Sunday, March 28, 2010

Breaking Bad, "Caballo Sin Nombre": House hunters

A review of tonight's "Breaking Bad" coming up just as soon as I get dipping sticks...
"I can't be the bad guy." -Walt
An episode after "No Mas," Walt still isn't ready to take Jesse's rehab revelation to heart. He's still denial about how bad he's become, how much he's hurting the people he cares about, and how his actions will be received by the world around him. He's oblivious to how the cop will respond when Walt gets out of the Aztek and begins ranting and raving about his civil rights. He's oblivious to how much he's hurting Skyler by letting her become the bad guy in their separation, when if anything Skyler's doing him (and their children) a kindness by not telling the world that he's a meth cooker. He's oblivious to the fact that the cartel might still be angry with him, and to the presence of the Cousins sitting in his bedroom with an ax, and that his life is only spared because Saul's PI buddy Mike has a direct line to Gus Frings. Walt begins and ends the episode with chemicals in his eyes (first the pepper spray, then the shampoo), but even cleaned up, he's really not seeing the picture of his life very clearly.

We can, however, and "Caballo Sin Nombre"(*) gives us a very vivid picture of how bad Skyler has it because she won't tell the truth about Walt. (And I should say her reasons aren't entirely selfless; as Saul points out to Walt, the truth would have huge blowback for Skyler, too.) While she stays silent, her son turns against her - even ditching the "Flynn" nickname to go back to being Walter Jr. in a show of solidarity with his pop. Hank seems ready to dismiss Walt's mystery transgression as an affair and take Walt's side in what looks from his point of view to be a disproportionate response from Skyler. (Kick the cheating bastard out? Sure, but don't keep him from his kids.) Marie has more suspicions, but that's all she has.

(*) The episode's title is Spanish for "Horse with No Name," which is the song Walt's singing along to when the cop pulls him over.

And because Skyler's out on an island, emotionally and financially, she finds herself forced to become Saul Goodman to Ted Beneke's Walt, showing him how to more effectively cook the books. She doesn't want to, but she doesn't seem to have a choice - which, interestingly, is the justification Walt used for getting into the meth business in the first place. Hmm... Maybe Walt's not the only one too blind to recognize his own badness.

Jesse, as we know from last week, has embraced his own villainous side, not in any kind of cackling, over-the-top fashion, but in a much more compelling, disturbingly matter-of-fact way. He is what he let Walt turn him into, and so he has no problem using Saul to hustle his parents into selling him back his aunt's house at a rock-bottom price. Not only does this give him revenge for how unfairly he feels they've treated him in the past, it allows him to get back at two of the parties who helped contribute to the death of Jane (and then of the people on the planes). If his parents don't kick him out of aunt's house, Jesse doesn't move in next door to Jane, doesn't drag her off the wagon, etc., etc., etc. Aaron Paul's had to play a lot of different faces of this character (clueless comic relief, tragic victim of Walt's greed, etc.), and he's been really good as this empty, evil incarnation. What he does to his parents (and, unwittingly, to his kid brother, whom he does like) is cruel, but unlike his partner, Jesse has no illusions about who he is and what he's doing. He's bad, but he's not a hypocrite.

Neither, of course, is Saul Goodman, with Bob Odenkirk making his very welcome first appearance of the season. As Walt and Jesse's consiglieri (even if the business isn't active at the moment), Saul has clearly moved up in the world. He's dressing better, his combover isn't as tacky, and he has a Bluetooth, status symbol for d-bags everywhere (and fashion accessory for the guy whose car Walt blew up back in season one). But he's still a low-rent lawyer at heart; his glee at getting over on Mr. and Mrs. Pinkman's high-class attorney was palpable. If Jesse's resigned to being the bad guy, Saul loves the role.

While Walt and Jesse are both concerned with getting back into their homes (Walt breaks in via the trap door he made while battling mold last season, while Jesse gets in via more legal means), the Cousins are coming - with a big assist from Tio, whose mind remains sharp and focused even as his body betrays him. The scene in the nursing home where the Cousins realize they can use the ouija board to get the relevant information from Tio left me grinning from ear to ear, it was so diabolical, even as I worried about what hell these two are going to unleash on Walt - or, worse, on the loved ones Walt has exposed to such danger with his second career.

Some other thoughts:

• In more practical terms, Jesse had to move out of his aunt's house because the home's real-life owners sold it. The new owners wound up remodeling it, then agreed to let the show use it again, and so Mr. and Mrs. Pinkman's renovations were written into the script.

• That was one shiny ax the Cousins bought, wasn't it? Also nice to know they have access to the same kind of shiny suits north of the border as they did down in Mexico.

• Saul gives Walt a piece of advice that could pay huge dividends down the road, in pointing out how Hank's career would be ruined if his brother-in-law were discovered to be the area's biggest meth manufacturer. I don't think Walt's yet at a point where he would exploit Skyler's affection for Hank, but that moment's probably gonna come, isn't it?

• Of course Saul's vanity license plate is "LWYRUP." Of course it is.

SaveWalterWhite.com is still an active website, and still contains a link to the National Cancer Coalition if you want to make a donation to help real (and less despicable) cancer sufferers.

• Walt's so anal and controlling that he has to go and skim the pool at his apartment complex. (And that, in turn, gives the production team an excuse to trot out the pools-eye-view camera again. I love that camera almost as much as they obviously do.)

• God, Mark Margolis is good as Tio. Tio hates Walter so, so much, and it looked like half the veins on Margolis's body were fit to burst as he silently communicated with the Cousins.

• The song playing as Walt breaks back into his own house is "Magic Arrow" by Timber Timbre.

• Walt's flinging of the pizza onto the garage roof seemed so impressive that I asked Vince Gilligan if there was any special work by the crew to aid its flight. Here's what he said:
Our special effects expert did indeed work up some mechanism for getting the pizza out of the box and onto the roof, using fishline or somesuch. However, to the best of my knowledge, his rig was never used. What you see in the finished episode is take one, in which Bryan basically just did a Hail Mary toss and got it up there in one try!
What did everybody else think?

122 comments:

Popkin said...

Intense final scene. The episode also made me wonder why I hate Maurice Levy, but love Saul Goodman.

toronto penguin said...

The Cousins probably borrowed the ax from Patrick Bateman.

Andrew said...

The return of Tio and Saul in the same episode? Brilliant. I especially loved Tio's frantic, delighted dinging when one of the cousins holds up the piece of paper with WALTER WHITE on it.

I also love the way 'Horse with No Name' opens and closes the episode, with Walt singing along to it in the car, and then humming it in the shower while the Cousins put a little more shine on that axe.

GF said...

Good thing the cast's so likable, as everyone's moral degradation is almost too much -- the secret subject of every scene.

SK Rollins said...

Saul makes Maury Levy look like Atticus Finch.

Anonymous said...

I've always thought of the song "horse with no name" as being about trying to forget or erase life's troubles and so resonates symbolically with Walt's mood in the episode. But maybe that's just my own peculiar interpretation of the tune. -anonymoose

Anonymous said...

I would have sworn the pizza toss was a fake.

Love Bob Odenkirk since the Larry Sanders Show (doing Ari Gold before and better than Jeremy Pivens ever did him).

Something's going to have to happen with Skyler soon because she can't just go on being the wet blanket.

Glad to see in your review that we weren't supposed to know that the PI had a connection with Gus. I was racking my brains trying to remember if the two were connected in S2.

I like the potential of this version of Jesse.

cgeye said...

Everything I thought last week didn't all hold up, but I never saw coming Walter B&Eing his own house. Even if he weren't a meth king, he's stepping over a serious line.

