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Recap / Breaking Bad S3 E3 "I. F. T."

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Season 3, Episode 03:

I. F. T.
Skyler considers making a move on Ted.
Written by George Mastras
Directed by Michelle MacLaren
Air date: April 4, 2010

Skyler: He just showed right back up. And he doesn't want a divorce. Won't even consider it. I called the police on him. I was so close...
Lawyer: So close to what?

Around the time Hank was working in El Paso, Tortuga met with his boss in the cartel, Juan "El Jefe" Bolsa. Bolsa offers Tortuga a birthday present: a live tortoise. He even paints a birthday message onto the tortoise's shell. Tortuga panics when he sees what Bolsa wrote for him: "HOLA DEA". Before he can escape, the Cousins apprehend and behead him.

After Mike leaves from bugging Walt's house, satisfied that the Cousins have been driven off and that Walt is safe from them for the time being, Skyler returns home and is disturbed to find Walt inside. She threatens to call the police and tell them about his meth cooking, but Walt refuses to leave, explaining to her that his family was everything to him, and without it, he had nothing to lose. Junior returns home and happily greets his father, and is infuriated when the police arrive. Skyler tries to explain to the officer that Walt is trespassing and that she wants him arrested, while Walt dutifully tends to Holly and apologetically admits that he hasn't been a very "attentive" husband lately. But there is no legal excuse to arrest Walt: he and Skyler are not legally divorced or separated yet (since Walt refused to sign the divorce papers), the house was bought in both of their names, and as Skyler openly admits, he hasn't actually harmed or threatened her. Since Skyler can't bring herself to reveal Walt's crimes, the officers cannot do anything to help.

Meanwhile, Jesse sits alone in his new home: the house his aunt owned, which he bought using money from the last big meth cook. Still grieving Jane's death, he calls her cellphone, which goes to voice mail, just so he can hear her voice. Saul pays a visit and asks Jesse when he can expect Walt to get back to cooking. Jesse says he'll try to convince him, but goes back to calling Jane's cell after Saul leaves.

As Hank learns that his boss wants him to go to El Paso again, the Cousins, along with Bolsa and their uncle Hector Salamanca, meet with Gus to discuss the matter of Walter White, whom the Salamancas blame for the death of Tuco and want to exact revenge against. Gus acknowledges their right to revenge, but asserts that he is in business with Walter. Once that business is concluded, what happens to him will be none of his business; but until then, they are not to approach him.

Hector rings his bell in furious protest as Gus and Bolsa continue to talk in private. Bolsa warns Gus that he should conclude his business with Walt as quickly as he can if he wishes to remain on good terms with the cartel. There is also no telling how long the Cousins would wait before they go after Walt again.

Still in the doghouse with Skyler, Walt is forced to sleep on the floor of Holly's bedroom, with Holly now staying in Skyler's room.

Skyler meets with her divorce lawyer, and finally admits to her, thanks to attorney-client privilege, that her husband makes meth. The lawyer suggests Skyler divorce him immediately and sue him while she contacts the police, but Skyler is reluctant to do so: she fears what would happen if her son found out the truth about his father. She also doesn't want to suffer all the blowback from turning Walt in when it's unlikely Walt will survive his cancer much longer anyways.

Hank and Gomez take a trip to a seedy bar at Hank's request, where Hank suspects two men of participating in a drug deal. Hank fights back against a panic attack in the bathroom before leaving his sidearm in his car and going back to start a brawl with the two. After they return to HQ, Gomez tells Hank that he corroborated his story to the ASAC that the other bar patrons had started the fight, but left out the fact that he left his sidearm in his car. He's concerned for Hank's reckless behavior, but Hank coldly brushes him off.

Jesse continues to call Jane's phone to hear her voice until it is disconnected. The next morning, he returns to the RV and prepares to cook once more.

Walt finally shows Skyler the stash of cash he earned cooking meth. He gives her a speech explaining that the money that he was earning would help to pay for Junior and Holly's college tuition, their mortgage, and other expenses after he has passed. He states that everything he did was for the family, and all is sacrifices would mean nothing if she did not accept it. Skyler doesn't say a word, glaring daggers at Walt all the while.

At work, Skyler meets her boss Ted Beneke in the break room. She suddenly kisses him, then asks if his kids are home. Ted, pleasantly surprised, says "No"...

That night, Skyler returns home to Walt cooking for Junior and his friend, Louis, who Walt invited over for dinner. Walt notes to a silent Skyler how relieved he is about their talk that morning, noting that honesty does indeed seem to be the best policy. And speaking of, he is eager to hear what Skyler had to say about what they discussed that morning. Skyler's response is only three words, but those words made her feelings very clear, and shake Walter to his very core...

"I fucked Ted."

