That was an incredible episode. As you know if you listened to our preseason coverage, I was very nervous about how this season could go, and what impact it could have on Breaking Bad’s legacy. If this episode is any indication, Vince Gilligan is not playing around. One of the things I was most nervous about was the pacing and how harmful it could be to waste even one minute of the final eight episodes, but if anything this is moving even faster than I would have imagined. Even the editing was breathless, smash cutting from Hank’s Post-Traumatic Shitting episode to a close up of him cutting his hospital bracelet, for example. So much of this episode was inspired. We’re use to the inventive camera tricks Breaking Bad plays on us, but even still the “sk8board” cam was a great touch, and the perfect way to make sure we as the audience was as disorientated as possible. We’re used to Dave Porter’s odd, intense, and beautiful soundtracks… but could you even begin to imagine what Hank’s panic attack would have been like without it? He’s incredible. Even the advertising, which Jim and I both whined about, looks better in hindsight. Walt looking up at the spray-painted shrine to “Heisenberg” is a great way to tie the “Remember My Name” and “Ozymandias” campaigns that I was initially underwhelmed with. We got answers this week; How long will it take Hank to put the case together? Not long, although as several people have reminded me, nothing that Hank has yet is usable to prosecute Walt. The GPS tracker is illegal and so was stealing the evidence from Walt’s home. How long will it take Walt to figure out he’s been made? About 45 minutes. Will there be a Hank and Walt show down? Oh yes, and it was epic, even if it was just the first of a scheduled 8 round heavyweight fight. Walt’s cancer is back with a vengeance. But we have more questions. What’s going to happen with Lydia and the Czech connection? What about Declan and his crew? Have we really heard the last of the Mexican cartel? And my god, that scene between Bryan Cranson and Dean Norris. So incredibly tense, and the upperhand kept switching back and forth as I watched. But Walt at the end… it’s like I said on the Instant Podcast, it’s like the bizzarro version of the Good Superman Versus Evil Superman fight from Superman 3. Heisenberg well and truly murdered Walt when he growled to Hank, “tread lightly”. When Breaking Bad is firing on all cylinders, there isn’t a better show on television, and tonight it was running nitro methane fuel. Other thoughts:
- Badger and Skinny Pete! Oh my god, that’s pretty much what Jim and I sound like after the hour is late and we’ve been in our cups. Much needed tension relief, good to see them back, even if their effect is lost on Jesse. And, h/t to Erik C. on Facebook (and Twitter!) for coining the phrase “Chekov’s Pie.”
- “You are the devil,” Marie to Walt, wildly out of context but what a great thing for Hank to walk in on.
- Sweet Godfather (and Ted throwback) reference with Carol dropping the oranges.
- Huell’s head man. That might be tolerable, but it ain’t natchy.
- Walk is once again the one who knocks, dropping by to try to sell Jesse on another load of bullshit goods. My take is that Jesse wasn’t having any of it. It’s like how you know when a relationship is well and truly over, when the fighting stops. Reminded me of previous season’s Walt and Skyler interactions.
- “I need you to believe this.” Watching this scene, I’m not so sure that Walt doesn’t on some level believe his own lies. Is it possible he really doesn’t think that he killed Mike? I’ve heard that happens with truly pathological liars.
- I’m sure everyone noticed, but Walt has absorbed not only Gus’s penchant for stonewalling annoying “business associates” who show up unannounced to his place of legitimate work, but also his fastidious vomiting routine.
- Which of Saul’s clients has a Hello Kitty phone?
- The return of the Tighty Whities!
- Hank vs. Walt was so epic, that it’s easy to overlook Walt vs. Jesse. But Aaron Paul was amazing in this episode, both by himself (he keeps finding new and interesting ways to self-destruct and self-flagellate, doesn’t he? His manic sadness and desperation to be rid of his money in his early morning “paperboy” routine was just wonderful.
- Since the ricin was showcased, it’s a near certainty that it gets deployed, finally, yes?
Hope you enjoyed our first round of Instant takes and reviews! We’ll have lots more Tuesday, be sure to drop us a line to tell us what you think!