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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 13 - To'hajiilee

17 December 2013

Credit AMC

Synopsis: Walt asks Jack to assassinate Jesse. The price: one cook with Todd. Meanwhile Hank has Huell taken into custody and convinces him that Walt is going to kill him. Huell tells them about the barrels of money and Jesse pretends that he is about to set them on fire. Walt drives out to the site to stop him and soon discovers that he’s been duped. He calls Jack for help but when he sees that it’s Hank he calls him off.

The Good: I had a number of problems with this. It was still highly entertaining and tense. However the execution left a lot to be desired. Most of this episode will land in the Unknown but let’s be clear that this was still high quality stuff even if I think it could have been even better.  

The Bad: The one part of this I feel comfortable placing in “The Bad” was the abduction of Huell. As far as I understand it Huell knows that Jesse is out to hurt Walt and that Hank is on his case. So he should be suspicious of any story he hears from the two of them. I also feel like Huell has been working with Saul for long enough to know to be on guard against police tactics and perhaps to demand to talk to Saul on the phone to see if this story has any validity to it. It just didn’t feel like a clever enough scam to get him to spill as much information as he did in such a short amount of time.

What really set off my spider-sense though was the tone of the scene. Not only was it quick but it was played for laughs. The writers tried to squeeze a smile out of us as Hank assured Huell that all of this was for his protection. That brevity sucked a lot of the tension out of the first half of the episode. I thought “if they want us to think Jesse’s life is in danger then they wouldn’t be joking around now.” Particularly when Huell gags at the silly phone snap of Jesse’s brains sprayed on the floor. I guess Jesse’s absence from much of the episode was a tip off too. 

The whole use of Huell felt like a contrived B in an A to C story rather than something organic or clever which could bring Walter White down. Once you realise that this was the key detail that got Walt to drop his guard and get captured it definitely feels like a major letdown.

The Unknown: The second part of the plan sounds solid on paper. Walt doesn’t think Jesse would rat him out and so falls quickly for the idea that Jesse is acting alone and threatening his money. It makes a lot of sense from Walt’s perspective because all he knows is that Jesse didn’t burn down his house, called him to threaten his true home and is now holding his children’s legacy in his hands. 

I know some of you will dismiss this instantly but it bothered me that I couldn’t hear any distortion or sound effects on Jesse’s end of the line. His sound was crisp, almost in a vacuum and his performance was too rational for my liking. If an emotional Jesse were standing out in the desert shouldn’t the call have sounded different? Wind noise, the sound of burning cash, the sound of Jesse moving about as he yelled into empty air all his pain and anger. That’s what Walt would have expected to hear and again I felt like Hank and Jesse should have been smart enough to simulate that. Instead Jesse would have been sitting in the back of Hank’s car. So Walt presumably would have heard the sound of an engine and the dull sound of an enclosed space. Or the car horns of other vehicles. It was the lack of effort that rubbed me the wrong way. I’m not saying Walt wouldn’t have fallen for it. I’m just saying we’ve spent five seasons with excruciating detail and now suddenly we get a couple of fairly flippant set pieces to get the great Heisenberg to confess all down his phone.

Where was Hank’s legendary thoroughness and patience? Was he tracking Walt’s phone? Because once he’d got the location he could have called for teams to come back him up or saved the coordinates and sent them somewhere just in case Walt decided to drive away. Once he had the barrels of money he could make the case against Walt stick. Again I can accept the situation as presented. Hank is too determined to do it himself and so goes alone and has to feel those handcuffs going on to feel satisfied. 

Of course by that point it was all pretty much white noise. As soon as the call went out to Jack we knew what was about to happen. Instantly I put together the rest of the story. Hank and Gomez get murdered. Jack has Walt over a barrel (intended) and takes Jesse as payment because he can deliver the higher quality meth. With Hank dead Walt takes his family into hiding but returns in a few months, machine gun in hand to free Jesse and prove that he really does care about “family.” This was good. This was tense. The sight of Walt being arrested and the conversation with Marie were just the last moments of Hank’s life. It was all going to be very sad and dark but understandable. It had the air of that episode of Game of Thrones but without the hammer blow suddenness.

