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Breaking Bad S4E09 - "Bug" Review

This episode of Breaking Bad was entitled “Bug”. There are multiple definitions of the word. One, tieing in with literal events of this episode, refers to a surveillance gadget. Another is a temporary virus that the body’s immune system quickly gets rid of. A third definition is of course, an insect, usually a small nuisence but in some cases, mere insects can be deadly transmitters of life threatening or taking diseases. All 3 can take down much bigger mechanisms such as a criminal organization for the former or a human’s body for the latter 2, but are also easy to eliminate if they are recognized as there, or if the right defenses against them are in place

The surveillance bug Hank put on Gus’ car was easily defeated last week, by Gus’ immunity defenses – Walt and Mike and the pressures on them to be loyal to Gus. Gus is also dealing with the insect type of bug in Jesse – Seemingly harmless, Jesse is floating around Gus waiting to transmit a deadly disease he’s holding in his lucky cigarette. Gus is sending Jesse to Mexico to teach the cartel how to make the now infamous blue meth. Perhaps he senses the risk of Jesse now and instead of swatting the bug, Gus is choosing to open the nearest door and let him fly out. Or perhaps Gus really did “see something” in Jesse and wishes to spare him out of compassion, just as you once may have decided against killing a fly out of fairness to another living creature.

What about the virus type of bug? A virus of course, is usually contracted from the outside – as it takes over your body and breaks down your natural functions. That’s the cartel. If what Jesse was told is true, the cartel are now looking to take over half of Gus Fring’s operation, just as a sickness takes over one’s body. When a bug takes over your body, things can go two ways. Your immunity can fight back and eliminate it, or it will kill you. Your organs and inner chemistry will either be your saviour by pushing out the virus, or the reliance on them as they cave and become unfunctional will be what kills you. Gus’ inner organs right now are Mike, Walt, Tyrus and however many others are involved in his drug trade. The important ones are Mike and Walt – they’re his liver and pancreas, so to speak. Right now it looks to me that both Walt and Mike are looking for a way out. Skylar’s revealed to Walt that the car wash is near profitability and Mike’s clearly been holding reservations about how safe he is under Gus, since Gus killed Victor in the first episode of this season. Gus needs Walt and Mike’s loyalty to survive and I’m not sure he’ll get it when the rubber meets the road.

Meanwhile, it can be argued that a new “bug” has entered the lives of Walt and Skylar – Ted Beneke and his tax evasion threatening to place a similar spotlight on the Whites, something they cannot afford to happen. Ted is small, insignificant, but could be transmitting these audit virus to take them down. The Whites have enough money to give to Ted to pay his bills – But then Ted knows something’s up with the Whites. So yes another piece has moved into place.

Another virus type bug that's a big part of the episode, is some very heavy clues that the cancer tests Walt took last week turned out negative. We saw Walt taking a cigarette for the first time in his life and stating "We're all dead men anyways". Walt has spent his life getting disappointed and getting kicked around, this is yet another hit and now perhaps we will see a Walt with either no conscience left, or one looking to redeem himself and save his family and Jesse any way he can. Once again, as always in Breaking Bad, it will come down to his choice and decisions. I think Walt will continue to make the wrong decisions.

The most memorable scene of the episode, foreshadowed by the cold opening, is Walt and Jesse finally breaking out into a fistfight – like the wannabe criminal version of Stringer and Avon’s fistfight in the Wire. Walt and Jesse have been building tension for and while and more than ever, it appears Jesse is tempted to put his loyalty in Gus' hands and not Walt's.

One more thing, you might remember that the episode in Season 3 entitled “Fly” – making it a natural partner for this episode. That was the episode whose entirety was Jesse and Walt trying to kill a fly in the meth lab due to Walt’s obsession that it might ruin their meth batch. Can we learn anything by these episodes being title partners? Perhaps it simply reinforces what Walt and Jesse are – flies buzzing around Gus and the Cartel’s bigger and more dangerous organisms, and in another sense, viral bugs destroying healthy bodies – like Walt’s actions leading to the ruin of Skyler’s life and the endangerement or death of Hank – and Gus having the Walt and Jesse bugs in his figurative body will surely play into his downfall.

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