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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 - One Minute

22 May 2013

Credit AMC

Synopsis: Hank beats Jesse’s face in and soon faces the legal consequences. Jesse is determined to have his vengeance and even threatens to turn Walt in should things go against him. Walt realises that the only solution, short of killing him, is to bring him into the lab. So he berates Gale and asks Gus to make the switch. Hank comes clean with Marie over what he’s been through and prepares to leave the DEA. He stops to buy flowers for Marie just as the Cousins prepare to strike.

The Good: An utterly heartbreaking episode that was far more emotional on rewatch than I had anticipated. The rewatch has been so valuable at connecting the emotional journey of all the characters to these big dramatic moments.

On first watch Jesse’s desire to destroy Hank seemed a bit extreme. On rewatch I can now see more clearly the way he lost Combo and then Jane and then his ability to make money from meth before Hank adds the final insult by destroying his face. Jesse is so angry at life for what he’s been through. His bitter fantasy revenge on Hank is coupled with an f-you to Walt. He is the “bad guy” now and doesn’t plan on being nice to anyone after what he’s been through.

If that story weren’t compelling enough his outburst at Walt about all he’s lost was desperately sad. An outstanding performance once more from Aaron Paul as he wails at Walt, entirely accurately, about how his selfishness has led to one misery after another for Jesse. “I have never been more alone” was such an emotive statement and he throws back at Walt all the abuse that’s been heaped on him. Yet after all that the real tragedy is he still goes back for more. He didn’t have a good plan for going forward alone but you just wish he would leave Walt behind. Instead his fragile self confidence absorbs Walt’s compliment about his meth and he clings to the good part of their bond and the money and returns to the fold.

I thought the writing did such an excellent job of demonstrating the ways in which Jesse’s life has collapsed. Without Walt he would be a petty drug dealer but he would have his moral code intact and might have met a Jane and turned himself around a little. But after all the trauma he’s been through and the exhilaration of making millions from this life it seems like he may be lost for good.

Hank’s story mirrored Jesse’s. Another man whose life was far more solid and reassuring before Walt began cooking. Understandably he lets his rage feast on Jesse’s face in response to the scam phone call. And having finally hit rock bottom Hank lets it all pour out. First he cries in Marie’s arms and then he admits it all to her. The way his nerves were shredded by the shootout with Tuco and how his obsession with Heisenberg led him to cross moral lines. He knows that being a cop means being a good guy, one who despite the frustrations of the legal process, plays by the rules.

I had mixed feelings about his honest declaration of his wrongdoing. We know that he is on the right track and shouldn’t give up. But as with Jesse you just will him to get away from Walt and the DEA and be happy somewhere else. Instead Walt’s manoeuvres behind the scenes mean he should keep his job and he gets to go home happy with flowers for Marie to thank her for her support. All episode it felt like Hank was about to die. He was saying goodbye to his life and you knew when he told Marie “I think things are gonna work out” that he was doomed.

The attack by the Cousins was an amazing spectacle. It was like the Tuco kidnapping shrunk into five minutes. Despite his fears Hank is incredibly brave and is smart enough to run one of them over even as he gets shot in the arm (after realising he no longer had a gun). The parking lot scene was played with ruthless logic as Hank’s car struggles to push aside another (with its hand break on) and then another shopper gets blown away for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Then Hank outsmarts his enemy again and unloads his clip into the bullet proof vest. The use of the axe all season pays off as Hank, now bleeding from four bullet wounds manages to save himself with one final shot (with the lucky bullet, another fateful item like the eyeball). It was as intense and suspenseful as TV drama can be and left an utterly memorable final image of the blood soaked lot with car horn blaring relentlessly. I had tears in my eyes just from the intensity and brutality of it all.

The two scenes with the Cousins earlier in the episode were excellent too. The flashback to their childhood with Uncle Tio teaching them a lesson was very mafia-like and neatly summed up the atmosphere they were raised in. Then they bought their vests from an ultra chatty weapons dealer who naturally they shot to test his product. I also appreciated the way Skyler tried to interfere on Hank’s behalf. I think Walt would have done what he did anyway, in order to silence and avoid killing Jesse, but it’s interesting that she tacitly asks for his help. She is essentially asking him to pull criminal strings in order to benefit her family. Twisted logic I know as she was doing a nice thing but once she accepted his money this is the slippery slope.  You’ve gotta love Saul. He points out that one day Jesse will give Walt up, “there’s no honour amongst thieves. Except for us of course!”