He *does* need to control himself, and now, because it's his wife instead of meth, he's going to keep getting worse. He's like a dry drunk -- his addictive behavior doesn't stop just because he stops drugging.

And the PI to Saul to Frings (to Cousins) connection? The only plausible way supposedly "small" businessmen could survive in a cartel environment, else Frings would have died before his Pollos stands expanded.

Anonymous said...

This is the BEST show on TV right now, no one is even close! Odenkirk is great as Saul Goodman, fantastic to see him back. Really interested in why the Cousin's left? I'm assuming that they must know Frings, know the location, or are waiting to see if Walt is going to go meet with his contact. I'm sure it will be explained in the next episode, and I know we're not supposed to talk about previews in the comments, but the next episode looks intense!

Anonymous said...

Since nothing ever quite works the way I think it's going to in this show, I'm sure I'm totally off base. But all I can think is NOW, Gus has something (calling off the Cousins)as leverage to force Walt to start cooking again.

JoeInVegas said...

So what is the connection between Gus and the Cartel? Obviously the cousins are the same “cousins” Tuco was waiting on to take him and Walt to Mexico. Gus has to have some close connection .. he texted their cell and they left.

Now I am confused.
If Gus was sending them to “convince” Walt to work, why did they go to Tio to find Heisenberg's real name?
If Gus didn't send them how did he know who to text and why would they obey him?

John said...

Just as Walt "broke bad" in many ways in season 2, I think Jesse may be at the point of truly "breaking bad" in this season. He was shown to have a good heart deep down in season 2, but after being led to believe - and later accepting - that he was responsible for the death of Jane and the plane crash, he feels that being the bad guy suits him. I find this juxtaposition of Walt and Jesse extremely interesting. I can only wonder how long until Jesse find out the truth and what his course of action would be.

Anonymous said...

Skyler's a bitch. I honestly think that the real reason behind her dumping Walter is because she's simply grown dissatisfied with her marriage and wants to move on to ted. I'm wondering where there going with this plot line because Skyler is just getting in the way of a good story and if it all ends with her i might lose my interest in the story.

Anonymous said...

Skyler's a bitch. I honestly think that the real reason behind her dumping Walter is because she's simply grown dissatisfied with her marriage and wants to move on to ted. I'm wondering where there going with this plot line because Skyler is just getting in the way of a good story and if it all ends with her i might lose my interest in the story.

Alan Forkosh said...

I noticed that Jonathan Banks was listed as a cast member, not a guest star. Looks like the PI may show up with some regularity.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating episode. What struck me most about the way Jesse "conned" his parents was not so much the revenge aspect, but how, by doing so, he's taken away the moral high ground from his (as he views them) "righteous" folks. They may kick out a son who's a drug addict and dealer (for the record, I don't begrudge them for this), yet they have no qualms about selling a house to someone who remains anonymous and is willing to pay cash. ANYONE would find this sketchy, yet their eyes light up at the mere MENTION of cash payment, and don't really bother wondering where this money could come from. They only raise an objection when Saul's price goes down to $400,000. "$800,000 in cash? HELL YEAH WE'LL TAKE IT! $400,000? No, that's too low." They then allow themselves to be blackmailed by an obviously crooked lawyer. In other words, by accepting this offer, they're really no better than your common drug dealer: They'll take the money, no matter where it comes from.

God I love this show.

Russianator said...

This is the best show on TV - consistently gripping, beautifully shot and most of the time completely messed up. I gotta call BS on getting the pizza up there on one shot though.....

I also like how Hank has become less of a buffoon as the series has progressed.

Kensington said...

I appreciate how the show is moving forward more rapidly than I expected. For example, when the cousins appeared last week, I figured that they spend the season trying to figure out who Walter was, and if there was going to be a confrontation, it would take place at the end.

Yet there they were, sitting in his bedroom holding an axe, at the end of the episode two!

Similarly, Skyler finally learns the truth about the crystal meth in episode one.

All these things I expected to last until the end of the series are being executed right in what I presume is the middle of the series. It suggests that maybe I have no idea where this show is ultimately going, and that's thrilling!

And I wonder if anyone else was surprised when Saul became proactive regarding the "wife problem." Walter truly has no idea how deep he's in.

echokilo said...

Okay, I'm trying to figure this out but coming up empty: how does Tio know Walter's name?

Kensington said...

Oh, and I love that comment about the beauty of Jesse not merely punishing his parents financially but also pointing out their own corruption. For me, it's not so much that they're willing to take shady cash but that they didn't disclose the shady history of the building.

Obviously, that sort of corruption is petty ante compared to actual drug dealing, but the non-loving, non-supportive response of Jesse's parents to him even after his rehab is ugly stuff. It's hard not to enjoy a little Schadenfreude at their expense, and that unsparing look at the seedy underbellies of these characters makes Breaking Bad so compelling.

Josh said...

Echokilo -

I had to ask the same question. Tuco read Walt's name off of his license during that episode at his house.

Anonymous said...

Wait so did Frings call the Cousin's phone or Walt's?

mrniphty said...

Reading one of Alan's interviews with the show's creator I recalled him saying in Season 2 about how the first few episode titles when put together give a hint as to what might culminate by season's end. If I recall correctly, it pointed towards the plane crash.

When translated the first two episodes No mas and Caballo sin nombre come out to:

No more horse with no name.

Anonymous said...

@Kensington

I focused more on the taking the shady money, because one could conceivably view their non-disclosure of the meth lab as a means to protect Jesse. I don't believe that wasn't the case, though. You're right. It was extremely shady (not to mention flat out illegal), and it was out of nothing but self interest and self preservation.

And yes, obviously it's not the same as flat out drug dealing, but the fact remains that they're willing to accept money from a shady source without question, and then be blackmailed. Through this scam, Jesse has exposed their hypocrisy. And that, to me, is a much more gratifying revenge than merely conning them out of a house and $400,000 dollars (the other half they would've gotten from a legitimate buyer)

Anonymous said...

I meant I don't believe that WAS the case. Obviously :-p

tribalism said...

So is Skyler cooking the books to get back at Walt in her own little way (see, honey, your significant other is capable of doing immoral things...how does that make you feel as a person?) or is it because on some deeper level she wants to believe she's capable of such acts in order to believe that reconciliation with Walt is a possibility?

I really haven't been all that enamoured with Skyler before, but since the season two finale, she's been making some very smart, very human decisions. Despite the possibility of blowback, she offered Walt a good deal last week: give me a clean divorce and no one will find out your secret. Now that he keeps trying to tread the line she's drawn, I worry that she won't keep her word when it comes to taking out a restraining order. With a guy who has obviously lost so much impulse control, a restraining order would be a very smart thing to do.

If anyone is interested, you can find more of my thoughts on this episode on my blog where I go into detail about how three important events in this episode are indicative of the self-denial that Walt is in. Click my username for the link.

Anonymous said...

Accepting money from a shady source is different from cooking meth and selling it. Big difference. Both are illegal but one has repercussions which are drastically more severe.

Great episode. After not enjoying the first episode I can say Breaking Bad is back in the grind. I'm ready.

JWIII

berkowit28 said...

Two things are nagging at me:

I too wasn't sure if Gus ("Pollos") was phoning Walt's phone or the Cousins'. It seemed to me that they picked it up from his open bag. Let's say that Mike (Saul's henchman) knows and recognizes the Cousins. He obviously knows Gus - he phoned him. Either Gus phoned Walt - likely to be too late - or he phoned the Cousins. If he phoned Walt and the Cousins recognized "POLLOS" as a signal from Gus, what persuaded them to leave immediately? I think he must have phoned them, as he's deeply involved with the cartel, as a high-level middle man. (It's possible the cartel is even known as the Cousins or the Brothers.) Either way, they see a message - to them or to Walt - from an important business partner/client/boss, and clear off when asked to, or on general principles.