But then they fluffed the ending. First off I thought the impending doom would be signalled by a puff of distant smoke just as Hank’s arrival had been. Or perhaps with distant engine noise like the fire trucks in the pilot. Instead the cars just rolled up like Jack and his crew had never heard of stealth. Then the standoff, which was fine, but I was just waiting for Hank and Gomez to be blown away. I did appreciate Walt still trying to call it all off, true to his word that Hank was family. 

But once the shots fired Hank and Gomez survived. How? There were six guns trained on them and nothing blocking the path of the bullets. Are these guys the worst shots in history? Then the episode faded to black. Are Hank and Gomez going to survive? Seriously? Or are their deaths being saved to make the start of the next episode more dramatic? I thought it was a bizarre choice that felt frustrating. But how can I place it anywhere but the Unknown when I don’t know what comes next.

When you leave an episode frustrated and not intrigued it’s generally bad storytelling. I’d like to be proven wrong. Sadly though this episode felt very much like the result of a thirteen episode story being told in eight parts or just the result of a rare slip in creativity. Forcing Huell to give up information and having Walt make a confession down the phone felt like lazy plot points but at least they set up a tragic massacre. Except...they didn’t. 

I still think in general the story is good and makes sense. Walt thought he could kill off one set of adversaries and escape. But to wipe out Mike’s crew he had to enlist the help of the worst kind of people. They will now control him rather than the other way around. So he will employ a machine gun to wipe them out and bring some justice to the horrific mess he’s made. But if that is where we’re going this was a less than ideal way to get there.

What was with Todd’s weird come-on to Lydia? Is he meant to be a bit naive? 

Best Moment: The tension from Walt’s phone call to the final shot was very high. I was definitely in the moment and expecting something memorable. It hasn’t appeared yet though.

The Bottom Line: We will have to wait and see if there is a twist I don’t perceive yet. Otherwise this was worryingly disappointing.

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  • Walt's rush out to the money burial site was a very weak plot development. When Walt originally buried the money he was careful to destroy his own GPS and archive the coordinates in a lottery ticket -- surely he would have checked if the van had a built in GPS. Given Walt's usual detail oriented cautiousness, he would have been even extra cautious not having talked with Jesse and now knowing Huell is missing -- he had to believe something was up.

    I'm still having trouble with Jesse suddenly getting a conscience and turning on Walt for making the kid sick after all the killings and other hurt they've both brought on. He knows in the drug business, ratting on your partner is a death sentence. He was almost out of town when he went back just to get revenge on Walt for making a child get sick -- the child of a woman he was no longer involved with. And yet all the other killings didn't bother him as much as this.

    Viewer score: 75 / 100

    Posted by GlennW, 16/12/2013 9:31pm (9 months ago)

  • i loved the ending of this episode.michelle was genius with the slo-mo standoff scene .bravo
    is so sad the huell scene & gps ploy were unbeliavable
    .i really wanted smart/delicate writing.(i.e Tinker,Tailor,Soldier,Spy movie comes to mind re respecting the characters.

    Viewer score: 85 / 100

    Posted by grey, 31/10/2013 1:52am (10 months ago)

  • It's hard for me to be too critical because it remains that every one of the final season episodes has caught up my emotions in a whirlwind. From the moment Jesse sent Walt the photo of the barrel in the ground to the moment Uncle Jack's gang arrived on the scene I was watching breathlessly, my mind reeling. That said, I do understand your desire for more complicated details and more time spent on the process. I would've liked much more of that too, but in this matter I would aim my complaints at AMC for only allowing the creative team eight episodes to wrap up their story. I still feel like the ideal scenario would've been to have a 13 episode Season 5 and 6 to tell the two part story of the rising and fall of King Heisenberg in a greater depth. However, my feeling is that the writers are doing the very best job with the limited time they've been given. And despite certain story arcs feeling rushed (I too would have loved to have seen a lot more of Hank and Jesse working together) I'm not disappointed by the way events played out and the writers haven't lost any of my emotional investment. I'll admit the final Hank and Marie phone call still had me tearing up and even if it's a cliche scene, I guess it proves that cliches can still work.