The Bad: Nothing.

The Unknown: Tio talked of his reluctance to work with the “Chicken Man” who I assume is Gus. It would be interesting to learn more about their connection. One has to believe that it was Gus who made the distorted call to warn Hank. Was Gus hoping this would happen and the Cousins would be wiped out?

Best Moment: The final five minutes were unstoppable action but sweet Marie making up excuses for noble Hank who knows he’s done wrong or miserable Jesse screaming at Walt for all he’s done for him? Spoilt for choice.

The Bottom Line: An utterly devastating episode for characters and viewer alike. I had forgotten the power of the stories which led up to one of the great action sequences. It was worth every moment of the cartoon-like Cousins for them to be implacable Terminators here and deliver another horrific blow to those around Walt while he continues to enjoy his crustless sandwiches.

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  • :-)

    Posted by The TV Critic, 02/06/2016 3:52am (9 months ago)

  • Great episode. I'm watching the whole series again for the 2nd time and reading these reviews after each episode. I'm getting so much from Breaking Bad this time around. The final scene was astonishing. The time on the clock in Hanks car as he was waiting for a minute to lapse after the warning being 3:07 the same as the episode number. It's the fine detail along with the compelling story telling that makes this show great.

    Viewer score: 90 / 100

    Posted by Oreo, 31/05/2016 6:23pm (9 months ago)

  • Thank you Matt :-)

    Posted by The TV Critic, 22/05/2013 10:49pm (4 years ago)

  • @Jim, Thanks for that, my memory was very foggy there! Like your comments re Jane`s death. I think that was the first time he does something to really endanger another human (even if it was by inaction). It`s Heisenberg acting in this scene and Walter White almost in the background watching with that tear that trickles down his face.

    Posted by Kay, 22/05/2013 4:10pm (4 years ago)

  • Haven't watched One Minute this week, so no score, but I wanted to address a few comments for last weeks podcast:
    Kelly: I had the same morbid fascination with the scores handed out by Robin, while listening to the old Lost podcasts, and without getting spoilery, I must say I am not surprised that One Minute got an 88 rather than breaking the 90s stratosphere--the highest scores given to Lost were the episodes that had major plot impact (i.e.- season 5's finale). One Minute is great by even BrBd standards, but wasn't earth-shattering to the whole show, if that makes sense.
    Robin, as you can see, yes sir, I have been paying attention to the museum tour guide :) Keep up the good work.

    Posted by Matt E., 22/05/2013 4:08pm (4 years ago)

  • Great review, Robin and great comments everyone ..

    Some thoughts to add . . .

    What I learned about in this episode is that Walt’s affinity towards Jessie is more pragmatic then one of affection. In the hospital bed, Jessie makes clear to Walt that if he ever gets caught he holds a big “get out of jail free card” . .he can give the cops what they really want . .Heisenburg. This is when Walt’s mind . . . or better said, Heisenburg’s mind . . . kicks into survivability mode at any cost. He could kill Jessie, the “options” that Saul tells Walt or bring him aboard and on payroll so he can control him. . . .where have we heard this before . .

    It’s a similar situation with Jane’s death. Many thought the reason why Walt let Jane die was to help Jessie . . to rid him from this destructive girlfriend. Wrong. Jane was a big threat to Walt’s developing enterprise. She knew too much and had to go . . . Jessie’s well being was an added benefit to letting Jane die but it was secondary.


    @ Kay--It was Victor who made the call . .order by Gus . .to warn Hank in the end scene. Gus is playing a bigger chess game with the Mexican cartel. Its revealed in later episodes . .short version, Gus is making a wider meth distribution play against the cartel.

    @Kelly-- love your comments, as always :):)

    Jim A.