The Cousins may be there primarily on a private, revenge mission for Tio, but respect the call from a main business partner. They find out from Tio that the cuplrit Heisinger is called Walter White, and they find (phone book?) and go to his house, not knowing he hasn't been living there for a while. It's totally coincidental that he happens to be there at the same moment. Maybe they would even have gone for his family instead - they finger the picture of the baby on the fridge.

But what is Walt doing there anyway? It's only been a day since he brought Junior back home and told him things have to be this way for the time being. OK, so her rejection of him later that day sets off his loose screw again. He didn't seem to be visiting just for an hour to take a hotter shower than he can get at the motel. He has a couple of bags with him, though not all his worldly possessions. So he's planning just to move back into the master bedroom, just like that, by force majeure? That will be interesting. I expect this particular confrontation with Skyler will occur early in the next episode...

Anonymous said...

It doesn't seem reasonable that Saul's considering knocking off Skylar. As a TV lawyer he should know the TV cops always look hard at the husband. I think it's the same thing in real life so how could he expect to keep the cops from putting Walter's life under a microscope?

Anyone able to explain what kind of financial shenanigans Skylar's boss is up to? Maybe if something happens to her he'll take the fall.
-anonymoose

Anonymous said...

From what I recall Skylar's boss was cooking the books to keep everyone on payroll. That's to say the business isn't doing good but he doesn't have it in him to let people go.

Clearly, Walt is snapping again. He's about to boil over. Between the divorce; his drug career ending; Jesse's new drive and acceptance; and the plane crash it'd do nearly anyone a mental breakdown.

JWIII

Anonymous said...

I too wasn't sure if Gus ("Pollos") was phoning Walt's phone or the Cousins'.

While it wasn't clear I figured it only made sense in terms of the story that he was calling the cousins and that texting Pollos was some sort of signal to back off.

Also, it seemed likely that Walter went to the house to recover the pizza from the roof, then couldn't get access to the ladder and then took a shower because he got filthy in the crawl space - a comedy and near tragedy of errors.
-anonymoose

Anonymous said...

Just thought I'd mention, Saul with the bluetooth headset isn't new. He's wearing it the first time we meet him in person. After he stops Badger from talking to the cop, and he leaves the interrogation room, he's walking down the hallway talking to his assistant on a bluetooth headset.

leez34 said...

WHYYYY was Walt trying to get into the house? There was no one there, but he brought bags and took a shower. I'm sure it'll be revealed next week, but why hasn't anyone else asked this question? It seems far from obvious.

Anonymous said...

it's definitely the cousin's cell phone, not Walt's. The cousin pulls it out of his own pocket, and it's a different model than Walt's.

Anonymous said...

My recording cut off when one of the brothers picked up something off the bed. What was it and what happens after?

Anonymous said...

I believe Walt came back (carrying two bags of personal belongings) with the intention of staying there. Walt's son keeps telling him that it's his house, so why did he leave. His wife has no legal right to lock him out of his own house unless she gets a restraining order. It appears as if Walt is calling her bluff about turning him in unless he does exactly what she wants him to do.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised Hank didn't make the obvious leap... if Walter did something worse than just have an affair, what could it be?

To put it another way... if a HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER did something unforgivable, worse than *just* have an affair, something his wife can't even talk about... what would that be? What kind of girl would he be having an affair with? For that matter, they know he suddenly started hanging out with a former student, so maybe he would even make the connection to a gay affair with an underage student...

Either way, he's got to get to that conclusion sooner or later, right?

Anonymous said...

I didn't get why Jesse's parents wouldn't know right away he was the one buying the house. Who else would know about the meth lab?

"Restraining order?! Restrain this!"

Anonymous said...

From their perspective? Any of Jesse's druggie friends. They'd be totally paranoid about it getting out any number of ways. I don't think they'd trust Jesse to have kept it all that secret.

Anonymous said...

something I just realized -- Gus doesn't know Walt's cancer is in remission, does he?

Jordan said...

Great ep. I liked the season premiere. But this ep stamped BB's return. What a great ending scene!

I too was amazed at Bryan Cranston's pizza toss. That was on the first take? Seriously? That's incredible. The pizza perfectly came out of the box and onto the roof. Magical.

Thanks to whoever pointed out how Tio knew Walt's name. That had me puzzled as well.

Love Jesse getting back at his parents. Reason or no, they've been horrible to him.

Speaking of horrible people. Skylar is just such a bitch. I just can't stand her. Same with last season, I find myself telling myself, "well she does have a good reason to be upset". But the fact remains. Regardless whatever Walt has done or not done to her/for her, she just comes off so cold.

Question to all. Who do we think is going to find out about everything first? Hank, Marie, or Walter Jr? Another question. If Hank where to ever find out, could you ever see a scenario where he doesn't immediately side with the law?

Right there with the person who mentioned how much things have escalated and it's only 2 ep's in! This show always has you guessing! Love it. More please!

Jordan said...

One more thing. What is up with the teddy bear eyeball? It's been a recurring focal point these first two ep's. Any guesses as to the symbolism? Is it simply a connection to the crash and guilt that came with it? Or is it something deeper?

belinda said...

It is amazing how a ginormous pizza on the roof could make me chuckle with glee as much as it did in this episode. Nice tidbit on the pizza flip one take. That IS impressive! I have to go watch that part again.

But it's even more amazing just how well Cranston manages to be dramatically comedic in this episode - which is sort of a completely effed up version of Hal in Macolm where he's being pathetic and sad and crazy - yet as Walt he manages to pull off these rather amusing scenes of Walt while giving off an entirely different vibe.

I'm definitely liking the moral ambiguity that Skylar is heading towards as well; it's nice to see that the character will get something juicy to play (other than reacting to Walt, which she does really well already).

As for Jesse - I'm totally getting chills. It's definitely frightening to see someone like Jesse to be this calm and bad.

Pagan Terrorism said...

I was rather disappointed with last episode, but this one was fantastic. The intensity of the drama was back and furthermore it seemed fresh. This isn't going to be a repeat of last season, they're taking us somewhere new. While part of this lies with the fact that there are many more (extremely interesting and vibrant) characters now than there were when the show first started, or even last season, I feel as if they've somehow managed to imbibe the show with an even more sinister vibe. Maybe it's the cousins acting as the horsemen of all that is evil, but I feel like it comes through on all the levels of the show.

And poor, poor Walter Jr. I feel like he's the last genuinely good person on the show except maybe Hank.

Nick/MountainJam said...

Hello Alan,
After hearing you on the Bill Simmons Podcast, I decided to check out your podcast, and this website. I'm very glad I did. Your intelligent and insightful writing is a pleasure to read. I especially enjoy your "inside information". For instance, when Walt threw that pizza onto the roof. I had similar thoughts on how that was done. Also the information regarding the house and it's real owners, was interesting as well.

So Thank you kind sir.

Keep On Keeping On!

Russell Lucas said...

Good episode. I'm again impressed that the show dispenses quickly with the rote tensions that other shows would milk for several episodes. Skyler figures out that Walt is slingin', and the cousins find out who Walt is and where to find him.

Interesting take on "home." Walt Jr. repeatedly tells Walt that it's his house, and Walt makes the big show of retaking residence at the end. Given that the show's inciting incident was Walt wanting to continue to provide a home for his family after his death, I like how the show's writers keep circling back on this theme.

