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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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Viewer
65
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Episode 5 - Mas

1 December 2013

Credit AMC

Synopsis: In flashback we see who Jesse got the RV from and in the present Combo’s room allows Hank to finally make a connection between Jesse and the Blue Meth. In the meantime Hank pushes Marie away and awkwardly wishes Gomez well as he takes the El Paso job. Walt goes to see Gus and turns down his job offer. However Gus shows Walt the new super lab he’s built and encourages him to provide for his family. Skyler reaches the point where she actively considers accepting Walt back into her life.

The Good: I can imagine this was a period of Breaking Bad which tested the loyalty of casual viewers. It’s been five episodes of very patient character dynamics and police work to bring us to a new collision. Personally I’ve really enjoyed it. I was so impressed with the season two arc which showed us Skyler swallow her misgivings before finally discovering the truth. Now we’ve seen her try to drive Walt out but realise that to do she will destroy her family.

I feel like the writing has done a strong job of showing us Skyler’s point of view. In previous episodes we’ve focussed on how any arrest would affect Walter Jr or Hank or just Skyler’s material wealth. But here we got a pretty moving comment when she tells her lawyer that “I didn’t marry a criminal.” Skyler’s been so angry with Walt’s lies that it would be easy to forget the love which sustained their marriage for so many years. With Walt refusing to move out, demonstrating that he can still be a good father and the temptation that comes with a bag full of money Skyler begins to buckle. She refuses to enjoy Ted’s company for a second longer (covering his heated floor with a towel) and seems prepared to give Walt another chance.

The wonderful twists and turns which the show delivers only work because they are so patient and so thorough. Just as Skyler reaches a point of forgiveness, Walt turns back to the meth. Gus Fring plays him like a fiddle. Walt marches into his office so satisfied with himself for seeing through Gus’ play with Jesse’s money. Walt assures Gus that his pride can’t be manipulated so easily and yet that’s exactly what happens. While Skyler refuses the seduction of Ted’s bathroom, Walt ends up giving in to Gus’ beautiful lab. At last Walt is receiving the kind of first class treatment that he believes his genius deserves. But that wasn’t quite enough. He still resisted until Gus nailed him where his real soft spot is. Gus tells him to ignore his family’s ingratitude because being a man means providing no matter what. This seemed to tap right into Walt’s altered psychology. Being Heisenberg makes him feel alive and vital and perhaps more of a man. To justify it all he needed to hear someone confirm him in his view that he is righteous. Gus handed him the excuse he needed to go back to cooking and feel good about it.

Hank’s experience ends up influencing Skyler too. He is embarrassing himself on his RV hunt (scaring a couple playing cards in their underwear) and is furious that Marie can see the fear he’s dealing with. When she talks to Skyler she points out that Hank’s brush with death (202) has affected him and Skyler clearly makes the link with Walt’s cancer which she can cling to to help explain his behaviour.

Jesse gets screwed by Walt’s decision. He has no way to distribute his product safely and won’t be able to live his new “f*ck you” life without meth money. By smashing Walt’s windshield we have another visual motif to go along with the eyeball as that windshield just can’t keep it together.

I don’t often notice music but the track playing as Gus showed Walt the lab was tremendous. It conjured up a sense of wonder and discovery that captured Walt’s reaction to seeing a work space worthy of his talent. We got more good Saul dialogue as he quickly dumps Jesse and goes sniffing around Walt once the news of the new deal comes in. I also loved Skyler’s lawyer’s reaction to her situation. She lays out her opinion of what Skyler’s doing calling her an “accessory after the fact” and a “fool” whose justifications were “horseshit.” That writing underlined in believable fashion that Skyler has no moral leg to stand on. That doesn’t make her situation unsympathetic but it lets us know that she is choosing her family over what is conventionally right (morally and legally).

The moment where Hank wished Gomez well in El Paso was pretty touching as he covered the ambivalent emotions nicely.

The Bad: Nothing as such.

The Unknown: I’m not sure what Skyler’s moment of indulgence (when she let him hold baby Holly) meant to Walt. Did he see her giving in in this small way as a sign that he should give her what she wants (he moves out and signs the divorce papers)? Or did he think her quick disappearance from the dinner table imply that it was futile to keep pushing? Perhaps the inch she gave allowed him to take a foot and assume that he could continue cooking because she was starting to come around and allowing him to provide for his children (as Gus told him to do).

The tease sequence was a fun flashback to remind us of Combo’s situation and connect him to the RV and the RV to Jesse. It helps explain why the seemingly crappy RV was the best Jesse could get with Walt’s life savings. However I suppose part of me doesn’t think this quite holds up as a retroactive piece of storytelling. Jesse, for all his foolishness, seemed to take the initial cooking trip seriously enough not to blow all his money with no thought as to how to secure an RV.

Best Moment: Skyler’s conversation with her lawyer was very strong. They both realise that Skyler is using the session as therapy and her lawyer is crystal clear about what the sensible legal course of action would be. However Skyler’s description of being paralysed and feeling like she’s drowning was understandable and sympathetic.

The Bottom Line: It seems like this was Breaking Bad reminding us that bad decisions will keep piling on top of one another. If Walt had resisted Gus then it looks like Skyler would have slowly forgiven him. However Walt feels more alive being Heisenberg than waiting for Skyler and so it looks like the family love he risked it all for is now forfeit. Meanwhile Hank is on a collision course with a bitter Jesse which can’t end well for either of them right?

