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Recap / Breaking Bad S5 E3 "Hazard Pay"

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Season 5, Episode 03:

Hazard Pay
Jesse mediates a pay dispute between Walt and Mike.
Written by Peter Gould
Directed by Adam Bernstein
Air date: July 29, 2012

Mike: The feds Rico-ed their hazard pay, so we are gonna make 'em whole.
Walt: "We are gonna make them whole"? What is this "we"? These were Gus's employees, not ours.
Mike: They might have been Gus's employees, but they're my guys.

Mike visits Dennis Markowski, Gus' old laundromat owner, in prison and offers him money to replace his RICO'd hazard pay as long as he doesn't rat them out. With Gus dead, Dennis doesn't see how he can get his money back, but Mike reassures him he's working on it. He leaves and plans to visit other former associates to make the same offer.

Meanwhile, Walter moves back into the house, much to Skyler's chagrin. Walter later takes Mike to Saul's office. He and Jesse want to bring Mike in on their new meth cooking operation. Saul is hesitant, but is eventually talked into it. They discuss Mike's role in the operation—handling distribution while Walt and Jesse cook—then take tours of potential labs and finally come to a fumigation company. Cooking in the warehouse is not feasible, but they can use the exterminators (B&E artists with ties to Saul) as a front for cooking: the exterminators put tents up over the house, get the residents out of their homes for a time, then allow Walt and Jesse to cook within an isolated tent like those used in the back alley hospital where Jesse took Mike and Gus following their business with the cartel, and leave after turning on the foggers. This way, they stay mobile and can remain incognito. Before starting their first cook, Mike introduces the exterminators to Walt and Jesse, and one of them—Todd—makes a point to tell them that he found and disabled a nanny cam. They complete the batch without a hitch.

Walt meets Andrea and Brock at Jesse's house and appears unsettled to see the little boy he'd poisoned. He later starts a "friendly" conversation with Jesse about his relationship. He asks Jesse what his plans are "vis-a-vis honesty," then advises him that secrets create barriers between people and that everything Jesse's done is a part of him now, deliberately reminding Jesse of his guilt. Jesse worries about how Andrea would react if he told her that he'd murdered Gale, and Walt says that if she really loves Jesse, she'd understand.

Skyler gets into an uncharacteristically heated argument with Marie concerning Walt's upcoming birthday and her new smoking habit, which ends in Skyler screaming "SHUT UP!" repeatedly at Marie. Marie worries that Skyler's apparent breakdown was over a bigger issue and goes to talk to Walt. Walt tells her about Ted's accident and "reveals" Skyler's past affair as the reason for her breakdown, earning Marie's sympathy.

After the first batch is sold, Walt argues with Mike about distribution costs and is even less happy when Mike reveals he has to pay hazard pay to Gus' former associates to keep them from talking. Walt demands Mike find his own method of payment, but Jesse offers to let Mike take it from his cut. Walt refuses and pays his end with Mike promising this will continue for the foreseeable future.

After Mike takes his leave, Walt asks Jesse how he's feeling. Jesse starts to tell him that he broke up with Andrea, but Walt interrupts and clarifies that he'd meant how Jesse feels about the hazard pay. Jesse is okay with the situation because they are "owners, not employees" and get a bigger share of the overall profits. Walt is not so sure. Walt confides to Jesse about his thoughts on Victor, Mike's assistant whom Gus killed in the wake of Gale's murder. He explains that, at first, he thought Gus killed Victor to "send a message", but had recently thought of another possible reason: because Victor had tried to cook a batch of meth on his own, taking liberties and paying no respect to the chemistry. "Maybe he flew too close to the sun, and got his throat cut." Walt concludes before he departs, leaving Jesse concerned about what exactly Walt meant...

