Spoiler Alert!- Read if you want, but there are many spoilers if you haven't seen the episode yet.
One year. It’s only been one year. It’s hard to believe that so much has happened in just one year. As Walt recaps all the horrible events behind him at his birthday dinner, he seems entirely oblivious the horrendous realities that are unfolding right in front of him, or behind him, as was the case with Skyler’s faux-suicide attempt. However, the idea that everything that has played out on this show in its first four seasons only occurred over 365 days is surprising, for the characters as well, to say the least. We know from the beginning of this season that in exactly one year from last night’s episode, Walt’s 52 birthday, Walt will apparently be on the run and in need of some serious firepower. Unfortunately, we also know that this exciting conclusion won’t pan out for another full year since AMC has decided to divide the final season into two parts. Wow! Who knew one year could seem so long?
While the intro pretty much sums up episode 4’s title, there are some other aspects of it worth considering. While each episode so far this season has attempted to convey Walt’s swelling pride in himself, last night’s took it another step further with Walt purchasing himself a nice car for his birthday, finally enjoying some of the fruit of his labor, but knowing full well that this would aggravate Skyler. Moreover, in discussing his upcoming 51st birthday with Skyler, a topic of conversation that caused Skyler’s meltdown with Marie last week, Walt’s blind arrogance to his wife’s instability and outright fear and hatred of him is on full display. It is almost pathetic at this point to see Walt so clueless to Skyler’s real feelings, and this is so well-captured when Walt returns home expecting a big party in his honor, only to find just his son and wife. He did get his chocolate cake though.
Scene 1- Hank’s Promotion
Hank receives a much deserved promotion for all of his work on the Gus Fring case, but there is definitely a reluctance in taking it. It’s obvious that Hank doesn’t think Gus’s operation is completely shut down and that the real Heisenberg is still out there, more than likely still cooking. Hank’s suspicions of Lydia as a possible member of the operation, although dismissed by Gomez, which at this point should count as irrefutable evidence, continue to validate Hank’s almost sixth sense at police work. A great irony of the show has been Hank’s uncanny knack for figuring out the bad guys while remaining completely unaware of the worst one right in front of him. With Hank’s promotion and the fact that he won’t be directly overseeing the Fring case, another wrench seems to have been thrown into finally wrapping everything up once and for all.
Scene 2- Jesse’s Continued Growth
Jesse continues to demand respect from his partners. While I would have liked to have seen a little more follow-up after parting ways with Andrea, which seemed fairly abrupt, and his perplexed reaction to Walt’s comments at the end of episode 3, the writers continue to effectively portray Jesse’s growth. In his efforts to prevent Mike from killing Lydia, Jesse not only shows sensible leadership but a real sense of morality that Walt and Mike so severely lack. By demanding a vote, and apparently getting what he wants, Jesse continues to show the necessary strength to make tough decisions, but it also reflects that he has developed a very strong opposition to killing, which will be interesting to watch play out when he will probably be faced with choosing to kill Walt or not.
Scene 3- A Late Night Swim
Skyler’s feigned suicide attempt (possibly not?) as a ploy to protect her kids reveals a crazed craftiness that even shocks Walt. And although she claims she’s not as smart as Walt, and that’s she’s really a coward, nothing could be further from the truth. Benny The Jet commented on the episode 2 recap that Skyler is, “too strong a character to remain catatonic, so I see her returning to action next week. Just not sure if it will be to support or oppose Walt.” While her intentions are indisputable at this point, Benny’s comment hit the nail on the head in realizing that Skyler is incredibly strong, and she will stop at nothing to see her kids safe. This character development deserves some further compare and contrast to two other famous crime lords’ wives, Carmella Soprano and Kay Corleone. Whereas Carmela always liked to play the babe in the woods, never wanting to accept any culpability in her association with Tony’s criminal enterprise, Skyler accepts that there is blood on her hands as well. Instead, Skyler seems to be continuing to emulate Kay, as evidenced with the homage to The Godfather II, when Kay tells Michael that she had an abortion because she wouldn’t want to see another child raised amidst his world of organized crime. Again, Skyler will go to any extremes to protect her children, but what really separates her from both Carmella and Kay is her desire for her husband’s death, seeing it as the only real escape for her and her family. As she says, she’ll just have to wait.
Scene 4- Tick Tock
Time has functioned as a strong motif throughout the series and was made very clear in last night’s episode. The concept of time in relation to death is a cornerstone of the show. Remember, all the events of the past year of the characters’ lives have been centered around Walt’s decisions with what to do with his time remaining. Unfortunately, time is not on Walt’s side. With Mike’s description as Walt as a “time bomb” earlier in the season, the fact that it's Walt's birthday, the recount of the past year by Walt, the watch that Jesse bought Walt for his birthday, Skyler’s referencing to just waiting for Walt's cancer to return, and the ticking of the watch that Walt seems annoyed by at the end of the episode, it is evident that time is certainly running out for Walter, something he may have realized more clearly last night than in previous weeks. Considering the lack of time is what led Walter down this dark path to begin with, we can only assume that things will be getting much worse in the future. Fortunately or unfortunately, we have exactly one year to find out.
Patrick Edmonds is a co-founder, editor, and writer for/of The Lunch Break. His passions include Food, Arts & Entertainment, and Education. You can follow Patrick Edmonds on facebook and on Twitter @patrickedmonds1.