Breaking Bad doesn’t ever take the easy way out. The last episode forced Walt to deal with consequences of his actions rather than speed right to the next action scene. Well this episode takes it a step further and makes sure those consequences have lasting effects. Damn I love this show (hence why I am reviewing it 9 years after it aired).
Jessie and Skyler are minimized this episode. Walt and Jessie go through the slow and disgusting process of cleaning up Emilio’s gelatinized body and follow that up with a hilarious pansy-fight in the bathroom. Jessie goes off to get high, demanding that Walt takes care of Crazy 8. Meanwhile, Skyler, having done some serious sleuthing last episode and offscreen, knows Walt has been lying about more than just pot, and tells him to just stay where he is. All of this is great setup for Walt having to deal with Crazy 8, one way or the other.
This stuff melted through a bathtub…you would think this wood floor is not long for the world.
What we get is an amazing series of scenes between Walt and Crazy 8 that upend what I’m used to in a TV show. I may have already harped on this before but good lord, this is so different to anything I’ve watched. I mean, there is a freakin 10 minute scene of Walt and Crazy 8 small talking about work, furniture, and old local commercials that is just dripping with tension. (My small talk is usually dripping with tension too but its more to do with me being antisocial.) There’s a weight to every word here, considering that one guy is trapped with a bike lock around his neck while the other is considering the pros and cons of killing him. Phenomenal writing and the Bryan Cranston plays the hell out of the scene as he can’t bring himself to go through with this, while Max Arciniega is great at humanizing Crazy 8. Really, this situation here is exactly what Walt should be avoiding…he already has logically concluded (through his hilarious pro-con list) that Crazy 8 has to die. But its such a human thing for him to do..I imagine if I was in that position, I would have done the same. (Never mind that I’d be too lazy to ever apply myself at the meth trade…).
“So…how bout this weather?”
His logical conclusion is validated after he foolishly convinces himself that he can let Crazy 8 live. The scene with the plate shards is incredible–I mean as soon as he looks at the plate, the viewer has to know whats coming. But the heartbreak that you can hear in Walt’s voice as he puts the puzzle together is so powerful.
This of course leads to Walt murdering Crazy 8. What a scene…its not glossy or dramatized….its just gritty and brutal and felt so real. Just two men battling for life and death. It’s a great contrast to their long conversation. I mean these two men were just five minutes ago talking about bassinets and cribs. It’s an incredible scene, and its tragic as we can feel Walt losing a part of himself. Also, you know the writing and acting is good when I felt bad for Crazy 8–the same guy who was prepping to kill Walt and Jessie in cold blood in the first episode.
EXACTLY how I would have responded to too much small talk.
This was the primary focus of the episode but there were little other moments sprinkled throughout. Most likely to combat the darkness of the Walt storyline we get some lighter side plots of Hank, Marie, and Walt Jr. where Marie mistakes Jr, as the pot smoker. Nothing special but all three characters are much more interesting than they were in the pilot. Meanwhile, we also learn that Marie is a kleptomaniac. Now this could have bothered me but the episode invests about two minutes into this plot and moves on. If they had felt the need to bring it up again this episode and deal with it, I would have hated the plot but instead, it feels like some solid character building that may be addressed later. We also see some scenes of Walt’s past which adds layers to his character. We see him much more confident and with some mystery lucky lady in his past who likes to say cheesy lines about the soul.
Finally, with respect to the major plot of the show, we get two directions that the show appears to be driving towards. One, Hank and Gomie find Crazy 8’s car and they are on the trail of Walt and Jessie’s meth. Second, since Skyler now knows Walt is lying about much more than just smoking pot, the episode finishes with Walt about to come clean about…something. It’s left up in the air about what he’s going to come clean about and it’s a good way to finish things off.
“Do you have disjointed flashbacks about me too?”
All in all, this episode was riveting and had me on the edge of my seat. It wasn’t as consistent as “Cat’s in the Bag” because the side plots weren’t as compelling as the rest of the episode, but the central conflict in this episode was handled as well as anything I’ve ever seen. Nothing really stood out as less than good in this episode. Acting, writing, pacing, direction…all of it was incredible. Fantastic episode.
Lazily Thought Out Tangents
- Skyler with the classic “there’s this character in my book who smokes pot” excuse.
- Crazy 8 knows about Walt’s son’s condition. So, when did Walt tell Jessie about this? It seems like he should have had more on his mind than bonding with the kid he first blackmailed, and then forced to dissolve a body.
- I know people who hate Marie the character. I would dislike her intensely if I knew her but that doesn’t mean I need to hate her in this show.
- Little character bits as Marie and Hank both feel like Walt Jr. doesn’t respect Walt.
- Jessie bangs an older prostitute an episode after we learn about his infatuation with MILFs.
- Breaking Bad does little scenes really well. Here it is the scene of Jessie returning to his house and seeing everything cleaned up. There’s something very haunting about Crazy 8 just being gone and Jessie realizing the ramifications of that.
- Hank is much less annoying this episode.
Rating: 88 Plate Shards Out Of 100