Spoilers for the latest episode of "Breaking Bad" coming up just as soon as I skim my pool...
I don't know if it's just that the Crazy 8 story is done, or that Walt has finally fessed up -- about the cancer, but not the meth -- to his family, or simply that I'm more used to its rhythms, but after being interested in but not necessarily riveted by the first three episodes, I'm finally starting to feel engrossed by this show.
In addition to the reasons stated above, "Cancer Man" was boosted by some insight into Jesse, who had previously just been comic relief. We knew he went to the high school where Walt teaches, which seems to be in a relatively well-to-do district, and now we know what kind of family Jesse came from, and that his parents mean well but somehow have both their sons convinced the other one is the favorite. And for the first time, we see Jesse do something semi-noble in taking the fall for his kid brother's joint. Aaron Paul has played very well off of Bryan Cranston in the first three episodes, but it was about time that we got a sense of who Pinkman is and where he comes from.
Meanwhile, after being in denial and spending the first three episodes on his crazy, homicidal scheme, Walt has to face the music and deal with the reality of his condition by telling his wife -- and, eventually, son and in-laws -- about it. I liked everyone's reaction to it -- how Skyler's sister suddenly turns out to be helpful, how Hank makes the well-meaning but depressing offer to take care of everyone after Walt dies -- but especially liked Walt Jr. not giving his dad any slack on his pragmatic plan to die cheaply. "Just give up and die!" is exactly the venom Walt needs to hear right now. (It's just too bad that the scene was written under the belief that AMC would allow Gilligan to use Words You Can't Say On Basic Cable, because the bleeping gets really distracting in an emotional moment like that.)
But just because Skyler and Walt Jr. know, and just because the new oncologist is holding out some hope (of managing the cancer, if not curing it) doesn't mean Walt can put the genie back in the bottle. Not only does he have two deaths on his conscience, but now he has an even greater need to cook meth for Jesse. And, just as he did in the pilot, his tolerance for bullies and the other irritations of daily life has ceased to exist, as shown by him using his chemistry knowledge to blow up Ken the Bluetooth d-bag's car with a squeegee. (Someone want to explain to me how that works? Is it the water, or the soap and water together?) Jerks talking loudly on their Bluetooths (Blueteeth?) have become an obvious symbol of all that's wrong with Western civilization, and I'm glad certain writers -- Vince Gilligan here, Larry David in the amazing "Curb" scene where he decides to carry on an imaginary conversation next to a Bluetooth moron in a restaurant -- have decided enough is enough with this.
What did everybody else think?