If you are not caught up with Breaking Bad, go away… watch the show, then come back… there are spoilers ahead.
“I’ll send you to Belize.”
If last weeks episode was about building up to the confrontation between Walt and Hank, and establishing who would be the anti-villain to Walt’s anti-hero in this fifth and final season, tonight’s episode was all about figuring out who stands where and with whom… and this episode was Skyler and Marie’s (and really, Anna Gunn and Betsy Brandt’s) turn to shine.
Although the episode begins with an old man following a trail of cash, only to find Jesse spiraling on a playground… the real heart of the episode begins immediately where we left off last week, Hank’s garage… only this time, we see the garage door open and Walt stepping tentatively to his car, and an awesome homage to High Noon as he and Hank stare each other down. Say what you will about Walt and his ultimate motivations (pride, pride, more pride), the first thing he thought to do was to call Skyler… and to see Hank already on the phone, cock-blocking Walt’s attempt to get to her first, must have enraged Walt who had already turned remarkably cold and Heisenberg-like the moment Hank mentioned having Skyler and the kids coming to stay with him and Marie.
Special mention must go to that kid’s toy car… at least this time it didn’t get crushed… come on, you all thought it was going to happen.
Walt fails to get a hold of Skyler, but wisely heads over to Saul’s to figure out the next step. Thanks to Saul’s expertise in douchebaggery, he advises Walt to ditch his phone and deal with the money, enlisting the help of Huell and Kuby, who give us the most laughable scene of the episode as they lay across the money and drop a Scrooge McDuck reference. Saul also advises Walt to perhaps send Hank on a trip to Belize… similar to the trip that Mike went on. To hear Walt scold Saul because Hank is “family” was both terrifying and hilarious… so this is the line Walt won’t cross? I would have believed this in the first season when we genuinely believed that everything he was doing was for his family… but after losing his shit because he would actually live and continuing onto the kingpin heights he achieved seems a bit incongruous with a man concerned about his family… and this episode was the first time in quite a while that showed the devastation to family that a life of crime can bring… but more on that in a moment.
When we see Hank and Skyler in the diner, we don’t yet know how that conversation has gone. We know we are at the end of Hank laying everything out that he suspects, but we have no idea what, if anything, Skyler has said. Judging by the look of abject shock on her face, it could be reasonably assumed that she has been sitting gape mouthed and stunned… and from what we hear Hank going on about, specifically that all of this was something Walt has inflicted upon her and the kids, it’s remarkably clear that he has no clue just how complicit she has been… and when he asks to record her, the look of surprise on his face that she wouldn’t sell out her husband is telling in that he really has no clue what is going on and is so focused on getting Heisenberg that he didn’t stop to think that perhaps he had given away too much… and when he does his damnedest to persuade her that she doesn’t need to lawyer up, it becomes clear that he will do anything to get his man, even be a complete dumb-ass.
I honestly assumed once that happened, and she left the diner asking repeatedly whether or not she was under arrest, that a light bulb would go on over his bald pate… but no, he still doesn’t seem to understand what her role in all of this is, and Hank lets Marie in on the big secret and an intervention is afoot. Maybe they could have a nice sister to sister chat and Skyler would come around. For as great of a scene between Hank and Walt was, and even the scene in the diner was fantastic, the exchange between Skyler and Marie was incredible… and the mounting tension that begins with that aforementioned sister to sister heart to heart begins to build as Marie realizes what Hank couldn’t, that Skyler has known for quite some time and may be instrumental in the events that have caused so much damage to Hank and Marie personally, in addition to the laundry list of deaths and murder.
The punch that Hank gave Walt in the last episode was awesome… but the slap Marie delivers to Skyler was the slap heard ’round the world. Damn… that came out of nowhere… and we begin to see a family unravel from the lies and deceit.
When Marie then went and grabbed Holly, as a parent, my first thought was, “oh hell no, that’s not going to happen.” Obviously Skyler agreed… Marie may have a kleptomania problem, but stealing people’s children is going a bit far, druglord or not… you don’t steal other people’s toddlers, it’s quite frowned upon. One element of this scene that I think may end up getting overlooked… Hank and Marie have no children… was this some sort of attempt on Marie’s part to finally have the family that she and ol’ chrome dome have always wanted? Playing tug-of-war with a child is bad… and even Hank realizes that this crossed a line… and the look that he gives Skyler, and Marie’s eventual response of, “You have to get him”, all conspire to set up the ultimate face off between dueling husband and wife teams… Whites vs. Schraders.
