August 23, 2012 by Susan Miller
We’re building to something. It’s a very slow build, but there are only two episodes left this year, so it’s bound to be something. This week, on a very special episode of Breaking Bad, the barrel claimed another victim and its first dirt bike, Mike and Jesse tried to quit but were thwarted by the unlucky 666, Gray Matter reappeared in an attempt at relevancy, Jesse met Skylar for the second time in the show’s history and Mike inexplicably didn’t shoot Walt. Again.
1. What is Walt’s plan?
Steven: To sell Declan the methylamine, then to orchestrate an elaborate heist involving a sick elephant, road barriers, flares, and fake police officers, then siphon the methylamine out of Declan’s truck and back into a pre-prepared hole in the ground. Then they’ll replace the stolen chemical with kid’s mouthwash, which Walt has rigged to explode upon the first cook.
Or, you know, they start selling Heisenberg blue to Declan and his guys. Distribution problem: solved! But I hope it’s the first one.
Susan: You know what would make this plot more interesting? If Declan were Declan from Revenge, in the craziest crossover event ever. Honestly, I think (hope) his plan has something to do with fake meth. We have all those weird asides in the episode about fake food. Hank rants about miracle whip vs. mayo on the bug, Jesse and Walt watch that bizarro commercial about the kelp caviar and then Jesse laments the absence of truth in advertising, yo, about his poor scabby lasagna. I’m hoping this was all pointing at some super secret fake/diet meth that Walt will sell to Declan… or sell him the methylamine and then make his own fake/diet meth? Then again, there’s always the Mentos plan. Still seems like a pretty stupid idea to let Declan and his gang find out that he’s Heisenberg. Surely the DEA has a mole somewhere in this operation.
2. Is Landry/Todd the new Walt?
Steven: I can see an argument for this one, however, I don’t think he has a big enough chip on his shoulder. (Oh, I just got it, the transformation of Mr. Chip-on-his-shoulder to Scarface!) While Landry/Todd may be causing problems for Mike and Walt and Jesse just like Walt caused problems for Gus, I don’t think the algebra works out perfectly. More likely, I think that Landry/Todd is the newest incarnation of “the cost of business.” Remember in the first two seasons when Walt and Jesse kept making heaps of money and then losing it immediately? Or for that matter, remember every season? Well, this strikes me as the most recent iteration of “there is no money in this business.” I assume the dead kid will eventually come with a hefty price tag, if not a prison sentence.
Susan: This is my question, so obviously the answer is yes. Landry/Todd uses a lot of the same language in his speech to Walt and Mike that Walt used to beg for his life in “Box Cutter”. I think he is way too ambitious for this group, and it makes me super nervous that they’re keeping the meth in the safe, in the bug office. Haven’t we already established that the bug people are skilled burglars? Wouldn’t they just take it for themselves and sell it? Also, I worry about the dirt bike kid causing more trouble. I don’t know why we get that news scene where we learn the kid’s name. It seems like a lot of new information to get about an old problem. Landry/Todd, Walt, Lydia, Mike and Skylar are all nearing the same height of threat level liabilities. Which one will boom first? Or will they all boom at the same time? Ooh, ultra boom. I like the idea of that.
3. Will we see the tarantula again?
Steven: Ah Chekhov, how you’ve ruined me. I must now ask this question with every loaded gun and vial of ricin. Landry/Todd isn’t the kind of guy to do something as subtle as murder by poisonous spider, but then again I don’t really know him that well, do I? In the cold open of “Dead Freight,” the tarantula represented danger, namely the danger of that kid getting killed, which is eventually what happened. The last person who examined the tarantula died. Therefore, bearing that foreshadowing in mind, I’m going to make a bold prediction that Todd is not long for this world.
Susan: I think yes. It kind of reminds me of the turtle roaming around the Mexican desert with that guy’s head on it. It has the same sense of slow, quiet, forboding. Again, it seems like there are lots of little bombs laying around, waiting for the perfect moment to go boom. The ricin in the wall, the spider in the jar, the bug in Hank’s office, Walt’s fancy new watch, Alvin B. Gutierrez’ roofing hammer… I really freakin’ need that roofing hammer to come back into play. I like the idea that all of these things have a part to play in this slow moving season. I hope I’m paying attention for a reason. Why did Walt take the time to take off his watch before he scienced his way out of the bug office? Why do we see Landry/Todd’s car? Why does Mike take the time to warn Walt not to park so close to the bug headquarters? Why did Walt hide the ricin in his bedroom? WHY????? (Shakes fists at the sky, Revenge style.)
4. Is Skylar still putting her family first?
Steven: I think the cul-de-sac crew answers this best. Let’s look at the evidence: Skylar has cooked books, put a man in the hospital, laundered money, kept her murderous, drug cooking and dealing husband as the head of the house, and she hasn’t tried to resolve the situation. If you’re worried for your kids’ safety because there’s a bear in the house, you get rid of the bear. You don’t threaten the razor-toothed, furry thing. You don’t try to figure out a way to minimize its bear-ness. You GET RID of the bear. Her argument that she won’t be able to see her kids if she’s in prison or that they’ll think poorly of their father is self-centered in nature. It’s what Skylar wants, not what the kids need. Namely what the kids need is to not get mauled by a freakin’ bear.
