Breaking Bad, 2-5: “Breakage”
Two men, presumably Mexicans, swim across a wide, muddy river. After they climb out, boots tied around their necks, one of them finds Tuco’s “grill” encased in a Lucite cube – the gift his office-mates gave Hank in the last episode. Since Hank throws the cube into the river at the end of the episode after his panic attack in the elevator in Albuquerque, we can only assume it’s made its way down the Rio Grande River to El Paso at the Mexican border – just as Hank himself will soon go there.
Scene 1: Dr. Delcavoli’s and Casa Blanca
We see blood dripping into water, then an elaborate system of tubes for fluids: images of chemotherapy. We also hear a heartbeat, and see a time-lapse sequence of Walt getting a chemo treatment. We then see Dr. Delcavoli saying that Walt’s “at the end of round one” of his treatment…”cautious optimism…check back in two months.” Walt says that’s about when the baby’s due, and Dr. D. tells him he’ll feel better soon, his hair will grow back, etc. There are two chairs drawn up to the desk, but Skyler, pointedly, isn’t there. Walt tells Dr. D. they’re “getting along fine.”
The doctor’s office printer takes a while to spew out all the pink pages of Walt’s bill, and it’s more than he’d expected. The receptionist puts a “Hope” button in his hand, which he throws in the trash as soon as he gets outside.
Back home, Skyler’s on the phone at the dining table, asking someone at Walt’s health insurance company questions about a bill that’s arrived in the mail. Once again, we’re impressed with her intelligence, efficiency, and pleasant, but “take-no-shit” princessy attitude. She clicks off. “Bitch.”
Walt kisses Skyler’s head. “Been around someone who smokes?”
“No. The hospital bill came. $13,000 and counting. Is this something that Gretchen and Eliot might cover? I mean, I know it’s strictly your domain, but – ”
“I’m sure they will. I’ll handle it.” Skyler hands him the bill.
Next is a view from on high of Walt and Skyler in bed that night: Skyler asleep, Walt awake. Finally, he gets up and gets the gun and money out of the vent in the baby’s room. We hear a weird, high-pitched drumming as he counts the money, and sighs. It isn’t enough. Then he’s in the bathroom, throwing up and looking defeated. To add insult to injury, he has to plunge the toilet, and a crumpled cigarette box comes up.
Scene 2: Hank’s office
Hank’s at his desk frowning at Tuco’s grill cube. His boss summons him into his office for an update. “Who’s taking over Tuco’s turf?”
“We keep hearin’ a name – Heisenberg. Maybe it’s a tweaker urban legend. Anyway, somebody’s cooking the stuff we keep findin.’ We’ll stay on it.”
Merkert tells Hank that since he’s been promoted to the tri-state task force, he’ll be splitting his time between Albuquerque and El Paso. Hank’s happy on the surface, and everyone’s congratulating him, but in the elevator on the way down to lunch with Gomez he has a panic attack.
Scene 3: Clovis’s, Jane’s
We see sparks and hear crackling – Badger’s cousin Clovis welding something. The RV pulls into his lot, and Clovis says to Jesse, “You got some nerve comin’ back here. You’re even dumber than I thought.”
Jesse hands Clovis a wad of money. “Maybe both. Extra for the damages and stuff. What would you charge me to store this here?” They make a deal for $500 a week, including extra security and “gate privileges,” then Jesse buys a used car off the lot. We can’t see what it is (though we hear Clovis say, “You serious?”). Then we see a red Toyota Tercel wagon pulling up to a small duplex with a “For Rent” sign outside, rap music blasting from the radio.
Inside, Jesse says, “Jane? I gotta say: this place is awesome.” Jesse’s new landlady has black shoulder-length hair with bangs, a pretty face and slim figure, and is dressed in black pants and tank top with silver accents. She shows him the utility closet, with a washer-dryer inside. “Ah, stacking – sweet! Oh! A fan of the hard wood.” It’s a nice little apartment.
