Breaking Bad, 5-6: “Buyout”
A dump truck full of dirt and gear from the train heist has been backed into the Vamonos Pest garage, and Todd paws through the dirt as Walt and Mike watch. Walt helps Todd haul out the dead child’s dirt bike, and the three men dismantle it and put it in a white plastic barrel, as eerie, sad music plays. Todd takes the bike’s frame apart with a blowtorch to make it fit in the barrel, and pours acid over it. Then he goes back to the pile of dirt in the back of the truck and exposes the dead boy’s slender hand. Mike looks bleak, and Walt gets a second barrel ready.
We see Jesse outside the garage in the dark, leaning against a tank and lighting a cigarette. Todd comes out and, also leaning against the tank, four feet away from Jesse, lights up. Jesse doesn’t speak or look at Todd, as the latter says, “You guys didn’t tell me this stuff smells like cat piss.” We hear crickets and then a dog barking in the distance. “Shit happens, huh?” Jesse turns and punches him in the face, knocking him down.
Scene 1: the VP office, Mike’s house
Jesse stands in the left foreground, watching Todd, Walt, and Mike sitting on chairs in a large semicircle. “I’m sorry,” Todd says, “but I had to do it. Obviously, I guess you see it different, some of you. But I didn’t see any other choice. I’ve been thinking about this all day, going over and over it in my head. And it was the only way.” Todd turns and looks back at Jesse, and we see the beginnings of his black eye. “Well, it’s not like I wanted to. The kid was on a dirt bike. He could have just gunned it and been gone before we had a chance to blink. And we never would have been able to catch him. I was thinking on my feet…I saw a threat and I took care of it the only way that I could.”
“A threat,” Jesse says. “The kid was waving at us. He wasn’t goin’ anywhere. He was sayin’ ‘hi.'”
“Yeah, but you don’t know that.”
“Yeah, I do. He didn’t know what he’d seen.”
“Yeah, but I didn’t want to take that chance. The whole point of this thing was that no one was supposed to know we were there, right? If people weren’t ever supposed to know that anything got robbed, how could we let the kid go? If I hadn’t done what I did, the whole mission would have failed. I’m real sorry – I really am, but I – did I make a mistake, Mr. White? “Cause to me, you know – respectfully – it was him or us. And I chose us. And I would do it again.”
Walt asks Todd to go outside, and before he leaves, Todd emphasizes that his “priority is this business. I want to be a real part of this. I’m motivated, and I’ve got connections. My uncle’s got his hookups in prison, and I think it’d be a real help to us.”
After Todd is gone, Jesse says, “That dude – whack job!”
“Look,” Walt objects. “Stick to the facts here.”
“Facts. Oh! How ’bout the fact that he shot a kid? A kid that he didn’t need to shoot?”
“The boy had seen us. And, no, it didn’t look like he knew what he was seeing. But what if he told somebody? What of he just mentioned it in passing? We can’t know.”
“No, we can’t know, because Ricky Hitler there shot him. We – us three – shoulda had a discussion about it and figured it out. But that dickhead just went ahead and made the choice for us. Is that how we do business now?”
“Look – I understand you’re upset about this – ”
“And what was that crack about his uncle with the prison connection? It’s just some bullshit intimidation move. Come on!”
Mike finally weighs in, saying, “It’s true that he does have some connections,” and Walt asks if that’s a problem. “No. It’s nothing to be concerned about. He’s just flexing.”
“It seems to me that we have three options here,” Walt says, “none of which are ideal. One, we fire Todd. I’m not a fan of this option, seeing he knows way too much about our business at this point. We’d most likely have to pay him to keep quiet, and God only knows we’ve got enough of that going on. Two, we dispose of him. Which leaves us option three – we keep him on payroll, put him back on tenting houses, setting up the lab, and so forth. We keep him close, under our control. Option three would be my choice. Shall we vote?”
“I vote three, kid,” Mike says, making the point moot.
