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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 6 - Peekaboo

21 October 2013

Credit AMC

Synopsis: Jesse heads to the house of Spooge and his partner but finds only their young son waiting there. He threatens them while trying to protect the kid from seeing anything damaging. Gretchen calls to see how Walt is and Skyler thanks her sincerely for paying for his treatment. Gretchen is taken aback but doesn’t give the game away. Walt goes to see her and blames her for cutting him out of “Gray Matter.”

The Good: This was a really strong episode with two distinct and memorable stories for Walt and Jesse.

Jesse’s trip to the Spooge household was surprisingly emotive. In typical Breaking Bad fashion Jesse is exposed as an utter fraud (in trying to play Tuco) as he shakes with nerves and is then frozen when the friendly mail lady comes by. Once inside the house we get our first proper glimpse of the life of real junkies. Their home is a filthy mess and worst of all their infant son sits alone all day seemingly unaware of the outside world or his parents’ problems.

The choice to give the Spooge’s a young son was fascinating. He was the most innocent looking victim you could find for the industry that Jesse has chosen to work in. In a way the show underlined the moral certainty that what Walt and Jesse are doing is wrong by casting him. In the short term though it humanised Jesse - a middle class kid caught up in a game that has become increasingly real. His concern for the boy was very touching. The way he fed and entertained him and then shielded him from the violence that was coming was deeply admirable. The decision to show us that he only had one shopping channel to entertain him was brilliant as it communicated the sadness of his existence in a thoroughly relatable way. The final moment was pretty heart breaking as Jesse wishes the boy a good life while knowing that a life of foster homes and emotional problems is the best he can hope for.

The decision to cast the boy seems doubly sensible the more time we spent with Spooge and his partner. Although their addiction was tragic and desperate it was also unavoidably comic (pulling drugs out of their asses and Jesse yelling when he sees the ATM “Yo that’s my bank!). Their pathetic excuses forced Jesse into ever more hoarse impersonations of Tuco or similar bullies (including getting them to empty their pockets). Their story about how they smoothly stole an ATM machine from a store was cut into with footage of the store owner lying dead in a pool of his blood, again a moment tinged with comedy and tragedy. The death of Spooge seemed like a fairly simple moment to free Jesse while demonstrating their utter meth-addled disconnection from reality. However it also served to illustrate Jesse’s morality again as he leaps up to try and prevent the murder even though it will benefit him. The whole experience was, in its own way, as disturbing for Jesse as his abduction by Tuco. I really hope the writers can adequately show us the consequences of what Walt pushed Jesse into doing. 

Walt meanwhile suffered from a very logical turn of events as Gretchen called to see how he was. Again I thought the choices the writers made were terrific. Gretchen clearly loved Walt once and so she doesn’t drop him in it when she realises the lies he’s been telling Skyler. Instead she comes round to find out more and both Skyler and Walter Jr were quite movingly sincere in their thanks to her. I thought Skyler’s thanks in particular was a lovely moment after all Walt has put her through. So Gretchen and Walt sit down together and she is understandably angry while he clings to his bitterness like a blanket. As we suspected after “Gray Matter” (105) Walt feels that he was pushed out and their millions should be his. We don’t get the full story but Gretchen’s reply that he left her and their relationship with inadequate explanation sounds closer to the truth. Did Walt’s warped pride ruin him in a way that the sympathetic portrayal of his life in the Pilot couldn’t tell us? It was a terrifically acted confrontation in the restaurant culminating in Walt letting rip with a “F*ck you!”

Gretchen cunningly calls Skyler to tell her that she and Elliott won’t be paying anymore and leaves Walt in a hole. A hole he clearly loves climbing out of by telling her that Gray Matter has gone bankrupt. Skyler is suspicious of this though leaving us unsure as to whether she really believes yet another of his lies. It will be interesting to see if she investigates the truth of that although I suppose the financial strength of a company would be hard to be sure of. Walt’s certainly becoming more wrapped up in his villainy. First he pushes Jesse into unnecessary violence, then he tears into Gretchen after she was kind enough not to expose him and then he uses her lie to try and trick Skyler. He’s so invested in his way of doing things that he is hurting everyone around him through stubbornness.

