For anybody who has complaints lodged against Skyler White and how Anna Gunn is an annoying actress and how the show would be better off without her, I think this episode should be somewhat of a redemption. For a character who could've been stagnant and become just a nagging ex-wife of a character that we're usually rooting for, she's come a long way. In fact, after this episode, I felt like we were watching a husband/wife crime duo a la Bonnie and Clyde (well, not exactly like that, but you get the picture). That's right, Anna Gunn somewhat stole the show out from Bryan Cranston here, and even if her acting still wasn't up to par with Cranston's, her character was given a new layer: criminal.
That being said, if people have complained about the last two weeks being slow, they'll be even more frustrated with this week. Some people may even say "There wasn't even a fight or a death or an explosion or anything cool like that!" Nope, the episode focused mainly around a series of character interactions and developments and scenes that once again showed Walt being paranoid in one way or the other, Skyler being more conniving and assertive, Saul being… well, Saul, and Jesse spiraling further and further downward. Sooner or later, the bottom has got to drop out and the show will hit that ridiculous streak that it's known for hitting around the midpoint of the season. But for now, we're getting build-up, which isn't a bad thing.
But boy, oh boy… the Hank and Marie plot was pushing my patience this week. I thought Betty Brandt was given her best scenes of the entire show and actual proof that she's a proficient actress in the show. But was the story really necessary? Sure, the scenes with Marie show her odd coping mechanisms and how hard she's taking the Hank thing, but by the time I got to the end of the episode, I wasn't left with any good or bad feelings towards what she went through. Just completely neutral. I focused more on the fact that Hank has started reading Gale's lab notes. Now that's way more intriguing to me then Marie's issues.
I don't want to focus too much on Marie and Hank because I'm not sure anything that Marie does will have an effect on what goes on with Walt and Jesse and Skyler. Walt gets little to do but hide pathetically behind his door and grow frustrated as Skyler takes control in the quest to buy the car wash and Jesse gets very few scenes as well except for one where he rides around in a go-kart and another where (with a Fever Ray song in the background that absolutely KILLS) he goes into his house which has become a crack den and throws money in the air for the druggies can fight over it. It's a pretty grim couple of scenes, and maybe a little too similar to last week, but it was still good.
I've saved talking about Skyler until last, mostly because it was pretty surprising to see how much she was given to do here. Her, Walt and Saul struggle to figure out a surefire way to get the car wash from the guy now until she comes up with the perfect plan: destroy the water in the surrounding area so that he'll be forced to sell for really cheap. Watching her negotiation tactics (all while Holly's in the background, being a cute little baby) as she tries to get the car wash from the Armenian guy was great. By the time we get to the end, where Walt and Skyler are celebrating with a 300 dollar bottle of champagne, I'm finally feeling good about where they're bringing Skyler.
The show definitely needs a kick in the butt to get it going. Season 4 can't be about the group of actors sitting around and just twiddling their thumbs, cooking meth and just going through the motions. Not that every show needs something exciting, but there has to be some sort of change or some sort of twist to change things up. And I'm sure it'll come soon enough. Today felt as filler as the show is likely to get, but I'm sure we'll get more good stuff soon enough.