Breaking Bad, 3-10: “Fly”
We see various close-ups of a fly, and hear the song Skyler sang to Holly as heard by Walt over the baby monitor just before he allowed Jane to die.
Scene 1 (there’s only one scene in this “bottle” episode): Walt’s bedroom, the lab
We see a large, flashing red light, then realize it’s the smoke alarm on Walt’s bedroom ceiling. He looks at his digital clock – it’s 2 AM. When we see the clock again, it’s 6 AM, and Walt’s sitting on the edge of the bed, reaching for his glasses. Then he’s in his Aztek in front of the laundromat/lab. Jesse pulls up, gets out, and knocks on Walt’s window.
In the lab, the two wear red protective suits with shiny black arms as they clean their equipment. Jesse says they should have “equipment maintainer guys and water boys.” Finally, he says, “It’s been 15 hours. I’m gonna hit it, if that’s okay with you.”
Walt responds, “We’re .14% off on output – a quarter to half a pound shy.”
“That’s weird…What about spillage?”
“Nothing gets spilled.”
“Evaporation? Condensation? Crap left behind like we just cleaned out?”
“Yeah, vestiges. Bet that’s it. Bet that’s totally it. Hey, Mr. White! Are you okay?”
“Nothing.” Jesse’s upstairs now. “Are you coming?”
“In a minute.”
“All right. See you tomorrow!”
Walt hears the buzzing of a fly, which lands on the paper he’s looking at. He slaps at it, misses, and runs after it, hitting the table and various items of equipment. Finally, he takes off his shoe and throws it up at the fly, breaking a light cover and getting the shoe stuck in the fixture. He goes upstairs and climbs outside the balcony railing to knock the shoe down with a broom. Then he tries once more for the fly, which has landed on the railing. He misses and falls all the way to the floor, landing hard on his back – on pieces of broken glass. The fly lights on his glasses as he’s lying there.
The next morning, Jesse arrives at work, and, after putting out his cigarette in the car ashtray, picks up and looks at a lipsticked cigarette butt of Jane’s that he’s been saving. He has trouble getting in the lab door, because Walt’s blocked the bottom of it and turned the ventilation up to create “positive pressure.” When he tells his partner “there’s been a contamination,” Jesse’s worried. “What kind of contamination are we dealing with here?”
“Like, one fly, singular? Dude, you scared the shit out of me! When you said ‘contamination,’ I was thinking like Ebola or something. You didn’t happen to maybe try our product, did you?”
“Let’s get started,” Walt says. But when Jesse lifts a bag of chemical powder and brings it over to the tank, he says, “No cooking till the fly’s gone.”
“Maybe your ‘positive pressure’ blew it out the door,” Jesse says. He agrees to help, but reluctantly. “Hey, tick-tock, yo…hey, I like making cherry product, but let’s keep it real. We make poison for people who don’t care. We have the most unpicky customers in the world.” He tries to approach the tank with the chemicals again, and Walt hits him on the head with his homemade fly swatter.
Then the fly’s on Walt’s head, and he urges Jesse to hit it. Jesse takes the swatter and hits Walt’s head so hard his glasses fall off. “You like that? Huh?”
“Where is it?”
Walt picks a small dark object off the floor. “This is a raisin.” The fly buzzes by.
Jesse: “Oh, man – he’s got some skills.”
“It will ruin our batch,” Walt catastrophizes. “Failing that, we’re dead. No more room for error – not with these people.”
“Why don’t we get some air?” Jesse suggests. He helps Walt upstairs, and Walt locks him out. Jesse cuts the power, so that the lab is only dimly lit with a red emergency bulb. He knocks on the door. “Need some juice?”
He comes back later with bags of stuff, including a regular fly swatter, bug spray, and glue strips that they hang all over. Jesse asks Walt how long he’s been awake, and offers him a cup of coffee in which he’s dissolved several Sominex tablets. “Let the traps do their work,” he says. As they sit, drinking coffee, he tells Walt about a possum that got under his aunt’s house. “We finally got it. A man came and trapped it. But my aunt thought she could still hear it. She’d shout, ‘Scrabble!’ That’s what we’d named it, and bang on the floor with her cane. Obsessive! It wasn’t like her to be that way. But we found out the cancer had spread to her brain, and she got meds so she wasn’t stressing all the time. She was a lot happier after that.”
