Monday, August 20, 2012
Breaking Bad - "Buyout"
I think we have a new winner for the most awkward dinner scene of all time (take that, previous tied-for-first-place scenes: Ray Liotta eating his own brains in Hannibal, and Alvy meeting Annie's parents in Annie Hall). Seriously, everything from the lead-up to the dinner had me cringing. I almost walked out of the room while watching it. And yet, I giggled through most of it. To be sure, of course, though plenty of humor was intended here ("It's like, hell yeah I'm stoked for this lasagna"), my laughter was more of the nervous variety. Sometimes, when the adrenaline is rushing, no matter the cause—whether it's from fear or joy—my involuntary reaction is to giggle.
By the way, I make a point to never include spoilery screen-shots in my Breaking Bad reviews. So, though I really wanted to include an image of the Whites chowing down with Jesse, I didn't think it would be fair to the people who might happen to stumble across my blog without having seen the episode yet. That being said, I do try to include images—usually from the opening scene—that embody the central theme or storyline of each episode. And seeing as the murder of the child from last week's episode informed much of "Buyout," I chose to include the overhead shot of the garage where the body and bike were dissolved. And though the gang may have been able to remove all physical remnants of the heinous crime, this act has shit in their souls.
Except for new guy Todd. Because fuck new guy Todd. Oh, how I wished the triumvirate would have chosen option number 2 and just disposed of that piece of shit. Last week I posited that new guy Todd was a cold-hearted villain on par with Henry Fonda in Once Upon a Time in the West. Seeing his reaction to the murder and disposal this week, I'm recalibrating my opinion. He's cold-hearted, to be sure; but of a different sort. For lack of better phrasing, he's a modern sociopath. He's in a mental state (I'm assuming here) of disposable entertainment—crime movies and video games. He's a wannabe gangster who killed a child because that's what he needs to do to power up to the next level. It seems that his killing of the kid was less a result of his desire for child-murder than his inability to connect emotionally with reality. Also, fuck new guy Todd.
Hell, as much as I've grown to (and still do) despise Walt, it was obvious from his facial expressions in this week's opening scene that even he was actually affected by the murder. There is still a glimmer (however faint) of morality within his ever atrophying soul. Of course, this being Breaking Bad, he soon comes to justify the crime to himself. And though he tries his damnedest to justify the murder to Jesse, this has proven to be the young man's breaking point.
I have long wondered what it would take to get Jesse to turn, and here we finally have it. Who gives a shit about the money anymore. If building walls emotionally to the point where it's possible to whistle while working, so soon after disposing of the child murdered for your work, is what's necessary to make it in the meth business, then that's a line Jesse is unwilling to cross. So it was good news when Jesse teamed up with Mike to sell off his portion of the methylamine.
And it says something when a criminal enterprise has gone too far even for Mike. Yes, some might say that he was just getting too old for this shit, that he was tired of being tailed by the DEA, but keep in mind that he'd been getting tailed for quite some time. He had been well aware of DEA's presence; and, as he plainly stated (I'm paraphrasing here) losing a tail ain't no thing. If he really wanted out prior to the murder, he would have never taken part in the heist. No, this child murder actually affected him. And now that he has an out, he's taking it.
Which is good news for the competition...until they realize that Walt still wants to put the blue stuff on the streets. So it's up to Jesse to convince the intractable Mr. White that his position is untenable. Walt started cooking so that he could raise some money for his family. This buyout will be more than enough. More than that, it'll allow Walt to make a clean break and leave the life for good. Which brings it all back to Gray Matter.
Which was worth 2.16 billion...last Friday. Because Walt checks every week. Yes, we've always known that Walt was bitter over getting bought out of this start-up, but now we know the extent of his obsession. Every evil genius needs that one motivating factor to justify his actions, and this is it. But before Jesse can make a good counter-point, Skyler comes home. Much to the delight of Walt.
Which brings us back to that dinner scene. Aside from being, as I've said already, an experiment in awkward, it was a monumental power play by Walt. If Skyler is going to protect her kids by removing them from home, Walt's going to rub her face in his dirty business. And if Jesse can't see why Walt doesn't want to get bought out, why he wants to hold onto his empire, he's going to rub Jesse's face in his shitty home life—show the kid this is all he has to live for. And, Walt, master emotional manipulator that he is, is going to try to guilt Jesse, make the poor kid feel that he is destroying his happiness. Jesse, thankfully, has escaped the emotional clutches of Heisenberg, however. Which means that Walt must concoct another plan.
Which brings us to...goddamn, I need to see next week's episode right now.
This week's cold open was possibly the most upsetting scene I've seen on this show. Filmed silent—except for that haunting music—each shot lingered on the dismantling of the bike, before we saw the hand poking out of the dirt. It made it all the more upsetting when new guy Todd non-chalantly said to Jesse afterwards, "Shit happens, huh."
Before I write this, I'm almost certain I'm completely wrong, but I wonder if Walt's whistling while he worked was an indirect homage to Peter Lorre's whistling child-killer from M.
Walt's a wrist-cutter. Maybe we should feel bad for him.
I love Saul's line: "Meanwhile, Schrader’s hard-on for you just reached Uncle Milty proportions." Not enough TV shows reference Milton Berle's freakishly over-sized cock.
Walt's evil genius grin in that last shot is some devious shit.
"Exactly, we can’t know because Ricky Hitler there shot him."
"The next time you bring a gun to a job without telling me, I will stick it up your ass sideways."
"Teenagers. Sometimes you just wanna strangle ‘em."
"I would never come to our illegal meth headquarters, dragging a bunch of cops, Walter. It wouldn’t be wise."
"Five million dollars isn’t nothing."
"Jesse, you asked me if I was in the meth busisness or the money business. Neither—I’m in the empire business."
"Mr. White, is the meth empire really something to be that proud of?"
"These are great green beans, Mrs. White."
"Did you also tell him about my affair?"
"My wife is waiting for me to die. I suppose this is all I have left now. This is all I have. And you wanna take it away from me."
"I’ve never seen anyone in my life work so hard not to get 5 million dollars."
"Some hurts only show on the inside."