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Bryan Cranston as Walter White (Credit: Ursula Coyote/AMC)
One of the central themes of Breaking Bad has been how the choices of Walter White ripple out and affect not only Walt, but also the community around him to the point that airplanes have fallen out of the sky. In this latest episode, the situation has caused everyone around Walt to slip further into their own corruption, while Walt is the only character that arguably displays a degree of decency. Overall, I thought the major takeaway from this episode is that there are no "good guys" in this world.

We're wondering if maybe this isn't an Old Yeller type situation ... Yeah, Old Yeller was the best, most loyal dog that ever was. I mean everybody loved that mutt. But one day he showed up rabid, and little Timmy, for Old Yeller's own sake, had to uhh, well I mean you saw the movie. -Saul

You're full of colorful metaphors, aren't you Saul? Belize. Old Yeller. You're just brimming with advice. Do not float that idea again! Find him! -Walt

The previous episode ended on what seemed to be a run-up to a confrontation between Jesse and Walt after Jesse figured out Walt was responsible for Brock's poisoning at the end of season 4. This episode begins and ends by teasing the possibility of a Jesse-Walt confrontation, but it never comes. The only interaction the two characters have are a few moments talking over the phone. This episode was more about setting up the dynamics of the confrontation that is to come over the next four hours. But I also thought it went a long way in showing the characters the audience generally perceive as sympathetic or the "white hats" as not being exactly the moral center of the show. They have, in their own way, "broken bad" just like Walt.

One thing this episode makes clear is that, even after how far he's slid towards Heisenberg and how badly he's wronged Jesse in the past, Walt is the only character in this world who actually gives a damn about Jesse Pinkman.

  • Getting Gasoline Out Of The Carpet: The episode begins with Walt doing his best Mannix impression, tip-toeing into the White residence with his revolver drawn, going room-to-room searching for Jesse. When he doesn't find him, Walt makes his first attempt to talk to Jesse and then tries to clean up the mess. When quickie carpet cleaning doesn't work, Walt then sets about trying to gin up a cover story for Skyler & Walter Jr., and settles on a story about a broken gas pump while filling up his car. The interesting thing about this is that as good as Walt has gotten at lying to others and even lying to himself, his closest family sees right through his deceptions. Skyler pieces together quickly that there's a threat to the family, but Walter Jr. thinks this is his father covering up his deteriorating health. And Walt still does the same thing he did in the early seasons when lying to his family; he talks too much & makes his deception too elaborate & involved.
Anna Gunn as Skyler White and Bryan Cranston as Walter White (Credit: Ursula Coyote/AMC)
Jesse isn't just some rabid dog. This is a person! ... You're saying ... that I just ... what exactly are you saying? -Walt

We've come this far. For us, what's one more? -Skyler

  • Skysenberg: Both Saul and Skyler push for killing Jesse. But Walt rebels against the idea. On some level, Walt truly does have feeling for Jesse. this episode kinda proved there was some genuine emotion behind Walt's hug in the previous episode & on some level Walt considers Jesse family. If Walt's turn to Heisenberg had made him a total sociopath, he wouldn't give a shit about what happened to Jesse. It wouldn't take Saul and Skyler pushing for Jesse's murder to get him to go that way. Although, the problem with the Walt-Jesse relationship is that Walt cares about Jesse the same way he cares about all the members of his family; on his own terms. I've always thought Walt rationalizes all of his lies to Jesse as being in Jesse's best interest the same way a parent rationalizes "tough love" and lying to their kid as being for their own good. For example, I'm sure in Walt's mind letting Jane die was the best thing for Jesse, since both Jesse & Jane would have likely overdosed on Heroin if she had lived. This entire situation is in some ways a callback to Mike and his speech about half-measures. Walt has always refused to take the full-measure of having Jesse killed, no matter how problematic Jesse's behavior was, and it might come back to bite him in the ass before this is over. And as cold as Skyler's position comes off, she does have a point. If Walt's justification for this whole thing has been family, and he's rationalized murder as being in the defense of his family, doesn't his family have a right to expect murder whenever they need defending?
  • Scarface: The show's creator and executive producer, Vince Gilligan, has often described the story as being that of a man going from Mr. Chips to Scarface. And what ultimately undoes Tony Montana? Refusing to go along with a murder that would be in his best interests ... well, that and a whole lot of cocaine. One way this could play out is that Walt may be destroyed because he refuses to totally become Heisenberg. Slinging drugs, being a meth kingpin is not a game for the faint of heart. Deep down, Walter White wants to still believe he's a good man that did horrible things for a good reason. He doesn't want to kill Jesse or Hank because he considers both family. And if he was doing this for his family, and ends up killing off family members, then what was the point? The fact that Walt calls Jesse, begging him to meet, after his tearful conversation with Walt Jr. is another indication that Walt feels Jesse is his surrogate son. However, it can be interpreted multiple ways. Are Walt's feeling for Jesse genuine, or are they a self-deception that Walt wants to believe so he can think of himself as a good person?
He can't keep getting away with it! He can't keep getting away with it!!! -Jesse

