“Breaking Bad”: Season 5, Episode 6

WARNING: Microwaveable spoilers below. Straight from Albertson’s.

Oh where, oh where, will this runaway freight train known as “Breaking Bad” end up? No TV-watching mortal knows. But this week my friend Wastro and I swapped emails discussing Season 5’s sixth episode, “Buyout”, reevaluated the show’s characters, and made some sure-to-be hopelessly misguided predictions. You can check out our discussion of Episode 5 here.

Cajun Tomato: I’m with Skyler. I’m waiting for Walt White to die. Cancer, shoot-out, poison. Doesn’t matter. He must die. That is the only pay-off that seems right for this show, with 10 episodes left. The only catch is that for Walt to die a lot of other people will die. And the ironic thing is nobody buys Walt’s bullshit. They want him gone or to be far away from him, but they find themselves trapped in his web over and over.

No surprise that in this episode Walt showed no concern for the kid who died. Even Mike gave Todd the what-for. Walt just whistled along with his empire-building aspirations. One kid will not stand in his way. Hell, neither will Mike nor Jesse. Nor Skyler. Something will break in the White household. I’m intrigued to find out what happens with Skyler. Anna Gunn has done a fabulous job this season.

Next week we will learn Walt has made a bargain to work with the Phoenix meth distributors, my friend Ben hypothesized after Sunday’s episode. That seems about right, except there will be a complication. There always is. Ben’s educated guess would explain how Walt establishes his empire across the Southwest United States.

Two episodes remaining: Does Mike have his fateful showdown with Hank? What forces Walt to New Hampshire? What happens with Skyler, the prisoner? What becomes of Jesse, if he is not making or using meth?

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Wastro: I think the shooting that ended last week’s episode marked a turning point that you alluded to in your first paragraph. Even up through the train robbery, there was a part of me that rooted for Walt, not unlike how I rooted for Tony Soprano back in the day. Some small part of me wondered, “How much further can he go?” I mean, when Walt and Co. are robbing trains, is ANYTHING off the table at that point? Walt didn’t pull the trigger, but it was his manipulation of those around him — and his never-ending thirst for more — that killed the kid. In this episode, I found myself no longer rooting for him. At all. I don’t think he needs to die, but I can’t imagine a happy ending for anyone involved at this point.

That’s an interesting point about how no one buys Walt’s bullshit, but none can untangle themselves from his web. We saw two of the characters try this week, and it didn’t succeed. Skyler knows she can’t. This season has been remarkable for Skyler; she’s been terrified of Walt, she’s stood up to him, she’s been scared for her children, she’s been betrayed (with Walt telling Marie about the affair), and she’s been wrought with guilt over Ted. How much more can one person take?

Based on the preview, I would hazard to guess that your friend Ben is on the right track. But Walt himself said he’s in the empire business. Does cooking for the Phoenix distributors change that? It can’t be as straightforward as Walt cooking for the Phoenix crew; in “Breaking Bad,” it’s never that easy. And I don’t believe for a second that “Everybody wins.”

I can’t even begin to guess what might happen. Two weeks ago, we could have never predicted the train robbery. A day ago, we never knew about the Phoenix crew. There’s no telling what happens from here on out. I’m guessing that Walt’s trip to New Hampshire won’t be addressed until next year, though; there are too many loose ends between now and then. (Plus, the diner scene was on his 52nd birthday. Considering that he just celebrated his 51st, that’s a ways off.)

Mike only has 24 hours without the surveillance, though. The clock, as always in “Breaking Bad,” is ticking.

Finally, a few more things stood out to me: First, that pre-credits sequence? Positively haunting. I’ve never been so devastated, so quickly, by a show. And this episode was an absolute triumph for Aaron Paul. His look of guilt after watching the newscast about the missing kid was crushing.

What about you? Are you a Miracle Whip man? Or a mayonnaise fan?

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Cajun Tomato: Mayo. Chipotle. Chipotle Mayo.

You’re probably right about Walt’s birthday. Two episodes are unlikely to get us to the point where he breaks away. I am also curious at what point Todd’s relatives in prison factor in. They have to factor in, right? And what happens to Lydia? She’s a loose end.

