And why I’m worried about Jesse. But that will come later.
I don’t know about anyone else, but this episode made me really, really, really want a Breaking Bad movie. More than I ever have before. It’s been said so many times how cinematic this show is, but this week’s episode just took that to a new level. That opening scene with the boy riding his dirt bike through the desert, all those shots of the train and from the train–it all felt like a movie to me and made me want to write some sort of open letter to Vince Gilligan asking him to please seriously consider making a movie. It was just a gorgeous episode, breathtakingly so. And what an amazing use of color. If last week’s episode was blue, this week’s was orange and red.
Another comment about the episode overall: It was a little hard to calm down afterwards. It was such an adrenaline rush followed by such a chilling ending that it left me all riled up. I’m also having a much harder time than ever resisting spoilers. Usually I don’t even watch the previews because I don’t want to know anything and they’re often misleading, but these last two days, I’ve been seeking them out.
So, where to even start?
It’s interesting to me how all of our three amigos were reacting to the idea of killing people throughout the episode, before we get to the end. When Walt realizes Lydia didn’t plant the GPS tracker on the barrel of methylamine, he starts out, “Aside from the fact that we almost killed this woman…” It was a little surprising that he would even care about that at this point; he’s seemed so cold-blooded this season. Then later, we have Mike protesting the idea of the heist because he doesn’t want to kill two innocent people (the train conductor and engineer). Jesse, of course, is opposed to killing Lydia or the train guys. It’s beautiful writing the way these things are sprinkled throughout the episode and set up the ending.
I loved the scene between Walt and Hank early in the episode. Walt has this fake breakdown that’s not really entirely fake. Everything he says is technically true, and I think these things do bother Walt. Skyler doesn’t love him anymore. She does think he’s a bad influence on the kids. Everything that he’s crying about is real, which makes it a perfect deception.
My favorite part of the scene is how uncomfortable Hank is with Walt’s outpouring of emotion. Watching it, you can feel Hank’s discomfort so acutely. The camera angle changes. We go from seeing a close up of Walt’s face, to this really wide view of the office, from above and from an odd angle. That change in viewpoint mirrors Hank’s need to get the hell out of the room, feeling claustrophobic being too close to Walt’s little meltdown. And then the way Hank talks, and even walks (with a stiff leg still), just brilliant acting all around.
One thing that I found interesting is that Lydia may now have an ally, or at least someone who has some common ground, in Walt. They both wish that Mike had killed his nine guys when Lydia asked him to. Lydia wishes this because she doesn’t want to be locked up “getting gang-raped by prison guards” or have her daughter “raised in some horrible group home,” (I love seeing these little glimpses into her mind about why she’s so afraid of going to prison, there’s something kind of funny about how she spits these things out) and Walt just doesn’t want to help Mike “make ’em whole” by covering their hazard pay. And we know Jesse wants Mike to spare Lydia, so for now, Lydia lives.
That was an amazing, haunting shot of her face the first time we see her in the warehouse. Perfect lighting. And I was really surprised that she wasn’t the one who planted the device. Last week, I really thought Mike was right.
Walt never actually promised Lydia she wouldn’t be harmed. He implied that he’d agree to her deal, and what she said about wishing Mike had dealt with the guys certainly struck a chord with him. The same thing happened with Skyler. He never gave any verbal agreement to her deal but seemed pleased with her “I’ll be any kind of partner you want.”
Last week, in the comments, we were talking a little bit more about Skyler and how even though Walt shot down all of her ideas last week in that tense and chilling scene in their bedroom, she had still gained some ground. She rattled him with her “waiting for the cancer to come back” statement, but also, even before their deal this week, Walt makes Jr leave the house, so he is already complying in some way with what Skyler wants. Walt’s ideal scenario, which he thinks he can accomplish by force of character, is to have Skyler come back around. People think he wants her dead because of what she said last week but I don’t think he does. I think he thinks he really can change her mind about him. In his own mind he still loves her, as much as he is capable of loving anyone, and I think that’s why he asks Jr to leave. He didn’t have to. He could’ve gloated to Skyler that she couldn’t keep the kids away, but he didn’t. All that to say that I think in last week’s episode, she did win some power back, even if it was just a little.
