Sunday, February 24, 2008

Breaking Bad episode 5 open thread

I had some requests for a filler post about the fifth episode of "Breaking Bad," so you can talk about it even though I don't have time for a full review. I've seen it, so I may pop into the comments tomorrow morning to offer up some thoughts.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

The cancer intervention was really well done and unlike any TV I've seen before.

I'm not sure why Walt changed his mind and wonder if we'll find out.

Gish said...

I was half asleep and plan on watching it again, but I think he changed his mind because he saw how much it meant to his wife. I seem to remember him staring at a bunch of cancer books on her bedstand right before he told her of the change.

Han Cholo said...

Man, I loved this episode! I'm glad he turned down his friend's offer to foot his cancer treatment bills. Walt is opting to pay for it himself using his chemistry skills to create the best meth in the area. Good for him. It's his way of saying F@ck you to his cancer.
Also enjoyed Jesse's stoner friend who seems to be more of a f@ck up than he is. I wonder if he'll be welcomed to the fold by Walt. Or will he become a thorn in their side that has to dealt with Crazy 8 style?

Anonymous said...

Yes, he saw her books on cancer and on babies. I guess I meant even deeper than just his wife really wanted it; that's a given. Does he still feel like he'll be miserable and it won't really change the fact that he's going to die relatively soon, or does he actually want to live longer?

Alan Sepinwall said...

A couple of specific thoughts:

-Now we have a much stronger idea of how Walt went from Nobel Prize-winning team member to bitter high school teacher: his girlfriend (or, at least, the woman he loved) married his partner, and Walt (impulsive, resentful and grudge-holding as we know he can be) no doubt quit the company rather than have to suffer through this perceived humiliation every day.

-Jesse has picked up more than chemistry skills from Walt. Not sure I buy him going from 0 to perfectionist in the span of one or two episodes since Walt dissolved their partnership, but it was funny.

Andrew said...

It struck me that Walt chose treatment, not just because of the books his wife was reading, but the smell of her lotion (or whatever it is in that little bottle). Seemed to me that it was the idea of being able to smell that smell on his wife, even for one extra day, was worth giving up the good meals, or his hair, or the relative comfort he has without the treatment.

Loved the intervention, expecially the talking pillow. I like how the brother in law (who is fast becoming my favorite character) can only talk about his feelings in terms of sports metaphors. Also his line "Can I have the pillow back? I want to change my answer."

I don't think Pinkman's sudden perfectionism has as much to do with Walt as much as it is about himself. Between last week with his family and this week with the realty office, he has come to realize that the rest of the world sees him as worthless. He is a screw up that can have no greater function than to be a signpost in a dollar bill costume. So he goes back to meth (a trade he didn't want to continue in) because it is the only thing he has ever been at all good at. And, for the first time, he realizes that "almost" isn't good enough. It isn't about the meth or the customers. It is about what HE can do.

melanie said...

I read Walt's motive for agreeing to the treatment simply as love for his wife. I don't think his grim outlook regarding his future changed; as he regarded her side of the bed, her things, her scent on the pillow, he remembered how much she meant to him and that he would do anything for her, even this.

smitre said...

For me the biggest question is how soon they can go back into production with only two more episodes left in this mini season. Does anyone know how well Breaking Bad has done ratings wise?

dez said...

-Jesse has picked up more than chemistry skills from Walt.

I loved that he knew the names of all the beakers and what they were for. Guess he's not completely unteachable.

Elliott's beige party totally cracked me up. I find it hard imagining Walt living that same life. He'd be cooking meth just because he was so damn bored.

TC said...

I loved the intervention scene. It was really poignant, but also very funny. You had the brother-in-law, speaking in all of these half-assed sports/gambling metaphors because he clearly thought that's what everyone wanted to hear. Once his wife says she thinks Walt should make his own choices, the brother-in-law immediately changes his mind: "He should die like a man!"

Ted F. said...

