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Season 2, Episode 12: “Phoenix”

09 Jul

Breaking Bad, 2-12: “Phoenix”

Opener

Daytime, Jesse’s bedroom. We see Jesse and Jane in bed, and the works on the table. Jane stirs as her phone rings. “Dad! I was in the shower. Hey! I overslept. I’m running late, but I’ll be there.” She hangs up, and says to Jesse, “Baby, I gotta go.” She kisses him, then looks at the mess the room is in. “Somebody broke in.”

Jesse sees the bedroom door, and goes in the kitchen, which looks like a bomb hit it. “Oh, no!” he shouts. “No, no, no, no!! Damn! Oh, God! Oh, Christ!”

Scene 1: a Narcotics Anonymous meeting and a restaurant

Jane is at the meeting with her dad, and we get the impression that he’s been forcing her to attend meetings for months. She twists her 18-month sobriety chip in her hands, looking nervous and bereft.

Later, at a restaurant, Donald says, “You look tired.”

Jane says she’s been working hard on a complex new tattoo, and asks her dad about his job.

Donald: “Are you seeing anyone?”

“No. You?”

“What about that guy next door?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, he seemed to have some expectation of you introducing me to him the other day.”

“Dad, he’s our tenant. End of story. Why would I get involved with a tenant?” She looks about to cry.

“Okay.”

Scene 2: Casa Blanca, Jesse’s

Beautiful, innocent little Holly is home in her bassinette, with Mom and Dad caring for her. The phone rings, and Junior answers. “Nobody there,” he says.
When it rings again, Walt grabs it. “Oh, hi, Carmen,” he says, and talks about the baby. Outside, he says, “You junkie imbecile! What the hell are you calling me at home for?”

“I’m trying to tell you, man! Last night – somebody broke into my place, yo! I got robbed! Yeah. Somebody got our stuff – all of it.” He’s panting. “You get me? The blue stuff. It’s uncanny. They knew exactly where to look! I mean, say something, man! Yell at me or something! Come on! Mr. White!”

When Walt hangs up, Jesse sees the number four on his answering machine message counter.

Later, there’s a family party on the White patio at which Pollos Hermanos chicken is served. Hank and Marie offer to pay for a pool alarm system to prevent injury to baby Holly, and Walt and Skyler refuse. Skyler says she’s going right back to work, and Walt objects that the baby needs her at home.

Later, Walt, lying awake, hears the baby crying, and says, “I’ll get her.” He carries his “good little girl” out to the garage, where he’s hidden the money behind the wall insulation. “Want to see what your daddy did for you? Daddy did that for you.”

Scene 3: Walt’s classroom

Jesse, wearing a red shirt, a plain gray jacket, and gray pants, comes into the classroom. “This place looks exactly the same,” he says to Walt, who’s wearing his dark red shirt. “Why don’t you have computers and shit? It’s the 20th century.”

“What the hell are you doing here?”

“You! Took the stash. I heard all those phone messages, and I figured it out.”

“Figured it out, huh? Well, congratulations, Einstein.”

“You left me to freak out all day long, like I dropped the ball or something, and you were the one who took it.”

Walt locks the door. “Like you dropped the ball? When have you ever not dropped the ball, Jesse? Blasted out of your mind on whatever the hell that was – what was that? Heroin? Jesus.”

“I was on my day off, man. What I do on my day off is – ”

“We were on call, you junkie. On call for the biggest deal of our lives [did you tell him that?]. I just managed to pull it off by the skin of my teeth – no thanks to you. And you – ” he pushes him, “made me miss the birth of my daughter [no, he didn’t!!]. Son of a bitch!”

“How much?”

“How much what?”

“How much did you get for the deal?”

“1.2 million.”

“$600,000 each.”

“$480,000. Saul’s cut is 20%.”

“So, where’s my money?”

“You are joking, right? If I gave you that money, you’d be dead inside of a week.”

“Yo, man. I’m off the heroin. I didn’t like it anyway – it made me sick. And the meth, you know – I can take it or leave it. I’m clean, Mr. White – for real.”

Walt throws him a glass beaker. “Prove it. Pee in that.”

“How gay are you, seriously?”

“Pee in it! They’re selling testing kits at the drug store. If you’re clean, I’ll give you every last dime. No, huh? Well, I guess until then you’ll just have to depend on the kindness of strangers to get high. That and your little junkie girlfriend.”

Jesse throws the beaker at Walt, and it shatters against the blackboard. We see them in a long shot, standing across the room from each other. Then Jesse walks out.

Scene 4: Casa Blanca

Marie and Walt are putting Holly down for a nap, and Walt inserts a rolled-up towel behind the baby’s back to keep her from rolling onto her back, spitting up, and choking. Skyler comes in. “Your son is unbelievable,” she tells Walt. “Come see what he’s done.”

