse’s covers.
Downstairs, there are no guests. “Where is everybody?” asks Jesse, wearing a black T-shirt and long black-and-white boxers.
“I invited your guests to leave.” We see a guy lying on the floor, hogtied, gagged, and blindfolded. Tyrus is there, too. “You know who this is?” Mike asks.
“You ought to – he’s been at your house for three solid days. He stole your money.” The satchel, with the money in it, sits on the floor.
Tyrus: “That $78,000 look familiar?”
“This is it?”
“Okay – thanks.” Jesse starts to take the satchel upstairs.
He’s halfway up when Mike says, “You want to know what’s next for little Miss Pissed-in-his-pants?”
“You sure now? Take a wild guess.”
“You’re gonna kill him. Is this the part where I’m supposed to beg you not to do it? Oh, please, please, and then what? I’m supposed to promise, cross my heart, to straighten up and fly right, or toe the line, or some other crap I’m not gonna say? Is that what your little show here was all about?”
Mike: “You’re on thin ice, you little shithead. You know that?”
Jesse laughs. “You ain’t gonna smoke that dude in there. You know how come I know? ‘Cause you went to the trouble of putting a blindfold on him.” Jesse touches the side of his head with his index finger. “I’m goin’ back to bed. Let yourselves out.”
Scene 6: Gus’s Pollos office, the lab, Jesse’s, Mike’s car
At Gus’s Pollos office, Mike expresses his concerns about Jesse. “He’s becoming increasingly uncautious. I know he and Walter come as a team, and Walter won’t like it, but something’s gotta be done.”
In the lab, Walt pours powder into a drum, sets a machine, and looks at his watch. When we see him next, he’s pulling up at Jesse’s, noticing his red car. He calls him and gets Jesse’s voicemail recording: “Hey, it’s me. Wait for the thing.”
“This is message #3,” Walt says. “You better be ready in two minutes, because I am right outside your door.” Shades of Donald Margolis.
Walt bangs on the front door, shouting Jesse’s name, then repeats the process in back, and calls again. Finally, he sees an unlocked window and boosts himself inside the trashed but otherwise empty living room. He calls, “Jesse!” up the stairs, and goes up. Jesse’s not in his room, and when Walt calls him again, he sees his partner’s red cell phone vibrating on the nightstand.
Back in the lab, Walt demands of the camera, “Where is he?”
He’s in Mike’s car, going down the highway. “You wanna ask where we’re going?” Mike says.