Jane, firm and businesslike, tells Jesse there’s no smoking inside and hands him an application. She’s wearing bright red lipstick. “I can pay cash,” Jesse says, pleading with Jane to “help a brother out.”
“Yo,” she says, imitating Jesse, “my dad’s not really a make exceptions kinda guy.”
“Owns the place. I manage it. Fill out the paper. That’s what I need. Or go run your game somewhere else.”
“Yo – I got nowhere else to go. This is it! And I got no game, all right? I just need a chance. Look – my folks – they kicked me out. I’m a disappointment, apparently. Didn’t meet their expectations. But I’m a good person. I work hard. I will pay you every month, on time. I will not mess this up – I swear!”
“The rent just went up. $100 more a month – that’s the cash price.”
“Okay – yes! You rock! Thank you – you won’t regret this.”
“And, in addition to first and last, I want two more months – nonrefundable.”
Jesse tells her his name is “Jesse Jackson,” and when he asks her what “DBAA,” a phrase she’s just used, means, she answers, “Don’t be an asshole.”
Scene 4: Hank and Marie’s
More tubes. Hank’s in his garage making Schraderbrau, his home-brewed beer, and singing a jingle for it. The garage door opens – it’s Marie, backlit by the blue-sky, desert landscape. “You called in sick the day after receiving a long-awaited promotion so you could play Oktoberfest in your man cave? What’s going on?”
Marie leaves; Hank’s capping bottles. He breaks one and cuts his hand.
Scene 5: Somewhere in the desert
We see telephone and fence wires, and an insect crawling over the sand. Walt arrives in his Aztek, then the RV comes roaring up. Jesse’s wearing a white jacket, a new look for him.
Inside the RV, a bit later, they’re both wearing pale blue protective gear, getting ready to cook. Weird music plays.
Jesse: “Why are we cooking when we can’t move what we cook?”
Walt: “How much can you sell on your own, if I work during the days and you work at night?”
“Prior to Tuco, that was your plan wasn’t it? It’ll be a fraction of what we’ve been bringing in, but what choice do we have?”
Jesse, into a new, assertive mode here: “First of all, there’s no we – you’re talkin’ me busting hump, slinging shards. I got a profile now, don’t you get it? The DEA’s up my ass! No, no, no. I’m not exposing myself to that level of risk for chump change. No way.” Jesse’s a wordmeister who picks up phrases from others.
“Then what do you suggest? I don’t think either of us are eager to jump into bed with another Tuco.”
“I got bills, man.”
“You got bills?”
“Rent, man – responsibilities. I’ve already lost more than I’ve made, and I’m tired of dickin’ around out here.”
“You want to know how much I’ve got left? After completing my first round of treatment and financing the world’s most expensive alibi? Huh? Zero. We have two choices – either we go into business with yet another homicidal lunatic, or you sell what you can.”
“There’s a third way.”
“And what would that be?”
“We got to be Tuco. Cut out the middleman – run our own game.”
“So, you’re going to do what? Snort meth off a Bowie knife? Huh? Beat your ‘homies’ to death when they ‘diss’ you?” Walt is so contemptuous with Jesse – I get really sick of it! Especially when, in this very episode, he ends up demanding that Jesse do exactly this, with misbehaving customers!
“Look,” Jesse says. “I got some guys. I can create a network. We control production and distribution. That way we can stay off the frontlines while moving some serious glass. The point here is to make money, right? Sky-high stacks.”
“That’s not the point?”
“No, I don’t vote for this plan. I’m not comfortable bringing unknown entities into our operation.”
“Yeah? Well, you don’t get to vote.”
“I beg your pardon? This is a partnership, remember?”
“Oh – I remember. You cook and I sell. That’s how we did it when we first started all this. And that’s the way we should have kept it. ‘Cause I sure as hell didn’t find myself locked in a trunk, or on my knees with a gun to my head before greedy-ass came along. All right?”
