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Breaking Bad: Crazy Handful of Nothin'

"I'm all in."

Walt has made himself into a different person. His principles just went down the drain with the last of his hair. The card game was just Metaphors R Us. It was Hank (the law) versus Walt (the outlaw), and Walt won by bluffing, just the way he did in his high school lab and later in the episode, with Tuco.

Walt still wanted to be a silent partner, but he finally realized that he can't just cook and take in money. When Jesse was cheated and beaten and wound up in the hospital, Walt took over. He's "all in." He understands now that there will always be collateral damage, like Hugo, the kindly but unfortunate janitor. There will always be danger, like Tuco. (Wow. Scary dude. Who puts a cigarette out on his tongue?) There will always be a price to pay. This time, it was Jesse who paid it.

I thought it was interesting that Walt clearly wants to suffer alone, that he felt out of control when he was weak and sick and asked Skyler to leave while he was undergoing chemo. But then, when he was unable to complete a cook, he asked Jesse for help. He's learned to trust Jesse and has even started to care about him.

This was the episode when I realized I liked Jesse, because I hated seeing him beaten like that. He's not just an idiot screw up. He cared about his aunt, the one that died of cancer. He was sharp enough to figure out what was wrong with Walt, and now he understands what is motivating him. Jesse respected Walt's reasons for what he was doing.

Breaking Bad uses a lot of in media res. As Walt was talking about no more bloodshed, that he was going to cook but nothing else, there were flashes forward to him walking away with the bag. This particular form of storytelling is something they do a lot and they do it well.

From the opening shot of the light coming through the bullet holes in the RV, to the explosion at the end with Walt walking away with the bag, this episode was just outstanding. It would work as a season finale. Except there is one more.

Bits:

-- Walt has acquired an alias: Heisenberg. It's a reference to physicist Werner Heisenberg and his uncertainty principle. Which I don't understand because quantum mechanics go right over my head, but the uncertainty principle also has to do with duality. I think.

-- The fulminated mercury looked just like meth. Duality again. Speaking of which, is Walt driving a hybrid?

-- Walt was still talking about energy and change in his class while fighting nausea. And now he's taken a leave of absence.

-- There was something disturbing about Walt paying for chemo with post-dated checks. Is sickness a great big metaphor for evil? Well, of course.

-- When they saw Walt without his hair, Skyler was speechless and looked appalled. But Junior loved it. He said, "Bad ass, Dad," and had no idea how right he was.

And pieces:

-- Jesse still calls Walt "Mr. White."

-- Loved the lighthearted old-time music playing as Jesse was interacting with the dregs of humanity in horrible places of town. Scooby de do be do.

-- Skinny Pete shared a cell with Tuco. Poor Skinny Pete. At least he lived through it.

-- Urine shot. That and the vomiting, yes, let's inject some realism about chemo.

-- Walt now knows that Emilio was a confidential informant.

-- Walt's lying skills are improving. He was careful not to look Hank in the face during the scene in the lab.

-- Along with in media res, I always like the time lapse photography that signals that time is passing. It's occasionally quite striking.

Quotes:

Walt: "That's what we need. A distributor. Do you know anyone like that?"
Jesse: "Yeah, I used to. Until you killed him."
I loved the way Aaron Paul delivered that line.

Hank: "Damn. Chick's got an ass like an onion. Makes me want to cry."

Tuco: "This kicks like a mule with his balls wrapped in duct tape."

Four out of four handfuls of fulminated mercury,

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

8 comments:

  1. Great review. I am really enjoying my first viewing of the show and having your reviews to read along the way is great!

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  2. Thank you so much, Suzanne. And I'm enjoying your comments.

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  3. Great great great. This is the episode that will make everyone who's still on the fence (if there even are such people) a diehard fan.

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  4. Two quick comments.