    I really liked Huell's significance in the plan to bring down Walt. He was one of the three people involved in the Brock poisoning manipulation, so I liked that Huell, along with Saul and Walt, all got a taste of karma and Jesse's wrath. Personally I liked how they repeated the fake photo scam and I assume they used the money Jesse had in his bag to pay the disappearer for the picture of the barrel in the ground. As for Hank and Gomie unbelievably not taking any hits in that first volley of gunfire, I may turn out to be wrong, but I had assumed they were both wearing bullet proof vests, same as the Nazi gang. If (or should I say when?) Hank gets killed in the gun battle I expect it'll be by a head shot, the same way he took out Tuco. My own biggest criticism might be the flimsy characterization of Uncle Jack and his henchmen, who much like the Cousins do seem like lazy one-dimensional villains. But still, in the end I don't feel like Uncle Jack is the Big Bad of S5 - Heisenberg is the ultimate Big Bad of the series. The Nazi gang are just one of the many dark forces that Heisenberg has unleashed and that his human alterego Walter White can no longer control.

    Viewer score: 90 / 100

    Posted by Kelly, 13/09/2013 5:16pm (12 months ago)

  • While Huells duping has been explained, Walt is another matter entirely. I can accept that in t moment he is panicing he is not at his best. I never accepted that he would not know that t van sis not have a GPS feature. Ans if it did have to come like that, then he would have pulled t fuse, thus diabling it.

    We were shown explicitly Walt being shown a device that detects these things. That he did not get one and use it is just unbelievable when dealing w something that vital. He did get shovel and pick, barrels, van, and GPS devise. He would have made sure he was not tracked


    I also had a problem q Walt being willing to kill Jessie but not Hank. I was hoping that t hit he was calling was on himself. But at t begining on this episode I was shown to be wrong on that.

    Posted by babrock, 12/09/2013 4:19pm (12 months ago)

  • I just want to see Walt, about to unload that M60 on whomever is in his way, declare "Say hello to my lil friend...BITCH!" :)

    Posted by Matt E., 12/09/2013 3:28pm (12 months ago)

  • Anyway, I could go on for pages finding faultw t vvarious casts. But usually I figure I usually like having all t different ones for whatever bit anyone might have that are were not in any of t others.

    And Is like to thank whoever pitched in $ to your cast as t wife ans I weren't able to.

    And like you said you thought yours was of value just for whatever unique insight you are adding to t general mix.

    Again, imo, yours us one of t top three of t batch as your insights are more likely to be thoughtful and insightful.

    Posted by babrock, 12/09/2013 2:29pm (12 months ago)

  • I have been listening and enjoying t show and your casts. Due to my typing ineptness and that I am doing it all on my smart phone, I don't post to you as often as I'd like, but you said something's this cast that prompted a responce.

    The Bald move cast is my favorite also. I also quite like The ones who knock. I tend to be obsessive about whatever it is I am engaged in and at one point I was listening to all of them that I knew of, almost q dozen in all. And of all of them, imo yours ties for second in being my favorite.

    Often times plenty of them can be just unbelievably bad. I caught The afterbuzz sometimes late in season four. And they were still debating wheather we in t audience should still be rooting for Walt . This was , I think, after he had poisoned Brock. I stopped listening to them then. As I figured they were not likely to have a reasonable valid opinion on much of anything.

