Back to form for Breaking Bad this week after a slightly lackluster episode last week. Whilst things started somewhat slow, the end result was reasonably clever though not entirely satisfactory. What I particularly liked about this episode was its ability to completely influence and change the way I feel about the various characters. There was also some absolutely amazing cinematography in this episode with the shots of the desert looking particularly gorgeous as well as the scene in the car which was just fantastic.
I’ve already talked about how scary Todd is. His completely chipper and always optimistic outlook is so at odds with the ever darkening tunnel that the show is heading down. We learn that he can cook meth to a 76% purity which is ok, but unfortunately, doesn’t retain the signature blue colour of Heisenberg’s famous ‘Blue Sky’. Lydia might seem like a pain in the ass to Todd’s uncle, Jack, and to be honest, I felt quite sorry for Lydia having to stand there and endure those wandering eyes. Then Todd does his incredibly creepy pick-up line, is shot down by Lydia, and is left quite firmly in the friendzone. Yeah, I don’t blame Lydia at all for not entertaining Todd’s weird tendency to put his hands on her; even if we didn’t know he was a coldhearted murderer, the guy’s giving off a huge creep vibe.
Hm, so it turns out that what Jesse meant by ‘Where you really live’ was Walter’s money. That’s an interesting conclusion for Jesse to draw and I don’t think it’s a very fair representation of Walter. Walter was never about the greed or about being a miser. At the beginning, he had worked out the exact amount of money he needed to support his family after his death. Then a lot of that was lost to Ted (oh god, remember Ted?) and he had to start again and pay his debts. Sure, he continued a bit further than that but at that point, he was driven not by greed but by pride. The whole ‘empire building’ thing and his pride in his product, his work, his drug empire, was what motivated Walt, and not the prospect of more money. In fact, the thing that prompts Walter to quit the business was seeing the sight of all his money in that storage container. He could have continued making millions by staying to cook for Lydia, but he chose to cut his losses and leave the business. So yeah, I’m not sure Jesse has the right assessment of Walter here. I think showing Jesse be wrong like this might be an indication that he’s not thinking straight or rationally.
You know, I never would have guessed that Huell would get so much screen time in this series. This episode, he actually got to utter more than two sentences! And what an entertaining performance that was. His reaction to Jesse’s fake death was just brilliant. I love that Breaking Bad can still include these little moments of comedy in amongst all the thick tension.
Unfortunately the police antics weren’t as strong as Huell’s gabbing mouth. I find it hard to believe that Hank and Gomez, who presumably have still not notified the DEA, can have access to a safe house and police on watch. It just stretches the imagination to think that these two are going beyond due process and are just doing whatever they want with very little thinking about the consequences. How is this going to look when they finally present their case to whoever’s in charge of the DEA? All these underhanded, secret and frankly, irresponsible manoeuvres have surely got to be breaking some laws somewhere? Won’t that bite them in the ass when the case goes to court? I don’t really know enough about police procedure, but some of this stuff seems a bit dubious. Oh well.
Aww, so it turns out Walter did end up putting a hit on Jesse. “He’s like family to me” would have been touching, if not for the, you know, neo-nazis sitting there taking instructions on how to kill him. And then Walt’s insistence that Jesse is not a rat was just laced with dramatic irony, and actually made me feel a bit sorry for Walt. You can tell that he didn’t want it to come to this.
That sympathetic feeling went away really quickly though the moment he went to bother Andrea. Just seeing him interact with Brock was rather sickening. He may act all friendly and concerned about Jesse, but the blatant manipulation here was just awful. And I’m surprised he thought that would work though; Jesse thinks Walter is going to kill him, there’s no way he’s going to be baited into something like that. There was no obvious threat to Andrea or Brock’s safety, why would Jesse come running? Perhaps he might think that Walt would hurt Andrea or Brock, but I would hope that Jesse knows that isn’t Walt’s style at all.
Oh man, when Walt sees that picture on his phone and then gets the call from Jesse…this is what makes Breaking Bad so good. The first 30 minutes of the episode were a bit lacklustre and the episode before this wasn’t great either…but this, this was the moment I knew it was going to be fantastic. I was totally right.
The way the scene was shot with Walt’s complete panic, his swerving over the road and his desperation as he shouts at Jesse over the phone. I love the way the audio was overlaid so that it seemed like Jesse was standing right next to Walt and not just some tinny voice on the phone. It really emphasised how serious that conversation was, and how Walt was reacting to it.
But again, there were things Walt said that made me feel sorry for him. His insistence that the money is not for him and it’s all for his family seemed genuine to me. He is, after all, dying. It reminded me of the conversation on the bathroom floor to Skyler, where he begs her to not let it all be for nothing.
