In the aptly titled Bullet Points, a story arc that played out (briefly) near last season’s finale regarding Gus’ assassination of the competing cartel made its return in this electrifying episode of Breaking Bad.
The episode began with what stands as the strongest prologue thus far this season: Mike the cleaner, awash in dismal blue light, is stationed in the back of a refrigerated “Pollos Hermanos” truck with only a winter cap and pistol in tow. When two nameless henchmen attempt to sabotage the truck by spraying it with a hail of bullets, they soon realize that Mike is an extremely difficult character to take down.
As the two henchmen open the back of the truck, Mike quickly and efficiently kills the two men, exits the truck, and immediately begins tending to his wounded ear. The scene was quick and somewhat directionless (as it had no immediate impact on the rest of the episode), but it was a powerful way to reintroduce this element into the overall storyline.
Meanwhile, back at home, Walt and Skyler rehearse their alibi for the sudden influx of cash: Walt’s gambling problem. Skyler’s thorough alibi includes sections for Game Theory and its relation to gambling, blame, and even regret. This scene is a powerful expose of Walt’s character, a man who has changed considerably from the start of the show.
Where he was once ashamed, and in equal measures, astonished by his criminal actions, he now seemingly accepts his way of life and even defends it. In the alibi script, when it asks him to convey how “terribly, terribly” sorry he is, he claims that he in no way would ever use “such terminology”, nor does he feel this way about his “gambling problem”. It’s a clever, allegorical use to convey his current temperament towards his seedy lifestyle.
Skyler and Walt follow through with their obligation to the alibi, and Marie, Hank, and Walt Jr. all buy into the story when the couple “come clean” at a family dinner. It explains how Hank’s bills are paid, it covers the expense of the car wash, and even explains some of Walt’s “off-kilter” behavior as of late. With Skyler’s accompanying (and genuine) tears, there was just no way that the family wouldn’t buy into the tale.
With Hank and Marie’s tenuous relationship put on hiatus for this week (which, I must say, is a relief), it allowed Hank to get back into his groove as the smart-ass, diligent investigator. Walt is devastated when he discovers that Hank has Gale’s notebook, belongings, and even a Karaoke video starring Gale.
The stark juxtaposition of Hank’s comical reaction to the video and Walt’s terror is overbearingly intense. Walt feverishly looks through the notebook, scanning for any leads that could point in his direction, while Hank pries deeper into the case. It’s an absolutely brilliant nail-biter of a scene that is not to be missed.
Jesse continues his reclusive, destructive binge throughout this episode. He is fading ever so quickly from reality, and not even Walt can bring him back. The problem is, made clear in a pivotal scene where Walt demands that Jesse give a play-by-play of Gale’s murder (or go over “bullet points”, if we must get logistical), Walt has no clue of Jesse’s internal struggle.
Jesse instead kicks him out of the home and continues his descent into chaos. His care for the outside world has been reduced to drastically that he doesn’t even care when his attaché case of money has been stolen. This garners the attention of the ever-efficient Mike the Cleaner, who notifies Gus that “something must be done about Jesse”. The young man is bringing about all the wrong kinds of attention and is not the least bit aware of it. It’s impossible not to sympathize with Jessie’s plight despite his abhorrent actions. It truly lends his character considerable depth, and his arc is as strong as ever.
Overall, this was easily the strongest episode of Breaking Bad season four, thus far. The episode ends with an absolutely killer, yet dreadful cliffhanger as Mike the cleaner snatches up Jesse and drives him out to the desert with no clue as to his intentions for him. Walt discovers this at the closing moments, and his scramble begins. It was the perfect ending for a fantastic episode and helped remind viewers why we love the show so much.
Plot wise, things really picked up this episode, after getting off to a slow start and I love the direction that they’re heading in. Where will they go from here?
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