There’s a long pause, and then Walt says, “I will admit to a bit of a learning curve.” Oh, that’s what you call it when you make a colossal mistake that costs you half your money and almost gets both of you killed… “Perhaps I was overly ambitious [greedy]. In any case, it’s not gonna happen that way anymore.”
“Yeah – damn straight. Know why? ‘Cause we do things my way this time, or I walk. You need me more than I need you – Walt.” Yeah, Jesse! This is one of the few times in the series when Jesse really sticks up for himself with Walt – and the only time he calls him “Walt” instead of “Mr. White.”
Scene 6: Jesse’s new apartment
Pretzels are being dumped in a glass bowl. Jesse’s setting up a business meeting with business-like refreshments: there are also bottles of soda, a bowl of ice, and a stack of plastic cups on the pass-through counter between the kitchen and the living room.
There’s a knock at the door, and Skinny Pete, Combo, and Badger come in. “Cool crib, man!”
Jesse shows them where he’s going to put a plasma TV and “zero-gravity” chairs: “sparse, Asian/modern stuff.”
“Feng shui, man,” says Badger. “I can dig it.”
There are also going to be candles and “one of those little fountains. It’s gonna be chill.”
Jesse’s all business, nixing the idea of “other refreshments” or a “lovin’ spoonful.”
“No bong, no beer, no weed – smoke it up on your own time. We’re talkin’ business here. ‘Kay? I front each of you an ounce; you sell it for $2500. I get the two, you keep the five. No cutting – you sell it as is, all right?”
When the guys say meth usually sells for “17…18” on the streets, Jesse says, “This is the best shit ever, and who else is sellin’ it now? Short me – you’re out. Cut it – you’re out. This is a big opportunity I’m giving you.”
“So, bring out the product, yo.”
“Not here. Not ever. I’ll let you know when and where. I got mad volume, so, you move it quick, you move it right, there’s always more.” Jesse claps his hands together, having demonstrated, yet again, his ability to sell. “So, DBAA, mo-fo’s! Apply yourselves!”
Scene 7: Hank and Marie’s
At a family barbecue on the Schraders’ patio, Marie is disparaging El Paso, calling it an “armpit,” and saying that “the cartel has littered the place with human heads.” She wants Hank to get promoted to D.C. “Do your time, and I envision a sweet little Georgetown condo in a couple of years.”
Later, in the kitchen, Marie continues her blather to Skyler, who finally says, “Shh. Apologize.”
“I will not listen to one more word until you apologize.”
“You know perfectly well, Marie.”
“Well, if you hadn’t tried to return it – ”
“Apologize! Now or never. I mean it – or it’ll never be the same.”
Marie tears up. “Why are you punishing me?”
“You don’t respect me enough to apologize and tell me the truth? I need my sister back.”
They’re both about to cry when Marie finally turns to Skyler and says, “I’m sorry…I’m sorry.” Skyler nods.
Outside, Junior’s asking Hank about the gunfight with Tuco, while Walt frowns grimly, Heisenberg-style. “Son – ” he starts to say.
Hank: “A cockroach comes out from under the fence, and what do you do? You don’t think about it. You stomp him down.”
Walt: “Where do they come from? Criminals – like the one you killed. What do you think makes them the way they are?” He enjoys baiting Hank with what his bro-in-law doesn’t know.
“You might as well be asking about the roaches,” Hank says, leaving to go to the bathroom. Alone, Walt and Junior don’t know what to say to each other.
Meth-selling montage to salsa music. Jesse gets money, and leaves bags of meth in toilet tanks. The montage ends with Skinny Pete getting mugged by a tweaker couple.
Scene 8: the desert
We see Jesse’s car, then Walt arrives. They talk, parked side by side.
Walt: “New car?”
“Yeah. Keepin’ things on the D.L.”
“I’m guessing this one doesn’t bounce.”
