Breaking Bad, 2-13: “ABQ”
The opener recapitulates all the images we’ve seen in previous teasers relating to the two planes crashing over Albuquerque: the dripping hose, squeaking wind chimes, and the charred pink bear’s eyeball going into the Whites’ pool filter. We hear a siren or sirens in the background, and go underwater with the bear. The sun shines through bubbles as we see a man peering into the pool from the bear’s point of view, and the bear is retrieved and placed in a large, clear plastic box in its plastic evidence bag, along with other similar bags.
The music slams as we see the shattered windshield of Walt’s Aztek again, and the two white body bags in the White driveway. There’s a muddy shoe caught in a bush, and a sign warning, “Evidence: Do Not Disturb.” A man in a white uniform searches the ground with a metal detector, the initials OMI in big capital letters on his back. A police radio crackles as we see the even larger initials NTSB on top of an official white van.
The teaser concludes with the view from the White driveway: houses, and behind them two plumes of black smoke against the brilliant blue New Mexican sky. The two planes have finally crashed.
We find out later that OMI stands for “Office of Medical Investigation,” and may already know that NTSB stands for the National Transportation Safety Board, “an independent U.S. government investigative agency responsible for civil transportation accident investigation,” according to Wikipedia. ABQ, of course, is airport-speak for Albuquerque.
Scene 1: Jesse’s, the Whites’
This scene is just as dire, on an individual level, starting with a shirtless Jesse doing frantic chest compressions on Jane’s dead body in the middle of his bed. He’s obviously just woken up. “Please! Come on!” he half cries, half sobs. “God! Oh, God!” Finally he stops, still kneeling over his lover’s corpse, crying in shock and disbelief, his fist against his mouth. We’ve seen Jesse in distress before, but this is the ultimate – the complete opposite of his and Jane’s peaceful, opium-induced sleep.
Skyler’s and Walt’s cars are parked outside the Whites’ house, and Walt’s inside with baby Holly, Skyler and Junior still asleep or otherwise engaged. The phone rings, and we know it’s Jesse when Walt says, “Yeah? Slow down…Take a deep breath…Now, what happened?” The baby fusses a little. “All right…All right…Now, listen to me…Are you listening? Everything is going to be okay…Listen…calm down…Just sit tight. I know who to call.”
Now a big black American car (the web says an ’88 Chrysler Fifth Avenue) pulls up in front of Jesse’s house, and an older bald man in black jacket and pants gets out: Saul’s (and Gus’s) “fixer,” Mike Ehrmentraut, whose name means “loyal, honorable man” in German. Jesse, in shock, is sitting/huddled on his front steps, in pajama pants and a black T-shirt with a white and red design on it. Mike, wearing dark glasses, says, “Saul Goodman sent me…Come on…inside.”
Inside, Mike takes off his sunglasses, and says, “Latch the door,” then “Where is she?” When Jesse doesn’t answer, having slumped against the wall in the living room, Mike walks slowly toward the bedroom, putting on a pair of purple disposable gloves. Surveying the room, he puts all the drug paraphernalia in a plastic bag, and wipes down one of the night tables. He throws Jesse’s belt on top of the open satchel of money, then picks up the bag and drops it on the living room floor.
Adding more drug stuff, including Jesse’s bong, he asks, “Any other drugs in the house?” No answer. “Think. Your freedom depends on it…What about guns? You got any guns in the house?” Jesse responds with a slight head shake, still slumped against the front living room wall near a red beanbag chair. Mike says, “Here’s your story: you woke up, found her, that’s all you know. Say it, please…You woke up and found her, that’s all you know.”
Jesse starts to cry, and Mike slaps his face just hard enough to get him to focus. He crouches in front of Jesse. “Say it. You woke up and found her; that’s all you know.”
“I woke up and found her; that’s all I know.”
“I woke up and found her; that’s all I know.”
“I woke up and found her; that’s all I know…I woke up and found her – that’s all I know!”
“Once you call it in, the people who show up will be with the Office of Medical Investigations. That’s primarily who you’ll talk to. Police officers may arrive, they may not – depends on how busy a morning they’re having. O.D.’s are not a high-priority call. There’s nothing here to incriminate you, so it’s doubtful you’ll be placed under arrest. However, if you are, you say nothing. Just tell them you want your lawyer. And call Saul Goodman…Do I need to state the obvious? I was not here…You put on a long-sleeved shirt, and cover those track marks on your arm.” Mike hands Jesse the phone. “Count down from twenty, then dial.” He zips the satchel and picks it up. “Hang tough. You’re in the home stretch.”
