Breaking Bad Recap, Season 4, Episode 9: "Bug"

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Sept. 11 2011 11:29 PM

Breaking Bad, Season 4, Episode 9: "Bug"

Photograph of Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman by Lewis Jacobs/AMC
Photograph of Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman by Lewis Jacobs/AMC

[Caution: There are spoilers ahead! So if you haven't yet watched "Bug," come back when you have and share your thoughts and theories.]

Jessica Grose Jessica Grose

Jessica Grose is a frequent Slate contributor and the author of the novel Sad Desk Salad. Follow her on Twitter.

In most suspenseful dramas, there comes a time—usually late-mid season—when the action starts to drag for me. My interest wanes as the story creeps forward more slowly than I'd like. Granted, I have the attention span of a fruit fly (the more patient among you probably don't feel this way), but I'm at that point in this season of Breaking Bad.

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In the past, we've praised the show for how slowly it parcels out information, but I feel mired in the ongoing power struggle between Jesse and Walt. Though I enjoyed the herky-jerky fight in the final moments of this week's episode—my viewing companion compared it to Homer Simpson choking Bart—I didn't believe for a second that Walter was going to leave and never come back, as Jesse wants him to. Their push-pull has gone on for four seasons already; it will continue.

One thing I unreservedly adored about this episode was Skyler’s gift of grift. She played the Beneke audit like a pro. I’m always impressed with her competence, and find it galling that she’s constantly having to cover for the incompetent men she’s sleeping with.

Hank’s investigation into Gus continues to chug along, and I’m glad to see Hank’s old spirit come back full force. But again, my crap attention span has gotten the better of me, and my mind wanders to minutiae. Such as: Has the show ever gotten around to explaining why Marie is always wearing purple and why the house is decorated in various shades of lavender and plum?

Speaking of vibrant colors, there were the obligatory shots of blood in “Bug.” The cold open had them, and then when one of Gus’s henchmen gets shot by the cartel, he splatters everywhere. I’m usually put off by such extreme violence, but since the death count has continued apace this season I’ve become inured to it. Are you finding that the violence no longer has the same impact as it did, say, when the box cutter was employed in episode 1?

As for Gus—I’m convinced all you readers who told me that his “brother” in last episode was probably his lover were right when I saw the immaculate inside of his bachelor pad (and I’m embarrassed for missing that nuance the first time around). I was shocked that Jesse was still considering killing Gus. As the season goes on, I find Walt’s reasons for killing Gus to make less and less sense: It seems their lives are in danger whether Gus lives or dies. They’re in too deep at this point.


Back to that last scene. Did you believe Jesse when he said that Gus wants him to go down to Mexico to teach other chemists how to cook? We didn’t see Gus’s offer play out, so maybe Walt’s paranoia about Jesse is on the money. On the other hand, Jesse’s never been a good fibber, and his anxiousness at the prospect of heading deep into cartel territory seemed genuine. Still, after all of Walt’s caterwauling this season, I was slightly happy to see Jesse smack him around. What did you make of that final showdown?