With the latest episode of ‘Breaking Bad’ now over, we are left with two episodes until the break in the fifth and final season of the show. If this latest episode is any indication we are gonna be in for one hell of a cliffhanger between the break and the final run.
Obligatory Spoiler Warning: I will be discussing the full episode and if you haven’t seen it yet or if you are just starting to watch, I’d suggest coming back after you’ve watched it or caught up.
You’ve been warned.
Last week’s episode (click the here for the review) ended on one of the show’s biggest jaw droppers. Todd the helper monkey took it upon himself to shoot a 14 year old boy who had accidently stumbled onto their train heist. ‘Buyout’ opens so perfectly, with barely any dialogue, as we watch Walter, Jesse, Mike, and Todd as they pull a dump truck full of dirt up to their headquarters. From the mound they first pull the boy’s dirt bike out and begin dismantling it, all without saying a word to each other. They pull it apart piece by piece, deconstructing it, and tossing it into a barrel. Followers of the show didn’t need a sentence explaining what was going to go down. You instantly recognize that they will use the acid mixture used (sort of unsuccessfully) in the first season to dispose of a body in Jesse’s old house. After the bike is sorted, they return to dirt mound where we see just the fingers of the boy covered in dirt, and we know he will share the same fate as the bike. Just before the opening credits we see the moments after the disposal as Jesse goes outside for a cigarette. Todd joins him and starts to make small talk. In a flash of rage, Jesse hauls back and drives his fist right into Todd’s face. Start Credits.
From there, this episode is off and running. The guys decide to keep Todd on lest they fear any repercussions from his father’s contacts or having him rat them out. We learn also that the DEA is keeping a close watch on Mike. Lucky for Mike, he’s been in the game long enough to know when he’s being followed, and in a much needed scene of levity, we get a nice little moment between Mike, Hank, Gomez, and Saul, where the greasy lawyer gets Mike a temporary reprieve from the surveillance. But they both know it is only a matter of time before they are back on him, he knows his movements need to be calculated if he wants to keep himself out of prison.
Walt and Jesse start up another cook in a bug bombed house, but with very different results. Jesse is riddled with guilt and Aaron Paul has really stepped his game up even further in this season. You can see the full weight of his actions and choices weighed on his face and mostly in his red and puffy eyes as he looks on to a news report about the search for the ‘missing’ boy. Walt confronts Jesse and tries to worm a sort of acceptance from what they’ve done, and trying yet again to keep Jesse on his side, Walt tells him to take the day off, that he’ll finish up the rest. But before Jesse goes, he watches as Walt zips himself into his cook suit and whistles an upbeat tune as he goes to work. You can see on Jesse’s face his realization that Walt doesn’t even care that this murder is on his hands, he is like a cow in a field, without a care in the world as long he’s is getting his way.
When Walt comes back to their spot, he is confronted by Jesse and Mike. They have found another ‘king’ who is willing to buy the Methylamine and with the money from what they get from the sale they would be able to each go away with a hefty 5 million. Mike and Jesse tell Walter that they are both out of his operation, and if he chooses he can keep his portion of the chemical and cook on his own. And Walt, being stubborn and ignorant, decides that’s exactly what he will do. Jesse tries to convince him that the money is an incredible amount and also a way to get out, but Walt doesn’t want that. Unfortunately for Jesse and Mike, the buyer will only take this deal unless he gets all three portions. Knowing that Mike and Walt are about as far away from being friends or close as you can get, Jesse steps in to speak to Walt, hoping to convince him otherwise.
Which brings me to; what could possibly be the most revelatory conversation of the series. Jesse once again tries to make Walt see the benefit from the decision to stop. Jesse states that they money if great, they don’t have to live in fear or worry anymore, they can stop and be done with it, and hoping to appeal to the Walt that Jesse thinks is still there, he tells him that he now has the opportunity to fix things with his family and live his life once again. But Walt, sitting on the chair sloshing a drink around in its glass, is not even listening. What he does do it to reveal why he still wants in this. It’s not the money, it’s not about providing for his family. He says that it is being an empire, but what it really is, what it has been since he first tasted the power that he could gain, is about jealousy. Jealousy that he had the potential to be a great man and mind in the chemistry field. If you remember that he was on the ground floor of the Grey Matter Corporation, a group of intelligent chemists who wanted to change the world, and now a billion dollar enterprise.
