Breaking Bad, 1-5 “Gray Matter”
Jesse, looking cleaned up and cute in a dark suit, dark red shirt, and yellow tie, is applying for a job. “Here’s my resumé,” he says to the man behind the desk. “I mean, the title says ‘curriculum vitae,’ but – ”
“No experience required.”
“And it doesn’t really say it here, but I have a solid background in sales. I’m very much a self-starter, so…I really feel I could be a major asset to your sales force.” We’re impressed, but, apparently, there’s been a misunderstanding.
“Agents need three years experience and a college degree…” The job Jesse’s interviewing for is to stand on the street in a funny suit, waving a sign. Jesse puts his head down on the table. Next, we see him walking out, tearing off his tie as he goes.
The guy in the suit, waving the sign, stops waving, and yells, “Jesse! Hey, man! Yo, man – it’s Badger. What up?”
“Where you been keepin’ yourself? Nice duds.”
They share a joint, provided by Badger, and Jesse asks, “Why would you want to do this lame-ass job?”
“‘Cause I’m on probation, man. Gotta prove to the man I’m rehabilitated.” He asks Jesse if he has any “crystal.”
“I been out of the business for a while. Thinking about retiring.”
“What? No! That stuff was awesome!”
“I had this partner who was helping me cook, but he was an asshole. Anyway, sudo was getting harder and harder to come by.”
“I can hook you up with some sudo. We could partner up. Think about it. Gotta go…”
Jesse’s in his car, looking at the want ad section of the paper he’s brought with him. He leans back for a moment, then gets out and walks toward Badger.
Scene 1: Eliot Schwartz’s birthday party at the Schwartz mansion
Walt and Skyler, all dressed up, get out of their car and walk toward the party, Walt complaining that the gift he’s brought is stupid. Eliot and his wife Gretchen greet them, congratulating Walt and Skyler on the baby.
Next, we see Walt in the Schwartzes’ huge library, looking at a “Scientific American” with “Gray Matter Technologies” on the cover (Schwartz (black) + White = gray). Walt and Eliot came up with the name in grad school. He starts coughing.
Now an older guy named Farley is introducing Walt to some other men, telling them that Walt “was the master of crystallography.” They ask what he’s doing now, and Walt says, “I gravitated toward education.”
“What university?” Walt doesn’t answer.
Eliot’s opening his gifts, one of which is a Stratocaster electric guitar from Eric Clapton. Next he opens Walt’s: a package of ramen noodles. “This is what Walt and I lived on while we were working on our thesis. They were ten for $1.99. I love it! Thank you, Walt.”
Walt: “Well, for the man who has everything.”
Later, as they’re talking and laughing about old times, Eliot says, “I miss this, Walt.”
“Yeah, me too…Skyler and I would love to have you and Gretchen over for dinner sometime.” When Eliot starts talking about working together again, he says, “Are you asking me to come work for you at Gray Matter?”
Eliot: “You’re a little rusty, but we could really use a new pair of eyes.”
“Sounds good, but…the offer is very appealing. I thank you, but I have some personal issues.”
Eliot knows what this means, and we realize the job offer is his effort to help out financially. “We have excellent health insurance.”
Walt’s mad at Skyler for telling Eliot about his cancer when they get back together and are leaving the party. Skyler says, “He knew something was wrong with you, and he pressed me.” When Walt says something else, she says, “I don’t like the way you’re talking to me.”
“He offered me a fig leaf job to allow me to accept his charity. Then he offered to flat out pay for my treatment.”
“What did you say?”
“What do you think?”
Scene 2: Three for breakfast, chez White
Silence, except for the TV. Junior gets up. Walt: “Ready to go?”
“I’m taking the bus.”
Scene 3: Badger arrives at Jesse’s with a bag of stuff, then we’re in the RV in the desert
“Are those bullet holes?” Badger asks, looking at the door.
“No, those are for ventilation.”
“Nice set up.”
“I used to have twice as much glassware till my dumb partner drove the RV into a ditch.” He shows off what he still has. “Basic chemistry, yo, So, you got something for me?”
“Hell, yeah.” Badger pulls out boxes of Sudafed.
“Okay. We’re in business.”
Badger’s also brought a crossbow. “We might see javelinas.”
Cook montage in the desert: Badger clowns around to rap music (“Oh, sock it to me!”) while Jesse cooks. “I’m not sure it’ll come out right,” he says.
Scene 4: Outside a strip mall liquor store
Junior and two or three friends want some beer, and Junior’s been elected to approach people to ask them to buy it for them. When the first man he asks turns out to be an off-duty cop, his friends run off.
Next thing we see, is the cop saying, “This is just a warning. You have a good dad here.” But it’s not Walt; it’s Hank.
When they’re alone in Hank’s SUV, Hank says, “Not cool, man. Not cool…Calling me, not your father. How’s that gonna make him feel?”
At the White house, Skyler sends Junior to his room. Marie, there, too, asks Skyler, “Where’s Walt?”
“Haven’t seen him since this morning.”
