Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Breaking Bad - Granite State Recap

I so rarely get to use the word penultimate.  But this is it.  The penultimate episode of Breaking Bad, and while it was pretty depressing; it was also full of surprises.

Open on an actual vacuum store.  Best Quality Vacuum. Call the number listed on the storefront sign - 505-842-4205 – and reach a message from gruff character actor Robert Forester.  (Yep, I tried it out.  You’re welcome.)  Forester plays the fantastically no-nonsense shop owner whose name is never revealed, but whom we’ll just call Mr. Hoover for now.  Mr. Hoover pulls his van into the shop, and Saul exits.  Saul’s instructed to stand in front of a blue screen, and gets his picture snapped for a shiny new Nebraska license.  Mr. Hoover tells Saul that he’s going to need to stay in hiding in the basement of the store until he can finalize the relocation, but he’s going to have a bunk mate.

Meanwhile, Marie's driving back home with Hanks old boss, and he's saying that they’ll find Hank.  They get to the house, and SURPRISE!... it’s been broken into.  As the agents walk through the house, Jesse’s confessional voice over plays over the wreckage….

Cut to Nazi hideout.  They’re having a grand old time watching the confession tape, beers and cigars in hand.  Quite frankly I’m surprised they weren’t munching on a bucket of popcorn.  They fast forward to a bit where Jesse talks about Todd killing the kid during the Great Train Robbery.  Jesse names names.  Specifically Todd’s name.  And Uncle Jack doesn’t take too kindly to rats.  He storms outside with his gun, when Todd stops him.  He rationalizes with his Uncle about continuing to cook meth, when Jack realizes that Todd is sweet on Lydia.  Jack chortles and says that even though Lydia is so tight that she probably has a “woodchipper for a coochie”, “the heart wants what the heart wants” and lets his nephew’s meth monkey live another day. 

Back at the vacuum store, Saul and Walt are having a little sleepover.  Walt’s still barking orders at Saul, demanding a list of 5 mercenaries.  He sounds very businesslike as he says he’ll “pay top dollar” for their services.  He wants Jack and his Nazi gang dead.

Saul stops Walt and proves his mettle as he runs down what will happen if Walt turns himself in.  He tells him if he cares about his family, don’t leave.  Because if he leaves, the DEA will go after Skyler.  All of their assets will be frozen, the house and condo gone.  Getting any money to them will be impossible.  Besides, how much time does Walt really have left?  Saul advises him to spend the rest of his days in prison.  Walt’ll be a celebrity there anyway, akin to Dillinger, legend secured. Saul is truly an excellent criminal lawyer.  This is spot on, rational advice.  But Walt says no. 

Mr. Hoover pops his head in and tells Saul it’s time to go.  Walt objects saying that Saul is coming with him.  He tries to intimidate Saul one last time, backing him into the cinderblock wall, and it initially appears to be effective.  Saul flinches as Walt intones a line from a previous episode. “What did I tell you?  It’s not over until….” but he can’t finish.  He breaks into an involuntary coughing fit, falling to the cot.  Saul looks down with pity at Walt, and says, “It’s over” as he walks out. 

At a meeting with many lawyers, Skyler’s got a case of the Wah Wah Charlie Browns.  Even though what the lawyers are saying is muted, she states to the lawyers that she’s acutely aware she’s in terrible trouble, unless she gives Walt up, but she can’t.  She doesn’t know where he is.  The team of prosecution lawyers seems to believe her, but implore her to think about it, discuss with her lawyer and rack her brain to come up with something they can use.  Or else.  Oh poor Skyler, if you could only call Saul…..

That night, Skyler is at home, chain smoking and staring out the window. She hears Holly cry and goes to the bedroom.  Three men in black ski masks accost her.  One is Todd.  She pleads with him to not hurt the baby.  Todd says that they have respect for Walt, but they just don’t want her to talk about Lydia, “the lady that came into the car wash with black hair”.  In all likelihood, Skyler had probably forgotten about Lydia, but she promises not to talk about her, and the ski mask trio leaves. 

The next morning, Todd meets with Lydia, all giddy like he’s on a date.  He’s disappointed when she goes to sit at the table behind him, but has too much respect for her to just go over and sit like Mike did, or to arrive late like Walt.  Todd tells her that he “threw a scare into” Skyler, and that he guarantees there aren’t going to be problems.  Lydia gets frustrated, and uses dated relationship speak, saying that they “need to take a break”.  The break lasts all of three seconds until she hears that Todd’s latest 50 lbs are 92% pure, courtesy of Pinkman.  Todd reaches longingly towards Lydia’s chair, saying that he thinks they make a good team.  Lydia doesn’t seem to care much about Todd, but that 92% has got her all hot and bothered, fingertips grazing her lips. Aww isn’t unrequited sociopath love just the creepiest?

On the other side of the country, Walt crawls out of an empty propane truck.  Mr. Hoover says “Mr. Lambert, welcome to New Hampshire.” 