I also think she’s right, that there will be a day when someone comes to the door for Walt. In the world of the show and in the drug world, it’s pretty inevitable. Walt doesn’t see it because he’s so drunk on the power and his ego that he thinks he can reign drug kingpin for the foreseeable future but that’s just not realistic. I wonder if the kids will ever come back.
I loved when Skyler asked him, “Out burying bodies?” and Walt replied, “Robbing a train.” She doesn’t know what to think, but in a weird way, he’s more honest with her now. He just said it so matter-of-fact.
Walt Jr is becoming a bigger player. He has that new, fast car. He’s really pissed off. His dad has just talked to him in a way that we’ve never seen before. He doesn’t want to stay with Hank and Marie. They’ve set it up so he could easily start acting out, getting in trouble, being reckless with his car or maybe getting into drugs or drinking (don’t forget season 1), though I think it’d be more the latter, since he already drank tequila and tried to buy booze. He has idolized Hank in the past so I’m not sure I quite buy all the “Jr’s going to get hooked on the blue stuff” scenarios people keep proposing online, but I wouldn’t rule anything out completely at this point. I do think he’s going to act out more, and that the car will play a role.
And so let’s talk about the heist. That was some good fun right up until it wasn’t.
Before the heist was the planning of the heist. And here again, Mike and Walt are at it. Arguing and posturing. Mike wants to go back to a pseudo cook so at least they can make something, but Walt points out all the reasons that’s not an option. They’ll have much more in overhead costs because they’ll have to pay the skells at the Crystal Palace to get all the pseudo, plus all the equipment they just invested in is for a P2P cook. The cut in pay would be huge, Walt argues, and they squabble again over the nine guys and the hazard pay. And then we zero in on Jesse, framed between them as he has often been this season. He’s playing with a straw which just may be what gives him the idea.
We’re seeing a very different Jesse this season. He’s acting smarter, and more responsible, coming up with ideas and designs. He’s sober. And like I discussed in the post about “Hazard Pay,” he’s still got a soul, almost a renewed innocence, wanting to avoid killing at all costs. Someone at the AMC forum suggested that Jesse was probably one of Mr. White’s most frustrating chemistry students, like Walt could see that he had potential if he’d just apply himself but he just never did. Now he is. That sounds about right. So Jesse comes up with the idea of how to steal the methylamine and replace it with the same weight of water so that no one will know they were ever there. The Vamonos Pest guys help set it all up.
It was great to see Kuby, the other part of Saul’s A-Team, for the first time this season.
The heist itself was really great fun to watch. I mean really. The footage and camera angles were fantastic. There’s all that tension with Mike watching through binoculars and giving commands, and things are looking great until a good Samaritan comes along to get Kuby’s truck off the tracks. Of course, Walt won’t stop until he’s got the full 1,000 gallons of methylamine, so the tension rachets up even more. The track is clear, the conductor and engineer get back in the train, our guys are scrambling like mad, Jesse’s yelling, “Mr. White!” and Mike is telling Walter to bring it in as the train starts moving. They get to 1,000, Todd jumps off, Jesse lays down in the middle of the tracks as the train rolls by.
(This heist has so many echoes of the magnet heist in the first episode of the season. Mike and Walt argue and posture because Walt wants to do something dangerous and crazy that may involve killing people and Mike wants to be more cautious. Jesse comes up with the winning idea and shuts them up. At the heist, Walter can’t resist taking it just a little too far, pushing it past the point that he should and they just narrowly pull it off.)
And then the train is gone. They get to celebrate. Jesse yells “Yeah bitch!” and they’re all high off of the rush of the heist. I felt that way just watching it, but just knew there had to be something else, a shoe had to drop. There’s no way it would end on that high note. They turn off their equipment and then they hear it, the sound of the dirt bike. And there’s the boy from the teaser. The writers did a great job of introducing us to him in that teaser, those extended shots of him, and then making us forget all about him until there he is.
