Keeping track of Heisenberg resurfacing
There are no particularly menacing Heisenberg moments in this one, that is, if you don’t count the secrets Walt keeps from Jesse and his family. However, following the Wayfarer incident, Walt goes through changes in Season 3, deteriorating from the decent man that embarked on the crystal ship in the pilot, walking into a hardened shell, and becoming instead, the pragmatic “provider” (see 3.05). His Heisenbergian bursts would no longer be as plainly distinguishable further down the road, as Walter White and Heisenberg get ever so entangled, to the point where eventually the dark side (that is right, Luke) takes over.
“Because you’re a liar, Walt.” One prominent subplot in the past few episodes was that of the fake charity money passing through the Save Walter White website, one which brought false hope and joy for Skyler and particularly for Junior. What is perhaps best captured in Bryan Cranston’s performance in these scenes is how gradually more repulsed Walt grows towards the idea of zombie contributions that make for “dings” ever so unbearably. Perhaps it’s the shame peering through; sure the website’s a safe way to launder his meth money, but who’s fooling who? This is a man, who at least in his own view, started the meth business with noble intentions, to provide for his family even after he’s dead and gone. Now to make matters even more torturous and awkward there’s the TV spot on this sad masquerade, falsely painting him as honorable as he would have wanted to truly feel but simply can’t.
“He’s patient with you and he’s always there for you. He’s just decent. He always does the right thing and that’s how he teaches me to be.” The same great father, great teacher and downright decent man later on masters the art of intimidation and deception to the point of fabricating that horrifying confession video just to scare off Hank (see 5.11). It’s even more tragic when you think about how bitterly Junior’s storyline ends with him blames his hero for everything (see 5.15). Arguably Walt did the right thing in “Felina”, only a bit too late, but enough to turn things around at least for his family (counting Jesse too as the other son). Similar to the website, he did manage to once again make his money count in Felina, not through hijacking zombie desktops, no, but this time by zombifying Elliot and Gretchen in turn. Is Walt actually a good role model? Is he ultimately and indirectly the reason why Jesse applied himself later in the series, in darker times, eventually becoming the best student Walt could have ever asked for.
In plain sight
“Some of you already know my brother-in-law. He’s a good man.” Walt might be ridiculously unlucky when it comes to keeping his lies straight with Skyler, but hell, he easily manages to evade the law, leaving little to no trace in his wake, at least until Hank catches up. Instead, it’s Jesse who’s always got the most incriminating evidence against him, hence the encounters with Hank along the way, and why it’s ultimately through him that Hank sets the perfect trap for Walt (5.13).
Later in the show we find a progressively better liar and strategist in Walt. Perhaps he subconsciously learns a trick or two from the best. By that, I mean Gus, of course; the ultimate drug lord, hiding in plain sight, fully in charge of his criminal life, keeping it separate from Fring the great businessman.
One early indication of such camouflage skills comes in this episode as we see Gus having already infiltrated the DEA posing as the well-respected sponsor and community member; true to his fried chicken popping up at the Whites’ in 2.12, giving KFC a run for their money. This curiously coincides with Walt’s donation jar innocently sitting there as Gus and Hank discuss the man’s health issues. Perhaps Gus partly appreciates a drug world newbie such as Walt for having managed to work right under DEA’s radar so far. Lucky to have Hank as brother-in-law, I guess!