Sunday, April 18, 2010

Breaking Bad, "Mas": Til meth do us part

A review of tonight's "Breaking Bad" coming up just as soon as the chemistry is respected...
"I can't tell what he wants. He won't talk to me, he hardly even comes home. He works all day, all night, barely eats, barely speaks to me. It's like something's eating him away from inside. He's just not the same. He's not. Facing death, it changes a person. It has to, don't you think?" -Marie
The White marriage comes to an end in "Mas," as Walt finally signs the divorce papers and moves out, apparently to go work in Gus Frings' diabolical underground meth bunker. But before he leaves, we get to see that, for all their irreconcilable differences, Walt and Skyler both have a capacity for denial and self-rationalization in common.

In Walt's talk with Gus, and then in Skyler's talk with her divorce lawyer, we see them adamantly denying what they're so obviously feeling: that Walt is both jealous and offended that Jesse was able to duplicate the Heisenberg formula on his own, and that Skyler would love to be able to justify keeping Walt's drug money after all that his career as Heisenberg has cost her emotionally.

In the end, Gus effectively plays to both Walt's vanity and his belief in himself as a good father, and Skyler in turn unwittingly gives Walt the final nudge out the door. Walter White will do many things out of spite - will, in fact, destroy his own life out of spite if he has to - and had Skyler remained cold to him and kept him from doing anything with the baby, perhaps he would have continued his squatting campaign. But Skyler's quiet offer to let him comfort the crying baby(*) - and the implication that she'd again allow him to be father to his children, if not husband to his wife - played perfectly into Gus's speech about redefining "family" as "children," and gave him the peace of mind to leave the house and, presumably, go to work in the Walt-Cave.

(*) And here is where having someone as talented and versatile as Bryan Cranston comes in especially handy. I think a lot of actors could play the monster that Walt actually is, and that others could play the loving family man he believes himself to be, but very few could play both and make them seem like two sides of the same character. The look of complete vulnerability and sorrow and gratefulness and love in Walt's eyes as Skyler tells him to pick up Holly is worlds away from the man who will later be so cold and arrogant in muscling Jesse Pinkman out of the meth business, but Cranston sells them both.

Walt, of course, doesn't realize that Gus is only giving him a temporary reprieve before the Cousins come calling - that his plan is, I'm guessing, to take those three months to let his own people learn the Heisenberg formula until they have no need of Walt himself - nor does Skyler know that she's tentatively letting Walt back into her life at a moment when his life is becoming more dangerous than ever. All she knows is that she's miserable, has no support system other than Ted Beneke, and would just like to let the conflict die a little bit.

And just as Skyler goes from loving the feel of Ted's heated bathroom floor to becoming uncomfortable with it, I suspect Walt's love of Gus's pimped-out lab will fade over time as he begins to recognize just how dangerous a man he's working for. Walt goes into his meeting with Gus convinced that he's outsmarted him, when in fact the only way to do that would have been to just hand Jesse his half of the money and walk away without ever seeing Gus. Gus played him, and Walt's too arrogant and crazy to see that yet. But he's not stupid, even if he has blind spots, and day after day spent under the laundry facility is going to wear on him, especially without Jesse around to teach and/or bully.

And either way, what happens when the three months are up? At least Skyler should be thankful that Walt's not living in the house anymore, given what the Cousins might do to anyone else they find when they come for their target.

Some other thoughts:

• Skyler with the lawyer reminded me very much of Carmela Soprano going to see the elderly therapist who told her in no uncertain terms to take the kids and walk out on Tony and his "blood money." And, just like Carmela, Skyler didn't want to hear that.

• We open with a hilarious flashback to what Jesse was up to in the pilot in between when Walt gave him the money and when he turned up with the RV. Not only does it give Aaron Paul a chance to slip back into Jesse's clueless but happy old skin, it temporarily brings Combo back to life, and shows how Combo caused his own death a few times over. Not only did he agree to become one of Jesse's dealers, but had he not gotten Jesse the RV in the first place, the White/Pinkman partnership would have been stillborn, and Combo wouldn't have become high-profile enough to attract a hit from a rival crew.

• On another show, Hank's discovery that Jesse (whom he knows is connected to Walt) is connected to the RV that carried the blue meth would ultimately lead to Hank again coming thisclose, but no closer, to discovering Heisenberg's identity. On "Breaking Bad," given that we're in season three of what was conceived of as a four-season series (though it could always run a bit longer), I wouldn't at all be surprised to see Hank keep working his way up the food chain - which would not be a good thing for him, methinks. In the end, maybe going to El Paso instead of Gomey would have been the safer move.

• Love the contrast of Walt using the closet in the nursery as an office - complete with a tiny chair that stuck to his behind when he stood up - to Walt being shown the wonders of the Walt-Cave. Walt's a genius, but he's an amateur. Gus Frings is no amateur.

• Saul Goodman, shameless as always: completely on Jesse's side when it looks like that's where the meth money is coming from, then tosses him over immediately when Walt turns out to be the real cash cow - and caves on his exorbitant fees when Walt finally realizes Saul needs him as much or more than he needs Saul.

