Breaking Bad: Gus's Triple Threat

We heard some music again in this episode. As usual, feel free to fire it up while reading this article—there's a video embedded at the bottom of this page. This week, the song of choice is The Pretenders' "Boots of Chinese Plastic."

Last week's "Cornered" put us in the head of Walter White, but last night's "Problem Dog," the midpoint of the season, took some giant steps in advancing the plot—and it wasn't Walter ended up in trouble. No siree. We're looking at some very deep excrement piling up around Gus Fring, the man we once thought was untouchable. Gus kicked off the season in a completely different position than "Problem Dog" left him him, when he reminded Jesse and Walter who's boss by giving his henchman an extremely close shave. Now it seems everyone is after Gus.

One threat to Gus isn't enough for the writers of Breaking Bad. It's crazy enough to be the target of a ruthless Mexican drug cartel. It's another thing to be under suspicion by the DEA and Hank. And as if he needed another problem, Walter has cooked up another batch of ricin to give Gus' coffee a little extra kick. It's an incredible turn of events for the series, even though we've seen it brewing.

Gus tries to appease the cartel with a vegetable plate and $50 million dollars as a sort of severance package. The handsome cartel rep doesn't accept it, much to Gus' chagrin. They just want one thing, and we don't know what it is. Is it for Gus to leave the business for good? Do they want Walter as their chef? Is it something else entirely? Gus also tries to play nice with Hank when he shows up at Pollos Hermanos, but he unwittingly puts himself in more danger by serving up his fingerprints. Oops. Digging his own hole because of quality customer service.

I don't think I'm alone in believing that Gus won't make it out of this season. In fact, it's reasonable to assume that Walter's Heisenbergifrication arc is directly related to Gus' downfall. But who is going to be the one that offs the mighty king of Pollos Hermanos? It would seem that the obvious choice would be for Walter to orchestrate some sort of scheme or even pull the trigger himself, but Breaking Bad isn't one for the obvious. I don't know how this will all pan out, but I'm dying to find out. I'm really enjoying seeing Gus wet himself for a change.

I think I speak for everyone when I say one of the things that made "Problem Dog" so fantastic (it's one of the season's three best episodes, feel free to put it anywhere at the top) is the real return of Hank. Good lord have we missed him. And not only is he almost walking on his own again, he's embracing a new purpose with this case. I understand the series' need to incapacitate Hank for a while, but Breaking Bad really excels when Hank is sniffing on everyone's trail, and Dean Norris is absolutely perfect in the role.

In a relatively heavy-handed look into Jesse's state of mind, we get the impression that by starting up a new game of Rage (OMG how'd he get an advanced copy!?), Jesse is ready to pull a trigger again even though the thought of Gale still haunts him. Yet Jesse has a problem putting the ricin in Gus' Joe, and wisely decides not to put a bullet in the back of Gus' brain when given the chance. Even though Jesse is no longer holed up in his apartment with a bunch of degenerate methmouths, he's on more of an island than he's ever been. He's stuck between Gus incorporated and Walter, and though it appears that his loyalty remains with Walter, things aren't that simple. He can't even bring himself to tell Walter the truth later.

Jesse eventually cracks in the episode's most moving scene when he's at his old group rehab meeting. This should be a boring scene, but it's anything but. Whereas Walter has been embracing his transformation, Jesse is killing himself over it. Is this ultimately what will divide Jesse and Walter? There's not enough praise that can be heaped on Aaron Paul for his performance here. You can try, but you'll never be able to fully do it justice. Credit should also go to Jere Burns, who plays the counselor, for allowing Paul to do his thing.

The early scene of Walter taking the Challenger out for some donuts serves as a perfect reminder of his current state as emerging badass. He's out there spinning that whip, burnin' rubber to some The Pretenders like Heisenberg would. But then he jumps one of those curb stops and gets the car stuck in incredibly unbadass fashion. Not wanting his joyride to end by calling AAA, he Heisenbergs an idea to blow that motherf***er up then calmly calls a cab to pick him up. Walt's still learning how to be the tough guy, and he gets an A for effort in disposing the car, but only a C-plus in execution. You'll get it right one of these days Walter.

