Sunday, April 04, 2010

Breaking Bad, "I.F.T.": Kiss the cook?

A review of tonight's "Breaking Bad" coming up just as soon as I tell you how to fry your chickens...
"All that I've done, all the sacrifices that I have made for this family, all of that will be for nothing if you don't accept what I've earned." -Walt
I didn't put a stopwatch on it, but I would guess that "I.F.T." (the title is an abbreviation for the bombshell Skyler drops on Walt) features the least screentime for Walt of any episode of the series. The only other contender I can think of is season two's Jesse-centric "Peekaboo," but even there, Walt had a prominent subplot with the return of Gretchen. Walt's not absent from "I.F.T.," but more often than not it seems like characters are talking about him rather than interacting with him.

And most of what they're saying about him is that they're waiting for him to be dead.

"I.F.T." lays out two possible outcomes for Walt: either the cancer comes back soon and kills him (which Skyler assumes, and is therefore reluctant to rat him out to the cops), or else Gus Frings finishes his business with Walt and lets the Cousins (here revealed to be actual cousins of Tuco, and nephews of Tio, who turns out to be a former druglord himself called Don Salamanca) do to him what they did to Tortuga(*).

(*) And if the show were, indeed, to end with Walt's decapitated head on top of an exploding tortoise? Instant Top 5 Most Memorable Series Finale Ever. Period.

When you start with a premise like this show has, neither a happy ending nor a long run (Vince Gilligan has said in the past he envisions four seasons) are likely. And if neither of these turn out to be the exact fate Walt suffers, his end will be ugly - and deserved.

Here, even in an episode where Walt largely takes a backseat to Skyler, and Jesse, and Hank, and the cartel, you still get to see the damage he's done to those around him. Once again, he completely checkmates Skyler and makes her the bad guy in their domestic drama. Jesse spends most of the hour doing nothing but calling into Jane's not-yet-deactivated voicemail so he can hear her voice again. And when the phone company finally cuts the line - taking away the last vestige of the woman Jesse loved, and Walt killed - he heads into the desert in the RV to cook on his own, using all the lessons Walt taught him. Tio is still raging over Tuco's death (even though Hank technically fired the killing shot, Tuco was in that situation because of Walt), and that in turn is going to cause all manner of pain and heartache for those associated with Walt. And, of course, Hank's PTSD problems (which here lead to him savagely beating on a pair of tough guys in a biker bar) began not with Tortuga's death, but with him killing Tuco, which only happened because Hank was out looking for Walt.

We talk all the time in these episode discussions about the brilliance of Bryan Cranston, which at this point practically goes without saying, and Aaron Paul did get a deserved Emmy nomination last year, but damn if Anna Gunn isn't kicking ass and taking names so far this season. "I.F.T." was a great showcase for her, between her panic and frustration at the cops' refusal to kick Walt out, then her resentment at how Walt has bended Walter Jr. to his side, then her nervous anticipation as she prepares to seduce Beneke as payback to Walt, then the matter-of-fact-ness of her three-word(**) destruction of Walt's hopes and dreams for their marriage. Walt has an amazing capacity for self-denial, but even he can't ignore anymore what his drug career has done to his family. (Then again, knowing Walt, he'll just put all the blame on Skyler and/or Beneke.)

(**) As we discussed last year when Walt hurled an F-bomb at Gretchen (in the aforementioned "Peekaboo"), that word is one of the few that you can't use even on basic cable, due to agreements the channels have with their advertisers and/or cable operators, and so in both cases the sound drops out for a moment during the word. But I admire AMC's willingness to let Gilligan use it at all, since there are certain scenes - particularly ones like these two, where one character is trying to be incredibly hurtful to another - where no other word would be as effective. And the unbleeped versions will live on forever on DVD.

And how about Dean Norris? It's been a while since we dealt with Hank's emotional problems, post-Tuco and then post-Tortuga, and it felt right that the issue should be revisited in an episode that brought Danny Trejo back to portray Tortuga's very bloody end (and to again establish the Cousins' lethal bonafides). This is a character type you don't often see in American crime fiction: a cop who's good at his job and tough enough to take on and beat two much bigger men by himself, but who can't cope when things rise to a more lethal level. It's unclear exactly what Hank is hoping to achieve here - prove his manhood? get too injured or in too much trouble to go back to El Paso? - but as played by Norris, it was scary to watch, and a problem that's not going away for Hank so long as he remains as in-denial as Walt.

Some other thoughts on "I.F.T.":

• This one was directed by Michelle MacLaren who (along with director of photography Michael Slovis) was responsible for season two's gorgeous desert misadventure "4 Days Out," and it felt right that she should be behind the camera for Jesse's return to both the RV and the desert. I also loved the shot of Gus's chicken facility with its hundreds upon thousands of birds all clustered in on top of each other.

• Mike tells Gus (or one of Gus's people) on the phone, "I'm assuming Saul Goodman doesn't need to know." So does that mean he's an independent operator? Or someone whose loyalty is more to Gus than to Saul (and, by extension, Walt)? Either way, that can't be good.

• What do you suppose the Cousins did to the old woman with the scooter and the wheelchair-accessible minivan? Or am I better off not asking?

• Going forward (assuming he appears in more episodes), do I refer to the character as Tio or Don Salamanca? I'm kind of partial to Tio, even if that's just Spanish for "Uncle."

• When Walt started peeing in the kitchen sink out of spite, I immediately thought of George Costanza's, "It's all pipes!" defense from the episode where he got caught going in the health club shower.

• This is two weeks in a row with a classic rock standard on the soundtrack, this time with ZZ Top's "Tush" playing as Hank has his biker bar showdown.

What did everybody else think?

129 comments:

Steve said...

Nice of Gilligan & Co. to have me spend 59 minutes and 30 seconds wondering what "I.F.T." stood for.

Between tonight and the "737 Down Over ABQ" bit last year, they should win a special Emmy for Creative Use of Show Titles.

Anonymous said...

"And the unbleeped versions will live on forever on DVD. "

Wait, there's an uncensored season 2 DVD? Where? The one I bought is censored on the (you know, F-bomb).

Alan Sepinwall said...

Wait, there's an uncensored season 2 DVD? Where? The one I bought is censored on the (you know, F-bomb).

Really? That makes no sense to me. Just seemed logical that they'd unbleep it on DVD.

goodmanw said...

I just want to express how gut-wrenching it was for me to hear Jane's voicemail finally get deactivated. That moment hit me harder then the 'I.F.T.' moment did, and was truly chilling and was expertly played by Aaron Paul.

Anonymous said...

"When Walt started peeing in the kitchen sink out of spite, I immediately thought of George Costanza's, "It's all pipes!""

I thought of Ricky Gervais, who has a story that he's told a few times through the years (at the very least on the radio, in stand-up, and on The Daily Show), about his old one-room apartment where the bathroom was two stories down, so he would pee in the sink, and that one night, when he was feeling particularly lazy, his girlfriend rolled over and said, "At least take the dishes out."

Robert Cervantes said...

How amazing was Skyler taking Walt's honesty pledge and throwing it right back in his face. So far, I.F.T. has to be the episode Anna Gunn submits for her emmy nomination.

Wonder if Gus is going to raise the price for Walt's services and the combo of that and Jesse talking to Walt will make him go back in the RV.

Anonymous said...

I FUCKED TIO

Anonymous said...

Alan - I didn't watch the show for the first two seasons, and I've heard people say that there are added "uncensored" bits (presumably relating to Walt's ass).

However, in watching season 2 (I believe, come to think of it, the very episode you refer to in this review), I was quite surprised when the audio went mute when he said "Fuck you" to her. It didn't matter. It actually kind of makes it unusually powerful. But, yeah, the one I got is censored. And there's nothing on it to indicate a distinction between a censored one and not.

JoeInVegas said...

Who was the person they dedicated the episode to?

Lisa said...

I just want to know when we're going to see the end of Denial!Walt and get Heisenberg back.

Is this the best cast in television or what?

berkowit28 said...

If Jesse, who appears to be more clued up than before, is actually capable of cooking on his own, that would make Walt of no further use to Gus, and ready to be disposed of to ease the conflict with the cousins. But Jesse will probably screw up again, and need Walt to save the day. Probably something other than a soft spot for helping Jesse will be needed to get Walt's agreement, though. I wonder what.