They go inside a small cabin, and Walt hauls his money barrel in.  Cabin contents include canned food, frozen meat, an old tube TV with two copies of a crappy movie.  No internet, no phone. It’s clearly hell frozen over. Walt didn’t expect this.  Mr. Hoover tells Walt that he’ll be back in a month with supplies, but until then he shouldn’t leave the cabin.

Once Mr. Hoover leaves, Walt goes inside and stuffs his parka with as much money as he can, and pops the ole Heisenberg hat on.  He starts down the road, and in a striking shot, his black hat and weary face contrast starkly against the white snow.  As he reaches the perimeter fence of the property, his body is seized by a coughing fit.  He wistfully stares down the snowy road, whispering, “Tomorrow.  Tomorrow.”

Back in his cell, Jesse has picked the lock on his handcuffs with a paperclip but quickly slumps back onto his mattress as he hears someone coming.  Todd lowers down some ice cream (shades of ‘it puts the lotion in the basket’) as a reward for the 96% batch that Jesse cooked that day.  Todd talks with Jesse as if they’re friends, and it appears as if he has a true level of respect for Jesse and his abilities.  Jesse senses this and requests that Todd leave the tarp off of the cell so that he can see the stars.  Todd obliges, and says Goodnight to Jesse. 

Jesse gets the cuffs off again once Todd is out of earshot.  He does an expert balancing act on a bucket plus his wadded up blanket, and leaps up, grasping onto the grates.  He monkey bars his way over to the latch and wiggles it free.  (Jesse’s got some pretty diesel upper body strength.  He should totally try out for the kidnapped meth monkey Olympics.  Although I hear those judges from the Czech Republic can be persnickety about their percentage points.)  He runs out, only to be faced with a barbed wire fence.  He attempts to make his way over, but is stopped by a team of Nazis with a flashlight.  Jesse begs for them to, “Do it! Kill me now!  Get it over with because there’s no way I’m doing one more cook for you psycho fucks!”

Todd knows a way.  He humble pies his way into getting Andrea to open her door and walk out onto the porch, saying he’s a friend of Jesse’s. Jesse screams from the truck in an attempt to warn her, but to no avail.  Todd says, “just so you know, this isn’t personal” and swiftly shoots Andrea in the head.  As Jesse sobs, Jack snaps at him to settle down, and ominously reminds him, “there’s still the kid”. 

A few months after becoming Mr. Lambert, Walt waits on the edge of his property for Mr. Hoover’s monthly supply drop. The delivery this month includes a large stack of newspapers, a few cases of Ensure, a cornucopia of prescription glasses, and some intel about Skyler.

Hoover also brought chemo, and clumsily stabs around, trying to find a vein.  Walt begs him to stay a little longer, offering 10 grand for 2 hours. Which begs the question – If there’s a barrel of money in the woods, and no one around to spend it with, what is it actually worth? At this point, I’m surprised that Walt hasn’t fashioned a Wilson-like buddy made of cash stacks to keep him company. 

As Walt sleeps, his wedding ring slips off his finger due to his drastic weight loss and he immediately fashions a necklace for it out of twine.  He empties the box of Ensure and stuffs it with money, finally making the move to hike out past the gate….in a cap much like the ones that Jesse used to wear….

Back in the ABQ, Junior is sitting in the back of the science lab in which his father used to teach.  He’s paged by the principal, and she tells Junior that his Aunt Marie is calling.  On the other end a lady that is decidedly not Marie hands the phone to Walt.  As Walt explains himself, tells Junior that he wants to send money, Junior doesn’t hear the apology he expects.  He becomes furious, screaming, “you killed Uncle Hank, you killed him!”  Junior doesn’t care about the money, that gesture is not making anything up to him now, especially after Walt abandoned them.  He screams at Walt, “why are you still alive?!?  Why don’t you just die already?!?!  JUST DIE!!!”

(Side note – Of note is the hockey game conspicuously playing in the background of this father-son convo.  Because that magnificent genius Vince Gilligan doesn’t do anything by accident, I decided to google ‘breaking bad granite state hockey’, and stumbled upon this article.  And for the first time ever in my life, Sports Illustrated provides a useful service to me.)

Walt hangs up, a broken shell.  He’s truly lost his family, and any hope of getting them the money has been lost.  He makes a second call from the pay phone, and in the one moment of trademark pitch-black BB humor in this otherwise downer of an episode, Walt asks to “speak to the agent in charge of the Walter White investigation.”  When he’s asked who’s calling he says, “Walter White”, leaves the pay phone dangling off the hook and goes to wait for his capture on a bar stool.

As he sips his ‘Dimple Pinch’, something catches Walt’s eye as the bartender flips through the channels.  It’s his old friends Gretchen and Elliot Schwartz.  They’re atoning for their proximity to Heisenberg by basically denying Walt all of his legit contributions to the world.  They say the only thing Walt contributed to their company is half of the name.  Gretchen says that while Heisenberg may still be at large, the Walter White she knew is gone.

And as the police pull up to the rural shack of a bar, he is gone.  Vanished, leaving only his half sipped drink on the bar.  Cue twangy BB theme music.  Fade out.