I thought Walt's roadrage incident was a little out of character; given his last run-in with a cop on the road, I thought he'd act similarly this time, as he's now got a permanent reason to be leery whenever the five-o pull him over. I'm pretty sure, though, that this was a narrative hedge the show had to plant to set up things to come. They didn't show it on screen, but there's no way they take Walt in like that without booking him. To that end, I'd guess his prints are now in the system.

Mr. F said...

The Skylar hate is unwarranted. If you found out your husband was secretly dealing drugs, you'd want to look out for and protect your family. Not only is it illegal, but it's dangerous for everyone involved, especially the dealer's loved ones.
As to why she isn't giving him a chance now, well, she gave him plenty last season and he chose to lie. No one can call Skylar's behaviour unjustified if they look at the situation rationally.

I saw the same misogyny in regards to Betty Draper from Mad Men. Philandering husband treats you like dirt and emotionally destroys you = "GTFO and STFU, woman, plus you're probably a bad mother"

My god. Women are not on earth so they can bow to men.

Matthew said...

my immediate thought is walt was taking the money to be hidden in the house somewhere (since it was the same black duffel), remove the pizza from the roof. But I can see now what you guys have thought about him not realising boundaries and impulsive reactions and maybe he indeed was trying to just force his way back in.

Rufus said...

What a way to celebrate your 45 day sober chip but to get your house back. Jesse's parents aren't horrible people. They did stick it out with Jesse for a long time before they decided to cut their losses and go with the supposed (pot head) younger son. Loved when mom was mentioning how the price reduction ruined the perfect son's chance at Space Camp just as Jesse pulls up.


I think that Walter will need a bit of a shove to get back cooking. I figure that good old Saul will help him in that respect. He's already saved his life. Wonder how long that bug will go undetected.


The scary part tonight was not so much the two silent killers with the shiny, yet to be broken in axe sitting on the bed. Scary is when one of them pauses and touches baby Holly's ultrasound picture. Walter really has a lot to lose and he doesn't get it yet.

I know lots of people aren't so fond of Skylar but I feel so sorry for her. Her husband is a meth cooker and the cooking of her boss's books must seem the lesser of the two evils. People will do things they wouldn't normally do if the family is threatened, it looks like in a lesser way Skylar is learning that first hand.

Mr Whirly said...

I love the savage glee with which Saul weilds his evil power over the law. Great credit for Bob Odenkirk for the character. My favorite line from the episode was "How bout it, counselor? Do you concur?" I am so thrilled to Johnathon Banks back on the show. He was such an underappreciated part of one of my all time favorite shows, "Wiseguy."
Not that it is a competition, but Breaking Bad is so much better than Lost right now.

Trilby said...

"not so much that they're willing to take shady cash but that they didn't disclose the shady history of the building."

Petty ante indeed. Who among us homeowners/sellers hasn't painted over a bit of mold or a slight crack....

I must say, I had an uneasy feeling at the end of this episode that the show is getting darker now, and straying into territory I am less comfortable with, like maybe physical torture and mayhem.

Also, I can't find anyone to like, except maybe Walter, Jr. Yep, he's the only one. Maybe the baby.

Steve said...

Russell:

As a public school teacher, his prints are already in the system.

Steve said...

As much as we want to dislike Jesse's parents, I don't see where there's any moral fault in accepting a cash offer for real estate.

A "cash offer" in real estate doesn't mean the buyer brings a suitcase of cash to the closing table, it just means an offer not contingent on the buyer obtaining financing. All sellers of any kind prefer these offers since they don't have to worry about a buyer's loan being approved nor do they have to wait for the loan process to play out.

In this real estate market, I'm surprised they didn't spontaneously do cartwheels on the conference table.

Sandra said...

I don’t really understand all this Skyler hate, how do you want her to act?? Do you want her to just “stand by her man” or do you want her to join Walt in the meth business? Walt is the one the lied again and again, missed the birth of his daughter and like Saul said, if Walt is found out they will lose their house, to me Skyler has every reason to be pissed.

I think the reason Jesse only offered half for the house, is because last season he had mentioned something about them selling the house and splitting the money with his parents, so by giving them only half he was sticking to what he thought was the original plan.

Also, last season when Saul talked about Gus, he said he “knew a guy, who knows a guy who knows another guy” it looks like the 1st guy was the P.I and the 2nd was the dude that answered the phone.

Anonymous said...

Umm, real people with cancer are "less despicable" than Walt? So that means they are still despicable, maybe even pretty despicable, just not at the same level as Walt?

Interesting phrasing there, Alan.

Anonymous said...

What a fantastic episode this was. Wow.
The final scene was some of the most intense stuff I've ever seen on television. These guys know what they're doing, and it seems to me they're getting more confident with each episode.

This season's plot has been set up very nicely now, and I have absolutely no doubt that it is indeed going to be another brilliant one.
Best show on TV!

Brent said...

I think the reason Jesse only offered half for the house, is because last season he had mentioned something about them selling the house and splitting the money with his parents, so by giving them only half he was sticking to what he thought was the original plan.

Perhaps, but I think the more important factor is that was basically all he had. He got 480 Grand from Walt's big sale to Gus. He had that plus whatever he had saved from before, which definitely wasn't much. Between needing money for his own living expenses and what I am sure was Saul Goodman's sizable fee, he couldn't have offered much more than that anyway.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Interesting phrasing there, Alan.

Yes, I clearly find all cancer victims to be in some way sketchy, if not downright criminal.

Anonymous said...

I could be wrong, but it appears that all the "bad" guys know each other and all of them (Sal included) want and need Walt to continue to cook! Jesse appears almost unnecessary in this scenario. What part does he now play? Didn't Walt even cheat him out of some money when they made the big haul last season? Jesse was heavily into drugs when Walt collected his pay-out from Gus and I swear he shorted Jesse on some of the money. It has been fascinating to watch the descent of Walter White from mild-mannered chemisty teacher into an amoral badass! It doesn't seem that long ago when Jesse asked him in season 1--"Mr. White why are you breaking bad?" Why indeed!

Brent said...

She doesn't want to, but she doesn't seem to have a choice - which, interestingly, is the justification Walt used for getting into the meth business in the first place.

One of the most interesting parts of the narrative to me is that Walt very clearly had a choice. He could have gone back to working with Elliot Schwartz or he could have accepted his money or he could have just chosen not to undergo the treatment which he really didn't believe was going to work anyway. The choice he made, to use his considerable talents as a chemist to cook an extraordinarily destructive narcotic, was a choice that was mostly about his pride and his darker resentments of the Schwartzes. His later choices to push Jess to be more productive and later to force his way into business with Tuco went well beyond anything that could reasonably be considered necessary.

This is all obvious of course, but it is one of the most interesting elements of the show to me. This is not a guy who has been forced into a corner. he thinks of himself that way sometimes but the simple truth presented in the narrative is that he has always had alternatives that were quite obviously more benign than the paths he decided to take. His own pride and ambition is what put him where he is far more than any external factor.

Anonymous said...

a "cash offer" for real estate sometimes does result in a suitcase full of cash being slid across the conference room table. as a lawyer, you don't want to see that. but it happens. usually, buyers are not attempting to conceal assets & asset source because THAT information has been duly disclosed and claimed on appropriate federal tax forms. jesse has a mound of greenbacks that appeared out of no-where and was used to purchase a piece of real estate whose deed will be filed with the appropriate registry of deeds and will generate property taxes. ahh..the complications of having unclaimed income...has skyler actually filed for divorce? is a court of some sort supervising the dissolution of their marraige and apportioning the use of their assets? if not, walt could have been reclaiming possession of his only significant asset: the house. if there is no existing court order awarding possession to skyler and limiting his access and use of the property, then the time is right for him to give skyler a quick dose of reality by moving back in. everyone is on his side. great time to make his move back into the house. but what is the saul/gus/cousins' nexus? this series is amazing.

