September 29, 2013 will mark one of the saddest days in television history: The conclusion of Vince Gilligan’s game-changing dramatic series, Breaking Bad.
Truly, few samples of film, standalone or episodic, can match the skillful pacing or narrative flair of this show. And for that reason, I will pay my personal homage through the blogosphere: Episode-by-episode critiques and recaps of the final 8 installments of the series.
Be warned, there will likely be spoilers abound. This is primarily for fans who crave a post-viewing play-by-play. Comments are encouraged.
So without further ado:
Season 5 Episode 10 (Original Air Date: August 18, 2013)
I handle large quantities of money daily. I’m a banker – it’s my job. So I can confirm that this episode’s banded bricks of cash litered throughout the slums of Albuquerque have a value of $10,000 USD – each. In other words, the early bird will never want for worms ever again.
Our lucky no-name trucker almost reaps his rewards cleanly, too, until he catches Jesse haphazardly playing on a roundabout. Our dim-witted pseudo-hero is really starting to scare me. He needs a cookie or a hug or something.
Same can be said for Walt. Remember last week’s ballsy threat to Hank? Well, that happened. And the intimidation tactic didn’t quite work. Hank is now so close to his goal he’s practically foaming at the mouth. Moments after last episode’s final confrontation, he beats Walt in the chase to contact Skyler. The games have begun.
Hank naturally lures Skyler to a super bumpin’ neighborhood diner to discuss the situation. What are his motives here? Note that he instantly frames Skyler as the victim, then leads in to a request for a recorded confession, sans lawyer and in public view. Hank’s thought about this for far too long not to suspect Skyler’s involvement, but that doesn’t matter. Walt is the guy he wants. And Skyler’s the only person who can offer Hank the evidence he needs. Not to mention she’s his wife’s sister. For all intents and purposes, she’s an innocent bystander. Still, Skyler doesn’t trust Hank for a second. You go girl.
Amidst the set-up, Walt and Saul are doing some major damage control. Huell and Kuby are enlisted to gather Walt’s earnings from his storage garage. Jesse’s missing in action. Walt gathers his barrels of evidence into a van and takes advantage of the Arizona terrain. Ah, the convenience of crime when the desert’s in your back yard. What’s that – you’ve got illegally obtained firearms and a dead hooker in your trunk? Grab a shovel, I know just the place!
Skyler’s pretty shaken by this point. She’s back at home trying desperately to contact Walt or Saul when everybody’s favorite buzzkill Marie comes knockin’ at the door. Ah, great. She brought the DEA. Skyler wisely has Hank wait outside and brings in her far less intimidating adversary.
Once she penetrates the fort, Marie lays it on thick. She mentions the carwash and the gambling story. Then she probes for a timeframe: “Did you know since before Hank was shot?” Skyler’s been dealt a pretty shitty hand, but she withstands Marie’s endless barrage of questions like a champ. The most she gives her is an apology, which is as close to a confession as her self-seeking sister would ever need. Marie gives her a good whack and makes an expectedly self-righteous exit, even going so far as to try to take the baby. Hank steps in, corrects Marie’s obnoxious behavior, and the two leave Skyler alone with her screaming satan spawn.. er, child. Have I mentioned I hate babies?
Back in Hank’s car, the world’s most annoying couple decide that revenge is the best course of action. “You have to get him,” Marie asserts. My first thought? It’s about time they’re on the same page about something.
Nighttime in the desert. Walt buries his bone and finally heads home. A panicked Skyler assures Walt that she hasn’t said a word to Hank. Keep in mind that, until Hank and Skyler’s little catch-up, she was totally in the dark about Walt’s cancer recurrence. So on top of the fact that their secrets are out, Walt’s about to die again. And just in case Skyler was planning on ignoring this fact, her despondent near-naked husband falls to the floor after disappearing for hours. So, you know, nothing out of the ordinary for our dysfunctional TV family. Cue laugh track.
When he comes to, Skyler’s got questions. Walt confirms the whole cancer thing, and fesses up to spilling the beans to Hank. Then, in a moment of vulnerability, he begs that Skyler protect Walt’s earnings in the event that he’s gone. “Never give it up. Don’t let me have done all this for nothing,” He pleads. As spectators, we’re reminded of the old Walt. The one whose singular focus was to provide for his pack. Skyler displays a firm read on Hank, dismissing his accusations as baseless. Her proposal? Stay quiet. The ball’s right back in Hank’s court and Mrs. Heisenberg barely breaks a sweat.
My favorite scene of the episode comes next. A blindfolded Lydia is taken to a business meeting with her under-performing meth pushers. She echoes the concerns from the last episode, citing a $50 million shortfall. Additionally, the quality’s substandard, and the Czech Republic ain’t havin’ it. She gently suggests that Todd, Walt’s former collaborator, join the new team. They refuse the bait. It’s a trust thing. Fair enough: show me the lab then, Lydia insists. She needs to make sure everything’s in order.
Their workspace is an abandoned bus buried a good 10 feet underground. Its a tight squeeze, hardly comparable to Heisenberg’s superlab, and Lydia’s not impressed. The inspection’s interrupted by a guy upstairs. “We have a problem,” he warns.
Lydia preparedly tucks into a corner and covers her ears as the others head right up into raining gunfire.
Afterward, Todd escorts Lydia through the carnage, her hand safely over her eyes. The lady can devise and direct a mass killing, but she can’t bear to see it. Go figure.
Hank the Heisenberg Hunter is still chasing any sign of evidence at home. But something’s different. He’s off. Makes sense, too. The only thing worse than chasing a ghost is finding out that the ghost is your in-law. Hank’s pride comes on full-force. In a candid confession to Marie, he admits his fear in disclosing his discovery to his colleagues.
But he returns to work, and perpetuates his dickish jokester self with fierce commitment. I kind of admire Hank’s resilience here. The Heisenbergs give him every reason to roll-over and quit, but he privately carries his anguish and marches straight forward towards his goal. We wonder how he’ll broach the subject, but that all gets sidetracked when he’s informed of “the money thing,” involving none other than Jesse Pinkman.
Ever the opportunist, Hank steps into the interrogation room. Option A was a no-go, now for Plan B. Its a suspenseful moment that quickly cuts to black, leaving me bitter and impatient and REALLY sleepy. Though that last part probably has more to do with the white wine than the series itself.
‘Til next week…
To review last week’s episode, click here.
Inline photos borrowed from http://whatculture.com/tv/breaking-bad-5-10-buried-review.php – check it out!