One episode left.  I cannot wait to see what’s in store.  In the meantime, I’ll end with a few random thoughts:

- Chemo and surgery basically gave Walt just enough time to truly and totally screw over his family.  I’ll bet Skyler is kicking herself about ever having that family intervention back in the first season.  She was really the only one pushing for treatment at the time….

- On the subject of Skyler, I feel that it’s becoming more and more clear that Walt feels he has made many difficult (and obviously misguided) choices in his life out of his unwavering devotion to her.  Including perhaps leaving Gray Matter just before it became wildly profitable?  Back in season two, episode 'Peekaboo' Gretchen says that Walt left her unexpectedly, out of nowhere, and then it appears that shortly thereafter he started up with Skyler, as he was still working at Gray Matter when he started to woo her.  A flashback clarifying the situation is definitely on my finale wish list.

- Self imposed solitary confinement is certainly not better than the situation that Saul outlined for Walt at the beginning of the episode.  As a Dillinger level celebrity in prison Walt would at least have regular access to medication, a social life, and a lack of gnawing conscience for letting his wife take the heat for his crimes.

- If last weeks episode served as the climax for what the entire series had been setting up, this episode felt like set up for the finale.  Mr. Chips to Scarface means that flash-forward gun is getting used, but on who and how?  Also – the ricin?!?

- Does anyone else think that Lydia might save Jesse?  I’m holding out every hope that he survives the finale.

- Lastly, our Tighty “Mr. White”-y Watch has an unexpected entry.  Walt did not surprise us with a switch to boxers, but we do get an extended scene with him in long johns.  Still, it doesn’t count. Here’s holding out for a glimpse in the finale. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Breaking Bad - Ozymandias Recap

I have a serious case of PTBBD.  Post Traumatic Breaking Bad Disorder.  This week the house of cards that Walt had attempted to maintain for the entirety of the series swiftly and surely collapsed.  And collapsed.  And collapsed.  The episode may have well been titled ‘Consequences’.  We all knew it was happening.  But truth be told, even with the knowledge that things were about to go horribly wrong I literally needed to catch my breath multiple times during this episode.  Those crafty BB writers packed numerous reveals into the episode, and each one hit at full force.  At the end I felt like I needed a hug.  And there’s still two episodes left.  I need to process.  Let’s get through this together, shall we?

Ozymandias begins with a deep flashback to the first time Jesse and Walt cooked in the desert, a stark ‘Before’ picture to the ‘After’ events about to unfold.  As the chemicals start to burble in the pilfered beakers and flasks, Walt says to Jesse “the reaction has begun”.  Oh, stupid Walt, if you only knew what that reaction would bring.  We are treated to a panoramic view of the To’hajiilee landscape as Walt wanders a distance away from the RV, practicing his excuse for running late to Skyler out loud.  He calls her up, and once the lie lands smoothly, the conversation between the two comes easily.  Skyler asks Walt if he can bring a pizza home, and they decide on Holly’s name.  Walt says “I love you” and as he hangs up, he fades out, followed by Jesse and the RV.  The stark landscape remains.

Fade in to the present moment.  Hank appears to have been shot badly in the thigh, and Gomie is dead. (GOMIE NOOOO!!!)  Hank heroically attempts to crawl over to Gomie’s gun, but Jack gets to it first.   Jack’s sidekick finds Gomie’s badge and announces that Hank and Gomie are DEA.  Immediately Jack cocks his gun and puts it to Hanks head.  He is interrupted by Walt who is in the midst of throwing a fit in the SUV.  They let Walt out of the vehicle, but don’t unbind his hands.  Walt protests, telling Jack that Hank is family.  He says “I told you not to come!” to Jack, and Jack dismisses Walt, saying that it seems as if he needed their help.  There’s some back and forth between the three men, and Walt begs Hank to tell Jack that he’ll let everything go.  Hank scoffs at the idea, and as Jack trains the gun back on Hank’s bald head, Walt goes mental.  He pleads with Jack, and offers up his ace in the hole.  He has 80 million dollars buried in the desert. 

Wow.  Hank’s life is worth quite a lot to Walt.  In actuality it’s probably priceless, but no matter.  Jack flippantly asks Hank if he should let him go, to which Hank replies, “My name is ASAC Schrader and you can go fuck yourself.”  With sadness in his eyes, Hank turns to Walt and says, “you’re the smartest guy I ever met….and you’re too stupid to see.  He made up his mind 10 minutes ago.” 


Hank.  Hank.  NO HANK NO!!!   He’s gone.  Walt collapses on the ground, his mouth open in a soundless scream, stricken with shock and sorrow.  Jack wastes no time and quickly goes about adding insult to injury.  He knows the coordinates that Walt had given him on the phone mean so much more than simple directions to a location.  For being racist loose cannons, those Nazis are pretty cunning.  Sidekick whips out his smartphone and starts digging, quickly locating the money.  Walt is still on the ground, too paralyzed with grief to care. 