Skyler is lost in the surf of life. Hank and Marie are caring for the children. She’s a prisoner in her own home. What’s her purpose in life at this point? She can continue living under Walt’s thumb or she can make a break for her. She doesn’t have any money though. At least I don’t think she does. That’s another thing: Walt has lorded his financial situation over Skyler by buying he and Jr. new cars. Like, look what can I have but you can’t have.

Aaron Paul was fantastic in this episode, as you said. Great reaction to the TV news spot about the missing kid and great as the drowning man at the dinner table. How many times will he protect Walt’s life before it ends up costing him? It seems loyalty will be the downfall for Jesse, Mike, Skyler, etc.

Is that one of the lessons here: Loyalty is a bitch?

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Wastro: I don’t think Todd’s relatives will play a huge part. Mike didn’t seem concerned, and Todd’s still on the payroll. Then again, as Hank said, Mike is bound to mess up at some point. Maybe he already did when vetting Todd’s relatives? Then again, doesn’t the trio have enough to worry about?

You make a good point about Lydia. She’s a loose end, but she doesn’t really need to come in contact with the trio again. They have their 1,000 gallons, and per Walt, her company will never see an ounce of blame for the diluted methylamine. She seems to be in the clear. Seems to be, anyway. (If we’re going down the rabbit hole of possibilities and loose ends, what of the ricin vial that Walt taped to the inside of the outlet in the first episode this season?)

I’m not sure how much loyalty plays a part anymore. Everyone is loyal to Walt at this point because they have no other choice; it’s less about some kind of code of loyalty than it is pure self-preservation. You saw how eager Mike was to put a bullet in Walt’s head at the end of the episode. You saw how disgusted Jesse was at hearing Walt whistle so nonchalantly after sending him home.

I don’t know that the lesson right now is “Loyalty is a bitch.” Then again, that could have been the lesson for these characters all the way up until this point. Jesse was loyal for so long, but the blinders are just now starting to come off. Now he sees what he’s gotten himself into. Skyler remained loyal by trying to launder money and buy the car wash. Mike’s loyalty to Gus led him here. So maybe you’re right.

With two episodes left this season, what are you most interested in? Which aspect of this show are you watching closer than any other?

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Cajun Tomato: Let me clarify: I don’t think “loyalty is a bitch” is the point show creator Vince Gilligan is trying to get across to his audience. Loyalty to Walter White, though, is a bitch. Perhaps there is something to be learned about putting your faith in a megalomaniac. Or perhaps how the choices we make, with the best of intentions, sometimes unravel in ways we could never foresee. I am grasping for meaning.

Per Lydia: It could go two ways, in my opinion. Perhaps we don’t see her again. She has provided the product needed to make meth. Maybe she’s free. Then again, no one is free. And she put out a hit on Mike. Doesn’t that mean anything? Doesn’t he eventually kill her? Or, does she kill him?

We’ve already seen Mike mess up. Why not use legit handcuffs on Walt? Why use plastic? And why only bind one wrist? Also: Why does he tell Walt “sorry” when he leaves? I doubt Walt would extend him the same gesture.

In the interim, I am most interested in Skyler. I would have never thought I would say that based on my lukewarm reaction to her in recent years. Here’s why I am interested: Walt has pushed her to the breaking point this season. When she snaps it will be much more explosive than telling Marie to “shut up” or trying to drown herself in the family pool.

Long-term, I want to know what happens to Jesse. He’s the heart and soul of the show. If there is one person I can sort of root for it’s him.

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Wastro: I see where you’re going with the “loyalty” line now. Now that you mention it, I can’t think of anyone who’s been loyal to Walter and HASN’T paid the price. The only one relatively untouched by Walt’s machinations is Hank, but you have to think that will change before long. “Then again, no one is free.” If a line has ever summed up “Breaking Bad” …

You raise some good points about Lydia. That, and I can’t imagine the DEA is done with her company. It doesn’t seem like it would take much for her to crack. And what then?

I’m with you on Jesse. He’s the most sympathetic character left, though Skyler is catching up quickly this season. Jesse seems, for the first time, legitimately appalled at what they’re doing. He’s so defined by the blue crystal, though; what on Earth would he do with retirement? I just hope he lives long enough to find out.

 

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