Watching this episode, I was struck with the thought that this is maybe the happiest time we see for Skyler and Walter. Of course, there’s the getting frisky at the school board meeting, a board meeting which is about the lab equipment Walt stole. And then they get it on in the car. But it’s not just that. Later, there’s the scene in the bedroom that’s just so…normal. Well, except the fact that Walt is lying to her about going to a sweat lodge, but aside from that, it almost seems like they’re any normal couple. There’s something familiar and not quite sweet but warm in the room.
Marie’s kleptomania has resurfaced. I really like that trait about her character. I’m not sure why (and I’m suddenly realizing I really like another character who shoplifts–Hanna on Pretty Little Liars–so that’s kinda weird) but it’s like Marie’s dark side. The side of her that’s not just picking at Skyler, pointing out everything she’s doing wrong as sisters sometimes do. This is Marie breaking bad. But then she gives Skyler the ridiculous white gold baby tiara and Skyler returns it and gets in trouble. Skyler fakes going into labor to get out of it. I think this illustrates two things. One is that people get freaked out by pregnant women. I’m not saying they should–quite the opposite, actually–but that it’s often the case. In this case it works to Skyler’s advantage. The other point here is that Skyler can lie when she needs to, and she has this quality early on. It makes me think that maybe Walt and Skyler both had certain “dark side” aspects that attracted them to each other in the first place.
But back to Marie for a sec, what is the real crime–the shoplifting or the fact that she wants to name the baby Esmerelda?
Jesse is still healing from his beating from Tuco. His ribs are all bandaged. Walt finds him in the RV and surprises him with the money from Tuco. When they go to the drug meet, Jesse is all kinds of freakin’ out, especially since they don’t have the two pounds they promised Tuco. Walt, though he is earning his criminal chops, still doesn’t really know what he’s doing. As Jesse puts it, he picks “a non criminal’s idea of a drug meet.”
I have to say, this is one of my all-time favorite episodes, partly because the chem nerd in me gets to really geek out. “We’re not going to need pseudoephedrine, we’re going to make phenylacetone in a tube furnace and we’re going to use reductive amination to yield methamphetamine. Four pounds.” Just hearing Walt say these kinds of chemmy words makes me happy. I’m not even exactly sure what a tube furnace is, I must admit, but it sounds cool. Yeah science!
One of my all-time favorite moments in this episode is what happens next, when Jesse tries to pronounce all the chemicals and equipment on Walt’s shopping list and says he’s giving up and “moving to like Oregon or something,” and Walt gives him the “This is the first day of the rest of your life,” speech, going so far as to ask if it’s going to be a life full of fear and self-doubt or a life of greatness. What’s great about this is that this sort of speech is so cliche. We’ve seen or heard it a million times in some sort of inspiring way, and maybe even seen done in an ironic way. But Walt is not ironic here. He’s entirely earnest, but he’s trying to convince Jesse to go get anhydrous methylamine and other meth-making materials. The writers took something cliche and used in an entirely new and unexpected way, which makes it funny. Love it.
More fun science stuff with the thermite from the etch-a-sketch. Whenever Breaking Bad does a heisty scene, it’s really fun. I really felt that this summer, but this was their first real heist when they steal the methylamine from the chemical supply plant. They lock the guy in the porta-potty, put on those RIDICULOUS masks (one of my favorite details), then roll that barrel down Jesse’s basement stairs and start cooking.
Walt and Jesse have a brief conversation about money while they are cooking in Jesse’s basement. Walt wants to make more than four pounds to get ahead. He’s calculated how much money that will make them each if they get ahead by this half pound. Jesse asks Walt how much time he has and how much money he needs in his, ya know, situation, and Walt just says, “More.”
How telling is this conversation? Walt really was very greedy from the get-go. That came up in the last episode, when he pushed Jesse to find a distributor. Of course, he’s dealing with terminal cancer, so he’s got a deadline of sorts, so it makes sense for him to not waste any time making the big bucks to leave for his family, but there’s also a greediness to him from early on. He’s always the one pushing them deeper and deeper into this drug world. He’s obviously feeling some thrills from his outlaw lifestyle.
And this is sort of what I meant earlier when I said that Walt and Jesse have such different reactions to committing murder. It messes Jesse up for a really long time later in the series, but Walt doesn’t have that sort of psychological repercussion, even after getting to know Krazy-8 some. He just keeps getting badder and getting a thrill from it. But that’s also not all that’s going on in Walt. He is still largely a sympathetic character. Just look at what he says in that video during the baby shower. He loves his family. Walt is a very complex man with aspects to his personality that have probably long been suppressed that are now starting to surface.
And oops, Jesse’s realtor is having an Open House, which has to be stopped. Funny stuff yo. Jesse has some great lines throughout this entire episode. So does Tuco.
In the ultimate scene at the drug meet spot with Tuco and Gonzo and No-Doz, two important things are introduced. One is the blue meth. This becomes such an integral part of the show that it’s almost hard to remember that it once wasn’t blue. The color figures so prominently throughout the rest of the series. It’s a poetic license type thing, because there’s no real scientific reason for it to be blue. Color is used very purposely on this show. Each character has a color palette for each season, and there is such color saturation on the show. No decision about color is taken lightly. Why do you think the writers decided to make the meth blue? What’s the symbolism there? Is there any significance or connection to the fact that blue has been Skyler’s color in this early season?
The other idea introduced in this scene is that Tuco is totally f’ing nuts, or as Jesse earlier put it, an “insane ass clown dead eyed killer.” Yeah, he was kinda crazy in the previous episode, beating the crap out of Jesse and stealing his drugs, snorting meth off the bowie knife, putting the cigarette out on his tongue and all that. But beating his own guy to a pulp over an innocuous comment is taking it to a new level. The way he shows off his bloody fist afterward only drives the point home even further. Tuco may have sampled a little too much blue sky for his already crazy temperament. But his crazy, unpredictable nature is exactly what makes him a fun antagonist to Jesse and Walter.
So much for no more bloodshed, right? What have these guys gotten themselves into?
- Breaking Bad Episode 106 “Crazy Handful of Nothin'”
- Breaking Bad Episode 105 “Gray Matter”
- Breaking Bad Episode 104 “Cancer Man”
- Breaking Bad Episode 103 “…And the Bag’s in the River”
- Breaking Bad Episode 102 “Cat’s In the Bag…”
- Breaking Bad Pilot Episode
- Weak Interactions – The Science of Breaking Bad: A No-Rough-Stuff-Type Deal