Last post, I explained that my wife and I had just finished watching Season Three of Breaking Bad. It was great. (The show I mean, not necessarily my post.) The previous post was a (probably unnecessary) recap and this post will be something like an analysis, or my observations, or whatever.
As usual, this post will be spoilery for at least Season Three Breaking Bad, and probably Season One and Two.
Dead Tuco Continues to be the Big Bad
Well sort of. Although Tuco is dead, his death motivates the cousins to come north to execute Walt. And they’re impressively scary. Tuco was crazy and violent and loud. These guys are one out of three. Super methodical, calm, working so in concert that they appear to be telepathic.
But now that Hank has dispatched these guys as well as Tuco, that’s the end of that, right?
Not so long as Tio is still ringing that bell.
Dead Jane Margolis and Georgia O’Keefe’s Vagina Art
I was not expecting to see Jane, so the flashback to the Georgia O’Keefe museum that had been talked about in Season Two was a surprise joy. And a punch to the gut when Jesse’s pulling his romantic moves on Jane, and she tells him “that was so sweet, I almost threw up in my mouth.”
It was heartbreaking when Jesse spent his time endlessly calling her number. And then the number was disconnected. So rough.
Another unexpected return was Combo, as the link that led Hank from the RV to Jesse. And the identification of his killer as the eleven year old Tomas that set Jesse on his course of opposition to Gus.
It’s like no one is really dead on Breaking Bad. They just come back as ghosts.
The past seasons, Walt’s cancer diagnosis was central. His diagnosis of cancer was the impetus to earn money to secure his family’s future. His certainty that he would be dead soon gave Walt the freedom to do things he normally wouldn’t do.
His solo journey through chemo once Skyler had withdrawn from him was super tough to watch.
His remission and successful tumorectory (with good margins) gave Skyler the freedom to shut him out.
Walt’s life was not endangered by cancer this season, but the drug business stepped up to take its place, with Tuco’s cousins hunting him down at the beginning of the season and Gus wanting to terminate the relationship at the end of the season.
Unfortunately for Walt, his continued survival depends on being in a business relationship with a man who wants to kill him.
The margins are not good on this.
For a guy who seems distracted by the smallest visual detail, you would think he’d get his windshield fixed. His windshield had a very rough time this season, starting cracked with debris from the airline collision at the end of last season.
Getting a ticket for having a busted windshield raised Walt’s ire inappropriately. Science was applied to Walt’s eyes.
Jesse clobbers his windshield after a particularly bad conference at Saul’s.
Then Walt shatters the windshield driving into Gus’ drug dealers at the corner where Combo died.
I’m curious what will be happening to his windshield next season.
Gustavo Fring (the King)
Gus turned out to be a much more sinister character than he appeared last season. He now seems to be about the most amorally evil person on the show.
Siccing the twins on Hank was such a calculated move, since the attack on Hank guarantees a reprisal in Mexico. And warning Gus beforehand would normally have eliminated the cousins who were a threat to his operation with Walt. (I assume Gus did not know that Hank was unarmed.) With the cousins dead, there is no one to tell the Mexican Cartel that Gus okay’d the hit on Hank. Nicely done, Gus.
But the real deal was the death of Tomas. I have no doubt that Gus ordered Tomas killed to elicit exactly the response from Jesse. When Jesse approached the drug dealers, they were already out of their car and preparing to gun him down. They were expecting him.
It seems clear to me that Gus wanted Jesse dead without impinging his working relationship with Walt.
Walt’s plan to kill Gale (and to try to make it look accidental to keep Gus off track) seemed inspired from Gus’ playbook.
Saul and His Lazer Tag Obsession
Saul was great last season and was great this season, as being either on top of his game or out of his depth. It was interesting at the beginning of the season when Walt’s wasn’t cooking, and Saul seemed uncharacteristically worried. I want to know why that is.
The scenes where Saul had to deal with Skyler were the best. She’s so honest in her reactions to his shenanigans.
Mike Ehrmantrout, Bald and Badass
Mike was extremely interesting this season. From last season I assumed he was just a flunky of Saul’s, but it became clear early on that when Saul says he “knows a guys who knows a guy”, that Mike is THAT GUY.
Mike’s story to Walt about when he was a cop and failed to thwart a domestic abuse situation was pretty intriguing. The story itself wasn’t surprising, and the show knew that. Mike ended up his story acknowledging the inevitability “so two weeks later, of course, we get the call. He killed her… of course.”
That bitterness and staring too long into violence without being able to put an end to it was the lever that turned Mike the cop into Mike the… whatever he is now. Dangerous. Effective.
And the best grandpa ever! Balloons!
The Fly Controversy
Episode 10 is practically a bottle episode with only Walt and Jesse, dealing with a fly in the lab. My wife did not like the episode, but I really did. It reminded me of last season’s meth-cooking marathon when the RV lost power.
I have some friends that share my wife’s complaint, that the episode was too long with just them chasing the fly, or too slapstick. But the episode terrified me because Walt almost came clean about Jane’s death to Jesse, and once that happens, there can be no peace between them.
This probably has nothing to do with anything, but their trying to catch the fly reminded me of Salem Witch Hunt type things. One of the witch-hunter’s handbook (don’t quote me, I think it’s the Malleus Maleficarum or something) suggests that when interrogating witches, make sure to catch any flies in the room and to not let the insects escape. Since the flies were likely the alleged witch’s familiars, and would report to Satan if they could. (I think if a fly did escape, this was considered conclusive proof that the suspect was a witch.)
Flies are just so disgusting, annoying creatures with their big eyes and buzzing. Having one represent Walt’s guilt was pretty inspired. But probably not proof that Walt is a witch. Look, it’s just what struck me while watching.
