The Boob Tube Review: Breaking Bad, Season 5, Episode 3

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

Are there people out there who are watching Breaking Bad and thinking, "yeah, I'd like to see Walt as the last man standing. I'd like to see him take out Hank and Mike and Jesse and live out his years caring about nothing but treats and snoozing by Don Eladio's pool"? Are there? People who are like, "Walt is awesome and I want him to win all the money and power and fuck Skyler and Walt Jr and baby Holly and family breakfast". I'm just curious because Walt has reached such levels of villainy that he makes ol' Tony Soprano look like Andy Griffith. This switch from anti-hero-hero to villain is pretty brilliant. It's like watching the Bachelor and despising one of the bachelorettes, argh, so, so, so much but not enough to want her sent home – she's the life of the party, yo – but that bitch better not get the final rose or diamond or Hawaiian honeymoon or whatever prize one gets when she's the last lady standing in the Thunderdome. Basically, Walt has become Boston Rob.

Everything Walt did this episode (this season so far, really) was right in line with what a paranoid puppet-master dictator would do, acted out pitch-perfectly, as always, by Brian "Tighty Whiteys" Cranston. From the cold staredown he gave Brock to the fancy-footwork he used to evade Marie's suspicions while throwing Skyler under the bus to the nostalgic chuckle he let out for those fond memories of Gale when he found the copy of Walt Whitman's poems. Ah, Gale! Memories, all alone in the moonlight... That's like the time I killed a mosquito then stared longingly at its carcass, smeared along the wall in a trail of my blood, while a montage of all the times it buzzed in my ear and I flailed at it played in my mind to the tune of Coldplay's Fix You. Lights will guiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide you home.

The Walt/Jesse dynamic was particularly sinister with Walt pulling the strings and pushing Jesse to break up with Andrea (out of jealousy?) then delivering a thinly-veiled threat by invoking both dearly-dispatched Victor and Icarus. Whether the threat was just to put Jesse back in his place after siding with Mike or it was just a big bully letting off some steam after getting told by Mike (wasn't Walt supposed to 'handle' Mike??) is up for debate, it's probably a little from column A, a little from column B, but the reference to Icarus is really interesting.

Putting on my Classicist hat for a moment (and putting my nearly-obtained degree to use), the myth of Icarus might be perfect for the series (depending on how it ends) but not for the reason that Walt thinks. Icarus was the son of Daedalus, a master architect and inventor, who early on in his mythology had a young relative as an apprentice, Perdix, who showed great promise and whom Daedalus became paranoid would surpass his own genius so he murdered Perdix by throwing him off the Acropolis. Later, Daedalus was employed by King Minos of Crete. There he created the bull in which Minos' wife Pasiphae hid so to make love to the bull sent by Zeus (yikes) and the labyrinth to house the Minotaur (the half man-half bull baby that Pasiphae incidentally gave birth to – yikes). Later he helped Ariadne, Minos and Pasiphae's daughter, help Theseus, the son of the king of Athens, find his way through the labyrinth so he could kill the Minotaur. After that went down, despite the years of (questionable) service, Daedalus needed to get out of Dodge Knossos fast so he created wings made of feather and wax for himself and his son, Icarus, so they could evade Minos' ships. He warned his son to not fly too high or he'd melt the wax but kid got a bit too pumped about flying and, well, he plunged into the sea. RIP Icarus.

The similarities between Daedalus and Walt are pretty marked: both are scientists/inventors/have BIG ideas. Both seem to have god complexes or at least are super arrogant. Both lack any sort of loyalty. Both have sons and apprentices. What does this mean (if Vince Gilligan is as into Greek Mythology as I am, and why wouldn't he be??!) for Jesse? For Walt Jr? Which one is Icarus? Ultimately Icarus is an innocent in the mythology so my feelings are that poor Flynn should be savouring his Sugar Crisp.

Moving on from geeking Greeking out. Mike continues to be the best, followed closely by Saul (will someone finally hear his desperate pleas and play a game of laser tag with him?). Mike is actually proving to be the anti-Walt. Mike isn't rash, he is really loyal, he stands by his word and he thinks things through. Plus they both rock the same hair-style and have similar wardrobes. If this was written fifty years ago or by Chuck Palahniuk I'd say that Mike is just a fragment of Walt's imagination. Mike seems to actually be able to see who Walt is, as shown by his "just because you shot Jesse James" line. True that, Mike. I tell you what, Gus would have charmed the fuck out of Brock. He would have played Mario Cart with him and then ruffled the hair of the child once poisoned. What's the matter, Walt? You can wax nostalgic about Gale's love of poetry but chilling with the boy you almost murdered as part of an elaborate plot is just too much? Come on, grow a pair. I did lol when Walt told Saul that he'd "handle" Mike. Adorable!

And then there is Skyler. What a bummer that whole story line is although I have to say as painful as it is to watch a woman (whom I really dig) go through a breakdown brought on by her emotionally abusive spouse, I am glad the writers didn't just Carmella her. I'm hoping that she will somehow find Saul's vacuum guy's number and start fresh away from Walt. I'd say that all pre-tense of him doing all this for his family is fully up. Additionally, after Marie leaves and instead of checking on Skyler, Walt hangs in the kitchen and bites into the apple, I was really reminded of that scene in season three with the Cousins when Marco eats the apple while Leonel axes that State Trooper to death (I miss those guys! And their amazing boots). Even though the Scarface scene seems a bit heavy handed (pretty worth it just for Sky's face), I kind of liked the juxtaposition with the earlier scene with Jesse where they are watching The Three Stooges. Walt clearly sees himself as Tony Montana but he's probably more of a stooge. Bless his little heart.

Second week with no Hank, does that mean that ol' bro-in-law is really mulling Merkert's words about Gus' perfect BBQ fish recipe? Heh heh heh. But we did get an ex-Dillon Panther, Landry who is off to an uneasy start, ignoring the first rule of Fight Club. Here's hoping he'll start a Christian metal band with Jesse, Badger and Skinny "Amadeus" Pete (was that not the best part of the episode?!). Crucifictorious 2.0: Clear Eyes, Full Hearts Can't Lose.


Alex Snider wants to hang by Don Eladio's pool, caring about nothing but treats and snoozing. She blogs here and tweets here


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