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Season 4, episode 9: “Bug”

06 Aug

Breaking Bad, 4-9: “Bug”

Opener

We see a pair of wire-rimmed glasses lying on a wooden floor. A drop of blood falls on them, then two more. We also see a fuzzy moon through glass with a blood drop on it, blood dropping on tan Wallabee shoes, and Walt’s hand picking up the glasses.

Scene 1: Schraders’, Pollos

The same tan Wallabees (Walt’s shoes) are shown getting out of a car, and Hank comes out of his house on a walker. “Hey, buddy,” he says, “ready to get your rocks on?”

Marie, helping her husband into Walt’s Aztek, laughs. “See, I knew it – mineral show’s just some kind of guy code for strip club!”

In the car, as they’re driving, Hank says (of the bug they’re going to retrieve), “I just hope we get somethin’ good. Keep your fingers crossed.” Then, picking up on Walt’s tension: “Relax, buddy. This ain’t no spy movie.” He sings a bit of “The Eye of the Tiger” in a further attempt to lighten the mood, as they pull into the Pollos parking lot.

We see Tyrus watching from his car as Walt gets out. He pretends to tie his shoe, gets the bug, glances into the restaurant, and gets back in the car.

Back at the Schraders’, Hank clicks the device into his laptop. “Let’s see what we got…Just trips between home and work…Like this guy just goes two places all week. It’s unbelievable! Chicken slingin’ son-of-a-bitch!”

“Is it possible that maybe he’s not your guy?” Walt asks.

“A guy this clean’s gotta be dirty. How do I get this guy?”

On his way out, Walt stands next to Tyrus’s car (he’s opened his window, thinking Walt wants to talk), and calls the police on him, describing him as “a suspicious man lurking in my neighborhood.”

Scene 2: the laundry, the car wash

Jesse’s leaning on his car, smoking, outside the laundry as Walt pulls up. Walt nods at him, and says, “I guess we’d better get started.”

“I already did.”

“Yeah? Hey, got one of those for me?”

“One of those what?”

“Cigarette.”

“Look, it’s still – I didn’t get a chance yet.”

Jesse lights Walt’s cigarette. Walt coughs, and says, “So, what have you been up to?”

“What?”

“Just – a day in the life…What do you do after work?”

“Go home, watch TV.”

“What do you watch?”

“A lotta stuff.”

“Like what?”

“Like, uh, ‘Ice Road Truckers.'”

“‘Ice Road Truckers.’ What happens on that one?”

“Guys drive on ice.” Like these two guys on thin ice?

“Hmm…”

“I am gonna do it!” They smoke. “You gotta inhale, by the way…Hell, man, don’t you have enough cancer already? Look, I said I’ll do it, I’ll do it.”

Walt throws his cigarette down. “Yeah, well, what does it matter? We’re both dead men anyway.” He walks toward the laundry entrance.

Time lapse photography shows the day and night passing. Skyler, at the car wash adding machine, calls Walt. “Junior doesn’t want a big deal for his birthday, so I thought a low-key family party, and we bite the bullet and buy him a car. I was thinking used would probably be best. Should I just go ahead?”

“Yeah,” says Walt, still wanting no part of a car for his son that doesn’t say “testosterone!” in capital letters.

“On another subject, business is good. So good I’m thinking you don’t need to work your second job?”

“You’re turning a profit?”

“We will be in another month or so. You should start thinking about an exit strategy.”

“I’m working on it.”

Scene 3: Walt’s place, the Pollos chicken ranch, the car wash

The phone rings, waking Walt up. It’s Hank saying that Pollos consists of “thirteen other restaurants. Who supplies them? They must have a base of operations, a main distribution center – a big warehouse. Sounds promising, doesn’t it? So, what do you say, buddy? Another field trip?”

Walt begs off on the grounds that he’s ill, but when Hank says he’ll find someone else to take him, he asks if the ‘field trip’ could be postponed for a day or so, and Hank agrees.

Walt calls Mike. “Don’t be angry, but my brother-in-law will probably in the near future take a ride out to a certain distribution center to look around for things.”

The next thing we see is a bunch of people, including Jesse cleaning up the chicken ranch. “Where’s all this going?” Jesse asks, and Mike says, “Elsewhere.”

