Breaking Bad, 2-1: “737”
The Season 2 DVD cover shows Walt and Jesse sitting on folding chairs in the desert in pale blue protective suits, gas masks tilted back. Walt has a gun in his hand.
The opener/teaser, in black-and-white, shows items around the exterior of the White home like a dripping hose and a bird feeder, with subtle grating noises in the background. Something circular in the sky that turns out to be the falling eye of a teddy bear splashes into the pool, and gets sucked into the filter. The only item in color is a garishly pink stuffed bear, the possesser of the eye, burned black on its left side, that also falls into the pool.
Scene 1: the junkyard drug meet in the last episode of Season 1
Neither Walt nor Jesse can believe what Tuco’s done to his henchman – over so little. They get in Jesse’s car, and Jesse looks at the roll of money in his hand. Walt mentally adds up what he needs to provide for his family – it comes to $737,000 – hence the title of the episode. As we’ll see, the titles of four of the episodes in this season also describe the plane crash hinted at in the opener: “737,” “Down,” “Over,” and “ABQ.”
“Only 10½ more weeks,” Walt says. “Call it 11, and always in a public place from now on. It’s doable, definitely doable.”
Driving down the junkyard dirt road, Jesse suddenly almost crashes into an oncoming vehicle: Tuco’s come back! Everyone gets out of their cars, and Tuco pulls his unconscious and bloody henchman out onto the ground, crying, “Heisenberg! What’s wrong with him?”
The guy’s having convulsions, and Walt, kneeling beside him, can’t feel a pulse.
“Do something!” Tuco shouts. “You’re smart, right? Don’t let him die!” Walt starts doing chest compressions. “Breathe into his mouth!” Tuco orders.
Walt: “They don’t teach that anymore.”
Tuco (to Jesse): “You! C’mere! Breathe into his mouth!”
Walt pushes the horrified Jesse away from the now dead body, as Tuco, kneeling, dangles his henchman’s limp hand. Walt and Jesse are still on their knees by the body, when Tuco suddenly stands and gives it three vicious kicks. “Get rid of him!” he yells at his remaining henchman, the heavyset Gonzo.
Gonzo objects timidly: “But there are bugs and rats here…It’s not Christian…”
“That sounds like arguing!”
Gonzo rolls his buddy’s body under a car, and covers it with a piece of metal. Tuco lights a cigarette as Walt and Jesse try to leave. “What’s the hurry?” he asks.
“I just think we’re done here,” Walt answers.
Walt and Jesse start walking away again, and Tuco grabs Jesse and throws him to the ground. We think he’s going to kick and beat him for the second time, perhaps to death, but then he gets in his car and leaves.
Scene 2: Casa Blanca
Skyler, alone in the house, is pampering herself in the bathroom – rubbing her pregnant belly with lotion and putting on a green facial mask. She hears the door open and close, and calls, “Hey! I’m back here! Hello?” The TV goes on. “Hello?” This is ominous to us after what we’ve just seen, but it’s just Walt: cowed and traumatized.
Skyler comes into the living room. “Hey, can’t you answer me when I call?” She pauses. “Are you okay?” Still no answer. “New hat?” Walt, still wearing his Heisenberg hat, remains silent. “Where’ve you been?”
When Skyler goes into the kitchen and starts fixing her husband something to eat, he comes up behind her and cries on her shoulder. Then, seeking more comfort, and perhaps trying to assert himself as a man, he starts to get sexual. Skyler’s objections are mild at first, then she fights him off, yelling, “Stop it!”
Walt goes outside and sits dully by the pool. Skyler follows him. “I know you’re scared, and you’re angry, and you’re frustrated, and I know none of this is fair,” she says. “But you – can – not – take it out on me!”
Back inside the house, Junior comes in. “Hey, I’m home!” he yells. He sees things dropped on the kitchen floor and something messed up on the fridge door in the struggle, and wonders.
Scene 3: the Dog House, a fast food joint, at night, and Jesse’s house the next day
Jesse’s eating French fries by himself at an outside table. Someone comes, and he lifts his plate to reveal a short stack of bills. Taking the money, the man returns with a paper sack containing a revolver.
Later, in his kitchen, Jesse confronts Walt about the danger they’re in from Tuco, and Walt says, “If he wanted to kill us, he would have done it at the junkyard.”
“What are you basing that on? If he had a normal, healthy brain…We’re witnesses, loose ends. What happens when he decides he doesn’t trust us?” Pulling his new gun out of a drawer, Jesse puts it on the counter.
Walt shakes his head. “No.”
“It’s him or us. You understand?”
“How would you do it?”
“Set up one last sale, and shoot him when his head’s down snorting the meth.” But Jesse’s plan doesn’t hold up when Walt presses him for details, especially since there will be other people there. When Walt asks Jesse how many bullets his gun holds, he can’t even open it.
“It’s not that easy, is it?”
“Hey, man, you did it,” Jesse says, referring to Walt’s killing Krazy-8.
“Yeah.” Walt’s expression and tone reveal how hard that was.
Scene 4: Hank and Marie’s house and Hank at work
Hank and Marie’s house, seen inside and outside in this scene, is more upscale than Walt and Skyler’s: a modern adobe in a more spacious neighborhood. Marie, in the kitchen about to leave for work, leaves a phone message for Skyler asking if she and Walt would like to meet her and Hank for dinner.
Outside, a young boy plays with a remote-operated toy car. Hank reminds Marie, in her electric blue VW sedan, of a counseling appointment she has with “Dave.” She drives off impatiently, running over the toy car. Hank gives the tearful child some money and tries to make excuses for his wife’s carelessness.
