Monday, August 6, 2012
Breaking Bad - "Fifty-One"
OK, I just gotta say it, Hank better get suspicious of Walt soon, because otherwise I might lose respect for the guy. Let's look at all the info, shall we. Over the past year, Walt has gotten all kinds of weird: strange disappearances, naked fugue states, forcing liquor down son's throat, second cell phone, refusal to go to Hank's safe house during the Gus Fring kerfuffle. Yes, those things alone do not imply meth cook, but taken in conjunction with the fact that during that same period the southwest saw an influx of the most pure meth imaginable, and the fact that, oh yeah, Walt just happens to be a freaking brilliant chemist, Hank should at least be curious.
And this week, for the icing on the cake, car wash-owner Walt brought home two new sports cars. Now, I can understand why Hank would think such a thing as Walt the Meth-cook ludicrous—mild-mannerd Walt, c'mon—but I know Hank's ace detective skills must be tingling. What I'm saying is, I really want Hank to take Walt down. Of course, now that Hank will no longer be a field agent—check out his deep feeling of disappointment when presented with the promotion—who knows how much control he'll have over day to day investigations. I've a feeling Walt's new operation just got some breathing room now that Hank will no longer control the case.
And speaking of Walt, this was the first episode of the season that some of my old feelings for the guy crept back in. As much as I've shit on Walt this season, as much as I'm scared of the delusional lunatic, it was still goddamn cool to see the Heisenberg hat again (I'm a sucker for that kind of iconography). And I gotta say, I did enjoy the new cars with son scene. It was also nice to see Walt and Walt Jr. bonding at the table. And then I noticed the terrified Skyler in the background...
Which brought me back to Earth and reminded my why I'm right to still fear Walt. I do have to say, however, it looks like I've been partially wrong in my reading of Skyler this season. Specifically, I slightly misunderstood the basis for her fear of the guy. Here, I thought it was just a new awareness of the violence he was capable of; and although that is certainly part of it, there is much more to her malaise. What really gets her is Walt's lack of concern for the violence he causes. And it all goes back to Ted Beneke. Awful, awful Ted Beneke.
When Skyler saw the helpless Beneke laid up in traction, she felt immense guilt for the pain she caused him. (Of course, she wasn't aware that the injury was the result of Beneke's clumsy slip (because, fuck Ted Beneke) and not roughing-up by goons. Yes, he wouldn't have slipped if he hadn't run away from Huell and Bill Burr; but still, fuck Ted Beneke.) The point is, as with the writers of Breaking Bad, Skyler is all too aware that all actions have consequences. Nothing exists in a vacuum. And the results of her actions (incapacitated Beneke) weren't nearly as fucked up as Walt's (exploded nursing home). The fact that Walt can so callously shrug off the horrible shit that is the result of his business dealings is truly terrifying. He is either oblivious to the consequences of his actions or, worse, just doesn't care. In Walt's mind, however, anything can be justified if it helps the family.
Which brings me to Lydia. In a Slate TV Club piece on Breaking Bad last week, Matthew Yglesias pointed out that Lydia and Walt make a perfect match—and I wish I had realized it earlier, because it makes so much sense. Both are irrational hot-heads who have no problem resorting to violence, regardless of the consequences. And, most importantly, they will justify any of their heinous actions in the name of family. Most tellingly, Jesse trusts Lydia; he doesn't consider her a liability. When Jesse defends her, he glances at Walt while saying, "She didn't seem crazy to me; she just seemed uptight."
Jesse, unfortunately, has a thing for manipulative, unhinged parental figures—which is rather strange since, as we saw in earlier seasons, his parents are actually quite stable. Who knows the source of his attachment to such people, but the fact that he is now willing to trust Lydia speaks ill of both her and Walt.
Mike sees through the bullshit, however. When he hears the bogus story about the silly-puttied tracking device on the methylamine barrel, he realizes that Lydia is too much of a liability; he'll have to take her out. (Side note: I hate that I have to Google methylamine every time I review Breaking Bad, just to make sure I'm spelling it right. I don't want that shit in my browsing history.) But Mike us outnumbered in the decision. How long before this unstable triumvirate results in its own undoing?
Can you believe it's already been a year since Breaking Bad began four years ago?
Speaking of which, that Aztek sure sustained some damage in one year. I really dug the mechanic's speech about all the repairs. It was almost like a retrospective of the show. Hey, remember all those things that happened with this car? That sure was wacky.
I think Walt's birthday scene qualifies as one of the most awkward dinner parties I've ever scene in a show or movie. I really wanted to walk out of the room while it was playing.
"I just had fourteen DEA agents barge into my office and they were screaming and yelling at me. And they were swarming all over the warehouse."
"It has been quite a year."
"I thought you were the danger."
"You did what you had to do to protect your family. And I'm sorry, that doesn't make you a bad person; it makes you a human being."
"All I can do is wait."
"We will be taking our business elsewhere—right after I leave her alone in a ditch."
"I had a chance to deal with this before and I gave her a pass. That's what I get for being sexist."
"She didn't seem crazy to me. She just seemed uptight."
"And now you're being sexist."
"The methylemene keeps flowing no matter what. We are not ramping down. We are just getting started."
"He changed his mind about me, Skyler. And so will you."