Breaking Down

“About the ricin in general: Recall that back in season two, Walt cooked up a batch of ricin with the plan to use it to kill Tuco. (Plan thwarted.) Then he made another batch in season four, this time with the plan to take out Gus Fring…. Anyway, Walt never used the ricin on Gus either. In the first half of season five, he thought about using it against Lydia, but also decided against that, too. Walt stashed the ricin vial behind the plate of an electrical outlet, and in this season’s ‘Blood Money’ flash-forward opening sequence, we saw him retrieve it. So: The ricin still has not been used.” — New York Magazine, “What Jesse Knows”

Wrong! All wrong!  Because in Season 4 Episode 4 (44), recall that Marie serves rice pudding to Walt and Skyler when they’re over for a visit.   Skyler thinks it’s awful. Remember? She says, “This tastes more like ricin than rice pudding!” Walt says, kindly, “Ricin has no taste, Skyler. You should know that. You’re married to a chemistry teacher after all. Bwaa-hahaha.”  Hank looks at Walt suspiciously, but Walt distracts him and everyone else by smashing a flower pot over his own head—a flower pot filled with deadly nightshade, which Hank, ignorant of its poisonous properties, had given Marie as an anniversary present in 25.   And in 410, as we know, Walt remembered that and planted lily-of-the-valley purely as  a decorative border near his driveway, the same driveway where he ran over Walter White, Jr.s favorite stuffed animal from his earlier childhood WHICH WE KNOW NOTHING ELSE ABOUT!!  (The way I see it, this has to be a direct nod to all the episodes of “House of Cards,”  in which no one notices the strong resemblance between Kevin Spacey and the poet Billy Collins.)  As they try to resuscitate Walt–who isn’t really unconscious; we saw him practicing smashing flower pots over his own head to thicken his skull in 111, because, as he says while looking in the mirror at his lacerated chemo-bald and now thickened head, “Who knows? It may come in handy in 44 or 45 or, I’m thinking, maybe even 52”—Lydia appears holding an AK-47 (no, not a season/episode abbreviation; a caliber, or something like that).  “Don’t worry,” she says—”it’s just arm candy.”  This is a direct echo of what Gustavo Fring says to one of his waitresses, who is wearing a bandage, at his restaurant-front operation Los Pollos Hermanos in 18: “What did you do to your arm, Candy?” Furthermore, and I can’t get into this too far here, but who can ignore the obvious connection between this whole incident and “Homeland” 17, where Claire Danes vomits because of food poisoning brought on by eating chicken paillard? Not me.

Vince Gilligan gave us a clue to all this in “Talking Bad” after 29 when he said, “Keep your eye on the chicken brothers and the arroz they serve with their Buffalo chicken wings Sunday-night special.” Sunday-night special! Enough said.

OK, not quite—maybe not ever—enough said.  Because if you take 411 (411!) and play it  backward, you will see that the marriage between Skyler and Walt is not even valid, because Walt says under his breath, after he says “I do,” “n apostrophe t” and the minister is Saul, in Episcopalian disguise, and he winks at Walt, which looks like he’s just opening his eye if you saw the episode the “right way.”   (Oh, and also running this episode backward gives strong evidence that Jesse is actually a woman, and from Alpha Centauri.) And finally—at least for now, until this coming Sunday evening—how come no one but me seems to have noticed the similarity of the relationship between Walt and Skyler to that of Ralph and Alice in “The Honeymooners”? Am I crazy? Or is everyone else?  Anyway, Gilligan has cleverly masked this homage by making Walt have lung cancer and be thin. Ralph Kramden is fat and drives a bus—so you’re just going to to have to force yourself not remember that Walt’s first meth lab is in a bus-like vehicle. Nice try, Vince.  But I’m onto you.

Daniel Menaker is the Editor of Grin & Tonic. His memoir, My Mistakewill be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in November.