Jesse hands over a brown paper sack. “Your half – 15 K. That’s what I’m talkin’ about.” Walt looks in the bag. “Ah – you’re welcome. Jesus.”
Walt: “Help me understand the math. I gave you one pound, correct? You and I split $2,000 per ounce – $1,000 each – one pound. Sixteen ounces should net me $16,000, not fifteen.”
“Something came up. One of my guys got held up by a couple of junkies – lost an ounce. But it’s cool, ’cause Skinny Pete’s cool.” When Walt objects, Jesse says, “It’s called breakage, okay? Like K-Mart – shit breaks. It’s the cost of business. You’re sweatin’ me over a grand.”
“Hey, I’m just the chemist here. I’m not the street guy, yo. But it seems to me that what you call ‘breakage’ is just you making a fool of yourself.”
“You’re focusing on the negative. Six grand a day we’re making. What’s your problem?”
“What happens when word gets out that it’s open season on these clowns you’ve hired? Once everyone knows that Jesse Pinkman, drug lord, can be robbed with impunity?”
“Come on – ”
“You think Tuco had breakage? I guess it’s true – he did. He broke bones. He broke the skull of anybody who tried to rip him off.”
“You want another grand? Is that it? Take it – here! Look – you got $15,000 you didn’t have yesterday. Shit happens. My guys get what they’re up against, and they’re careful. So am I. And you’re all tucked in at night with your precious family. So why don’t you just stop being such a freak about everything?”
“You’ve made the division of labor very clear.”
“Yo – I mean, seriously. What the hell do you want me to do?”
Scene 8: Casa Blanca
Skyler sits on the living room floor, her back against the couch, a plate of microwaved panini on the coffee table in front of her. Walt comes in and lectures her about eating junk food. Skyler, still eating and reading her book: “I had a craving. Once in a while, it’s no big deal.”
“Out where?” Walt feels he’s losing control of his family and his partner-in-crime.
“Somewhere. I don’t know. He’ll be back by nine.”
“I just thought you might have a clue where your son is.”
“Why not you? Why am I the only one who needs to keep track of our son? I’ll tell you what, Walt. You want to know where he is, ask him. Pick up the phone, like I do.”
Walt comes back with the cigarette pack he fished out of the toilet. “Perhaps you might know something about this.”
“Perhaps. And then again, perhaps I don’t…Perhaps I smoked them in a fugue state.”
Walt, towering over Skyler, still seated on the floor. “I’d like an explanation, please.”
“Oh, no – you don’t really want to go down that road.”
“You’re pregnant, for God’s sake!”
“Three-and-a-half cigarettes won’t do anything to the baby.”
“I’m glad you’re so sure, Doctor.”
“Three-and-a-half! I tossed the rest. And I’m sure you’ll be very glad to hear that, yes, I feel ashamed.”
“Skyler…This is so unlike you.”
“How would you know?” She starts to get up, rejecting Walt’s helping hand. “No. Thank you.” She leaves and slams the door.
Scene 9: Hank and Marie’s
Hank and Marie are asleep in bed, and Hank wakes, hearing a noise that sounds like gunshots. He goes out to the garage, in high-tension mode, with his gun and big flashlight. But it’s just his beer bottles, explosively uncapping themselves and falling to the cement floor. More breakage.
Scene 10: Jesse’s place
Walt drives to Jesse’s, and knocks on the door. Jesse lets him into the living room. “You asked me what I want you to do.” He puts Jesse’s gun down on the counter. “I want you to handle it.”
Scene 11: the river
Hank drives to the river (the Albuquerque Rio Grande), gets out, and throws Tuco’s encased grill as far as he can. He’s not happy about having killed Tuco or about his promotion. This macho dude – naturally – is scared about what he’s had to do and may still have to do to keep his job and protect his image. He wishes he could walk away from the violence as easily as he can throw the symbol of it into the rushing river. After all, he’s even been incompetent at making beer – the thing that relaxes him.