August 22, 2013 by Susan Miller
Susan: So, I think we need to talk about Skyler. Have we been on the wrong side of this Skyler hating bandwagon all along? Because I think I finally lost touch with her this week. I’d been defending her this whole time as the pragmatic one, the one who loved the man she married and believed in her vows, who wanted to protect her children from their father’s insane midlife crisis. I thought she was the good one. Now I think she’s been infected by Heisenberg.
Steven: I would have to agree. She’s so confusing to me, on top of it. When she left the car wash, I thought, “Finally! She’s come to her senses.” But then there was the whole #AmIUnderArrest scene with Hank…
It brings me back to what is possibly the most frustrating scene for me, which happens in “Cornered” from season four. Along with being the “I am the one who knocks” episode, it is also the episode where Skyler drives to the four corners and enlists Fate. By tossing a quarter in the air, she decides to move to whichever state the quarter lands on. The first coin toss lands in Colorado. She picks it up and tries again. The second coin toss also lands in Colorado. Skyler then extends the toe of her shoe and pulls the quarter back into New Mexico, thus ignoring Fate. I was mad at Skyler back then for making such a stupid decision. Stupid for her and especially for her daughter, Holly.
Now Hank seems to be playing the role of Fate, and Skyler is clearly still dragging her feet over his face. (Not sure that metaphor worked.) You said you didn’t really like this episode. What has you on the fence? The lack of straightforward conflict (at least in Walt’s world), the fact that it ended just before Hank went in to interrogate Jesse, or did you want Lydia to have to see some of those bodies she was stepping so gingerly around?
Susan: At the end of the episode, I have to admit that I was annoyed. I felt like the episode was really quiet, and it did involve a lot of our main characters staying silent and listening. Listening is not an inherently exciting activity for a TV show. Jesse didn’t speak a word. There were two loooong scenes of Skyler sitting, fidgeting, and listening to Hank and Marie figure everything out. Walt buried money in the desert by himself and then wordlessly collapsed on the bathroom floor. It reminded me a little bit of “Box Cutter”, where Walt is furiously yapping to save his life and Mike, Gus and Victor are silently professional. Is silence also part of being a legit drug kingpin? Along with driving a Volvo and laundering your money in a family friendly business?
After a couple of days though, I have to say that I’m warming up to it. I think what I really felt at the end of that episode was the desperate desire to see the next one. Hank walking into the interrogation room to greet an unsuspecting Jesse is a brutal cliffhanger, but if Dexter had done the same thing, I would have just changed the channel and forgotten all about it. The show has its hooks in me, which signals to me that it was actually a pretty good episode. However, I think my initial reaction to the episode was the right one. I think I was supposed to feel discomfited. Skyler spent the majority of this episode squirming, trapped, unsure of what to do next. When Marie slapped her, I felt Marie’s justification and I felt the sting that Skyler felt. I felt the end of that relationship in my bones and I was deeply affected by it. Even so, when Marie went to take Holly, I cheered for Skyler. I wanted Skyler to keep her baby. How can my allegiances be split in so many ways at so many times for these fictional people? I didn’t want Skyler to give up Walt to Hank, because I thought Hank was rushing it. I wanted him to get Walt in a different way, one in which he didn’t have to bully Skyler for the information. It’s interesting, this season. It’s giving us what we thought we’ve been clamoring for (Hank finding out about Walt, Walt finding out he’s being investigated, Skyler getting a chance to go free), and then making us realize the ramifications of those actions. It’s proving, once again, that it’s smarter than us. Thank goodness they’re the ones writing it.
Speaking of things we’re supposed to think, what are your feelings about Landry/Todd and his merry band of neo-nazis? I know we’re supposed to be afraid of Landry/Todd but I’m just not. He’s so sweet with Lydia as he helps her out of the underground methbus and through the minefield of dead bodies and shotgun shells. And he calls her ma’am. I don’t know if it’s residual Landry love, but I just can’t stay mad at him.
Steven: I think what the show gives us is the next logical progression. But then it reminds us that these characters are completely free-willed elements. Wasn’t beating cancer supposed to be a good thing for Walt? Wasn’t being a millionaire the point where he was supposed to stop cooking all these Gus-filled seasons ago? I think we’re just being shown the truth we all know by heart: that you never can tell what a person is going to do.
I’m also conflicted about ole Landry/Todd. One the one hand, he’s a gentleman. On the other, he murders children on motorbikes. No…I guess I don’t like Landry/Todd. I think that we’re supposed to like him on the surface. He’s a more serious student than Jesse. He’s a more considerate person than Walt. However, his moral compass allows for a much wider definition of North than the two of them put together. And that’s saying something. I believe that Landry/Todd will prove to be the scorpion. The one who in the end–after doing something horrendous–casually reminds the audience that he is in fact a meth-cooking, motorbike-kid-killing desert arachnid.