• That Aztek windshield is just taking a beating, isn't it? It's like the forces of karma just don't want it to remain intact.

What did everybody else think?

79 comments:

Anonymous said...

Deliberate or not, but the scenes with Jesse and his crew made me really miss the early days of this show: Walt and Jesse getting into trouble, working their way out; the scene where Jesse poured out the pretzels for his team meeting...not that I'm complaining. I think what is happening is brilliant. But this show definitely depicted how, unbelievably, this show has gotten even darker.

Anonymous said...

Sorry - how does Hank know Jesse and Walt know each other? Did he catch them together after the shoot-out with Tuco?

I also think Gus found out Hank and Walt know each other from a tour of the DEA offices; I wonder if that will play into anything.

JoeInVegas said...

That Aztek windshield isn't the only thing that seems to be taking a beating.

Felt sorry for the casting crew. This is the second episode which is dedicated to one of the staff (Gwyn Savage)

Alan Sepinwall said...

Sorry - how does Hank know Jesse and Walt know each other?

Didn't he and Skyler come to believe that Walt was buying pot from Jesse to deal with the cancer? Or was it just Skyler who found this out?

Anonymous said...

Alan Sepinwall said...
"Didn't he and Skyler come to believe that Walt was buying pot from Jesse to deal with the cancer? Or was it just Skyler who found this out?"




Why else would Hank be tracking Jessie's car to find Walt?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Why else would Hank be tracking Jessie's car to find Walt?

Right. Yes. Thank you.

Hari said...

Remember when Hank interrogated Jesse and talked to Jesse's parents in the early parts of season 2, thats how Hank would connect Jesse to Walt

Justin in MN said...

Hank found Tuco via Jesse's car & its lojack, but I don't know if that ever led to a definitive link back to Walt, as he has his "fugue state" disappearance.

That said, if Hank starts to puts pressure on Jesse, I could see Jesse extorting Walt- either mere money, or some part in the buisness.

cgeye said...

We can't go back, and neither can anyone else -- even Marie's less of a vapid hypocritical control freak, because the ticket to Georgetown she was riding has become a whole lot more flawed, very quickly. Her and the baby, saying she wouldn't mind having her to love? I never thought we'd get there with her, where I'd feel sorry for her, and thankful she's a good Auntie to a tyke who needs one stable person in her life.

As for Walt's vanity, jeez did Gus know how to sell him -- illusions of control (easy to research, considering Gus would have to co-opt many more chemists just to set up that lab, who'd know about the missing man on that Nobel team), shiny tech, plausible deniability from a man who's a master at it. And, I think Gus was selling his own spiel -- your family may hate you, but they don't refuse the cash, after a while. In fact, they come running for more, if there's enough....

As for Walt's new place of business, I'm not thinking of a Walt-cave; more like an underground lair. Expect a sharkskin Nehru suit and an angora kitty, next....

Hunter said...

The show runners are amazing. They have planned everything so perfectly, right down to the character's wardrobe. All the characters who are "breaking bad" wear green: like when Skylar contemplates taking the drug money.

Anonymous said...

Early in season 2, Skyler told Hank about Pinkman and the whole pot episode. That led Hank to talk to Jesse's parents, and that led to the discovery of Jesse's car and the fact that it had LoJack, which led to the shootout with Tuco.

Hank doesn't definitively know they still have a relationship, beyond the pot thing, but he's definitely got suspicions about Pinkman that he'd never been able to prove, and this just raises those further.

felix said...

This episode surely had its ups and downs but overall was great. The beginning back story of how the RV came to be was a great callback to the origins of the show. This came as a great start to the episode... Moving on to the "Walt cave" as its been dubbed. This was an amazing scene. Walt looks like a kid in a candy store with all that high tech equipment. We can see just how powerful Gus is in comparison to Walter. Walter strolls in overconfident and arrogant. His body language and demeanor was very important. Once we put into perspective Gus's overall impact, it is monumental. He gives this emotional and powerful speech that seems to have switched Walter back over the side of evil and devilishness. The look he has when he walks into Saul's office was intense. You could see the arrogance in his eyes. Now unknown to Walt, his life is in the hands of Gus. Who knows what is going to happen after the supposed three month trial period. This is going to lead into a great series of story lines. On to one aspect, the long drawn out conversation with Sky and her lawyer. Personally, I think her role should be tuned down a bit. I realize she is essential to the plot, yet I hate to waste precious episode time to see her long-drawn out speeches. The fact she left Walt with the child showed us all that the tide had turned. Walt had enough, and eventually signed the papers. Overall, this episode left me looking at the clock on my phone in disbelief that it was 9:58 and it was almost over, all i wanted was another half hr. guess we shall all have to wait till next week..... the preview for the next show looked incredible, with so many plot lines intersecting, this should be an amazing and groundbreaking one. peace out yall. lets hear what u think....

cgeye said...