    Viewer score: 95 / 100

    Posted by Jim A, 22/05/2013 4:55am (4 years ago)

  • "I accept the consequences." -Hank Schrader

    That's something Walter is incapable of saying. Or at least of saying and meaning, because we all know Walt can say just about anything if it serves him, as he proved here when he admitted to Jesse that his meth was just as good as the Heisenberg Blue. (Side note: I've always found Jesse's speech, while certainly something Walt needs to hear, a little off. Over-acted? Over-written? I'm not sure. . . .) That line of Hank's reveals so much about the difference between Hank and Walt, and sets Hank firmly on the trajectory of reform and heroism (although he's about to hit a half season of grouchy, bed-ridden detour) as foil to Walt's corruption and villainy. Hank gets to be the main character for most of "One Minute," and Dean Norris plays it well, showing Hank's true humility and self-knowledge finally coming to the surface as he confesses his weaknesses to Marie. He knows, too, that beating up suspects is not part of his job description, making him a better cop than most on TV, and continuing the inversion of the macho-cop stereotype he at first seemed to be written to mock.

    In other news, the confrontation between the arms dealer and the Cousins is subtly hilarious dark comedy, confirming that the Cousins are basically straight out of an abandon Coen brothers' script. And the final shootout almost made me laugh this time around with its bold and bloody daring; it's so starkly dramatic (some of the shots are very reminiscent of a Western) and yet grounded in implacable logical reality.

    Viewer score: 86 / 100

    Posted by dfault, 21/05/2013 6:05pm (4 years ago)

  • I just want to add that I was so glad the odd Mexican brothers plot began to pay off here.

    The seeds are planted to bring on the Mexican Cartel in an even bigger way in the seasons to come.

    Thanks again for doing this rewatch. It is really helping to keep the story fresh for the final 8.

    Viewer score: 90 / 100

    Posted by Yogabon, 21/05/2013 1:22am (4 years ago)

  • I had been hoping that 'One Minute' might be the first Breaking Bad episode to get a TV Critic score in the 90s. You're a harsh man, Robin. But there's still 'Fly' and 'Half Measures' to come, so I still have hope. S3 has some incredible episodes in its second half.

    In 'One Minute' we get one of those rare episodes that focuses on the one truly heroic character of the show; Hank. Even though the opening scenes feature him beating our beloved Jesse Pinkman senseless, we never lose sympathy for Hank. We spend most of Breaking Bad watching our criminal protagonists desperately avoiding capture and justice. It's refreshing that when Hank "breaks bad" he immediately confesses and is prepared to face the consequences.

    The scenes with Hank and Marie were perfectly heartbreaking. Marie's suggestion that Hank claim Jesse attacked him first possibly would've got Hank off the hook. But there's too much honesty and decency in Hank for him to even consider taking that route. And how is Hank rewarded for his nobility? He gets attacked and almost killed by two axe-wielding cartel assassins. Poor poor Hank.

    Narratively speaking Hank's act of police brutality followed by his shooting by the Cousins is a good device to slow down his pursuit of Heisenberg. Hank was getting so close and Jesse was the person who could have told him everything. After the assault Hank will have to stay far away from his best lead. That said, I still wonder if Hank will try to approach Jesse in the second half of S5 and convince Jesse to flip on Walt. It would be a great twist to see these sworn enemies join forces to bring down the man who has caused so much damage to each of their lives.

    Viewer score: 93 / 100

    Posted by Kelly, 18/05/2013 8:18am (4 years ago)

  • I agree that this was an amazing episode. I didn’t remember much more than the final showdown between Hank and the cousins but after rewatching it again I also appreciated all the strong scenes that came before. Dean Norris said that his confession to Marie on the bed was his personal favorite moment in the entire series and I can see why. Hank is definitely the center of this episode. Therefore the final scene was as impactful as it was to the audience.

    But I actually disagree that there was nothing negative about the episode. Skylers brief visit with Walt in the beginning wasn’t really a necessary scene and Jesses explanation to Walt why he rejected his offer was so logical and to the point that his turnaround came out of nowhere to me. I guess the money was too tempting in the end.

    Viewer score: 83 / 100

    Posted by Robert, 16/05/2013 11:53pm (4 years ago)

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