As the Loose Cannon Gang unearth the barrels, and unceremoniously bury Gomie and Hank in the hole, I quickly decide that I HATE THEM.  Yeah, yeah, I know that it’s Walt’s doing that brought them to the table in the first place, and that Walt is just getting his comeuppance for all the horrible things that he did, but I can still hate them.  First, they’re Nazis.  Who likes Nazis?  No one, that’s who.  Second, since the beginning of the 'Confessions' episode I predicted that they would be Walt’s undoing.  Yet, I didn’t see them betraying Walt this completely and totally.  The BB team has set them up to be the new ‘bad guys’ and have given us an out so we can still root for Walt.  I truly hope those bastards feel the full force of Walt’s trunk of death in the next two episodes.

As the LCG prepares to leave, Jack instructs them to put one of the barrels in Walt’s car.  He walks over to Walt and extends a hand, asking if they’re square.  Walt begrudgingly shakes on it, while staring intently at something in the distance.  He says, “Pinkman.  You still owe me Pinkman.”  Jack shrugs it off, saying “If you can find him, we’ll kill him” and starts to walk away.  Walt stops him in his tracks, saying, “Found him.”

Jesse is yanked from his hiding place from under Walt’s car.  After a small amount of struggle, Jesse appears to accept his fate.  He glances skyward at a few vultures circling above, and closes his eyes, readying himself for the shot.  Todd interrupts, making a good point.  Maybe they should find out what Jesse knows about the DEA agents to tie up loose ends before offing him.  Todd cheerily mentions that he and Jesse have a history together, his tone suggesting that maybe he and Jesse should go halvsies on a six-pack, not enter into a contract of torture and eventual death.  Jack likes the idea, and Jesse takes an opportunity to look pleadingly at Walt, shaking his head ‘no’.  Walt nods, indicating that he is done with Jesse.  Jesse got his wish from a few episodes ago, and Walt’s “concerned dad act” is certainly a thing of the past.

As the gang leads Jesse away, Walt stops them to deliver a blow.  He gets right up in Jesse’s face and says the words, “I watched Jane die.”  He details the play by play without trying to justify any of his actions, and relishes in watching Jesse’s reaction.  Jesse visibly gives up, slumping lifeless into the gangster’s arms.  They drag him away and drive off.

Walt leaves alone, but not before taking a long look at Hanks final resting place.  He drives off, but his car conks out, one unfortunately placed stray bullet from the shoot out having pierced his gas tank.  Looks like Walt’s luck is starting to turn.  He clumsily rolls the barrel through miles of Indian desert to a lighthearted song, honestly the only moment of levity in the episode.  He comes upon a small house.  A Native American man greets him.  He seems unfazed as he sizes up Walt through a barbed wire fence outfitted with a large bull skull.  (Side note - Lately Walt has been conspicuously framed via a variety of different shots, likely foreshadowing possibilities for his future.  Last week it was the ‘bars’ of the car wash vertical blinds, this week a skull.  Suffice to say, things aren’t looking so great for Mr. White.)  Walt offers the man a wad of cash in exchange for his old truck. 

Skyler calls Walt from the car wash, leaving a concerned message just as a jubilant Marie breezes in and hugs Junior.  She and Skyler speak privately in the car wash office, and Marie breaks it down for Skyler.  Hank caught Walt, “dead to rights”, and Marie couldn’t be happier but she is there to salvage their relationship.  They’re still sisters after all.  But she has conditions.  She wants all copies of the blackmail DVD. Also, she wants Skyler to reveal everything to Junior.  Right that minute. Skyler protests, but gives in.  

We are spared seeing Skyler tell Junior all the gory details, so we don’t really know exactly what was revealed.  Apparently it was enough, because Junior is hyperventilating and throwing a tantrum.  He’s all confused, his happy perfect family is crumbling.  Of course, a world with no more family breakfasts is his nightmare, so his reaction is totally understandable.  Marie tells a weeping Skyler to take the kids home to “regroup”. 

In another part of town, Jesse is being held in the bottom of some sort of cell.  Whoever worked him over evidently wanted him to look like Two Face, because exactly one half of his face is mangled to a pulp.  Todd, ever the polite psychopath, gently extracts Jesse from the cell and steers him towards a door.  He brings him into the makeshift meth lab and chains him onto a dog run.  Jesse sees that theres a picture at the opposite end of the room, and lamely limps toward it.  As it comes into view, it’s clearly a surveillance pic of Brock and Andrea.  Jesse has found himself smack dab in the middle of a horror movie.  His ever cheerful captor Todd comes in, zipping into a yellow suit and says, “lets cook”.  

Back at the White homestead, Walt is quickly packing all of their belongings.  Seriously Walt?  Why even pack?  You have 10 million dollars.  Buy new things.  Better things.

Junior and Skyler get home, and they’re perplexed about the truck in the driveway.  As Walt frantically instructs his family to pack, Skyler slowly comes to the realization that Hank is dead.  She stops Walt, and demands to know where Hank is.  When he can’t give her a straight answer, she deduces that Walt killed him.  Walt sobs, “I tried to save him!” and the family has an answer.  Hank is dead.  Skyler slowly walks into the kitchen, staring at both the phone and the knife block on the counter.  She chooses the knife.  Shoving Junior behind her in the hallway, she brandishes the blade and takes the stand that it’s too late for her to take.  Walt advances at them, trying to make peace, and Skyler responds by slashing at Walt’s hand. 

