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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 4 - Green Light

1 May 2013

Credit AMC

Synopsis: Walt goes to Beneke Fabricators and yells and screams at Ted. Mike pulls him out and Saul admits that he bugged the White house. Jesse uses some meth to pay for gas. When Hank hears that the Blue meth is back on the streets he runs away from his assignment in El Paso and jumps on the case. Walt acts out at work to get indefinitely suspended. Gus decides to buy Jesse’s meth and give half the cash to Walt to entice him back to work.

The Good: This was the first episode to feel Hank-centric and it was a compelling emotional story. Hank is afraid of being blown up in El Paso (amongst other things about the job which made him uncomfortable). In a tremendous bit of writing Marie doesn’t want him to go but he can’t be seen to be afraid in front of her. So he ends up talking her into it by pointing out that this will help achieve the career goals that she wants for him. Once the blue meth resurfaces he grabs the chance to stay with both hands. His desperation in interrogating poor Cara was superb. We can see how much he needs some evidence that will justify his retreat. His aggression towards Gomez was equally surprising and unsettling. In the end though Merkert sees right through his excuses and he is forced to admit to that he doesn’t want to go. It was all very sad stuff and put us in Hank’s corner. We know that his obsession with Heisenberg, as much as he’s using it as an excuse, is a valid quest.

Meanwhile Jesse really seems to have broken bad. Using the meth to pay for gas was a dark manipulative moment that took advantage of Cara’s age and attraction to him. The confrontation with Walt at school reminded us of their toxic dynamic. Jesse looks for approval for his clearly good product and Walt craps all over him. The possessiveness and intense pride over his work was married to his instinct to berate and control Jesse. Doubtless this moment hit all his Gray Matter buttons as he looked at another partner about to take credit for “his” meth.

Walt was up to some manipulative games of his own at work. It seems clear that there’s nothing wrong with him and he was putting on an act to get out of teaching. I guess he may still need his job as a cover but he doesn’t need the money and seems to have little interest in being there.

The White marriage continues to fail as poor Walter Jr has to sit confused through a sullen breakfast. Walt’s fury at Ted makes it clear how he feels about being cheated on and no matter how hilarious his anger was it was very good writing to remind us that Walt would not see Skyler’s actions as comparable with his. He feels that his motivations were pure while she just did real damage to their relationship. The comedy was good though. The heavy pot plant, the false friendliness after storming up to the reception, the hypocrisy of mocking Mike for being in a bad line of work and then hitting on the head teacher in sleepy mode. The best of all was launching himself at Saul after the euphemism “dirty, damp and deep” was used to describe Skyler and Ted.

Saul’s schemes were uncovered pretty quickly while Gus is clearly far more sophisticated. As if the difference needed illustrating in any more depth we have Saul on the phone making the ultimate shyster play with victims of the plane crash while Gus is doing a meticulous background check on Walt. The news of Donald’s attempted suicide is more tragedy for Walt to quickly bury in his emotional vault.

The Bad: I suppose the meth head trying to remember Mel or Mark was pretty blatant comic relief but it was brief and served the story just fine.

The Unknown: It seems fairly obvious what the scythe represents but I imagine there’s more to it than just death.

Best Moment: Hank grilling Cara was a really compelling scene in a different way than your average Breaking Bad showdown. We’ve not often seen Hank desperate and bullying like this. As a portrayal of his state of mind it was excellent and the undertone of two victims of the meth business both being reduced to tears (visible or otherwise) was powerful.

The Bottom Line: A really strong episode of storytelling. I felt invested and responsive to every part of this and it’s a huge credit to the show that the attention can shift to Hank and remain just as strong.

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  • @Matt: Eh, I don't know. She didn't bring the dangers of organized crime/drug dealing to her family's front door, so I feel that Walt deserves most of the blame for putting her in this position in the first place. Her desire to maintain a certain facade for her son as well as the false sense or security derived through inaction might be misguided, but I don't think that means Skyler deserves to be judged in the same boat as Gus/Walter because her "evils," if you want to call them that, are not even remotely on the same scale..?

    Viewer score: 70 / 100

    Posted by Dylan, 01/05/2013 12:40am (6 years ago)

  • I also thought of Gray Matter when seeing Walt's reaction to Jesse's own blue meth; how he couldn't handle someone else taking his place. This theme was also paralleled in his reaction towards Ted, even though to the best of our knowledge, both situations truly were caused by Walt. His teaching of his method to Jesse, allows Jesse to essentially become a rival. Lying to Skyler drove her out of their relationship. Hank is given a lifeline to hold onto, keeping himself away from El Paso and ironically, on Heisenberg's case. Even Donald Margolis' suicide attempt can be taken as the universe telling Walt that his actions have consequences.
    Having said that, I still am surprised that I seem to be in the minority of those that hold all the characters to the same standard of accountability. If Jesse's parents can see that tough love can be required, why not Skyler? She is not wrong to want her son to have his father figure, but she allows that to be an excuse for not reporting Walt. She is even offered a "way out" of her situation, to move in with Ted, but refuses in the hope that things will go the way she wants. All of this is not to say that I hate Skyler or don't sympathize with her, I just want to point out that her silent duplicity is widely excused because of her justification, whereas no one seems to have trouble holding Walt or Gus to blame. Suppose Donald had found Jane and Jesse strung out in bed instead of Walt, and Jesse had begun to OD and choke. Would it not be much easier to see the "grey area" of morality that might allow Donald to blame Jesse? In his mind he'd just be protecting his daughter. Skyler is trying to protect her family unit but, much like Walt doesn't seem to see that the damage has already been done.

    Viewer score: 67 / 100

    Posted by Matt E., 25/04/2013 4:32pm (6 years ago)

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