Mike goes into the garage and tells Todd, “You’re still in.”
Mike pushes him against the wall. “The next time you bring a gun to a job without telling me I will stick it up your ass sideways. You understand?”
“Yes, sir.” Todd leaves, gets in his car, and pulls out the jar with the tarantula in it.
Many people have commented that the train heist, a very risky move, was executed rapidly, without us seeing any planning for it. It’s seems out of character for Mike not to have set the parameters beforehand for what to do in case of a witness. But he’s been not taking his own advice about “half measures” for a while now.
Later, we see Mike on his laptop at home going over the recordings the bug has made in Hank’s office. We hear Gomez complain that Mike “spots every tail we put on him,” and Hank reply, “Even the pros slip up now and then.
Scene 2: the Schraders’
We see Skyler holding Holly, as Marie asks her how she’s doing. Skyler starts to cry, and Marie asks her what’s going on. “I need to make the right decisions to keep the kids safe,” Skyler says. “I don’t know what to do – whatever I do is wrong!” Marie asks who or what she’s keeping the kids safe from, and Skyler says, “From us – from Walt and me.”
“Like you’re bad parents?”
“Marie, there are things you don’t know – that if you knew, you’d never speak to me again.”
“Try me.” Skyler shakes her head, and Marie continues, “You have to forgive yourself for Ted.”
“You can’t keep beating yourself up over some stupid little affair.”
“Walt told you?”
“I practically forced him to. You’re only human! I see your temptation.”
Scene 3: a tented house
Walt and Jesse are taking a lunch break with the TV on, and breaking news about a missing 14-year-old boy, Drew Sharp, their murder victim, comes on. Walt turns the TV off, and Jesse sits with his head bowed. “Jesse,” Walt says, “nothing can change this.” Jesse says he’s thinking of the boy’s parents, and Walt says, “I know, believe me. I haven’t been able to sleep the past few nights just thinking about it. Jesse, we’re self-sufficient now – we have everything we need and no one to answer to except ourselves. And in a year or a year and a half, after we’ve cooked through this methylamine, there will be plenty of time for soul-searching. Until then, we keep going. We run our business our way, and make sure that this [pointing toward the TV] never happens again. Okay?”
Jesse nods slightly, but is starting to cry. “Listen,” Walt says, “I’ll finish this up, huh? Why don’t you go home?”
“Absolutely. I’ll take care of it.”
In the inner cook tent, Walt puts the top part of his yellow protective suit back on, and starts whistling happily. Jesse notices this, and might have said something, but his phone buzzes. “Hey,” he says. “Yes. All right.” Walt’s still whistling.
Scene 4: the VP garage
Mike comes out as Walt enters the garage. “Walter? What are you doing here?”
“I’m delivering the batch. What are you doing here?”
“Might as well get this over with. Come in – join us.”
Jesse’s sitting in the office. “Hi,” Walt says. “Where are your cars?”
“We parked around the block,” Mike replies. “You might consider doing that as well.”
“Okay.” Walt puts the bags of meth in the fridge. “So, what’s going on?”
“Just since this morning,” Mike says, “I threw three separate tails – all DEA. The feds have been all over me. It’s been goin’ on for a while now.”
“Did they follow you here?”
“No. I said I threw them. I would never come to the headquarters of our illegal meth operation draggin’ a bunch of cops, Walter. It would be unwise.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“I’ve been doing this a long time. It’s pretty basic stuff.”
“How long has this been going on?”
“Since about the time we started this little venture. The DEA, in part your peach of a brother-in-law, has taken a keen interest in my activities.”
“You’re just telling me this now?”
“I’ve been handling it, Walter.”
“We’re sitting on a thousand gallons of stolen methylamine! Jesus! How can you be so irresponsible?”
“Calm down, will you please?”
“I can’t believe you kept this from me – from us.” Walt turns to Jesse. “Did you know about this?”
“Mike just told me.”
