How does so much happen in one episode? The Earth has moved in the world of the show. So many storylines intertwine and evolve.
And we learn some key things in this one. Like, Combo stole a baby Jesus statue from a Knights of Columbus display. That might be my favorite detail of the whole episode. Also, Walt’s storing his drug phone in a plastic baggie in the toilet tank, another favorite detail.
There is also a lot–probably in part for time, because so many stories are being told at once–that we don’t see. We don’t see Jesse waking up, or the moment he discovers Jane’s body. Or when he calls her death in to the police. We actually don’t even see or hear anything Jesse says to Walt when he first calls him. All of these things can be inferred and don’t need to be shown on screen.
How did Aaron Paul not win an Emmy for this episode? His acting here blows me away. He’s playing crushing grief, detoxing, guilt, drugged out stupor, and numbness, sometimes several of these at once, and he’s so, so raw. Just like he was in “Grilled” but for much longer stretches. Just breaks my heart.
It’s good to see Walter taking care of Jesse, being there. He’s just done something so horrible, standing there and doing nothing as Jesse’s girlfriend died, that it feels like some sort of justice (not really adequate, but still it’s something) that he’s there to help clean up the mess. It’s sort of interesting that Walt is who Jesse calls. These two are ensnared together in this maelstrom that Walt started with his original decision to break bad, and that seems to have solidified over the course of Season Two, even when they fight, and even though Walt just did something that does, in a twisted way, help Jesse but was an ultimate betrayal.
It feels right that Walt goes into that crackhouse looking for Jesse. Mike tells him that he could get arrested or shot, and that makes it even better that he goes in anyway. Walt should have to take some risks for Jesse now. That scene where Walt finds Jesse and tries to get him awake and walking and Jesse is crying, saying how much he loved Jane, saying that it’s his fault because he got her back on the drugs, has to be one of the most poignant scenes in the series. I’m literally tearing up just writing about it. Just perfect acting, writing, filming here. Notice that Walt actually calls Jesse “son” here.
Also note the stark visual contrast between the crackhouse and Jesse’s rehab place. The colors, the tone, it could hardly be more different. Some of my favorite use of color in the show is that rehab place–the plush bright green robes, the terra cotta colored dome. The colors have some fire; they’re alive. Just what Jesse needs now.
But first, it’s his turn to have an “I deserve this” moment. Walter had his out in the desert when they were dehydrated and thought they were going to die. Jesse has his at this moment that’s a turning point back towards the living. There’s a strange and beautiful juxtaposition in that.
Gus, what an eerie guy. Donating to the DEA fun run could be a good idea to stay under the radar, but isn’t it a little creepy how completely calm and collected and smooth he is with the DEA? He’s so unflappable, deft at putting on this persona. Meticulous. And then when he donates to Walt’s surgery fund, that’s even creepier. Gus has Walt’s number. He knows about Walt’s cancer and his bro-in-law in the DEA. If he didn’t know about it already. He’s a cautious man, after all.
Walter said, back in the desert in his “I deserve this” moment, that he was having trouble keeping track of the lies, and he gives himself away when he’s drugged for the surgery, lets it slip that he has a second cell phone. The timing, as always with this season, is perfect for setting up what happens next. Of course, Skyler realizes that his fairly see-through lie about where the sound of a second phone came from was in fact a lie and traces his the tangled web of lies and never quite says what she’s concluded. But she knows it’s not an affair, and that he mysteriously had enough money to pay for his treatment. She must have a pretty good guess. What else could it really be? Gambling? Some undercover, high-paying chemistry work for the government? Robbing banks? Some kind of heist? I think she knows, or has a pretty good idea.
And I also think that Walt, if Skyler let him, would confess everything. It probably wouldn’t help. Fessing up after you’re caught sorta takes the noble notions out of confessing. But I think he would. This is the last thing he wanted. And Walt, for as bad as some of the things he’s done have been this season, still has a lot of humanity. It’s eroded, for sure. Letting Jane die probably chipped away a bigger part of his soul (Walt is a father, after all) than anything else, and he’s been sacrificing parts of his soul for awhile now, but there’s some soul still left.
The reason I say the timing is perfect is that Skyler’s been suspicious for awhile. She’s known he was lying, or that these stories were all a little too absurd. She’s felt alienated from him with all his disappearing, his silences, his bullshitting, missing the birth of baby Holly, all the strange phone calls, the list is just endless. But I think she ignored it, tried to believe him. He had cancer and it was looking pretty bleak, and she was pregnant with their unplanned baby. It’s easy, in situations like that, to let too many things slide, to not dig into something if you have the feeling you’ll come up with something you didn’t want to find. There was too much other stuff on her proverbial plate. So the fact that she’s had the baby, and that Walt is in the clear now, cancer-wise, for the near future, makes this a really ripe time for her to discover Walt’s secret. The timing is just so impeccable this season.
Then, the plane crash. Seven Thirty-Seven. Down. Over. ABQ. Jane’s father Don is such an interesting character. The bar and “water on Mars” scene in the last episode perfectly set up how much he loves his daughter, how much he wanted to be able to save her. How he must be beating himself up for letting Jane have that one day to get ready for rehab, for saying “I’m sorry, I made a mistake” and hanging up when he started to call the cops on Jane and Jesse. And then he goes back to work too early, and he struggles, and he screws up (and he slips the name “Jane” in by accident) and planes crash.
Then there’s that creepy awesome pink bear. And what’s even more awesome is how these black and white scenes scattered throughout the season have built to this, but no one could ever, ever have guessed this ending. It’s a total twist and surprise. It’s a fallout to what Walt has done, but an indirect one. There are the expected consequences, like a wife figuring out a husband’s lies, especially when the husband can hardly keep them all straight, and splitting up with the husband. But then there’s the butterfly effect, all the unforeseen ripples that a decision can have, and how those repercussions can spiral out of control.
Moral of the story? Don’t cook meth, kids. You might end up alone with a pink bear floating in your pool with its detached plastic eye watching you.
What will come of Jesse of the green robe? What change might his “I deserve this” moment spark in him? Will he really get clean?
Walter White has changed a lot over the arc of this season. Will recent events sober him up, make him question what he’s done, or will he continue on the road he’s been on all season, and just dig in deeper?
- Breaking Bad Episode 212 “Phoenix”
- Breaking Bad Episode 211 “Mandala”
- Breaking Bad Episode 210 “Over”
- Breaking Bad Episode 209 “4 Days Out”
- Breaking Bad Episode 208 “Better Call Saul”
- Breaking Bad Episode 207 “Negro Y Azul”
- Breaking Bad Episode 206 “Peekaboo”
- Breaking Bad Episode 205 “Breakage”
- Breaking Bad Episode 204 “Down”
- Breaking Bad Episode 203 “Bit by a Dead Bee”
- Breaking Bad Episode 202 “Grilled”
- Breaking Bad Episode 201 “Seven Thirty-Seven”
- Breaking bad Season 1 Episode Posts
- “ABQ” Insider Podcast
- Weak Interactions – The Science of Breaking Bad: ABQ
- Tim Goodman – Bastard Machine Deconstruction: ABQ
excellent reviewing…love to read them…its like I’m reviewing the episode in my mind, but definitely i find out you think more deeply than me…cudos
Thanks Sanil, and thanks for reading! Oh man, I miss Breaking Bad so much…still too early to go back and re-watch.