So this is essentially their third go of it. Walt and Jesse are in a pattern here. They cook up some shards, as Jesse would say, try to sell it, go to a distributor who inevitably threatens their lives–first Krazy-8, then Tuco–and then have to spend a lot of time cleaning up whatever mess their nemesis made, or the mess they made in defeating him. Their stint with Tuco lasted a bit longer than Krazy-8 so overall, they may be on an upswing. After all, Walt’s time is ticking away, their last mess is behind them, and they are ready to cook.
But other things are bubbling up from under the surface in other parts of their world. Hank is having some pretty serious PTSD after his shootout with Tuco. And this is sorta what I mean when I say Walt doesn’t seem to be affected to the same degree as the others, after going through violence and trauma and murder. Of course, Walt also really believes that this time will be different, just like he did back in Season One before they started working with Tuco. With Jesse, it’s a little hard to tell. He was definitely shocked when Walt said he wanted to start up again. But they’re moving forward.
Hank might not be so keen on moving forward. He’s having panic attacks in that elevator (how well done was that, Hank’s face, the sound of Jesse’s bouncing car?) The best part of that whole sequence, in my mind, is right before he gets on the elevator, when Hank’s walking down the hall toward it, snapping his fingers, making a show of being fine. And how fast that unravels. And is it me or does that ding of the elevator sound just like Tio’s bell?
The teaser for this episode is yet another flashforward to the end of this same episode. The writers are really having a fun time playing with time this season. As always, with just about every episode of BrBa, there’s some great saturation of color. At the beginning of the teaser, before the kids find Tuco’s grill, the camera lingers on the clear blue sky. And when the first act opens after the title sequence, there’s a similar shot of and linger on a saturated orange that takes up the whole screen, which is revealed, slowly, to be Walt’s chemo treatment. I love how his face is reflected right there, that that’s the first way we see him. Art, yo.
A lot of different plot elements are re-established in this episode, and I think that’s important, to put all of it hand-in-hand with Walt and Jesse’s return to cooking. Because of the chemo scene, we are reminded that Walt has cancer. Of course, this was never really forgotten but it was on the back burner for awhile, just sprinkled in with mentions or shots of medications, and with Walt’s cough, but here we see him actually receiving treatment, being a patient. It was cancer that got him cooking in the first place, that allowed him to break bad, so it’s a good time to re-establish it. But, Walt is allowed to be cautiously optimistic.
He can’t be so optimistic about paying for his treatment though, or having anything to leave behind for his family. The family’s financial troubles are also re-established as well. It cracks me up when Skyler says to the person on the phone, “I’m sorry you couldn’t be more helpful.” I’m going to remember that one, there are so many occasions when I’ve felt like saying that. And we also are reminded that she thinks Gretchen and Elliot are paying for everything. This sets up Walt’s financial need here. As he tells Jesse in the RV, he’s at zero.
And Jesse needs money too. Not to the same extent, but he does have bills. He found a place to live, and it’s clear from the last episode that things will be pretty bad if he can’t keep that, that he doesn’t really have anywhere else to go, that without this apartment he’ll be homeless. And Jane did decide to up his rent after he sweet talked her into letting him rent without being employed or having references.
Jesse Jackson, hahahaha. She’s gotta know that’s not his real name. If it was, he wouldn’t be surprised by her question b/c he would’ve gotten that all the time. I love that it’s Jesse’s being a disappointment to his parents that gets Jane to bend the rules. Maybe she can relate? There’s definitely some chemistry in their banter.
More color stuff: Notice how blurry and runny the colors are before Hank focuses in on his Shraderbrau. Hank is really suffering some psychological stuff here, and it’s great that no one ever comes out and says it, or summarizes it, or diagnoses him. The way it’s all shot gives the impression of it being such an internal, solo suffering. And what is he doing, playing hooky from work the day after he gets a big promotion? Does Hank want to go to El Paso? Will he? Marie says there’s “human heads” over there.
There’s more gorgeous color, and sound, when Walt and Jesse first meet in the desert to start thier cook. But all is not pretty for their cook, as they’re having a power struggle and trying to figure out how to work distribution. Walt wants to be i n control, big-time, but Jesse says, “You need me more than I need you, Walt,” the only time he ever calls Mr. White by his real name. And he comes up with a solution, even if Walt doesn’t like it. A third way.
He has on a different hat at his apartment when his buddies come over. Gotta love any scene with Combo, Badger and Skinny Pete. They are all just so funny together. My two favorite lines in that scene both come from Combo. After Jesse says his apartment will be “Asiany modern” (LOL), Combo goes, “Feng shui yo.” And my other favorite is later, when he says, “Church.”
Still, they have a plan, and Jesse sounds like he’s being pretty careful about things. Blind drops, no blue in his apartment, everything on the DL. And a nice meth-selling, money-exchanging montage to go along with it. Until Skinny Pete gets held up, anyway.
When Skyler confronts Marie and makes her apologize for the shoplifting and the lying, I geet the feeling she’s saying a lot of things to Marie that she wants to say to Walt, but can’t say to him. Because he has cancer, because she’s pregnant, because maybe she doesn’t want to know exactly what he’s lying about. Marie is easier to deal with in this way, simpler.
The DEA now knows the name Heisenberg. They’re hearing the name from every tweaker they pick up. Walt’s other identity has gone viral in the meth world.
The argument between Walt and Jesse at the end is really interesting. Walt, true to his trajectory this season, is pushing. He is not okay with making a little less than expected, butt it’s about more than that, because when Jesse, who wants to just let it go and consider it breakage like K-Mart has breakage, gives him some extra money to make up for the discrepancy caused by Skinny Pete being held up and threatened with a huge knife, Walt doesn’t want it. He throws it back.
I think that for Walt, it’s really about respect. And control. IIf these guys get away with robbing their operation, then Walt’s not in control of exactly how much money they’re making, and it means that people might disrespect him, might think that Heisenberg’s meth and the people who sell it are easy marks.
So he brings over the gun to Jesse’s new place and tells him to take care of it. What will Jesse do?
- Breaking Bad Episode 204 “Down”
- Breaking Bad Episode 203 “Bit by a Dead Bee”
- Breaking Bad Episode 202 “Grilled”
- Breaking Bad Episode 201 “Seven Thirty-Seven”
- Season 1 Episode Posts
- “Breakage” Insider Podcast
- Weak Interactions – The Science of Breaking Bad: Breakage
- Tim Goodman – Bastard Machine Deconstruction: Breakage