And what is the song underneath Walt's introduction to the lair? Old-timey (like the Crosby song last week), haimishe yet weird....

Anonymous said...

nony says: "his show has gotten even darker"

Breaking Bad

Lisa said...

Well, if Cranston's going to get a third Emmy, it's for that wordless scene holding the baby. And I've begun to believe that Giancarlo Esposito can't be far behind him. What a softspoken, terrifying man.

Incredible stuff, and Alan, you're right -- the baby scene is where Skyler unwittingly sealed her fate. I thought she was going to throw in with Walt as a conspirator, but it really does look like he simply decided to kick her to the curb.

So the question indeed is where Walt is at the end of three months. Does he figure out somehow to turn the tables on Gus? Does he go into witness protection with his brother-in-law? Or do he and Jesse bury the hatchet and go after all their potential enemies?

I also loved the music underneath the meth lab scene -- almost childlike and Christmassy, just like Walt really got what he wanted from Santa.

What a show.

tribalism said...

I loved the Willy Wonka vibe of Gus's meth lab. Jesse's choice to regress back to his old clothing and lingo, not so much.

I guess it's all indicative of his decision to go back into the meth trade, but he was so much more likable during the first few episodes this season.

I thought that Walt's refusal to repair his windshield earlier in the season was indicative of his self-denial (wanting to look past the fallout of his actions), so it was telling that as soon as he gets back in the game, Jesse is there to smash it again.

If anyone is interested, you can find more of my thoughts on this episode where I go into detail about Walt's motivations and the possibility that Jesse will be a legitimate rival to Heisenberg. Click my username for the link.

Ryan said...

Was it just me or did Skyler become more likeable during this hour? I liked seeing her conflicted and more human than usual. The conversation with Marie on the cell phone was another piece of brilliant Breaking Bad writing, particularly the line Alan quoted. Definitely saw the Carmela Soprano comparison as well. She's becoming more and more similar to Carm every week - the more knowledge she gains about Walt's actions (and motives), the more confusion it seems to cause.

I thoroughly agree with the comments about the music during the meth lab scene with Walt/Gus. Fantastic call. It sounded almost straight out of a Disney film.

Saul never fails to deliver. His scene with Walt/Jesse (and he finally settles on 5%!) might have been my favorite of the episode. What a scumbag Saul is, every bit as bad as Walt and Jesse. Walt's glee at screwing over Jesse was evident but not overly so and Cranston is terrific at nailing those subtle emotions, which he did a few times tonight. Particularly that scene involving the baby that choked me up a little.

And how captivating was that intense shower conversation between Hank and Marie? My word, Dean Norris was sublime! Never did I thought he could be such a powerful, interesting actor when he was yukking it up during the first season.

Overall, my favorite episode of the season so far.

labdancer said...

Doesn't it seem that at each level deeper to the center of hell, Walt learns just enough that he's able to keep going deeper from some circumstance that combines inevitability with chance? Gus is a pro, but his is a most risky business, and playing around with limited-free will jokers like Walt, Jesse and the Cousins hardly makes it safer.

Brian said...

"I'm half as qualified and twice the price of a therapist" is a fantastic line.

The writing on this show is unreal.

Anonymous said...

This was easily the best episode of the show in a while. It essentially discussed every characters choices and the morality behind them. The show is about perspective, choices, and their consequences. This episode highlighted that to the fullest. I loved it all. The slow pacing, the discussion, the actions, and decisions made. Amazing!


It's similar to a LOST review episode. We're reminded of the earlier days, the beginning and how the characters used to be then we're back in the present in the middle of every character's major recent actions climaxed and slowly simpering down. Complexity at it's finest. I love this episode.

With Walt out of the house will the show continue to focus on the Wife & kids?

JWIII

Anonymous said...

Hank knows who Jesse is, but he doesn't know about the connection to Walt yet.

Also, I find Walt to be a bit of an idiot. He continually gives Gus the upper hand in their dealings, and basically just rubs everyone he knows the wrong way. Not the best way to stay below the radar.

Kensington said...

The scene with Skyler's lawyer was great, and it really muddies things up now that it's clear that Skyler, like it or not, has made herself an accessory after the fact. That's a wrinkle I didn't really appreciate before tonight.

I hate to think that there might be only season left, but there's so much looming disaster on the horizon and so much instability already, it might be inevitable.

In any case, I have to think now that Hank will now the truth before the end of this season, and I cannot imagine where they will go with that.

belinda said...

Well, if Cranston's going to get a third Emmy, it's for that wordless scene holding the baby.

A great week for really great wordless scenes this week - not only with Walt and the baby, but also with Skylar looking at herself in the mirror both times, and with Hank in the shower (or even just his looks throughout the episode as he bid his partner farewell). Great actors all around.

I must have missed the origins of Combo's nickname from earlier seasons, so it was nice to see a bag of Combos right next to his picture at his house.