At work, Gomez shows Hank the surveillance video of Walt and Jesse’s methylamine heist. When he sees how they blow open the door, Hank says, “These guys know their trade,” but when he watches them trying to carry the drum away, he laughs. “I take that back! Steal a hand truck, or roll it, you morons!” They talk about sudo being in short supply, and Hank refers to the methylamine as “PCP,” used, as he says, to make “old-school biker meth. These two know their chemistry, but have no street skills…That’s 30 gallons of precursor…They’ll be stepping on some toes. They better hope it’s us that picks them up and not those boys from Juarez!”
Scene 5: Night-time; the street that leads into the Whites’ driveway
We see a vehicle parked on the left side of the street, facing the White house, then another, lights on, coming toward us: Walt. He parks, and while he’s picking something up from the driveway, he notices the black SUV, which turns and drives away. Jesse was right – Tuco’s watching them.
In the morning, Skyler wakes and sees that Walt’s not in bed, but in the living room peering out the window. The phone rings, and he jumps. Another message from Marie – Skyler picks up the receiver and slams it down, not ready to talk after the tiara fiasco. She’s wearing a pale coral-colored robe with a green sash, the same life-filled colors with which she painted the nursery. When she leaves the room, Walt puts the kitchen knife he’s been clutching back in the kitchen.
Scene 6: Jesse’s kitchen
Walt: “Did you tell them where I live?”
“I didn’t say jack, man. Tuco’s got his ways and means, yo – he’s closing in.” Jesse gets his gun out of the drawer. “It’s got five bullets. I figured it out. If we get a second gun for you, we’ll double our chances. I mean, like, mathematically.” The big white skull on Jesse’s black T-shirt contrasts with his frightened demeanor.
“I’ve got a better idea,” Walt says.
Jesse puts the gun back in the drawer. “Thank God. What is it, Mr. White? Lay it on me.”
Walt pulls a small plastic bag out of his pocket. “Beans.”
“So, what’re we gonna do with them? Are we gonna grow a magic beanstalk, climb it, and escape?”
“We’re going to process them into ricin.”
“Ricin. It’s an extremely effective poison in small doses. Also, fairly easy to overlook in an autopsy.”
Scene 7: Casa Blanca
Skyler’s in the nursery looking at some photos. The one we get to see is of her and Ted, her former boss. Her expression makes us think there was some chemistry between them. Someone goes by the window, then is at the front door: Hank. Skyler asks if Marie sent him. “No. She’s barely talkin’ to me.”
Hank asks if Skyler could return Marie’s phone calls as a favor to him. When Skyler tells him she almost got arrested returning the stolen tiara, his expression reveals that this has been an ongoing problem. He says Marie has a good therapist, adding, “We gotta support her.”
“Do we? Me? A 40-year-old woman with a surprise baby on the way, a husband with lung cancer who goes places I don’t know about and barely speaks to me, a moody son who does the same thing, an overdrawn checking account, and a lukewarm water heater that leaks rusty crap that’s rotting out the utility closet floor? What can I do to benefit my spoiled, kleptomaniac sister, who always manages to be the center of attention, ’cause, God knows, she’s the one with the really important problems?”
Hank’s horrified. Skyler bursts into tears. He puts his arms around her from as great a distance as possible, and offers to look at the utility closet.
Scene 8: nighttime, Jesse’s basement, making ricin; Casa Blanca; the DEA
Walt’s thinking that at the next meet they’ll offer the ricin to Tuco as a “new meth formula. That degenerate snorts everything he gets his hands on. In 48-72 hours he’ll die from what will look like natural causes.”
Walt’s cell phone rings. It’s Hank, at work on a crime scene, wanting to send a photo of the two dead bodies they’ve just found to Walt for a laugh. Jesse looks over Walt’s shoulder: it’s both of Tuco’s henchmen – Gonzo’s dead, too. Hank: “Guess they pissed off the wrong guy, huh?”
Jesse races for his gun, and Walt, grabbing it away from him, says, “I’ve got to get home to my family!” Maybe if Walt hadn’t considered his family more important than Jesse, and taken the gun Jesse realized was necessary, paid for, and learned to use, this episode would have ended differently…
Jesse digs his sports bag of money out from under the kitchen sink – a mistake as it turns out – while Walt careens home.
“Skyler? Walt, Jr.? Skyler?” Walt tiptoes down the hall, Jesse’s gun in hand, thinking his family may already be dead. But, no – Skyler’s taking a bath with candles ringing the tub, and Walt Jr.’s having dinner with a friend. “So, where’ve you been this time?” Skyler asks, but Walt’s already run to the nursery. Getting his money out of the vent, he puts it and the gun in an empty diaper carton while Skyler calls him from the bathroom.
Meanwhile, Hank recognizes the bodies as associates of Tuco, a “psychotic piece of shit.” He also realizes that Gonzo wasn’t murdered – he was crushed by a falling pile of flattened cars while trying to move his buddy’s body.
Skyler asks Walt, who’s returned to the bathroom, “Will you talk to me, please?” and he answers, “I don’t know where to begin.”
Walt’s secret cell phone rings, and he sees a shadow on the wall. He looks out the window and sees Jesse’s car parked in front of his house. He goes out and asks him what he’s doing there, then sees Tuco in the back seat with a gun at Jesse’s head. “Get in,” Tuco says, then “Let’s go.”