At the car wash, Skyler’s fabricating receipts when Ted comes in. “My God, Ted – what are you doing here?”

“Someone from the office said you were working down here, so I thought I’d come by and say ‘hi.'”

“Oh! Well, hello.”

“You look great.”

“No, I don’t.”

“You look happy. Better than the last time I saw you…The thing is, Skyler, I need to talk to you.”

“Um, Ted – I really don’t think we have anything to talk about.”

“Actually, we do.” Ted hands Skyler a summons to an IRS audit scheduled for the following day.

“Ted, this is CID, the criminal division. My God! You’re facing a felony charge here – you could do five years in prison!”

“Yeah, it’s bad. Is there some way you could help?”

“How?”

“With your knowledge of how the books got the way they are, maybe you could undo what’s in there.”

“You want me to uncook your books? It doesn’t work that way. The damage is already done.” Then a light bulb turns on in Skyler’s head. “My name…My signatures are all over those books!”

“Skyler, I’m accountable, not you.”

“The IRS has an 80% conviction rate for willful tax fraud, because they can read your mail, tap your phone, and not just you, Ted. Everyone involved in those books! I can’t have this in my life! I cannot be audited!”

“You’re gonna be fine – they’re after me. I don’t want you to worry, okay? I’ll figure a way out of this somehow.”

Back at the chicken ranch, Mike shines a blue light on an area, and says, “Here.” Jesse comes over with a bucket of soapy water.

“So, is he gonna kill him?”

“Is who gonna kill who?”

“Gus. Is he gonna kill Mr. White’s brother-in-law? I mean, he’s the reason for all this, right? I mean, it’s only logical for him to off the dude – nail the DEA agent pokin’ around your junk. Who needs that, right? Makes sense to get rid of him for good. Could look suspicious though. Then there’s Mr. White, who would be even more apeshit – family getting murdered. He’d never cook for Gus again. This is a – lotta angles to consider.”

“If something needs to happen to the man, would you have a problem with that?”

There’s a long pause, and then Jesse says, “Who cares what I think?”

Outside, two guys are loading a tractor-trailer truck, and suddenly one of them has half his head blown off. The other runs. Jesse, outside too, just stands there looking at the big splash of blood on the side of the truck’s trailer. We see him in the rifleman’s sights, then Mike drags him away and down. He scrambles up and away, around the corner of a building with Mike, who has a gun out. “Get comfortable, kid,” Mike says. “We may be here a while.”

Gus comes outside as the shots continue. Bullets splatter all around him as he stands in the middle of the yard, arms out at his sides, face defiant. A young man with a rifle on a tripod – the same young man the cartel sent to negotiate with Gus – packs up his equipment and leaves.

Back inside, the phone rings for Gus. “Si,” he says. “Tell them the answer is ‘yes.'”

Scene 4: the lab, the IRS

A buzzer sounds, Walt opens a big back door to the lab, and Jesse wheels the dead guy from the chicken ranch in in a laundry basket. “So what?” Walt asks. “Is this going to be a regular thing now? Meth cooking and corpse disposal? Jesus!”

Mike: “Just grab us a spare barrel, would you?”

“What was it this time? What did this poor bastard do to piss off Gus? Or did Gus just need to send another message?”

“You shut your mouth, or I’ll shut it for you. I don’t want you talkin’ to me or Jesse. Just get the barrel. And if you ever plan on callin’ the cops on one of my men again, you go ahead and get two barrels.”

Walt looks at Jesse, who’s wheeled in the cart of acid jugs.

Then Mike, outside, is shutting the door on the now red barrel in a tractor-trailer truck. He hits the side of the trailer with the flat of his hand to let the driver know he can go. Jesse, outside too, says, “Yo – like, um – I guess I never thanked you for what you did. Thanks!”

“Next time don’t stand there like an idiot. Move your feet, run, and so forth.”

“But seriously, what was the deal with Gus?”

“The deal?”

“Walkin’ right into the bullets. What the hell was he doin’?”

“The cartel needs Gus – his distribution network. They’re not lookin’ to kill him.”

