Breaking Bad recap: The Icarus Complex

After going into "pest removal," Mike and Walt struggle for control of the business. Meanwhile, Walt warns Jesse not to fly too close to the sun
Ep. 03 | Aired Jul 29, 2012

BUGGIN' OUT: Looking for a new cover for their meth operation, Walt (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse (Aaron Paul) go into pest control

Ursula Coyote/AMC

The Icarus myth makes a pretty good cautionary tale. And that's exactly why Walt brings it up with Jesse.

Remembering Gus Fring's henchman Victor, who tried to cook meth on his own and got a box cutter to the jugular in return, Walt concludes that the poor guy was the victim of his own ambition. "All this time, I was sure that Gus did what he did to send me a message," says Walt. "But maybe there's another reason. Victor trying to cook that batch on his own? Taking liberties that weren't his to take? Maybe he flew too close to the sun, got his throat cut."

Maybe he's right that Gus wasn't sending a message to Walt, but Walt's certainly sending one to Jesse. It sounds like he's suggesting that Mike needs to go, just like Victor. But by that logic, Jesse might be in trouble, too. Like Victor, Jesse can now cook on his own, as he proved in Mexico. And he's only getting savvier: it was Jesse who came up with the magnet plan, who enlisted Badger and Skinny Pete to buy some crucial equipment, who figured out how to hide the finishing tank without the motor getting in the way.

Walt knows that he needs Mike (if only for his methylamine connection) and Jesse (if only to keep Mike from losing his patience), and he's smart enough to understand that those guys might not need him with the same urgency anymore. But he's missing the irony of his story. If anyone needs a lesson about hubris, it's Walt. Why did Walt keep cooking meth even after his cancer was gone? Hubris. Why did he keep working the magnet long after he and Jesse should've made their getaway? Hubris. What will eventually lead Hank directly to Heisenberg, if he's not careful? Hubris.

That's exactly why Jesse's lucky that he has Mike.

Watching Mike in the opening scene, it's clear that he's the opposite of Walt. He's a careful, practical, long-term thinker, and he's trustworthy to the guys who've served him. When Mike visits Dennis Markowski in prison, he assures him that his deal with Gus is still in place. (It's a good callback to last week, when Lydia asked Mike, "What about Dennis at the laundry? They are sure to pick him up.") Although Dennis promises he'll keep his mouth shut, he brings up a good point: Gus is dead, and the lab's a hole in the ground. He will stay loyal, but sooner or later, someone's going to flip, so why does it matter?

Mike's answer? Because Dennis will still get paid. Mike admits that has a new venture to help him keep that promise. "Something new, with the Feds looking at you?" says Dennis, incredulous. "How?"

"How's my business," says Mike.

And he's right. We might know all about his "pest control" situation. But something tells me that we don't know everything about what Mike has planned for the future just yet, and neither does Jesse or Walt.

NEXT: Walt rediscovers Leaves of Grass

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