Monday, July 30, 2012
Breaking Bad - "Hazard Pay"
When we were first introduced to Mike, he was cleaning up a mess left behind by Walt: namely, the asphyxiation-by-vomit death of Jesse's girlfriend. After Walt callously let her die, it was up to Mike to clean up any evidence of drugs, any pieces of information that would link the clueless Jesse to any wrongdoing. Where Walt saw an easy (and fucking evil) way to separate Jesse from his drug-addict girlfriend, Mike saw nothing but unintended consequences: drug evidence, jail time, and what have you. But, of course, even the thorough Mike couldn't account for the fact that her air-traffic-controller dad would, in a dazed fit of depression, allow two planes to collide. But still, Mike tried to clean up what he could.
Although in subsequent seasons Mike went into enforcer mode, with Season 5, he has become again the clean-up guy: the guy who tries to account for everything, thinking two steps ahead of the authorities, so that he can wipe any evidence of wrong-doing.
One of the things I love about Breaking Bad—indeed, one of things that elevates it above the typical crime show—is the way it deals with the aftermath of violence, the aftermath of crime. And we witnessed the aftermath of violence yet again this week with Mike the cleaner's attempts to ensure that none of Gus' former employees will flip. Seeing as the Fed's RICO'd their hazard pay, Mike must do the right thing and compensate their families. He must keep them quiet. Stuff Walt has no time for.
In a way, the deluded Walt almost acts as a surrogate for the typical crime show viewer. He doesn't understand why we have to deal with such frivolous issues as Hazard Pay and Legacy Costs for incarcerated members of Fring's empire. Fring was taken care of, the old lab was destroyed—end of story. The pragmatic Mike, on the other hand—like the intelligent Breaking Bad writers—must, by necessity, take everything into account. Everything has consequences.
Walt, like any deluded, ego-mad drug-dealer wants to fashion himself on Scarface. He—oh yeah, I should probably point out that we actually saw a clip from Scarface this week. I'm still not sure how I feel about this scene. It seemed a little too on the nose. On the other hand, I loved the visual of the family (including baby in Walt's lap) watching De Palma's classic. I always wondered if Walt would say the phrase, "Say hello to my little friend." Now we got to see him and his son say it. Yes, he is descending further into the dark side.
Speaking of which, it was almost eerie how quickly and effortlessly Walt came up with the lie to tell Marie about Skyler's breakdown. In earlier seasons, the guilt-ridden Walt would um and ah his way through bullshit excuses to account for his wrongdoing. With this scene, he was more than ready to give a lie about the cause of Skyler's distress (a lie, incidentally, that belittled Skyler and elevated Walt). Yes, technically nothing he said about Ted Beneke was untrue; but we all know that it isn't the reason for Skyler's breakdown. But then again, does Walt realize it. Or has he really deluded himself this much.
And speaking of Walt's delusions, I can't be alone in thinking that cooking in fumigation tents is a really bad fucking idea. Yes, Walt had some good reasons—hiding in plain sight being among them—but there are far too many negatives. With each new house comes more risk: greater chance of exposure, of new people seeing them enter and leave the house. Yes, most folks will think that the meth smell is just pesticides, but how long before they cook in a tent next to the home of a DEA agent, or any kind of authority who knows the smell of a meth house. Walt won't think of these risks because all he wants is to best Fring.
I love Mike's annoyance with Huell's breathing.
Saul is never gonna stop pimping that laser tag place.
Badger and skinny Pete! Also, damn, skinny Pete has some magic fingers.
I know it was the result of a breakdown, but I still loved seeing Skyler tell Marie to shut up.
How did you take the scene where Walt introduced himself to Brock? I'm still trying decide whether he actually felt guilt for poisoning the kid. Even if he did, though, I still found it extremely creepy.
Similarly, I still don't know how to take the scene in which Walt told Jesse he trusted him enough to tell his girlfriend everything. There are signs of a growing bond with Jesse (he loved th kid's idea for transporting equipment), but something smells fishy here. I don't know how much I can trust Walt about anything.
"Yes, he handles the business. And I handle him."
"Stacking the benji's til the rubber band pops."
"You need a name for them? You call them yes, sir and no, sir."
"We'll kill 'em dead. It's a guarantee."
"Marie, I'm begging you. Keep this to yourself. I don't want anyone to think less of her. Or me."
"Everyone dies in this movie."
"Listen, Walter, just because you shot Jesse James, don't make you Jesse James."
"Maybe he flew too close to the sun—got his throat cut."