That Marie-Skyler scene was traumatic for me as well, but I was terribly sad not for Skyler but for Marie. Here her niece is going to be subjected to whatever depravity is coming down the pike. I would feel so helpless if I discovered that my brother-in-law was a meth kingpin and my sister refused to leave him. I would certainly feel helpless enough to grab a baby on my way out the door!
Now, next week, is Hank going to play it straight with Jesse–becoming the very first character to do so–or will he also try to manipulate the young philanthropist? Also, are we moving along fast enough to catch up with the future before the final episode, or will it be a race to the finish line?
Susan: I knew in my head that I was supposed to feel bad for Marie, and that Holly should not be in that house, but at the same time, I feel bad for Skyler. How is that possible? It makes no sense! She had the perfect out in this episode and she didn’t take it! She doesn’t get to keep her baby in that den of iniquity just because she’s too chicken to leave. Argh. These guys are too good.
I love Landry/Todd. Even when he’s smiling congenially at the very end, having just killed Walter Jr., baby Holly, Gomez and Hank and Marie and Walt and Skyler and poor innocent Carol. Even then, when he smiles that sweet smile and takes the tarantula out of his pocket, I won’t be able to be afraid of him. Go ahead and call it. I’m a sucker for Jesse Plemons.
I hope Hank gets his act together before he goes in to talk to Jesse. Wearing your desperation on your sleeve is not the best tactic for an interrogation (unless you’re Carrie Mathison and the show you’re on will cut you all kinds of slack because it likes your chemistry with Brody). Ahem. Anyway… Hank really blew it with Skyler. We’ve never seen him be that bad at his job and it was kind of shocking. Get it together, Hank! I want to root for you! I hope that he’s enough to break Jesse out of his catatonic goodwill stupor. I miss hearing Jesse talk. I miss seeing Jesse do things. I miss proactive Jesse. I think mostly I just miss Jesse. Will next week be a Jesse-centric episode? Pretty please? Or maybe a Saul-centric episode? I miss him too. The bit with Belize was gold.
As for the timeline, I have a feeling that we’re not going to catch up to that flash forward until the final episode. Still, a lot of time has to pass and a lot of the world has to be blown up between then and now. I feel like we’re getting the emotional stuff resolved now and the lines are being drawn. The Whites are now isolated from the Schraders. The money is buried. Lydia and Landry/Todd are teamed up. The only one left is Jesse. Who will he side with? What will that mean?
Steven: I think that if characters are allowed to change, which they are in the world of Breaking Bad, then Jesse will finally be allowed to side with someone other than Walt. Jesse is ready for redemption, for recovery and all that entails, and the only thing standing in his way is Walt. Walt is the driving force behind what caused that kid to get murdered, what caused Mike to go to Belize, and he’s pushing Saul to keep Jesse’s money in Jesse’s possession. Okay, so maybe Saul is doing some of the pushing as well. But if it weren’t for Walt, Jesse would be getting his way at least some of the time. While remaining on Walt’s side, Jesse will never be free, and without freedom he will never be able to choose a different life. Jesse needs so much to choose something different for himself.
I could very easily see Jesse finally choosing good, and in this case that means choosing Hank’s cause.
Now that Skyler is moving more clearly in Walt’s direction, I feel like maybe Walt won’t be her killer after all. Maybe he will just be the reason she dies. If that’s the case, then I think it only makes sense that he will return on his 52nd birthday to avenge her death. Will that finally bring fans back onto Skyler’s side?
Susan: I hope that Jesse and Hank put their past behind them and work together. Unfortunately, I think that would require information that Hank and Jesse don’t have. If Hank knew about even one of the deaths that Jesse doesn’t (Mike, Jane, or Brock’s poisoning), I think he’d help Hank in a heartbeat. But how can Hank get that information? And if it doesn’t happen that way, how is Hank going to get through to Jesse?
A lot of people were miffed this week about Walt, the hardened killing machine, not being able to take the next step toward considering killing Hank. They found it incongruous with his Heisenberg persona. I can definitely see their point, because, as Saul points out, sending people to Belize has worked out very well for Walt since the first episode of this show. Then again, has anyone’s life really improved because Walt saved it? Walt was constantly saving Jesse’s life season 2 and 3 and 4 and now look where he is. I think he would’ve preferred to die with Jane way back in season 2. At least then he could’ve gone before having to murder anyone or witness any other kids being killed because of their business. Now that he’s spared Hank, I’m worried that it will only get worse for him too. So maybe he does end up killing Skyler, but he kills her because he realizes that he is a cancer on his family.
I’ve seen a lot of fans jump back on Skyler’s side this week. I guess they liked her once she started being a loving wife who made a little bed for her sick husband on the floor of the bathroom? What did you make of that bathroom scene? Was Walt happy that Skyler wanted to keep this charade going and work with him? Or was he annoyed that she kept getting involved?
