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Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad is a drama about Walter White, a chemistry professor who is diagnosed with lung cancer. He enlists the help of his former student Jesse Pinkman to manufacture and sell methamphetamine. AMC 2008-???

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Episode 7 - Negro Y Azul

23 October 2013

Credit AMC

Synopsis: Hank struggles at his new job. He doesn’t understand the language or the culture of compromise. Jesse is now a feared man in Albuquerque since it’s assumed that he did in Spooge. Walt decides that they should now expand and raise their price. Skyler applies for a job at her old workplace and her former boss Ted Beneke welcomes her back.

The Good: This was a plot episode where all the characters made steps forward in their various endeavours.

Hank’s story was the most viscerally engaging as he struggled to fit in down in El Paso. He doesn’t understand the culture on the border where the US is forced to do deals with various Mexican drug dealers in order to try and prevent their product from entering the States. He is used to motivating his troops with funny racist banter but here where Spanish is widely spoken and a healthy respect is paid to informants he seems lost. Things get far worse though when he experiences more post-traumatic stress symptoms upon seeing a severed head. Then the head explodes as the Cartel send a nasty message to the meddling Americans.

I suppose through Tuco and Tio the idea of the Mexican Drug Cartel was already present on the show. However they were reintroduced here in spectacular fashion. Not just the casual brutality of what happened to “The Turtle” (the beheaded informant) but the music video which opened the episode. A brilliantly original way to introduce the exposition that the Cartel will not take kindly to Heisenberg cornering the market in Albuquerque and featuring the warning line that Walt is dead “he just doesn’t know it yet.” Through Hank’s story we see the Cartel in action and introducing this future danger for Walt and Jesse was very nicely accomplished.

Skyler’s return to work makes sense on the heels of Gretchen “cutting the money off.” The dialogue was excellent in each scene where we learnt more about the relationship between Skyler and her new\old boss Ted Beneke. With Marie we hear that he once made a pass at her while drunk at an office party. From Walt we can strongly suspect that there was more to it than that (aided by the shot of Skyler looking at a photo of Ted back in 201) as Skyler clearly lied about why she quit the company. Then once she is chatting to Ted we can see that there is still tension between them and now that he has inherited the company from his Dad and split from his wife he seems quite happy to welcome her back. The introduction of another life (and a lie) for Skyler is intriguing, we shall have to see where it goes.

I was very pleased to see Jesse suffering psychologically from what he went through with Spooge. Like Hank he is being haunted by what he had to go through and Walt even apologises for pushing him into it. But Walt has accidentally gotten exactly what he wanted and Jesse now has a reputation for violence ensuring that no one will cross him anytime soon. The development of Jesse’s romance with Jane took place in an understated and cute way.

I enjoyed the scene where Walt told one of his students not to bullshit him. His new attitude may have positive effects on his teaching and once more he tells a student to “Apply yourself!” His coughing was also particularly severe which he hid from Skyler. It’s presumably been a little while since his last treatment and it seems like it’s not getting better.

A few good lines of comedy help keep things moving such as Badger being told not to use his real name and pointing out that Badger “isn’t my real name.” Later Walter Jr asks Walt to assess Skyler’s work outfit (but he doesn’t know she has a job) and he asks whether there’s a funeral today.

The Bad: Hank’s fake laugh at his colleague’s Spanish joke wasn’t convincing anyone. It was also convenient and seemed very weird that a random biker would recognise Jesse and yell out in public how great it was that he had smashed someone’s head in. Ok he didn’t say that but it still seemed very unlikely that anyone would accost Jesse in public to comment on that. 

The Unknown: Walt wants to expand the operation across the whole city and raise the price. Both moves make sense to him but Jesse warns that invading other people’s territory could cause big problems. Later in the episode though Jesse is jazzed at the idea. I hope we get more explanation as to why he no longer thinks that will cause trouble. After all, he knows that his reputation is nonsense so shouldn’t he still be concerned?

Best Moment: The music video was such a clever, entertaining and original idea. Instead of contriving a way to tell us about the Cartel the producers found quite the amazing way to just spell it out.

The Bottom Line: This was an enjoyable episode which drove the plot forward on multiple fronts. The luck which built Jesse’s rep here is still running in Walt and Jesse’s favour but you get the impression that it can’t last.

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Comments

  • Powerful episode. Walt becoming more and more despicable; Hank becoming more and more lovable; Jesse becoming more and more complex and endearing; Skylar becoming more decisive. Troubled by the fact that Walt showed no distress at not having heard about Skyler's job earlier. Very unrealistic. And how did those DEA guys walk into such a clear trap?

    Viewer score: 90 / 100

    Posted by avidkayaker50, 23/10/2013 4:05am (6 years ago)

  • In the Insider Podcast for Breaking Bad episode 207, available on Itunes, Vince Gilligan and his crew talk about the tradition of Narcocorridos which are all over YouTube. The Mexican musicians are funded and sponsored by the drug dealers to write and perform songs to celebrate the exploits of the drug dealers. They give lots of information on how they found the band and wrote the song. Very interesting podcast for Breaking Bad fans.

    Posted by Kris, 31/01/2013 5:49pm (7 years ago)

  • I've always been bothered by the music video. I don't know if we are supposed to believe that it is "real" or not. If so, they had some specific information such as the exact look of the trailer that seems implausible. I mean, did the police ever see the music video? If it is not "real" then it seems totally out of step with the tone of the rest of the show, which is not usually given to flights of fanciful whimsy like the video. Anyways, it's a blot on the show's record for me, and I'm surprised you enjoyed it so much.

    Viewer score: 65 / 100

    Posted by Justin, 29/01/2013 6:37am (7 years ago)

  • Regarding your question in The Unknown, I think Jesse was sucked in by Walt’s ‘Blowfish’ peptalk. Jesse felt like he had completely failed at playing the Tuco role, but Walt convinces Jesse that he succeeded brilliantly even if it was by pure fluke. Jesse is so used to being insulted and degraded by Walt that any rare moment that Walt chooses to build up his ego has a huge impact on Jesse’s self esteem. Jesse is also so stoned in the Blowfish scene he seems blind to Walt’s manipulations. But even if Jesse is aware that Walt is using him as a puppet drug lord…can Jesse really refuse Walt’s demands? If Jesse can’t pay Jane rent he’ll wind up homeless again. It’s already been shown that Jesse has no family or friends who’ll take him in and no other career prospects besides the very crappiest of minimum wage jobs. Making meth with Mr White is Jesse’s best option for staying afloat and so Jesse has to put up with Walt’s greedy controlling nature.

    The Blowfish scene was my favourite moment of the episode and I really like how Walt’s Blowfish metaphor could be applied to many other characters in the show. Hank for example is another character who “puffs himself up” with macho bravado to hide his fear and vulnerability, particularly in this episode where he is faced with the frightening world of the Mexican cartels. Then there is Walt’s own Heisenberg persona which he uses to make himself intimidating and to scare the bigger fish of the drug world. I think being a Blowfish is a ‘fake it till you make it’ strategy that a lot of BB characters use to survive. So I can see why Jesse embraced the Blowfish identity Walt gave him, because it was the perfect antidote to the trauma and weakness Jesse was feeling after his ordeal at the Spooge’s house.

    Viewer score: 77 / 100

    Posted by Kelly, 19/01/2013 4:45pm (7 years ago)

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