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Breaking Bad: Peekaboo

"These two? They need to get got."

What I came away with from this one is what a sweet person Jesse can be.

Jesse actually had to rehearse being mean, and in the end, he couldn't hurt the nasty couple that robbed Skinny Pete. Couldn't let that little boy see his father's dead body. Couldn't step on a beetle. Jesse shouldn't be dealing drugs. It's like the gods smiled on his goodness when the ATM popped open. (Either that, or the devil was making certain Jesse stayed in the game.)

Jesse also called 911 for the sake of that little boy. I mean, I had a terrible childhood, but damn. That poor kid couldn't even watch cartoons on TV. Jesse must have identified with the boy. Maybe he even felt a bit guilty. There was a lot of talk about the ATM machine being a "victimless crime" (even though they killed a man doing it), but Spooge and Cackle Woman were the detritus of Jesse's profession, and their little boy was most certainly a victim.

I always try to find parallels and meaning in an episode, and this time, it was easy to relate Ma and Pa Methhead and the impossible-to-open ATM in their living room to Gretchen and Elliot. Both couples hurt Jesse and Walt, both had money that they needed, and both were doing what they did in life directly or indirectly because of Jesse and Walt. But while Jesse protected the little boy and may have inadvertently gotten him into child protection services (which has to be better than the way he's living now), Walt told one of his oldest friends "fuck you" because she wouldn't lie for him. Dan told me while he was watching this one that Walt was a dislikeable asshole and Jesse had become the reason he was watching.

Much of this episode was absurd, but there was also a feeling of the ordinary and every day. The mail carrier telling an armed and freaked Jesse he had to move out the way so she could put mail in their mailbox. Walt and Gretchen discussing thousands of dollars, serious lies and a past full of betrayal at a generic restaurant. This is something they do very well on this show. It feels real.

Bits:

-- The episode started with the beetle's perspective, looking way up at an enormous Jesse, both before and after Skinny Pete tromped on it. Symbolizing the little boy, of course. And possibly also the little boy that Jesse used to be. And maybe I'm going too far with the symbolism?

-- In a bizarre parallel to what Jesse was doing with Spooge and Cackle Woman, Walt suggested to Walter Jr. that they take the perpetrators who stuck the flyer on their windshield out into the desert and stake them out with fire ants.

-- Gretchen nearly left her handbag at the Whites.

-- Carbon is the center of it all. No life without carbon. I wasn't quite sure what that was supposed to mean in the context of the episode. Any suggestions?

And pieces:

-- Walt went back to work. His lecture was about H. Tracy Hall, who invented the process that makes synthetic diamonds and got a $10 savings bond in return for it. No, Walt isn't bitter about Gray Matter at all.

-- Jesse, the next time you pull an armed robbery, it might be a good idea to wear gloves.

-- "Skank skank skank skank skank skank skank skank skank skank" made me think of "Spam spam spam spam spam spam..."

-- The stage dressing of that house was intensely weird while still looking real and convincing. But a discarded prosthesis on the floor? A box of inhalers?

Quotes:

Jesse: "Spooge. Not Mad Dog, not Diesel. Let me get this straight. You got jacked by a guy named Spooge?"

Gretchen: "I feel so sorry for you, Walt."
Walt: "Fuck you."

Skyler: "And yet, she still drives a Bentley."

Jesse: "You have a good rest of your life, kid."

Was this a three ATM machine episode, or four?

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

6 comments:

  1. This was one of those episodes where I found the unbearable tension, well ... unbearable. Usually, I kind of like the ungodly tension in the various situations our characters find themselves in, but in this episode, I just felt sick the whole time. I think because, like Dan, by this point I was on board the "Walt is a dislikeable asshole and Jesse has become the reason I'm watching" train. And I was absolutely convinced something god-awful was going to happen to Jesse in that house. I'm still a bit haunted by Spooge, Skank, and that poor little boy.

    But, I think that's a good thing. I'm really glad we have this episode, because it is one of the few that truly makes us confront the victims of what Walt and Jesse do. That miserable, innocent child, and who knows how many others like him, live in squallor and neglect because people like Walt and Jesse make meth. We get so caught up in the stories of Walt and Jesse and everyone in their friend/family circle, that I think over the course of the series we lose sight of people like Spooge, Skank, and that poor kid.

    It kind of makes me dislike Walt even more intensely. This is all about power and control and ego for him. He's going around, getting bent about what he feels Elliott and Gretchen stole from him, and getting off on his new sense of power, while Jesse's struggling to help a suffering child and not get himself killed by the victims of Walt's "genius." Maybe it should make me dislike Jesse, because he's the one that sees things as they truly are, and yet continues on in this business. Such interesting layers and complexity to this show.

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  2. That's not the end of Walt pushing his business partners into dangerous situations just so he can make more money. Yes his cancer is making the timetable short, but dealing drugs isn't something you should be doing without a solid plan and out in the open like that. Getting robbed by methheads is just the first complication.

    With Tuco gone there is no big bad around, the police is still not on their trail. So the biggest problem maker is Walt himself. Season 2 is unique this way.

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  3. This episode was haunting. The image of the poor little child has stayed with me ever since I watched it. Jesse definitely won points with me in this episode, and he has gradually become my favorite character. I like the way the show doesn't let him or Walt off the hook, though, as you point out, Billie, by showing us the way that their actions are directly affecting other people's lives. I look forward to learning more about both of these men and what has influenced them to become the men we see in this show.

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  4. I think this episode showed very clearly that Jesse is not the badass he would like to be or rather should be in this business. He doesn't have a "killer instinct". That was showed were impressivly with the beetle scene. Compare how Jesse couldnt step on the beetle with Hank at the barbecue, telling how it was killing Tuco:

    "You know how it is? Cockroach comes out from under the fridge. What you do? Don't even think about it: Stamp'em down."

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  5. Well, a few episodes ago I commented that I hoped Breaking Bad showed us the dark side of meth. I got my wish.

    Reading your review, Billie, and all the comments, it seems like I'm not alone in really disliking Walt right now. Is this what the rest of the series is like? Watching a man I dislike mess with other people both directly and indirectly? Because, if so, I don't think this is the show for me.

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  6. Good grief, this episode tore my heart to shreds. I feel for Walt but sometimes I can't handle how he treats Jesse like utter garbage (his passive aggressive way of coping with Skylar treating *him* like garbage??) I even felt bad for that drugged-up couple, because they were so utterly broken. But what really did me in and made it hard to get to the end of the episode, was Jesse trying so hard to do what Walt said and so badly not wanting to....and then the little boy. I am broken for that little boy.
    What a tough, but incredibly well done episode.

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