Back at the White house, Cheerios are being poured into a bowl, and we hear Walt ask, “Two percent or skim?”
Skyler: “Two, I guess.” She’s in her robe, nursing baby Holly.
Walt calls, “Junior!”
Skyler smiles. “Flynn.”
Junior, from a distance: “In a minute!”
Skyler: “You all right?” Then: “Flynn, get your butt in here!”
Flynn/Junior’s voice again: “Oh, my God! Mom! Dad! Come in here – you gotta see this! Seriously…”
Walt and Skyler, still holding the baby, enter Flynn’s room, where $490 has been contributed on the Save Walter White website. There are also encouraging messages like “Hang in there, Walt!”
Flynn: “Isn’t this awesome?”
Walt, still in the doorway: “Wow – that is something.” Skyler has to urge her husband to thank his son. “Thank you, son – it’s a big help.”
Jane’s dad, Donald, is in his car, leaving a phone message for her. “I’m on my way, and you’d better be on your porch, bag packed, and ready to go. No excuses.” He pulls up and sees the ambulance, back door open, and knows instantly what’s happened.
In Jesse’s bedroom, Donald watches two men put Jane’s body into a black plastic bag. “Sir,” one says, “You may not want to watch this.” But – zip, over Jane’s face – Donald stays. Then returns to the living room, where Jesse’s being questioned by a female medical investigator. “Date of birth?” she asks Donald.
“April 4, 1982; Phoenix.” He picks up the “Apology Girl” drawing and looks at it, then says he can drive and will meet the crew at the hospital.
“Are you both coming?” the woman asks, and Jesse shakes his head.
Jane’s body is taken out, and Donald follows, shutting the door behind him.
Back at the Whites’, Flynn and Skyler are watching the donations come in and laughing while Walt fishes his plastic-bagged second cell phone out of the master bedroom toilet tank. “It’s me. Are you there? Just checkin’ in…Our friend says he thinks everything went well. That’s good. So, listen – call me, all right?” Having taken Jesse’s life, such as it was, away from him, Walt’s determined now to stand by his older “son.”
We hear Skyler calling, “Walt! You gotta come in here! We just broke a thousand!”
Scene 2: the DEA, the Whites’, the shooting gallery
Hank is raising money from his officemates for Walt, offering a six-pack of Schraderbrau for the biggest donation. He then switches to a review of the blue meth investigation, using photos tacked to the wall. He puts up one of Combo’s dead face, saying, “Christian Ortega, a.k.a. ‘Combo.'” There’s a red question mark on Krazy-8’s face, and red X’s on Tuco’s, No Doz’s, and Gonzo’s.
Walt and Jesse’s meth, which the DEA calls “Blue Sky,” has suddenly vanished from the city and state, but is cropping up in Texas, Arizona, Colorado, and Nevada. “I guess they’ve stopped shitting where they eat,” Hank concludes. “I say Heisenberg’s still out there!”
Walt’s on his second cell in the White master bedroom telling Saul to “shut up and give me the address.” Someone has tracked Jesse to a local shooting gallery.
Next, Walt’s in Mike’s car in an alley. “I don’t recommend it,” Mike says. “APD’s been known to sit on this place – keep an eye on the comings and goings.”
“Are they here now?”
“I don’t see any sign, but that’s the point. Police could be the least of it. You could just get mugged or shot. How ’bout you go home, Walter? Let me handle this.”
No – this is Walt’s second son. He gets out of the car, crawls through a hole in the chain-link fence, and braves ranks of tweakers and addicts to enter and search the drug house, a disgusting and scary place. He finally finds Jesse, lying on his back, unconscious. Crouching and holding Jesse’s head on either side, he calls, “Jesse! Look at me, son! Wake up! Wake up!” Jesse mumbles something, then tries to fight. “Jesse, it’s me – it’s Walt!”
Jesse, eyes still shut: “Yeah…”
“Come on – let’s get outta here!”
“No – no – no – no – ” Jesse’s still in a (bad) dream world.
Walt, still holding his partner: “Help me out now!”