Walt is mostly unharmed, but aghast at Skyler’s actions.  He grabs Skylers wrist, and wrestles her to the ground for the knife.  Walt overtakes Skyler and Junior quickly attacks Walt from behind, and Walt disengages.  He springs to his feet, screaming, “What the hell is wrong with you?!  We’re a family!”

Junior calls 911 and tells them that his dad pulled a knife on his mom and that he may have killed someone.  Walt quickly exits, snatching Holly on his way out the door.  Skyler realizes this too late, and runs after Walt, begging him to let Holly go.  Walt peels out of the driveway, slamming into Skyler’s car and pushing it into the street with his newly acquired truck.  Skyler howls in anguish, sprinting after him.  As the truck turns the corner, she falls to her knees, open mouthed with grief, almost mirroring Walts reaction to Hank’s death. 

(Various Notes – I believe that this was by far the most difficult scene in the series to watch.  The inevitable happened, and in a few minutes viewers witnessed the family literally fall apart.  Someone please give Anna Gunn her Emmy now for her stellar performance in this scene, because she did a phenomenal job expressing the sorrow of a mother who has been separated from her child.)

In a fancy looking restroom, Walt is changing Holly’s diaper.  She has her first lines on the show as she cries for her “Mama”.  And Walt sees what he must do.  His family is gone.  He hugs Holly, relishing in his last moments with his little baby girl.   His last moments of his old life.

Back at the White home, the police are there and Marie is reeling from the turn of events.  Walt calls and reaches the machine.  He calls out, “pick it up!”  Skyler picks up and the police record the call.  Walt asks if there are police, and she says “No police”.  Walt growls and hisses at Skyler, doing his best mobster impression. “I warned you, you cross me, there will be consequences.  You need to learn.  Maybe now you’ll listen.”  He lays it on thick, and Skyler slowly realizes what Walt is doing as he works his way up to “You stupid bitch.  How dare you.”  She says, “I’m sorry” as Walt chokes back a sob.  “You have no right to discuss anything about what I do. What do you know?  I built this, me alone.”   Walt effectively provides evidence to get Skyler off the hook with the police, while saying his goodbyes.  She asks him to come home, and he says, “I’ve still got things left to do", tears streaming down his face. 

Walt leaves Holly in an empty fire truck, and turns on the lights to attract attention. A fireman goes over to turn it off and finds lil Holly, whimpering in the passenger seat. 

Walt waits by the side of the road.  Everything Walt had worked for so diligently throughout the series summed up in a large plastic barrel and two suitcases.  He gets into the van, driving off into the sunrise to a new life.

This episode was rough.  I am left wondering a few things - Does anyone else think that Lydia may save Jesse?  After all, he was the one who voted to keep her alive back in 'Fifty-One' earlier this season...  In addition, isn't Marie kind of in danger now that the LCG know the tape that Jesse and Hank made is in her house?  

Lastly, because it's becoming apparent that we'll need a little levity to get through these last two episodes, I'm instituting a Tighty "Mr. White"-y Watch for the remainder of the season.  So far, we've seen Walt in his underoos in three out of six episodes this season.  Here's hoping at one more glance of those briefs before the end.  Or perhaps Walt'll shock us all with a switch to boxers?  Nah.  Probably not.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Breaking Bad - To'hajiilee Recap

The episode begins by establishing that Todd’s at it again.  He appears to be in an aboveground meth lab in the desert.  He pours out some freshly cooked meth, and it’s noticeably clear in hue.  Uncle Jack and Lydia look on, and Jack takes his mask off, breathing in the fumes, that daredevil.  The purity is up, but Lydia stresses about the absence of the trademark blue color.  Which makes me think, if it were actually a brand, what might it be called? Heisenblue? 

Cut to Todd bringing Lydia a giant mug of tea.  Eager to please, he explains to her that he knows where he went wrong with the meth, and Lydia puts her flirty face on.  Todd sidles closer.  Ew.  Lydia tolerates his arm around her as she coos to him that she would like him to “make the cook better”, and then leaves.  Todd takes the mug, and tentatively thumbs Lydia’s faded lipstick print as he watches her walk to her car.  Double Ew.  His creepy perv reverie is broken by an amazing "Blinded Me With Science" ring tone.  No surprise to us, it’s Walt requesting to set up a meeting with Jack for another ‘job’.  Todd, man of few words, says, “you got it” and hangs up the phone, and takes a gulp from Lydia’s tea.  Triple Ew.  

Meanwhile, Hank and Gomie meet under a bridge following the botched wiretap meeting in the plaza.  Gomie is frustrated with “Timmy dipshit”, but after some prompting from Hank, he listens to Jesse’s plan.  Jesse argues that he knows Walt pretty well.  And he does, because he correctly presumes that the money would be the one piece of evidence that Walt would never destroy.  Jesse doesn’t know where the money is, but he does know who might have a lead. 