"Problem Dog" was exactly what you want to see out of a midpoint episode. We've got a rough map of what's to come, a huge leap in plot with Gus' problems, and our main characters (Walt and Jesse) still on the same page yet so far apart. I like where this is going. A lot.

Notes:
... Hank knows he's got Gus nailed, and Norris played it great. We've seen Gus around the DEA's office before, is there a chance he's bought off someone inside to keep the tail off him?

... Not a whole lot of Marie since her early klepto phase. As much as I love Betsy Brandt, this is probably a good thing. Her troubles pale in comparison to everything else.

... Will Mike go down swinging with Gus? Or is he going to allow things to happen and work for whoever pays him? I'm hoping that Walt puts him on payroll.

Track of the Week:
The Pretenders, "Boots of Chinese Plastic"


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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Sep 14, 2011
The first "Great" episode of the season! Brillant. Welcome Back, Hank.
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Sep 02, 2011
Brilliant episode and excellent season so far.
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Sep 01, 2011
great episodes! i love the part where Jesse tries to re-paint his wall maybe as a symbolism that he will have a new clean streak. Walt comes in asking him to kill Gus. Jesse keeps on repainting the same spot over and over trying to clean the "dirt" that he did but cannot escape it. Shit like this that makes this one of my favorite shows.
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Aug 31, 2011
Great show and great mid-season episode. Gilligan (or the room) keeps writing gold for Aaron Paul, and he keeps on giving it right on back to them with his performances. Pretty sure that the new promotion guy (forget his name) is in Gus's pocket. Certainly they haven't shown us enough of the other workers of the DEA for me to make this assessment (but I'm clearly about to make it anyway), but he always seems to be doing well even though we don't hear about anything he's showing for it. Marie is fantastic, but you're right. She was fantastic for what she does, but we have enough, and let's not overdo it. Mike's not stupid, and there was the loyalty discussion. He's also getting old, and has a family. I think he's going to stand by his man until he sees that the final chapter is written and all that is left for it to play out. Then he'll look over at Walt, wash his hands of it all, and disappear with his family into the sunset.
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Aug 31, 2011
Did anybody else find it odd that Hank has yet to voice his suspicions about Walt out loud? I guess he doesn't have enough reason to believe Walt has any connection to the blue stuff. One case at a time I guess.
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Aug 31, 2011
Gus is screwed
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Staff
Aug 31, 2011
Out of curiosity - How many of you out there think that Walt Jr. could actually take a job at Pollos Hermanos?
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Aug 31, 2011
it's nice seeing Gus having problems.. the show was on a dark loop and it was getting boring, but now with Gus on the line the heat is up! i think Gus is gonna last till the season finale and then we're gonna see Walter+Jesse in a search for a new boss or even better Walter+Jesse starting working alone again.
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Aug 30, 2011
It's the little things, as well as the whole, that make this show so amazing to watch.
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Aug 30, 2011
The last couple of episodes have been amazing (the whole show had, but still). I think my favourite part of 'Cornered' was when Walter took the framed dollar bill, smashed it, and bought a soda. Classic!



