The Boob Tube Review: Breaking Bad, Season 5, Episode 2

Sometimes, we discuss the television we've been watching. There are usually plenty of spoilers, so beware.

asdlfakjhoijlkj!!! I am so excited to be writing about a show that I am love-watching and not hate-watching (here's looking at you, The Walking Dead)! 

I would have really liked to have started out reviewing season 5 from episode 1, but a beautiful, magical thing happened. Up until three weeks ago, I had only watched the first season of Breaking Bad but then I decided to catch up so I could watch the fifth season as it aired. Summer TV marathons might sound like a waste of Canadian sun but when one lives in a city with an unreasonably high humidex and temperatures hitting +30 or more everyday and their apartment is in a 100 year old building with no ac and nothing but a single, piddly fan to keep cool, the only option for daytime activities becomes taking a lot of cold showers and lying, naked, in front of the fan to air dry while watching TV. And so, I had a Breaking Bad marathon with breaks only to eat, sleep and go to class* (*some slight exaggerations might have occurred). Last week I was all set to watch the new episode when, through the clouds a ray of light broke and angels sang and I realized I had only just finished season 3. I HAD A WHOLE OTHER SEASON TO WATCH. 13 MORE EPISODES. It was a TV miracle. 

So now, after another glorious week of playing Breaking Bad catch-up I'm all set to recap season 5, which, I think is off to a damn fine start. 

After two episodes I am not quite adjusted to the loss of Gus (or Tio Salamanca – ding). He was the criminal mastermind that Walt can only dream of ever being. He cleared the way for Walt, and ultimately, through all of Walt's mad-scientist puppeteering, it was an alignment of stars that led to Walt being able to take him out. Gus had a sixth sense for sniffing out danger and, while the ploy by Walt to have Hector Salamanca pretend to turn informant to the DEA was as finely tuned as all of Walt's other plans, it would not have worked if Hector and Gus did not already have an ugly history. Gus' gift of intuition was clouded by his festering hatred of Hector for the murder of his partner and no amount of plotting by Walt could have exploited that as he had no idea. Walt got lucky. He also had no idea that Gus had just taken out the entire Mexican cartel (I don't think?). Blinded by his own hubris, he has never payed any attention to any sort of power dynamics or drug politics happening beyond his own backyard. Gus brilliantly took out the entire (so far as we're led to believe...) cartel just days before his death, leaving Walt to become king-pin of a territory he does not deserve nor know how to actually run. Hubris has taken down men greater than you, Walt, just ask the Greeks. 

As Walt's ego (and power) grows so do the working parts in his plans. The ricin/lily-of-the-valley switcheroo worked out in the end, it won back Jesse (although may have psychologically damaged the poor guy) and the little boy survived but man, no such word as simplicity, huh? It seems like all of Walt's plans are dependant on a kajillion or so factors but mostly he relies on people's emotions which makes me think that Mr White has somewhat of a god complex. Also making me think that he has a god complex: That he just knows Jesse will be able to find some methylene. Ain't no thing to find methylene. And last week's episode when he assured Mike and Jesse that leaving behind the Insane Clown Posse's magnet magic truck at the police station could in no possible way have any negative repercussions. "Because I said so" is totally something that adults regularly say to other adults. Also? Every other thing that Walt does. I have watched enough Criminal Minds to know that god complex + whatever that creep show was with Skyler at the end (oh, gurl!) + hubris - empathy = mad psychopathy. I mean, we've seen how methodically he cuts his peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It doesn't take the BAU to figure out that dude is headed for (more) bad shit.

So why does Walt keep Jesse around anyway? This new triumvirate of Walt, Mike (<3) and Jesse makes sense only so far as Mike (the muscle and connections) and Walt (the cook). Where does Jesse fit in? Where has he ever fit in? The only time he has ever proved useful to Walt was when he shot Gale (RIP, sweet prince) and when he convinced Gus not to kill Walt. Gus "saw something" in Jesse and set about grooming him and Jesse began to shine, developing things like self-worth and an identity outside of being Walt's whipping boy. Walt, being a psychopath with a god complex couldn't let Jesse go. Out in the desert Gus fired Walt and promised that he'd live only if he left Jesse alone. But let's be real, what's life without an underling to denigrate? Not worth living, I tell you what. Is it just a pathological need to verbally eviscerate Jesse? Or is it that Jesse is his trump card, easily manipulated into doing his dirty work (exhibit A: Gale). Time will tell but I get the feeling that Mike is going to give Walt a run for his money in terms of Jesse's loyalty. (Can we talk about how great Mike is? So great! He might be my favourite? I hope he wins everything. I would love to see a bottle episode of just him and his granddaughter playing Hungry, Hungry Hippos. I am concerned that his love for her will get him into trouble (i.e. killed). It certainly saved Lydia's life...) 

The triad between Mike, Walt and Jesse was bound to happen and given that there are only another 13 :,(((( episodes left and that Mike and Jesse are all BFFs hopefully they will stage a mutiny against Walt (Mike was watching The Caine Mutiny before Jesse and Walt show up at his place, a movie and novel in which a Navy submarine crew revolt against their increasingly paranoid and delusional Captain Queeg – foreshadowing??!). 

If Jesse's loyalty to Walt thus far has been because he's become a twisted father-figure to young, misguided Jesse (complete with the abuse, bullying and withholding affection Jesse seems to expect from a father-figure) then Mike could easily slip into that surrogate father role Jesse is so desperate for. Oh Jesse. Someone play catch with him. And maybe give him a hug. And not Walt. Judging from Skyler's face, getting snuggles from Walt is akin to being cuddled by a goddamn anaconda (my nightmare. I am actually sweating now. Well I was before from the heat but I am really worried about snakes. Oh god). 

In the next few weeks hopefully we'll get more into Madigral and hopefully someone will remember to feed Walter Jr breakfast. Pancakes? Cereal? Both?! And soon the poison that is literally within the walls of the White house will come home to roost (wait, mixed metaphor...). Gilligan et al. never miss an opportunity to fire one of Chekhov's guns. Who will it be? Sky, doing some baby-proofing? Or Walt Jr., still ravenous after breakfast? Or lil' Holly, somehow...? Someone's getting to that ricin.

Also, more Saul Goodman, please. And more empowerment for Skyler? It's a longshot request at this point, I know, but, oh brother, that relationship has become a toxic and abusive cage for her. In the immortal words of Clay Davis, "sheeeeeeeeeeeit".


Alex Snider is Team Mike and Jesse and Skyler. Her blog is here and her twitter is here


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