“What? The rest of us are, like, open season? Is he doing anything about that? Or do we just keep hangin’ out for target practice while he – ”

“Kid! Enough! You got questions, ask him yourself.”

Time lapse, and Ted’s at the IRS with the agent auditing him. “And here again, unreported income,” the agent says.

Ted: “I’ll have to look at copies of the receipts to refresh my memory.”

Skyler waltzes in in a very low-cut black dress, doing her best Marilyn Monroe impression. The agent, who greets her as “the accountant of record,” says there’s “missing revenue.”

“Missing? Huh.” Skyler scoots her chair over at the table toward him. “Well, Mr. K. is a close friend. He likes to make electronic payments. I don’t enter those, but the money’s there!” She smiles brightly.

“You’re not allowed to do that.” Skyler makes a joke, plays dumb, and says she does Beneke’s accounting with Quicken. “Ms. White, how did you get this job?”

“Oh, Ted hired me!”

“I mean, what are your qualifications?”

“I don’t have any special training – I’m just naturally good with numbers. Got a good instinct for them. Right, Teddy?” Skyler puts her hand on Ted’s knee, then smiles at the agent.

“Right. Well, this is all falling into place now. Ms. White, I just have to ask. You’re not managing accounts anywhere else, right?”

“Right now? No, I’m a cashier at a car wash.” She smiles sweetly.

As Ted and Skyler exit the building, Ted says, “I’m not really clear on what happened in there.”

“It was good news. Ignorance of the law. Look – just pay your back taxes and penalties, and move on from this.”

“But I owe $6,000!”

“Get rid of the BMW, take out a second mortgage…”

“I have a lien on my house – ”

“Ted, if you don’t pay them, they will reopen the investigation, and that little fiction will completely unravel. You have to settle.”

“I wish I could.”

Scene 5: Gus’s house

Jesse puts the special cigarette into a new pack, and sits in his car outside Gus’s, smoking. Then he gets out, dressed in black, with black sneakers, and rings the bell. Gus answers. “Come in.” He’s chopping garlic in the kitchen and music is playing. “I hope you brought an appetite.”

“Yeah – I guess.”

“Mike mentioned that you have some questions.”

“Yeah.”

“We’ll eat first, then we’ll talk.”

“Right on,” Jesse says, standing by the big pot of whatever’s cooking. As they eat, he asks, “What am I doin’ here?”

Gus takes a sip of his wine. “I know you have concerns. What happened yesterday to my man at the farm was a terrible thing.”

“What? The dude getting his head blown off? Yeah.”

“I have invited you into my home, prepared food, so we could sit and talk. Discuss what’s going on in this business, our business, like men. And I will explain everything that’s happened. I will answer your questions, Jesse. But, first, I need you to answer one question for me. Can you cook Walter’s formula?”

“What?”

“Walter’s formula. Can you produce his product without any help?”

“No. Why? Are you asking me if I can cook Mr. White’s crystal without him? Me? The junkie loser you were about to waste and dump in the desert a month ago? Is this your plan – to invite me to your house, make whatever this is, be my buddy and make me feel important, then get me to keep cookin’ for you after you kill Mr. White? You wanna talk like men? Let’s talk like men. You kill Mr. White, you’re gonna have to kill me, too!”

“That is not what I asked you. You are here because circumstances with the cartel are untenable, and I need your help. I need you to help prevent a war. Now, if you would answer the question?”

Scene 6: the lab, Jesse’s house

We see Jesse, Tyrus, Walt, and Mike finishing up for the day in the lab. Jesse looks like he’s like to talk to Walt. Outside, Walt drops his keys by Jesse’s car, bends down, and retrieves the tracking device he’s put on it.

Later, we hear Jesse leaving a phone message: “Yo, Mr. White, I really gotta talk to you. I don’t know if you’re with your family or whatever, but this is important, so, hopefully, you can come over.”

When Walt arrives at Jesse’s, Jesse says, “Word has come down that they want me to go to Mexico. There’s some sort of war brewin’ between Gus and the cartel.”

“Word has come down?” Jesse’s still standing in the middle of his small living room, while Walt sits on the couch.

