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The first half of the last eight episodes of Breaking Bad

02 Sep

Episode 1: “Blood Money”

Opener: Kids are skateboarding in the empty pool at the Whites’, and the house is wrecked, abandoned, surrounded by a padlocked fence, and identified as a crime scene. Walt arrives, straight from Denny’s (see Season 5, Episode 1, “Live Free or Die”), to get the ricin out of its hiding place in the master bedroom. He wants to add it, for whatever reason, to his arsenal.

Next we see Walt and Skyler at the car wash, dressed in innocent, light colors. Lydia appears, ostensibly to get her rental car washed, but really to complain to Walt, who’s been out of the meth business for a month, about the quality of the product she’s been getting to sell in the Czech Republic. Walt treats her just like Gus treated him when he first came to Los Pollos, then Skyler comes out in the role of Mrs. Heisenberg, telling Lydia to leave and never come back.

Jesse is a wreck. He brings the $5 million Walt brought him to Saul and asks him to give half of it to Kaylee Ehrmentraut, half to Drew Sharp’s parents. Saul calls Walt, who returns the money to Jesse, then tries to convince him not only that it isn’t “blood money,” but that Mike’s alive. Jesse goes along with this, dully, to get Walt to leave, then gets in his car with the money. He gives a banded stack of it to a homeless man who knocks on his car window asking for spare change, then drives around a poor Albuquerque neighborhood throwing more stacks out the car window.

Hank, having survived a panic attack on the way home from the family pool party at which he discovered that Walt is Heisenberg, is working at home in the garage on the case, using cartons of DEA evidence. Walt, whose cancer is back, pays Hank a visit, and, after being “normal” for a few minutes, confronts him with the tracking device he found on his car. He tells Hank that even though he’s on chemo and “fighting,” he’ll most likely be dead in six months, so there’s no purpose in Hank trying to make a case against him. He invokes “family,” too, outrageously. Hank punches Walt in the face two or three times, knocking him down, then says he doesn’t even know who he’s talking to. Walt says that maybe then he should “tread lightly.”

We know something gets publicized about Walt in connection with his meth empire, because his neighbor Carol, who greets him so nicely now, was horrified to see him in the opener showing how things are a year or so from now.

What will Jesse do when he finally comes out of his funk? What will Hank do? And Marie and Skyler…Saul…Walt’s suggested to Skyler that they buy more car washes…

6-2: Buried

Hank, unaware of how deep into Walt’s schemes Skyler is, tries to get her to give him evidence about Walt when they meet at a restaurant. Insensitive to her reluctance, he offers her protection, which she probably would have turned on Walt for months ago. In the end, having said nothing, she makes a scene, asking loudly if she’s “under arrest.” She can’t get in touch with Walt, who thinks she’s talking, out of fear that the police will be listening in.

Meanwhile, Saul’s guys, Huell and Kuby, go get Walt’s money from the storage unit. They pack it in black barrels loaded on a white van, then turn the van over to Walt. Walt drives the van out to the desert near where he and Jesse first cooked, and buries the money, then buys a lottery ticket with the same numbers as the spot’s GPS coordinates. He comes home and collapses on the bathroom floor as Skyler tries to convince him she hasn’t said anything to Hank. Five hours later, he wakes up, and tells Skyler he’ll turn himself in if she’ll promise to keep the money for herself and the kids. She tells him she doesn’t think it works that way, and that the best course is to remain silent, as Hank doesn’t appear to have enough evidence to arrest him.

Before Walt’s return, Marie has come to the White house to question Skyler, while Hank waits outside, about when she found out about Walt’s involvement in the meth business. Skyler never says a word, but Marie realizes from her reactions that her sister has known about it since before Hank was shot. She slaps Skyler in the face as hard as she can, then tries to take Holly. Hank restrains Marie and takes her away, as Holly screams in fear.

In the next scene, Lydia has arranged a meeting with Declan, ostensibly to complain that she can’t sell his impure meth in the Czech Republic. While he and his men are showing her their dirty underground meth lab (a buried bus), Todd and his uncle and their crew arrive, loaded for bear. They execute everyone but the dainty Miss L, who wears expensive high-heeled shoes and is reluctant to view the carnage she’s made possible (or ordered). Todd, murderous young gentleman that he is, suggests that Lydia close her eyes as he gently guides her up the ladder and through the rough, dusty, bloodstained yard.