Susan: Hmm, is the answer no? It seems to be a very hesitant no. Is that what you meant, Steven? I’m not quite sure…
All bears aside, I think she’s trying to. In her own selfish way. Skylar is such a flawed character, that I truly believe she thinks she’s putting her family first. What she’s really doing is putting herself first and trying to have and eat all the cake, plus the cookies and brownies and car washes. There is absolutely zero reason for her not to go to Hank, come clean and get herself and the kids to safety. But she’s scared of letting them down and doing time for her own infractions and looking bad and having the kids know the truth and letting Jr. and Holly live with Hank and Marie and shutting down the cushy “green beans from Albertson’s” lifestyle she’s been living. Seriously? Deli vegetables? That’s flashier than Walt’s Rolex. Also, can we just mention the most amazing dinner table scene of all time? We watched the second half of this episode 3 times and Steven practically laughed himself off the couch every time.
(Second crossover idea – Breaking Bad + Cougar Town = Laurie’s talking threat meth cakes. Move over Mike, the pastry muscle has arrived.)
5. Is the DEA finally going to run across Jesse or Walt in their tails?
Steven: Shouldn’t they? Having just come off watching The Wire, I’m again and again left suspicious as to how good these DEA agents actually are. Not only do they not have any bugs out on Mike or even know his connections, but Walt has a bug on them. I know that this is important to plot, because if Hank knows about Walt then we won’t get the family drama side, as Walt will be on the run (“Live Free or Die”?), but this is bordering on audience-cruelty. Just give us a clue, a shadow of a clue, that Hank and his department know what they’re doing with this case, and I’ll feel the stakes raise again. I used to be so worried that Walt was going to get caught, and now I feel like he’s a ghost working outside of the laws of physics, visible only when he makes it so. I need stakes, yo!
Susan: To be fair, The Wire is an impossible standard. If we wanted perfect television, we’d just watch The Wire again. And when we did, we’d realize than even the natural po-lice never got up on the roof to do the actual surveillance. No, the people on the roof were Herc and Carver and that old dude and the cute guy that never got a storyline and occasionally Kima. Never Bunk, never Daniels, never McNulty. We know by now that Gomez is not a very good cop, and we’re reminded of that fact when he’s fooled instantly by Mike. No, I think that Hank was promoted solely to get him off surveillance, which gives the show the tiny little loophole of incompetent police work to extend the secret another couple of episodes. But it’s thin, and it ruins the stakes. Remember when every episode was nailbitingly tense? When Jesse and Walt were stuck in the RV? When Walt had to run into that car to prevent Hank from getting to the laundry? When there was an open house going on while they were cooking in the basement? This business with the shoddy DEA and Skylar staying mute is so aggravating to watch, and it belongs on a lesser show. At least do something like The Wire, where miscommunication + incompetency = Herc ruining a child’s life and raining devastation upon the masses. Oooh, crossover #3! (Walt and Jesse hide their death barrels in the abandoned row houses in Baltimore and run into Chris and Snoop. They all talk technique, and show them how they evolved from Alvin B. Gutierrez’ roofing hammer to their heavy duty nail gun. Boom – it’s all connected.)
6. Is Gray Matter going to make a return?
Steven: Sadly, I don’t think so. What this conversation does for me is show Walt’s true aim: to catch up with his college friends. Walt, I now realize, will not be happy until his meth (carpet) empire is listed on the NYSE. That is how large his ego is, which is why the sky’s the limit, and when the sky’s the limit, everything is expendable.
Susan: I referred to Gray Matter a couple of weeks ago as a mistake the show made in the beginning when it was trying to find its feet. The fact that it’s brought up now illustrates to me that they’re still not quite sure what to do with this end game. Sure, it’s a little bit illuminating and it provides us a reason for Walt to decline the buyout. But Walt doesn’t need a reason. We already know and accept Walt as a megalomaniac. Hopefully Gray Matter stays dead and we can move on to more intriguing aspects of the show. Like why Mike didn’t just shoot Walt. Or why he left his keys in the same room with him. Or why we have so many scenes with Skylar doing nothing. Or why no one is looking into Fring anymore and wondering where Tio got the freakin’ bomb. Or that godforsaken roofing hammer.
Best line: The whole dinner table scene was golden, from facial expressions to blocking to dialogue to Jesse slurping water, but my favorite line, and the part that kept getting Steven, was the long awkward silence after the scabby lasagna speech and then Jesse saying, “Yeah… it’s bad.”
Random fact of the week: in the scene where Walt whistles while he works, he is whistling Queen’s “Lily of the Valley.” Ominous.
As the show gets darker and more popular, the internet is exploding with memes and mentos commercials and carpet empires and all sorts of shenanigans. My favorite one from today? Breaking Bad the movie!
Aaron Paul keeps tweeting that the bottom is going to fall out in the next episode. Does that mean someone will learn something they don’t already know? I sure hope so. I’m a little tired of knowing everything all the time. That’s why I watch Dexter. (Final crossover – Dexter finds out about dirt bike kid, hunts down Walt and gets him on his table. Then, just as he raises his knife, he falls over dead. Cut to earlier in the day and we see Jesse in Dexter’s kitchen, slipping ricin into his credit sequence eggs. He appears on the scene, yells out “ricin, bitch!” and Deb overhears him and falls in love. Walt, fresh from his victory, comes home to find Skylar in a bloody bathtub, Holly crying on the floor. Hank arrives on the scene and is disgusted by Walt’s lack of tears. He finally puts all the pieces together and takes his watch and car before sending him to jail. Saul, Badger and Masuka buy the Lazer Base. Hilarity ensues. Boom: Rebooted.)