Brent said...

Jesse was heavily into drugs when Walt collected his pay-out from Gus and I swear he shorted Jesse on some of the money.

No, I think as far as we know, Jesse got his fair share. There was a time when Walt was hesitant to give it to him because he felt likely that he would probably end up killing himself with it. But it always would have been easy for Walt to cheat Jesse out of his share and he didn't. In fact, he even gave Jesse half of his own haul, after Jesse lost all of his own money, when he clearly had no obligation to share with him at all. One of the interesting things that I am curious to see developed is the sense in which Walt really thinks of Jesse as a kind of surrogate son.

Steve said...

a "cash offer" for real estate sometimes does result in a suitcase full of cash being slid across the conference room table. as a lawyer, you don't want to see that. but it happens. usually, buyers are not attempting to conceal assets & asset source because THAT information has been duly disclosed and claimed on appropriate federal tax forms.

In this case, Saul had the money in an account (I'm guessing his trust account after it had been laundered elsewhere) and told the Pinkmans he'd have the funds wired to them the same day.

I'm an attorney who's done real estate closings for nearly 20 years, and in the handful of times I've had people literally bring cash for a "cash deal", I've sent them away and told them to come back with a cashier's check, as I'm sure the Pinkmans' attorney would have done.

They did nail the interaction between the strata of attorneys (Saul vs. the Pinkmans') perfectly; Saul's "do you concur?" at the end of their exchange was priceless.

All in all, Saul is my favorite TV attorney since Lionel Hutz.

Norgard said...

"I can't be the bad guy." -Walt

When I heard that line, for a moment I thought he meant it as a resolution: I can't go on like this, I have to behave better. But even if he did, his lack of impulse control put a quick end to that. By the way, do his outbursts remind anyone else of Tuco? They even show him with sort of symbolic cocain (the popcorn) clinging his nose. I wonder if that's foreshadowing that now that Jesse's clean and Walt is losing the support of his family, he's gonna be the one to start using.

Anonymous said...

"They did nail the interaction between the strata of attorneys (Saul vs. the Pinkmans') perfectly; Saul's "do you concur?" at the end of their exchange was priceless.

All in all, Saul is my favorite TV attorney since Lionel Hutz."



Hear hear. I'm an attorney and Saul represents everything negative about my profession. But he is written so well and watching him one up that guy was priceless.

My prediction for this season: Skylar ends up in jail for cooking the books and Walt ends up with the kids.

berkowit28 said...

"Didn't Walt even cheat him out of some money when they made the big haul last season?" (Anonymous no. 453)

No, he didn't. The big haul was $1.2 million, of which Saul took 20% fee, $240,000, leaving $960,000. That's $480,000 for each of them. Walt had passed Jesse's share to Saul for safe-keeping. Walt had even given Jesse half of a previous, smaller sale, when Jesse lost all his money, but that wouldn't have been much. Jesse also would have had to pay Saul a lawyer's fee for the house transaction. Even if not as heavy as his gangster-finder's fee, it would have still made a dent.

$400,000 is basically what he had to spend. I like the "rough justice" someone else pointed out about it being about half the value of the house (or, let's say, after a more usual negotiation), but, basically, it's what he had, and Saul made it enough to get the job done.

Andrew said...

Great episode as always however I feel the review greatly overlooks the excruciating hypocrisy of Skylar as she on one hand deservedly banished Walter from her life, but on the other hand starts with her own criminal duplicitous dealings in trying to cook the books. I understand Alan is trying to do the whole analysis from "The Wire" technique following every domino that falls attributing the fault of that to the original instigator. Though in the review, you're seemingly falling into that same trap of trying to paint characters with a definitive brush by suggesting Skylar is only a victim of Walter's misdeeds and forever more her hand is forced by the rippling effects of Walter's actions when characters have shown to lie always within the grey.

I feel it is a little more complicated with every character. I feel Breaking Bad center's around that biblical story about who should throw the first stone. I feel it is about the dynamics of judging others and how every perch is fatally fallible. How Skylar is able to judge Walter, how Walter judges Jesse, how Walter obsesses about the way people judge him. The way you describe the story of Breaking Bad makes it seem like it runs on the same dynamics of "The Wire" when every action was only a domino effect from impossible messed up institutions. Breaking Bad I think is less linear and more basic.

Also, I took the pool scene a lot more symbolically. It is a tranquil, beautiful body of water which I think represents Walter's idealistic notion of his family. After having thrown matches and other sh*t into his pool, I think in his attempts to not be the bad guy, he will do anything to maintain that idealistic vision of family which is represented when he anally pulls out the bandaid floating in the pool. lol, a bandaid of all this, feel like you can't get more symbolically more obvious than that. Thus at the end, it was Walter trying to regain control of his dream and idealistic visions by moving back in and pretending he's a perfect family again. But ironically I feel the pool representation is tied directly into the toy eyeball that Walter keeps. One eyed vision prevents great depth perception which I think is why the writers have Walter keep it around to represent his inability to perceive the depths of his decision which includes a superficial view of what a family should be etc.

Lepidoptera said...

That was a great writeup, Alan.

Tio playing Ouija, the eye on the floor, and then the pie on the roof: indeed somebody is now ALWAYS watching, LWYRUP, the quiet revenge on the Pinkman parentals, and Heisenberg still hanging on to Walt White with something as simple as being dutiful about pool-cleaning.

Cancel the discussion about what is the best program on TV, because it's not even close.

Lisa said...

At some point, Walt's got to get back in the lab. What's going to get him there?

Alfred A. A. said...

So, with Jesse spending most of his money on the house, we can assume that he's going to start cooking pretty soon, with or without Walt?

ravage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ravage said...

My issue with Skylar is the fact that shes atleast emotionally unfaithful to Walt. With the Marylin Monroe song and the dropping the stationary when Beneke passes. And shes willing to cover up and stay in the relationship with Beneke, but not Walt, although both had mitigating circumstances for their crimes.

The bandaid scene I saw as Walter in denial, of him seeing himself as a good person.

Anonymous said...

Skylar & the family (from the annoying sister; the brother-in-law; and the song) receive sympathy when I examine Walt's choices and their unintended consequences upon them. So, yes, she has every right to divorce him, kick him out the house, and not to see the kids. A) You don't want to be involved with drugs. B) You need a place to live. C) You don't want your kids to get involved with drugs. It's simple.

Skylar loses sympathy when I look at her character from another perspective. Prior to her knowing Walt's actions, she was already looking for a way out and self-justifies for criminal actions. It's hypocritical and a holier-than-thou stance (granted again cooking Meth & it's distribution is not the same as cooking the books). Now she knows the truth behind her husband's actions, she wants to know why. Instead of going to him and inquiring she's asking a slightly different criminal who, like walt, mimics similar behaviour. I wanted to look out for my kids and I can't see far ahead.

As an audience it can be hard to separate what WE KNOW and what the characters know.

At the end of the day I feel sorry for the brother-in-law. He's a big doofus that says all the wrongs things but he's got a good heart.

JWIII

berkowit28 said...

I'm not sure if everyone writing about Walt retrieving the band-aid from the pool caught that it was not his home's pool but the pool of the motel where he's staying.

abc said...

Thank you Mr. F. for your lovely comment sticking up for Skylar and Betty! I'm so sick of all the sexism and misogyny from otherwise very cool and thoughtful commenters on these TV blogs. It makes my stomach turn.

We so easily hate women in this society. Too easily.

Anonymous said...