It's strange to say this, but it was a little unnerving to see Jesse being so angry at Walt and full of emotion (much like the old Jesse) when he's been so calm and collected for this season so far. I guess, much like last week's encounter, there's something about Walt that brings out the old Jesse.

And, yes, Gus is the MASTER. The way he manipulated Walt into the situation was fantastic..I'm just going to watch that again, actually.

Alan Forkosh said...

In a addition to the callback to the plane crash with the windshield damage, it also recalled Walter's attempt to break down Benacke's office with the planter.

Anonymous said...

drovvningman says:

two things--

I can't believe I didn't know before hearing earlier this week that Giancarlo Esposito = Gus Fring = Buggin' Out from Do the Right Thing!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7UZ9g8wvFI

My prediction: The RV gets torched (by Gus? To prevent Jesse from seeling the bootleg product?) just as Hank is about to find it.

matt said...

so, maybe i'm just drawing a blank here, but what's with the back story on the RV? Why did it get taken to the impound (junk) yard in season 2, if it came from Combo's parents? I must be missing something - there's no way they made that big of a plot hole?

Anonymous said...

re the RV - didn't Jessie store the RV in that towing yard? And then try and steal it back when he was too broke to pay the yard guy the agreed upon amount?
Hank (Dean Norris) was intense this week. I am fearful of what may happen to him in upcoming episodes. He appears to be coming a lottle unglued - and when it is revealed that the famous Heisenburg is Hank's own brother-in-law....that will not be a good thing.
Great episode all the way around. The writing, the complexity, the nuances and subtleties are remarkable. I really appreciate television that assumes an intelligent audience.

Trilby said...

Giancarlo Esposito was also Yapfet Koto's son on Homicide, who came into the squad for a few episodes. I knew the guy looked familiar. He was also on several episodes of Sesame Street but I don't remember seeing that. Ha ha

Walt doesn't know who to give respect to, does he? I couldn't believe how he was talking to Gus. I'm surprised Gus didn't hand Walt over to the cousins immediately.

Snot Boogie said...

The way this season is shaping up, I feel like by the end of it either Jesse or Hank is gonna get got.

HMM2 said...

SPOILER WARNING:

The LA Times has an article about the Moncada Brothers ("From Prison to 'Breaking Bad's' Set") that has a relatively mild spoiler toward the end.

Lisa said...

Jesse's regression this episode really did disappoint me a bit. Granted, rehab can't cure everything, but I was looking forward to seeing the Slightly More Savvy Jesse that worked that scam on his parents over the house, not a returned to Panicked, Sniveling Jesse at Saul's office.

The question is, does Jesse figure out a way to manipulate Walt, or is a sitting duck?

Miken said...

I love that someone already picked up on Skylar's wardrobe.

I don't think it's a coincidence the first time we see her wearing green is when she finally starts to move a little bit towards Walt and the money. I can't ever recall Skylar wearing anything other than Black or White this whole series.

J-rod said...

I immediately thought of Alan and this blog as Skyler was talking with her lawyer and building up to the "everyone thinks I'm a bitch" moment. :D

Rough Calculations (correct me if I'm wrong):

1 gram of meth: $75 on the street (and that's actually as cheap as you'd ever find it, but let's just keep things low for argument's sake)
1 kilo: $75000
1 lb = 2.2 kilo = $150K (actually more but a volume discount)
150K x 200lbs per week: $30,000,000 A WEEK
30 million x 12: $360,000,000

Even if we discount this for markup and middlemen, 2400 lbs of meth is EASILY worth 250,000,000 dollars, no? I don't believe the "need 200 lbs a week to make this viable line" either.

Pollos is getting a HUGE deal for 3 million dollars, not to mention the keys to the kingdom in the process. I wish he'd offered 30 million instead. Would have been more realistic in line with the production that Walt is going to have and would have made Walt's refusal all the more amazing. Perhaps it would have been simply unbelievable that someone would turn down roughly 3,000,000 a week for 3 months.

Walt is getting screwed. I predict he'll try to find a way to get Gus busted to save his skin.

Anonymous said...

glad to see old friends Combo and Skinny Pete again. i was oping that Kristen Ritter could return for a time. Anna Gunn's Skyler is kicking some you-know-what this year, thanks to the generous & talented BB writing crew. is it realistic to expect Emmy's for Cranston, Gunn, Giancarlo Espisito??? both the writing and delivery made for the shortest seeming one hour of my life.

Anonymous said...

Rough Calculations (correct me if I'm wrong)
1 lb = 2.2 kilo


You've got it backwards. One kilo = 2.2 lbs.

Anonymous said...

"Hank knows who Jesse is, but he doesn't know about the connection to Walt yet. "

Actually, he does know about a connection to Walt. Skyler told him the story she was told about Jesse, after she looked into the number that kept calling the house.

Which leads me to a really intriguing possibility: might Hank blow his own investigation because of that? If Hank remembers that connection, he certainly wouldn't want this case to tie in his brother-in-law over some pot.

Does Hank tip off Walt, to give him a warning that, hey, if you're still going to that kid for pot, stay away, because he's in some heavy shit?