“The cartel has been messing with Gus’s operation – like jacking trucks, and yesterday a dude we brought to the lab – they shot him right in front of me. Anyway, between the cartel takin’ pot shots and your brother-in-law tryin’ to throw a net over the whole deal, it’s like a rock and a hard place situation. So, Gus is gonna cave. The cartel wants half of Gus’s operation and your formula [Walt lifts his head a bit], and he’s gonna give it to them. Well, I gotta give it to them. I’m supposed to go to Mexico and teach a bunch of cartel chemists how to cook a batch of blue. Gus doesn’t trust you, so I gotta go. I mean, you’re the chemist and you know, not me. Let’s say I go down to the jungle or whatever, and, say, they got an actual chemist, a cartel chemist, asking me chemistry stuff that I don’t know how to answer, because I’m not you. And what if, like, all the equipment is, like, in Mexican instead of English? You know? Oh! And, if I mess this up, you know, I am dead…Mr. White, I need your help, all right? Maybe you could coach me or something, you know – or you could give me some notes…Mr. White!”

Walt’s still immobile, looking down. “So, you saw Gus?”

“What? No!”

“You didn’t see Gus?”

“No.”

“Then who told you all of this?”

“It was passed down, like I said.”

“Passed down by whom?”

“By Mike and them.”

“So, ‘they’ doesn’t include Gus. You haven’t been with Gus, you haven’t seen Gus, you haven’t spoken to Gus.”

“Why are you – ”

“You weren’t at Gus’s house last night.”

“What?”

Suddenly, Walt gets up and grabs Jesse around the neck. “What the hell?” Jesse says.

He grabs Jesse’s phone from his pocket, looks at it, and says, “It’s still here.” He throws the phone at Jesse – it falls to the floor. “You look me in the eye, and you tell me that you weren’t at his house last night!”

Jesse’s looking at his phone, trying to figure our what Walt saw on it. “Look, I didn’t have a chance, all right?” Walt turns away. “Okay? I knew you would react this way. I knew you would freak out and wouldn’t believe me. That’s why I didn’t say anything! Look, there was just this big pot of stew, and we both ate from it. What was I supposed to do? Poison myself?”

“You were at his house for two hours and eighteen minutes, and you couldn’t figure out a way to give it to him.”

“He never left the room!”

Walt turns back. “You lying little shit! ” Now Jesse turns and walks away. “You had one thing to do – one thing! The only thing, I might add, that would save our lives. And you were right there, you were in his house! And you didn’t have the guts to do it.”

Now Jesse turns back. “Two hours and eighteen minutes?”

“You never had any intention of killing him!”

“How did you know I was at his house last night? Were you following me?”

“This,” Walt says. “This is how I knew!” He throws the tracking device at Jesse, who catches it.

“You bugged my car?” Jesse is incredulous.

“7:10 to 9:28 PM – two hours and eighteen minutes. But you had not the slightest intention of killing Gus.”

“Everything that I have done for you,” Jesse says. Walt makes a dismissive “hah” sound, and Jesse continues, “You put a bug on my car?”

“I’m sorry. After everything you’ve done for me? What you’ve done for me? You’ve killed me is what you’ve done! You’ve signed my death warrant, and now you want advice? All right, I’ll give you advice…Go to Mexico, and screw up like I know you will. Wind up in a barrel somewhere!”

Jesse throws the bug at Walt, knocking off his glasses, and Walt comes at him, roaring. He throws Jesse down, kicks him, and straddles him. Jesse bites Walt’s thumb. When Walt goes after him again, Jesse punches him in self-defense, then hits him with a lamp. They struggle, and Jesse gets Walt down and straddles him. They punch each other till both are out of breath, lying side by side on the floor. Walt gets up, gasping. He’s leaning on the glass coffee table, and Jesse, behind him, pulls Walt’s leg out from under him, causing him to fall, hitting his face on the corner of the table.

Then Jesse, on top of Walt, punches him hard in the face four times, finally falling on his back.

When at last they both stand, Walt’s bleeding from a cut over his right eyebrow, and Jesse has an abrasion on his forehead. Seemingly caring, Jesse asks, “Can you walk?” Walt staggers, but stays upright. “Then get the fuck out of here, and never come back!” Jesse turns and climbs the three steps to the stair landing, as Walt gets his glasses, and leaves.

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