While I didn't find this penultimate episode as powerful as the penultimate episode from last season (seriously, I think Half Measures and Full Measures combined will go down as the show's greatest moments), there's no denying the intensity of the episode. I still found the episodes preceding it to be better, but great television is great television, and saying something is worse or better than something else is nitpicking.
First off, I have to give props to Dave Porter, the composer on the show. His score always mirrors the feelings of the character and the tone of the show; the electronic pulses that sound like a heartbeat, the screeching feedback to represent the chaos, the eerie bluesy slide guitar in the background to give the show a western feel... superb choices by Porter.
Meanwhile, the episode follows Walt as he goes off on his own while his family, including Hank and Marie, are taken into protective custody. Walt believes that it's his fault for everything that's happened (and he's partly right). He decides to take matters into his own hands. For most of the episode, he's missing, with most of the focus on Jesse, Saul and the rest of the White family. However, things get interesting once Walt gets involved.
The problems begin after Steve Gomez, on orders from Hank, visits the laundromat and begins sniffing around. Although he doesn't find the meth lab, it's too close of a call, and Gus calls Jesse, letting him know this is the reason why Walt needs to be taken care of. Jesse is adamant about Walt not dying; however, things change after Brock, the son of the woman Jesse has been chilling with lately, gets poisoned. Based on the description, it's ricin that is killing him. And we know there's no cure for it. Jesse realizes the ricin is missing from his cigarettes and realizes it must've been Walt who did it to get back at him for ditching him.
Thus we get the most thrilling sequence in the episode: Jesse shows up at Walt's house to talk. Walt has been missing for nearly twenty minutes of the episode at this point, which equates to about a day in the show. Jesse grabs Walt's gun, points it at him and threatens to kill him. He wants Walt to admit he killed Brock. Walt denies it and turns the situation around, claims that Gus must be the one because he's already proven to kill kids before. As a result, Walt and Jesse hook back up and form a plan to get Gus. Walt builds a car bomb (nice to see the chemistry back!) and plans to kill him while Gus visits the hospital that Brock is at. But things don't go right and Gus senses something is wrong, refusing to get in the car.
The episode is all about building tension, and it doesn't let up until the final moments, and even then, as the episode fades to black, the tension remains and we have to wait a week for resolution. And who knows if we'll even get resolution then? Season 4 is turning out fantastic and I can't wait to see how it comes to a close.