Jesse mumbles, “I’m good, I’m good.”
“Listen, Jesse,” Walt says, being as tender as we’ve seen him with Holly. “You are not good right here. You are not good at all. Put your arms around me. Come on – stand up. Come on – we’re gonna walk out of here, okay? We’re gonna take you someplace nice and safe. Now, let’s go – here we go…”
Jesse is hugging Walt around the waist now, his head on Walt’s chest. Eyes still closed, he starts to cry like a child. He sobs bitterly, as Walt, a bit unsure, strokes his head with one hand and pats his back with the other. “Sh…sh…sh…”
“I killed her!” Jesse cries. “I killed her!”
Walt: “Come on, Jesse – look at me! You didn’t kill anybody.”
“I loved her! I loved her more than anything…” The acting here is incredible; I’m crying as I type these words, remembering it.
Walt shakes his head, looking a bit horrified at what he’s done. He hugs his still crying boy to him, as Jesse sobs, “No…no…no…no…”
Scene 3: Jane’s apartment, the Whites’, the DEA
Donald looks around at the beautiful remains of his daughter’s life: a picture of her dark-haired mother on the wall, books, and drawings. There’s a dreamy painting of a blue-toned goddess or angel covering one wall. Then he’s on his cell phone to someone – Jane’s mom? – talking about the service for Jane. “There’s no yellow dress here – it’s all black and gray. How about blue?” He finds a dark blue dress in Jane’s closet. “Dark blue…no cleavage…long sleeves…it’s nice.” He lays the blue dress on Jane’s pink bedspread.
Then we see little baby Holly lying on a pink blanket on the floor of the White living room, Walt changing her diaper and talking to her. Flynn’s still cheering from his bedroom, and there’s a repeated “ching!” sound.
Walt, holding Holly, from Flynn’s doorway: “Would you mind turning that thing down or off?”
Flynn: “That – it’s money.”
“Please – the noise is disturbing the baby.”
Skyler appears, saying that the newspaper wants to interview Flynn about the website; there are more hits, and Walt is forced to say, “Wow…”
At the DEA, Hank’s boss, Merkert, introduces him to the three businessmen underwriting “this year’s fun run.” One of them is Gus Fring. Hank describes his job as investigating methamphetamine production. “It’s a growing problem in the country.”
“Terrible,” Gus says. He notices the picture of Walt taped to the donation jar, and asks, “Is this one of your agents?”
“No, no – it’s my brother-in-law. He has a health issue.”
“What sort of health issue?”
“Oh…” Gus puts money in the jar.
Scene 4: Serenity, Jesse’s rehab; Casa Blanca; Walt’s surgery
Walt’s visiting Jesse, a fragile figure in a green robe and matching slippers, sitting in a lounge chair by the pool. Flute music plays as Walt says, “Just so you know, I won’t be back for a while. Got to have my surgery on Friday. I’m hopeful it’ll go well, but, if not, Saul will take care of things. He’s got your money – he’s keeping it for you.” Jesse, looking down, says nothing, so Walt continues, “Look, Jesse…Lingering on things doesn’t help, believe me. Just try and focus on getting better, okay?”
Jesse finally looks up, the light completely gone from his face. “I deserve this.”
“What you said in the desert – I get it now…What you meant…I deserve whatever happens.”
Arriving home, Walt sees a TV truck parked in front of the house. Inside, the an anchorwoman interviews Junior, with his parents and baby sister on camera. Junior says he’s raised $6,630 so far.
“Your dad must be quite a guy.”
“He is – the best.”
“And you don’t want to lose him.”
“None of us do. We love him. He’s a good man – a great father, a great teacher, and he knows everything there is to know about chemistry. He’s patient and always there for you. He’s decent. He always does the right thing.” Walt grimaces. “And that’s how he teaches me to be.”
“Would you say that your dad’s your hero?”
“Yeah. Yes, ma’am – my dad is my hero.”
In the next scene, Walt’s in the hospital, having been given a relaxing drug before going in for his lumpectomy. Skyler and Junior bend over to hug him, and Skyler says, “We’ll be here when you wake up.”
“I’ll be looking for you.”
Skyler takes Walt’s glasses, and asks if he brought his cell phone.
“Which one?” he asks groggily, and she turns away.
Seeming to sense something wrong, Junior says, “I’m pretty sure he didn’t bring it, Mom,” but the damage is done.
