In episode 3 of Breaking Bad season 5, we pick up where we left off, with an up-close and personal view of Walter White’s descent into the pit of villainy.
For four seasons, it felt like the writing was trying to convince us that Walt was still a good guy, deep down. He was committing crimes and telling all his lies to protect his family. It’s all about family.
But as we delve deeper into this series and into the character of Walt, we see that he may be turning. Maybe he’s already turned.
Maybe this is who he always was.
At the beginning of the episode, Hitman Mike is seen dressed as (and pretending to be) a paralegal and paying a visit to a prison inmate. In the brief encounter, it becomes clear that the prisoner is someone who has a history with Mike and with Gus Fring.
The character obviously knows things — things that could get Mike in a lot of trouble.
Mike does his best to instill the importance of keeping secrets and remaining loyal. He also gives him that look that only Mike can give a person, that basically says: “I’d have no problem killing you and then playing Hungry Hungry Hippos with my granddaughter right afterwards.”
The inmate tells Mike what he wants to hear and Mike moves on.
Did you know Walt was leaving his condo and moving back into his home with Skyler and the kids? No?
That’s cool. Neither did Skyler, and she’s not happy about it. But, she does what she’s been doing for some time now, and she bottles it up and pushes it way, way down inside of herself.
She’s good like that.
Walt, Jesse and Mike get together with their now-begrudging attorney, Saul Goodman, to conspire in regards to finding a new place to cook the meth, since Walt blew up the last place.
The try a tortilla factory first. Strike one. But, we are treated to the “Jesse Pinkman Quote of the Week,” when Jesse comments that cooking in the factory may “make the tortillas taste like cat piss,” then he routinely picks up one of the tortillas off the conveyor belt, burns his hand, and eats the tortilla. Mmmmm. Cat piss.
Next, Saul tries to push the laser tag warehouse on Walt for a second time (He really needs to unload that place!). Strike two.
Finally, Saul shows the gang a storage garage for a pest control company. He really only shows them as a final last-ditch shot-in-the-dark (Did you see the way I just combined two corny cliches into one analogy? I don’t mean to too my own horn, but ‘beep beep!’), but it turns out to be just what they needed.
Walt devises a plan to go into business with the pest control company owner (a man named Ira) and to use them as a front for his cooking operation. The idea involves setting up shop in the houses that the exterminators “tent” and cooking their product under everyone’s noses (but more importantly, under a tent where no one can see them).
Mike is hesitant and asks if they should put it to a vote, to which Walt smugly responds, “Why?”
So, it’s settled, but you get the impression that the under-the-table shinkicking competition between Walt and Mike is anything but resolved. If I had to make a prediction, I’d say this won’t end well, but what do I know?
The guys movie forward with the plan and begin to get materials and goods necessary for the next phase of the operation.
In the next scene, Jesse’s girlfriend and her son, Brock (yeah — that Brock – the one who was poisoned) come over to Jesse’s crib for dinner. Walt just happens to be there talking business with Jesse when they arrive, and his response to seeing Brock is awkward at best.
Did Walt really poison the kid? If not, why is he so weird about seeing him? Is it because he looks fatter than he did last season?
That must be it.
The guys map out their first house to use for cooking. After everything is tented properly and the owner leaves, they set up the equipment and get to work. Game on.
Remember how I told you Skyler wasn’t real thrilled with Walt moving back in, and that she’s been stuffing things down into her emotional wastebasket for a long time, and I hinted that she was probably about to blow?
Well, she does.
During a conversation with her sister at the car wash, Skyler has an epic meltdown. The short version is that Skyler totally loses her crap, tries to start smoking a cigarette, throws it down and then just starts shouting: “SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP!”
Let’s be honest — that was a long time coming for two reasons:
1) She’s been burying how she feels for a long time, and that’s just not healthy.
2) Her sister is obnoxious and really does need to shut up. If I was her doctor, and she came in and told me she had a pain in her lower torso, I’d tell her my advice would be to shut up. And I might even scream it several times in a row like Skyler did.
Unfortunately, Skyler’s sister doesn’t take the hint, and she doesn’t shut up. Quite the contrary. Not only does she not shut up, but she pays Walt a visit to interrogate him on what is going on with Skyler.
(Sidenote: It’s not an accident that I’m calling her “Skyler’s sister” and not her actual character name. I know her name, I’m just irritated with her right now. It’s how I deal, emotionally. Get off my back.)
During the confrontation, Walt flips the script in a manner only he can do, and he totally throws Skyler under the bus by exposing the affair she has been having with Ted Beneke.
Not only does Walt not come out looking like the bad guy, but he gets a hug upon Skyler’s sister exiting the house. Well done, sir.
Jesse is conflicted, because of some advice Walt gave him about the difficulty of keeping secrets from his girlfriend. He’s weighing the option of dumping her to avoid having any loose ends.
Walt decides to have a movie night with the kids and take in “Scarface,” which is a totally appropriate movie to watch with a baby on your lap. It’s not weird or creepy at all. I mean that.
Walt is completely into the movie, and when Tony Montana busts out the automatic weaponry and starts spraying people, he cheers like a crazed fan at a football game, in front of the kids and Skyler, who took a break from laying on the bed and being depressed to come out and be shocked (she has a diverse spectrum of emotions).
I believe this scene is a reflection of what is going on inside of Walt and his transformation into something/someone dark. He’s becoming a villain, and it’s no longer something that’s happening to him. He’s making it happen actively.
The first “cook” is done, and the guys meet up to divide up the cash and take their spoils. As Mike explains the percentages and who is getting what, Walt launches into an inquisition that visibly ruffles Mike’s feathers.
The disagreement comes close to getting ugly, before Jesse steps in and talks reason into Walt.
On their way out of the garage, Jesse tries to continue calming down his older, balder partner, and he attempts to convince him that Mike is on their side and that they need him.
To this, Walt responds with an odd anecdote about the time Gus cut open Victor’s throat with a box cutter (Season 4, Episode 1). He intimates that perhaps the act wasn’t just to intimidate Walt and Jesse, as they’d previously thought, but that maybe it was because Victor had started to become too independent.
It comes off as a veiled threat to either Jesse or Mike (who isn’t present when the conversation takes place), and leaves Jesse with a look on his face that says, “Where the bleep did that come from?”
I don’t know, Jesse. It surprised me too, pal, but it was my “Walt Moment of the Week.” There were a lot of moments to choose from, but this was, by far, the creepiest. Winner, winner, chicken dinner.
(Is it too soon to be making chicken jokes? Sorry, Gus. Rest in peace.)
That’s my wrap. What does your recap look like? In the comment section below, let us know what your favorite moments were from the latest episode of Breaking Bad.