AJ said...

Amazing episode, and I hate to sound churlish but it made me, too, miss the way the show was when it began, the zany craziness to the dark side. Last week's episode rubbed me so wrong that I nearly quit on it; but that's the point, eh? This show is about transformation, and it isn't avoiding the reality that meth is a hateful business. We're finally seeing things not just from Walt's perspective.
And whoa, things to come will blow up on everyone. Walt has finally inahbited the flip side of his mild, meek, passive-aggressively sulking thru his life personna.

I hope this puts an end to Sklyer bashing; I'm sure most of the bitch remarks were seeing her from a Walt's eye view, and he's a spoiled, selfish child, almost sociopathic in all his relations; people aren't very real to him. Their marriage stunk from day one, before the diagnosis -- remember the birthday hand job while she worked e-bay? The angry sex after? The passive-aggressive behavior that made him settle for a teaching job he hated? She is very much like Carmella, except without the trappings of luxury, who caused a lot of trouble with her dishonestly; remember her non-affair with Florio and its consequences? At least Sklyer had the guts to reach out for some comfort for herself.

And never forget: The whole drug thing would've been avoided if Walt wasn't too arrogant and proud to accept treatment money from his old friend who knew he owed Walt.

And Jesse: he's genuinely stupid, with a junkie mentality, who left rehab acting like a changed man, merely going thru the motions. Brilliant to flashback to show him pissing away the RV money in a titty bar, and setting the whole tragedy to come, by having to steal the RV. Walt's forgotten what chaos ensues when he isn't riding Jesse, who is just too dense to ever see the big picture.

The acting is astounding; every scene rang true, and Hank's scenes were revelation, seeing what's behind the bluster. Saul is priceless; Gus is the devil. I resisted watching this week; cannot wait to see how this tragedy unfolds.

ZeppJets said...

"I should give you her card..."

Joshua said...

Anonymous, I like your train of thought. In the event that Hank nabs Jesse, who would blame Jesse for holding Walt over the fire and coercing his way back into the White's Blue Meth Biz? However, this seems so predictable and we all know how much Gilligan and Co. love to zig when we expect them to zag.

Hank giving Walt a cautionary heads up in steering clear of his supposed pot supplier would allow Walt's more paternal instincts to kick in, warning Jesse of the sh*tstorm to come. That would effectively reunite the comedy dream team, at least for an episode or 3... Here's hoping!

Anonymous said...

Taking into account the lb/kg correction:

1 gram of meth: $75 on the street 1 kilo: $75000
1 kilo = 2.2 lb = $34K
30K x 200lbs per week: $6,000,000/week
6 million x 12: $72,000,000


Still a lot. But this leaves out a lot of costs that you know Gus has thought of:
1. Opportunity cost of the lab space. Surely he was using it for something else before, and whatever that was was generating income.
2. Cost of distribution to dealers.
3. Cost of inevitable trouble with the law.
4. Cost of inevitable trouble with other gangs/dealers.
5. Cost of cleaning up problems.
6. Costs of money laundering.
etc.

I know I'm leaving a lot out, but the point is that these are the sorts of costs that will add up to large sums of money over time. The show itself has shown us some of these costs as Walt and Jesse tried to start up their own dealing business; Gus surely dealers with them on a much larger scale.

Rudyjax said...

A couple of points...

Gus bears most of the risk unless Walt is actually caught onsite. Gus got all the ingredients. All Walt has to do is cook. And $3MM to be a chef, ain't that bad.

And the music entering the "lair" reminded me of this...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3nV6WqA4Y0

Kujo said...

Brilliant ep. Loved the RV origin story.

Man, Gus is playing Walt like a fiddle, and he doesn't even know it.

Eckhard said...

At the end of the season someone will be arrested. And it will not be a meth dealer or producer. Take a guess!

Anonymous said...

I got the sense that Skyler was coming to accept Walt's horrific life choices. First, the conversation with Beneke a few ep's back, where they discuss how Beneke could bring himself to cook the books (it was all for his family); then the line this ep about how facing death changes a man. I thought we were arc'ing towards a Carmela Soprano-like reconciliation... Maybe we still are.

J-rod said...

You've got it backwards. One kilo = 2.2 lbs.

D'oh! I've been doing 2.2:1 conversions for so long the other way, I messed it up here. I knew something had to be wrong though. Thanks!

Grace Von D said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Grace Von D said...

I'm sorta tired of Jesse. But I suppose every Batman needs a Robin.

Trilby said...

"Gus is the devil."

I just watched it again and love how Gus says to Walt, "I see I was too transparent for you..." Falsely self-deprecating while playing to Walt's enormous ego. Can you believe the ego on Walt? I really detest him now. Doesn't interfere with my enjoyment of the show, tho.

Jeff W. said...

Technical question: Saul laundered Walt's money before by donating it to his "Save Walter White" website in small increments before, correct? So why does he still have it as cash in a bag? The point of laundered money is to have a legitimate explanation for having it in your bank account. Saul did launder the big Gus payout, as I remember.

shma said...