Michael said...

The first season dvd, at least the pilot, is uncensored when they show a woman's breasts and I believe say the F-word.

Anonymous said...

What I loved about the ending scene is that Skyler put Walt in the same place he asked her to go: "Okay, buddy, go out there and pretend this is a loving family dinner while there's this giant, poisonous secret tearing you apart inside, one that would destroy this family."

Robert Cervantes said...

How quick will Walt give up his brother in law to the cartel if he had a chance? I mean, they saw Hank kill Tuco.

Amazed that the story of Tuco who has been dead for a good time now is still lingering. But not in a annoying one. But one that makes complete sense.

cgeye said...

Jesus. Christ.

But at last Skyler has found her huevos, as the person but in the bad cop position for two seasons -- bitching about the credit card bills, the hospital bills, holding the family together. Hell, yeah, Walter tried to blackmail her, and force her family into a way of life that at the very least will put her in jail.

From Walter bending her over Heisenberg style, to her just missing him when he cooked, she has suffered due to his control issues and emotional distance. I was so glad when he actually told her why he did it, but my heart sank when he put it all back on her.

Her going to hell, by accepting the cash and Walter back into her life, gets her nothing in terms of respect, love or consideration -- and I really don't buy her excuse about waiting for him to die, since the Feds can still come after her for using his illegal proceeds, to pressure her to be a snitch. (Doesn't matter what she knows -- it's what they think she can do for them, such as going undercover as an accountant for a drug-related bizness. I know, far-fetched, but we're in a War on Drugs, aren't we?) Both the cops and her lawyer pleaded with her to just tell the truth -- why does she think the chaos of the cartels isn't going to harm her family? Denial's a river both of them like wading in.

As for the network standards, it's ass that they censor "Jesus" as a curse on the closed captioning. Are the deaf more devout whilst watching a show featuring machete decapitations, overdose vomiting and folks named Skank and Spooge. Inconsistent....

One last thing -- why didn't Jesse record Jane's voicemail message, then call himself so it would be on *his* voicemail? Just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

My copy of the Breaking Bad season 2DVD, which was released in Canada through Maple Films, is uncensored. Strange that the American version would be censored.

-Red Medicine

Swiftpr16 said...

Skylers been kind of a bitch throughout, dont know what show u been watching man.

SK Rollins said...

Was I the only one for whom Skyler was reminiscent of Betty Draper in season 3 of Mad Men?

Lisa said...

I also wondered if there was more to Skyler's move with Ted than a kneejerk reaction to Walt's revelations. Are we going to see her manipulate Ted and take down his company in an effort to clean up this money?

I'm thinking that Skyler's criminal awakening is going to make everyone else on this show look like a piker.

Robert Cervantes said...

Shari Rhodes was the Breaking Bad casting director. She plays the elderly lady who's van gets taken away by the cousins. Been with Breaking Bad since the pilot.

Worked on Jaws as well

suncore598 said...

Alan, you said you didn't see a happy ending for Walter White and believe he'll suffer horribly for his actions. What if Walter's ulimate fate becomes something close to Tony Sopranos's fate? He doesn't die or go to prison but always have to look over his shoulder and bear the haunting weight of everything he has done. One of the things I've learned about this show is that things rarely happen the way you expect them to happen.

Anonymous said...

well, it would be a surprise if they ended it basically the exact way 'The Sopranos' ended, but not the good kind of surprise.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 11:09 - Did you buy a copy in Walmart? They've got a track record of insisting on censored materials.

Lauren said...

This show has rich storytelling and wonderful acting. Why does Chuck get devotion worthy of a thesis and Breaking Bad merely an abstract?

devon said...

"When Walt started peeing in the kitchen sink out of spite, I immediately thought of George Costanza's, "It's all pipes!""

Funny, I immediately thought of Adam Carolla. I wonder how many other folks did too.

cgeye said...

There's a difference between series characters judging Skyler to be a bitch (because they don't have all the facts, and she's married to the ultimate passive-aggressive prick); misogynists superfically judging her to be a bitch (because she doesn't back down about protecting her family); and Skyler owning her own bitchness (willfully doing evil because that's now expected of her, too, or because she no longer expects better for herself).

The former perceptions were due just as much to Walter White laying so much responsibility on her shoulders, even before his illness, that she had few alternatives; the latter is now her own choice. That's a change in character, a significant one, and deserves more than a hit-and-run "bitch" comment, in response.

cgeye said...

As for the diff between CHUCK and BB, CHUCK needs the help, as it's a hybrid between comedy and action series that finds its way between the heights and pits almost within each episode. BB doesn't.

-- and hey, Aqua Teen Hunger Force must be on TiVo or DVD, 'cause no matter how criminal the Whites become, there's no way they'll let their kid stay up that late to watch Adult Swim.

Anonymous said...

"Did you buy a copy in Walmart? They've got a track record of insisting on censored materials."

Nope, Best Buy. And, being fair to Wal-Mart, I've never known them to not have it indicated on the box.

Lauren said...

Oh, I wanted to add to my earlier comment. Every time I see a Chuck post by far outstripping every other TV review in post length, attention to detail, adoration, etc...- that chips away at my respect for you as a television critic. I have no object for your love for Chuck, except it's long gone into shameless promotion territory. Far past any sort of objective boundary. Get a grip, Alan.

Rollie said...

I've run through the data a few times and it's factual what is being said. Breaking Bad, and its fans, are being deprived of thoughtful points of plot by a truncated summation. If we were to compare this to the latest Chuck, there would be a significant distance between the two. Which I took upon myself to do. Last Monday's Chuck accounted for a total of 2,165 words (not counting the ending paragraphs asking for peace). This episode of Breaking Bad? Just 1,177. In an episode where so many questions are being laid out in front of us, definitely the most important episode thus far this season.

Anonymous said...

"My copy of the Breaking Bad season 2DVD, which was released in Canada through Maple Films, is uncensored."

Is that a bootleg outfit? The reason I ask is, my DVD is clearly labelled for US or Canada and has French subtitles, so I went and looked it up on amazon.ca, and amazon.ca said that Sony released it, so I did a google search for ("breaking bad" "maple films") and only three matches came up, one of them this very thread.

Lauren said...

cgeye said...
As for the diff between CHUCK and BB, CHUCK needs the help, as it's a hybrid between comedy and action series that finds its way between the heights and pits almost within each episode. BB doesn't.


You're missing a critical point, cgeye. Alan, as a tv critic, is not supposed to promote a show. That blurs his objectivity and discredits him.

GF said...

Jeez, now the commenters think you OWE them, Alan. Feel free to remind them how much this blog pays.

Robert R said...

I'm pretty sure Darth Redhead now sleeps with the chickens.

Lauren said...

Jeez, now the commenters think you OWE them, Alan. Feel free to remind them how much this blog pays.

Alan doesn't owe me anything. Did I say he did? I was making an observation. Alan doesn't make money off this blog, but he uses these entries for his Star-Ledger reviews AS A PROFESSIONAL TV CRITIC WHO DOES MAKE MONEY OFF OF IT.

Mark said...

I'm not sure why this turned into a "let's pick on Alan" threat, but I've got to defend him on this one. This is his personal blog, not the Star-Ledger site, and he should be allowed to post his personal opinions, at whatever length he pleases. For the amount of time he devotes to this blog, it seems really unnecessary (and ungrateful) to critize him because some reviews are longer than others. (And I'm saying this as a BB fan who's never seen an episode of Chuck.) Keep up the good work, Alan!

Brandon Nowalk said...

My Season 1 & 2 Blu-Rays are censored too. But what I love (on the DVDs and the broadcast version) is that it's barely censored. You still hear the "f" sound, and then it drops out like the word is whispered or something.

tribalism said...

Honesty is good, huh, Walt?

Skyler's actions are all a culmination of the betrayal she feels from Walt. A lesser show would have to spell it out from us and then beat us over the head with how infidelity is a bad, bad thing.

Personally, I think it would be in her best interest to kill Walter with kindness and show that she hasn’t done anything to betray him, but if her husband is not engaging in reasonable behaviour, then maybe this is the only way she can get through to him. Besides, playing the righteous angel in all of this would make for a much less interesting show.