Whether it's meant to look like a hotel or not, they're apartments. I used to live there a few years ago. 4610 Eubank NE

Anonymous said...

Sidebar:

Does anyone have the url address for the breaking bad podcast (I can listen to it on the website - which is not convenient for me - and there's only a link there through itunes, which I can't use)?

Thank you!

PanAm53 said...

That's interesting about the address of the apartment complex where Walt is staying. We went out to the Southwest last September, a week after I had read in a Google Alert that BB was shooting at the intersection of Eubank and Menaul. There is a funky looking strip mall at that intersection. Waiting to see if it appears on the show. Walt's apartment would be close by.

PanAm53 said...

mrniphty said...
Reading one of Alan's interviews with the show's creator I recalled him saying in Season 2 about how the first few episode titles when put together give a hint as to what might culminate at season's end.

Actually, it was the titles of episodes 1,4,10 and 13 that when put together revealed what would culminate by season's end:

1-737
4-Down
10-Over
13-ABQ

DonBoy said...

I like how Saul was wearing a shirt that was exactly the same color as the Flight Whatever ribbon that he, like just about everyone else so far this season, was wearing.

Jason said...

So many things in this episode made me smile at the writers' attention to detail:

1. Walt's Aztek STILL driving around with a spare tire.

2. "LWYRUP"

3. Walt spotting the bandaid in the pool and fishing it out.

4. "There's dipping sticks."

5. The hands-shaking of the woman doing the puzzle in the senior center.

6. The shininess of the cousins' ax.

So much detail to pick up on, like its stablemate "Mad Men."

PanAm53 said...

I thought Skyler's conversation with Ted regarding how he would explain his criminal conduct to his children was interesting. He said he would let them know that everything he did was for them.

Perhaps, Skyler will realize that the intent of Walt's criminal activity was also to provide for his family.

I don't see how Skyler can possibly explain to Walt Jr. why she won't let his father see him without revealing his father's criminal activity to him. If she goes through with her divorce plans, she will either have to allow Walt to see his children or re neg on her deal with Walt, and tell them the truth. Otherwise, she will totally alienate Walt, Jr. Just like Ted, she could explain that whatever their father did, he did for them. However, as their mother, she needs to protect them from the criminal elements that their father is involved with.

PanAm53 said...

Just want to clarify that our trip to the Southwest last September had been planned a long time prior to the Google Alert. We just thought that as long as we were there, it would be fun to go see a location where they shot and perhaps spot it on the show.

Anonymous said...

About Jesse buying the house.

He could be killing two birds with one stone. He buys the house way under market value and gets revenge on his parents. Then he could turn around and sell it for more money probably further laundering the money in the process. His parents will not try a gambit like Saul did and try to block it. His name was not connected to the sale directly or his parents wouldn't have been surprised when he revealed himself as the buyer.

I get the feeling it's not all about just sticking it to his parents. He's looking to profit.

Phil McPhil said...

At first I thought the pizza on the roof had to be a fluke, and I imagined they ad-hoc'd the dialogue and other shots of it. (Especially since we have a roof cam with the pizza at rest, but no shot of an incoming pizza.)

But I don't think so anymore.

Regardless, if that isn't the freakin funniest thing I've seen in a long time. Cried real tears, I did.

LP said...

A little off topic, but one of the great things that Breaking Bad does is incorporate real local Albuquerque elements into the show. It's all filmed on location and they use real businesses and locations; for example, the pizza that Walt tossed on the roof? It's a real pizza place in Arizona and the Albuquerque area.

When they're remodeling the house, they're putting in some speakers or something because there is a Baillio's truck outside; Baillio's is a bit of an ABQ institution.

Cool touches for those of us who live in Albuquerque and occasionally see Breaking Bad filming scenes around town.

zzzdog said...

I have a lot of sympathy for Skylar. Walt has stranded them both in an insane landscape and she's in a no-win position. If she exposes Walt, the lives of everyone she loves will implode, including her own. If she protects her family by staying silent she colludes with Walt's criminal behavior and cuts herself off emotionally from everyone she loves because of the big, illegal and immoral time bomb at the center of her life. She's utterly alone with the awful truth and worse, she has no choice but to swallow the slings and arrows of being seen as the motive-less destroyer of her family, the one kicking the cancer survivor in the teeth.

Her life is built on dishonesty now, she has no one. Because she can't be honest with anyone, all her normal moral supports are gone. Even without any other factors, Ted, whose life is also built on an illegal secret and who lives with the threat of exposure and of having to face a criminal identity, would be the closest thing to a kindred spirit in her world. No wonder she was asking him about his kids; it was about her own feelings of living with wrongdoing much as it was about Walt. I'm not sure she's ever going to see what Walt did in a softer light given all the destruction its wrought.

I think Bryan Cranston does a fiercely wonderful job, but right now I'm really struck by the difference in Aaron Paul's Jesse now that he's "healthy." He just emits a completely different, organically whole physicality now. It's ironic that as he seems so much more 'healthy' he also seems so much more chilling and heartless.

It puts the caricatured unflappability of both Gus and the cousins in an interesting light.

digamma said...

One thing that I don't see in this thread - Ted said that everything he did he did for his kids. That's what Walter said into the camcorder in the very first scene of the whole show.

Last year it felt like Skyler was looking at Ted as a positive alternative to Walter. But now I wonder if Ted's indiscretions will make Skyler reconsider her feelings about Walter's business.

SO GOOD! Vince Gilligan, keep this crazy train rolling.

Anonymous said...

One thing that I don't think has been mentioned. If Skyler did tell the police, they wouldn't have enough to charge him. I doubt it would be that hard once she tipped them off for them to find evidence, but his confession to her wouldn't be nearly enough (and I doubt that it would be admissible).

dronkmunk said...

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Walter-White-Pizza-Tossing/113416312003437?ref=nf

Apollogeesus said...

Just wanted to express my appreciation for this blog, for Alan's insightful and well written entries, as well as those of the people who tend to post here.

The internet, for all its wonders, can be a cesspool of stupidity and ignorance, (not to mention bad spelling and grammar) and this blog to me is an oasis in the desert (on a horse with no name).

Immediately upon viewing an episode of Breaking Bad online, my first stop in this page. Here, I find intelligent and intuitive discourse. What a welcome relief, as well as being helpful and illuminating to my personal understanding of, and appreciation for, this amazing TV show (one of the best, ever, by far). This blog is a pleasure to read and to be a part of.

Keep up the Great work folks!

Anonymous said...

Everyone has a choice. Just because Skylar feels like she doesn't have one does not mean she does not have one. She does. She's making poor choices right now and has been for a while.

The entire argument about the consequences on her brother-in-law aren't that strong of a case. He wouldn't be as affected by the revelation on a professional level as it's making out to be. If anything he could probably capture Walt if Skylar was smart in revealing the information. The problem is she's not seeing things clearly.

oneofestelles said...

Alan,

Thanks for finding out about the pizza scene.

Anonymous said...

How did the cousins open the door to Walt's home so effortlessly when he couldn't crack that lock with every effort (and key) he attempted?

Anonymous said...

Walt had already opened the door to get his bags after breaking in. He probably didn't lock it.

SJ said...

What's the song/music which plays whenever the twins show up? It's so ominous and foreboding but I like it...

Anonymous said...

Here's the song

Timber Timbre - Magic Arrow

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=icJOkfS7ImA

Brent said...

How did the cousins open the door to Walt's home so effortlessly when he couldn't crack that lock with every effort (and key) he attempted?

Anon at 10:03 is correct I think. Walt had unlocked the door. But aside from that explanation, I haven't the slightest doubt that those guys would have basically no trouble at all opening that door even if it were locked. It really wouldn't be much of an obstacle for any kind of determined criminal.

berkowit28 said...