This episode provides examples of:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: Mike, Walt, and Jesse's partnership has been tenuous at best, but Walt and Jesse can't help but grin when Mike suggests that the Vamonos Pest crew refer to them as "Yes, Sir" and "No, Sir".
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: In-Universe, Walt speculates that Gus killed Victor because he "took liberties that weren't his" by trying to cook the batch. Jesse is... disturbed, to say the least.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": When Marie berates Skyler about smoking, Skyler breaks down and shouts "shut up" at her many times before breaking down into tears.
  • Call-Back:
    • Once again, Saul suggests using a Laser Tag business as a front. Nobody is impressed with this, with Walt and Jesse flat-out refusing to even consider it.
    • Walt talks to Jesse about the secrets he will have to keep if he decides to get serious with Andrea. Jesse brings up Gale's death as a possible secret he might have to come clean about.
    • After Walt's argument with Mike, he brings up Victor's death at the hands of Gus.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Walters Sr. and Jr. are seen sitting together in the living room and watching Scarface. Scarface shares several actors with the show itself: Steven Bauer, who played Don Eladio; Mark Margolis, who played Hector Salamanca; and Míriam Colón, who would later go on to play Tuco's grandmother in Better Call Saul.
  • Confess to a Lesser Crime: Marie demands to know from Walt what is going on that has Skyler so upset that she had a breakdown. Walt acquiesces and tells her the truth... that she and Ted had an affair, and is now emotional after his accident. It's not exactly wrong, if only a minor part of Skyler's recent stress, and it oh so conveniently deflects any of the blame from him in the process and makes Skyler look like the bad guy.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: Walt is upset at the smaller net, stating that they did better working for Gus; but as Jesse points out, under Gus, they cooked 200 lbs. a week, and as their own bosses, they didn't even break 50 lbs. in their first cook. And as Mike points out, now that they’re the bosses that means they have to pay their employees and associates, many of whom are taking a risk.
  • Exact Words: Walt reveals to Marie that Skyler had an affair with Ted, strongly implying that this is why she had a breakdown, but never actually stating this to be the case. Marie helpfully fills in the gaps.
  • Gaslighting: Walt plays Jesse like a fiddle in convincing him to leave Andrea, just so Walt doesn't have to be reminded he poisoned Brock. Walt plays to Jesse's sense of guilt, while insisting it's Jesse's decision.
  • A Good Name for a Rock Band: Skinny Pete and Badger buy roadie cases at a music store to carry equipment in and out of the labs under the pretense that they're in a band. When the salesman asks the name of their band, there is a Gilligan Cut to the logo of Walt's new fumigation business: Vamonos Pest.
  • Headphones Equal Isolation: Dennis' lawyer puts in his ear buds and listens to an iPod to avoid hearing Mike's conversation with him.
  • Hidden Depths: Skinny Pete shows off his musical skills while playing a keyboard in a music shop. It doesn't last long, however, as Badger tries to jam with him, but shows he has little in the way of guitar skills.
  • Implausible Deniability: Lampshaded by Dennis, as the manager of the laundry, there is no way the authorities would buy that he wasn't part of Gus' drug operation.
  • Implied Death Threat: Walt's "theory" about why Victor was killed because he "flew too close to the sun" is very foreboding.
  • Lack of Empathy: When Jesse answers Walter’s question on how he’s feeling, after breaking up with Andrea, Walter cuts Jesse off, clarifying he’s asking Jesse how he feels about the money they received.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Walt makes small talk with Jesse about his relationship with Andrea, supposedly imparting advice on being an open book with your significant other about your criminal activities, but is really doing it to distance Jesse from her.
  • Match Cut: An audio version, between Al Pacino firing his machine gun in the climax of Scarface (1983), and a money counter.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In-universe. When Walt moans about how they made more money cooking for Gus, Mike replies, "You don't like paying 20 percent? Maybe you shouldn't have killed the guy"
  • "No. Just… No" Reaction: Walt and Jesse's reaction to Saul proposing using Danny's laser tag arena as a cook site.
    Saul: All I'm asking is that you keep an open mind. Danny's already set some space aside behind the skee-ball games.
    Walt: No.
  • Pet the Dog: Walt is visibly annoyed and irritated about all the money Mike is taking to pay their employees and associates. But Walt has absolutely no issue with giving some of his money to pay Jesse for the 120 he fronted. As ruthless and greedy as he’s become, he still deeply cares for Jesse so much he is okay with giving some of his stack to him.
  • Rapid-Fire "Shut Up!": Skyler is at her wits' end over Walt moving back into the house, and sexually assaulting her on top of that. So when Marie scolds her over her smoking habit, it proves to be the Rage Breaking Point that pushes her into a nervous breakdown:
    Skyler: Shut up.
    Marie: What? I'm sorry, please don't speak to me like that. I am simply saying that—
    Skyler: Will you shut up.
    Marie: Hey—
    Skyler: Shut. The hell. Up. [Shouting] Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!
    Marie: Skyler- Please, stop- I'm-
    Skyler: Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! [Begins to cry]
  • The Resenter:
    • Mike is still grinding his teeth over Walt killing Gus.
    • Even in death, Walt is still seething about Gus' much more successful drug empire. He takes it out on Mike, best while the latter is dividing up the money.
  • Villain Has a Point: When Saul objects to working with Mike, on account of Mike threatening to break his legs, Walter counterpoints that Mike had threatened him and Jesse before, but they’re still willing to work with him, and use his help.

"Listen, Walter. Just because you shot Jesse James, don't make you Jesse James."