Even though we've seen very little of him, I'm really liking season three Jesse. The "self-realization" he went through during rehab (i.e. that's he's a bad guy) has ensured Albuquerque will have to endure some chili powder-laden meth.

If anyone is interested, you can find more of my thoughts on this episode on my blog where I go into detail about Skyler's motivations and why Walter Jr.'s sense of timing is the linchpin in her decision to sleep with Ted. Click my username for the link.

Question Mark said...

Fun cameo note: the big bald guy who Hank fought in the bar was UFC fighter Keith Jardine, who lives and trains in Albuquerque.

How quick will Walt give up his brother in law to the cartel if he had a chance? I mean, they saw Hank kill Tuco.

I would doubt the cartel are interested in vengeance against Hank, given the amount of heat that would rain down on them for killing a DEA agent.

Lauren said...

Mark - see above your post!

Nicole said...

There was not a mention of Chuck in Alan's review of this episode of Breaking Bad so I don't see how that is promoting Chuck. I have been reading Alan's blog for years now and have not once read in his reviews "you must watch Chuck it is the best show ever" or anything comparable. In fact, he has been critical of things that don't work in the show and chose not to tolerate the crazy shipper posts, which are not his fault, but that of the anonymous posters.

His reviews for the Wire are also much more detailed than any review of Chuck has ever been, with two versions for each episode. If anything, you could say that he thinks the Wire is the best series ever (or the Sopranos), and he has yet to say Chuck surpasses either of those two shows.

Regardless, this is his blog and he can say what he wants and we can choose to agree with it or not.

As for the actual episode, I know someone mentioned last year about putting the episode titles together like what happened last season. I was just wondering how IFT worked into it so far.

Rollie said...

I think we can all agree that the written word matters.

So lets add a thousand or two.

Lauren said...

Nicole, I have a friend that went to the Breaking Bad panel and reported that Vince Gilligan said they would not be doing that again. It's not a trick he can use twice.

As for promotion -it's not in this particular post, but I'm speaking to when Alan used his website to promote the 'SAVE CHUCK' campaign awareness, and his subsequent overflowing Chuck reviews.

David R said...

Wow! Aaron Paul's performance was stunning.....the scenes to next week look incredible.....hat's off to the writers, cinematographers, etc....the mood is incredible

cgeye said...

Lauren,

You're mistaking the impartiality journalists pretend to adhere to in America (they might be neutral, but their papers' owners sure as hell aren't), and a critic's openly-stated preferences.

The quality of attention paid to an episode has other metrics than blog post length -- if he's satisfied, should he go on and on about it? If you went on other critical blogs, you'd see that the shows (live, filmed or televised) that have problems have more time taken with them to explicate those problems than with the shows that are integrally solid and satisfying -- *that's what criticism does*.

Having said that, this is Mr. Sepinwall's blog, where he discusses work at lengths he's not able to in print, and he can do what he likes. 'nuff said.

cgeye said...

Okay, one last point:

If a TV critic's not supposed to promote a show, why do they receive advance copies of episodes?

Why are junkets provided for them to interview showrunners and stars?

Why do they file stories in advance of an episode? Why don't they watch shows the same time we do?

The entertainment industry has shaped the critical environment so a mandatory component of legitimate media criticism involves promotion. Once the Internet was touted as the solution to this, but now what remains are a handful of gainfully-employed film and TV critics, and a wealth of volunteer Internet writers -- and the criticism hasn't improved by leaps and bounds, because the studios simply adapted their process to include junkets for Harry Knowles.

And, if we want to be picky, because we're reading Mr. Sepinwall's criticism via online free sources, instead of paying for his paper's subscription, we're contributing to the problem. If we want completely impartial criticism in any aspect of commerce, we're going to have to subsidize salaries. Pro Publica is one experiment in this; I don't know of any successful entertainment journalism analogue.

Anonymous said...

I think there was originally more to the scene featuring Shari Rhodes (whom the episode was dedicated to) but they probably cut out whatever it is the cousins did to her out of respect. RIP

Lauren said...

cgeye-

I'm headed to bed in a minute, so this is going to be short and sweet. To your first comment - read any one of Alan's reviews on Chuck. My take is that the reviews tend to be bloated with anything and everything he can talk about in regards to the episode and Chuck as a whole. What you talk about doesn't apply to what his Chuck reviews are like.

To your second comment - there's a difference (or there should be) between what a network wants a review to do and what a critic wants the review to do.

Anonymous said...

When did Walt kill Jane?

Sure, he let her die but he did not kill her. She would've died if he did not show.

Good episode. Nice bang at the end.

JWIII

Anonymous said...

Also, in defense of Walt, if that's possible, Walt has rarely forced anyone to do anything. He does something and people react. People are constantly making choices. There's as much excuse for Skylar's behaviour as there is for Walt which I think was the point of the lawyer scene lamenting her choices.

They're both inconsiderate, selfish people who are at once complicated.

JWIII

Anonymous said...

"She would've died if he did not show."

No, his messing with Jesse made her roll on her back, which was what led to her choking on her own vomit. He accidentally caused her death and then knowingly let her die.

Alex said...

It's unclear exactly what Hank is hoping to achieve here - prove his manhood? get too injured or in too much trouble to go back to El Paso?

A funny thing about death anxiety is that sometimes people will put themselves in dangerous situations as an attempt to control death. It makes them feel in control of their own mortality at a time when they feel they can die at any moment.

It was done in Six Feet Under with Nate who also was scared of death. At one point he rides a motorcycle at really high speeds.

It's a weird and counter intuitive quirk of anxiety that the way some people deal with it is to deliberately place themselves in really dangerous situations. That's what Hank was doing by leaving his gun in the car. He wanted to feel in of control his mortality.

This is further proof that the writers know their subject very well.

Anonymous said...

"Was I the only one for whom Skyler was reminiscent of Betty Draper in season 3 of Mad Men?"

Nope. I saw it, too.

Anonymous said...

Yes, but he did not kill her. He let her die. There's still a difference.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Pompous Pilot said...

This has to be the first time Walt has to deal with his family turning against him. He's always relied heavily on having that support to rationalize his dealings. Walter Jr. can't be ignorant for too much longer and the backlash will be strong.

I can't get enough of the AMAZING scripts, acting, and photography of this show. Really hope it goes another season after this one.

Jason said...

>Yes, but he did not kill her. He let her die. There's still a difference.

Not really. Jack McCoy would be arguing that it represented "depraved indifference."

And I really don't get the complaints about the length of Alan's reviews vis a vis "Chuck" and "Breaking Bad." I've never watched "Chuck," have no intention of ever doing so, so I never read any reviews for it.

Plus, how long can you go on about a bombshell like "I fucked Ted"?

Anyway, what I found interesting about this episode was how many different directions the characters are being pulled in.

Walt of course is pulled between wanting to keep his family, and Skyler having no intention of allowing that.

Skyler is pulled between wanting to kick Walt to the curb because of his illegal activities, but not wanting their kids to know just what awful thing he did to force her into that decision.

Hank is pulled between wanting to be a bigshot DEA agent in El Paso (right across from Ciudad Juarez) and (I think) knowing deep down that he'd be in over his head.

Jesse is pulled between wanting to keep his sobriety because of the memory of Jane, but now he doesn't even have her voice message (the memory of her starts fading away, maybe he starts sliding off the wagon).

Hell, even Gus is pulled between two forces: wanting to keep doing business with Walt, and risking the wrath of the cartel by doing so.

Also, I liked how they used Danny Trejo. I admit to being a little worried that it was going to turn out to be Tortuga's brother or something, so it was nice (really, not really) to see how it happened that his head ended up on a tortoise (and also introduced us to the cartel boss).

Anonymous said...

"Yes, but he did not kill her. He let her die. There's still a difference."

I bet a good prosecutor could combine "accidentally causing her to start to die" with "allowing her to die when you could've saved her" pretty easily.

Besides, isn't the point that Walt himself feels responsible for the death? Whether you would in his situation is immaterial, since he clearly does.

matt said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
belinda said...

Does it really matter how many words a review has as long as it's written well and people like reading it?

But anyway, I loved this episode - it's good to get a Skylar-centric ish episode because Anna Gunn kicked ass in it, and it's very interesting to see Walt do his passive aggressive thing from a different viewpoint.(Definitely the pick for Gunn's Emmy submission, and also for Dean Norris) I could practically feel exactly what Skylar is feeling and thinking watching that scene. Walt is indeed the master of passive aggressive behaviour in a relationship. Wow.