Jeff W, only 15K has been laundered through the website, so the vast majority is still dirty money. At this rate, though, I don't see how Saul could launder 3 million before Walt dies.

thelesseroftwoequals said...

(Whistle) Now that was an episode. From an opening shock of seeing Walt with hair once again, to the shattering of the Walt-Jesse partnership (once again Jesse's on the bottom), full of wonderful moments and incremental movements forward.

Best moments: Walt's speech on respecting the chemistry reminded me of one of his early lines, and the flashback with Gretchen - "There's no soul. It's all chemistry." And the soul's halfhearted attempt to renew itself is over, with Walt once again in the Heisenberg black windbreaker and asserting brutal control.

Beautiful back-and-forth scenes as well, with the open and close showing where the RV came from, and the first scene of Jesse at the strip club, stupid and careless and unknowing of how his old chemistry teacher would be the architect of his journey to hell. It's nice to be reminded of where we came from in this show.

Alan - loved the comparison to Carmela Soprano. I saw the same thing, reminded of something you mentioned in your Mad Men season 3 wrap-up on both Carmela and Betty Draper: they went back to their flawed men because they didn't have any better options. Skylar's clearly skating on that same ice here, and it'll be interesting to see how bad she'll break in response.

Overall, a very strong episode after a somewhat less satisfying one last week (though even less-than-stellar "Breaking Bad" is still better than any other show). I do hope the walking death that is the Cousins shows its face again soon.

AJ said...

"Can you believe the ego on Walt? I really detest him now."

Funny, to continue the Sopranos comparison, I never detested Tony Soprano, despite all his horrible deeds; the man just had that certain sociopathic charm. I grew to really dislike Carmela, because she knew better; who was more corrupt? I've never had a hate on for Sklyer, but detesting Walt reached a peak last week and I nearly couldn't get past it. I suppose by this ep, I just let go of wanting the old Walt back.

Jesse is your archetypal vicious sidekick character, he's always behaved hatefully when cornered, because he knows he's always mentally over-matched.

Don't worry about the psycho bros; they're never far away, tho if this show stays true, nothing will be as we imagine.

Anonymous said...

Hank's career is now going nowhere and if he does find out about Walt there is going to be three million in bribe money in play. My prediction: Hank breaks bad.

Bill White said...

About the showrunners and the wardrobe - the *only* mistake there that I've seen in the whole series so far is Skyler's watch a couple of eps back. It was near closing time at the office, in her office in which she knocked a cup of pens to the floor and she and Teddy Boy went over the books. Her watch read either 10:10 or 1:50, not nearly 5:00.

Everything is nearly perfect in this show - the sound, the colors and visual composition, even the physical rhythm of purely visual scenes. Have you noticed the sound of clocks always ticking like bombs at the White house and the classroom?

Anonymous said...

There’s an argument to be made that Walter has more kinship in his professional/personal development with Dexter Morgan the serial killer as played by Michael C. Hall. He can create human bonds but isn’t really interested in them once they’re in place; thinks he is smarter than everyone and is nearly right but doomed because when he’s wrong he’s REALLY wrong (current example of that: Gus); and wants to put together his own version of morality because he’s not bad enough to ignore right-and-wrong issues and not good enough to make upstanding decisions when he's under pressure.

Anonymous said...

every single primary character will, in turn, break bad...a cross between the law of unintended consequences and being careful about what you wish for.

glad to see the recent growth of hank's character. thankfully, the camera was modest & did not show hank as they have shown walt (in the buff) several times. i would have ripped my eyeballs out.

what is going to serve as this season's cliff-hanger in 6 weeks? what is SO bad that it will support MONTHS of speculation? walt jr breaking bad? something happening to the baby? hmm....

Angela said...

Bill White wrote: Everything is nearly perfect in this show - the sound, the colors and visual composition, even the physical rhythm of purely visual scenes."

Exactly! I enjoy watching this show because there are so many great aspects to it, and so much detail. Usually I only like one or 2 aspects of a show. The character depth, or the dialog, or the story-line, etc. There is so much going on with this show, yet somehow it is never too much!

"Have you noticed the sound of clocks always ticking like bombs at the White house and the classroom?"

I had not noticed the ticking clock sounds, even though sounds are what I usually notice first. Must of got lost under the millions of other details. :)

Trilby said...

A bit off-topic but I happened to watch a Malcolm In the Middle last night, and in the episode Bryan Cranston does the most ridiculous DISCO routine in a competition wearing a skin-tight spangled PURPLE costume. So funny to see, now that I think of him as Walt!

The man is versatile.

asterisk8 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
asterisk8 said...

I'd like to come to the defense of Skyler a bit, after having a change of heart about her.

She has done several questionable things since Walt's surgery, but until she finally had proof of his lies, she remained steadfast in her commitment to do whatever she could to save her family – ostensibly the same reason Walt started cooking meth in the first place, which we all sympathized with, if not outright condoned, at first. We rationalized it in much the same way Gus did in that brilliant evil lair scene on Sunday.