After Walt goes and buries the money in the middle of the desert, perhaps in the same location they had parked the RV way back in their neophyte meth-cook lab days, we find Walt and Skyler at home. I was surprised by the tenderness of these moments… Walt collapsing, and Skyler nursing him as he laid on the cold bathroom tile. For all the crap that Walt has put them through, through the affair with Ted, through all the fights and the danger, she still loves him… and for what love Walt could possibly muster (it’s so difficult to know whether anything that comes out of him mouth is genuine of not), I believe him when he says he will turn himself in, only if she manages to keep the money for the kids. He’s dying… and this is the final act of a desperate man. When she responds that he should just keep quiet… there was just something sweet and delicate in that moment. I have honestly never loved Skyler as much as I did in this episode… and I felt the first ray of hope in this show in quite some time, regardless of how quickly the walls are closing in on them.
Earlier in the episode, we return to Lydia. Little Miss prim and proper is paying a visit to Declan’s lab, in expensive Louboutins no less, and she is not happy with the low quality of the meth they are producing since Walt’s departure and less happy with the state of the lab. With the help of Todd and his uncle Jack, the murderous white supremacists manage to wipe out all of Declan’s gang as Lydia crouched in the lab, covering her ears… and as she exits, not wanting to see the carnage, covering her eyes. For as fucked up as this scene was, there was something ridiculous about a woman who would order a bloodbath, yet want no part in the even itself.
I have more than a few questions regarding Lydia’s role in the final chapters of the series as well as to her motivations for this massacre. First of all… how do her actions help her and her business? If the complaint was quality, that’s one thing… that could be improved. Granted, Declan wasn’t playing along and didn’t give a rat’s ass about her Czech clientele, but wasn’t his main role in the operation as a distributor? I thought that was why they went to him in the first place. His main issue was territory, not quality… so without a distributor, and now without the cooks, what is Lydia’s purpose for doing this? Is she going to set Meth Damon (Todd) and Jack up as the new cook/distribution team? Does she have the resources to do this? And ultimately, if Walt is out… what is her endgame?
Finally… Jesse. He’s obviously a mess… picked up by the cops for playing paperboy with a few millions dollars, he is simply catatonic. For a character with zero lines in an episode, his specter haunted everything… and now that he is in custody, and Hank is going to have a chat with him, what will Jesse do? His role is complete wild card right now, with the power to either break Hank’s case one way or the other. If he stays quiet… nothing… if he talks, Hank may have everything he needs to finally bring the case to the DEA, and possibly salvage his career.
I didn’t mention the conversation between Marie and Hank regarding his career at this point. We already saw what happened to his previous boss when it was discovered that Gus was under their nose for years… once they find out that Heisenberg was Hank’s brother-in-law, it’s over, his career will go the way of the dodo… but he was still going to have a meeting and fill him team in on everything. Always on the side of truth and justice… will that be his ultimate undoing?
Obviously, Hank still has plenty of missing pieces and is going on little more than a hunch… but were you all a bit surprised that he showed so much of his hand to Skyler so early? This act made me realize just how ahead of the game Walt has always been. Yes, he’s made plenty of mistakes… and those were almost always born of his ego and pride… but he would have gone into something like that so ill-prepared. Hank is not a dumb guy… but his frustration and his desperation is showing. For as much as we criticize Walt for all of his faults, it’s interesting to see Hank falling apart in his effort to capture the bad guy.
So many questions… and only 6 hours left. We’ve all assumed that Walt would end up dead in the end, either from the crime or from the cancer… but in the end, Walt’s story would be over. My question now is who will be left? Will anyone come out of this, or is this simply a Battle Royale where everyone is dead in the end? In the flashforwards we’ve seen, where is Skyler? We know Walt is still alive 6-8 months later… but who else?
Will Lydia be Walt’s undoing? Hank? Skyler? Or, as I’m beginning to suspect, will Jesse finally find out about Walt letting Jane die and kill him himself, then putting a gun to his own head? Will Saul end up with all the money? Will Huell and Kuby start their own business with the money they swiped from Walt’s barrels (how much do you think they took, because come on… you know they took a decent amount)? Will Lydia end up walking over everyone’s corpses with a blindfold and getting really pissed when some brain matter splatters on her Louboutins? Or will Walt tie up all the loose ends before they or the cancer gets to him first?
In 6 more hours, we’ll know everything…
It’s not filthy. It’s dimly lit,
Cornelius J. Blahg