* I lost interest in Walt when he turned down the deus ex machina money from the sky. It's somewhat compelling to see a beaten-down man use his death sentence as a liberation. It's less so when he's doing it out of a grudge, and we learn that his previous self-destructive pride is why he's where he's at.

* I didn't find Jesse's transition believable at all (when did he have time to learn beaker names?), and I stopped watching when he threw out the meth. The show jumped the shark for me; the characters no longer feel organic.

dez said...

^Jesse's not stupid, but unmotivated (until he paid his family a visit, that is). Now he's motivated to do *something* (even if it's to cook the world's best meth). I didn't have a problem with him knowing the beaker names.

That First Andrew said...

It jumped the shark in episode 5? Wow.

Can we all agree to put a moritoreum on "Jump the Shark?" The phrase has gotten thrown around so much, it has lost all meaning. It used to be a singular event in a show's history (and not every show had to have one) and has since become synonmous with "bad episode."

Walt didn't turn the money down the first time out of spite or pride. I think he genuinely didn't want to go through all of that for a few extra months, or even a year or two. He wanted to enjoy the little pleausres in his life, even if that meant shortening it.

But then he realized that all of those little pleasures, the glass of wine, the good meal, having his hair, were nothing in comparison to the pleasure of his wife's smell. And that is why he changed his mind.

When he turned the money down the second time, it wasn't the same situation as the first. This time he was tunring down his ex, the girl who broke his heart and left him for his best friend. And with his new found backbone, he isn't about to take charity from her. He'd rather go back to meth than owe her for his extra time.

As for Jesse learning about the beakers, was I the only one who saw the pilot? Pretty sure those were the exact same beakers that Walt named for him. In fact, at one point Weasel (or whatever his name was) screws something up and Jesse has to grab a stopper to put in one of the beakers; that is exactly the same thing that happened in the first episode. He learned about meth fast because it was something he gave a damn about learning.

As to the perfectionism, it wasn't about the meth. It was about himself. If his drugs aren't good enough, neither is he.

Ted F. said...

Except Jesse gave no signs of giving a damn about learning about the meth in Episode 1. Walt and Jesse cooked exactly once, Jesse ridiculed everything Walt did and paid no attention, but he retained the knowledge? And threw out thousands of dollars of meth (made with hundreds of dollars of raw materials) over a new-found perfectionism? And, as we've commented before, it's now several times where characters do strange things for the convenience of the plot, which leads me not to care: the seams are showing, and without the feeling of organic development, there's no drama.

Has "jump the shark" jumped the shark? I only use the phrase when a show hits a turning point that makes me stop watching it. Breaking Bad wasn't good enough that I was willing to sit through two weak episodes in a row, with the fifth weaker than the fourth. It's off my DVR list.

WCArnold said...

Couldn't disagree with Ted F. more. This was a fantastic episode. The intervention scene, with Walt's monologue at the end, was one of the best things I have ever seen on television. To achieve great humor and great drama at the same time takes incredible skill.

Throwing away perfectly good meth (if there is such a thing) did seem a bit out of character for Jesse. However, I think that Walt's perfectionism and resulting amazing product rubbed off on Jesse. He wants to turn his life around so he is trying to emulate someone he respects, Walt.

incedere said...

I can understand how some might see Walt's refusal to take the money as an instance of pride run amok, pride which had, in the past led him to make decisions he would regret. On the other hand...

When Walt and his wife were at the party, and Walt wandered into the library, for just a moment you could see in his expression that overwhelming sense of rage tinged pathos regarding the life he might have had, but now did not. The same thing happens when his old partner pulls out the guitar signed by Eric Clapton. I mean, Walt can't spend fifteen dollars on a credit card without putting the family's finances in jeopardy, yet his old partner, who runs the company Walt founded, and sleeps with the woman Walt used to love, gets a Fender Stratacaster, signed by Eric Clapton no less, and sees it as no more than a charming little gift; something to grace the shelf; something which he may have to ask the maid to dust every once in a while

Sure you might say that pride led Walt to leave his partner and head off in his own direction. You might also say that going into work every day and working with the man who stole the love of his life is but a small price to pay in the pursuit of scientific glory. But when you think of that scene where he was adding up the chemical sum and total of all that is human, and if you felt that deep, almost visceral connection between Walt and Gretchen, you just might have the merest inkling of the profound sense of personal betrayal he must have felt.