It's also going to be great to watch how Walt would handle this situation with the cartel (and he doesn't even know it yet!) amidst all his troubles with the family for the rest of the season. I'm also intrigued as to why Gus is spending so much energy in keeping Walt alive, even if it's just for a little while - sure he's a master cook, but here we see Jesse possibly cooking on his own (with what Walt taught him), and Gus must have other manufacturers on his payroll too. It just seems like it's more than just keeping Walt for this one job. But I love Gus's poker face (at least, in front of the cartel) - he's stone cold unshockable.

I also did gripe just a little with the Jesse scenes as well - it was well acted, and I think it was necessary to have those scenes to portray Jesse's mindset before he goes off in the van, but all I could think about is why he wouldn't just record his call to Jane's voicemail (and that it was obvious it would be cut off in this episode too) so he'd have it forever. Small gripe, but a very noticeable one.

And I definitely don't want to know what the Cousins did to that woman - just for a handicap equiped van!

Anonymous said...

Soo you can show a decapitated head atop a tortoise, severed limbs, a man's body being turned into slush and all the other glories that BB has given us, but an F-bomb is a step too far?

Anonymous said...

In regards to Skyler's character, i think this episode really shows her that the world isn't perfect. Ted explained to her how he thought it was for "the greater good" that he lie about his revenue, and Walt did something he knew was wrong to benefit the people he cared for. Life is not black and white, and morally grey questions are what provide the thought provoking moments in breaking bad.

I was surprised that she actually thought the cops would kick Walt out of the house. If she isn't going to tell her story, he has every right to be there. Again, proving to her that you can't have your cake and eat it too.

She is always willing to let other people pay for things, readily offering other people's help, but doesn't realize what that does to a man's pride. She judges her sister, when in reality, it was none of her business. She imposes her sense of black and white morality on everyone else. The best example of this is when she has everyone come together to share whatever feelings they have, as long as those feelings are the ones she has authorized and approved.

Although Walt doesn't appreciate it, in light of her revelation, he won. She finally accepted that you have to do bad things, and that no one is perfect. She stopped judging others, and got her hands dirty. She could have just as easily lied and just told Walt that she fucked Ted, but she actually did it. She finally stopped being a hypocrite, asking her husband to beg from the people who he thinks stole his life's work.

Walt may be an attention-craving, approval-seeking proud man, but he has stuck to his original goal since the beginning. He has stayed true to himself.He stacked up every conceivable bad thing on one end of the scale, and on the other, his family, and his family won. Even if Skyler doesn't agree with his choice, she should at least understand it. She has no idea what he has put himself through, not only for his family, but to feel like he was useful and worth something. Better a king in hell, than a servant in heaven...

Anonymous said...

It was interesting to see that Jesse has not yet morphed completely into the "bad" guy of last week's episode.

But it's still pretty obvious that Walter "saved" Jesse in a similar manner as those reincarnated in Stephen King's "Pet Sematary"--and the results will probably be the same.

Rufus said...

I wonder if the emotionless violence of the cartel cousins will make Walter more sympathetic overall and easier to root for, while forgetting what he is becoming. People can still on many levels identify with Walter while only thinking of the cousins as the "bad guys". We've become emotionally invested in the story of this teacher with cancer who we know, while disliking all the fellow criminals he comes in contact with, who we don't.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Matt, had to delete your comment because you talked about the previews, which goes against the local No Spoilers policy.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Lauren, the length of a given review isn't about promotion, but about how much I have to say about that given episode. Sometimes, my longest reviews are about episodes/seasons I disliked (a large chunk of the "Chuck" review from last week you're objecting to consists of me pointing out all the things that haven't worked about this season), while sometimes an episode is so obvious in its goodness that it doesn't require paragraph after paragraph after paragraph to explain what was obvious to anyone watching.

I'm sorry if you feel I'm somehow neglecting Breaking Bad (whose third season is thus far kicking the rear end of everything else on television), but I'm not going to stick to some word count system where I finish a draft of a review and say, "Gosh, this Treme review is 571 words shorter than my most recent Fringe review, and Treme is at least 942 words better than Fringe."

I say what I have to say about a show - no more, no less. And based on the speed with which comments arrive for certain shows immediately after the post goes up, I imagine some people don't read the longest reviews all the way through.

Matt in Raleigh said...

Alan, I thought you were on vacation - LOL.

Good episode of BB.

Sandra said...

Wow! I can’t believe anyone has a probably with Alan’s reviews. Look at the number of reviews he puts up everyday and try to find any other TV critics that can even comes close. And sometimes the super long reviews that other critics do just come off as a cluttered mess, and don’t make for an enjoyable read.

I’m happy to see that there aren’t too many “I hate Skyler”, “Skyler is a bitch” post, I was really expecting people to be going off on her as people have a tendency to do when a TV wife cheats but don’t really care if the TV husband does. I really felt for her this episode and did not get any joy out of Walt’s “win” with the police. I just wish that however the show ends, Walt Jr. finds out the truth.

Anonymous said...

I would say there is still a pretty strong "hate Skylar" set of posts, and a surprising number of posts defending Walt.

To me, when Walt killed Jane last season he completely crossed over to being purely evil to me. And yes, he DID kill her! and he had a strong motivation to do so, as she had blackmailed him. And he let Jesse feel the blame for her death. In an earlier post somebody said the important thing was that Walt feels responsible for her death. No, he doesn't. He feels responsible for the plane crash, not Jane.

In his crumbling marriage, the fact that he keeps making Sylar the bad guy in the eyes of Walt Jr. makes it even worse. He's a psychopath.

Yes, Skylar is angry, but I would be too. Her "I.F.T" moment was awesome. Maybe that will penetrate Walt's denial, if only for a brief time.

It is interesting to me how people keep rooting for Walt. As the main character, we became emotionally invested in him early in the series, before he completely sunk into the evil depths. We rooted for him against Tuco and other bad guys. But at this point he's as bad as they are.

Ben said...

The reason I and others might think Skyler is a bitch is because her action was selfish and served the sole purpose of trying to destruct her family. With everything that Walt has done, he has convinced himself that it's all for the good of his family. He believed that Skyler wouldn't find out about his wrongdoings, and furthermore, he suspected that he would be dead and not even get to spend the money himself, but leave it all with Skyler and Flynn. It's true that Walt betrayed her trust, but he didn't purposefully betray it just to hurt her. She saw herself as powerless to do anything to phase Walt, and executed the only power she has by enveloping another man's tool.

However, one defense of her actions could be in how she looks at her baby especially when Walt comes in contact with her. She must believe that, although its too late for Walter Jr. to be unaffected by Walt's actions, she can still give the baby a normal life if she disassociates herself with Walt as soon as possible. She seems like she wants to get rid of Walt before the baby is old enough to remember him.

Anonymous said...

I do not believe that Sklar's actions were selfish. If they were, she would not be worried about Walt Jr. finding out the truth, and Walt would be in jail at this point. And frankly, he should be.

If I found out that my spouse was a cooking meth I'd get the fuck out and take the kids with me. I would not care what the rationalizations were.

Sklar doesn't even know the half of how bad Walt is at this point. If her ( or worse , Jesse ) were ever to find out about Jane, look out.

Regarding Jesse, I suspect that this new version of Jesse will not be a screw up. He's a lot more serious. He's much more of a planner, which allowed him to get his Aunt's house back. He's learned enough from Walt to cook the good meth, which ultimately makes Walt redundant to Gus. If Jesse ever figures out that Walt played a role in Jane's death, it will be curtains for Walt. The new Jesse will have no pangs of guilt hurting Walt.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Guys, moratorium on "bitch," as of now. Complain about Skyler all you want, defend her all you want, I do not care. Do not use that word again here.

Thank you.

Hutch said...

I think that Walt still could have turned it around after his disclosure to Skylar about how he got the money, alluding to what he went through to get it ,etc. I think that Skylar had sex with her boss, not only in part for revenge against Walt, but also because she was free falling and needed someone to emotionally and physically connect with. The expression on her face when she returned home was not one of triumph, but of profound pain and defeat. If Walter had been more respectful of her,by having a private family dinner and letting her think about and process what he had shared with her, the outcome could have been different. When Skylar saw Walt Jr.'s friend in the living room and then encountered Walt in the apron (great parallel to the different kinds of cooking Walt does) behaving as if nothing was amiss, in denial and minimizing her pain, the emotional climate in their marriage changed in an irretrievable way. So many subtleties and nuances. I love this show.