Hank: “He’s acting out ’cause his dad’s sick.”
Skyler: “First the pot – ” She looks up at Marie and Hank. “Walt, not Walt, Jr.”
Marie: “Excuse me?”
Skyler: “He admitted it.”
“Walt?” Hank laughs.
Skyler: “Why would anyone in their right mind refuse treatment, especially when it’s completely paid for? You know what we need to do? Sit him down, all of us, and talk it through.”
Marie: “An intervention…”
Skyler: “No. A family meeting.”
Scene 5: The cook site, inside the RV
The meth came out white, but cloudy. Jesse, wanting it to be clear, says, “It’s not right.”
Badger: “Good enough.”
Jesse takes the pan outside and throws the meth out on the ground. “Our customers are gonna demand a certain standard. We’ll just do it again. That’s how we get it right.” Badger roots around on the ground.
Scene 6: Casa Blanca
When Walt gets home, Skyler, Junior, Hank, and Marie are waiting for him in the living room with the “talking pillow.”
Skyler: “Please have a seat, and join us.”
Scene 7: the RV
The second batch still isn’t right, and Jesse and Badger fight over the tray, damaging some of the equipment. Jesse locks Badger out of the RV and drives away, while B. runs after him with his crossbow, yelling, “Come back here, bitch!”
Scene 8: Casa Blanca
Junior, Marie, and Hank are sitting on the couch, and Walt and Skyler are in chairs facing each other. Skyler has the talking pillow. “It’s okay to lean on people now and again,” she says. “You need this treatment.”
Hank: “I care about you a helluva lot. Cancer’s a shit hand, but your luck can change. You just gotta hang in there and keep placing your bets. If you were playing baseball, and your arm was hurt, you’d use a pinch hitter, right? You got your pride, man – I get it – but if Daddy Warbucks wants to chip in, I say take the money and run.”
“This is bullshit,” Junior says, looking at Skyler.
“Talk,” she responds. “Tell your dad how you feel.”
“I’m pissed off. You’re a pussy. You’re like ready to give up. What if you gave up on me? This here [he lifts up his crutch] – all the shit I’ve been through, and you’re scared of a little chemotherapy.”
Marie: “I think you should do whatever you want to do.” Responding to Skyler’s outrage, she adds, “He’s the one with the cancer.” She says she sees people all the time suffering through treatment they got talked into by their families.
Hank: “I agree with Marie on this. He wants to die like a man.”
Skyler: “I don’t want him to die at all! That’s the whole point of this! Either help or leave.” The two sisters start fighting, and Hank whistles to shut them up.
“This is stupid,” Junior repeats.
Walt stands up with the pillow, then sits down for his say. “We love each other, and we want what’s best for each other. I know that. I’m thankful for that. What I want, what I need, is a choice.”
Skyler: “What does that mean?”
“Sometimes I feel like I never make any of my own choices. My entire life, it just seems I never had a real say about any of it. All I have left is how I choose to approach this.”
Skyler: “Then make the right choice. What about your son? Don’t you want to see your daughter grow up?”
“Of course, I do. Skyler, you’ve read the statistics. These doctors talk about surviving one year, two years, as if that’s the only thing that matters. But what good is it to survive if I’m too sick to work, to enjoy a meal, to make love. For what time I have left, I want to live in my own house. I want to sleep in my own bed. I don’t want to choke down thirty or forty pills every day, or lose my hair and lie around too tired to get up. Just marking time. No. No. And that’s how you would remember me. That’s the worst part. So, that’s my ‘thought process,’ Skyler. I’m sorry. I just – I choose not to do it.”
When Walt wakes up the next morning, Skyler’s already gotten up. He puts his head on her pillow, touches the books stacked on her night table (Let’s Fight Cancer, etc.), and opens her jar of night cream and smells it. He sits on the edge of the bed and puts on his glasses.
Skyler’s in the kitchen, scrubbing a frying pan. Walt comes up behind her, puts his arms around her, and lays his head on her shoulder. “All right,” he says.
“All right, what?”
“I’ll do the treatment.”
She turns, he strokes the side of her face, and they embrace. Walt says, “It’s gonna be okay.”
Scene 9: the oncologist’s waiting room
Obedient once again, Walt’s wearing a beige sweater over a beige turtleneck. He smiles at Junior. When Skyler mentions their credit card, he says, “I’ll take care of it.” He’s called in, and we see him getting a radiation treatment.
Later, Walt’s driving by himself when he gets a call from Gretchen. She says Eliot told her about the cancer and his offer of help. “You have to accept. That money belongs to you. Even the name of our company is half yours. Walt, is this about you and me?” There’s a long pause.
Walt: “I really appreciate what you and Eliot have offered to do for me. But the insurance came through after all. Thank you though.”
“That’s good news. Keep in touch, okay?”
“I will, and thanks for calling.”
Scene 10: Jesse’s garage
Jesse’s sadly covering the grimy glassware with a tarp when Walt walks up. Jesse says, “Yo!” and stands defensively in the doorway.
But Walt’s come in peace. “Want to cook?” he asks.