Before Walt got there, Mike had already easily got into the house.

Anonymous said...

No, Mike was not in the house - he was in the yard.

As for the cell phone, it is definitely Walt's. We saw it in season 2. Neither is it a text message. "Pollos" is simply the name Walt has given Gus for reference in his 'phone book'. When "Pollos" is calling, it's Gus on the other end.

Eventually this thing is going to come down to Walt and his people vs. Tio and the Cousins. The only way out of that death match is a faked death or witness protection or maybe Walt moving far away. There will be casualties on both sides but somehow Tio and the Cousins are going to have to die or else Walt will.

There is, of course, a chance that Skyler is offered up as a sacrificial lamb to appease the Cartel. If Skyler goes, I feel a strong hunch that the baby will too.

Which leaves Walt and Jr. I'm betting that before this is all over we will see those two mirroring what we saw with Tony Soprano and Anthony Jr (where Jr begins following the path of his old man).

And lastly Hank - we started to see some Dirty tendencies from him in Season 2. Whether that plays out as Dirty Harry or Dirty Cop is up in the air. I know that so much of his personality is 'by the book' but if you watch closely the season 2 episodes that focus on Hank, you will see that he could Break Bad too.

I think that one of the themes of this show is that ANYONE could go bad. "There but for the grace of G-d, go I." And further still that life is not black and white. There is a heck of a lot of grey in each of us as well as a whole spectrum of other colors. Hank may ride a white horse but hasn't he already covered up for his kleptomaniac wife AND bailed out both Walt and Walt Jr in a clear abuse of police powers and/or bending of policies and using his 'pull' to get them off the hook when anyone else would be up on charges?

I can see that when violence comes too close to the family, Hank may snap and even if Walt's cooking does come out at that point Hank the Bulldog is going to let that slide and help Walt do some serious battle.

Jesse. Jesse has become the rock on which Walt will lean. Jesse is now in a frame of mind to really run a criminal enterprise and he will. With or without Walt. But obviously those two aren't through yet by a long shot.

One thing that baffles me is: Why wouldn't the Studio just purchase that house to shoot in? It's not as if real-estate isn't able to be sold when/if it is no longer needed. Or even rented out on a temporary basis. Certainly at this point the budget for such a purchase is there. Financing should be no problem one way or another.

I too loved the pizza scene and I do believe that it went up in one shot. When things are coming together just right as they clearly are in so many aspects of BB, everything just works.

The eye. It is the Eye of Judgment. Call it G-d or self reflection or Jimmeny Cricket or whatever. Walt feels it on him and he keeps it around as a symbol of that feeling. Perhaps guilt.

(Continued in the next post)

Anonymous said...

(Continued from the previous post)

I think too, that it foreshadows a paranoia that will become more and more real as Walt goes deeper into the rabbit hole. He first found it (and inexplicably pocketed it) just as Hank (police authority personified) shows up and thereafter we see it again and again witnessing depravity of one kind or another. We'll see it a bunch more too. Without a doubt. And when we do - consider how things look from that eye's perspective within the scope of that eye's history.

I think it would be REAL interesting to chronicle a listing of scenes where that eye shows up.

Last, A Horse With No Name. Consider closely the lyrical metaphors that make this tune so awesomely appropriate for BB and for Walt's life at this point:

A Horse With No Name, by America

On the first part of the journey,
I was looking at all the life.
There were plants and birds. and rocks and things,
There was sand and hills and rings.
The first thing I met, was a fly with a buzz,
And the sky, with no clouds.
The heat was hot, and the ground was dry,
But the air was full of sound.

I've been through the desert on a horse with no name,
It felt good to be out of the rain.
In the desert you can remember your name,
'Cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain.
La, la, la la la la, la la la, la, la
La, la, la la la la, la la la, la, la

After two days, in the desert sun,
My skin began to turn red.
After three days, in the desert fun,
I was looking at a river bed.
And the story it told, of a river that flowed,
Made me sad to think it was dead.

You see I've been through the desert on a horse with no name,
It felt good to be out of the rain.
In the desert you can remember your name,
'Cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain.
La la, la, la la la la, la la la, la, la
La la, la, la la la la, la la la, la, la

After nine days, I let the horse run free,
'Cause the desert had turned to sea.
There were plants and birds, and rocks and things,
There was sand and hills and rings.
The ocean is a desert, with its life underground,
And a perfect disguise above.
Under the cities lies, a heart made of ground,
But the humans will give no love.

You see I've been through the desert on a horse with no name,
It felt good to be out of the rain.
In the desert you can remember your name,
'Cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain.

La la, la, la la la la, la la la, la, la
La la, la, la la la la, la la la, la, la
La la, la, la la la la, la la la, la, la
La la, la, la la la la, la la la, la, la
La, la, la la la la, la la la, la, la
La la, la, la la la la, la la la, la, la
La, la, la la la la, la la la, la, la
La la, la, la la la la, la la la, la, la

'nuff said.

~Indy Hound Dog

Anonymous said...

A good show has good characters and interesting story lines. To be truly great, you need a few curveballs that are plausible at the same time.

Walt's wife being an accountant is a great choice for her personality. Pre-Enron, accountants were viewed as the most ethical of the professions. Her dealings with her boss is not unusual for accountants. CEOs and even small business owners want everything to look good for the stock price or even for applying for bank loans, auditors do not want to lie when certifing financials but want to get paid by their clients. Auditors are not going to call the IRS on a client, they are going to advise how to state the financials legally. It is a fine line negotiated on both sides.

And to be fair to Skylar, her deal with Walt and her boss is similar. She wants a divorce but won't rat Walt out. She also won't rat out her boss but won't be party to somehow illegal and states how he needs to "refine" his financials before she will sign off on them. Comparing Skylar to Jesse's parents in terms of hypocracy in this episode is not exactly fair imo. It is interesting with Skylar; she seems to have softened her attitude just a bit after talking to her boss but I am not sure if her situation with Walt has put her boss in a more sympathetic light or vice versa, but after that scene--as a viewer--I am thinking Skylar is a bit emotionally vulnerable to Walt.

And what do you know, Walt Jr shows up and Walt is in a position to drop him off at home with knowledge from Walt Jr that everyone is on his side. This is right after the scene with her boss, a perfect segue.

And this is where the episode threw a great curve for me. Instead of giving the same speech her boss gave about doing all this for his family, he shows up with the tawdry charms of cologne and dipping sauce, expecting to get in. If he had been a bit more apologetic, Skylar might have caved but of course he is as oblivious to his behavior here as he was all episode. Those type of scenes remind me of "Reality Bites", where Winona Rider and Ethan Wawke are on the verge of getting together throughout the movie but are constantly striking attitudes.

Martin said...

The first few shots of the opening scene were great at showing the world through Walt's eyes. We see him clearly through the windshield, happily singing along to the radio. It's not until the cop pulls him over and points it out that we see the windshield is totally shattered (which Walt indirectly caused).

Hutch said...

I think that the teddy bear eye is symbolic on many levels, both literal and figurative. It's a powerful reminder of Walt's single or limited vision (enhanced, as already pointed out, by the smashed windshield, pepper spray, and shampoo in Walt's eyes) which is an overarching theme in novels such as "Clockwork Orange". The eye illustrates the power of the gaze and triggers Walt's conscience and transient feelings of guilt. The eye is also a literal reminder of the lives lost in the crash, particularly the lives of chidren, and brings into sharper relief Walt's hypocrisy in attempting to convince himself he's a cooker because of his committment to his family.

Anonymous said...