He waves. Jesse, Todd and Walt look at him. Jesse and Walt had made it clear to Todd that no one can ever know about the heist. When I watched that scene, I thought maybe Todd would later spill the beans or not be able to keep his mouth shut. But no, Todd takes it to the complete other extreme. He waves back, then shoots the kid as Jesse screams out in protest.
The last image we see is the tarantula trapped in the jar.
That has to be purposeful and symbolic. Which of our characters is trapped in the jar? Is it Skyler, who called herself a hostage? Mike, working with time bomb Walt because he needs to pay his guys even though he’d rather shoot Walt dead? Or is it Jesse?
I’m very worried about Jesse. I have been all season, as you can see in the Season 5 Predictions post. And as more episodes go by, I get more worried. I think he is going to totally freak the fuck out over Todd killing the kid. In the “Inside Breaking Bad” for this episode, Aaron Paul (Jesse) says that shit really hits the fan next week.
This whole season, they are playing up Jesse’s sweetness as well as the fact that he’s coming up with stuff, getting smarter about things. In my mind, the writers are either setting him up to somehow get out of all of this alive and be successful at something, or to get killed off. Or possibly to completely lose his innocence by killing someone, perhaps Walt, which I don’t think he could live with. That last one seems the least likely.
I’m really afraid they’re going to kill him off and here is why. Some of this may be considered spoilers because it comes from things that the actors and Vince Gilligan have said in interviews or on twitter. Of course, they’re not supposed to give anything away and I don’t think they’re trying to but yeah, here’s why I think Jesse might not be long for this world. If you don’t want to know anything said in interviews/etc, stop reading now!
So, when they were finishing up the season, Aaron Paul went to a payphone after his last day, took calls from fans and posted some tweets about how great it was working with everyone, thanking Vince Gilligan, saying he’s going to miss everyone. All of these things seemed to have an ending sort of tone to them. It could just be end of season, not end of his run on the show, but still a little alarming. Then it came out that other actors were still working after his last day, including Betsy Brandt (Marie), RJ Mitte (Walt Jr) and others. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean anything, the last episode could be more focused on Walt and the family, or it could just be about the order in which they were shooting scenes, but it did get me thinking what if Jesse dies in episode 507? I know rockmama from the Scranton Branch aka proboards was worrying the same thing.
The fact that they haven’t announced a title for episode 508 only adds to the worry. And then in an interview, Bryan Cranston said someone major dies this season. It seemed like he meant this season as in this first half but I don’t think it was entirely clear on that. And then, in an interview with GQ, Aaron Paul says, “Jesse dies.” I think he was kidding around (in fact, maybe that one is a GOOD sign b/c if Jesse really was going to die, would he be allowed to say anything like that in a national magazine???) but it just added to these thoughts.
Yesterday, Aaron Paul was tweeting some ending-sounding stuff again. He said he can’t believe it’s almost over, and he thanked Vince Gilligan for not killing Jesse off in the first season. Hmmm.
And then it’s just the general sense that seeing Jesse’s humanity in these episodes probably doesn’t bode well for his character.
But who knows, maybe I’m way off the mark. I still think it could be Skyler who dies, or even one of the kids. Something has to explain that teaser for the first episode, why he’s missing her and not wearing his wedding ring.
There are so many factors that are still in play–the ricin, Ted, the cancer, Mike’s guys–that it’s really hard to guess what might come next and the writers do a great job of keeping us guessing, so probably nothing any of us predict is actually going to happen, but still, I’m worried. And I CAN’T WAIT for Sunday.
More About “Fifty-One”
- Sidekick Reviews
- Weak Interactions – The Science of Breaking Bad
- Tim Goodman Q&A – I got to join in this week!
Other Breaking Bad Topics
- How Walter White Poisoned Brock and What Happened to the Ricin Cigarette
- Walter White’s Moral Demise and the People Jesse Pinkman Loves
- Awesomely Creative Fan-Made Breaking Bad Media
- Writing Lessons from BrBa: An Overview