This episode had Walt at his absolute worst. His astronomical ego and carelessness pretty much ruined everything for him going forward.
And now I realize that’s why I love this character so much.
This opening speech that Walt gives the dealers has got to be the most pompous thing I’ve ever seen anyone do. He’s telling them to their faces that they’re not worth any of the money they’re paying out, that they’ll never get meth as good as his no matter how hard they try, that he outranks them, AND HE COMMANDS THE GUY TO SAY HIS NAME!
Walt is basically the king telling one of the subjects to get on their knees right in front of them. He knows he has this power now and he’s so high on it that he wants the rest of the world to reinforce it. Fucking king character. Walter White is evil and he’s proud of it. The past two weeks he’s basically admitted that he doesn’t have good intentions anymore. Being a drug kingpin is revenge for every lost opportunity he’s had in life. He doesn’t want to quit because that means that his life is over. Walt quitting would mean that he goes back to a broken family and a broken home and a wife that doesn’t love him anymore. He’s never felt like the man once in his life until now, and you do not go this long without that satisfaction and end up satisfied with your 15 minutes.
Mike basically telling Jesse that he has no idea what he’s getting into while Walt stares on was some real creepy stuff. The look in Walt’s eyes when he sees that Jesse is truly happy thinking that he’s out of this business is a little bit more than fear. It’s almost like Walt is confused as to why Jesse wouldn’t want this. This kid has done nothing his whole life and wasn’t even that great of a drug dealer, but now that he has it all he’s just going to throw it away? Why would he not want the power that being a kingpin brings? It doesn’t click in Walt’s head yet that these people aren’t in it for the power or the notoriety. Jesse just wanted some steady cash and after they got involved with Gus he couldn’t find any way out. Where Walt sees opportunity, I think Jesse is more or less turning around and trying to look for escape.
And that brings it to Jesse interacting with Skyler. Skyler still finds it uncomfortable that this kid is being run right by her, being shoved in her face, a constant reminder that Walt’s lifestyle has invaded her home. Jesse isn’t a bad kid and I think Skyler knows that, but what he represents is what ruined her marriage. Jesse played a part in the business that ruined her life, but when Skyler looks at him she can also see that he’s not the one to blame for that. Jesse was manipulated by Walt just the same. He’s trying to find his best way out too. Of course he can’t see it the way she does because there is NO way out for Skyler at this point. I think the way Mike and Skyler view Jesse is a way they wish they could view themselves again. These two want to save this kid more than anything because there’s still promise in him. They know that they can’t though, and as much as he wishes he could save them he also knows that he can’t. Everyone’s a prisoner to Walt. No matter how many glances they give each other they know that this man has all the cards and he’d rather set fire to them than let anyone else get a chance to play.
Hank. Oh, Hank. Hank is the only guy still fighting for this cause and it’s admirable. The man is great at his job and he can’t really help the fact that this group has just stayed one step ahead of him.
Back to Walter and Jesse here: Walt tearing Jesse down looks more to me like Walt looking at himself. Walt doesn’t see his life as anything worthwhile (as I said earlier), so when he sees the one person that’s stuck with him throughout this process running away, what better option than to tear him down as well? Yes, Walt feels bad about that kid’s death (I don’t doubt that. No way he just lets that slide by), but he still feels justified. It’s like getting a scab on your arm and constantly peeling at it because you think “eh, already pulled at it too much already”. Walt believes he has this control over Jesse (just like he did with Skyler) to where he can just say whatever the hell he wants to push this kid into the dark with him. Walt doesn’t have power over them anymore. He’s losing his grip. When Jesse walks out in Walt’s mind he feels like he needs to push Jesse as far away as possible to prove that JESSE NEEDS HIM instead of the other way around.
Walt playing to Todd’s loyalty right after Jesse leaves him is just too perfect. Walt wants a new Jesse and he can’t seem to accept any less.
And lastly, Mike, the chaotic good of the group. I’m not gonna sit here and say that Mike was a great guy because he really wasn’t. Dude was a cleaner; it’s his job to NOT be a good guy. With Mike though, there’s something about him that makes me wish he found his way out to the end. He lived about as honest a life as you can when you go out and knock people out of the park every now and then. When he calls Saul and asks him to deliver the bag I think he knew more than anything that Walt would be a loose cannon given the situation. Mike didn’t want to risk Jesse’s safety, he didn’t want to deal with Walt’s drama, and he knew that Saul would be the only one scared enough to get in and get out without asking any questions.
So, Walt and Mike have their confrontation and the devil gets his due. Walt cared about Mike to a certain extent. I’m not going to act like Walt didn’t have an amount of respect for the type of guy Mike was or the way he handled business (they just flat out didn’t agree). Walt wanted that same respect back. He needed that respect from Mike. Mike was a Gus Fring guy and Walt can’t take the fact that he’ll never have Mike’s full respect. That same pride and ego that Mike called Walt on having is what drove Walt to pulling the gun out in a fit of rage. As much as Walt loves to masquerade, he’s not a killer, and the instant he saw what he did to Mike he realized that again. Walter White was a good man once. That good man buried under all of this darkness realized that he shot another good man without reason. Both of these guys took their descent into evil and took a certain amount of pride in their work, but sooner or later one was going to take care of the other.
Walt will do things to assure that he’s never underestimated. If it means killing, stealing, hiding, flat out lying to everyone around him, he’ll do it. Why? Well, he needs to prove to everyone (and above all himself) that he’s not weak. Walter White without control is nothing. He has no strength if his hand isn’t on the lever. Such a thing drives the man crazy and he’ll never let go without a fight. With just one episode left (this year durrr) I’m really interested in how he manages to throw his life even further into hell than it already is.