Breaking Bad Episode 506 “Buyout”

Only two more to go this season. Time flies.

Speaking of time, the last week was real light on posts–I had an out of town guest for several days–but will now resume the regular schedule. Lots of catching up to do with comments and with adding links.

In other news, I’m taking on writing spec scripts for existing TV series and of course I’m doing Breaking Bad so my head is all full of episode ideas (as of now, planning to do one that would fit between episodes 3 and 4 of this season) and thoughts on the most recent ep.

What a powerful teaser. Wow, that was so well done. It set up the perfect emotional impact by being very understated. They start with the bike, dismantling it with such surgical precision, putting it, piece by piece, into the barrel. There’s something slow and sad and beautiful about that sequence, and the music that went with it. And the lack of dialogue. It doesn’t let up, the bike seems to have endless parts to be disassembled. Jesse’s absence is so present. Then Todd uncovers just the kid’s hand in the dirt and you see they’ve readied another barrel. It’s enough to let the viewers know exactly what’s going to happen to the kid’s body, even though it’s never shown, which is just so, so powerful. Difficult to watch, but that speaks to its power.

And then the first line of the episode is Todd to Jesse, “You guys didn’t tell me the stuff (hydrofluoric acid) smells like cat piss.” You can read everything on Jesse’s face. Todd can’t. “Shit happens, huh?” And then Jesse hauls off and punches him in the face. I don’t know about anyone else, but I found that really satisfying as a viewer.

These teasers are knocking it out of the park this season but this may be my favorite. Not because of what happens–what happens is horrific, disposing of a kid’s bike and body–but because it was so freakin’ well-written and executed. The understatement of just seeing the hand was brilliant. The quietness and the music and the slowness all added to the impact. And you get the feeling that Mike and Walt are disturbed as well, not to the same extent that Jesse is, but still. There was a lot of saturated orangey-red and it added to the sad beauty of this teaser.

Like Jesse says in the pilot, “This is art!”

So, Todd. What to do? His speech to Mike, Jesse and Walter reminded me of so many past scenes. When he says he was thinking on his feet when he shot the kid, it reminded me of Jesse saying he was thinking on his feet when he poured out all their water in “4 Days Out.” In fact, I have a suspicion that he may be “the new Jesse” in some way. Jesse wants out but Todd wants in. He proved himself capable in the heist, he disables nanny-cams, he has connections in prison, he thinks for the team and he calls Walt “Mr. White” like Jesse does. I think we will see more of this dynamic.

But most of his speech reminded me more of Walt. He said when it comes down to anyone else versus the team, “I chose us.” Sounds like Walt said to Gus after Jesse killed Gale. And I think Walt may have even said something else along those lines about killing Gus. And Todd says he’d do it again, which Walt said a lot–late last season and for the first few eps of this season. Could part of Walt’s plan at the end of this episode involve Todd as a major player? I wouldn’t be surprised.

They let Todd stay on with a vote of 2 to 1. Notice that Walt is clearly in the power position during this whole discussion. Jesse’s the one standing up and shouting but he gets outvoted. Mike doesn’t step in except to vote. Walt is the one Todd is appealing to, and the one who does all the arbitrating. He lays out the options and which one is best. One of my favorite parts of that scene is when Walt asks Todd to leave and Todd says he just really wants to be on the team, and he’s saying it in a sort of pleading, impassioned tone, and Walt goes, “That’s fine, Todd,” it’s so dismissive! It’s just the perfect thing for Walt to say in that moment. He’s clearly in control in this scene.

The prison connections. Anyone else think that may come back into play? It seemed a little detailed to me, to be random. And Mike confirms that it is true. There’s probably some significance to that. Maybe some connection to Mike’s nine guys later on?

What do you make of Todd keeping the tarantula and the way he looked at it. A trophy? I don’t know, I didn’t get a total sociopath feel from that scene, more like Todd himself may not know why he kept it, it might be a way of remembering the kid or just his own fascination or some combination of all the above. There was something so ambivalent about that moment, the way he studies it.

Walt and Jesse go on cooking, and the house they’re working in looks eerie and wonderful with all that yellow and green coloring from the tent. They see that news report and Jesse is just tormented with guilt. Walt gives this speech about how he can’t sleep because of what happens. He wants Jesse to feel like he’s on his side. He also says that in a year and a half or so, once they’re done cooking through the methylamine, there will be time for soul-searching. I doubt it. Walt could’ve stopped at so many points and didn’t. Does anyone really think he would stop after they’re done with with this supply of precursor? No, he’d rob another train, or find Lydia if she’s still alive since by then her Madrigal warehouse will probably be freer of suspicion, or he’d find another way to get more somehow. I don’t even know at this point, if he even believes himself that in a year and a half he’d be done.