Toward the end of the surgery montage, we see two little dark red lumps being deposited in a stainless steel basin, followed by a large, liver-like mass.
Scene 5: Dr. Delcavoli’s office, the Albuquerque airport tower, the Whites’
Dr. D., Walt’s surgeon, Walt, and Skyler meet in Dr. D.’s office. Walt, wearing a teddy-bear hot pink sweater over a white shirt, shows the doctors a picture of Holly, age seven weeks. The surgeon says Walt’s margins “look good. You bought yourself some real time here.”
Skyler asks if Walt can go back to “his normal routine” and work. Yes, in a few more weeks. “So, he can be on his own – more independent?” She’s already planning their separation.
Donald encounters a co-worker in the break room at his work. “I’m doing okay,” he says. “After a certain point, time off doesn’t help…so, I figured I’d rather be here. Focus on work.” In the tower, we see several planes, represented by moving circles, on Donald’s screen.
Walt, still in his pink sweater, looks in mirror at his new, bleached-looking, scraggly beard. “I think I may just keep this. Sky? What do you think?” No answer. He comes into the bedroom, where Skyler’s packing a suitcase, the baby in her car seat on the bed. “What are you doing?”
“I’m going to Hank and Marie’s for the week-end…I’m taking the baby with me. Marie will pick Walter, Jr. up from school. You’ll have the house to yourself for two days. Why don’t you pack your things and leave?”
“Why would I do that?”
“I want you gone by Monday morning.”
Walt, fondling sleeping Holly’s little hand, “Okay. Can you at least tell me why?”
Skyler, wearing a low-cut white top and a black sweater, turns. “Because you’re a liar, Walt…Two cell phones after all.”
When she explains, Walt says, “I was medicated.”
“I think you accidentally told the truth.” Skyler recounts all of Walt’s “strange behavior, not the least of which was the disappearance – your fugue state. I had to believe that, didn’t I? I had to find a way. I mean, who would lie about such a thing?”
“You tell me exactly what you think I’m lying to you about.” Skyler laughs bitterly. “I’m having an affair – is that what you think? With whom?”
“Well, my guess was Gretchen Schwartz. Something was going on between you.”
“Jesus, Skyler! Get me a Bible to swear on, if that’s what it takes!”
“Oh, I know – I know you’re not. ‘Cause I asked her. It took me forever to get in touch with her. She was ducking my calls for weeks. So, I finally left a message: ‘What exactly is going on between you and my husband?’ I thought that’d get her attention, and it did. So, she called me back, and she finally told me. The money? For your treatment? Gretchen and Eliot didn’t give you a dime. They paid for nothing. You refused every offer they made you. But that didn’t make sense, ’cause I checked with Dr. Delcavoli and the hospital, and not including your surgery, we’re nearly paid up. Over $100,000. Out of where?” The two are close now, and Skyler pushes Walt away. “Then I called your mother. Yeah. Oh, thanks for that, too. It turns out that not only didn’t she even know that you had cancer, you never went to see her. I took you to the airport and picked you up four days later, and she swears you were never there.”
Skyler won’t let Walt touch her. She turns away. “Lies on top of lies on top of lies.”
As Skyler leaves the room with her bag and the baby, Walt calls, “Skyler!”
She turns. “Could you – just once – do me the courtesy of not denying it?”
Outside, as she’s getting in her car, Walt calls her name again. “Skyler, don’t do this! Skyler! Please don’t go!” he grabs her door as she tries to shut it. “If I tell you the truth, will you stay? Stay, and I will tell you everything.”
“Whatever it is, I’m afraid to know,” Skyler says, shutting the door, and going.
Back at the tower, we hear Donald say (a mistake), “Jane Mike 2, 1.” He seems distracted. We see two planes overlapping on his screen and wonder why he doesn’t, but, of course, by then it’s too late.
Finally, we see Walt sitting in a far corner of the patio, still in his pink sweater. There’s an explosion, and he looks up, and sees the planes crashing. Then we have a plane’s-eye view of the city, turning and falling. And something – the pink bear – crashes into Walt’s pool. We also see a pink Kokopelli, the hunchbacked Anasazi fluteplayer, which we remember from earlier scenes, painted on the patio wall.
Walt’s world is crashing down around him, and it’s all, or largely, his fault.