4 reasons why tonight’s Breaking Bad was the best episode of the season so far
Spoiler warning, this post talks in depth about the episode of Breaking Bad that aired Sunday, 8/19, so if you haven’t seen it yet and don’t want to know what happened, don’t read any farther. You have been warned.
Breaking Bad has been more than exceptional this season, but after an hour or two contemplating what I just watched tonight, I feel compelled to ramble on for a thousand words or so to explain why this was the best episode of the season so far (mainly because I know you have been sitting there, breathlessly waiting for me to tell you what you should think). So here’s 4 reasons why, again conveniently provided to you in handy list form.
1. The cold open scene before the credits.
An amazing and heartrendingly sad scene, where the crew methodically dismantles the dirt bike and prepares it for a bath in a barrel of hydrofluoric acid. Thanks to previous seasons, we know without dialog what is happening as soon as the barrel appears, and every second that the camera wordlessly records the efficient process taking place before us is one second closer to the appearance of the second barrel and the horrific reality that entails. I’ve praised this show before for its use of these types of montages and how well it constructs and executes them, but this was the best of the bunch so far.
2. The look on Skylar’s face when she realizes that Walt has beaten her to Marie
There’s Skylar, only moments from coming clean to Marie about her and Walt’s reality, when Marie brings up Skylar’s affair with Ted, in what she thinks is a gesture of to help her sister come clean. Skylar, though, knows exactly what has happened – that Walt had beaten her to the punch with Marie by telling her about Ted, and so closed off Skylar’s best chance at getting some sort of relief from her guilt by confessing. The slow transformation of emotions on Skylar’s face reminded me of Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life, when he realizes that his brother’s good fortune with his new bride means that he will have to stay in Bedford Falls and lose his last real chance to see the world and escape. Skylar captured the same emotional sweep as the look on her face went slowly from desperation to an almost comical resignation that Walt had trumped her again (and that is the last time I’ll ever compare Skylar White, or any of the characters in Breaking Bad, to George Bailey I’m quite certain). Just a powerful scene.
3. Every second of the show after Jesse comes over to the White’s house and then gets invited over for dinner
All of this was great, as Walt explains to Jesse his rational for not selling his share of the methylamine, carefully revealing details about his missed opportunity with Gray Matter and how he sold his fortune (his son’s “birth rite”) for pennies on the dollar and how he will not make the same mistake again. He tells Jesse that no, he isn’t in the meth or the money business, but rather “the empire business,” just as Skylar returns home and Jesse starts to beat a nervous retreat out of the house. It’s here that Walt shrewdly insists that he stay for dinner, and we get to watch Jesse attempt to avoid being decapitated by the daggers that Walter and Skylar stare at each other with some long missing and frankly hilarious Jesse awkwardness. He praises the beans profusely and isn’t fazed by Skylar’s perfecting delivered “They are from the deli at Alberstson’s” line. Jesse’s “good work on your shopping, then, because these are choice” reply was perfect and one of the funniest Breaking Bad lines ever. (and no doubt Alebertson’s will see a marked increase in green beans sales due to Jesse’s ringing endorsement.
When Skylar finally unapologetically snags the last of the wine and excuses herself to finish her liquid dinner, Walt drops the guilt hammer on Jesse, telling him that Skylar was simply counting the moments until Walt’s cancer returns to claim him, and that the business is all he has left now. As soon as the “and you want to take that away from me” line is delivered, Jesse is trapped again in Walt’s web, after seemingly finding his escape only moments before (blame Mike for an uncharacteristically poor job of restraining Walt, Jesse.) Just as Walter cut off Skylar’s escape with Marie by telling her about Ted, he cuts off Jesse’s escape with Mike with this dinner invite.
4. Saul Goodman returns!
If only briefly. The rumored Saul Goodman spinoff cannot happen fast enough in my book. His “Uncle Miltie proportions” line was stone cold classic. Saul (not to mention completely awkward Jesse) give the show a comedic grounding that it needs as the storyline turns ever darker.
And a couple of bonus reasons:
- Congrats to Todd for completely capturing Matt Damon’s look and mannerisms from The Departed. All that was missing was the overblown Boston accent (“It’s good to see you, Troo-PAH.”) Also, keeping the dead kids spider, completely creepy (and stupid of course, odds on that jar with the kids finger prints being found? 80, 90%?)
- “It’s like yo, whatever happened to truth in advertising?” Bless you, Jesse Pinkman.