The Boob Tube Review: Breaking Bad's Crystal Blue Persuasion by Alex Snider

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

Well, now that was a lot to digest. For a show whose episodes only span 45 minutes each, the writers manage to really cram a lot into that 3/4 hour. Here we had the murder of 10 men in 2 minutes in one of the most gruesome prison stabbing scenes I've ever witnessed (certainly outside of GOB and White Power Bill), the expansion of Vamonos Pests (Vamonos Pest?) into Czech Republic, what I thought was going to be a cross-over episode with Storage Wars (really disappointed that I was wrong on that one), the retirement of Walt, the return of Walt's cancer, the reunion of the White family, the change up in Marie's standard purple wardrobe and Hank finally getting his "oh shit" moment. The plot took great leaps forward and still there were so many call-backs that it almost felt like a clips episode. There was the fly from season 3, the banged up towel dispenser from season 2, the painting also from the second season, the ricin made its way back to the forefront again and of course, Leaves of Grass made a Chekhovian like reappearance (anytime a book of poetry is seen in the first episode, it will be used to incriminate a drug kingpin by the last?).

To switch things up a bit because there is a lot to go through, I'm just going to list my thoughts in point form because I answer to no one and I can write these however I want.
  • That the cancer is back. In the first season, when Skyler stages the treatment intervention Walter says that he might live one or two years. I love that bit of foreshadowing since clearly the cancer is back and now we've seen him turn 52 and the end is clearly neigh. 
  • Also, how the cooking/distributing montage ended with Vamonos Pests tents going up all over and spreading which seemed to be an allegory for Walt's cancer spreading.
  • And, how I just watched the X-Files episode Post-Modern Prometheus which also had fumigation tents. The X-Files on which Vince Gilligan was a writer and producer ! 
  • Really did not care at all for the cheesy flash-back when Hank read Gale's inscription in Leaves of Grass. It was the first time such a narrative device was used and usually (always?) those kinds of flash-backs are so clunky they are the territory of the CSI franchise. Surely this alone would have sufficed:

  • Loved when Walt wasn't able to connect on any level with Hank's anguish. "I used to love to go camping". Wow, that's cold, man.
  • And I really liked the jam session between Walt and Jesse about their old camper, the Crystal Ship. I'd watch a clips episode of them running out of gas and getting stalled at red lights.
  • Waiting for the moment when Jesse finds out about Mike. Surprised that he didn't notice the dissolving barrels when he went by the warehouse for the last time. He's clearly scared of Walt (rightly so) but here's hoping he doesn't get pulled back into his web.
  • Walt seems to have a habit of picking up traits from people he kills (cutting the crusts off his sandwiches goes back to crazy old Krazy-8) and now he drinks his scotch with ice รก la Mike. Taking trophies (of a sort)? I'm no BAU profiler but that is not a good sign...
  • Did Walt quit because he had no one to challenge? Did his 'victory' become hollow and the empire not really what he expected when it all ran so smoothly? I have a hard time believing that it was just Skyler's speech. 
  • Will he seek treatment? In the flash-forward, he has a full head of hair so it doesn't look like it. Is that is true attempt at reconciliation with Skyler? To just die? 
  • OH! And the painting! When it first appeared in season 2 in Walt's hospital room the way Walt fixated on it reminded me of the painting in Barton Fink's room of the lady by the sea. 

  • WHAT DOES IT MEAN??? I think (again with the Greek mythology shit) that maybe the river represents the River Styx and that the man (Charon? Walt??) has just rowed the family over to Hades. Does this mean Walter's family will all perish? Possibly. Does it mean they'll all perish at his hand? Well, if they do it will mos def be because of him either directly or indirectly. Looking at how he's adopted habits/traits from other people he's killed, in the flash-forward his fake license lists his last name as Lambert, Skyler's maiden name (thanks to my friend Adam for that theory that we drunkenly discussed at a party because I, for real, only talk about Breaking Bad now). Duh duh duh...
Breaking Bad is in its fifth season and in those 5 real time years, only one year has gone by in the BB world, yet in last week's episode a whopping 3 months zoomed by in one montage which means that we're only a little under 9 months from Walter buying a machine gun from Jim Beaver. So what is going to happen? Vince Gilligan has said that Walter will do something that will alienate viewers from him irrevocably. Could he harm one of his children? I thought for a long time that Walter Jr would be donezo but it might be Holly (eek).

Breaking Bad has mirrored itself several times, particularly with Walter. We saw even in this episode the shot where Walt went for his MRI mirrored the scene in the pilot where he had his first MRI exactly, and the scene where Walt tells Skyler he's out is almost identical to the scene in the first season when he tells her that he'll get treatment (she's doing dishes, he approaches from behind and just says simply "I'm out"/"I'll do it"). We also saw him lead up to killing Gus with an explosion by using the explosion in season 1 against Tuco and again lead up to shooting Mike by having Jesse shoot Gale at the end of season 3. Now we have Walt's baby and her name is a plant whose berries are mildly toxic to adults but can be fatal to small children and babies. JUST LIKE LILY OF THE VALLEY, GUYS. Alright so applying the show's mirroring tactic, or chirality (in the first season Walt gives a class lecture on chirality – a chemistry theory that certain molecules have mirror images, the word itself coming from the Greek for hand), and taking the incident of Walt poisoning Brock with lily of the valley as a sort of warm up to the real deal, then it could be that poor Holly is in trouble. Why would Walt do that? He could try to distract Hank by poisoning her, knowing that that worked before when he and Saul cooked up the lie about Marie's car accident, but go to far again taken over by his own hubris. Who knows... She also might drown, I mean according to the laws of Breaking Bad, someone has to die in that pool, right?


Alex Snider is bummed out that Breaking Bad won't be back for 11 months but she plans on re-watching it until her eyes bleed and she becomes consumed by theories. Read her blog here and tweet at her @what_freshhell.


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