Hi, my name is Walt and I am addicted to gambling…for real. One of the of the most amazing things about Breaking Bad is the layers and call-backs that are written in to the show and become clear and sometimes make sense when you least expect it. When watching last nights episode, I had a light bulb moment – remember when Skyler and Walt lied to everyone and said that he was addicted to gambling? Well, that wasn't actually a lie…he actually is. It's not that he is addicted to blackjack or roulette, but he is addicted to the power that he feels when cooking and selling meth and he is willing to risk his life and the lives of his family just for the "big score". In last night's episode, entitled "Buyout" Walt had the opportunity to get out of the business. He would have been able to walk away clean and with a lot of money, (as Jesse keeps trying to point out to him) but it wasn't enough. He is addicted to power, and wants to let his game ride as he builds his empire and he is not willing to quit until he does. He is an addict in that he is allowing his obsession to destroy his relationships at home and commit increasingly disturbing crimes in order to get what he wants. It is one of the many pathologies that Walt seems to be afflicted with lately, and one that I fear is going to get worse before it gets better.
Speaking of crimes, perhaps we should actually start at the beginning and talk about how disturbing the opening sequence was as the team has to dispose of the body of a small child. The scene was set upon the back drop of music with no words, which was probably better, because truly, what could they say? They crossed a line, that is rarely crossed even in the most corrupt businesses and there is no going back from this low point. A friend of mine noted, and I agree – there is something great about a show that has no boundaries. When watching, you know that there is nothing that they will shy away from doing and really no ground that is sacred, which leads you to expect anything. It can be a disconcerting feeling when watching, but one of the things that makes the show so riveting.
I also must say that I loved this episode so much because we got to see some personality and emotion in some of the characters that we haven't seen as much recently and the acting in these scenes was astounding. At first I couldn't decide if is Mike or Jesse that is my favorite character, but then as the episode progressed, I realized there is non contest – Jesse wins. I'll get to more on him in a moment (and probably one of my favorites scenes of the season) but I did really love seeing Mike bust out his bad–ass moves on Todd. We know that Mike will do anything to anyone, simply because of the job he has held and his status within Gus Fring's business, but it is rare that we see him throw someone up against the wall and threaten them. It was terrifying and awesome all at the same time. However, I am worried that Walt might have (yet again) made a very bad decision by allowing Todd to stay, because holy shit, what was that moment he had with the tarantula?! For a second, I got confused if I was watching Breaking Bad or Dexter, because the look on Todd's face as he played with that spider makes me think he is much less sorry for what he did than he claimed. It actually looked like he was playing with a token from his kill, and it makes me very nervous as to where this character is going – especially as he will likely become more and more ingrained in the business.
I also don't know if I mentioned before, but at the beginning of the series and for the first few seasons I had a bit of a problem with Skyler. I just felt like her character and Anna Gunn's acting couldn't really stand up to Walt and the others, but I completely retract that statement now. The scene with Skyler and Marie was simply heartbreaking. To see the pain on her face and in her eyes at the fact that she misses her children so much, yet she is so powerless to do anything to get them back was so sad. It made me feel so much sympathy for her in a way that I'm not sure that I have before. I also was afraid that if Marie hadn't stopped her she was about to confess everything. Not that I think that would have necessarily been a bad idea. It might be better if she were to just get it off her chest and ask Marie for help and protection from Walt, but as she stated before, she is probably too much of a coward to do that. So instead, what will she do? She will create the most awkward dinner, yet most awesome scene ever.
This is where I will gush about my love for Jesse Pinkman. If Aaron Paul doesn't win an Emmy for every season of the show until the end I will be a very unhappy girl. The best part about him is the completely robust and dynamic way he plays the character of Jesse. He is in one scene where his eyes well up with tears and you can almost see the emotion and pain pouring out of them over the fact that he (albeit inadvertently) was involved with the killing of a child, but then in a later scene he is so funny that I literally could not stop laughing at him. It is truly incredible, the way he is able to display emotion like that. The scene that made me laugh so much...the moment that Jesse questions, "Whatever happened to truth in advertising?" Jesse is really upset that whenever you get a tv dinner the lasagne never looks as good as it does on the box. It is the way in which Jesse delivers this line that is so funny, but also that it is such a true statement. The food always looks so appetizing and delicious and then is so....not. However, I also believe that this is a metaphor for characters on the show right now. With so many of the characters, nothing that anybody is "advertising" or showing on the outside is true. Skyler is pretending to Marie that she is upset because she had an affair, while Walt is pretending he can't sleep because he is torn up by the death of the child, yet Jesse catches him whistling while he works. It was a brilliant and amusing scene, and I loved the fact that Jesse was the one that held it all together. I would love to see even more of him in the last two episodes and hope that we will.
This episode is also interesting, because it seemed to once again create distance in the relationship between Skyler and Walt. I think there was a part of me that always wanted for them to be able to work it out, but I think they are likely beyond the point of no return. I'm not sure how I ever thought they would be able to wrap things up in a happy way, but hey, I didn't say it was logical. Now, Skyler barely acknowledges Walt's existence (except for with a strong scowl while she pours her wine). He continues to fuck with her and show her that he no longer cares about anything she feels by inviting Jesse to come to their home, and especially stay for dinner. He ruined her image in her sister's eyes, yet has no remorse about it. Also, when he finally explains to Jesse why he can't get out of the business, he tells him that his wife is waiting for him to die – he has lost everything and the business is all he has. I could point out to him that even if they aren't physically in his home, he does still have two children, but yet again, the fact that he doesn't care or acknowledge that shows truly how bad his addiction has become.
However, it also is important to note in Walt's conversation with Jesse, about Gray Matter that we did get a hint in to some of his motivation for not wanting to let go of the "idea" of the empire, beyond just being power hungry and egotistical. This was another call back to the beginning of the series and the fact that we know that Walt became a high school chemistry teacher, because he walked away from the company that he helped create that went on to be a multi-billion dollar company, and won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He left this first empire willingly and has had a much different and probably not very satisfying life because of that, which is something he harbors much resentment about. Now, his blue meth has become his "prize" in chemistry. It is the one thing that he can do better than anyone else and he needs to keep doing it and grow that business so he can prove that his life was worth something. It is a pretty warped reason to make an extremely addictive drug, but was very interesting that we did get a peak in to the psychology of Walt, in a way that doesn't usually happen.
We left the episode with a cliffhanger, and no update as to what this brilliant plan is that Walt came up with that he thinks will work out for all of them. I don't trust him one bit, and hope he isn't just finding another way to screw Jesse and Mike, but alas, I will have to wait one more week to find out. Countdown starts now…..