Nicole said...

Walt basically forced himself back into the house and did not give Skylar a chance to breathe and think about the relationship and whether or not she wants to continue with it. He has also positioned himself so that Skylar is the one who looks bad in front of Walt Jr., and Walt is using his son's confusion to guilt Skylar into staying. His actions are simply more manipulations similar to what we have seen in his drug dealing. While Skylar's reaction to this is admittedly immature, if Walt really cared, he would have respected her wishes and stayed out of the house until she asked him back. He is a bully who has the law on his side for now.

The amazing part about this show is that amidst all this domestic drama, there are the crazy cousins just waiting out there to take out Walt... although at least I know it won't happen until the last episode of the season.

arrabbiata said...

Another great episode, though I have a hard time remembering any that aren't great.

My initial reaction to the IFT moment was that it served two functions- causing pain for Walt (and it obviously did), as well as maybe shocking him into realizing that their relationship is absolutely gone. Though the way he has clung to this idea that he's done all this for his family, I doubt he's ready to let go yet.

But this morning I had another thought- maybe Skyler's seduction of Ted could be a way of demonstrating to both Walt and herself that she could have survived without him and his income, whether it came from teaching or meth cooking. She can go out and find someone (one hopes better than Ted) who can help her keep a roof over her head, raise her kids, etc.

As for the sink, it reminded me of my freshman dorm. Once in a while we would have overnight unplanned fire drills, resulting in hundreds of students dragged out of bed and standing around in the cold for up to 30 minutes while everything was sorted out. When we finally got the all clear to go back in there was a mad dash for the bathrooms, but rather than wait in a long line for the proper facilities, many of the male students used the bathroom and bedroom sinks.

Anonymous said...

A minor storyline oversight occurred to me during the scene where Walt shows Skylar the bag of cash. An analytical, detail oriented individual like the Walter White character with a young family would have owned substantial life insurance to protect his family financially against an untimely death, eliminating any rationale to break bad. Walt's little speech to Skylar contains all the considerations that drive the purchase of cheap term life insurance that any concerned parent would buy. An annally retentive guy like Walter White would certainly have bought 20 year term upon the birth of Walt Jr 16 years earlier. Also, I think they got the capacity of the 737 jet way wrong. Aside from a couple hairs in the soup, unbelievably good show. Let's hope the writers don't jump the shark and wreck this masterpiece.

Anonymous said...

Another motivation for Skyler's actions last night was, it's one of the very few things in her life that she has actual control over right now. Lack of choice/lack of control can force people into contortions they wouldn't otherwise dream of.

Of course as of now, she can also grab the money and make a run for it with the kids. Somehow I doubt that's going to happen, though.

Elena said...

just my .02 cents on word counts--quality of writing has no correlation to amount of words written. My writing teachers were consistent when editing drafts--cut out unnecessary words, tighten it up, etc. And similarly, I don't think you can judge whether Alan "likes" one show more than anther based on the length of the post. Just as you can't judge how much a commenter likes an episode based on how long their post it. Or rather, you can, but it doesn't indicate such to me.

Anonymous said...

walt didnt kill jane. she killed herself by taking drugs. people need to take some responsibility

zzzdog said...

Walt's intentions are irrelevant. It makes him more understandable, but the reality is that he's done great harm. He's infested his family's life with a malignancy of human suffering, criminal danger, and legal retribution. That he's done it all in the name of taking care of them makes for the sick irony at the heart of the story. Skylar and Flynn are Walt's truest victims. He destroyed what he was trying to protect.

Walt's bullying need for control has Skylar backed into a corner. Unless she's willing to turn him in, (her only possible smart, but devastatingly destructive, move), she's under the thumb of protecting the dirty secrets. Even worse, Walt's upped the psychological ante with the charge that it falls to her to give the horror meaning. How truly appalling was his speech that all his "sacrifices" for their family would be in vain, could only be redeemed, by her acceptance of the money and by extension, him and all the damage he's done? It's the equivalent of being made to kiss the bloody rod after a beating. How much more powerless is she supposed to get before she's allowed to strike a blow of her own? She needs to put a wedge Walt can understand between them before he just grinds her to dust under his big scheme for his life's end.

Last night I couldn't help but wonder how many of us could or would accept the money? I know the concept of ill gotten gains has been central from day one but Walt and Jesse knew what they were doing, they'd already made their choice; Skylar hadn't. She may have profited from dirty money but until very recently she had no knowledge of it. With it sitting there in a bag in front of her, the essential moral conundrum was laid out. Does she cross the line or not? Would we?

Skylar's answer - "I.F.T." - seems to be that she'll cross that line, but on her own terms. Walt, the desperate puppeteer, thought he had engineered it so that Skylar would swallow her rage and surrender in the face of necessity. Instead, with those three words, he finds himself facing a hollow, hostile detente.

Selfish? I'd say self-preservation.

Rick said...

Walt was so creepy in this episode. Using your own baby as a tool in an attempt at manipulation? Ice cold.

Also, thanks for the moratorium, Alan. People's misogyny in regard to Skyler has made me stop reading other Internet forums, so it's good to know there's a place I can still get my fill of discussion about this fantastic show without that sort of thing being completely accepted.

Anonymous said...

I'm getting a feeling that someone from Walt's family will get hurt before the end of the season (Maybe the baby, because I don't want to lose Walt Jr or Skylar just yet!) because of Walt's insistence to move back and live together, since it's very unlikely Walt will 'get it' before the very last episode of the series.

Having the money all out for display before Walt started their talk was one heck of a dick move. I thought Skylar handled the whole conversation (by fucking Ted) the best she know how for now, if she wasn't ready to turn him in just yet.

Anonymous said...

Great episode but I did have a slight problem with Hank. OK, I don't like Hank. He annoys the hell out of me. Somehow I missed that he has PTSD and just wondered why, for a significant amount of time last night, his mouth was hanging open and his tongue lolling around visibly in it while he breathed hard. The whole picking a fight with the tough guys in the bar thing went right past me. Didn't get the reasoning, the motivation, nothing. Thank you, people who explained that he was getting a grip on mortality by putting his life in danger, but why all of a sudden? I'm almost sure we saw him in previous episodes to this one being his usual strutting, smart-mouthed, loud-mouth jerk he always was, so why the strange behavior last night? Just thinking out loud, about how I don't like Hank...

Also, boy, I really identify with Skylar and feel what she's going through. I was married to an idiot who refused to work a regular job and grew pot in our basement instead. He put me in real danger of losing MY freedom and my kids and mostly wasted his "profits" on stupid toys for himself.

Listen, it is not easy to just get away. Like the cops told Skyler, Walt had every right to be in the house unless she would tell them some reason he didn't. I was in despair for several years before I got a small inheritance that allowed me to finally move out. Until then, I was living paycheck to paycheck. I'd try to save up a "leaving the big idiot" fund but there would always be some emergency or other that would deplete my savings.

Oh, also? I turned him in to the cops. He spent 6 weeks in Rikers and came out with PTSD, he claimed. He begged and wept and said he wanted to be a good father and straighten out his life, so I allowed him back. What a mistake!

Life is hard. Marriage is hard. Someone said why doesn't Skylar pack up the kids and get out. I can think of a lot of difficulties with that scenario. Or else she would have done it, I'm sure! No, it's not that easy.

Anonymous said...

Don't F/X shows regularly drop the f bomb?

Tio must have invested with Bernie Madoff. He's not doing too well for a retired drug kingpin.

Dennis said...

I'm not a Skyler hater by any stretch but considering that she doesn't know what the viewers know about Walt - that he's an at times murderous bully - would it be expecting a bit too much for her to give just a little credit to Walt for chalking up some cash before he cashes out?

Sure, we know from the hardware store scene alone that Walt loves the juice he gets from being a drug lord and I imagine all his issues go back to not getting either the girl or the money from his old partnership. Still the guy did make some good points about what that money could do in his stead.

Hatfield said...