When Walt told the officer about hellfire raining down upon his home it seemed to me the show was sort of attempting to explain the symbolism of the season 2 finale, which felt odd and forced. Otherwise a great episode, much better than last week.

I hate Skylar too. She is just awful. But it has nothing to do with her actions this season. I just can't stand her or the actress who plays her.

Anonymous said...

skyler's best scene, i think, was the scene with loss prevention discussing the tiara. the writers haven't given her character much to work with. she's either too strident w/walt or smarmy with her son. her character never seems to strike the right note. add to that the matter of ted @ the car dealer. i tend to think that each character, this year, will break bad in their own way. the son will try to emulate the father, skyler will go for ted binake, jesse is harder and more confident of his new role as the bad guy, hank's career will spiral into walt's compromising both...and so on. the writers are insane. this is the best TV since the original airing of Brideshead Revisited on PBS in 1980.

Anonymous said...

It's definitely not Walt's cell phone, its one of the cousins. He pulls it out of the breast pocket of his jacket, its clear that he didn't pick it up anywhere.

Also, its definitely a text message not a call. Its clear on the screen that it shows "Inbox (1/1)" at the top of the page. Whats unclear is whether the text says "Pollos" or its a text from "Pollos", and actual message isn't displayed. From what I can remember when I had a similar phone, I believe that only shows who its from, and we never see the contents of the message.

bleibtreu said...

Having gone back to review the final scene, starting from when the cousins arrive at the house, I feel I can weigh in on a couple of the questions that have come up here.

It's clear that Walt has left the door unlocked; the cousins don't do anything to get in other than open the door. We see the door from inside the house as it slowly opens with both of them standing outside. Nothing in their gloved hands -- no keys, picks, or anything similar -- other than the ax.

And the cell phone is in the pocket of the lighter-dressed of the cousins when it gives a short double-buzz that would be indicative of a text message arriving. The message on the screen, as mentioned earlier, says "Inbox 1/1"" -- also indicative of a text message.

While one could thing that they found and picked up Walt's phone earlier, it clearly doesn't happen. We see them make their way through the house; the only stops are to look at the photo on the refrigerator and a glance into the baby's room.

bleibtreu said...

One other thing: apparently the only clue that alerts Walt that something is up, that someone has been in the house, is that the eye is moved from one side of his open suitcase to the other. He's really paying close attention to that little talisman.

Angela said...

In the last episode my comment never posted,
so this comment has more to do with last week.
The Cousins: I couldn't figure out why I liked them a lot, yet so many others said they were not to their liking.
Perhaps it's because I saw them as a parody of the drug cartel. So it was fine with me that they wouldn't act like/do that, in real life.
Plus I thought their performance was awesome. Perfect timing, gestures, rhythm, everything!

Also, really good entertainment pulls you in, but at the same time you are reminded while watching, that it *is* entertainment. Hm...hope that makes sense.

Anyway, I just love this show, as much as always.

bleibtreu said...

Angela, I agree. It seems kind of silly to me for people to criticize that those characters don't act like "real" cartel operatives would, while watching a show about a high school teacher turned meth producer who teamed up with an ex-student, killed a couple of drug dealers, created more powerful methanthetamine than anyone else ever has, blew up an office with a very tiny amount of explosive, and then happened to be living in the debris field of an airplane collision caused by a Rube Goldberg-ish series of events that he put in motion.

Don't get me wrong, I love the show. But it's fiction. Almost nothing in it reflects real life. What's important is that when we're living in its universe, we lose ourselves there.

And everybody loves Saul Goodman. How much is he like a "real" lawyer? His character is exaggerated for effect, as are those of the cousins.

Scazza said...

I still see Walt as the hero, everything through his eyes, and Jesse as innocent. That must come from the amazing character writing & acting. While the situations may be farfetched, the characters and their motivations couldn't be more true.

"• Walt's so anal and controlling that he has to go and skim the pool at his apartment complex. (And that, in turn, gives the production team an excuse to trot out the pools-eye-view camera again. I love that camera almost as much as they obviously do.)"

I really saw this as him doing the things he would do at home. Sad that he doesn't have his own pool to keep clean.

Anonymous said...

"At some point, Walt's got to get back in the lab. What's going to get him there?"

Gus apparently didn't have anything that Walt wanted (not even $3 million). Now he finds his leverage. He's able to protect Walter from the chopping block, but as long as Walter remains retired, he doesn't need to.

My guess is that Gus agrees to protect Walt for as long as he cooks for him.

Karl Ruben said...

"Consiglieri" is plural, I think the correct form is "consigliere".

macguyver said...

The most confusing part of the whole episode is why the twins would back off killing Walt with that beautiful glistening ax after recieving a one word text, "Pollos". As many would translate this word as "chickens", this word is also commonly assosiated with illegal immigrants who cross the border from Mexico into the US. The twins did illegaly cross the border, so whoever sent the text and whatever meaning it had, it was obviously directed at the twins. This one is gonna keep me guessing till sunday.

Pet said...

Can anybody explain me the meaning of the "LWYRUP" license plate? I'm not a native English speaker, but I thought I knew the American culture quite well. Looks like I don't. And I can't Google it, either.

Anonymous said...

have a cousin in dublin, ireland and she is OFF THE WALL crazy about this show. she said that she & her friends gather around a computer sunday nights (early monday irish time) before they head off to work/school/daycare and watch breaking bad. she has never been to the US & asks the craziest questions: are all pizzas 1 meter wide? wouldn't neighbors sound an alarm if 2 dudes wearing shiny suits carried a shiny axe to their neighbors door or are homes SO big that this can pass unnoticed? oh well...

Anonymous said...

PET: it means "lawyer up" or get a lawyer or hire SAUL GOODMAN, ESQ. it refers to a suspects right to have an attorney present when questioned by the police. it is vernacular used mostly by commentators on news shows while discussing a pending legal entanglement. "the police suspended questioning because the suspect lawyered up."

bleibtreu said...

In response to macguyver:

I believe that "Pollos" was the sender of the message, not the text of the message. Gus, remember, owns a chain of chicken restaurants called "Los Pollos Hermanos."

We've already seen that messages from him arrive on Walt's phone with that identifier. Usually in real life the user of the phone sets that up, and it would actually seem an unlikely coincidence that the cousin would have chosen the same thing in his phone's phonebook.

But I think we have to allow some artistic license on that small point, as this is the only way to let the viewer know who sent that message.

It's possible, on the other hand, that it was meant to be the text of the message -- and that it's code that Gus sends simply to tell people with whom he's set it up to contact him immediately. The cousins may have left to do that, figuring that now that they know where Walt lives (at least they think he still lives there) they can come back and deal with him any time.

bleibtreu said...

In response to questions from "anonymous""

"are all pizzas 1 meter wide?"

Thanks to the "pause" button, I googled the pizza place. The box, along with the name of the pizzeria, has the words "Party Pizza" printed on it. Venezia's Pizza sells a 24-inch Party Pizza:
http://veneziaspizzeria.com/pizza.shtml

"wouldn't neighbors sound an alarm if 2 dudes wearing shiny suits carried a shiny axe to their neighbors door"

In suburban neighborhoods such as that, most people are away at work and their houses empty during the middle of the day. Statistically most residential burglaries in those kinds of neighborhoods, in fact, happen during daylight hours for just that reason.

Anonymous said...

with all the attention to detail this show has, I was stunned to see the boiler room where Walt enters the house through the hatch. The piping is completely different from what he himself installed!

Amy @ bake pop said...

The relationship between Jesse and Walt is becoming interesting. I still don't know whether jesse is going to cross walt or protect him in the end now that he can make the batch himself.