Season 1, Episode 5

Gray Matter

Walt and Skyler attend the birthday party of an affluent former colleague. Jesse attempts to go straight. Skyler organizes an intervention to convince Walt to seek treatment, but the financial burden weighs heavily on him.

Show Full Recap

Full Recap

Jesse, wearing jacket and tie, interviews for a job but bails after discovering that the job would require him to wear a full-body costume advertising a realty company. He comes across a friend, Badger, wearing the costume, and they smoke a joint together. Jesse says he's thinking of retiring from the crystal business. Badger offers to partner up if he ever gets back in.

Meanwhile, Walt and Skyler attend a birthday party for Elliott, Walt's graduate school buddy and former business partner. Walt congratulates Elliott for securing a patent, and he and Skyler greet Elliott's wife, Gretchen. Gretchen is the woman who was Walt's lab partner when he was studying the composition of the human body as a young man in the flashback in episode 3.

In Elliott's wood-paneled library, Walt views a framed Scientific American cover story titled "Gray Matters." Later, Elliott introduces Walt as a "master of crystallography" who made major contributions to the discoveries that led to Elliott's successful technology company, Gray Matter. Walt's "the 'White' in Gray Matter."

Walt and Skyler cringe as Elliott begins to open his presents in front of the guests, nervous that the gift they brought will not compete with those of the party's well-heeled guests. One present is a Stratocaster guitar autographed to him by Eric Clapton. Walt and Skyler's gift is a package of ramen. "I love it," Elliott says, recalling how he and Walt survived on this exact brand of ramen as struggling grad students.

Later, while reminiscing about old times, Elliott offers Walt a job. When Walt declines, Elliott assures him the company has excellent health insurance.

Walt slams the door as he and Skyler leave the party. "You told him about the cancer, didn't you?" he asks Skyler, accusing her of putting Elliott up to paying for Walt's treatments. Over breakfast the next morning, Walt and Skyler glare at each other. No one speaks.

Jesse shows Badger the Winnebago that Jesse and Walt outfitted as a mobile meth lab, and the two head out to the desert to make meth. Badger clowns around while Jesse cooks.

On a weekend evening, Walter Jr. and two friends stand outside a convenience store waiting for a likely prospect to buy them beer. The friends bolt when a guy that Walter Jr. approaches turns out to be an off-duty copy. A bit later, the cop tells Walter Jr., now in a car, that he's gotten his "first and last warning. You're lucky you've got a good dad here." Walter Jr. turns to Hank, who says, "Not cool." Walter Jr. thinks he means the beer, but Hank says he's talking about Walter Jr. calling him instead of his father.

Hank takes Walter Jr. home and theorizes to Skyler and Marie that Walter Jr. is acting out because of Walt's illness: "First the pot, then this."

"The pot?" Skyler asks. She clears up the confusion about her earlier conversation with Marie, "I wasn't talking about Walter Jr. I was talking about Walt," she says, adding that her husband hasn't been in his right mind lately. "Why would anyone choose not to do treatment?" she asks. "Especially when it's completely paid for?" Skyler suggests they sit Walt down so everyone can voice their concerns.

Out in the desert, Jesse holds up some crystal and frowns. "It's not supposed to be cloudy." Badger protests when Jesse tosses out the batch. "Our customers expect a certain standard," Jesse says. "We'll just do it again until we get it right."

Walt returns home. Skyler, Marie, Hank, and Walter Jr. sit in the living room. "Please have a seat and join us," says Skyler.

Jesse cooks and tosses out a few more batches. When he announces, "We can do better," yet another time, Badger scuffles with him over the rejected meth. Jesse pushes Badger out of the RV and drives away.

Skyler says she can't understand why Walt's refusing treatment, which is not in his best interest or his family's. Walt asks to respond, but she says everyone else gets to speak first and hands Hank the small "talking pillow" she's been holding. It's his turn. He compares Walt's cancer to being dealt a bad poker hand until Marie asks what the hell he's talking about. Hank switches to a baseball metaphor — "It's the bottom of the ninth" — before finally blurting out, "I'm with your old lady on this one. I say take the money and run."

Walter Jr., who's next, calls his dad a "pussy." Holding his crutch, he adds, "All this stuff I've been through. And you're scared of a little chemotherapy?"

Marie says she thinks Walt should do whatever he wants to do. "You told us to be honest," Marie replies when Skyler objects. The sisters argue until Hank requests the pillow. He now agrees with Marie, that maybe Walt just wants to die like a man. "I don't want him to die at all!'" screams Skyler.

Walt finally gets the pillow. "All I have left is how I choose to approach this," he says, asking what good is it if he survives a little longer but is too sick to work, enjoy a meal, or make love. He hates the thought of Skyler remembering him this way. "Sorry," he tells her. "I choose not to do it."

The next morning, Skyler's already out of the bed when Walt wakes up. He smells her pillow, touches the baby and cancer books on her nightstand. Opens her skin cream and sniffs it. He walks into the kitchen and puts his arms around her waist and says, "I'll do the treatment."

In the treatment-clinic's reception room, Skyler tells Walt she' can pay by credit card. "Elliott will send a check, right?" "I will take care of it," Walt replies.

As Walt parks his car later that day, his cell phone rings. By the phone number Walt presumes it's Elliott, but it's Gretchen, who tells him he has to accept the money, that it's half his. "Even the name of our company, it's half yours," she says, before asking, "Walt, is this about you and me?" Walt says he appreciates the offer, but his insurance has come through after all.

Walt gets out of the car and walks over to Jesse's house. "Want to cook?" he asks Jesse.