Sky knew that it was inappropriate to ask the Schwartz's for help, but she threw social convention and her own ego out the window, believing it was Walt's only chance. In a very real way, Elliot and Gretchen owed it to Walt, and Skyler knew that. It took real courage to be so brazen about such a sensitive subject, but it was in service of saving the life of her husband and the father of her children.

My father died of cancer in 2004, and I can't say any of us would've blamed my mom for stepping on a few toes to try to save his life. He was nothing like Walter, so there was never a need for an intervention like the one in "Gray Matter", but I think Skyler behaved all too human in that scene. Yes, it was clear she did not want to have a rational conversation about death, and she was willing to argue her husband into treatment. She loved her husband, and she was willing to fight for his life even if it meant that he hated her for it. If I had built a life and a family with someone over 16 years, I find it hard to believe I could accept without argument thier refusal of treatment.

While I was typing the above, something crossed my mind. I would argue that the tendency for some of the fanbase to call Sky a "bitch", while simultaneously enjoying Walt at his most menacing, is indicative of that age-old gender bias concerning assertion of authority. The thing is, I think it's likely that Vince and his brilliant staff have intentionally tapped into this sentiment in crafting the character of Skyler. It seems to me that she's been deliberately written to come across "bitchy" only in so far as we fail to fully step into her shoes and empathize with her situation. Viewers who've especially invested themselves in Walter have, in fact, been encouraged to feel this way, much like Walter Jr. Walt's diabolical ploy to wrest back control of his famiy hinges on casting his wife as the villain.

Of course, Skyler is not a paragon of virtue, and much of her behavior can be construed in a negative light, as you can with every character on this show. The writers give you reasons to dislike Skyler f you want to, but it's a mistake, I feel, not to see beyond the surface of her actions.

The writers have no qualms about fans disliking their characters. The comments on this blog attest to the fact that you don't necessarily have to like these people to love the show. In fact, I would go so far as to say Gilligan would be disappointed if a large segment of the audience didn't have viscerally negative reactions to some of the characters, while at the same time unable to turn away. So while you may dislike Sky, I think such nuanced writing (and a nuanced portrayal by the lovely Anna Gunn) is a testament to the greatness of this series.

berkowit28 said...

Some previous comments have got me thinking. Until this season, it's Walt who has been "breaking bad". OK, Jesse too, though his slide started before the show began. But in this season, we've seen Skyler heading there, and now it's Hank. I agree - this jolly buffoon, now that he has been humiliated in El Paso and chosen not to face his fear, is becoming dangerously frustrated and will soon break bad. Perhaps he will go the way of corruption when he finds Walt is his Heisinger. How many others will break bad? The whole cast? It will be interesting to see how Walt Jr. will cope, once he comes to understand.

Tony Christopher said...

It's very in your face, but I love what they have done with the lighting in the house when Walt and his family sit down to have meals. The house never used to feel so suffocating and dark. It is appropriate that Skyler found the divorce papers in the well lit and orderly baby's room.

Dennis said...

l believe that's the one where he does a routine to We Are The Champions while on rollerskates.

Cranston's mastery of both the dramatic and comedic make him like a 40/40 hitter in episodic TV: the guy has both speed and power.

I am trying to figure out how to read Walt's show-sending expression. We know he's a great cop so did he already put together jesse as Walt's supposed pot dealer? Or was he just trying to remember where he'd seen jesse before?

The idea of Hank breaking bad - or the idea that everyone will - is delicious to me and I can buy it under the construct that his career path's blocked after turning down - and maybe more to the point how he turned down - the El Paso gig and that the only way he could get it running again is to bust Heisenberger.

But if he does that he blows apart his entire extended family and not so much this year but in past seasons we've seen how much he loves Walt jr and he knows how how close his wife and her sister are.

asterisk8 said...

I have a real fear that Hank is going to end up an indirect casualty of Walt's break, shortly after he puts 2+2 together, but before he can do anything about it. The show manages to feint every attempt to "out think" it by viewers, so I hope I'm wrong. I don't want Hank to die, but if he does, I think it could potentially be the second most tragic death on the show behind Walter Jr.

I read Hank's show-ending expression to mean, "I KNEW I was on to something." He hasn't totally worked it out yet, but he knows unequivocally that he now has the pieces to put something huge together. When one piece of information unifies and illuminates several formerly disparate facts, you can be sure a perceptive guy like Hank will recognize the value of it.

If I understand Hank as a character, that photo sparked several different trains of thought. He knows a guy like Combo wasn't working alone, and it's likely that it's a close friend, someone he trusts and came up with, someone who would be in a photo in his room. Combo was a criminal, it's worth assuming for the time being that whoever is in that photo is a criminal too, as criminal activity at that age typically occurs in groups of friends. When he looks at the photo and recognizes Jesse, it's validation that he's on the right track.

