Breaking Bad Episode 311 “Abiquiu”

Episode-11-Walt-Saul-Skyler-760“Never make the same mistake twice.”

With every season, there’s a storm of bad stuff brewing that hits full tilt by the finale. This episode, like 211 “Mandala” last season, is setting the stage for that storm. The clouds are gathering and growing ominous. As tragic as last season’s end was with Jane’s death and the plane crash, the world of Breaking Bad is somehow darker now.

So many stories are going on at once. Hank is officially off the Heisenberg trail by now. He’s in incredible pain, struggling with PT and with not walking, and being rude to everyone around him, very real for his situation. At least for now, Hank has other things to focus on or wallow in that don’t involve looking for the blue meth mastermind. So that monkey is off Walt’s back.

Walt has been a bit out of sorts all season. He spent the first four or five episodes not cooking at all. Even after he did go back to being the maestro, he’s been all full of fear and subservient, knowing his place in the Gus empire. When was the last time we saw any sign of Heisenberg? He’s spent most of the season trying to manage everyone around him–get back in Skyler’s good graces, keep Jesse from suing Hank, do what he can to look out for Jesse who he knows is stealing from the superlab, keep Gus happy, make sure his family’s safe, make sure the RV doesn’t lead Hank to Jesse and himself, figure out where and how to launder his money, try unsuccessfully to confront Ted, pay for Hank’s treatment. Walt’s had a lot of extraneous stuff going on and he just doesn’t seem like himself.

In this episode, Skyler and Saul meet for the first time, and they do not like each other. Notice, though, that Walt hardly says anything throughout that whole scene, except to give Skyler credit for coming up Breaking.Bad.S03E11.720p.HDTV.X264-DIMENSION[18-57-30]with the gambling story. It’s like he doesn’t even have an opinion about his own money laundering. Skyler has a point. I think if Hank weren’t a factor, Walt could get away with the laser tag thing (and c’mon, it’d be cool). Walt could just be that relative who does something a little strange as part of mid-life I’ve-survived-cancer crisis. But with Hank, who’s probably familiar with drug-related money laundering, and who is on the trail specifically of Heisenberg, it’s different. They do have to be extra careful to have a story he won’t even think to question, especially since some of the drug money is going to him. And I don’t think Saul’s “Walt’s a scientist, scientists like lasers” will quite cut it (though there’s some truth in it!) so the carwash makes sense.

Skyler looks to be joining Team Walt for good here. She finally reveals that she never filed the divorce papers. It was very Walt of her to say the spouses can’t be compelled to testify against each other thing and then end with, “So there’s that.” In this episode, she continues a trajectory that’s been happening all season. She’s more on Walt’s side now. Even their conversations, though not exactly happy or lovey dovey, are certainly smoother. She’s also breaking bad herself. This has happened slowly. First she looked at the money. Then when Hank needed it (and she thought Walt was somehow connected) she offered Marie the drug money for Hank’s treatment and made up the gambling story. But now she’s going further, getting involved with the money laundering, even offering to be “the Danny.” She’s no longer wavering, she’s on a certain path now.

Jesse’s the one who has the storm clouds circling. He’s been stealing from the lab for a few episodes. Walt’s figured it out. Has Gus? It’s hard to say. When Gus says, “Never make the same mistake twice,” he must be referring to his advice last season, “Never trust a junkie.” Why is Gus saying that now? Is the superlab wired for sound like Walt suspected? Or does he just want Jesse out? Or does he want all of Walt’s loyalty for himself and know that a lot of it lies with Jesse?

Gus makes this comment about how he doesn’t get a chance to make his soup because “kids won’t eat it.” Most people take this to mean that Gus has kids, which is probably what it’s supposed to mean, but I took it a different way entirely. I took it to mean that Gus can’t cook food like that at the Los Pollos Hermanos restaurants because kids wouldn’t eat it, and LPH is a sorta fast food place where a lot of kids eat. I think I took it that way because I used to work in a camp kitchen, and sometimes we’d make food–for staff events or retreats that didn’t involve kids–really good food that we wished we could make all year round but we couldn’t because during the major season swarming with little ones, well, kids wouldn’t eat it. So Gus’s line made me think immediately of that and I related to his restaurant, not to his own possible children.

311indexWell, speaking of kids, which will continue to be a theme, Jesse, well, he gets involved fast. It’s kinda shady that he originally hooks up with Andrea (lotsa love to Emily Rios) to try to sell her meth. Not cool, but it takes a turn. God, I love how this show loses threads for awhile and then picks them back up in surprising ways. It’s been awhile since we thought about Combo and how he got killed, and now here it is. Andrea’s little brother Tomas was the shooter on the bike.

Jesse’s continuing to embrace his inner “bad guy.” This is illustrated so well when Badger and Skinny Pete can’t get on board. Badger says, “It’s like shooting a baby in the face, it’s not natural.” They are hilarious introducing themselves to Jesse and each other. Brandon and Peter. In fact, they’re both sorta taking the rehab seriously, or as seriously as these two can.

tumblr_malv5bs0uU1rfnl86o1_r1_1280We also get to see a really good side of Jesse and that is his love for children. He’s good with Brock, and as soon as Brock is in the picture, he thinks that doing any meth with Andrea is out of the question and won’t consider it. And after their little argument about that, he’s a good listener for her. I’ve gotta say, I loved Jesse and Jane, tragic as they were, and it was great to be reminded of them in the teaser (and loved how Jesse used Jane’s line about making a feeling last to try to sell meth to Andrea) but I really, really like Andrea. She’s got her own problems, for sure, and she and Jesse don’t have the same sort of star-crossed chemistry as Jesse and Jane, but I think she’s good for him, and not as tragic.

Combo’s death started the storm at this point in last season, and it looks to be starting a similar storm at the same point this season. What is Jesse going to do?

~Emilia J

Next Episode: Half Measures

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