He offers to finish the cook himself, then starts whistling while he works. When Jesse sees this, it may be the first real moment of disillusionment with “Mr. White” all season. It leaves the door cracked open just a little bit for Mike.

I don’t think Walt is a complete sociopath either (though he does have tendencies and leanings in that direction). That would be too simple. I think he was bothered by the kid’s death. Look at his face in the teaser, he’s not completely callous. But I think he was only bothered for a hot minute. Certainly, he’s not as bothered as Jesse.

Mike is getting followed, and he listens in to Hank’s conversations (loved the miracle whip bit, there’s a lot of talk about food in this episode) and knows they’re gunning for him. He comes up with a plan to get himself and Jesse out, and Walt comes upon them when dropping off the batch.

Here is where all the power struggles between and within our characters get really interesting. Walt is iniitally pretty excited that Mike is out. Jesse can barely look Walt in the eyes when he says he’s out too. Mike is so matter-of-fact, “I would never come to the headquarters of our illegal meth operation dragging a bunch of cops. That would be unwise.” Walt tries to convince Jesse that he should stay in, talking about how much money they could make with that much methylamine, but it doesn’t convince him. The kid getting shot was a dealbreaker for him.

And of course, it doesn’t end there. Declan, the guy Jesse and Mike are going to sell their methylamine to, doesn’t want it unless he has all 1000 gallons. He wants the Blue Sky off the streets to drive up demand for his own formula, to eliminate the competition. So Jesse goes over to talk to Walt. At Walt’s house. Now, I had seen, on Sunday morning, a picture of Jesse eating dinner with Walt and Skyler so I that was coming but it was still surprising to see Walt open the door to Jesse.

Jesse tries to give Walt the hard sell. Everything that he says is reasonable and probably expresses what a lot of us viewers are thinking. Walt said he needed $737,000, so why is he scoffing at $5 million? Like Jesse says, he could get out of the business, maybe patch things up with his family, stop worrying about getting caught. Things seem pretty irreparable with Skyler at this point, but it could be a big move if he got out of the business. His family would be in a lot less danger. His kids might be able to come back home. But no dice, Walt wants an empire, even though Jesse says, “I don’t know, Mr. White, is a meth empire really something to be that proud of?” But it’s what Walt has always wanted, an empire that is built upon the basis of his chemistry prowess.

And! Gray Matter! Finally, it comes back. This is the company Walt cofounded in grad school with Gretchen and Elliot. We don’t ever find out exactly what happened there (Walt and Gretchen clearly have conflicting accounts of how it all went down, as evidenced in “Peekaboo”) but now we learn Walt got bought out for $5,000 and has a lot of resentment about it because now the company is worth billions with a B. He feels cheated. We learn yet another layer of his motivation, of how he became this Heisenberg guy. It adds to what we learned in “Salud” about his father’s battle with Huntington’s to create a more full picture of Walter White. We always knew there was something about Gray Matter, but here the resentment is so palpable.

My favorite detail of that whole bit might be that Walt checks on Gray Matter every week. Of course he does. It’s so Walt. And it shows how tightly he’s held onto his grudge against Gretchen and Elliot, feeding it weekly.

I’m not sure whether or not we’ll see more about Gray Matter. I’m so glad the writers brought it back. Honestly, if we had gone through the rest of the series without any mention of it, the whole thing with the company and G & E might’ve seemed a little too device-y–there in Season 1 and early Season 2 as a way to show Walter’s pride and what his life could’ve been and then never mentioned again. But bringing it up like this was great. It wasn’t too neatly tied together (some people suggested that Gray Matter had ties to Madrigal and that would’ve been too neat for me) but it was brought up again, in a way that shows us more about Walt. I would be fine if this is the only mention of it, if we never find out the exact details but I’d also be fine if it does, as long as it’s believable. Really thought this whole piece of the puzzle was handled well. It was so great to hear more about Gray Matter.