Steven: Walt didn’t seem to mind the floor bed. Also, he told Skyler about the money and even offered to turn himself in, so I don’t think he distrusts her, at least not right now. That doesn’t explain why people are suddenly gung-ho about her again, though. In this episode we saw her refuse to work with the police, admit that she could’ve helped save her sister’s husband from nearly getting murdered but didn’t, and refuse to let her baby daughter go off with two far more fit parents than Walt and she. I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of character I like to boo–not applaud. I blame the school system.
Are you still holding out hope that the Chileans are going to show up?
Susan: I think I’m giving up on the Chileans. Now that Landry/Todd and his goons are supplying the guns and ammo the show craves, I think the Chileans are no longer a necessity. Gus’ identity died with him. Too bad. So sad. Maybe we’ll get a close-up on an old ID in the desert in the final episode that will explain everything. That would be kind of maddening. And then maybe he could be in the Saul spin-off show? I’m sort of hoping that the Saul spin-off show is a prequel that ends with Walt and Jesse showing up on his doorstep. That would be adorable.
What do you suppose Walt Jr.’s up to these days? He’s been almost as quiet as Jesse this season.
Steven: I’m going to call it right now–in the last episode we realize that the gun buying scene isn’t actually taking place in the future. It’s taking place in the afterlife! Walt has to confront his demons via Landry/Todd’s goons and Lydia, and then he will rendez-vous with Skyler, Mike, Gus, and everybody else at a bizarrely ecumenical church, which turns out to a gateway to paradise.
That’s just, you know, off the top of my head.
I do also really like the idea of the Saul spin-off being a prequel. Well thought out. And adorable, yes. But I do NOT like the idea of everything being explained through an I.D. I’m also still holding out that the final scene will be Jesse getting on a bus, having been the only one to survive this whole ordeal and ready to start a new life in Idaho or somewhere innocuous like that.
I have no idea about Walt Jr./Flynn/the Eternally Unaware one. Shouldn’t he have figured out by now? Are Hank and Marie going to go after him next? That would be the next logical step.
Susan: Aha! I had not thought of that. What if Hank and Marie explain to him what’s going on? They could use him as a spy! That would be brilliant.
Is there anything you’re most looking forward to? I, for one, am anxious to see the Todd/Lydia plotline converge with the White/Schrader plotline. That’s going to boom so hard. Do you think Declan and his operation were connected to the cartel? If so, will the cartel be part of the boom too? I love a good boom.
Steven: There are definitely going to be some booms. That’s for sure. I’m most anxious to see (a) how Skyler dies, since you’ve completely got me convinced that is pending, and (b) what will become of Jesse. We’ve followed him for so long with his fate hanging more precariously each season. For as many mistakes as he’s made and as bad as his instincts have been, I still want Jesse to come out okay in the end.
Is the cartel still a player in this storyline? I thought Gus got rid of the whole lot of them with the poisoned tequila. Are there other branches of the cartel out there–ones with different bosses?
Susan: There’s always another cartel out there.
Additional theories/speculations/wild scenarios:
Susan: Ricin theories of the week: What if the ricin is used in some weird, messed-up group killing? It could be like the idyllic barbecue that we saw at the end of the last episode of last season. Everyone sitting together, happy, playing, talking about nothing. But secretly, Walt has put the ricin in all of their food and they will quietly die in the next couple of days, finally free from the chaos that Walt has created. Or what if the ricin is used to kill Landry’s gang of thieves and the big noisy machine gun is used to kill Lydia? I like the idea of the ricin being used to kill a group and the gun being used to kill a person. It seems like a poetic reversal of expectations.
Steven: I’m still at a loss about what to make of the ricin. When Walt returns it is obvious that he’s on the full offensive. It is Walt versus the world. So why would he need something as sneaky as ricin? Are there any enemies left who trust him enough to let their guard down? I don’t think so. So my new theory is that the ricin is for Walt himself. It is said of Napoleon that upon arriving onto enemy-occupied land, he would have his men literally set fire to their ships. In this way he ensured that there would be no retreat. I could definitely see Walt doing something like this. If he knows he’s going to die at the end, then what else would there be to hold him back? That’s my new theory anyway.
Favorite internet theory of the week: Hamlet allegory. At the end of the series, Walt tries to poison Jesse with the ricin, but Skyler takes it instead.
Breaking Bad podcast shout-out of the week: The Breaking Bad Insider podcast! This week’s featured Anna Gunn and Betsy Brandt who play Skyler and Marie. Betsy Brandt can do no wrong. That Michael J. Fox show is going to be amazing.
That’s what the money is for: Is it possible that Hank and Marie could threaten to turn the Whites into the IRS if Walt and Skyler don’t give up the kids and/or turn themselves in? It seems like the IRS could certainly do some damage while Hank puts together his criminal case. Eh? Or will Marie get really wise and tell Hank to go poking around Beneke and his “accident”? Could be trouble…
Favorite crackpot theory of the week: Jesse = Mr. Pink. Time to rewatch Reservoir Dogs, everybody.
Second favorite crackpot theory of the week: Walt = Scrooge McDuck. And it holds the key to the real endgame.
Next’s week episode is titled “Confessions”. Uh-oh.