Among Breaking Bad’s best attributes is the way the show manages its pace. When the show moves slowly, like it has the last few weeks, it never feels like it is stalling. It doesn’t put off plot points or create artificial obstacles to stop the next obvious thing from happening. And yet, it lulls you with this pacing so that when things finally explode and suddenly people are staring at death, you can’t help but wonder how we got here and how things go so wrong so fast. Just like Walt himself.
This week’s Breaking Bad felt almost like it was split in two. After another rousing Mike Adventure (this time with him getting part of his ear shot off), the first half settles in on Skyler and Walt telling Hank and Walt Jr their new cover story for the first time. For Skyler, lying to family members and building cover stories is still a new thing, and she wants to make sure she has as much control over it as possible. There’s plenty of humor in this scene (especially meta humor, like when Skyler talks about emphasizing the cancer part of the story at first to make Walt more sympathetic), but at the same time there’s an undercurrent of desperation. Skyler, for her part, is grasping for control anyway possible over something that is way out of her league right now (like the way she bitterly tells Walt that she’s not as good at lying as him). Walt, for his part, continues to be disgusted with himself for bringing Skyler into this and also resentful, since Skyler makes the script as much about punishing Walt as telling a convincing story.
But he’s not nearly as disgusted as he is at Hank’s, where he ends up spending a little more time with Gale. Gale, it turns out, is an accomplished karaoke singer (ascot and all), in addition to being a meth cook. It looks like working on Gale’s investigation has helped Hank get some confidence back and the show didn’t waste anytime in letting Walt see Hank’s file on Gale. Hank’s pet theory right now is that Gale was Heisenberg, and Walt works around the W.W. that was in Gale’s journal, but Walt knows that any sort of investigation only makes him and Jesse more of a liability to Gus.
For Walt, the problem is a lack of professionalism, as he vents to Saul. Mike is punching him, Gus is cutting people’s throats open, Skyler is no longer in the dark, Jesse is disconnected from everything, and Walt feels like he is running out of options. Is it time to cut his losses and make a full escape? Saul suggests a person who can make Walt and his family disappear, but Walt refuses. As usual, he seems to feel he can think his way out of an impossible situation instead of getting out while he can.
As for Jesse, things continue to spiral worse and worse for him, not because he doesn’t understand his situation, but because he does understand it and doesn’t care. Unlike Walt, he’s already thought about the police and isn’t worried about it (if they had his fingerprints, after all, he would already be in jail) and he is less impressed with Mike’s display of power with the guy who stole Jesse’s cash. Jesse is pushing out the world and anything he might still have connections to in it (like Walt) and Mike, Walt, and Saul can all tell that something is going to break.
But even with all of that, the ending is a whopper. Jesse doesn’t show up to work and Walt goes to get him, only to find an empty apartment and Jesse’s cell phone. That’s because Jesse is in a car with Mike, heading off to parts unknown for reasons that are unclear. Jesse’s such an important character that my brain tells me he’s probably safe, but Breaking Bad is so successful at building tension and making it seem like anything is possible that, well, it is going to be a stressful week.
Jonah’ Score: 81
TUiW Grade: A-
-The cold open was pretty badass. My favorite show was the one of the two hitmen flying out the back of the truck.
-As always, great work from Bob Odenkirk, who managed to show real concern for Walt even underneath the layers of sleaze.
-Finally, I don’t know if you keep up with or care about the business of the show, but apparently negotiations between AMC and Breaking Bad had gotten strained and there was talk that the show could finish on another network. However, it looks like that may be resolving and to me, the most interesting thing is that all of this talk has revolved around the next season potentially being the last of Breaking Bad. As much as I love the show, I think ending it in a season or two is a great idea, if only because I don’t know how much longer Heisenberg can continue to cheat death.