I also like when Walter trashed the car in this last episode, as well as the tension piling up around Gus.
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Aug 30, 2011
I think we'll have a Scarface type transition at the end of this season. Walter and Jesse will kill Gus to take over the New Mexico meth game and arrange a suitable deal with the cartel. Then the final season will focus on Hank finally closing in on Heisenberg, I think the series will end Scarface style too in a way, with Walter dying at the end in a blaze of glory, like you said in a previous review, Walter has to die at the end, as for Jesse? I like to think he'll run away somewhere and sip martinis on a nice Island for the rest of his life. That way we'd get good and bad endings to even it out. :P
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Aug 30, 2011
One of the best episodes for sure. Very tense. I'm not sure if I like that Walt seems more and more like a idiot this season. The botched car disposal, would of sent all kinds of red flags to the cops. The only reason he cares whats going on with Jesse is to save his own butt!
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Aug 30, 2011
I think next episode will open exactly the same way as the last and the one before that. Some guys sitting in a truck - only this time it's the DEA that gets them out.
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Aug 30, 2011
Of course we know what the cartel wants: The one thing Gus decided to keep for himself and exclusively: Heisenberg. They want blue meth and its creator.
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Aug 31, 2011
I agree MikeMuller1 - I know the cartel wanted Walt killed in appeasement for the death of Tuco, but these men care for money and power more than avenging a fallen comrade. They understand the purity of Heisenberg's product is unrivaled, and they want the master chef for themselves.
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Aug 31, 2011
I thought that was pretty clear myself but none of the TV bloggers I follow are coming to that conclusion an I can't figure out why. Last I know, the Cartel wanted Heisenberg dead, Gus said no, appease yourselves by killing Hank, and we all know how that ended for them. Why would they no longer hold a grudge against Heisenberg and Gus for that matter for denying them their revenge?
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Aug 31, 2011
I think Walt is the lead candidate for what the cartel wants... but sometimes things that seem obvious aren't in this show!
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Aug 30, 2011
How's Jesse playing RAGE (which isn't out yet), and which is an RPG (not FPS) with a light gun? It isn't a on rails type experience, it's basically Fallout 3/New Vegas. Smh @ promoters - people not interested in gaming won't care about what he's playing one way or another, and the people that are interested will just scratch their heads at the inconsistencies. Why not just have him play Killzone 3 or Socom 4 with the PS Move?
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Aug 30, 2011
Jesse and Hank were the highlights in this episode IMO. Actually, I'd say that Jesse has been my favorite character this entire season, with his downward spiral, and that rehab scene does a great job of showing why that is. He's in such a dark place right now, even darker than he has been in previous seasons, and whether they portray that through artistic party scenes or through his character's dialogue (as was the case for the rehab scene), it has all been fantastic, and Jesse's greatest period in the series. I can't wait to see where they take him from here, especially now that he's stuck between Walt and Gus. As for Hank, I can't say I hated his recovery period, but it's nice to finally see things get back to normal for him, and in such a big way. I loved how he played with the expectations of his co-workers, and brought everything together at the end. I can't wait to see where that leads. Will it help contribute to Gus' downfall? And how close will Hank get to finding out the truth about Walt? Obviously there would be no show if Walt was in jail, but considering the fact that next season will be its last, they could be setting it up for a big Walt vs. Hank story in the 5th season.
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Aug 30, 2011
i really hope they give Aaron Paul an Emmy this year.
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Aug 30, 2011
Doesn't he already have one?
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Aug 30, 2011
Yeah your right he won 2010 supporting actor. Must have missed that!
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Aug 30, 2011
good episode, great insight into jessee
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Aug 30, 2011
Justttt masterful. Looking forward to BB cleaning up next year's emmy's. Aaron Paul....you da man.
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Aug 30, 2011
Great episode!! Nice to see Walt & Jesse in acillary roles for the most part. Mainly because of plotlines needing a recovering Hank, with the LAB NOTES!! Who saw that coming??? heh heh heh. No doubt Gus has someone in the DEA pocketed. (I got $5 on the guy just promoted!!) With Hank back on track, re-dedicated to catching Heisienberg, and recouping well, it's no wonder Marie is low keyed. She's where she want to be, home and happy.

If(big if) Mike is around when Gus is taken out, I have no doubt he will do what he does best, KICK ASS!! May also be the time when Jesse reaches the turning point on his loyalty scale. I can see it playing out two ways, a blazing battle with the cartel or simply disappeared, quietly and no muss, no fuss. No matter which way it goes, I'm putting my $$$ on whoever shows up at the laundry meeting with a FULL ON Heisenburg!! At this point Walt is simply pushing Jesse to get the job done. Should Gus drop out of the picture there is no way he'll remain an "employee". I hate to even THINK of the last episode being a DAMN cliffhanger this yr!!!