Earlier Walt begins to normalise his life by returning to teaching and dealing with the expected jokes about his public nudity. During class he also reveals a little of his bitter streak when talking about another great scientist who was inadequately rewarded.

The Bad: Nothing I can think of. The Spooge’s were a deliberate comic-tragic choice rather than misplaced comedy amongst genuine drama.

The Unknown: Jesse lets a little bug crawl over his hand just before he meets Skinny Pete. It seemed to be showing that Jesse just didn’t have it in him to go through with the threats he was about to hurl at Spooge. But it also reminded me of Hank’s comments last week about how Tuco was a cockroach and he just squashed him. It’s never that easy is it?

Will Spooge’s partner be able to identify Jesse as being involved or is she too messed up for that to matter? Between killing him and the guy at the store the police may not care about a random drug dealer who was also involved.

Best Moment: The final moment really was sad as Jesse tries to do right by a kid whose life he inadvertently helped ruin.

The Bottom Line: Breaking Bad is such an impressive show. This was such a different episode than any that have come before. Jesse and Walt’s stories were so different from one another and yet both played with the tragic consequences of their actions in very entertaining ways.

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  • why does the atm machine suddenly open for Jesse as he strokes it down the side? why didn't he take more money?

    Viewer score: 90 / 100

    Posted by avidkayaker, 21/10/2013 3:01am (6 years ago)

  • re dealing- morally speaking,myself as a straight ex H drugdealer-car drops only-its a slippery slope once u open the dealing jackpot door.
    i was a snob dealer(musicians,comedians,9 to 5 workers.!crazy rationale i know)
    I laid down the compartmental law... no dealing to mothers,teenagers.youths etc but my dealing partner- who succumbed to a gambling addiction frm the dealing lifestyle-karma-he got desperate/greedy-he ended up dealing to a mother with a 2yr old girl in tow-who i eneded up in remand with- & also my partner sold often to a professional home burgular who lived at his middle class parents house& strangely looked/spoke like jude law.
    i split when it started turning-got too ugly,nasty.
    dealing hard drugs to addicts is fucking evil.
    quick dirty money makes people blind.
    life is too precious.

    Posted by angst, 20/10/2013 12:16pm (6 years ago)

  • this was a brilliant but gut wrenching episode-the tragic little meth urchin.
    Liitle red-haired ghost-was eery, like looking at a squalid workhouse kid frm a old black & white photo.
    "if there are no [chemical] bonds everything falls apart.

    Posted by angst, 20/10/2013 11:50am (6 years ago)

  • Walt only appeared to be a decent guy merely because he was helt in check by the laws, demands, and expectations of society, his boses and his wife.

    And I agree w derek below. Probably Walt was not at all screwed by Grey Matter as he carries on about so much.

    And finally another small point. Often on the latter episodes I hear the critisism that now the show is taking short cuts. Evidence is how initialy it took multiple episodes for them to commit a couple murders and then deal w the consequences, whereas in season five the train hiezt is all done w/in a single show.

    For me this is fine. They have already shown that they do in fact deal w all the details and consequences. Generaly I dont need to repeatedly see all of this for every action every time. It is not an at all incredible leap for me to assume that as they have learned to do it and that they did.

    This came to mind as in your Peekaboo cast you were comparing newer episodes w the old and that came to mind.

    Posted by babrock, 30/01/2013 3:30pm (7 years ago)

  • my wife and I both enjoyed your cast on peekaboo . And it has propted me to make a couple points.

    We both have done a fair amount of drugs. And while there are substantial costs to this decicion , we always thought it was our decicion to make and no one elsesand our responsibility. No one ever twisted our arms. If we had had kids we might feel differently about it. But we never did.

