I have recently been trying to decide where Walter White registers as a villain. Not in terms of how memorable or fully fleshed-out (he’s near the top in both categories) but exactly how evil he ranks. If we’re to us Hitler at the top of the curve as someone who took advantage of an at-the-time run down country to fulfill his desire to wipe-out multiple groups of people, then Mr. White would be just below Anton Chigurh – Uncle Jack and crew being Nazis rinds us that Hank isn’t there – yet as he has done everything for his family.
That all changed at the beginning of “Ozymandis,” when Walt saw his brother in-law gunned down and lie in shock as the crew dug-up his earnings. Maybe he blames Jesse for Hank’s death but the look on Walt’s face as he uttered “Pinkman,” topped the “Empire Business,” in letting us know where he stands on the morality scale though it’s strange to think even Walter White could lose any more faith in humanity now that he’s entirely on his own. He can really only look out for number one – at least until he returns, presumably to rescue Jesse who should take anything he can get as he remembers to put the lotion on its skin.
Rian Johnson (Looper, Brick) continued the streak of the series most notable directors getting behind the camera one last time by delivering another episode with excellent direction, especially when it comes to the White family knife fight. Hand-to-hand combat has been pretty scarce and Johnson continued to bring his skills from his film work here.
The other big development was Skylar revealing to Flynn – I’m sure he’ll want to drop “Walt Jr.” at this point – that she and Walt are behind the Albuquerque meth industry. Again, Skylar’s biggest fear is when work comes home whether she’s condoning murder after Jesse spread gasoline on the carpet or Saul coming to get the A1 treatment. If it wasn’t clear before it is when she explains the situation to Flynn. It breaks her. Walt taking Holly away nearly destroys her.
Walt still won’t cause any serious physical harm to his family especially when he could have stabbed Flynn and Skylar. He’s willing to make them think he’s capable after taking credit for Hank’s murder. It was also just last episode he referred to Jesse as family and he through him to Uncle Jack without any thought.
I still expect the final episode to take place entirely in the flash forward and the penultimate episode should take us there. I said last week that I was disappointed the journey to the end was all too clear. Now, thankfully, I have no idea how we will get there.
Sorry for the tardiness this week. I make it a point to get these out by noon on Monday’s but unfortunately some personal obligations got in the way. Thankfully there’s a lot to talk about this week
“Branding” was thrown all over this episode. Lydia gave a lecture to Uncle Jack and crew about the importance that Todd’s slightly improved – albeit still bellow standard – product is blue, Walt Jr. learns to tell everyone he sees to have an “A-1 Day,” and Saul makes sure he’s our “one call” when we get a DUI. However the best brand this week was that of series-veteran Michelle MacLaren who directed one of the most memorable episodes and sequences of the show’s five season run.
While it was obvious the cell phone photo was a fabrication – credit to production for using flip phones because we are only in roughly 2009 – Walt’s drive to his secret stash is one of the most exciting sequences the show has ever done. It was surprising to see Jesse continually drop his catchphrase during his conversation was surprising as the character’s catharsis didn’t carry through the audience thankfully it was still riveting.
Vince Gilligan is emphasizing that the end is near and we only have making it very clear there are only three episodes left. The final sequence of this rang very similar to “The Red Wedding,” the penultimate episode of the most recent season of Game of Thrones. We’ll have to wait till next week to see what happens in the gunfight but Hank finally catching Walt, his phone call with Marie and my theory that the final episode will be all flash-forward put strong odds on Hank sinking to the bottom of a hydrochloric acid barrel.Audiences being trained to expect the worst for good people who achieve their goals hurts the cliffhanger here. The show hasn’t ever bothered me with the way it creates cliffhangers in the middle of big events even though I’m more partial to game changers that emphasize the changing of the game board like Game of Thrones, The Sopranos or The Wire but here it only seems like a matter of minutes into next week’s episode when we are mourning the loss of Hank Schrader.
Last week I had issues with the coincidence in Hank and Jesse leaving the White residence just before Walt returned. Uncle Jack’s arsenal showing up at the end avoided that by planting the proper motivation. While Todd’s skills have improved, he won’t be appearing on Bravo’s “Top Meth Chef” anytime soon they need Walt’s skills – it looks more and more like they’re going to have to settle for Jesse though. This again show’s the skill of MacLaren’s direction in hiding the clues like Saul wearing a bulletproof vest.
At this point the rest of the series is laid out fairly clear. I’d be lying if I wasn’t a little disappointed. I can’t decide if any show can live up to the expectations for its ending or if it’s an issue with this specific story. For some reason, I want something more grand than Walt saving Jesse from Uncle Jack in the same way the “cork,” analogy was underwhelming on “Lost.” This time though, I have no doubt it’s going to be exciting. While the path for the final three episodes seems fairly laid out in front of us I wouldn’t put it past the show to put another trick or two past us.