Back at the Schrader household, there’s some cryptic and confusing talk between Gomie and Hank about a safe house and lawyering up before Hank plops what appears to be a brain squarely on his kitchen floor.  He drizzles it gently with the remaining blood in the Styrofoam packaging before gesturing to Jesse and saying “You’re up.” (Side note – apparently Gomie’s got some brain connections, because I have never seen a prepackaged brain before in my life.)

Hank is having quite the afternoon.  He leaves his brain-spattered kitchen and travels to a safe house. They have detained Huell there for “his own safety”.  Hank sits down and somehow manages to convince Huell that Saul has sold him down the river.  He proceeds to provide ‘proof’ to Huell that there’s a hit out on him by flashing a picture phone image of Jesse with his brains blown out.  Oh thaaaat’s what the brain was for!  Oddly enough for a gigantic bodyguard, Huell flips pretty easily, and tells them everything.   Seriously, everything.  From where they rented the truck, to how much money they moved (“seven barrels worth”) down to exactly what type of barrels they used.  After getting what he needs, Hank leaves a quite terrified and befuddled looking Huell in the safe house.  (Side note – It’s weird, but I don’t necessarily think that this loose-lipped and nervous attitude is befitting for the guy that wanted to steal all of Heisenberg’s money and run to Mexico a few episodes ago.  Just sayin’.)

Elsewhere in the ABQ, Walt meets with the Loose Cannon Gang and lets them know who his intended target is, saying that he’s not dangerous, just angry.  Uncle Jack is quite the jokester, and asks “How angry? Hulk angry?”  Jack agrees to take the job, but wants Walt to tutor young Todd in Meth Cookery 101 in exchange for the hit.  Walt eventually agrees, saying that he’ll do one cook, and only after the hit has been executed.  Walt and Jack shake on it.  Walt lets him know that he’s not too sure where Jesse is, but he knows how to “flush him out”. 

We all know what that means. Walt does his best aw-shucks act as he knocks on Andrea’s door.  She invites him in and they pass a cereal-eating Brock on the way to the kitchen.   Walt convinces Andrea to try and reach Jesse, and she’s so sweet, she does it.  She leaves him a message, and Walt is satisfied, leaving her with his number in case Jesse tries to contact her.  Outside, the hit squad waits.

At the car wash, Sklyer puts poor Junior to work ringing customers up at A1.  Junior wants to go back home, probably for breakfast, but Skyler asks that he stay a bit longer.  Saul saunters in, face still a mess, and Junior rings him up, while complimenting him on his commercials.  Despite the dire consequences of his current situation, Saul is aglow with recognition, and tells Junior to call if he ever gets a DUI.  Skyler knows something is up, and totally forgets to tell Saul to have an A1 day.

Saul, ever the double tasker, asks the “car care professionals” to really scrub the residue from Jesses drug spree / hijacking out of his Caddy’s driver seat.  He lets Walt know that Huell is MIA.  When Walt tries to wave him off, Saul admonishes him, pointing out that “the kid is not as dumb as you think”.   Walt is not convinced, saying that Jesse, “only wants me”.  Saul wonders if so, then where’s Huell?

A great shot utilizes the vertical blinds to obscure Walt’s face much like bars on a cell as he watches Saul drive away.  Just then he gets a photo text on his ancient flip phone.  It’s a barrel of money.  Walt’s jaw drops, and the phone promptly rings.  It’s Jesse.  And he sounds angry.  Hulk angry.  He bluffs and tells Walt he found six more barrels just like the one in the picture.  Walt sprints out of the car wash. 

Walt flies through the streets while he listens to Jesse rant.  Jesse warns Walt not to get off the phone for any reason, or he’ll burn the cash.  Freaking out about his precious nest egg, Walt is too panicked to think things all the way through.  Jesse’s holding the money hostage and says he is going to burn 10 G’s for every minute it takes Walt to get there.  Honestly, with that kind of money Walt’s got a lot of time to kill, but no matter.  Walt puts the petal to the metal as he shouts into the phone, increasingly furious and desperate.  At the crux of his argument he outlines (a little too neatly) all the murders he committed for Jesse’s sake, going all the way back to that two bit dealer Emilio and his snitch cousin Crazy Eight.  Jesse abruptly stops talking just as Walt arrives at the money pit location. 

Walt arrives and gets out of the car, realizing his mistake too late.  He scrambles to take the battery out of his phone, and climbs to higher ground to observe the landscape.  A puff of dry dirt in the distance indicates the approach of another car, and Walt panics and calls Uncle Jack.  He lists off the coordinates of his location, and the Loose Cannon Gang springs into action (Side note – What?  I honestly would have no idea how to use coordinates properly.  Is there an app for that?  I don’t think Nazis have smartphones.) However, Walt recognizes Hank getting out of the car and for some reason changes his mind.  He whispers to Jack not to come.  There's a pause for a long moment on Walt’s face, as tears spring to his eyes. 

(Side note - Bryan Cranston does such an exemplary job with this scene, because I have watched it several times and still don’t have a great idea of what is going through Walt’s mind.  By calling off the hit, is he still preserving the ‘family first’ motto that he so pointedly told Saul about a few episodes ago?  Did he come to the realization that he was caught on tape by the DEA, and all hope is lost?  Is he just tired of running?)