How come South Park could get away with an entire episode of F-bombs but Breaking Bad can't even do one?

Rob said...

How is it any less misogynist to say that Skylar's "only option" (or some synonym) was to screw Beneke? I don't understand how being so wronged by her husband makes her it acceptable to do what Skylar did. She is an adult woman and the only thing I can imagine she gained from f-ing Ted is inflicting pain on Walt. To paraphrase Ghostface: what Walt did was wack, but you don't get a n back like that. Two wrongs don't make a right. I'm all for Skylar trying to gain some more control over her life, she certainly deserves it, but to suggest that the only way she can do so is through sex is as misogynist as condemning her for stepping out simply because she's a woman.

On another note, I love how for a show so occupied with lies and their effects that the company where Skylar works is called "Beneke FABRICATORS." Very clever.

James said...

. Thank you, people who explained that he was getting a grip on mortality by putting his life in danger, but why all of a sudden? I'm almost sure we saw him in previous episodes to this one being his usual strutting, smart-mouthed, loud-mouth jerk he always was, so why the strange behavior last night?
I believe it was the news of him being recalled back to El Palso. He feigned happiness with his partner and then you see that he is clearly uncomfortable, being that the turtle exploding incident happened during his last stint there. Those memories probably triggered his latent PTSD.

Don't F/X shows regularly drop the f bomb?

South Park did an episode based around "shit", which you can say on basic cable and is said frequently on FX shows (and AMC ones, though not as much).

I watch all the FX shows minus Damages, and have never heard the f-word. Again, "shit" is used liberally but the f-word seems to be an industry wide no-no, except on Premium of course.

Lepidoptera said...

I thought it was great (and oddly authentic) that for all of the very bad things Walt has done, it was inviting Flynn's friend over for pot roast that really seemed to make Skyler want to spin the screws into Walt.

Fantastic as well that last episode ended with a simple line: "There's something you ought to know about," that saved a character, while this episode ended with the IFT, which almost certainly will doom another character. Good ol' Ted was already on Heisenberg's watch list for sticking creepily around for Holly's birth, but this was a death wish for sure.

While the lingering power of Jane over Jesse resonated, and I even bought the cell phone as the last tangible link he had left, the show needs to allow a young actor who received an Emmy nomination a LOT more to do in a hurry, because the zombie act does not do justice to Aaron Paul's talents. (For more info on this:see also BIG LOVE.)

As far as the other discussion, thanks to posters for clearing up a big mystery. I have seen the recent ratings on Chuck --- so Alan is the one watching it?? Ok. It was really bugging me trying to figure out who that might be. Thanks for taking one for the team, Alan. Walk it off, it should all be over soon.

Anonymous said...

walt didnt kill jane. she killed herself by taking drugs. people need to take some responsibility


Hard to see how Jane could take more responsibility, considering that she died. Just because she made bad choices that doesn't get Walt off the hook.

The fact is that Walt didn't have to show up at Jesse's appartment. He broke in. If he had not been there, Jane would not have died. Here's why.

Jane had said, prior to getting high, that she needed to sleep on her side, so that she wouldn't choke on her own vomit. She intentionally positioned herself in such a way to be safe from that possibility. When Walt came into the house, he pushed her over onto her back. I don't think that he was intending, in that moment, to kill her, but she immediately started choking.

Walt was looking right at her. He saw that she was choking. He is easily smart enough to understand that if he didn't turn her over, she would choke and die. He stared at her for a long moment, and then left her there to pass. Why? Because she was getting in his way.

Never mind that Jesse loved her. Never mind that she was a human being. She was in Walt's way, and that was all that was important to Walt.

Even if Walt hadn't done anything else wrong, for that act alone, this is going to end badly for Walt. The guy is going straight to hell.

I predict that Jesse figures this out eventually and screws Walt over big time. I look forward to that episode.

Rollie said...

I have spent a disproportionate amount of my life with my head buried in research and statistics. Double blind studies have statistically shown that in the areas of entertainment, the amount of time spent on a particular TV show or movie has a direct correlation to the amount of enjoyment said person takes out of said TV show or movie.

Rollie said...

Getting back to the show at hand, I am finding it rather surprising how little I care about Skyler's decision to "cheat" on Walt. I am no big fan of her character, and I offered nothing but laughter at Walt's ability to sneak back into their house, but no matter his intentions, it is completely understandable for her to be as upset as she is.

My only real problem is that she chose someone as slimy as Ted to fire her warning shots across Walt's bow.

Anonymous said...

I just thought it was the ultimate FU to Walt. He thought all he had to do was get back in the house, back into the family, and he was all good. Skyler showed him right there that you should ALWAYS be careful what you wish for. She's done with him, and she's going to stay done with him, anyway she can. She may have lost the moral high-ground, but she can still inflict pain.

SJ said...

I thought you could say the f-word on basic cable? or maybe that's just after midnight (I've seen stand-ups on basic cable where nothing is bleeped).

bleibtreu said...

I think some people are missing out on why the cousins and Tio are focusing on Walt and not Hank.

The Boss, in recounting the story, tells Gus that Walt "betrayed" Tuco, not that he killed Tuco. The know that a DEA agent killed him, but don't know why that agent was there. They assume that Walt had gave Tuco up to the DEA, not that his brother-in-law managed to track him down.

Scott Hollifield said...

Anonymous at 3:47 PM April 5, You asked "why all a sudden" was Hank behaving strangely? The reason was his being called up back to El Paso. We haven't seen Hank's PSTD in evidence much since the immediate effects of his last tour in El Paso, that I can recall, but it's obviously flaring back up now due to his imminent return there. In fact if you watch the scene where he acts excited over getting the news of the assignment, there's a prolonged reaction shot of Hank where you can see the anxiety silently creeping all over his face. That was the trigger for Walt's sudden odd behavior, however you want to psychoanalyze the details.

Also I hope you are doing better now in regards to the personal situation you describe there. You sound like you've been through the ordeal of a kind of real-life Skyler, except with perhaps a bit more charity in your heart than she possesses at the moment.

Scott Hollifield said...

(...and that last reference to "Walt" was meant to read "Hank" of course...)

bleibtreu said...

Heh... while we're making corrections, I can't believe I typed "had gave" in my last comment. Read it as "had given," or simply "gave," please!

Trilby said...

Thanks Scott. I watched the show again and I see what you're saying. It makes more sense to me now. I guess I try not to focus on Hank as much as possible!

As for Skylar, when she was sitting by the window alone, smoking, she was thinking "My marriage is over, my life totally sucks, and I'm trapped." Then it slowly dawned on her that her only option is to make her own life now, even if she is stuck in the house with Walt. So she fucked Ted. She has flirted with him before. Some viewers think he's sleazy but she likes him well enough. I thought it was a pretty cool move, actually. She really hurt Walt where he lives and she asserted herself. What's Walt going to do about it? That's the question.

Lee said...

isn't the amount of money that Ted embezzled roughly the same amount as Walt has earned cooking? I think Skyler has stronger feelings for Ted and may look to save his ass by laundering the money back into the company, thinking Walt will be dead sooner rather than later

Hutch said...

I like Hank. He may appear to be a "strutting, smart-mouthed, loud-mouthed jerk" but underneath all the macho posturing is. I think, one of the most genuinely "good" characters on the show. He does care, a lot, but is very uncomfortable with these feelings, hence the tough guy facade. He really has no one to talk to about his current PTSD problem. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. His anxiety has already reached unmanageable proportions and he is a ticking time bomb. Returning to his job in El Paso could be the tipping point.

golexis said...

Okay, I love Breaking Bad. And I love your TV analysis, Alan.

But I've just now been able to put my finger on something that's been bugging me...

Critics, fans and the show itself ascribe the blame for most of the problems in the show to Walt. Which I understand, and can agree with to some extent. His actions have negatively affected everyone around him. But, if you use that logic it can't only apply to Walt. Everyone is capable of "breaking bad." Yes, Walt's life choices since the beginning of the show have contributed to Skylar's cheating and Jesse's spiral into darkness. Still Skylar had a not so completely innocent (if technically innocent) relationship with Beneke before Walt started dealing meth and keeping secrets. And Jesse wasn't exactly living the moral high life before he got tangled up with Walt. If Walt's biggest flaw is that he rationalizes too much of his wrong-doing (cancer, family, money, self-preservation) he's not the only one. Skylar is willing to look the other way to cooking the books, she's willing to sleep with Beneke to get back at Walt. Yes, Walt provoked her but she has agency. She's not morally superior. If we can blame Walt for her infidelity we are doing the same as Walt when he blames his cancer for his new career choice.