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Aug 30, 2011
It would so not be Breaking Bad if the clich mexican guy in the DEA would be on Gus' payroll.



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Aug 30, 2011
I agree with safibwana; I'm under the impression that the cartel wants Walt dead. Based on this, I think Jesse will eventually drug Gus' coffee and kill him, which will then result in the cartel going after Walt (and probably Jesse). But before Gus' death, I think Hank (either with his own eyes or through his DEA pals' reports) will see Gus with Jesse, who he already knows to be dealing the blue meth, which will give Hank further proof about Gus' role in the drug game. I figure this will then lead to Hank/the DEA finding out about Walt and Skyler.
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Aug 30, 2011
Breaking Bad is a sophisticated project that is just as much art as it is television show. Its drama is real and uncompromising, heavy and damning. It is literally the only show which has made me shout expletives in a harrowing tone at the screen, all while making me giddy like a schoolgirl deep inside. The only other show that even compares to what Breaking Bad does as far as circumstances playing out realistically and staying true to the characters is Game of Thrones. I put Breaking Bad ahead of Game of Thrones only because it has kept astounding consistency for three and a half seasons and shows no sign of getting mundane or selling out its story and characters. Breaking Bad is impeccably detailed and obsessive in its quest to do things the right way and the payoff is priceless. Sheer brilliance, from the actors to the editors, the producer, director and most importantly the writing, Breaking Bad is sheer brilliance.
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Aug 30, 2011
Aaron Paul and that scene! Give the man another Emmy!
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Aug 30, 2011
As to the only thing the cartel wants, according to Wikipedia "a cartel is a formal (explicit) agreement among competing firms. It is a formal organization of producers and manufacturers that agree to fix prices, marketing, and production. (...) Cartel members may agree on such matters as price fixing, total industry output, market shares, allocation of customers, allocation of territories, bid rigging, establishment of common sales agencies, and the division of profits or combination of these."

I'd guess that's what they want, for Gus' business to be under their control. An independent business like gus' with a superior product like Walter's can't be good for any cartel.

The idea that what they want is Walter, as someone said, could be interested, especially considering that in that case Gus is actually protecting Walter for now, but I don't think they'd go through all that trouble and refuse $50m just for him.
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Aug 30, 2011
Love this episode, one of the best of the season so far for sure. I love the beggining! How did Jesse get an advanced copy of one of the most anticipated games of the year? Hahahahahaha.
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Aug 30, 2011
The beginning was product placement of the worst kind.
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Aug 30, 2011
Doesn't the cartel want Walt dead? Didn't Gus get him a temporary reprieve and then extend his contract to a year? Why should we assume that has changed?
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Aug 30, 2011
Yep, this episode was Breaking Bad at its finest.// Think Fring has got someone in the DEA though, maybe even Hank's boss Lieutenant Mustache.... and I don't really "get" Jesse this season. I mean Paul's acting has been top notch, but Jesse has become very erratic, to say the least..// Wouldn't it be total karma if & when Walt dies at series' end i.e., it's ricin that does him in? Put that in your pipe and smoke it!
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Aug 30, 2011
I absolutely loved how Hank orchestrated his evidential show-and-tell. He carefully and methodically laid out his entire case against senor Fring, dramatically pausing at all the right moments. Then, when it was time for him to point the finger at his suspected man, he knew his DEA buddies would scoff and laugh at how preposterous and unbelievable it was that their friend in crime could be the Meth Kingpin Heisenberg. Hank cordially smiled with them, agreeing how crazy the idea was, then with the coup de grace, laid before them fingerprints of Gustavo Fring on a Pollos Hermanos wrapper, found in Gale Boetticher's house. Surprised and dumbfounded looks ensued. HANK IS THE MAN!
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Aug 30, 2011
I have school next week, so I can't believe I'm actually saying this, but I CAN NOT WAIT FOR NEXT SUNDAY!!!!!
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