Jesse, meanwhile, has driven his car into a kids’ park, where he lies on the merry-go-round (turning 180 or 360 degrees? Turning somehow…). An old man, who’s come out of his house before daylight to go somewhere, starts finding the money Jesse’s thrown out his car window, and, having tracked him to the park, calls the cops. Why didn’t he just keep the money? These honest, cop-trusting people…

Since Hank’s convinced his career will be over the minute he shares his suspicions of Walt at work, he wants to wait till he can prove Walt’s Heisenberg. We think Marie’s talked him into bringing what he knows to the DEA, lest they track Walt down on their own, then find out Hank was suppressing information. But he doesn’t.

The last scene is Hank about to take over Jesse’s questioning from the Albuquerque police.

Amazing…

6-3: Confessions

Opener: We see Todd, his pony-tailed Uncle Jack and Jack’s friend Kenny in a restaurant on their way home from the Declan kill-site, having, one presumes, dropped Lydia off somewhere. We get plenty of time to “enjoy” viewing the two older men’s neo-Nazi/skinhead tattoos as Todd happily recounts the story of the train-heisted methylamine, with no mention of Drew Sharp’s murder. The ‘banality of evil’ is the phrase that came to my mind at this self-congratulation. The uncle compares Todd’s leap from the train to something that happens in a movie called “Hooper.”

Jack and Kenny use the men’s room, where Jack wipes blood off his boot with a paper towel, showing none of the horror (however mild) Mike evinced when he noticed Victor’s blood on his cuff in Episode 402 (“Thirty-Eight Snub”). Meanwhile, Todd, outside, leaves a phone message for “Mr. White” notifying him of the change in management. The trio drive off, dragging the trailer of methylamine behind them. Whatever his personal qualms may be (and the kid doesn’t seem to have many or any), Todd has assured his uncle that he can manage his own meth lab.

Hank breaks Jesse’s trance in the APD interrogation room by telling him he knows Walt is Heisenberg, but Jesse just says, “Eat me,” when encouraged to talk. He’s still angry at Hank for the beating he received at his hands in Episode 307, “One Minute.” Saul bails Jesse out and takes him to the desert to meet Walt. Jesse expects Walt to kill him there, but Walt just tries to talk him into using Saul’s disappearer. Jesse tells Walt to stop “working” him, suggesting that he simply tell him he needs him gone – that he ask him for that favor. More about this scene in a minute, because some other stuff comes first…

Walt keeps Junior from going to the Schraders’ house to help Marie with her computer (a likely story) by telling him his cancer’s back, Hank tells Marie he hasn’t told the DEA about Walt, and Walt gets Skyler’s help in recording a “confession” that portrays Hank as the drug kingpin who forced him to make meth and concoct the bomb that killed Gus. The Whites give Hank and Marie a DVD of this in a Mexican restaurant after one more try at getting them to drop everything. Walt says he’ll give the DVD to the authorities if Hank doesn’t back off. Marie, completely beside herself, suggests that, rather than making everyone wait for him to die of cancer, Walt kill himself now.

We later see the “confession” as the Schraders watch it, horrified, at home. We expected Hank to be confronted with the fact that Walt paid for his physical therapy (as Marie now has to confess to Hank), but the Schraders are also accused of kidnapping the White children during the period they kept them for Skyler.

The scene in the desert between Walt and Jesse starts with Jesse watching a tarantula crawl over a patch of ground, a reminder of Drew Sharp. Walt confirms that Jesse’s said nothing to the cops, then the conversation noted above takes place. Walt moves toward Jesse, and for a moment we think he’s going to attack him, but he just folds him into a silent embrace to which Jesse reluctantly and tearfully acquiesces. This has the appearance of the love Jesse’s wanted all along, and it’s the only time Walt’s ever hugged him, except for the time he acquiesced to Jesse’s sobbing in his arms in the crack house after Jane’s death. It isn’t love though; it’s more manipulation, or maybe the best Walt can do, and a reward for Jesse’s agreeing to part from his dysfunctional dad forever.

But wait! There’s more…Jesse refuses to give Saul his baggie of pot as they arrange for the disappearer in Saul’s office, but Huell steals it from him as they jam together in the doorway. (Saul’s afraid the disappearer won’t take Jesse if he’s high.) As Jesse waits forlornly and fearfully for the disappearer to pick him up, in front of a hillside cemetery, he realizes his grass is gone. He realizes that Huell, who must have taken it from him when they bumped bellies in the doorway, also boosted the ricin cigarette from him when Brock was poisoned, and all Walt’s lies and manipulations at the time were just that. He walks away from the meeting place, just as the maroon van, seemingly driver-less because of its tinted windows, rolls up.

Back in Saul’s office, Jesse confronts him and gets confirmation of his suspicions. He beats Saul up as the lawyer protests that he didn’t know the poisoning of a child was part of Walt’s plan.