On a related note, I keep thinking about how Heisenberg has gone from a simple alias to almost a meta-character of its own now. Jesse and Walter are equally responsible for the Heisenberg Project as I like to think of it. Without Jesse, there would be no Heisenberg, but if Hank arrests Jesse for the crime, he's only getting one half of Heisenberg. It's like the mythical man in the black hat and sunglasses is one schizoid meth whose two personas are being brilliantly portrayed by Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston. Of course this is just an amusing interpretation or observation, and not likely an intentional subtext to the story.

nanbym said...

This is the best set of comments I've read about my favorite show.

My interest took the form of identifying over 70 ABQ area shooting locations, visiting them and taking photographs. This project began March 21, Season 3 premiere day and took four weeks.

I've left ABQ for the summer, but will resume the project (including the exterior of the strip club which is at the corner of Menaul and Wyoming NE!
http://www.panoramio.com/user/4308353

Ptid said...

Funny. I had the exact same feeling about Skyler / Carmella Soprano...

Danny said...

I think that Breaking Bad has the same central question now that some Americans have: How will we go? Will someone attack us (the Cousins against Walt) or will it be nature that does us in (Walt's cancer)?

Aaron Riccio said...

I'm fairly sure that Hank has to die at this point--he's too proud to accept a bribe. I'm also more and more certain that Walt has to be the one to kill him, perhaps at Gus's behest, as that's practically the only thing that may get him off the hook with the Brothers.

Anonymous said...

to nanbym: please post a link if you assign them to FLICKR. i would LOVE to see the actual ABQ buildings as they exist in "real life." thanks...

nanbym said...

Per a request here, I'm posting the link to the BB scene locations that are in my Flickr account. I have more to upload on May 1, so check back for new ones after the 1st.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/24869473@N02/

On Flickr, I'm WallDruggie if that's easier.

Thanks for the interest!

Anonymous said...

nambyn: many thanks!!

Anonymous said...

I predict Hank and Hank alone puts the pieces together, discovering Heisenberg is his very own brother-in-law. He confronts Walt alone and makes a deal w/him. Walt agrees to work undercover for him to bust Gus, the Cousins, the cartel. Imagine the adventures they could have - Hank doing solo DEA work (oh the complications), Walt sweating bullets while framing the big dogs, etc. etc. It could go on for another season at least.
In the end, all the bad guys are dead or in prison, Hank is promoted and Walt redeems himself in Skyler's eyes, the truth can be revealed to Walt Jr and I am sufficiently satisfied that all is well.
Now, as far as Jesse goes...I am stumped.

Anonymous said...

i re-watched one my favorite moments last night, the episode with the meth-heads, the little boy & jesse. the male was alan ury a.k.a. ken tanaka semi-famous for his "how to speak japanese without saying a word" vids on you tube. a nice way to cap the AMC season refresher.

Anonymous said...

Am I wrong or did Walt take the baby?

Lots of scenes in bathrooms. Is that some kind of cleansing metaphor?

Rich, Denver

JoeInVegas said...

Wow not a single reference to Rocket Scientist by the Teddy bears?

That was the song playing when Jesse was in the VIP room.

Here's the version on Youtube if anyone is interested.

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

Adam said...

Not to get hung up on economic details, but there's more than one flaw in the breakdown of meth prices. The first one that jumped out at me was basing the premise on $75 a gram. While that may be an accurate price, it doesn't apply as you move up in quantity. That's like saying that because a can of Coke costs $2 from a hotel vending machine that a case of cans costs $48 and a 2-liter bottle goes for 8 bucks. (And that's without factoring in that Walter's meth is the equivalent of Coke syrup, which gets diluted by a lot before it hits the street/retail market.) I suspect the real value for Gus, long-term, is getting a crew of 'lab assistants' who can replicate Walt's work after he's gone.

Which raises another question: How happy will the cartel be if Gus brings his production in-house? Do they switch to supplying raw materials only? Or is the meth market big enough that there's room for "regular" and "premium" product? Just how big is Gus's territory?

(And, realistically, considering how fast meth tears up the health of regular users, is there a sustainable market in the long term for a nearly pure product?)?

Larsson from Sweden said...

I just love the way that Johan Renck (a swedish director, btw) visually displays the distance between Walt and Skylar when he comforts the baby.
The camera shoots from a distance facing towards the table, and a supporting pillar is set dead in center of the scene, right between them.

Anonymous said...

Please forgive us if the answer has already been discussed, but we are trying to understand the following essential point which we consider to be a major plot hole: if Walt works for a high school in NM, an established chemistry teacher who has worked there for many years, would he not likely possess top-of-the-line medical insurance for him and his family, as an essential perk? If so, why isn't his medical insurance covered in this fashion? Please forgive us if the context of the series has already bore this out, however my wife and I do not recall any reference-- even indirect-- to this issue. We would greatly appreciate anybody who could set us straight along these lines. Many Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Walt's poor school insurance plan was referenced in an early episode. Skylar mentioned it to (I think) Marie in a conversation.