Junior’s in his room at his computer. The walls are painted the same life-giving green as the bottom of his sister’s walls, with a similar border at the top. We see the same nice, out-of-character-as-we-know-him picture of a beatifically smiling Walt that was on his missing poster on the computer, then some family pictures.

Marie says, “Flynn, it’s beautiful.” He’s created a website called SaveWalterWhite.com. There’s a “Click her to donate” link, a PayPal account, and everything.

“No,” Walt says.

Skyler: “Walt – ” She leads her husband out of the room, and begs him to let Junior go ahead.

“It’s charity.”

“Why do you say that like it’s some kind of dirty word?”

Scene 5: Saul’s office, Jesse’s, the Whites’, and an NA meeting

Saul’s trying to come up with ways to launder Walt’s drug profits, and Walt’s shooting down all his ideas. “It can’t be blind luck or some imaginary relative that saves us. No. I earned that money – me.” He tells Saul about Junior’s website, and asks, “Do you have any idea how that makes me feel?” Saul goes to the site on his desktop computer, as Walt adds, “Cyberbegging – that’s all that is. Rattling a tin cup to the entire world.”

Saul says, sarcastically, “No deep-seated issues there…Walt, I’m looking at the answer right here.”

“No! I’m not going to have my family think that some mystery benefactor saved us!”

“Not some mystery benefactor singular – that would raise too many questions.” Saul tells Walt about a computer hacker he uses from Belarus who can make “twenty or thirty thousand little donations from all over the U.S. and Canada” come in to Junior’s website.

At Jesse’s place, Jesse says to Jane, “He’s an asshole – always judging me.” Wearing his red sweatshirt, he’s getting the heroin ready to inject this time, with Jane’s coaching. “Like who is he? First off, I taught him. He’s acting like I’m his indentured servant.”

“I don’t understand why you need him anyway.”

“Exactly.”

“How much does he owe you?”

“480.” Jesse’s nodding off.

“I’d be mad, too, if somebody owed me 500 bucks.”

“No – four hundred and eighty thousand.”

“What? What? Not on your back, baby, in case you throw up. On your side.” Jane stuffs a pillow behind Jesse’s back.

We see Donald at an NA meeting, an empty chair beside him. When he calls Jane, she says she overslept again, and that she’s on her way. But Donald’s parked in front of the apartments, and sees Jane coming out Jesse’s front door. He rushes into Jesse’s bedroom, sees the works, and throws Jesse on the floor, as Jane shouts, “No! No! Dad!”

Jesse: “Come on!”

Donald, getting ready to call the police: “I have tried ten years of love and understanding. Maybe what it takes is you drying out in a jail cell.”

“Dad – no!” Jane says she’ll go to rehab the next day, as soon as she finds someone to water her houseplants. She begs and pleads till Donald relents.

After Donald’s gone, Jesse asks Jane, “You meant all that?”

“I don’t know. I just think that if we had enough money, nobody could make us do anything.”

The phone rings at the Whites’ as Walt and Skyler play with Holly on their bed. Skyler goes into the kitchen to answer it, coming back to tell Walt that one of his old students needs “a recommendation.”

While Skyler’s off feeding Holly, Walt hears, “Hello, Walter White. It’s Jane – of Jesse and Jane. Jesse’s junkie girlfriend…”

Walt, having taken the phone outside, demands, “How did you get this number? Did Jesse give it to you?”

“I just want what’s coming to him – no more, no less.”

“What are you talking about?”

“$480,000.”

“He told you about the money…”

“He told me everything.”

“So, what is this, some kind of blackmail?”

“This is me telling you to bring Jesse what you owe him. I don’t call that blackmail.”

“I do. Dialing my number, talking to my wife…How much heroin does half a million dollars buy? For your information, I’m holding Jesse’s money for him, and he’ll receive every last dollar of it. He will – not you – at a time when I see fit. But I will not contribute to his overdose.”

“You know, Mr. White, I take that back. This is blackmail. ‘Cause what I know about you – high school teacher with a brother-in-law in the DEA – that’d make a hell of a story – national news I’ll bet. Do right by Jesse tonight, or I will burn you to the ground.” Jane hangs up.

Jesse and Jane go outside in back of the apartments, and Jane says, “He’s a high school teacher – what’s he gonna do, give you a B minus?”

“You wouldn’t really go to the cops, would you?”

“No. He’ll pay.”

“Well, what if he doesn’t?”

“Jesse, it’s your money. You’re in the right here; he’s in the wrong. He’s not stupid. He’ll pay. What is it, really? You don’t want your half million dollars? You want to renounce your possessions and become a monk?”