    Anyway we both disagreed w you that Jessie is responsible for the sorry state of the Spooge family. He neither twisted their arms on the drugs or having a kid. I got the impression that she at least allowed abuse of her boy. And that if it were not crystal, it would be somethi.g else.

    Also we both liked how you characterized how initially, at least, we all felt Walt was dealt a bad hand and so of course he ought to be able to sell drugs and make lots of money. If that were all Walt ever did then my sympathy would still be w him. But BB is the story of Walt breaking bad. And so making lots of money is the least of Walts faults.

    On rewatch it appears Walt was an egocentri, prick all along

    Viewer score: 80 / 100

    Posted by babrock, 30/01/2013 3:13pm (7 years ago)

  • I actually enjoy "slower" episodes of Breaking Bad as much as the action packed episodes but I haven't commented on them because there is nothing for me to add. After listening to the podcast for Peekaboo though I finally have something to say.

    I have always wanted to find out what exactly happened with Walt and Gray Matter. Breaking Bad doesn't leave a lot of loose threads and this has always been a glaring one and at this point in the series I always assumed it would remain one. However after thinking about this episode I think we will get a cold open explaining Gray Matter in the second half of season five. I marathoned all five seasons of Breaking Bad in a pretty short amount of time so every episode runs together. And I always felt the story of Walter White was a mild mannered science teacher becoming an amoral drug lord; that Walt's break with morality was due to his cancer. I think it is becoming more and more clear that Walt was kind of always a cynical and controlling bastard. We don't know what happened with Gray Matter but I think it's safe to assume that Walt is not nearly as slighted as he believed he was. Walt most likely wanted more control than he probably deserved or was right and saw the refusal for that control as a slight. Look at the flashback scene with Gretchen and Walt in "...And the Bag's in the River" the "what about the soul?" scene Walt comes off as completely domineering and sinister in that scene especially when you look at it with a season five perspective. I think we really need to see a scene with Walt before cancer and before Skyler again on the show just to make the story come full circle. The more I think about it the more it seems like Walt always was as self serving and cruel as he has become in season 5 and life had just beaten him down in the nebbish guy in the pilot. Walt has been exhibiting fits of rage since the very first episode (when he beats up the bully in the clothing store) and that level of rage isn't gained it's something inherent in him.

    By the way, since I didn't mention it at all yet "Peekaboo" is one of my favorite Breaking Bad episodes anything that focuses is on Jesse is a win in my book. Spooge and Skank (if that is her actual character name that's hilarious) aren't nearly as threatening as Tuco but they definitely are a source of uncomfortably throughout the episode and while it never feels like Jesse might die, the feeling of uneasiness permeates the episode in the best way. The moment Jesse makes his way into the home of Spooge and Skank you know that nothing good will come of it and of course being Breaking Bad that feeling is right.

    Viewer score: 80 / 100

    Posted by Derek, 18/01/2013 6:04am (7 years ago)

  • I really liked your observation on last week's podcast that Jesse has a habit of copying other people. Right after he repeats Jane's "D.B.A.A." line Jesse adds "Apply yourself!" the words Walt wrote on Jesse's chemistry test. And even though we think of "Bitch" as Jesse's own buzzword another character who said "Bitch" excessively was Tuco, so it's appropriate that Jesse is saying Bitch over and over when he is psyching himself up to play the part of a crazy menacing drug lord.

    'Peekaboo' offers such interesting contrasting Walt and Jesse arcs. While Walt's story with Gretchen characterized him as a good family man on the surface who has a far darker nature starting to emerge from with, Jesse's story shows the complete opposite. Jesse is actually a sweet soft-hearted guy who has become trapped in his nasty lowlife dealer role. This episode always makes me wonder if Jesse can achieve some manner of redemption and 'break good' in the end or whether he's doomed to being dragged down into hell with Mr White.

    Viewer score: 88 / 100

    Posted by Kelly, 15/01/2013 6:38pm (7 years ago)

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