"We do things my way this time. Or I walk. You need me more than I need you... Walt." -JesseFirst thing's first: in case you missed the news earlier in the week, AMC has ordered a third season of "Breaking Bad," to premiere sometime in 2010. Between Bryan Cranston's Emmy win, the recent Peabody Award and the increased ratings this season, I think most of us assumed renewal was a foregone conclusion, but it's still nice to have one less worry hanging over my head...
...which is more than can be said for most of the characters in "Breakage." Walt has mounting medical bills and still can't get through to Skyler -- even after he thinks the cigarette pack gives hm leverage for a game of Moral Superiority -- and now he has to deal with Jesse astutely changing the dynamics of their partnership. Jesse seems to be doing well for himself, but now he has responsibilities: rent for the apartment, (and a landlady he wants to impress enough to have sex with, it seems), rent for the RV (and how many episodes before Clovis tries to sell the meth lab out from under him?), employees and, as Walt points out, a street rep to maintain. Skyler's miserable and alone and has to bully Marie into apologizing for the tiara incident. And Hank is having panic attacks about his killing of Tuco, and he can't tell anyone about it because of the macho culture of the DEA field office. Instead, he bottles up his feelings as tight as the caps on his DIY microbrews.
So the question is, which character will be the first to let their emotions burst out in dangerous fashion like the exploding bottles in Hank's garage?
Episodes like "Breakage" are important from a story standpoint -- the bigger Jesse's street operation gets, the closer the DEA's going to come to finding it, and/or to us finding out about the burnt teddy bear in Walt's pool -- but also for helping to deepen the supporting cast and make it clear just how many people Walt is hurting in his idiotic quest to die on his own terms. Jesse's been plunged deeper into the drug world than he was ever expecting to go, which will make it that much harder if he ever really tries to get out. Skyler's smoking -- and I loved that she had kept count of the "three and a half cigarettes" she had consumed -- while pregnant because Walt has her so stressed and isolated. And Hank only wound up in a position where he had to kill Tuco because Walt was missing, and involved with that psychopath to begin with.
This was another terrific episode, showcasing not only the supporting actors (Dean Norris in particular), but also the directing, production design, sound editing, etc. I loved the sequence of Walt sitting still in his chemo chair, his world all slowed down and tedious while everyone else moved at double speed (an effect echoed later on when we saw Jesse out collecting money from his guys), and all of the sound design involving liquids, whether the spot in the Rio Grande where the two Mexican illegals crossed and found Tuco's grill, or the chemo entering Walt's IV, or Hank bottling his beers. You don't usually think of fancy sound work on television, but for a show about chemistry, and the transformation of solids into liquids, inert liquids into volatile ones, etc., it's fitting, and pretty cool.
What did everyone else think?