And then the most awkward dinner scene on the planet. Yeah, that happened. As a fan of The Office, I didn’t ever think there could be a more awkward and uncomfortable and funny (in an excruciating way) dinner scene since the dinner party at Michael and Jan’s in Season 4, but this may have topped it. Jesse tries so hard to be the perfect guest, from the moment Skyler walks in the door. He’s complimenting the lovely home, drinking water while Skyler downs the wine, complimenting her cooking and her shopping, filling the empty space with all this noise about frozen food.

It was just priceless. “These. Are. Choice.” “It’s like, yo! Whatever happened to truth in advertizing?” “Yeah, it’s bad.” Or when he says the cheese on the lasagna ends up all scabby and then it’s like…he can’t quite come up with something so he just says “eating a scab.” And he’s shoveling his food, just like he did in the first episode of Season 4, when they’re at the Denny’s after Victor got his throat cut. He tries to ask about business and offers that Mr. White says Skyler’s a great manager. All the while, Walt offers NOTHING. He doesn’t say a word. Just kind of enjoys torturing both of them. I think the most he does is chuckle at one of Jesse’s comments about frozen food.

And Skyler. Now she knows Walt told her sister about her affair with Ted. Wow, what a great scene between Skyler and Marie. I really think she was about to spill the beans. And then, another betrayal by Walt. I do think that Walt told Marie that partly to get out of the jam he was in but also in part to isolate the sisters from each other. It’s clear that Marie’s being kinda judgy about it, or kinda delights in the fact that her sister is the one who’s done something wrong. I love her in that scene, all that stuff about Ted being a good-looking guy, and then when she says she’s thought about having an affair…well not for real but she “totally gets” Skyler’s temptation. It’s just perfect between the sisters. But now Skyler’s even more pissed at Walt, as if she thought that was even possible.

When Walt told Jesse to come over, he had to know Skyler was, or at least could be, on her way home. That mind of his is always turning, coming up with the next ploy, and I think he invited Jesse over to sort of reconnect, get Jesse back on his side. That’s why he talks about getting screwed over with Gray Matter. That’s why after tormenting him with this horrible meal (wasn’t the best moment when Walt says, “My kids are gone,” and Jesse goes, “thank God”?), he lays it on about how Skyler’s waiting for him to die and has made his kids leave and how his empire is all he has left. “And you want to take it away from me?”

So Walt being Walt, he tries to steal the methylamine, and Mike being Mike suspects it and is waiting with his gun. He holds Walt at HQ overnight, (“like it’s my birthday,” Mike says) until he has to take care of some business with Saul. He cuffs Walt to a radiator and takes off. Walt of course, gets right to work trying to knock over that coffeepot that rolls away in one piece. If that had worked, I don’t know, it would’ve been too easy. But it didn’t so Walt burns through his handcuff and badly burns his wrist in the process to escape.

That scene with Saul, Hank and Mike was classic. My favorite part may be the dirty look Mike gives Saul when Saul refers to him as a senior citizen, but the best line of that whole scene has to be, “Some hurts only show on the inside.” Hahahaha!

Well shit. I feel almost like a broken record saying it but how much is Walt’s behavior just like an addict’s here? He is forgoing all reason (“I don’t know how else to say this but five million dollars isn’t nothing.”), doing himself what looks like pretty painful bodily harm, alienating his family, turning every chance to quit and maybe patch things up with them as best he can or at least get them out of danger, turning down $5 million dollars and knowing full well that Mike will probably kill him when he finds out what he’s done. And he does this all to get what he needs for his fix of power, money and empire.

It was a badass scene for sure, but seriously, what’s with Walt? This is why I feel pretty certain he would never quit at the end of this supply of methylamine. He’s way too addicted.

It’ll be really interesting to see what his idea is. How is he going to get Jesse and Mike their $5 million and keep the methylamine so he can keep cooking? Does he really intend to let them leave the business? Will Todd be his new guy? Will Mike let Walter live? Will they finish whatever they’re doing in time before the DEA starts trailing Mike again? Are they going to try to water down the methylamine somehow? If so, how long could that plan really last? What do you think Walt’s master plan is? How did Walt get Jesse onboard and will it work with Mike?

Right now, there are a lot of storylines still up in the air: the ricin in the socket, Ted, Lydia who may not be needed for supply at the moment (unless she’s involved with the plan!) but is presumably still alive and knows a lot, Todd’s prison connections, Declan and his guys wanting the blue off the streets, the kids at Hank and Marie’s (two episodes in a row now that they have mentioned keeping Holly, and we still haven’t seen the scene Dean Norris mentioned, a creepy scene involving Holly that happens later this season), Junior starting to act out more, Skyler more and more upset with Walt, Walt’s cancer which may or may not come back, Jesse and Mike wanting out, and so forth. It seems completely impossible to guess what might happen next week, but does anyone have any good theories??