    The ones w plenty of people too often have people nattering exesivly

    Posted by babrock, 12/09/2013 2:09pm (12 months ago)

  • I stand by my prediction from last week, and substantially everything that happened this week keeps my prediction alive.

    The uncles didn't kidnap anyone, but they still got Hank and Walt involved in a gun fight. Hank ihas to be still alive, though probably wounded, because the uncles have to have someone to threaten to force Walt to cook. I predict Walt will still find a way to save Hank's life in circumstances where he could save himself by letting Hank die. He and Hank form an uneasy alliance, and they find a cool, BB-style way of pinning everything on the uncles (it WAS the uncles who killed everyone in the prison, for example; I think the uncles' only role in the show is to provide someone with no redeeming qualities so they can be the satisfying fall guys. Gomie has to die here in this shootout because he's the only outsider who knows the truth.

    I still hope they survive, realize there's no remaining evidence against Walt, and agree to split the money and retire (a la The In-laws). They then dig it up only to discover that it has been destroyed by silverfish. Then they all limp off into the sunset, a la The Princess Bride. (Sometimes life isn't fair, Princess...)

    Posted by Bruce Caward, 11/09/2013 9:06pm (12 months ago)

  • There is some speculation that Jesse's "high-def" cell phone voice was an intentional choice by Vince Gilligan to magnify Jesse's power and to suggest the effect of him being "in Walt's head." I can buy that. Although I agree that his confession was a bit too right-on-cue.

    Not sure if Hank's thoroughness and patience really still comes into play when his entire world has been flipped inside out. Given the immensity of the situation he's now in and the emotional tonnage linked to his pursuit of Heisenberg, can we really blame Hank for not taking a measured approach?

    I agree that Huell's role was too pivotal given he's a secondary character, and Hank's cell phone gag was uninspired and played out like a scene from "Without a Trace" or some other generic procedural

    Viewer score: 62 / 100

    Posted by jeremy, 11/09/2013 5:04am (12 months ago)

  • The first shot of hank makes me think hes in a grave with the two beams either side of him and the sky above. So I am sure he snuffs it. In fact I basically knew where this whole episode went. Yet when th nazis rolled up I was loving it. Ms McClaren is a incredible director and I suspect she is one to watch much like her friend Alan Taylor who just got his hands on Thor. Even though hank was a walking cliché at the end it seemed the writers know this and it asks me "whats wrong with cliché? " sometimes the most obvious thing that happens is the most satisfying. It was like crawl space and one minute rolled in to one killer of an episode. I think you Robin are unfortunate to be so critical that it has affected your viewing pleasure. Breaking Bad is pure fantasy the most cinematic of tv shows. Sure it has to be believable not necessarily realistic but I cant see why its not realistic to see Huell react the way he does. He knows how walt dealt with Mike probably the most dangerous man Huell has met. Then there's gus and the prison slaughter. Why would he not have fear cloud his judgement? And jessie having no wind or fire noise on the phone? Come on man that was jessies Heisenberg moment. Could walt not be hanging on to every word he says and will hear nothing but his voice? The phlne conversion is from walts point of view remember. I feel as a person you need to be more dog. When a dog sticks his head out a moving car he doesn't say " whats this whats that how am I moving so fast how is the world a blur?" No he jus sits back and enjoy s the ride. I know you explain your rating system but it does not make sense. In episode 11 you give a 80 I think yet say there is no bad in it. If an episode is all good and even great with no bad at all why drop 20 or so points without explaining why? Anyway I've ranted enough and do enjoy your podcast and wish you did British tv (channel 4s Utopia is awesome) heres why final thoughts.
    Gomez and Hank dies. Jessie and walt get taken by nazis. Walt escapes thus is on the run. Goes back to kill nazis save jessie and ricin is for himself. Oh and police know of walt due to marie.

    Viewer score: 90 / 100

    Posted by Adam Gallacher, 10/09/2013 11:35pm (12 months ago)

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