Todd has a crush; Walter Jr. learns about branding; and Jesse, Hank, Gomie, and Walt meet in the desert.
How about this for a secret? Todd has a crush. The dutiful nephew and student of science has been blinded by blue. Not that famous meth; he's gone schoolboy for its latest spokesperson, the new leader of Walt's empire, Lydia Rodarte-Quayle. (She needs her Hesineberg alias, as none of that rolls off the tongue.)
Last night's episode "To'hajiilee" (named after a reservation near Albuquerque), opened with joke after joke. First Todd and his white supremacist family look hard at the kid's latest batch as meth chef and find it to be blue when it isn't. A blue-clad Lydia, who knows something about branding, calmly explains that her European clients are looking to cop drugs the color of a chlorinated hotel swimming pool. Todd may have the purity up, but unless everyone's seeing blue, they'll never see enough green.
Does Todd care about any of this money? The smart bet would be: no. He's in this to please. We've known that Todd wants to help his uncle and his uncle's Aryan brothers, and last night we learned he also wants to please Lydia. That hand on her shoulder, the way he caresses with this thumb the kiss her lipstick leaves on a mug of tea—he's smitten.
Hank, meanwhile, has a plan. Huell's been picked up, and if he and Gomie can convince him that his life is in danger, they can possibly find out where Walt's stored his money. (The finding-the-money part is Jesse's idea. Jesse's not dumb, he's just a loser who had the misfortune of meeting Walter White.) In the one-billionth moment of the show turning something domestic into a means of deceit, Hank stages a photoshoot with Jesse and some store-bought raw meat. After they show the results to Huell and explain that Walt is going to have him killed next, he starts to whimpering and crying and bean spilling, talking about the rental van and the seven 55-gallon barrels of money.
Hank and Gomie depart satisfied. Huell, less so. Hank gives him a line about how they won't stop until they've ensured his safety, prompting a knowing look from Huell that says something like, "Sho' you right."
In the next scene, someone's making a deal with the devil, but I damn sure can't tell which is which. On the one hand, Walt defends Jesse. He corrects Todd's uncle when he calls him a rat. On the other hand, he's having this conversation about Jesse, whom he calls a member of his family, because he's asking to have him murdered—painlessly, though. A gunshot to the back of the head. Todd's uncle is pleased (sarcastically?) with this instruction, saying, "Too many savages out there."
The deal is that Walt will do one more cook with Todd, as to impart some final knowledge on the kid, for the price of Jesse's head. "Don't skimp on family," says the neo-Nazi charged with killing someone Walt considers family. Who's the devil here? What if they both are?
Oh, wait, that's right—Walt's the devil. Because after telling Todd's uncle he'll flush Jesse out, he goes to Andrea and Brock under the guise of fatherly care. He tells Andrea that Jesse's using again, that if she could check in on him, he would appreciate it. She leaves a message that, to Jesse, would sound like, "Please help—Mr. White's back at the house and Brock's Fruit Loops aren't safe."
Jesse doesn't get the message. Hank's monitoring his phone and sees through Walt's ploy with a snarl. He and his team get down to cell phone trick no. 2.
While they're plotting, Walt Jr. is getting a lesson in branding from Skyler. The show is, by and large, painting everyone "guilty" with the same brush. Everyone (except Junior and Holly) has at least one foot in the grave; they use similar language, oftentimes to justify similar ends. Here it's branding, connecting Skyler to Lydia. (In the earlier scene, it was Todd's uncle talking about the significance of family, just like Walter, Tio, and others have done.) No one gets out of this clean, it's safe to say.
That knowledge doesn't make any of this dirty business less sad, though. The sadness of Walt watching Skyler and Junior work together scrapes out your insides. It could have been some other way. Things could have been beautiful and good.
Insted, there's the desert, where Walt is sent racing after Jesse texts him a photo of a money barrel buried in Hank's backyard. To the sound an emphatic "Bitch!" Jesse tells Walt they've got the money and they're burning it by the rack. Walt arrives, realizes his mistake from a high vantage point atop a rock, and makes the worst possible phone call he could make. With a car approaching, he calls on Todd's uncle. Then the car arrives and Walt sees he's about to have sent the angel of death to kill not just Jesse, but his brother-in-law, too. "Forget it," Walt says into the phone like a child who's had his game ruined by unexpected grown-ups. Unfortunately, ending a phone call like a teenager flinging stuffed animals in anger at a slammed-shut bedroom door is not enough to call of an army of goons.
The agonizing minutes spent waiting for the barbarians are made all the worse by the lack of music. Walt surrenders and is arrested, and there's nothing but dead air between the hollow language of Hank's triumph. The sense of dread is physically painful in this scene. You feel the dread in your body. When Hank calls Marie to tell her that he's got the bad guy, that he loves her and it might be a little while before he's home, you know it cannot be.
They come over the hill in a dusty sedan and a truck, armed to the teeth and with bullet-proof vests protecting them. They draw, six men at least, while Walt's screams go muffled inside the SUV where he sits, handcuffed. This is a Mexican stand-off, with Hank and Gomie outmanned and outgunned.
The shooting starts and it's almost a blessing. The relief of the noise breaks the tension of the last 10 endless minutes. Busted glass. Bullets. Holes that open up in metal upon impact. Ejected casings settling in the dirt.
It looks like Jesse is going to open the car door to leave the vehicle he's trapped in—why? If he gives himself up to be killed, will Hank and Gomie be spared? Is there any way this doesn't end with Jesse, Hank, and Gomie dead? There's little question now that the big gun glimpsed in the flash-forwards is for Todd and company. The real question is, will Walt be wielding it alone? Who else is going to live to see his 52nd birthday?
Three to go.