Walter White, back in business with Jesse Pinkman, enters the RV and surveys the damage. He sternly gives Jesse a lecture, telling how things will be from now on. He tells him that he wants to be the "silent partner," his "realm" is only the chemistry and Jesse's is the street. As far as customers, Walt wants nothing to do with them "No more bloodshed." This scene is intercut with shots of a bald man calmly walking through a group of bikers on a street littered with smoldering debris, various car alarms blaring. He is holding a white bag with a red stain on it. As we pan up and his face is revealed, we see that this bald man is actually Walt and we are in a flashforward.
Later, Walt is receiving treatment in a chemotherapy room. Skyler White is with him, but he convinces her to leave. Before departing she expresses concern about the check their friend Elliott was supposed to send to pay for the chemo. Walt says he received and deposited it but later asks the clinic's clerk not to deposit his own check until Monday.
The next day Walt uses the example of fulminated mercury to teach his class how rapid chemical reactions can cause otherwise harmless substances to explode. Before he can finish his explanation, Walt abruptly leaves to vomit in the men's room, after which a custodian named Hugo Archuleta assists him. At a support group of cancer patients and family members, Skyler tells Walt she feels he doesn't want her around and that she and Walter Jr. wonder where he disappears some afternoons. Walt says he needs to be alone sometimes, that he goes on nature walks.
As Walt speaks we see images of desert vegetation, but also of smoke from his meth lab. Wearing a respirator as he cooks, Walt struggles to breathe, eventually stumbling out the RV's door. Jesse jumps up and assists Walt, who says he's just dizzy. "Cancer. You got it, right?" Jesse asks, saying he recognizes the mark on Walt's chest from his aunt's bout with cancer. "I'm your partner, man," he says. "You shoulda told me." When Walt can't continue cooking he tosses the respirator to Jesse, who offers this advice before heading into the RV: "Put an icepack on your head during chemo. My aunt said it helped with the hair loss."
Meanwhile, Steven Gomez meets Hank Schrader in a motel parking lot and hands him the respirator they discovered at Walt's original cook site. The crime-lab report indicates the respirator comes from Walt's high school.
Later at the same motel and elsewhere around the city Jesse sells the new meth batch, occasionally partaking himself. In the desert the next day Walt is waiting with the RV as Jesse pulls up late and hands him a pre-paid cell phone telling Walt to "use it". Walt is dissatisfied with the $1,300 Jesse hands him but Jesse replies that it isn't easy selling meth "one 'teenth at a time." Walt says they have to "move our product in bulk now" and asks if Jesse knows any distributors. "Yeah, I used to. Until you killed him," Jesse says, referring to Krazy 8. Jesse later tells Walt a "badass" named Tuco Salamanca replaced Krazy 8. "You can't just bum rush some high-level iceman and start cutting deals," Jesse protests when Walt demands he go meet with Tuco. He says they should stick with the less-risky approach of selling small quantities.
At the clinic, Walt undergoes treatment again. "Wait till Monday again?" the checkout clerk asks. "Yes," Walt replies. Later at school, Walt vomits again. Hugo, the school janitor, offers him a stick of gum. Back in his chem lab he gets a surprise visit from Hank, who holds up the respirator Gomez gave him, saying it was used to cook meth. When Hank inventories the lab's storage room, he finds two respirators missing, along with some glassware. Walt's cell phone rings. It's Jesse, who says his friend Skinny Pete was in jail with Tuco and will introduce him. "We're haulin' a pound to the dude right now," Jesse says.
Walt returns to Hank, who says "some meth monkey had a feeding frenzy" in the lab and warns Walt to guard it better. "We don't want people to start worrying about you." Walt stares blankly before Hank breaks into a big grin.
Across town, Tuco snorts some of Jesse's meth and jumps up, exclaiming, "This kicks like a mule with his balls wrapped in duct tape." Jesse names his price, $35,000, but Tuco tells him he's running a "consignment operation" so Jesse will have to wait. "Tough shit," Tuco replies when Jesse says he wants the money now. Jesse grabs the meth and bolts, but Tuco's associates catch him. Tuco puts some money in a canvas bag but as Jesse reaches for it Tuco smacks him to the floor with it and kicks him. "Nobody moves crystal in the South Valley but me, bitch!" he shouts.
Back at the high school the next morning, Hank Schrader's DEA agents handcuff Hugo. Over a poker game in Walt's living room a few days later, Walter White Jr. asks why Hank arrested Hugo. Hank says Hugo "fit the profile," but they only found pot in his truck, they didn't find the chemistry gear. Walt says Hugo seemed all right, but Hank laughs him off: "Nothing personal, Walt, but you wouldn't know a criminal if he was close enough to check you for a hernia." Hank says Hugo will lose his job "like he should" and do time in county jail, but Hank's real focus is Walt's hand. Walt bets all his chips, causing Hank to fold. He looks shocked when Marie Schrader shows him Walt had "a handful of nothing."
In the shower the next morning, Walt's hair falls out in clumps. After calling Jesse again, he finds out from Skinny Pete that Jesse is in the hospital. When Walt arrives at the hospital, Jesse, wearing a neck brace, is asleep. Walt asks Skinny Pete to tell him about Tuco.
The next morning, Walt shaves his head completely. Carrying a bag of crystal, he talks his way into Tuco's headquarters, When Tuco asks him his name, Walt blatantly tells him "Heisenberg". When Tuco asks him what he wants, Walt says $50,000: "Thirty-five for the pound of meth you stole, and another fifteen for my partner's pain and suffering." Tuco laughs, then puts out a cigarette on his tongue, unnerving Walt. "Let me get this straight.. I steal your dope, I beat the piss out of your mule boy, and then you walk in here and bring me more meth?" Tuco and his gang all laugh at Walt's "brilliant" plan, but Walt calmly says, "You got one part of that wrong. This is not meth." He picks up the crystalline nugget that Tuco examined and hurls it to the floor. The ensuing explosion blows out the windows, sending shards of glass, splintered wood and air conditioning units tumbling to the street below, causing passers-by to scatter in terror.