And Walt's guilt in Jane's death is clear. But like life, he's not the only guilty party. Jesse is responsible for getting Jane back into drugs and Jane is responsible for doing them herself.

I want it to be clear, I agree Walt is responsible for his problems. They didn't just happen to him. But I also take issue with the "all bad things lead back to Walt" argument. Because Walt isn't God. Or the devil. And if Walt can't blame his need for financially supporting his family after he dies then we can't blame Walt for everything else. These other characters can make choices too. I wanted so badly for Skylar to take her lawyer's advice. Yes, negative consequences blah, but isn't ENABLING Walt only going to make more negative consequences?!? Stand up for yourself, Skylar! Flynn will get over it. Everyone has Daddy or Mommy issues (at least, that's what I learned from LOST). Save yourself and family! The one exception to the crappy cycle, like Bubbles in The Wire.

A.J. said...

Great comments, pleased that I'm not the only one who finds this show many cuts above most everything else out there.

I think the issue with Walt is his transformation that's spiraled out of his control; remember the first episode, when he was still the dorky, soft-spoken guy working for some extra bucks in the car detailing place, getting humiliated by his students? He found his balls with the drug biz, felt his power, showed them all -- the old friend who's made tons of money, everyone who took him for a a weakling -- and at first I was in his corner, but he's created a monster.

He can't get back to his essential self, pieces of him are gone because of so many bad acts; he didn't kill Janer, but just as bad, he stood there and watched her die. Solution to her blackmailing, her control over Jesse. And Skylar isn't a b____, she's confused and frightened by him, without knowing why. He's not the man she married, and she wasn't taken along on the ride, so he's a stranger, and a passive-aggressive, secretive, unappealing one. Sleeping with Ted was a way of feeling some control; he's someone she knows all too well.

Is this meant as a final season? I can't wait to see how the action unfolds, hard to imagine Walt escaping the psychos and their ax for too long.

Oh, and I think Jesse not taping the phone message says that he knew it was sick and knew it would end and that then he's have to move on.

Andy said...

Hey Alan. Enjoy the hiatus.

And FYI, Braking Bad in't the only cable show brave enough to drop a bleeped F-Bomb.

Middleman!

Andy said...

Hey Alan. Enjoy the hiatus.

And FYI, Breaking Bad in't the only cable show brave enough to drop a bleeped F-Bomb.

Middleman!

Devin said...

I keep returning to the scene early in the first episode where Skyler tracks an e-bay auction while giving Walt a birthday handjob.

There was something wrong in that marriage for quite a while.

Anonymous said...

"her action was selfish and served the sole purpose of trying to destruct her family."

I disagree with this; from her perspective, her family has already destructed. She's trying to get Walt to acknowledge it.

Trilby said...

Did I miss something? When did "destruct" become a stand-alone verb? The word is destroy.

Trivia: If I remember correctly, the term "self-destruct" was coined by the TV show Mission Impossible, when the taped message was to "self-destruct" after one play.

pbrl said...

Is it just me being a pigheaded guy, or does anyone else think that what Skyler did was genuinely worse - IN THE CONTEXT OF THE MARRIAGE - than what Walter did?

Think what you want of his evil actions, Walter has never betrayed his family willfully. He's never chosen to hurt them. He has been very clear that he is trying to do things for them. We can argue all day long about the parts of him which aren't altruistic and whether he is just rationalizing, but from his point of view, he has done what he needed to for his family.

Skyler just wanted revenge. Meaningless, totally pointless revenge. She just wanted to make Walt suffer. That's a categorically different kind of thing to inflict upon your family.

Someone tell me why I'm way off base here.

Anonymous said...

In regard to what golexis said earlier in the postings, I have to agree that Walt can't be held responsible for the bad behavior of everyone else. He is only one element in the mix - a powerfully negative one to be sure - but the entire show is like one long experiment... and we all get to have the fun of watching how various chemical(charcters) react with and/to one another.
I also agree with various posters who think Hank was reacting to his return to El Paso when he went medieval on the bad dudes in the bar. I think he was trying to prove that his fear doesn't control him; an efort that failed since that fear led him to do something extremely stupid.
Regarding Skyler - by all means get the hell away from Walt...but Ted? uuuuggghhh.

Trilby said...

@pbrl- I'm not going to tell you you're way off base but I have a slightly different take on what Skylar did. I think she fucked Ted because, as far as she was concerned, her marriage to Walt was over. All bets were off. You and other posters may not find Ted attractive but Skylar does. Anyway, I feel like she screwed him because (1) she wanted to and (2) she felt "out of" the marriage due to Walt's behavior (which she only knows a tiny bit of) and his lies. I think she threw it up in his face because of his insufferable comment: "Honesty is...good." Really, Walt? Now honestly is good? How could she NOT want to rub his face in that and, yes, hurt him after the way he has hurt her. Even if the hurts are of different sorts.

If you want to limit the field to the "context of marriage" than I guess you could say that sex outside of the marriage IS worse than say, oh, KILLING people and making huge quantities of a very harmful illegal drug. But so what? What does Walter win for that? Does he really get the moral upper hand. I don't think so.

pbrl said...

Upper hand? No. But I'm not seeing this in terms of a competition. And I don't think Walt sees it that way either. But it sure does seem that Skyler thinks that way.

I generally just find it repellent when people do things solely for the purpose of hurting other people or 'getting back' at them. Through all the horrible things Walt has done, I literally can't think of anything he has done simply out of personal hatred of someone. And I feel that's what Skyler did.

I'm not saying what Skyler did was a less moral thing, overall - god knows Walt is still way more damned to hell. But just from the perspective of doing things for a certain purpose, I think what Skyler did was new territory for the show.

TheWacoKid said...

I had a tragic DVR failure and lost parts of episodes so I need help with a bit of info: how does "Tio" know Walt's real name to pass along to the cousins? What I recall was that Tuco et al only knew him as "Heisenberg." When (and how) was Walt's real name revealed to the cartel folks?

Anonymous said...

Walter White, was revieled to Tuco, the episode in season 2, when Hank kills Tuco. Remember when Tuco makes them empty their pockets and looks at both their wallets, he was right nest to Tio, when Tuco found out Walts name wasn't 'Heisenburg' and he laughed about Jesse having the condom in his wallet. Before Tuco started cooking and Tio saw the telivision, and what Walt & Jesse were up too.

Anonymous said...

Powerful, thought-provoking show. Two personal examples:
A friend of mine who has been playing the older episodes over and over commented about Tuco and how incredibly BAD he was. Each time she watches the scene of Walt and Jesse held captive by Tuco, she fears for their lives even though she knows full well the outcome!
In I.F.T. episode I was SO conflicted wanting Skyler to spill the beans to the cop for her and her kids' safety and at the same time knowing his arrest would be the end of the show/story. SO relieved she kept her mouth shut! ha ha
I've not ever run across writing and acting that great in any TV show before.
Long live Breaking Bad!!

Daniel said...

Sorry, guys, I posted this query last week but it never turned up on te blog. OK, so what US law is there to detail every potential meth lab that has been possibly active on any property?

Kudos to Saul and Jesse for working with it, but is there anything that would mandate such a disclosure on any sale of land document? And this, mind you, is not any statement of record (as per a police or judicial finding) but a staement of possibility.

Any attourneys or conveyancers out there?

Trilby said...

@Daniel-
I think the answer is that these Seller Disclosure laws are state by state and they are general. They don't exists just for meth labs but for any condition that a home buyer would want to know about. It used to be buyer beware everywhere but that started to change about 20 years ago. Now, in most states, if a condition of the property was not disclosed to the buyer and it was something material that a home buyer could come back and sue the seller for not disclosing, then it should have been disclosed at the time of the sale. Kind of round-about, but that is my understanding of the issue as a former realtor and law school graduate. But I could be wrong.

DolphinFan said...