    About the 'Heisenbeg' alias, yes, there could be here some reference to 'duality' and 'uncertainity' ideas. But, also, there could be other reason for Walt to choose that name. There is an historical anecdote (remember that Walt is a fan of curious anecdotes -for example, those about thermite or ricin-), which is in fact the argument of a theatrical play called "Copenhagen", of a meeting between Heisenberg, working for the nazis, and Bohr (who was working against the nazis) during the last years of the second world war. In this meeting Heisenberg tells to Bohr that scientist on both sides should work together to stop the development of nuclear weapons. The theatrical play intends to show that Heisenberg, working in and for the 'dark side', still wanted to be a 'good guy'. Walt's choice of alias may be related not only to duality (which is a concept for two faces of the same physical reality), but to an intent of transformation, between the good Walt and the bad Walt (i.e., to the transition between two realities... more in the chemical sense if you like).

    Anytime I watch again the scene with the 'negotiation' with Tuco I keep the same idea. In all the series you will find reference to the idea that drugs production should be seen as an economic process, were the most important thing is not to break the chain of production and distribution. The negotiation with Tuco is in this languaje. Walt is showing to Tuco that, in the economic relation that is taking place, he is the senior part of his company, as Tuco is the senior part of his, and so they do can speak and have some arrangement. Tuco beating Jesse was just a way (in this crazy context) to show that Jesse did not had the correct level of hierarchy to speak to Tuco, not even to put some terms in the negotiation.

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  5. What a fascinating comment, Laslo. I know very little about Heisenberg but I'm sure Walt as a character knows everything about him, including this. Wow.

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  6. I just spent an entire episode thinking that Heisenberg was an allusion to the famous zeppelin explosion. And then I realized that was the Hindenburg. :-)

    I enjoyed this episode, although I found the cinematography rather distracting. I really like Jesse, and I like him with Walter.

    I wonder Walt's principles were ever that strong to begin with. I mentioned it in a comment a few episodes ago, but this is the man who had make a pro/con list of reasons to kill or not kill someone. I think Walt might be on a journey of discovering his true chaotic nature. I might change my mind after more seasons, though.

    Was Emilio the snitch, or Krazy-8? Either way, they dodged a bullet there.

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  7. Interesting comment by Laslo. As soon as I heard the name Heisenberg, I thought of the play he discusses. It's a wonderful example of "good" and "evil" joining forces for the greater good.

    The interactions between Walt and Jesse are becoming much more interesting to watch. As Jesse walked back into the RV to finish cooking, there was almost a look of grief on his face. It occurred to me that this boy will someday lose yet another father.

    PS - I realized during this episode where I had heard the term Erlenmeyer flask. The name of a pivotal episode of The X-Files, you just know that it is Vince Gilligan's shout out to the show that gave him his start.

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  8. Bah gawd that cold open is still as cool as it ever was. I love that music, it's so badass and intimidating.

    >>"-- Loved the lighthearted old-time music playing as Jesse was interacting with the dregs of humanity in horrible places of town"
    That fucking song kept floating in my head throughout the years and I'm glad I can finally put it to rest. I know I could just search the song out itself, I recalled enough of the lyrics, but it never quite 'settles' unless I hear it in its original context. Next is that Everyone Knows It's Windy/Wendy one.
    Pretty fun little sequence though, I started enjoying it on its own merit again.

    Hank greeted Walt in his classroom with a funny almost shit-eating grin lol. And this is a comment on how dumb I am but I didn't ever notice until now that the 2nd line he says in his innuendo about the principal's juicy ass is connected to the first comparison. "Chick's got an ass like an onion; makes me wanna cry." Alright, didn't mean to get vulgar there, I'm just disappointed I could miss it.

    I'd take a point off the episode for that nasty, NASTY POV shot of man-pissing. Ugh... "no matter what happens, no more bloodshed in my pee. No penile violence."

    Jesse is a goodboi and I'm glad we dodged the original darker premise. It just doesn't sound pleasant at all and I don't think AMC would've even allowed it.

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