Ears ringing, coughing on smoke, Tuco's vision clears just in time to see Walt brandishing the packet of "meth" and hurriedly tells his men to put away their guns. "You got balls. I'll give you that," Tuco says. He agrees to pay Walt the $50,000, and admits that Walt's crystal sold faster than any other product he had ever seen. He offers to buy Walt's next batch, and Walt agrees, provided that payment is made upfront and that Tuco agrees to accept at least two pounds.
"What is that shit?" Tuco asks about the explosive crystal. "Fulminated mercury," replies Walt. "A little tweak of chemistry." As Walt walks away, we return to the opening shot of him leaving the scene of mayhem holding the bag, which we now know is full of cash. In his car, Walt clutches his recently earned wealth, grunting / growling loudly and shaking his steering wheel aggressively, high on the rush of what he's just done. Regaining his composure, Walt drives his Aztek away from the scene as the bikers scatter with police sirens in the distance.
- Andrea Good as Laundry Worker
- Uncensored on home video. Walt says, "Just grow some fucking balls!" and later on, Tuco proclaims, "Are you fucking nuts?"
- The episode title is a reference to a quote from the film Cool Hand Luke (1967). In the context of the episode itself, it's a reference to Walt's poker bluff, as well as his handful of a chemical explosive in the final scene with Tuco.
- In this episode, we see the birth of Walt's pseudonym, "Heisenberg." The name is a reference to Werner Heisenberg, a German theoretical physicist. Like Walt himself, Heisenberg was a school teacher who was diagnosed with cancer. Today, Heisenberg is mostly known for his "uncertainty principle."
- This is the first episode in which Walt is bald.
- The scene in which Walter is standing up in the bathroom stall after vomiting was actually taken from a scene where Walter is masturbating after a doctor's visit (the actual scene was never shown).
- Walt's appearance (Bald head with a mustache) continues until "ABQ".
- When Tuco's headquarters is blown up, if you listen closely, you'll notice that the sound effects guys dubbed in Howard Dean's infamous "Primal Scream" as a joke.
- The explosion in Tuco's hideout was replicated on a special episode of Mythbusters, which guest-starred Vince Gilligan and Aaron Paul. The Mythbusters team declared the myth "busted" because:
- Mercury fulminate appears as a coarse, yellowish powder; it does not resemble crystal methamphetamine closely enough that Tuco's men would mistake it for the latter;
- Although mercury fulminate is unstable and highly sensitive to friction, heat, electricity, or impact, a man cannot throw 50g onto a wooden floor with enough force to detonate it;
- 50g (the approximate weight of the crystal nugget Walt uses) would not produce enough explosive force to blow out the windows or walls;
- The explosion would certainly injure Walt more than anyone else in the room; and
- The larger amount (250g) that the team used not only blew out the windows and walls but also would have killed everyone in the room.
- Filming Locations:
- At the beginning of the episode there is some time lapse B roll. One shows a church with traffic lights changing. This church shown is the First United Methodist Church on 3rd St & Lead Ave
- Halfway into the episode there is a scene that shows Jesse selling meth at various places. These are some of the places shown in order. (They are all in a 4 blocks strip)
- Jesse & Skinny P visit Tucos headquarters, then Walt returns and blows it up. The building is now Java Joe's coffee shop (2016). 906 Park Ave SW, Albuquerque, NM
- Walter: "Let's get something straight. This - the chemistry - is my realm. I am in charge of the cooking. Out there on the street, you deal with that. As far as our customers go, I don't want to know anything about them. I don't need to see them. I don't want to hear from them. I want no interaction with them whatsoever. This operation is you and me, and I'm the silent partner. You got any issues with that?"
- Jesse: "Whatever, man."
- Walter: "No matter what happens, no more bloodshed. No violence."
- —Walter talking to Jesse about their operation.
- "This kicks like a mule with its balls wrapped in duct tape!"
- ―Tuco after tasting the drugs of Walter and Jesse.
- Tuco: "Let me get this straight. I steal your dope, I beat the piss out of your mule boy, and then you walk in here and you bring me more meth? That's a brilliant plan, ese. Brilliant."
- Walter: "You got one part of that wrong. This is not meth."
- —Tuco and Walter before Walter detonated Tuco's headquarters.
- "Chick’s got an ass like an onion... makes me wanna cry."
- ―Hank after meeting Principal Carmen Molina.
- "Unknown Track #6" by Unknown Artist (heard briefly with Porter's music during the flash forward at the beginning of the episode as Walt walks away from the destruction at Tuco's lair)
- "It is Such a Good Night" by The Charlie Steinmann Orchestra and Choir (lyrics Paul Rothmann) (during the montage where Jesse sells meth all night)
- "Pa La Playa" by That Click Gang (playing outside Tuco's place before Jesse and Skinny Pete meet him)
- "Rompo" by Max One (while Jesse & Skinny Pete meet Tuco in his office)
- "Suntan Lotion" by Bearnie Leadon (during the poker game)
- "Follicles" by Dave Porter (as Walt examines his thinning hair and prepares to shave his head)
- "Los Pistoleros" by Jonaty Garcia (in the background when Walt goes to see Tuco)
- "Catch Yer Own Train" by The Silver Seas (as Walt drives away from Tuco's place)