Walt gets up. “Where the hell is he?” He turns to Jesse. “I went to my oncologist last week. I’m still in remission.”
“No end in sight.”
Then Walt starts drifting into confessional mode, as he tends to do under the influence of downers. “I missed it,” he says. “There was a perfect moment, and it passed me by. I needed to have enough money, and it needed to be before Skyler found out.”
“The perfect moment to drop dead? Are you saying you want to die?”
“I’m saying I’ve lived too long. You want memories of you to be…But she just won’t see it. She won’t understand. I mean, I truly believe that if I said just the right words…But with her I can’t seem to find them.”
“Mr. White, why don’t you sit down?”
“No, I was thinking…Before the fugue state I didn’t have enough money. And my daughter wasn’t born yet. It definitely needed to be before the surgery…Damn second cell phone! Ah, I know the moment! It was the night Jane died.” Jesse looks up, his boyish face, his big, blue eyes shining in the light.
Walt goes on: “I was at home, and we needed diapers, so I said I would go. But it was just an excuse. Actually, that was the night I brought you your money, remember? But afterward I stopped at a bar. It was odd. I never do that – go to a bar alone. I just walked in and sat down. I never told you…I sit down, and this man, a stranger, engages me in conversation. But he turns out to be Jane’s father, Donald Margolis.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Of course, I didn’t put it together until after the crash.”
“Think of the odds.”
“What’d you talk about?”
“Water on Mars…Family…”
“What about family?”
“I told him I had a daughter, and he told me he had one, too. And he said, ‘Never give up on family.’ And I didn’t. I took his advice…The universe is random…But what does this say? How can that be random?” Walt staggers, almost falling.
“Hey,” Jesse says, a caring look on his face. “Sit down.”
“That was the moment – that night. I should never have left home, never gone to your house. Maybe things would have – oh, I was at home watching TV, some nature program about elephants, and Skyler and Holly were in another room. I could hear them on the baby monitor. She was singing a lullaby. If I had lived up to that moment and not one second more…” We hear the fly buzzing. “That would have been perfect.” Walt staggers again, and Jesse gets him a chair. “He’s not coming down – he’s staying up there forever.” The reflection off the tanks casts a blue light on the two men’s faces.
Jesse gets a stepladder, puts it on top of some tanks, and climbs up. “I’m gonna get that bitch.”
“No – you’re going to break your neck! Seriously – this is a bad idea.”
“Just hold onto the ladder.”
“Jesse, I’m sorry.”
“Sorry for what? Being a lunatic?”
“I’m sorry about Jane.”
Jesse’s on top of the ladder now. “Yeah, me too.”
“I mean, I – I’m very sorry.”
“It’s not your fault. It’s not mine either. It’s no one’s fault – not even hers. We are who we are, Mr. White…Two junkies and a duffle bag full of cash. Like you said, we both would have been dead within a week…I miss her though – God, I do!”
“Jesse, come down! Let it go. We need to cook.”
“What about the contamination?”
“It’s all contaminated.” Walt realizes that allowing Jane to die when he could have saved her, the fly in his ointment, and all the other people he’s hurt has ruined his plan to ever go out in a blaze of glory.
Jesse drops the makeshift swatter. “Okay.” Then he sees that the fly had landed on top of the ladder. He carefully pulls a rolled-up newspaper from the back pocket of his jeans, and kills the fly, which falls in slow motion, landing by Walt’s foot. “Yeah, oh, yeah! You see that, Mr. White?”
But Walt has finally fallen asleep. Jesse puts him on the black vinyl lab couch, covers him with a blanket, and finishes the cook.
The next day the two stand outside in the sun, and Walt says, “Bins are packed.”
“Bins are packed.”
“202 and change. You okay getting home? Mañana then – ”
“Jesse! Come here! I couldn’t chance saying it inside – it might be wired. But that half a pound…I’m not saying you took it…But if you did, and they ever found out – ”
Jesse, tough-guy again: “I didn’t take shit.”
“I’m just saying – I couldn’t protect you.”
“Who’s asking you to?”
Next, we see Walt in bed, the sound of a buzzing fly having wakened him out of a sound sleep. He can’t escape it. He looks up and sees the red blinking light above him again – like a fly’s watching eye. The eye in the sky. Eye of the tiger. I see you.