Walt not only lost his friend and girlfriend when he decided to walk away, he also only sold his part of it for five thousand dollars. Walt tells Jesse that he checks their worth every day, and he’s so blinded by power and jealousy that he doesn’t even recognize what he’s saying. He had the chance to be a great chemist with the ability to make a difference for good, but because of losing out of it and living a normal and humble life; he was never fully satisfied by his job or his family. The Walt of the first season was a downtrodden man, one who didn’t stand up for himself, and tried nothing to advance himself for possible fear of failure. He started cooking meth as a means to an end when he thought he was dying, but once his cancer was gone into remission, he held onto the business because it was something he felt able to control. And now in this final season, he once again sees himself as a powerful Chemist, with the ability to change lives, but not for the good. He wants to show off and prove (without giving a damn of what he has to do) that he is better than Grey Matter, that he is better than everyone. He wants to be the god of the drug world and feels that the whole world should bow to his genius. That is what this is all about, what we are leading up to, the reason behind this doppelganger Walt, the one that has lost it, and is consumed by the need to be the biggest and most powerful.
After a short but funny dinner scene with Walt, Jesse, and Skyler, a pathetic attempt from Walt to keep Jesse on his side is shown by Walt telling him that Skyler is just waiting for his cancer to come back. But we can see that Jesse is not falling for it, he knows something has to be done. When Walt heads back to their HQ his again confronted by Mike, this time not to just talk. Mike knows the best thing they can do is to sell the stuff and get out of the business, it’s the only way it won’t end up badly for the three of them. Taking matters into his own hands, Mike at gunpoint forces Walter into submission and leaves him chained by cable ties to the radiator in the office, as he leaves to finalize the deal, knowing that Walter is unstable and could do anything to get his way. Though Walt has lost his humanity, he hasn’t lost his intelligence and ingenuity. By stripping a wire from a coffee pot, his is able to arc the electricity and burn off the cable tie. When Mike returns the methylamine is gone but Walt is there with Jesse. Mike puts not hesitation in pointing the barrel of his pistol right against Walt’s forehead. But Jesse, probably just not wanting anymore blood on his hands, makes Mike listen instead of act. He says that Walt has a plan, and when pressed by Mike for an answer, Walt’s response is ‘Everybody wins’. Which in the ‘Breaking Bad’ universe means that no one will.
This was a great and very powerful episode as we’ve seen with this whole show and season. Each episode is furthering itself and building to what we can only hope will be an extremely satisfying end (and that is in no way necessarily a ‘happy end’).
The one thing that really sticks out to me about this episode after digesting it for awhile is the father-son relationship. The one between Walt and Jr, which used to be about fun and respect, which has now divulged into Walt buying his son’s favor and love. The father-son relationship that had grown between Walt and Jesse. There was a time where Walt truly cared about Jesse (even if he didn’t act like it) and he did at a point have a bond and loyalty. They were two completely different people but they shared something between them. Now Walt has twisted that relationship to a point where Jesse is nothing more than a pawn to be played (and possibly sacrificed whenever Walt deems it to be needed). There is no friendship, no common goodwill anymore. Walt has poisoned that along with the rest of his life. But we can see that Jesse is aware, and won’t stand for it much longer. Which brings me to the last of this type of relationship, the one that has grown between Mike and Jesse. Sure, Mike is not a ‘good guy’ but in the realm of the show, he is at least one without much moral ambiguity. He does what he has to do, but also has humanity. He’s taken Jesse under his wing in many ways, and his relationship with Jesse is genuine, unlike Walt. He doesn’t patronize or belittle Jesse, but he wants to see him get away from his life because he doesn’t want him to lose his in the process. He can see the goodness in Jesse and that he is just a scared kid way too deep in, with an unstable monster on the throne. The only problem is with that, comes the fact that Walt is not stupid enough to not see it, and if pushed in a way he doesn’t like, I know Walt won’t think twice but to exploit that weakness.
I’ll be back next week for another review. Let me know your thoughts below!