Honestly, when you really think about it, and look at the situation that Walt is in, how could he accept that offer? He loves his wife, absolutely and unequivocally loves her. To accept the offer would mean walking into an environment that would stir up long forgotten passions. Sorrow for what had been lost, and anger over what had been denied him or taken from him would have warred with the powerful guilt he would feel over yearning for a lost life, when he knows full well that his decision is what brought him into the arms of his wife, and led to the son he loves.

But then...

A brilliant man, betrayed by a friend, spurned by a lover, is condemned to scrape out a living teaching ungrateful and uncaring teens, and abasing himself in a menial job by night. This man learns he is to die, through no fault of his own, having accomplished nothing but the abandonment of his dreams, the loss of his dignity, and even his sense of masculinity. He had become a pathetic excuse of a man, who , as McGrath has noted, was resigned to swallowing defeat after defeat. When he took down that goon in the clothing store, and when he destroyed that jerk's BMW, he was reclaiming his masculinity, his pride, his sense of worth, and ability to take matters into his own hands.

Accepting his old partners offer would have not only meant placing himself directly into the maelstrom of conflicting emontions of a past life best long forgotten. It also would have meant surrendering the control he had finally learned to exert over his own life. He probably knew that he could do some great work by rejoining his own company, before he died. But he probably also knew that he last days of life would be his only by the grace of Judas.

Sure Walt may be making a mistake by turning down the very sensible beta male option. But he has taken his life in his own hands and lives on his own terms. Even the concession he makes to his wife's wish for him to go into treatment can be seen not as a surrender, as it might have been in the past, but as something he chose for his own reasons. This is why he is going to cook crystal again, because good or bad, he knows he is going to die, and he knows he is probably going to hell, but by God he is going to go to Hell on his own terms, and drive a big goddang RV right through that fiery gate.

So I'm sorry, those who think the show has lost it's way, or jumped the shark, or makes no sense, because none of that is the case. What the case is, I tell you right now, is this. Redemption has come. Lord Jim just stood up, and he ain't gonna jump ship no more.

Girl Detective said...

I'm late to comment, because I'm a few eps behind--my husband refuses to watch. He thinks it's too dark and depressing. Does anyone else find it's harder to find time alone to watch then with a partner/roommate/spouse?

I loved this episode. The only part that rang false to me was Jessie throwing out the meth--that felt too much, though his sudden interest and perfection didn't, especially after his reaction in the previous ep to the F he got on Walt's quiz.

Was the ex gf the same one Walt was talking to in that previous ep flashback about what makes up a human?

Given the relative ages, I'm guessing that Walt's marriage to Skyler had something to do with his taking the lower road. If she had gotten pregnant before marriage, or if they'd found out about Walt Jr.s condition, I could see him taking a sure thing job like a HS post rather than sticking with a risky startup.

wykstrad said...

I'm just getting through Breaking Bad for the first time, but I felt the need to say that Walt's decision not to take the money isn't about pride. His whole speech with the talking pillow shows that it's a way of taking control over his life- something he's never felt he's been able to do before. He's made the decision that he's going to do it his way.

Anonymous said...

It took me a while to start with Breaking Bad and to continue, I watched the first two episodes and part of the third, then took a nine-month break to finish that third episode. However, from episode 4, they got the right combination and I was hooked.

I think Ted F has been clearly proven wrong...

and I get why Walt refused the treatment.

I look forward to catching up even more now.