Of course, all his words just get interpreted by Jesse as greed. It’s a real shame. These two are no longer speaking the same language.
Honestly, this was an amazingly shot scene. Bryan Cranston absolutely rocked it.
When Walt arrives only to realise that Jesse is not there and that he’s been tricked, I was genuinely amazed that the whole ploy worked. It was clever, don’t get me wrong, but it didn’t feel like poetic justice. It didn’t feel like Walt deserved to go down like that. He is essentially caught due to his attachment to Jesse, and to be honest, that’s one of the noblest parts of him. I’ve always felt that Heisenberg’s downfall surely has to be of his own creation and out of his own intense hubris, for any kind of downfall to really feel rewarding. That’s why this scene clearly didn’t feel like the final showdown, and it’s a little disappointing in that regard.
I was a little amazed to see Walt call the Nazis to that location. I mean, the money is still buried there. Of course Walt realises that he’s now led Jesse to the money, but surely letting even more people know about this location is a bit reckless? I know the Nazis don’t know that this is where a ton of money is, but it still seems slightly careless for Walter to directly lead a bunch of greedy criminals to his hiding spot. I honestly thought Walt would try to reason with Jesse, at least one last time.
When Walt sees that it’s Hank and calls the hit off, I wish he explained it further to the Nazis. I mean, if I heard that on the phone, I’d assume that Walt was in trouble and was being forced to call it off. I think Todd’s crew would have rolled up anyway just in case (because they need Walt to cook for them), but he could have been a bit more adamant about it being called off.
Regardless, that slow walk towards Hank and Walt’s seeming acceptance of his defeat all felt a bit strange. It seemed a bit out of character for Walt to give up. He didn’t have many choices there, but he’s supposed to be smarter than this. He’s making rookie mistakes and it just isn’t that satisfying to watch. I was waiting for him to pull some explosives out of his pocket or something.
Hearing Jesse say, “This was where we did our first cook-out, right?” was just so sad. His tone of voice was just so tremendously bitter. Then him spitting in Walt’s face was just the cherry on top. Jesse has a right to feel vindicated. He believes that he’s finally outsmarted Mr White.
And of course, Walt was right to feel betrayed. Like he said on the phone, all he did was as much to save Jesse as it was himself. He just insisted to Todd and Jack that Jesse is not a rat. Yes, Jesse is a coward. Walter would have respected him more if Jesse really was acting alone and burned up the cash. Hell, I think Walter would have respected him more if Jesse burnt his house down. As it stands now, Jesse is nothing but a cowardly rat who snitched on him to the DEA, a rat who’s too stupid to know how much Walter cares. Here, Breaking Bad echoes other forms of media in its portrayal of organised crime: snitches are the lowest of the low. You can murder, you can steal, you can rape, but snitching? That’s the worst sin you could commit.
Then, as Walt is arrested and put into the car, watching Hank’s phone call to Marie was a little heartbreaking. It felt like a final goodbye to Marie. The way he ends it just seemed so ominous to me. It really doesn’t bode well for Hank’s fate when Jack’s crew shows up.
Oh god, seeing Walt desperately scream at Todd’s crew to back down was just gut wrenching. And then seeing Jesse despair in the other car too was horrible. It’s just tragic that it’s come down to this. I was so excited to see it all unfold.
Then it cuts to the credit. Cue my rage at that cliffhanger ending. Damn you Vince Gilligan.
*Hm, is it really a good idea to get Walt Jnr. involved in your money laundering operation, Mr and Mrs White? Though admittedly it was worth it just to see Walt Jnr. interact with Saul and seeing some of that pep back in Saul’s routine.
* I assume Hank and Gomez didn’t have any official badges on them? Do DEA agents have those? I’m not sure.
*I think this show is absolutely amazing for making me go from hating Walt to actually sympathising with him in the space of about two episodes. It also made me go from rooting for Hank to realising that his victory was just so hollow. I didn’t want Walt to get away with being the bad guy for much longer, but I didn’t want him to go down like this.
*My prediction: The flashforwards are about Walter hunting down the Neo-Nazi’s for revenge. Hank and Gomez die, Walt gets shot and left for dead, and Jesse survives but is kidnapped and forced to cook meth. Walt, who everyone believes is dead, gets the gun and sets off to avenge Hank’s death and to rescue Jesse.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t really jive with the moral of the series: that Walter has to pay for his evil and becomes irredeemably bad. So I think there’ll be some awful twist where he gets Jesse out, but is then forced to kill him. Then he kills himself. The End.
Check this in 3 weeks’ time to see how wildly off my prediction is.