TV Series: Breaking Bad S05E14 – Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!


[SPOILER ALERT! Watch the episode before reading further!]

I cannot stop rolling this episode around in my head and looking at all the angles. If E13 was a hand grenade, this episode was C4. The brilliance of this show is how any number of conclusions can be reached, an infinite number of outcomes can be imagined, but Vince and the writers will always surprise us and make us think. In this episode, we have the death of one principal character and his side-kick (no offense Gomey!), the captivity and torture of the other protagonist, and the crushing revelation of Walt’s criminality to his son. Like the Talking Good podcasters said on their instacast today, it was like three episodes. And yet it all fit seamlessly into the 47 minutes they were allowed. How the manage to compress this episodes and yet they do NOT feel rushed at all is simply magic. OK, enough gushing and on with some analysis.

20130917-001729.jpgI loved how we opened on a flashback rather than immediately in the shootout. As analyzed by the Afterbuzztv podcast, I agree that the fade-in and fade-out of the RV and Uncles cars served to show the horror of the drug trade and a fatalistic view of the futility of the war on drugs as never really eradicating the cancer but rather just erasing the signs which show up later anyway. Walt’s first lie to Skyler was fascinating and totally in character. The way he was only half paying attention to Skyler’s suggestion of “Holly” as a name because he was revelling in the success of his carwash lie was so telling of how the rest of the 59 episodes since then have gone. It was kind of sad to see how great that he and Jesse got along way back then. But it was brilliant filmmaking to contrast these two situations that are about 14-16 months apart. Not to mention the stupendously beautiful camera work out in the desert. I was totally hooked. And thanks to GeekTyrant, this catch: Walt’s pants from the teaser were actually in the desert as he walked by rolling the barrel of money. Speechless.

I agree with most of what I have read and listened to today in that Hank’s death was perfectly in character for both Hank Schrader and for Breaking Bad. He got in another classic line “smartest guy I ever know but too stupid to see he made up his mind ten minutes ago” that really sums up Walt’s quirky myopic genius to a “t”. Now, the one funny bit was why would Uncle Jack EVER leave Walt with anything at all? I mean, OK, so he has respect for Todd’s admiration of Walt, but that was $11M he was leaving behind. Plus, he didn’t hesitate for a second in killing Hank. I know we need a motive for Walt to come back with the M-60 that was already shown in the flash forwards, but was it realistic? Maybe “family” is the one blindspot to the amorality of the neo-nazis? Or perhaps, why not, I mean what is $11M when you have $69 more, right? In any case, and jumping forward to what happens to Jesse, why would Todd EVER need to cook again when he had his share of the loot – about $9M I am guessing? I guess that’s why psychos do right? And wow, that was such a Theon Greyjoy moment there in the lab. [Shiver!!]

There was no way that the Jane story was not going to come out before the end but WOW, who was expecting Walt to throw it in Jesse’s face right there? Ever since coming out from behind the rock, he was 100% Heisenberg and as ruthless as we have ever seen him. He pleaded for Hank’s life because he could have saved his family from the grief and horror of the his death and thus the illusion that everything could turn out ok so I don’t even think he was Walt then. Perhaps for a minute when he was grieving, but even then, were those crocodile tears so that he wouldn’t get wasted by the aryan nation? Interesting possibilities. In any case, throwing Jesse to the wolves was almost the worst moment in the career of Heisenberg…before he steals Holly…but more on that in a minute.

The Marie-Skyler-Junior moment was painful to watch. I have to agree with some friends who were in totally Marie-hate at that moment. She was WAY overstepping her authority and – worse – was unknowingly completely wrong about the situation. How horrible all around. How Breaking Bad. Yikes! The acting was without description in terms of quality although many will regret that we probably won’t see him eating breakfast anymore.

I felt that the fight between Skyler and Walt was also mind-boggling good. There was a moment there were I was sure that Holly or Junior were going to get stabbed in the melee but untimately Hank taking off with Holly was perhaps even worse. He briefly becomes Walt again when he changes her in the reststop. The Breaking Good guys had a great line where they wondered whether Walt wanted to be Big Daddy to Holly’s Hit Girl which I found hilarious. And then there is the super-ambiguous phone call.

At first glance, I thought that Walt was just simply raging against Skyler but after listening to the podcasts and chatting with a few friends, I think that it was indeed a ploy for Walt to ensure that the police did not take Skyler into custody by taking all the blame on himself. Plus, since he left Holly at the fire department, she was safe too. [And wasn’t that HEARTBREAKING to see Holly crying inside that fire truck!] Now, did Skyler pick up on that or perhaps she was just playing the apologetic wife so as to get Holly back somehow? No way to know before next Sunday (damn, have to wait SIX days!).

Finally, we see the Disappearer again. I loved the idea on Afterbuzz that the camera should show Vince Gilligan at the wheel of the magic bus there. I loved the choice of the cemetery again which we saw in E12. And then Walt’s turn away from the side mirror – self-disgust? sadness about what the gravestones remind him of? turning the page?

I joked on Facebook earlier today that perhaps Dexter saves Jesse from Todd and that Jesse gets away just as Walt wastes the aryan nation and runs off with the $69M with Lydia while Hank and Gomey start the zombie apocalypse after then groan and claw their way out of the hollow grave. A kind of Kirkman-Rodriguez ending. Or perhaps we just have Jesse blowing up Todd with the chemicals and then blowing Walt’s face off. Either way, Marie is probably going to be a vengeful widow wraith like Catelyn killing folks with various poisons and ranting about Walt and Skyler…

WATCHMEN_2012_OZY_CvrAs for the poem, it is certainly appropriate to think of the fall of great men and to see where the great empire of Heisenberg ends up. And then to think that, really he was only on top for S05E08 really. Up to then, he was always under Tuco or under Gus. It is only after he kills Mike and the Prison 10 that he is truly the king, and that only lasts for what, six months?, before he calls it quits… temporarily. And as the poem implies, that success was as easy to erase as one peak into a book while Hank was on the crapper. If there is a better example of futility than that, I’d love to know. In any case, I loved the image for Ozymandias I found and didn’t realise that he was a character in Before Watchmen. Need to add that to my reading list pronto! 🙂

Like I have said many times. Best. Show. Ever.



About mfinocchiaro

IT Architecture Guru for large PLM software company but dabbling in Web 2.0 and other stuff.
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