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  • My take on the scene where Walt is holding the baby is that he turns around to share this moment with Skyler, expecting them to be a family again, but she's gone. It seems like Skyler walks away because, while she has enough forgiveness to allow Walt that moment with his baby, she's not ready for more yet. But Walt, thinking she's now let him back in and perhaps understands all he did for them, is surprised when she's gone. The family moment turns out to be just him alone with his child - a father, but not a husband. This plays right into Gus's assertion that Walt's children are his family. It seems like a catalyst to make him decide to fully take on that role Gus laid out for him - being an absent provider.

    Posted by R., 26/03/2015 5:17am (5 years ago)

  • Feminist? :-) Please tell me more...

    Posted by The TV Critic, 01/12/2013 8:08pm (6 years ago)

  • I like the meticulousness of your description. But I believe your point of view is too moralistic and feminist.

    Viewer score: 51 / 100

    Posted by Ali, 01/12/2013 5:38pm (6 years ago)

  • It's been a while since I saw this but didn't he get a list of license plates for the type of RV that Jesse was driving?

    Posted by The TV Critic, 29/11/2013 10:29am (6 years ago)

  • I'm continuing to watch 1 ep a night and your review podcast, my whole life seems to be centered around BB!!
    I have 1 big query re Hank's investigation, we saw the user giving Hank some spurious names and somehow he'd set up a list which led him to the petrol station and then we see some photos from the ATM machine. So how was the list of names formed and how did the ATM show a photo of Jesse's RV???

    Viewer score: 70 / 100

    Posted by Robertinspain, 29/11/2013 8:43am (6 years ago)

  • Not much to add, but I was reminded of the idea of "inertia" that Walt mentions all the way in episode 508. These characters are so enjoyably portrayed as being free to decide, but simultaneously trapped by fate. A perfect example of this is Skyler, stuck between a rock and a hard place. Does she listen to her head and turn in Walt, or listen to her heart and try to keep her beloved family together? Or with Hank, does he listen to his head and take his promotion, or listen to his heart and stay on the Heisenberg case, risking looking a fool? Neither character seems to know how to decide, and watching these personal struggles is what makes Breaking Bad so engaging to me; even the "setup" episodes manage to be better than most other television.

    Viewer score: 70 / 100

    Posted by Matt E., 08/05/2013 9:36am (6 years ago)

  • This episode stuck out in my memory as I approached it in the rewatch because I remembered what still seems to me like excessive and mostly pointless near-nudity. The length of the depiction of Jesse's spending-spree in the club seemed unnecessary and like the show was indulging itself, something of which I can very rarely accuse it. As long as I'm dealing with the bad first, I also thought the phone call between Marie and Skyler was a bit too transparent of a way to show the parallels between Walt and Hank; a bit too on the nose for my tastes.

    Pretty much everything else in this episode is fantastic though:
    -The blocking of the dinner, with the column prominently separating Walt and Skyler, was excellent.
    -Skyler's lawyer brings some much-needed outside perspective to the White marriage/criminal enterprise.
    -And most impressive to me this time through was the introduction of The Red Lab. Walt descends into a hellish red pit to be offered a life-changing deal by a polite, smiling devil, accompanied by haunting, lullaby-like music. Gus also knows exactly the right lines to manipulate Walt, appealing directly to the fantasy that he was and will be cooking to provide for his family, and that he is thus fulfilling his patriarchal duty, which is necessary even at the expense of morality. Knowing as I do now all the dramatic and horrific things which will occur in The Red Lab makes its introduction all the more potent.
    -Finally, this episode does a lot of table-setting, especially in the Hank plot line (which continues to be more compelling than I remember it being the first time through), but I know it is setting up for the superb one-two hit of "Sunset" and "One Minute," the explosive conclusion to the mini-arcs that make up the first half of season three.

    Thanks again for hosting this marvelous rewatch. Breaking Bad really is a show that rewards close attention and multiple viewings.

    Viewer score: 68 / 100

    Posted by dfault, 07/05/2013 4:35pm (6 years ago)

  • Really enjoying the rewatch!

    Another solid episode laying out the character dynamics. I think the writers did a really good job showing how bad a position Skylar was put in by Walt where she can`t go to the police or it will hurt her family and she can`t say anything to anyone or she will hurt them too, but by saying and doing nothing she is still coming across as the bad person. I like how the writers slowly make her accept Walt`s position and agree to take over the money laundering. I`m really impressed with BB in the sense that every main character is quite complex and is only used when there is an interesting storyline, they are never on screen just for the sake of it, like in some other dramas. Skylar`s lawyer was a great character to tell her some of her own home truths and point out what she is doing is no better than what Walt is doing. It reminds me of the Sopranos when Tony`s wife talks to the psychologist. Skylar`s lawyer pointing out that it was for the family was `horseshit`was a great way to highlight that the writers believe what Walt is doing is wrong. It would be interesting to see Walt`s reaction to being told this by an outsider as bluntly as the lawyer did. I don`t think he has been told this yet apart from Skylar.

    Also loved the flashback scene with Jesse, Combo, Badger and Skinny Pete. They have great on screen chemistry and it`s believable that they would be friends and do things like that. I bought that Jesse wasted Walt`s money as he was bullied into cooking in the first place and since he only knew Walt as his straight old science teacher he didn`t take him seriously, saying something like `someone straight like you wants to cook crystal`in disbelief. So he probably would have gone along with it to get out of the conversation and then seen an opportunity for a great night out, leaving the consequences to deal with later. When the series started Jesse didn`t take things too seriously and was out for a good time and doing things for a kick. Perhaps he did take it seriously after realising what a close call he had with blowing all Walt`s money on the strip club and nearly facing the consequences (having to skip town like he said).

    Viewer score: 65 / 100

    Posted by Kay, 06/05/2013 10:39pm (6 years ago)

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