Episode Title: "Open House"
Writer: Sam Catlin
Director: David Slade
Previously on "Breaking Bad":
Paranoid that Gus (Giancarlo Esposito) would soon have him killed, Walter White (Bryan Cranston) began carrying a concealed .38 snub to take out his boss at the earliest opportunity. During his next day at the drug lab, Mike (Jonathan Banks) told Walt that he would never see Gus again; which seemed to imply that Gus had foreseen Walt's actions. Later, Walt drove to Gus' house in a desperate bid to finish him off, but a surprising phone call told him to go home. The next day, Walt tried to convince Mike to help him kill Gus, but Mike responded by punching him out and kicking him a few times for good measure.
Meanwhile, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) continued to be unable to deal with the fact that he murdered Gale (David Costabile) to save himself and Walt. Jesse began an extravagant drug party at his house just to keep himself distracted. But eventually the people left him alone with his own dark thoughts. Elsewhere, Hank Schrader (Dean Norris) continued his rehab and his mineral search while treating his wife, Marie (Betsy Brandt) like garbage. And Walt's wife, Skyler (Anna Gunn) approached Bogdan (Marius Stan), a local car wash owner about buying his business so that Walt could use it to launder his drug money. But Bogdan had a grudge against Walt and he insulted both Skyler and her husband when he refused the deal.
At the drug lab, Walt is alarmed and offended that Gus had motion cameras installed while he was out. He angrily gives the camera the finger before starting the next batch of drugs. Later, Skyler visits Walt at his apartment and she is alarmed by his black eye from his fight with Mike. Skyler is incredulous over Walt's explanation for it and she seems genuinely concerned for his safety. He brushes off her worry as she leads the conversation back to the car wash. She wants to buy it despite Bogdan's refusal. At an open house, Marie spins a fiction about herself that seems to drag on forever. When she returns home to Hank, he emotionally abuses her again, sending her back out for chips.
The next day at the drug lab, Walt complains to Jesse about the cameras, but they don't seem to bother Jesse that much. Jesse asks Walt if he wants to come with him to the Go Kart track, but Walt turns him down and tries to get Jesse to talk about his problems. Jesse turns it around on Walt and neither man opens up before they part. Later, Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) has a meeting with Skyler and Walt about the car wash. Saul and Walt try to dissuade Skyler, but she reveals to Walt what Bogdan said about him. This changes his mind about going after the business, but Skyler refuses to endorse violence against Bogdan or his employees.
At Jesse's house, the never-ending party is getting out of control, but he just doesn't seem to care. At another open house, Marie spins another elaborate lie and steals a collectible spoon when the real estate agent isn't looking. The next day, Marie tries her trick again at a different open house, but the same real estate agent from the day before recognizes her and confronts her. Marie is caught with stolen items from the new house and arrested. When Marie calls Hank from jail, he is livid until finally her tears get him to calm down and call in a favor to get her off. But once she is released to Hank's friend on the force, she breaks down and cries.
While washing her dishes, Skyler gets a brilliant idea to get rid of Bogdan. Using Saul to supply her an impostor to pass himself off as a government environmental inspector, Skyler uses her phone to coach the man through Bogdan's faked environmental violations and convinces him that his business will be shut down for weeks as a result… not to mention the $200,000 it would take to get up to code. At Hank and Marie's home, the detective who helped her arrives and asks Hank for a favor. A notebook full of drug formulas was left in Gale's apartment and the detective wants Hank to look it over and tell him what he's got.
Unaware that the notebook may be the key to his years long investigation of the blue meth, Hank seems to agree to look it over. But he doesn't make it a priority. At Skyler's home, Bogdan finally calls to accept her earlier offer for the business, but she refuses to pay the old price and lowers her bid. Walt is initially upset by her actions, but Bogdan caves only a few minutes later. To celebrate, Walt buys a $320 bottle of champagne, but Skyler scolds him for using money that they can't account for. At Jesse's home, Gus' latest employee, Tyrus Kitt (Ray Campbell) watches as events continue to deteriorate inside.
Seemingly out of sheer boredom, Jesse begins literally throwing money around, causing a mad scramble by the guests to grab it. Back at Hank's home, he stops watching TV after Marie is asleep and he finally picks up Gale's notebook to read it.
"Breaking Bad" has a tendency to feature scenes that stay with the characters a little longer than most shows; which can sometimes lead to compelling moments that we wouldn't get anywhere else. But the flip side of that is there are also scenes that can wear out their welcome… and then go on for another couple of minutes. Marie's first open house sequence was one of the latter category. That was unbelievably tedious. Clearly, Marie's aberrant behavior stems from the horrible way that Hank treats her. She's emotionally broken and the lies that she tells and the objects she steals either gives her a thrill or they help her fill whatever void is left inside her.
The problem is, it just wasn't very entertaining. This wasn't the most eventful episode of the series, but every time the focus shifted back to Marie I immediately lost interest in what was going on. The one redeeming moment of Marie's story was how desperately she didn't want to go home and face Hank after she had been caught. Hell, she probably just didn't want to go home and take more of his bullsh**. For his part, there's one brief shinning instant in which Hank actually seemed like a decent human being. Marie's tears actually move him to the point that he stops yelling at her and begins helping her. There was also a really smart directing choice there in which we don't hear Marie's side of the conversation.
Other than that moment, Hank is still largely unbearable to watch, especially when he's removed from the larger story. That may change after this episode, now that Hank has his hands on Gale's notes and formulas. Who knows? Walt's name may even be in that notebook somewhere. It's not like Gale expected that anyone else was ever going to read it…
This episode really belonged to Skyler, as she executed a masterful plan to get revenge on Bogdan and buy his business out from under him. I loved the way that she used the fake environmental agent against Bogdan… who probably should have made some follow up phone calls to the government before caving. However, Skyler earned her victory and she showed that she still knows how to push Walt's buttons by changing his mind about pursuing Bogdan's car wash.
Bob Odenkirk also stole the show with some great moments as Saul during his attempts to act out Walt and Marie's other options to get Bogdan to sell his business. That scene worked so well that I even laughed at a toilet flushing for the first time in years.
With so much of the focus on Marie and Skyler, Walt and Jesse felt a little marginalized in this episode. Walt's anger over the cameras was slightly amusing, but it didn't go very far. Jesse is clearly heading for a major crash without anything to break his fall. There is a really interesting sequence at the Go Kart track where the director uses a series of jump cuts to illustrate Jesse's fractured state of mind. I'd like to see more of that as opposed to the never-ending party back at his house.
Overall, this was a good episode, however I could stand for a lot less screen time for Hank and Marie in the future.
Crave Online Rating: 7.5 out of 10.