I am now leaning towards thinking that if anyone dies, it could be Mike. It’s more a gut feeling than anything else. I think it may be this coming episode. I’m probably wrong. It’s easy to be right with this show, but I’m just putting it out there.

~Emilia J


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4 thoughts on “Breaking Bad Episode 506 “Buyout”

  1. There’s been some speculation that Todd keeps the tarantula because he’s a sociopath but I think people are overthinking it. The way he regards it, it’s with a kind of childlike wonderment. He’s not keeping it as a kill-trophy. He’s keeping it because he thinks it’s just really cool. He’s completely earnest, which in its own way might be even more dangerous. You look at the scene where he’s looking at the tarantula, he’s not some evil genius: he’s a kid marveling at his neat new pet. Not too unlike the kid he killed.

    Also, he needs to keep the tarantula because he’s following strict orders: NO WITNESSES LEFT BEHIND :)

    (If you listen to the Breaking Bad Insider podcast, Vince Gilligan talks about Jesse Plemons asking him about that scene and whether Todd is keeping it because he’s crazy, and Vince actually confirms that he’s not really keeping it as a kill-trophy. He just thinks it’s cool.)

    RE: the Walt-Skyler-Jesse dysfunctional family dinner scene — don’t Hank and Marie live pretty close by? I thought the greater risk would have been Hank seeing Jesse dining at the White House.

    I *do* hope that the 8th episode is treated as a season finale and not as a season mid-point because a year is a looong time to wait for a little bit of closure. My prediction is that Skyler is eventually going to die by somehow accidentally smoking that ricin-laced cigarette that Walt has reserved. They’ve set up her falling into the chain-smoking habit, and Walt hiding the ricin-smoke behind the electrical socket, and no one has explicitly died from ricin in the series thus far.

    Also, while I’m here, I’m wondering if they’re ever going to address the Gus Situation. They pointedly set up that Gus can’t be killed because of his past Chilean connections. There is the poolside flashback where his partner is killed but he’s spared because of who he knows. And there is the scene where the sniper starts playing target practice with Gus’s men and Gus strides out like The Terminator because he knows the sniper won’t kill him. Why can’t you kill Gus? I thought this season would immediately address the repercussions of killing Gus — involving whatever is in Gus’s past — but it hasn’t.

  2. M. Alice..yeah..that’s a very good point about Gus. Perhaps that’s who Walt is preparing to fight when he picks up that huge gun in New Hampshire???? Don’t know, and it seems like a big enough point that Mr. Gilligan will at some point will resolve it.

    Well, Emilia, you were right! Mike’s gone…sigh. come we feel all sad about a hit man dying? So strange. But yes, It was such a poignant scene between Mike and Walt. And you can tell in the extra’s that Mike hated to leave as he loved the character as much as we all did. Even the cast wore black armbands. Very cool.

    Well, let’s see what this Sunday has to offer, and I agree with you, it has to be BIG! But..does it have to be someone dying or just someone caught, or the appearance being caught? I agree with you and ‘think’ it’s going to be Skylar, and per my other comment on your latest post, I think Skylar will be killed (strangled by Walt) or at least it will ‘look’ like she’s dead…..don’t know. Whew..just an amazing show!


  3. Crazy that that little vial of ricin is still in play. Who knows if it will get used.

    That’s a really good question about Gus’s past. They did always say they couldn’t kill Gus–maybe it had to do with his distribution network or something? Or like you said, his ties back in Chile? I also wonder if Cartel stuff will come back into play later on in the series. Yeah, Gus wasted all those guys with the poisoned tequila, but that shouldn’t really stop the cartel for too long.

    Jared – I hope I never have to deal with methylamine in any chem lab, that sounds nasty.

    Mike was a very lovable hit man, lol. I don’t know what it was, but everyone loved him. He was non-nonsense, and funny, and loyal. It was really sad to see him go. He outlasted a lot of people on the show, even Gus. I think that one of the things BrBa does best is create characters who aren’t all good or all bad. Lots of people still totally root for Walt and probably will no matter what he does. Every character has a human side. So we end up loving a hit man and being sad when he dies! Brilliant writing can do that.

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