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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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  • It`s unusual to have such a high impact episode like this in the middle of a season but I won`t complain! This episode is really amazing, it starts with high action with Hank beating up Jesse in a fit of rage and then ends the same way but with the cousins going for Hank. The leadup at the end is incredible and the constant beeping of the car. This episode also has one of the key speeches of the show with Jesse saying he`d never been more alone since hooking up with Heisenberg.

    Just wondering if you could please explain on the podcast who makes the call at the end of One Minute to Hank to warn him and why. I can`t remember if we find out or not. Was it Gus? If so, why did he do it? Gus doesn`t seem like he would care if Hank dies or not and he did give permission to the cousins to kill Hank. Was there some rivalry or a feud between the cousins and Gus? I was never sure about any of this so thanks :)

    By the way thanks for mentioning the Conan interview. I wasn`t able to watch it either online. I`ve also read what Gilligan says about not reading criticism as he wants to keep to the story he wanted to tell without being influenced and changing just because some viewers didn`t like something. I`m impressed.

    Viewer score: 82 / 100

    Posted by Kay, 15/05/2013 10:37pm (6 years ago)

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