So much of this great show became that way when they nailed the main cast. This is MHO but it feels like we're supposed to grab onto the understandable-not-defensible actions and behavior of Walter because Bryan Cranston is effortlessly likable, be inclined not to feel sympathy or a need to take her thoughts into account from Skyler because Anna Gunn comes across as chilly and not that approachable, and be unsure if Jesse has much of a brain motoring behind his deadpan expression (I think he does) because Aaron Paul presents himself as a blank slate. I don't think we're SUPPOSED to root for Skyler to get revenge on Walter, or for the cancer/cartel guillotines to fall on his neck. I think we're supposed, to some extent, to want Walter's evil acts to somehow have a good outcome--even if it's just that his family is provided for after he's dead.

Juanita's Journal said...

Was I the only one for whom Skyler was reminiscent of Betty Draper in season 3 of Mad Men?

Was she in the third trimester of her pregnancy and dealing with the death of a parent?

Joshua said...

Has anyone explored the possibility that Hank intentionally instigated the scuffle in order to avoid his duties in El Paso? Perhaps he thought a reprimand would be in order, therefore preventing his transfer. I mean, it makes total sense that he would engage the two bar-dwellers as way of fighting his PTSD, proving he still has the sand to cut it in his line, but I thought there might have been more to it...

After all, Skyler's IFT moment can be read several ways as well. Her objective could have been to hurt Walt, gain the upper hand in their current power struggle, or to simply achieve what she wants: the divorce/Walt out of the house. I think it's probably an amalgamation of all of the above. It's really refreshing to have such complex characters and debate certain motivations, etc.

AMC is batting 1000 at the moment. Rubicon and The Walking Dead have a lot to live up to.

John said...

This was a great episode, but I think many people are missing something with Gus. He reminds me a lot of Brother Mouzzone (the devout Muslim, "Economist" reading, bow tie wearing hit man from "The Wire").

Obviously, the Cousins and the rest of the Cartel are bad news, but Gus does not seemed fazed in the least. Even though we haven't seen it yet, I have to believe that someone who has had a drug empire all over the Southwestern United States for two decades has to have some pretty big badasses on the payroll.

Just look at the fact that he was able to send a text message to the Cousins to call off the hit on Walt for now. And then he calmly invites them, their uncle and their boss to his chicken farm (with no backup in sight) and just shoots down their plan to kill Walt. Clearly, he's intimidating in his own right, or they would have just taken care of him.

Sure, he said that they can take Walt out after he's done doing business with him, but my guess is that Gus will eventually decide that Walt is too valuable, and a war will commence between his group and the Mexican cartel. I've got my money on Gus.

Woodrow L. Goode, IV said...

Two points that I'm sure will be shouted down:

1. Alan's "only two options" prediction is touchingly naive. He apparently believes that Giancarlo Esposito's statement to the cartel boys ("I just need him for one project and then you can have him") is true.

In fact, we know this man is utterly two-faced. When Walt says "There's no way I'll cook again, my mind's made up", he says (in effect) "I fully understand and accept your decision." And then he has his investigator tailing Walt and he's now telling the cartel that he and Walt are working together, when they aren't.

Clearly he decided "there is no point in arguing with Walt at this point", and told Walt what he wanted to hear. Now, given a demand to hand him over, he's telling the cartel what it wants to hear.

This is probably a more dangerous guy than all the other violent blowhards we've seen combined, because he is smart, unemotional and not a drug user. If you really think he intends to let Walt go-- or let the cartel kill him-- I have a pet turtle I'd like to sell you.

2. Hate to shoot down the "Walt is evil and Skyler the pure is totally justified for however she behaves" meme, but let's point out a few things.

A. She's told anyone she feels like that Walt has cancer-- her sister, Walt's former co-workers to name two.

If you've ever had cancer or had a family member who did, you know how outrageously wrong this behavior would be considered. The sick person is in charge of who is told-- but she greenlights a bleg web site.

2. She harangued Walt into getting expensive and painful treatments, when he wanted to refuse them, because she didn't want to acknowledge that he was gonna die. It's another outrageous act in the cancer world-- the person with the terminal illness gets to make the call.

3. By begging the former co-workers (who appear, if the little we have been told is true, to have stolen some of Walt's intellectual property) for money, she showed an astonishing lack of sensitivity.

4. The "Walt has done this and that, so she's justified" is nonsense. All she knew-- until Walt confessed to her-- is that he'd been lying to her about where he was going.

Walt has done terrible things, but (other than the public humiliation of having a husband picked up for indecent exposure in a 7-11) what he's done hasn't impacted his wife's life.

Betty Draper has better grounds for wanting a divorce from Don, because Don has never made much secret of his infidelity-- and Betty hasn't done anything to provoke it that the TV audience can see.

Skyler's treatment of someone with a terminal illness-- a point when the person feels vulnerable and that their life has gone out of control-- is quite brutal.

It doesn't excuse any of Walt's actions, but the "St. Skyler" riff is ridiculous. In the real world, her behavior-- Walt has to go along with whatever SHE wants-- would be the thing that rips the family apart. It would not be unusual for a patient who felt their wishes were being ignored to walk out.

5. I'm sorry, her behavior in this episode is a pure example of acting out. She's angry with Walt; she does something to hurt him.

6. Note that she is not moral enough to do what is right-- turn Walt in. She isn't moral enough to turn her boss in for cooking the books, either-- in fact, she rewards him by giving him the sex he clearly wants.

And when someone tells her exactly what the right thing to do is-- leave Walt and turn him over to the police-- she tells a lie (that he's going to die, even though he is in remission) and says she can't do it because it would hurt her son.

It's a shame that people need to reduce a very complex and multi-leveled drama with a monochromatic rainbow of moral issues into puerile shades of black and white.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Woodrow, couldn't agree more with your sentiment. I was getting frustrated by the lack of accountability that commentaters are giving to Skyler. She has shown to be a lier, the smoking (while effin pregnent). When she got the job in S 2, and her sister brought up this 'incident' with her and Beneke at a X-mas party, she blew it off. I knew that when she was dropping pens, and doing other things to get Teds attention, and there's mutual attraction between the two of them, obviously. I kind of saw this coming with her, I just dislike the way she handled it. It shows her motivation, and it doesn't justify its actions the way that Walt's actions are justified, to an extent, he did all this for her and the kids, nobody else. IMO, Skylar's character is well played, but is just an absolute bitch, has been since the show started and will be untill the show ends. Walt should leave her, and then deny admitting telling her about his problems, being a cook, having that cash etc. Then it's her word verse his, and she would be the one that engaged in infidelity, not Walt. He should put a PI on her and get all the evidence of any possible future liasons between her and Ted, then she's the one that could lose the kids. Then get them back, after Walt gets murdered or dies of his cancer. Remeber when Walt was at the doctors, and he saw that ugly looking spot by his lungs in an x-ray, I think he thought that meant he was dying soon, and wanted to make that 4 day cooking marathon when Jesse killed the trailers battery, I say this becuase that's what drove Skylar farther away, that trip, and she is so ignorant. She sleeps with the sleezebag, Ted "cook the books" Beneke, instead of understanding her husband Walt "cooks the money" White. Wow, is she a hypocrite, Walt should take the kids and bounce with his money, if he ever finds out the danger he's in. This show need to end the trend of bad ways of ending a TV show, I hope they have a plan with a great ending, becuase things are getting more and more intense.

Erik said...

Great episode, best show on TV, etc.

Was I the only one who had a problem with Gus Frings' Spanish? It seemed very slow and mechanical, as if the actor memorized the lines phonetically. A bit of a shame. On the other hand, I love Giancarlo Esposito in the role as long as he speaks English, and I just found out that he's born in my hometown of Copenhagen, so all's forgiven.

I love the direction they're taking Skyler. She's beginning to outplay Walt instead of just being an angsty Betty Draper-clone.

AJ said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alan Sepinwall said...

No politics, AJ, even as an analogy. It's one of the commenting rules.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I'm several months late (just now watching them all) but after seeing this episode I expected to find a conversation in these comments about the No Country for Old Men tribute.

When the Cousins roll up on the old lady in her van and their intentions are made clear, there is a sudden smash cut to a giant chicken coop. Anton Chigurh did this exact same thing (in what looks to be nearly the same setting) to the farmer on the side of the road. "Do those chicken grates come off?"

Anonymous said...

So I'm just reading this a year later, but Rollie is the most impressively goony person of all time.

What a great episode, though.