Jesse has a pretty rough season, getting beat up and hospitalized every inch as bad as when Tuco did it. It’s just that Tuco’s killer is the one doing the beating now.
Seriously, Jesse gets beat up worse than Ben Linus on Lost. Walt steps up to make things right, insisting that Jesse replace Gale as his assistant this season. He even tells Jesse that the meth that he cooked solo was every bit as good as his.
That was a big deal. Jesse really needs some kind of validation, and Walt senses that’s what he needs to get Jesse off the path of suing Hank. Another one of those moments where Walt steps in to a fatherly role when it comes to young Master Pinkman.
This season, Jesse behaves in ways that I really approve of (he’s super-sympahtetic about children being forced into the drug trade) but also in ways that get me so disappointed (planning to use his rehab group as buyers.)
Aaron Paul did a tremendous job of acting, from his hospital-bed rage about Hank, to his insisting not to flatly make peace with Gus’ drug-dealers, to silently preparing to kill or be killed on the corner where Combo died.
Hank and Marie
Hank spent much of the season not being the cop he wanted to be, running from the El Paso assignment, losing it with Jesse, but then he super-copped his way to bringing down the incredibly dangerous Cartel Twins.
It was sad to see how messed up he has become, not only physically but mentally, afraid to leave the hospital.
Marie was not crazy this season and I still don’t have a handle on her kleptomania, but I found it interesting seeing her behave a lot like Season One Skyler. Both wives were focused on getting only the best when it comes to their husbands medical care, both situations motivating Walt into meth cooking.
At least her curiosity about Hank and Skyler’s breakup and Hank’s previous odd behaviors have been satisified with a lie from Skyler.
I think Skyler was great this season with all of her personal complications.
She sleeps with Ted, only somewhat because she wants to. She also wants to punish Walt.
But she has reservations and second thoughts about her affair with Ted. As Ted maneuvers for more commitment, she pulls away.
Then, unexpectedly, and awesomely, she jumps all in with a cover-story for Walt, to handle their paying for Hank’s medical care.And she’s willing to be the money-laundering Danny.
That whole intersection of Skyler not wanting to do anything with Walt plus her wanting laundered cash for Marie, plus Walt wanting to reconnect with his family but wishing that Skyler be completely safe from any damage should he be caught was pretty, pretty cool.
If I was Walter White, I’d also want to keep Skyler away from the meth business dealings. Mostly because Heisenberg probably doesn’t want to be nagged.
Flynn, or Should I Say: Walt Jr.
Walt Jr. was an important lever on Skyler this season, recriminating her for separating from Walt, and putting the brakes on her turning Walt over to the cops. His abandonment of the Flynn alias spoke volumes.
Walt Jr. didn’t do very much this season, but I enjoyed the father-son moments of Walt working with Walt Jr. on his driving, and I approved of Walt Jr. being an example to his bed-ridden uncle Hank.
We had a bunch:
Jesse and Combo at a strip-club. They seemed so happy.
Jesse and Jane at the Museum they seemed so happy.
Walt and Skyler (pregnant with Walt Jr.) about to buy their house. They seemed so happy.
Tortuga in a bar, about to get a pet turtle from the boss. And an axe from Tuco’s cousins. He seemed so happy.
But my favorite, young Don Salamanca and Tuco’s cousins. Such a happy family.
Things I Didn’t Like
Relax, I’m allowed to find flaws. Nothing is perfect. I could also be wrong.
- Jesse’s character seemed a bit inconsistent this season. After a traumatic loss, he dries out in rehab and tells Walter that he doesn’t want to be a bad guy. He then plans on selling meth to recovering addicts, a plan even Badger and Skinny Pete backed down from. Was it simply the beating from Hank that made this flip? Or was he lying to Walter?
- I’m not a fan of Hank having crappy medical insurance. He’s a member of the DEA, the Feds usually have pretty good insurance, and that job is particularly dangerous. I would have suspected that Hank would have had more support. It seemed contrived in someways as a plot motivator to get Skyler involved in Walt’s affairs.
- Hank’s past chemo and his surgery, but post treatment fatigue can go on for months and months. I’m not saying the show is wrong, I’m just saying that I expect more of an effect on Walt. This is a super small quibble.
I am not so sure if I should call these predictions. As my friend Scot has said, predicting things that have already happened is something like being a weatherman reporting on last week’s weather. (Scot, I’m super-paraphrasing you.)
But I wanted to put out my impressions that are mostly in the dark, since I have not seen the show. But I have run across stuff while looking up images for this blog, so I have some ideas.
I’m not sure if Jesse killed Gale or not, but Walt is going to have to deal with Gus. I don’t know if Gus is handled next season or early in Season Five.
All of my friends have been wishing me an A-1 Day, so I assume the car wash deal goes through and is used for money laundering. Since the car wash would have similar chemical requirements as Gus’ laundry, it seems to me that if could end up being their meth lab. I don’t think Walt can continue working in that laundromat.
Hank was a big DEA disappointment this season but I assume taking out cartel hitmen puts him back on the career path. My assumption would be that the DEA would conclude that Hank’s pursuit of Heisenberg was even more unexpectedly significant if it brought such a cartel response.
Having Skyler be his criminal accountant is going to give Walt a heart attack. I don’t mean literally though. You know what I mean.
I don’t think the truth of Jane Margolis’ death will come out next season. I’m betting on early Season Five.
Whew, now that this blog post is done, my wife and I can get right in on Season Four.
Images are obviously from AMC’s Breaking Bad.
I make no claim to any of the artwork obviously, but I do make some claim to the text of this posting. So there.
© Patrick Sponaugle 2013 Some Rights Reserved