“Well, you know this can’t go on, right?” Walt asks Mike.
“I know. And I’ve already decided – I’m out.”
“Okay. Well…sorry to see you go, Mike. But I really don’t see any other way.”
“Neither do I.”
“Obviously, Jesse will have to take over the distribution side of things. Mike, I trust that you’ll bring him up to speed on your side of the business?”
“Yeah,” Jesse says. “About that…Actually, Mr. White – I’m out, too.”
Head down, Jesse says, “I don’t think I can do this anymore. So, um – I’m retiring, I guess.”
Walt is furious. “That methylamine that we stole – that we nearly killed ourselves trying to steal – that methylamine, when cooked, is worth nearly 300 million dollars! And you’re telling me you’re willing to walk away from that?”
“We’re walking away from the meth,” Mike says, “not the methylamine. Jesse and I will be taking our two-thirds and selling it. I’ve got a connection – a guy I knew from my time with Fring. The guy has the capital, and he’s motivated – highly.”
“Mike’s thinking $5 million each,” Jesse says.
Mike adds, “I’ll pay my guys in lockup outta my share. Those legacy costs that you’re so fond of you won’t have to worry about anymore. And then I will be going on my way. Jesse too.”
“It’s a solid plan,” Jesse says. “You can come in on this with us. That’d be cool. Of course, you are free to hold onto your third and keep cooking.”
“You’ll be selling to my competitors,” Walt objects.
“This guy and his crew are way out in Phoenix,” Mike says. “It’s a big country, Walter. A whole lotta meth heads.”
Walt advances on Jesse. “Pennies on the dollar, Jesse – that’s what you’re gonna sell out for – pennies. Why?”
“Five million isn’t pennies. It’s more money than I’ve ever seen. And when it comes down to it, are we in the meth business or the money business?”
Scene 5: a meet in the desert, Casa Blanca
Mike and Jesse meet up with Declan from Phoenix and his second. Mike offers Declan a gallon of methylamine free to try, then $15,000 a gallon after that – ten million for all he and Jesse have. Declan says, “It’ll be worth it to get that blue stuff of yours off the market…The blue stuff will be off the market, right?” Mike doesn’t answer, and the Phoenix dealer figures it out for himself, since 666 gallons is two-thirds of a thousand. “That’s not all the methylamine, is it? You two have a partner?”
Mike finally speaks. “This other party won’t be a problem for you. His territory won’t impact yours.”
Declan says he’ll only make the deal for the full thousand gallons.
Walt answers his phone at home. “Why don’t you come over here? Yes, seriously.”
Jesse arrives in a black T-shirt with a white lightning strike on it, almost a signal that something untoward is about to happen to him. “You sure this is okay?” he asks.
“She’s not here – nobody is.”
“So, uh – something’s come up. Mike would have come to give you the hard sell, but I figured it’d be better coming from me. Mike’s connection won’t buy Mike’s and my share of the methylamine unless he gets your share too. He wants the entire thousand gallons.”
“Yeah, I figured you’d say that, but I’ve been thinkin’ about it, and it really makes sense kinda.”
“It does, does it?”
“When you started this thing, did you ever dream of having five million dollars? I know for a fact that you didn’t. I know for a fact all you needed was $737,000, ’cause you worked it all out, like, mathematically. Look, if selling the methylamine now means that no on else ever gets killed, then I vote for that, man, hands down. And we could have it tomorrow! We’d be out! You could spend time with your family – no more worrying about them getting hurt. Isn’t that what you’ve been working for?”
“I’m not selling out.”
“It’s not selling out.”
“Yes it is, Jesse. I – we – have suffered and bled, literally, for this business.” Jesse has his head in his hands. “And I will not throw it away for nothing.”
“I don’t know what else to say, Mr. White. Five million dollars isn’t nothing.”
