It was impossible to come away from last night’s episode without feeling hot, dry, and thirsty, a credit to the almost physical power of this show. Walt and Jesse get stuck in the desert during a meth-making marathon, and come very close to death. It was a claustrophobic, slow, painful hour, yet we saw facets of their characters that we previously hadn’t. And in the end — since the show must go on — they triumph.
Walt and His Family
We open with Walt, Skylar, Walt Jr., and Marie and Hank waiting at Walt’s oncologist’s office. He’s there to have a CAT scan to check on the progress of his treatment, and he can’t stop coughing (which he’s hiding from his family). After the scan, Walt sees the X-ray in the reflection of a painting, and it looks like there’s a huge white mass in one lung. Uh-oh. He tells Skylar that he’s going to visit his mother, though really he’s going to cook up a whole mess of meth in order to make some money before that big scary tumor kills him. “You’re expecting the news to be bad,” says Skylar, correctly. “I need you to stay positive!”
Walt and the Drugs
After hearing from Saul the shady lawyer that his net worth is only around $10,000, Walt decides he has to cook up the entire barrel of methylamine. He drags Jesse away from a date with Jane (at a Georgia O’Keefe museum in Santa Fe!), lying to Jesse that the methylamine will go bad soon if they don’t use it. There’s a quick, amusing montage of them cooking out in the desert, and all seems to be going well until they attempt to start the RV and find that the battery is dead. Then Jesse uses the remaining water to put out a fire in the generator, which breaks, and Skinny P, whom they call to come pick them up, gets lost. They spend a freezing night and then a hot day together trying to get the battery to work. Finally, exhausted and near death, Jesse motivates Walt to brainstorm, and he figures out how to fashion a makeshift battery. They’re saved! Phew. With lots of meth, to boot — $672,000 worth for each, to be exact.
At the end of the episode, we learn that Walt’s tumor has actually shrunk 80 percent. That white mass he saw was tissue inflammation, not a tumor. Walt and his family scream with delight, and he and Skylar kiss, which is the first time we’ve seen them engage in physical affection in forever. Then Walt goes into the bathroom and uses some of that new testosterone by beating up a towel dispenser. There’s not enough room here to dissect Walt and Jesse’s complicated, and at times sweet, relationship, but in this episode we see that they really need each other. When Walt compliments Jesse during a lesson in batteries, Jesse’s face lights up like a little kid. When Jesse yells at Walt to “snap out of it!” Walt really does. Aw, co-dependent drug dealers. We can’t wait to see what they’ll do next.