'Madrigal' feels like a choppier episode than we're used to from Breaking Bad - the focused, uncomfortably intimate exploration of Walt's relationships with Jesse and Skyler doesn't sit quite right alongside the broader sweep of Gus's operation, but it's nonetheless one of the richest character episodes we've had for a while.
The abrupt and inventive suicide of a high-ranking Madrigal employee in the cold open hints at just how deep the company's dodgy dealings might go, although we get little in the way of real information about them otherwise. Their head honcho does pledge "full cooperation" with the DEA's investigation, and new recurring player Lydia (Laura Fraser) seems to be a Madrigal employee of some description, so we'll undoubtedly be finding out more as the season goes on. One thing we do know for sure at this stage: the phrase "Cajun Kick-Ass" is pretty funny when said in a German accent.
It's intriguing that Mike, who in season three warned Walt against taking "half measures", failed to heed his own advice in dealing with Lydia after she attempted to have 12 of his men killed. Rather than kill her when he has the chance, he stomachs the indignity of joining forces with Walt and Jesse once again, keeping Lydia alive on the basis that she can obtain methylamine for them.
The fact that Lydia's young daughter was in the next room likely had a lot to do with Mike's decision here - it's plain that he shares Jesse's affinity with children and his relationship with his granddaughter, first introduced briefly in season three's finale, turns out to have been crucial to his arrangement with Gus.
In a supremely tense confrontation, Hank and Gomez do their damndest to interrogate Mike about the $2 million Gus had earmarked for his granddaughter. Predictably, they get less than nothing out of him, but with that money now seized it's easy to understand why Mike reconsidered his position on partnering up with Walt and Jesse.
And on the subject of misgivings about harming children, let's talk about the man who doesn't appear to have any. The repairing of Walt and Jesse's bond from last week continues here, and it's as uncomfortably bittersweet as ever with Jesse tearfully apologising for suspecting Walt of poisoning Brock and Walt, in a warmer echo of last week's creepy "I forgive you" to Skyler, absolving him.
Walt comforting a sobbing Jesse recalls their scene just after Jane's death - his other unspeakable betrayal - but in that instance he seemed genuinely guilt-stricken and horrified by what he had done. He's much harder to read here, but plainly relishes taking back the role of reassuring mentor. This plotline is the knife that just keeps on twisting: it's now hard to conceive of how horrifying it will be when Jesse finds out just how right he was when he pointed that gun at Walt's head.
But Walt is still mid-manipulation even now, having planted a fake ricin cigarette in Jesse's Roomba and hidden the real thing behind a wall socket in his own home. We'll go out on a limb here and say that isn't going to end well.
However sad it was to watch Walt and Jesse, their interactions looked positively healthy next to the downright sinister freak show that has become Walt and Skyler's marriage. Anna Gunn doesn't say a word this week, and Skyler's hollowed-out horror is all the more impactful for it; she's a prisoner in her own home, too shell-shocked and scared to make any move at all.
What's more disturbing is how much Walt is enjoying her discomfort - his responses to Jesse at least felt motivated by love, whereas there's an undercurrent of hatred in his blithe "It gets easier" platitude to Skyler, not to mention the dubiously consensual pawing (remember the near-rape in season two?) But Skylar has proved more than once that she's a force to be reckoned with in her own right, and this might be one of many instances in which Walt isn't watching his back as closely as he should. Mike was right to call him a time bomb, but what's to say Skyler isn't one too?
• Merkert's discussion of how betrayed he felt by Gus seemed to trouble Hank, specifically his final words: "He was somebody else completely. Right in front of me, right under my nose." This isn't the first time Dean Norris has played on the ambiguity of a moment where Hank seems to suspect Walt. Fourteen episodes to go...
• We learn that the DEA have (logically) assumed that Tio killed Gus, but the question of who provided him with the bomb is still unanswered.
• Is every episode of this season going to end on Walt physically coiling himself around his frozen, unresponsive wife like a snake choking its prey?
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