Walt quickly surrenders to the three men; wordlessly dropping his gun and following every instruction Hank gives him to the tee.  Hank seems to be relishing putting Walt through the paces, and shows him no mercy as he degrades him into walking backwards towards him before he finally cuffs him.  C’mon Hank, is that DEA procedure or are you just being a dick?  Jesse points out that this is the first place he and Walt cooked.  Hank reads Walt his rights, but Walt’s fixated on Jesse.  He addresses him as “coward” and Jesse responds by spitting an impressive loogie in Walt’s face.  They lunge at one another, but unfortunately we aren’t treated to a Jesse/Walt brawl as Gomie and Hank quickly separate them, putting Walt in Hank’s SUV and Jesse into Walt’s car.  Hank says he needs to make a call before they take off.  He calls Marie who quickly forgets all about the brains in her garbage can once Hank tells her he caught Walt.  The scene on Hank’s end of the call is tense, and Hank utters a sentence that if said in a horror movie would certainly seal his fate.  “It may be awhile before I get home.  I love you.” 

No sooner does Hank press ‘end’ on his call with Marie, than the Loose Cannon Calvary arrives.  Hank and Gomie stand at attention, while Walt sits helpless in the SUV.  Walt tries his best to yell to Jack that the hit is off, but Jack’s got his own agenda.  After a prolonged standoff, Jack’s sidekick shoots first, and then bullets rain down on the desert as both sides open fire.  The Nazis all shoot directly into the very SUV that their cash cow Walt is occupying.  Dumb.  Walt frantically wedges himself onto the floor of the SUV, and….credits. 

Three episodes left.   

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Breaking Bad - Rabid Dog Recap

New alliances!  Beautiful hotels!  And what’s up with Walt being the only moral one in this episode?  Let’s find out together, shall we? 

Last week we left Jesse as he was about to set the White household aflame in a gasoline soaked rage.  This episode picks up as Walt arrives on the scene.

Walt drives up, sees Saul’s car.  He scales a wall and tumbles into that now iconic pool patio combo.  He steels himself, taking a deep breath, and easily slides open the unlocked back door.  Clearly Walt’s home security is air-tight.  He clutches his 38 snub and calls out for Jesse.  Yeah, ok Walt, Jesse is just that stupid that he’s gonna answer you. “Yeah, Mr. White!  Right here yo!”.   Walt dodges his way through all of the rooms in the modest home, and finds nothing.

Walt goes outside, and finds meth residue on a CD on the dash of Saul's car.  Probably inferior quality meth.  Jesse wouldn’t have saved a stash of blue crystal for all that time, would he? Skateboarders fly by, reminding us that while the White home has emerged unscathed this time, its only a matter of time before it becomes an abandoned shell.  

A crew has been rapidly assembled at Walts house to clean up the damage. Saul’s car is whisked away by Huell, and a perplexed lock guy sets about replacing the locks to match the old keys.  Walt makes a call to Jesse, leaving what appears to be a relatively sincere message, ending with a tender ‘be safe’, like a concerned parent.  Walt walks back into the house and settles down on the floor, taking a deep snuff of carpet cleaning fluid and gas fumes.  That can’t be good for his lung cancer.  Despite Walt’s protests, the carpet cleaners won’t take his money, stating the obvious.  The carpet needs to be replaced. Duh Walt.  I guess chemistry doesn’t cover the bonding of crude gasoline to balding shag carpeting. 

Walt hatches an ingenious plan. What’s going to solve the problem of the gasoline smell in the house?  More gasoline of course!  He slops the liquid all over his clothing in the backyard, as well as on the driver’s seat of his car.  Instead of the usual well crafted Heisenberg plan, Walt appears to be allowing his anxiety to get the best of him, as he makes and reverses a simple decision to toss the gasoline can multiple times. 

Skyler and Junior come home and both smell the lie.  Skyler doesn’t question it anymore, but Junior calls his dad out.  He knows Walt is lying, but he doesn’t quite have everything figured out yet.  How could he?  Poor kid.  I’m definitely feeling like it’s going to be heartbreaking when he finds out what’s been going on.

At the hotel, Walt has a shadowy meeting with Kuby and Saul.  Saul remains in deep shadow for the entirety of this exchange, making it look like the BB team might have been trying to save on makeup for his mutilated face. Kuby runs down all the places they have looked for Jesse, including a pretty funny bit about Badger babbling on about Babylon 5 for hours on end.  Saul uses Old Yeller as a “colorful metaphor” for how to deal with Jesse.  Walt growls at Saul, stating, “do not float that idea again.  Find him.” 

Back at the hotel, Walt gathers ice for a hard drinking Skyler.  She lazes on the bed, glugging her vodka, and lets her hubby know she’s aware of what he’s up to.  Calling him out on seeing Saul, she appears to be very lucid as they openly discuss the issue at hand.  For the second time that hour, someone tries to convince Walt that Jesse is expendable.  To her credit, Skyler makes a more convincing argument, outlining the risk to the family, as well as the losses they have already sustained.  She asks, “so what’s one more?”