“No, it’s just – I’m not the kinda dude who rolls. And neither are you. I mean, he’s my partner.”

I’m your partner.” Jane walks back up the steps and goes inside.

Walt’s watching a nature video about elephants, while listening to Skyler singing Holly to sleep on the baby monitor. Skyler comes out, and asks Walt to go get some diapers. We see him in the garage, getting stacks of money.

Walt knocks at Jesse’s door. Jane answers, and grabs for the satchel in Walt’s hand. “Jesse, not you,” Walt says.

Jesse comes to the door, and before he releases the bag, Walt tells him, “Nice job of wearing the pants. How do I know she’ll keep quiet?”

Jane: “Guess you don’t.”

Jesse: “You’ll never hear from either one of us again.”

Walt: “You’re not seeing straight, Jesse.” Jesse’s starting to listen, as Walt continues, “You’re making a mistake,” but Jane slams the door in his face.

Inside, Jane unzips the bag. “Do you know what this is? This is saying I can go anywhere I want! I can be anybody! Who do you want to be? Where do you want to go? South America? Australia?”

Jesse: “Is New Zealand part of Australia?”

“New Zealand is New Zealand,” Jane answers, counting the money.

Jesse’s in a daze. “Right on! Yo – that’s where they made ‘Lord of the Rings.’ I say, let’s move there, yo, and you can do your art and paint like the local castles and shit, and I can be a bush pilot!”

Jane: “Yeah, New Zealand! I can get behind that! But I guess I’m good anywhere.” She grabs Jesse and hugs him. “But first we gotta get clean – and not because anybody’s telling is to – just for us, right?”

“Yeah – for us.”

Jane picks up the satchel. “All this here – we’re not just going to shoot this up our arms, Jesse – we’re not!”

“No, no, no – we’re better than that.”

“We’re way better than that! I say we flush what we’ve got left, and start tonight.” They go in the bedroom and see the works on the table and the red candle burning, as Jesse says, “Yeah, we can do that. Definitely.”

Scene 6: a bar

Walt stops at a bar. His phone rings, and he tells Skyler he’s having trouble finding newborn diapers. After hanging up, he gets into a conversation with, of all people, Donald, about the discovery of water on Mars.

Donald, who’s overheard what Walt told Skyler, asks, “So, what’d you have?”

“A little girl.”

“I have a daughter.”

“How old?”

“Old enough to know better. Twenty-seven next month.”

“Any other kids?”

“No.”

Walt asks Donald if he has any advice about raising a daughter, and he says, “Just love them. I mean, they are who they are.”

Then Walt, thinking of Jesse, starts talking about a problem nephew. “He’s an adult. But you can’t infantilize them. You can’t live their life for them. But still, there’s that frustration that goes along with ‘Yes, as a matter of fact, I do know what’s best for you, so listen.'” Donald nods. “But, of course, they don’t. I mean, what do you do with someone like that?”

Donald shakes his head. “Family.”

Walt thinks a moment. “Yeah…family.” Jesse is his surrogate son.

“You can’t give up on them,” Donald says. “Never. What else is there?”

In a supremely ironic event, Walt, inspired by Donald, goes back to Jesse’s to try, again, to save him from Jane’s influence. And ends up putting Jane in a position to die, and letting it happen, killing Donald’s special family member in an effort to save his own. And, of course, his reasons for wanting to save Jesse aren’t entirely loving. Maybe, in fact, that’s the least of it. Despite Jesse’s mistakes, occasional foolishness, and sporadic drug use, Walt doesn’t want to face the big, bad world of the drug trade without his odd-couple partner. In other words, he wants to use Jesse, treating him, as Jesse’s just said, as an indentured servant. Neither Walt nor Jane is healthy enough to want what’s best for the young man they claim to love. Jane is also a legitimate threat to Walt.

Walt knocks, fairly gently, on the living room door. “Jesse, it’s me.” He knocks again. “Jesse – I just want to talk.” Then he goes around to the back, takes the cardboard off the broken door, and sees Jesse and Jane in bed. He goes inside, and, dressed all in black (angel of death?), he sits on the bed and shakes Jesse’s shoulder. “Jesse, wake up!” Jesse groans and turns on his back, rolling Jane onto her back. Walt looks at the needle, picks it up, and throws it back on the night table.

When Jane starts vomiting and choking, Walt runs instinctively to her side of the bed, saying, “No! No! No!” He’s about to turn her, but suddenly stops. He stands there, in some conflict, but pretty sure of his decision, as she continues to choke, then stops. Her eyes roll open. Walt puts his hand over his mouth, and cries one tear.

Does he turn Jesse back on his side? We don’t see that, so maybe Jesse’s lucky he didn’t vomit, too.

 

 

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