So far this season has been all about the relatively non-violent confrontations that started with Hank and Walt meeting in the garage in the premiere, Marie and Skylar at the White residence and now the public meeting at Garduños – along with Jesse and Walt’s meeting in the desert. Each made a point to prove the tension between its characters is far more potent than the violence – assuming no one will kill their others. Let’s look at each confrontation by themselves.
Since establishing their positions in the past two episodes, it makes sense that the four members of the White/Schrader clan would meet in a local restaurant – with table side guac that they make at the table. The White’s wearing the blandest, most conservative of beige’s while Hank and Marie donned their darkest black’s and purples as a clever play on the classic white vs. black hat heroes and villains of classic westerns. After Dean and Marie refusing the White’s request to back off because it’s all over – not to mention Marie saying she’d consider it if Walt sent himself to Belize – Walt drops the last hammer, a confession saying Hank forced him to cook meth, making full use of the sympathies granted to cancer victims.
“Breaking Bad,” is known for using even the smallest of story threads to their end though it’s use of Walt and Skylar funding Hank’s physical therapy seems to be the least likely to have been planned since Season 3. While it doesn’t help that Marie took the money, I would imagine – with an understanding of our justice system at a third-grade level – that the Schrader’s would have some level of plausible deniability. Also, if Hank was running a meth operation, wouldn’t he have the money to pay for it himself of which he would grant Walt access for this purpose?
Either way, Hank and Marie’s viewing party as both the audience and the Schrader’s learn the true nature of Walt’s “Confession” is the standout that tops both the Garduños and desert meeting. Seeing the couple’s different reactions – Marie’s terror, Hank’s Anger – is as telling about Hank’s control as much as their personality. Admittedly, Marie is still coming to terms with Hank’s true colors.
Less surprising was the re-emergence of Walt poisoning Brock at the end of season 4. In my first recap of the final eight, I incorrectly guessed that Hank’s discovery drove him to wreck the White house never seeing that their were two revelations – the other being the discovery that Walt let Jane die – that would drive Jesse into pure madness.
With Jesse dumping champagne over the White residence and Todd getting back into the meth game, it’s only a matter of time before Heisenberg has to off someone. With his confession likely putting any meetings with Hank and Marie on hold, leaving Jesse, Todd, Saul and Lydia as his only options. The peace has to come to an end sooner or later.
Hey, this is a recap so there are spoilers for last night’s episode and past seasons of “Breaking Bad” so if you haven’t seen every episode, catch-up and come back.
It’s no surprise that “Buried,” doesn’t pack the dramatic-punch of “Blood Money.” Tonally, it was the true “first episode” of this half-season where the show readjusted for the direction and character dynamics of these final episodes. This marked by the opening scene where the old man stumbles on the money Jesse started throwing out of his car to then find Jesse back in his trance only to disappear until the final scene – much like the kid from the train robbery. Having is conversation with Hank pushed till next week was a welcomed contrast to last week’s showdown.
As for those new dynamics, its even more clear this is going to be as much Hank and Marie’s season as it is Hank, Skylar and Jesse as was truly evident in the focus on Hank and Marie’s drive home from the White house. They have also taken the active role with a clear goal for the season whereas Walt and Skylar’s path are now a mystery, though that’s been one of the more compelling mysteries of this season.
Also slowing things down, Walt spent the majority of the episode digging holes for the storage locker money which is great because we needed to get up to speed on everyone else – except for Walt Jr./Flynn who was absent from this episode. Skylar, could have gone a number of ways when Hank confronted her with his discovery. Kudos to Anna Gunn who kept her intentions well hidden during her conversation with hank all through to the her home visit from Marie. With the reputation Skylar has built with fans as a nucience to Walt’s empire building, it’s surprising she didn’t drop Hank entirely. Then again, if I had a enough cash for Scrooge McDuck’s jacuzzi, I’d play the Tammy Wynette role as well.
We also caught up with Lydia who is set on fixing her own problems by any means necessary, even if it mean’s hiring Todd’s uncle and friend’s to send her current crew on an all-inclusive, one-way trip to Belize. Aside from pleasantly surprising fact that Jesse Plemmons has had one of the successful careers of the Dillon Alumni, it was important that we caught up with him after he was absent last week. While I would have loved to see him nearly set the the train-car lab ablaze played to comedic effect, I’m sure we’ll see him continue add at least one more tear tattoo this year.
“Blood Money,” was an incredible hour of television and post script to last season but now were in full new season mode. Six episodes isn’t a a lot of time but its more than enough to allow us to reevaluate and recalibrate to the storylines of the season beyond “the end.”