This episode provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: A character played by Danny Trejo getting his head chopped off by a Machete feels like one.
  • As You Know: Juan Bolsa gives Gus a whole rundown the history of Don Salamanca and his relationship with his late nephew Tuco, apparently for the sake of the audience since Gus doubtlessly already knows about completely. For bonus points, he even says "Perhaps you know..." before going into it.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: When Walt tries to placate Skyler's coldness with being honest, she takes this opportunity to reveal her affair with Ted.
  • Bilingual Bonus: If you know Spanish, you'll catch a funny movie shoutout in the intro with Tortuga. He says, "There are two kinds of people in this world: those who pour drinks and those who drink. Now shut up and fill my glass," which seems to be a reference to the iconic statement made by Blondie to Tuco after the Mexican Standoff from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: "You see in this world, there are two kinds of people, my friend: those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig."
  • Cradle of Loneliness: Jesse does this while listening to Jane's voice on the phone.
  • Dead Star Walking: Danny Trejo gets this treatment for the second time in this series. The first time, he was killed off screen after his One-Scene Wonder turn as Tortuga. This episode begins by showing Tortuga's execution, providing a few more details concerning his death.
  • Died on Their Birthday: Tortuga is decapitated by Marco and Leonel Salamanca after he is distracted by an apparent birthday gift.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • Gus meets with Juan Bolsa and Don Salamanca in this episode, and Bolsa briefs him on both Hector and Tuco's roles in the cartel. Given that later episodes will flesh out in more detail about Gus and Hector's long history together as rivals both vying for the cartel's attention, it seems superfluous for Bolsa to be explaining any of this to Gus. Additionally, Bolsa implies that Tuco took over the family business right after Hector became incapacitated; Better Call Saul would show that Tuco was in prison at the time, with Nacho Varga and then Lalo Salamanca taking over the business after Hector's stroke. Tuco himself would not get involved with the family business again until later.
    • Hector is also referred to as "Don Salamanca" in this episode, which Vince Gilligan admitted as an error since Dons in Mexican cartels are typically referred to by their title and first name. This would be corrected in Hector's later appearances.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Hector wants revenge on Walt for his nephew's death.
  • Evil Is Petty: Walt breaks into the house against Skyler's wishes and deliberately makes her look bad in front of their son and the police.
  • Honesty Is the Best Policy: While trying to make conversation with Skyler over dinner preparation, Walt tries to placate Skyler about their morning discussion with this.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: "I fucked Ted."
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Walt is blatantly ignoring Skyler's wishes as well as showing off in front of his son, but the house is jointly owned so he can't be arrested for, "breaking and entering in his own home", as the police rightly tell Skyler.
  • Like a Son to Me: Don Salamanca's late nephew, Tuco, is referred to in this way by Bolsa.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: An old lady has the grave misfortune of being cornered by the Cousins, but the scene cuts before it's shown exactly what they do to her. The script for the episode, which didn't make the cut, provides a more sinister yet still ambiguous explanation:
    A TIGHT shot of the Cousins, now sitting in the front seats of the parked Handi-Van. The Cousin in the driver's seat starts up the vehicle. As the Van PULLS AWAY, we cut to:
    The REAR END of the Handi-van, with a BUMPER STICKER that read "ASK ME ABOUT MY Cats." The WHEEL of the scooter, now topled on its side, spins in the f. g. (foreground). Poor Auntie.
  • Off with His Head!: Tortuga, as you are aware.
  • Oh, Crap!: Tortuga practically shits a brick when he realizes Bolsa knows about his informing to the DEA, moments before the Cousins take his head.
  • Police Are Useless:
    • Played with. The cops who respond to Skyler's claim of domestic abuse defy expectations by actually being sympathetic to her, but have to break it to her that unfortunately, without claims of abuse or wrongdoing, their hands are tied, and, because Walt's name is still on the property lease, he is legally allowed to be in the house. The script even emphasizes that they have been through many domestic abuse claims and sense that something is up.
      • What's more, Skyler doesn't want Walt Jr. to know that his father is a drug manufacturer, so she has to keep that from the police.
  • Precision F-Strike: "I fucked Ted."
  • Shout-Out:
    • Juan Bolsa's name translates to "John Sack", a reference to The Sopranos character Johnny Sack. Both are intermediaries between two criminal factions; Bolsa being one between Gus and the Ju├írez Cartel, and Johnny being one between the Lupertazzi family based in New York and the Tony Soprano-led DiMeo family based in New Jersey.
    • Junior and Louis are watching Aqua Teen Hunger Force when Skyler comes home.
  • The Reveal: The Cousins were the ones who killed Tortuga, while Bolsa provided the tortoise.
  • Sympathetic Adulterer: Skyler is trapped in her house with her drug dealer ex-husband who refuses to leave. And she can't divorce him without revealing the truth to her son. Sleeping with Ted is her way to get the point across to Walt that she is not interested in repairing their marriage and is moving on with her life whether he likes it or not.
  • Through His Stomach: Just like his previous attempts at placating Skyler with breakfast and pizza, Walt tries this again twice:
    • When Jr. sees that Walt has moved back, Walt offers to make a grilled cheese sandwich lunch for all three of them. Skyler tries to shoot it down by having her and Walt discuss the divorce first, only for Jr. to insist on eating.
    • After laying out his justification for becoming a meth cook and showing the money with Skyler only giving a Death Glare, she returns home in the evening to find Louis staying for a pot roast, salad, and iced tea dinner made by Walt.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass:
    • Walt breaks into the house against his wife's wishes and acts like Skyler has been mistreating him in front of his son, which leads to...
    • Skyler having an affair with Ted and refusing to listen to any of Walt's justifications for his actions. In a sense, probably intentionally invoked by her.
  • Too Dumb to Live: In the flashback teaser, Tortuga, not long after selling information to Hank Schrader, decides to meet with his boss Juan Bolsa in a dingy tavern somewhere out in Mexico. Not only does Tortuga meet up with Juan Bolsa in that bar, they have a seemingly-friendly chat where Bolsa offers to give him a late birthday present. Tortuga, still not feeling wary or suspicious at all, decides to accept Bolsa's "gift": a pet tortoise. Tortuga expresses his thanks and gratitude for receiving the new turtle, up until Bolsa writes a message on its shell: "Hola DEA". Marco and Leonel Salamanca then walk in and decapitate Tortuga with a machete.
  • Uncertain Doom: The Cousins steal a handicapped woman's van for Hector, but we don't actually see what they do to her. The script for the episode, however, heavily implies that she was killed by them.
  • Wham Line: All together now! "I fucked Ted."
  • Would Harm a Senior: The cousins show how ruthless they can be by preying on an innocent, wheelchair-bound old lady so they can steal her ramped-up van.