Breaking Bad returned to form, once again proving that it’s worth grinding your gears a little to get to the “good stuff”. In this case, the “good stuff” was really, really bad, awful in places, but it was some of the best damned television I’ve ever watched.
What else can you say about an hour in which Hank was murdered by Nazi scum, Jesse was enslaved by psycho-T, Walt Jr. had over a year of fantasy family life where his dad was a cool survivor destroyed, Holly was abducted, then abandoned, and the Jane bomb was dropped? Vince was really pulling the heart strings — and the disgust strings, completing alienating Walt to the audience then allowing the door to be cracked open ever so slightly at the end, for us to begin rooting for him again. Because, let’s face it, Walt is the ONLY man who can now set things right that need setting right. And armed with a new identity, and 11 million some odd dollars, I believe that’s just what he’ll do.
I suspect the machine gun will be the end game of an epic two episode revenge arc that will take over six months of show time to fully ripen.
My immediate reaction is to give this episode a perfect 10. The only quibble I have is the curious way Walt was handled by dear old Uncle Jack, but even if that’s completely irresolvable it can’t possibly mar the overall experience. The writing, the direction, the cinematography, the acting (poor Jon Hamm is fucked. Even if you’d argue that he’s the equal to Bryan Cranston — and I do — “I ate Hershey bars in a Pennsylvania whorehouse” cannot possibly withstand a direct hit from “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? !? WE’RE A FAMILY!!!” come Emmy time) were at an impossibly high level.
- Last week’s spoilers were complete bullshit, just as I suspected. I’ll have fun reading them in the spoiler section of this week to compare and contrast what they got wrong.
- Really glad I didn’t come out against Breaking Bad’s in hindsight awesome handling of the mid-gun fight cliffhanger of last week. There was clearly enough moments between Walt and Hank to justify stretching it into this week, and I can’t see it happening any better way.
- I alluded to a theory I had for this episode, and the theory was that Jesse was going to die. Aaron Paul rented out a theater for fans to watch the episode live with him. He was live tweeting the episode. Dean Norris was already doing his “farewell tour” of press and TV shows, and it felt like Paul was going to be joining him, and for a good stretch there in the beginning, looks like it was going to play out that way. But Jesse gets to live another day, in agonizing pain, cooking for people he despises, in constant fear, lest Team Panzer Grey kills Brock and Andrea. God, I hope, for his sake, it doesn’t take six months to resolve his plot line.
- I’m of the opinion that Hank, in his final 10 minutes, had a slightly better opinion of his brother in law. Am I crazy? Sure, he’s still done despicable things, but I think this little vignette showed to Hank that his brother in law, for all his swagger and bluster, has been careening from one catastrophe to the next, begging for his life or others as he went. He’s never really been the master of anything, and in the end, I think Hank pitied Walt and was a bit relieved to see that family really was the most important thing to him.
- I’m also glad that Hank got to unleash this season’s F-bomb. Felt right.
- So, my only potential gripe is how the head Anarchy Uncle handled things with Walt. To my way of seeing things, there are two possibilities; either he feared and respected Walt enough that he was afraid to treat him completely unfairly and without respect, in which case he should have killed him. Or, he didn’t see him as a threat at all and had no respect for him, in which case he should have taken all his money, and still probably killed him. I get that he cares for his nephew, the fellow sociopath. And I get that Nazi’s have had a long history of having surprising soft spots for monstrous, despicable people, but still. I can’t quite square what we know of Jack and his odd compassion towards Walt. It’s not enough to derail the episode for me, but it was an odd moment.
- I’m interested to see what people make of Jesse seeing the two birds before he thought he was dying. It was a beautiful shot, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was lifted directly from a Peckinpah movie.
- RJ Mitte was incredible in this episode. His emotions were so raw, the performance so far beyond what I thought he was capable of as an actor, bravo. Brilliantly written scenes and performances.
- Team Walt had a rough go this episode. I’d bet that no more than 1% of the total audience was pulling for Walt by the time he abducted Holly. But the bandwagon was quickly repaired. He’s all we got, and if he takes the Uncles of Anarchy out with him to save his family, if not Jesse, that would be a perfect end to the series. Team Villigan has handled his arc impressively. People thought he couldn’t get much lower than killing Jesse, but spitting “I watched Jane die” to him under the circumstances was even worse, in my opinion. And now VG is daring us to root for him one more time, that bastard. Again, bravo.
I’ll have much more to say, as I imagine all you will too, by Tuesday, but I’m spent until I get a chance to watch this a few more times. Can’t wait to discuss it with you some more Tuesday night!