He won't. If you want to burn him down, let's do it together. -Hank

  • Hank & Marie + Jesse Plot Walt's Destruction: While Skyler is doing her best Lady Macbeth impression in advocating Jesse's murder, Marie is giving her a run for her money & has even incorporated her homicidal impulses into her Kleptomania therapy sessions. Marie even recounts to her therapist how she's been researching the best poison to use against Walt. Her description of Saxitoxin is almost word for word from the Wikipedia entry. And even with Walt's video-taped "confession" hanging over Hank's head, Hank still can't let go of his quest to get Heisenberg, which ultimately leads to him intercepting Jesse just before he burns Walt's house down. This leads to Jesse becoming Hank's witness and recounting the entire story of his & Walt's crimes to Hank and agent Gomez. But as Jesse and Agent Gomez point out, it's only Jesse's word against Walt's. Although, this got me to thinking about whether there would still be any physical evidence that would connect Walt to Heisenberg? As pointed out by Gomez, Jesse would not only be a witness against Walt, but also Lydia, Todd, and everyone at Vamanos Pest Control. Also, I have to believe that Skyler & Saul can't be that good at laundering that much money through a car wash, and any forensic accountant worth his/her salt would be able to see a discrepancy.
Dean Norris as Hank Schrader (Credit: Ursula Coyote/AMC)
What if the kid's right? What if it's a trap? -Gomez

The kid? Oh, you mean the junkie murderer that's dribbling all over my guest bathroom floor? Hell, if he's right, Pinkman gets killed and we get it all on tape. -Hank

  • Hank Shows His True Colors: The great irony of the episode is that Walt, the person who stands the most to lose by Jesse's continued existence, is the only one who cares enough about Jesse to value his life. Hank even points this out. Every other major character is okay with Jesse being killed, even the ones that are supposed to represent the law. The fact that Hank shows no concern whatsoever with the idea that he might be putting Jesse in a position to be murdered shows how he isn't exactly the "moral center" of the show. Hank's pursuit of Heisenberg is not really about justice or upholding the law. This is not a case of Hank being like Inspector Javert, where he's a well-intentioned extremist that can't stop his pursuit because of a belief that the law is the law. Hank's pursuit of Walt is rooted in the same "sin" that Walt is guilty of, pride, and he's willing to cross lines to get Heisenberg. I also think Hank's callousness towards Jesse gives a different tone to some of the interactions in the previous episodes. I know a lot of people thought that when Hank was trying to get Skyler to tell everything she knew about Walt's criminal activities a few episodes back, that he was doing it out of the best of intentions. I never felt that way & thought all of his actions pointed to him not giving a shit about Skyler's future as long as he was able to burn Walt.
From Donna Bowman at the A.V. Club:
Hank is so eager for self-vindication that he makes only the most perfunctory effort at building a relationship with Jesse before wiring him up and shoving him out of the van. “Ready to kick some ass, partner?” Hank enthuses at the start of the mission, and the lawman swagger sounds eerily hollow, because just like Walt, Hank has misread what this young man needs and misunderstood how to motivate him. Jesse has no interest in becoming someone else’s tool; he’s been passed from hand to hand for far too long.
  • Bald Men Inspire Fear: Before going to meet Walter wearing a wire, Jesse says to Hank & Gomez "Mr. White? He's the Devil. He is smarter than you. He is luckier than you. Whatever you think is supposed to happen, I'm telling you, the exact reverse opposite is going to happen." And that's exactly what occurs at the end of the episode, where Jesse can't trust anything anymore & reads the situation exactly the opposite from Walt's intentions. Seeing a scary, bald guy standing across from Walt, Jesse thinks Walt is only meeting with him to kill him through Todd's Aryan Brotherhood contacts. Jesse decides to threaten Walt, and phones him to say he is going to go after something Walter really cares about. Hank is furious at Jesse for deviating from the plan, but Jesse claims he knows another way to incriminate Walt and burn him.
  • Activate T.O.D.D.: With Jesse's implied threat against Walt's family, Walt finally decides to phone Todd. The Lydia-Todd part of the story was always going to reconnect with Walt & Jesse, and it's finally come. Has Walt really given up on trying to reason with Jesse? What price will Todd's uncle exact for getting Jesse? What is Hank & Jesse's next move?
From Alan Sepinwall at Hitfix.com:
Had Jesse walked up to the bench and let Walt talk to him about Brock, Walt might have been in handcuffs shortly thereafter. But I have a feeling Jesse's decision, and Walt's phone call, are about to make things exponentially worse for everyone involved.

Originally posted to 医生的宫殿 on Mon Sep 02, 2013 at 10:12 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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