We see Walt at the car wash, lying to Skyler about why he’s opening up the soft drink machine (to get his frozen gun from the bottom compartment after hearing from Saul about the latest turn of events). Another lie about why he has to leave in a hurry; then we see Hank leaving his office at the DEA in a similar rush, even though he has a meeting scheduled. Finally, we see Jesse at Walt’s house. He’s stolen Saul’s car and picked up a can of gasoline, which he splashes over the Whites’ living room carpet in a fury. End of episode!

It was so hard to wait a week to find out what happened next! I fantasized that Hank would come and stop Jesse from committing arson, thus becoming my hero’s somewhat less dysfunctional dad.

Even after it was time to watch Episode 4, “Rabid Dog,” we didn’t find out right what happened right away…

6-4: “Rabid Dog”

The episode starts with Walt searching his house, gun drawn, and demanding that Jesse “show” himself. But, of course, no one was there. Walt has carpet cleaners come and get rid of what they can of the gas; then Walt concocts his newest lie – that he spilled gas all over his clothes at the gas station and left them on the living room floor when he ran to the shower. Junior calls him on the lie, but just on one little bit of it – the backup in the gas hose. He thinks his sick dad fainted while dispensing the gas. Skyler pegs the whole thing as a lie, but doesn’t confront Walt about it till later that night when the family’s ensconced itself in a luxury hotel, with Junior in a separate room. Then she advocates killing Jesse (whom she doesn’t know), saying, “We’ve come this far,” and invoking the need to keep the family safe. Junior still believes his dad’s lies and is fixated on his fear that Walt will die soon.

Saul also thinks Jesse needs to die. This time, instead of the “going to Belize” metaphor, he compares Jesse to Old Yeller, a nice dog that had to be put down when it contracted rabies.

Marie, who goes to visit Dave, her therapist, whom we see for the first time, is fantasizing about killing Walt with an untraceable poison.

Finally, I got to see my fantasy of Hank stopping Jesse from burning the White house down come true! Even the dad part, as he buckles Jesse into the passenger seat of his Jeep and takes him to his house. (Walt misses them by seconds!!) There, Hank gives Jesse sleeping pills, so he can calm down and rest, while he packs a bag for Marie. When Marie finds out what’s going on, she’s so pleased, she insists on staying, and is the first to greet Jesse in the morning with an offer of coffee. Hank and Gomez are waiting in the living room, ready to get started on Hank’s plan that he and Jesse will “burn Walt down together.” Jesse goes along with the taping, even though he knows he has no actual evidence against his former mentor. Hank and Gomez believe him, but are still coming up short, so Hank talks Jesse into meeting with Walt, as he’s requested, and listening to what he has to say, wire on (I imagined this before the episode, too).

Jesse, fearful of being killed and knowing Hank’s manipulating him without any thought for his welfare, comes within 30 feet of Walt (whose back is turned to him), then walks away. He calls Walt from a pay phone and tells him he’s going to “get him where he lives.” Then he tells Hank he’s thought of “a better way” to get Walt.

Walt, having given up on the idea that he can talk Jesse around, calls Todd and tells him he has a job for him and his uncle (killing Jesse, no doubt).

Hank isn’t as sympathetic to Jesse as he initially appeared (and as he should be, if he wants to get out of the bind Walt’s put him in). He calls him a “druggie nut case” behind his back and threatens him with jail. Gomez, who’s apparently agreed to help his partner off the record, seems more sympathetic – maybe because he hasn’t said anything to or about Jesse yet. He wants to go after Lydia, and, it’s true, that she’d be likely to turn on Walt if cornered. But does she have any more evidence than Jesse? Meanewhile, what’s she been doing – just enjoying her meth empire?

Jesse seems to be thinking for himself now – finally. That’s almost worth the risks he’s taking. Besides, he’d be out of the story if he’d left for Alaska (or Belize, as the case may be – the disappearer may actually have been hired to take his job literally).

Walt’s coughing.

Kuby and Huell are trying to find Jesse.

What’s Jesse’s plan? Will Hank go along with it? If not, will Jesse run away from him? Some have predicted that Todd and the “uncles of anarchy,” as they’re called on the “Breaking Good” podcast, will kidnap Jesse and force him to cook for them. Then Walt, armed with the M-60, will rescue his “son.”

Jesse’s running on anger. How long will that last? Is he really growing up and thinking independently now? What’s best for him in this situation, and will he start caring about himself enough to try to achieve it?

What about Saul? Does he have any evidence against Walt, and could Hank arrest him on some charge and make a deal with him?

All these questions will be resolved, all too soon, yet somehow not soon enough…

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