Walt then tells Jesse his story about Gray Matter – how he and a couple of friends founded a company with a lot of “potential” when they were in grad school. Then, because of a personal falling out, he sold his share of a company now worth 2.16 billion dollars for $5,000. “This isn’t the same thing,” Jesse says.
Walt responds by saying, “You asked me if I was in the meth business or the money business – neither. I’m in the empire business.” The mild-mannered chemistry teacher turned megalomaniac takes a sip of his whiskey, not having offered his “partner” any.
Jesse shakes his head. “I don’t know, Mr. White. Is a meth empire really something to be that proud of?”
Suddenly Skyler comes in, and Jesse leaps to his feet. Walt stays seated. “Skyler, you remember Jesse? Jesse, this is my wife, Skyler.”
“Hey, Mrs. White!” Skyler, hugging a bag of groceries, looks startled and frightened, as Jesse continues, “Good to see you! You have a lovely home. You know, I was just headin’ out…”
Walt invites him to stay for dinner, putting both Jesse and Skyler on the spot and making them both uncomfortable. At the dinner table, Skyler drinks white wine as Walt and Jesse eat. “Mmm, these are great green beans, Mrs. White,” Jesse says. “The slivered almonds? Mom always made them like that. Do you put lemon in it, too?”
“They’re from the deli at Albertson’s.”
“Oh! Well, good work on your shopping – ’cause these are choice.” Skyler pours herself more wine, as Walt watches and Jesse rambles on about eating frozen stuff. “So, hey,” he says finally, “how’s business? The car wash. Mr. White says it’s going really well. Says you’re a great manager.”
Skyler stares daggers at Walt. “He did, huh?”
“Yeah – he says you’ve got it running like a machine – like, well-oiled. Yeah.”
“What else did he tell you about me?”
“Uh – good stuff, just good stuff. We don’t really talk much about personal things.”
“Did you also tell him about my affair?” Skyler asks Walt, showing her self-involvement. Jesse guzzles water in sheer discomfort. Asking to be excused, Skyler finally leaves, pouring herself more wine as she goes.
Trying another manipulative tack with Jesse, Walt tells him his “kids are gone – staying with my in-laws. She made me put my own kids out of the house. She told me she was counting the days until my cancer came back. My wife is waiting for me to die. This business is all I have left now. All I have. And you want to take it away from me.”
Scene 6: the VP garage, the DEA
Later that night, Walt pulls up at the garage and starts cranking the methylamine trailer hitch up. “I thought you might try something stupid,” Mike says, emerging from the shadows.
“I – ”
“Don’t bother, Walter. Come join me in the office.”
“I don’t think so.”
“It’s not a request.” Mike’s gun is tucked into his waistband. “Might as well get comfortable. This deal’s going down tomorrow, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. Got it?”
“Oh, so it’s okay for you to steal my share.”
“To make sure of that, you and I are going to spend the rest of the night together in this office.”
“You need to listen to me.”
“No, Walter. The last thing I need to do is listen to you. Now sit down.”
In the morning, Mike says there’s something he has “to attend to. I’m going to have to restrain you.” He frisks Walt and empties his pockets, then uses a plastic cuff to tie him by one wrist to a radiator.
This is all a poor writing set-up for Walt to use his scientific knowledge to burn the cuff off his wrist by biting an electrical wire in half and sparking a flame with the two metal ends, though the writers have actually admitted that this is impossible to do with ordinary household current. Surely, with so much at stake, Mike could have found someone to hold Walt at bay with a gun while he was gone.
Mike and Saul meet with Hank and Gomez, and Saul tells the agents that he’s filed for a temporary restraining order to stop them from harassing Mike with their surveillance. Outside, he admits to Mike that this will only give him 24 hours of freedom.
Back at the garage, the methylamine is gone. Walt and Jesse are in the office, and Jesse begs Mike not to shoot Walt. “Just hear him out! We can each get what we want?”
“Is that true, Walter?”
“Everybody wins.” Hmmm, right. We happen to know that by the end of the next episode Mike will be dead at your hands.