(Side note – I feel like at this point in the episode Walt is, oddly enough, the one who is morally sound, fighting for this kid who he feels a bond with even if it puts everyone else he loves in danger.  He knew how to deal with everyone else, but his literal partner in crime is the one he cannot control, but the one he most values.  His weakness for Jesse, and Jesse alone, is what threatens to eventually bring him down.)

Taking a step back in time, we see Jesse sitting in Saul’s car in the White’s driveway.  He hypes himself up by hoovering a line of meth, and we get another peek at him splashing gas all over the house.  He’s about to set it ablaze when Hank storms in.  WHAAA?  Ah-Maz-Ing.  Jesse sob-screams at Hank, revealing that Walt poisoned a child.  Apparently nothing surprises Hank anymore because he simply goes, “yeah, Walt’s an asshole”, and then calmly proceeds to convince Jesse to join his side. 

Jesse gets in Hanks car, catatonic from emotion and probably the come down off that sub par meth.  Hank tenderly buckles his Golden Tickets seat belt and rolls away just as Walt pulls onto the street.

Back at home, Hank has packed Maries purple luggage, and upon her return from her therapist appointment he encourages her to go out for a spa weekend.  She’s suspicious.  Hank explains, but Marie just wants to know if their houseguest equals bad news for Walt.  Once she knows the answer is yes, she wants to stay.  She rattles off a Lebowski-like “Phone’s ringing” to Hank as she goes to nuke some lasagna.  Hank listens to the message from Walt, and gets his thinking face on. 

Back to Walt as he sits at the gorgeous hotel pool.  I want to go to there.  Who knew the ABQ had such plush accommodations?  Junior comes down and father and son talk for a bit before Junior brings up what’s really on his mind, his dad’s illness.  Walt gives some halfhearted speech about how cancer can’t bring him down.  Junior seems reassured by Walt’s speech, and gives him a heartbreaking hug.  Junior goes back up to bed, leaving Walt to consider his father-son bond not only with his own son, but with Jesse as well.  Walt makes a call.

The next morning, Jesse wakes up and runs into Marie in the hallway.  She’s a good hostess and offers her guest some coffee.  Jesse goes down the hallway to where Hank has tripod set up and Gomie waiting in the wings.  Marie hands him a DEA mug, apparently trying to force the affiliation via caffeine consumption.  Jesse is suspicious about a camera taking Walt down.  He knows exactly what Walt is capable of.  There is no tangible proof.  Heisenberg is retired.  It takes a bit of convincing from Hank, but Jesse finally sits for the camera and looks almost relieved to finally be telling his story.

Once Jesse is done talking, Gomie is on his side.  There’s no proof. Hank concurs, citing the case as a meth head versus “Mr. Rogers has a lung tumor”.

To Walt's credit, he totally looks more like King Friday XIII than Mr. Rogers.
Hank plays last night’s message from Walt, asking Jesse to meet him at an open-air plaza later in the afternoon, and outlines his plan.  To which Jesse explodes.  “Your plan is to do his plan?!” Jesse gives the Cliff Notes outline of what Walt is capable of, in case the two agents missed it in his official oral history of Heisenberg.  Walt is smarter, and luckier than all of them.  And in one of my favorite lines of BB history, Jesse encapsulates the series as a whole, stating “Whatever you think is supposed to happen, the exact opposite of that will happen.”

Yet, Jesse knows he has no options, and goes off to use the bathroom.  Hank and Gomie chat.  Gomie knows that Jesse is smart, has some perspective on the situation, and seems surprised by Hank’s reaction.  At this point Hank is the third person in this episode to display a cavalier attitude towards Jesse’s well-being and survival.  Hank makes it clear that he is willing to take a risk with Jesse’s life if it means he gets what he wants.  Bad, bad Hank.  Shame on you.  Could this be the first sign of Hank ‘breaking bad’ himself? 

Later that afternoon, Jesse bristles at being called partner by Hank as he finishes wiring him up.  Jesse gets out of the car and walks into the plaza.  Everyone’s a potential threat.  Jesse spies a conspicuous looking bald man in a leather coat and pauses.  Directly across from baldy, he spies Walt who is in Heisenberg gear, but sans hat.  

Jesse gets worked up about the perceived threat of the bald guy, and manages to locate the last clump of pay phones left in the United States.  He punches in Walt’s number, and gives him no chance to speak.  For once, Jesse has the upper hand and he has a plan.  A good plan.  He threatens Walt, saying that he’s coming for him “where he really lives”.  (Side note – I’m going mad trying to figure out where that might be, either metaphorically or physically.)  Jesse saunters away from the plaza, and Hank comes screeching up, screaming for him to get in the car.  But Jesse is unfazed.  He grins from ear to ear as he alludes to his plan. 

Walt looks resigned and defeated as he gets up from his bench.  Cancer cough all aflutter, Walt makes a call and schedules Old Yeller’s trip to Belize. 

Four episodes left.